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2009/08/25

When in Doubt Look to the Silver Screen

Hi. Until I locate my personality or develop a new one, I thought I would try my hand at critiquing movies! Here are a few features I stumbled into.

Julie & Julia

Dear Nora Ephron: Please stop making movies. You are not good at it. You take wonderful ideas and run them through some kind of vanilla pudding-nator until they are rendered so bland and meaningless that whatever kernel of originality that once existed and prompted the filming of said material in the first place ends up airing its tepid undies on the silver screen with all the grace of a lobotomized Sunday school teacher on valium. Julie & Julia is no exception to this rule. My suggestion? Retire. Take up badminton or the shoeing of horses. Invite people over to your mansion and play let’s pretend. Or, if you insist on pretending for real that you are a movie director, please take a course in screen writing, basic story-telling or the folk tales of the Appalachian Mountain People. At least then, during that time, you will not be able to market another atrocity at my local Cineplex. Next. Dear Meryl Streep: You are a talented actress. Please stop doing movies with Nora Ephron and people of her ilk. They are going to kill your soul (not to mention your career). While your performance in Julie & Julia is quite lovely (as always) it is a waste of your energy and time (not to mention mine and the rest of your audience). Meryl, you are getting older and only have thirty to forty years left to make films. Do the world a favor and don’t waste any of that time (or mine) by making films like Julie & Julia. Something tells me your pap smear tests are more interesting that the pap you are forced to spout as dialogue during this wholly unremarkable film. P.S. If Nora Ephron invites you over to play let’s pretend, make up an excuse - any excuse - (it can be totally implausible and she will except it because plausibility is not one of Nora's strong suits) and do not go. Next. Dear Amy Adams: Are you an elf? Should you be up at the North Pole making toys for Santa? Is there a glee club in Iowa that is missing one of its members? Because I think Iowa might be where you belong. Up on the big screen? Not so much. Perhaps there is a cult somewhere that your incredibly annoying self could go and populate. I bet you look good in a jump suit. My advice to you? Drink the Kool Aid. Watching your performance in this film? I feel like I did.

The Collector

I like a good horror movie. For torture porn, this was fairly gripping. I left the theatre assaulted and a bit puzzled. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but realism is not something one expects while viewing a movie about an omnipotent killer who can out think their prey at every twist and turn. Very little of the plot makes sense. However, your eyes, ears and sense of the appropriate are so overwhelmed by the sound and editing technique employed - you don't have time to ponder much. It's on the ride home that you begin to ask yourself... what about...? And why did he.....? And how did they…? And by that point it's a little late. This is by no means a classic, but it sure killed an hour and a half of my life at lightening speed.

District 9

Something is really wrong with action-oriented films. Once again, I left the theatre feeling bludgeoned to death and a bit starved for a story. The action, once it started, was eardrum-splitting and constant, while the story itself seemed to be based solely on the girth of the special effects budget. The love story between the transforming government worker and his wife was never believable for a moment. It was dull and listless. Also, the end shot of the fully transformed government worker making metal posies to leave on the doorstep of his wife was positively vomit-inducing. The villainy of the father-in-law also strained the realms of credibility. (Really? Not a shred of conflict working within while you sit next to your daughter and lie like a bureaucrat?) I did buy the moment the one government official gave his approval to the mad scientist to start hacking up the transforming government worker - that rang with great clarity. I only wish the mad scientist had gotten to complete the task. That would have been much more interesting than having to endure anymore acting on the part of the man playing the transforming government worker. Speaking of the lead - I kept thinking he thought he was in a Monty Python sketch during the first 15 minutes of the film. After that? His character made absolutely no sense. His loyalty and motivation were all over the road and I just felt sorry for the actor who was trying to pull it all together. Maybe that was the film maker's intent. It certainly was the only truly human conflict taking place on the screen - that of the actor, not the character. Maybe this movie was directed by one of the alien creatures. That would help explain the lack of common sense, human behavior as understood by anyone except alien invaders and credibility on the screen. Overall, the human relations in this movie were not-so-much one dimensional as they were gaseous. On the other hand, the relationship between the father and son aliens scored with me. In fact, if it were not for the child alien, this film would have been unwatchable. I loved the premise. Ideologically there was so much to work with, so much to ponder and explore. Unfortunately, with all those guns going off, who had time to think? Obviously not the screen writers. The back-story was far more interesting than the plotted present. They should have filmed the back-story. For a comic book? This one was sure poorly illustrated.

Drag Me to Hell

This movie is a great horror comic book. Looking for reality? Don't look here. Looking for cheap thrills, broadly drawn scenes and eye-popping guffaws? Yep, this is the place. The acting is as shallow as the writing and both work about 80% of the time. I couldn't help but wonder what the film might have been like had they taken the story seriously by casting age appropriate actors in the leads, and substituting the crayons they wrote the script with for mechanical pencils. This is tasty stuff - fluff, but not your usual horror film. Sam Raimi’s sense of terror is an acquired taste, owing a great deal of debt to the films of Wes Craven and (more accurately) Roger Corman’s classic Vincent Price movies. Oh, and I really think that I-Mac guy is kind of cute / kind of lame.

Well, that’s all for now. Until next time… keep your eyes on the screen and your hands out of my popcorn. (Hey! Why is there a hole cut in the bottom of this tub of popcorn?)

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