Monday, December 21, 2009

Five Star Film/TV 2000-2009

9/11 (2002)
American Pie 2 (2001)
The Animatrix (2003)
Band of Brothers (2001)
Batman Begins (2005)
Battlestar Galactica, Seasons 2-3 (2005-2006)
Before Sunset (2004)
The Best of Youth (2003)
Children of Men (2006)
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (2006)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Gleaners and I (2000)
Hot Fuzz (2007)
How I Met Your Mother, Seasons 1-2 (2005-2006)
The Incredibles (2004)
Into the Wild (2007)
Lagaan (2001)
Lake of Fire (2006)
Land of the Dead (2005)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Extended Edition (2002)
Man on the Train (2002)
May (2003)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
Minority Report (2002)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Mutual Appreciation (2005)
The Office (US), Seasons 2-4 (2005-2007)
The Office (UK), Series 1-2 (2001-2002)
The Office Special (2001)
Planet Earth (2007)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Ratatouille (2007)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Rivers and Tides (2003)
Six Feet Under, Season 1 (2001)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
The Sopranos, Seasons 1, 3, 4, 6 Part 2 (1999-2007)
To Be and To Have (2002)
United 93 (2006)
Wall-E (2008)
Wendy and Lucy (2008)
When the Levees Broke (2006)
The Wire, Seasons 1-4 (2003-2005)
Wordplay (2006)
X2 (2003)
Yi Yi (2000)
You Can Count on Me (2000)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Clip From "Student Confidential"

This clip is unintentionally Lynchian. If you're not the man himself, it's quite hard to be intentionally Lynchian.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gymkata (1985)--2/5

Early in "Gymkata," Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas takes out some foes by swinging on a pole and kicking them in the face. This sequence bodes well for the film, promising to deliver on the ridiculous premise of kicking butt using tumbling skills.

Sadly, "Gymkata" is more interested in generic karate moves than in anything original. Even when it does later try something new, as in a "pommel horse" fight scene, the filmmaking is just inept enough to mar the enjoyment. As with the pole, the city has a statue that just happens to work as a pommel horse. I can buy that in a film called "Gymkata;" it's like a carefully constructed "Tomb Raider" level. However, the villains surround Thomas and allow themselves to be kicked in the face in one at a time. Extras swinging halfheartedly in the background are more interesting than what we're supposed to watch.

After recently watching a few "MST3K" films, I'll say that the MacGyver-haired Thomas has screen presence, even though he's not a good actor. Since he's been cast for his maneuverability, this works in his favor. Think of him as a Jackie Chan type of actor; he admirably gets from one fight scene to the next.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

(500) Days Of Summer (2009)--3/5

The title of this film is not as fun to type as "Laserblast." (That was the last "Laserblast" mention, I swear.)

Perennial Manic Pixie Dream Girl Zooey Deschanel meets her match in "(500) Days of Summer." Summer (Deschanel) dresses like she's in The Decemberists. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dresses like he's Chip Kidd. He's a greeting card writer (snort) and a wannabe architect (double snort). They pretty much have to like each other.

I'm often annoyed in ostensibly romantic movies by characters who are seen talking while the soundtrack drowns them out. In order for me to buy an onscreen couple, I have to believe they can hold a conversation. (Richard Linklater has made two successful films, "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," based on this thought alone.) "(500) Days of Summer" has two such scenes, probably scored to Regina Spektor or Ingrid Michaelson or some similar singer. I was annoyed on principle while watching the film, but I think they actually make a point. Tom can't see through his infatuation of Summer based completely on her taste in pop culture. They really don't have anything to talk about.

"(500) Days of Summer" has a gimmick. They all do. This one's not bad. Each of the 500 days of their relationship is numbered. The film is free to jump back and forth in time to underline an idea, to confuse, to generally be different. For the most part, "(500) Days of Summer" follows a linear path, with minimal digressions. It could be a lot more complicated and, as a result, more insightful. Why create this innovative conceit if you don't have the nerve to take it as far as it can go?

"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Laserblast" (1996/1978)--3/5, 1/5

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" is the brilliant show that lets you do two things at once. Each installment is an episode and a movie. Granted, they're not movies you'd ever want to see without Mike (or Joel) and the robots. And some would say many of them are still not worth watching.

Usually, the worse the movie on MST3K, the better the banter. "This Island Earth," the film viewed in the MST3K movie, proved too watchable. The commentary came across as slightly distracting.

"Laserblast" is typical of the most inept, pathetic movies served up by the show. Filmed by a one-time director, it has about ten minutes of actual laserblasting by its detestable main character. Also typical of terrible lost films, "Laserblast" is filled with shots of people getting into and out of cars, hanging out aimlessly, and generally not concerning themselves with the plot. One of the robots comments that the entire film seems to consist of second-unit footage.

This may connect to why the worst movies make the best shows. Competent genre movies are more tightly edited, leaving less room for the peanut gallery.

Is the episode funny? Sporadically, especially when the guys get into a groove. Their mockery of the cop who looks exactly like Hank Williams Jr. has its own arc. At first, he's real excited about Getting Ready For Some Football! Later, he's disappointed that people aren't ready for some football. They also have some fun with the overt transgressions of the filmmakers, pointing out the crew's reflection, the camera mount on an external shot of a van, and the misspelling of Roddy McDowall's name in the credits.

"Laserblast." I just like typing that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Girl Next Door (2007)--1/5

Call for Unique "Hollywood" Opportunity!

Date: 2009-07-27, 9:27PM EDT

Attention all residents of [insert small-town name here]

I am making a big Hollywood movie, "The Girl Next Door," in the town of [insert small-town name here]. If you live here and have a fifties car you would like to see in a movie, please contact me!! Also, if you have any old clothes or props, that would be good. And if you know of any songs from the fifties that have fallen into the public domain or can be gotten for cheap, please let me know.

Can you act? Have you ever tried to act? Just want to be on film? We have some pretty intense dramatic roles. You'll do great!!

If you are a minor, please get permission to be in scenes involving graphic torture and nudity. I'm sure it'll be OK!

Location: [insert small-town name here]
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Brothers Bloom (2008)--3/5

"The Brothers Bloom" takes place down the street from Wes Anderson's world of oversaturated quirk. Penelope (Rachel Weisz) collects hobbies the way Max Fischer heads school extracurriculars.

"The Brothers Bloom" is yet another heist movie in which the con-men are doing "one last job" so they can "get out."

That's two strikes.

The film eventually comes into focus. It's still got kids in suits, slow motion to Cat Stevens, and a smug literary preciousness. All of that is ancillary to the plot; it's not the whole point.

The heist aspect of "The Brothers Bloom" mostly delivers. It's one of those movies, like "eXistenZ," that appears to be misstepping as it moves forward. The legitimately twisty ending needs to be digested and applied to the rest of the film in order for the whole to work. The laughably predictable double-crosses of the rest of the film aren't sloppy after all.