Saturday, June 03, 2006
It's capsule review time!
Because I'm lazy. And because sometimes I like to enjoy watching films without thinking about writing them up for the blog. But, I have been incredibly slack about posting here (hey, it's summer, what do you expect?) and I have seen rather a lot of films lately. So, in no particular order, here are some capsule reviews.

1. Aeon Flux
The critics pretty much universally hated this. I thought it was good fun. Maybe it's because I remember watching the animated series on Liquid Television way back in the day, and it's kind of a nostalgia thing.

I liked this for a lot of superficial reasons. Charlize Theron had pretty hair. Jonny Lee Miller is pretty, just in general. I like to see futuristic societies, like in Logan's Run. All of these things just come together to create a very enjoyable film. I mean, it's certainly not going to inspire any sort of profound inner reflection or anything like that. But it's fun, and sometimes you just want your movies to be fun.

This had a load of people in it that I recognized from a load of other things. Pete Postlethwaite and Frances McDormand were in there. And then there's this guy, who you'll probably recognize from a lot of things if you peruse his filmography.

In short, who gives a crap about what the critics think? Who are these critics, anyway? Pffft. I liked it.

2. Casanova
This was 100% delightful. It was funny, romantic, and had a fair amount of what one might call "swashbuckling action". The ending was far-fetched and ridiculous, but that was all part of the fun. Nobody dies, gets maimed, or ends up in prison. Everyone finds love and personal fulfillment. A good movie to watch if you need cheering up or just want to be in a good mood. Highly recommended.

3. Match Point
I don't usually enjoy Woody Allen films, but this one was different. A man falls hard for his best friend's girlfriend. Prone towards making poor choices, he then marries Best Friend's Sister. Begins affair with best friend's girlfriend. Eventually gets her pregnant. Turns out they're both horribly unstable. Mayhem ensues. This was a very dark film. I thought there was something a bit Hitchcockian about it, only much grimmer than what Hitchcock generally turned out. Good thriller, very enjoyable, no justice served in the end at all.

4. Three Extremes 2
Way more extreme than Three Extremes 1. This is kind of like the Asian horror version of The Twilight Zone. You get three stories with supernatural twists, and in the grand tradition of Asian horror, the plots usually get pretty fucked up.

The first story is about a man whose wife has gone missing. Meanwhile the wife wakes up on the street with amnesia, and really creepy stuff happens to her while she tries to find her way home. Soon enough it becomes obvious what really happened to her. Highlight: scene of woman poking her finger into a massive head wound, and jiggling it about. Fun times. This segment was directed by Ji-Woon Kim, the genius behind A Tale Of Two Sisters, so if you've seen that, you pretty much know what to expect here.

The second story is about cursed puppets and seems to be set in feudal times or some such. It was creepy and good, but didn't stand out as much as the other two stories. And it was directed by someone I've never heard of before. Still, it was entertaining.

The third story was incredibly creepy. A man and his young (like, maybe six years old) son move into a decrepit apartment building. The son befriends a little girl who is pretty obviously a dead child, and winds up going missing. The dad goes looking for his son and ends up being held prisoner by one of his neighbors. The neighbor keeps his dead wife's body preserved in hopes that one day she will wake up and be cured of the disease that killed her. Turns out, they lost a child. Hmm...

So yeah, 3 Extremes 2. Recommended for people who like that sort of thing, which I suspect most people aren't.

5. Brokeback Mountain
I didn't like this. I thought it was boring. And I certainly didn't think it was this great majestic love story like most critics seem to think it is.

I sort of suspect that saying "I liked Brokeback Mountain" has become a new politically correct way of saying "I am down with gay people", sort of like when people say shit like "one of my best friends is gay!" Conversely, I suspect that some people are afraid to say "I did not like this movie" because it might be interpreted as "I do not approve of the gay lifestyle." This is the only explanation I can think of to explain why people just rhapsodize about what is in reality an over-long, over-boring story about pain, manipulation, and destruction. NOT a love story, unless you have a particularly masochistic idea of what love is.

Problem #1: Infinite sweeping scenery. Yeah yeah, I get it. They're out in the sticks. Nature is beautiful. It's some symbolic commentary on the isolationist nature of man's existence, and the self-imposed exile of these two gay men, blah blah blah.

I went to film school, I totally grasp the use of symbolism and all that. But, Ang Lee does a bit too much of this. When you watch 30 minutes of a film, and the only dialogue you've gotten pretty much amounts to YEE HAW! you've maybe gone wrong somewhere. Just saying.

Problem #2: Why do people insist on calling this a love story? What you have here is one character (Jack) who is sensitive, a bit fragile, and deeply in love with the other character (Ennis). Ennis constantly puts Jack down, constantly pushes him away emotionally. Basically sends the message that Jack is okay to have sex with every once in a while, but not good enough to forge any kind of real-world bond with. Over the course of the film, this REALLY wears Jack down and he becomes a completely broken, used, sad individual. But Ennis can't see this, because he's too busy putting people down. And if that's not bad enough, he treats his wife like shit, too.

For something to be a real love story, you have to have two characters who really love each other. Not a one-sided love affair where the other party is a manipulative bully who ruins lives.

If this film had been trimmed down a bit, I think it would have been a lot better. As it was, I was more bored than moved by it. And instead of being swept away by the beauty of forbidden romance, I was just pissed off at how much of an asshole Ennis was to everyone. I mean, seriously, by the end of it you just want to give Jack a big hug and say "you can do so much better than that jerk."

That's it for my capsule reviews. M and I are thinking up some ideas for another theme week, so keep a lookout for that. And I'll be seeing the new Omen film on Tuesday, and you can bet there will be a review.