Monday, May 31, 2010

May Movie Madness

Wouldn't you know it, the entire month of May has come and gone and I haven't written a single word about the movies I've seen. At least, not here in the ol’ blog. If you follow my adventures on Twitter, chances are you've seen my 140-character critiques in real-time. If not... well... you should, because even when I slack here, I'm on top of things there:

Now, let's take a quick look at the wealth of films I've seen to kick off the summer of 2010....

nightmareonelmstreet A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET -- Technically I saw this movie on April 30th, but, um, whatever. I wanted to write more about this debacle at the time, but I couldn't boil down my rage into a coherent paragraph. Suffice to say, it is a travesty that never should have happened. There's seriously no reason for it to exist. I mean, as bad as Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN remakes are (and they are very bad indeed), at least he tried to do something different. This new NIGHTMARE is basically just a cheap rehash, completely stripped of the mystique and social commentary that made the original such a classic. It even uses the exact same imagery, but instead of being, y’know, scary, now it’s like, “Oh, here’s the scene where the knived hand appears in the bathtub, and here’s the scene where Freddy's form presses through the wall.” I will tip my cap to Jackie Earle Haley, who actually makes a decent Freddy, but he's no Robert Englund, and he had absolutely nothing to work with. Utterly pointless and worthless trash that needs to be swept under the rug and forgotten as quickly as possible.

human_centipede THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) –- I don’t want to say TOO much about this movie for a couple of reasons. First, the less you know, the better and more mind-boggling your viewing experience will be. And second, I don’t want to be responsible for you losing your lunch all over your keyboard. By far one of the craziest and flat-out GROSSEST movies ever made, it is all at once intense, harrowing, completely twisted and utterly ridiculous, featuring an unbelievable performance by the awesomely-named Dieter Laser, who helps raise the age-old question, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH GERMAN PEOPLE?!” An absolute must-see for anyone who prides themselves on being able to endure the most disturbing horror films. This movie was so freaking insane that it spurred me on a Netflix quest to watch the craziest, most disgusting and/or fucked up movies I can find -- so far, I’ve watched such films as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, AUDITION and CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, and perhaps the best thing I can say about THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is that it most certainly belongs in those ranks. Time will tell if we will ever see future “sequences,” as per the title’s implication -- I shudder at the very thought, but God help me, I know I won’t be able to turn away. (Oh, and also, after you see the movie, be sure to play the video game!

the-square THE SQUARE -- Fantastic slice of noir from Australia about the dangers of temptation and how the wrong decisions can lead to a downward spiral of devastation. Ray is married to Martha, but is having an affair with Carla, who is married to Greg, who has a big bag of dirty money hidden in their house. Carla decides to steal the money and burn down the house so she & Ray can run off together. Ray agrees, and naturally, things do not go according to plan. It's very dark and wildly entertaining, with lots of twists and turns and great performances. It's written, directed by and starring the Edgerton brothers (one of whom, bizarrely, plays young Uncle Owen in the STAR WARS prequels) -- when they are household names in a few years, remember that you read about them here first! (Also, when I saw the movie, it was preceded by SPIDER, a jaw-dropping short film that I highly recommend watching online here:

iron-man-2 IRON MAN 2 -- The first IRON MAN was one of the great comic book adaptations of all time, as Robert Downey, Jr. proved that he is, in fact, the man and Jon Favreau proved that he had his finger directly on the pulse of geekdom. All signs pointed to a kick-ass sequel... and kick ass, it most certainly does. I still think the original is the better movie, but #2 is a worthy sequel -- bigger, louder, crazier and fully loaded. Downey, Jr. is still the man, Mickey Rourke is an awesome villain, Don Cheadle fills in nicely and of course, my girl Scarlett is smoking hot as the tight-leather-clad Black Widow. Even Gwyneth has done her best work in years in these movies. I am certain that THE AVENGERS is going to kick serious ass in a couple of years (stay after the credits for another clue along those lines)... but I’d love to see a third IRON MAN to complete the trilogy, too!

pleasegive PLEASE GIVE -- This is one of those indie movies about jaded, unlikeable people (in this case, rich New Yorkers) who do unlikeable things (such as buying vintage furniture from dead people’s families on the cheap and then reselling it for a lot of money), and who go through a series of unlikeable events (affairs, family strife, stalking, etc.) and are maybe slightly less jaded at the end. That being said, it’s a fine film that is loaded with superb performances. Catherine Keener may be the single most typecast actress in history, but she plays that role so well that it hardly matters -- she’s good. Also, while I thought Rebecca Hall was great in VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, my crush on her has now really taken hold -- she is truly outstanding, and I will be following her career with great interest from now on....

robinhood ROBIN HOOD -- Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe join forces once again to bring us yet another retelling of the classic tale, though this time, it’s more of a prequel that tells us how Robin of Locksley came to be known as Robin Hood. Unfortunately, that twist, and Scott’s big idea to intertwine the legend with historical fact, wasn’t enough to make this movie even remotely interesting. The runtime is over two and a half hours, but it feels more like six -- it’s unfathomably boring and all the actors seem like they’re just going through the motions. Even the great Cate Blanchett as Maid Marion can’t breathe any life into the proceedings. It also doesn’t help that everyone feels way too old for these roles. I’m also getting tired of seeing a Tolkien-esque epic battle at the end of every movie these days -- first ALICE IN WONDERLAND and now this! C’mon. Sorry, Ridley & Russell, but this time, I was most definitely NOT entertained.

babies BABIES – The epic tale of four seemingly-normal infants who live and grow and ultimately come together to fulfill their destines and fight the forces of evil! Um, no... that’s not it. It’s a documentary that traces the lives of four unremarkable human babies, from four very different cultures, from birth to their first steps, and ZOMG is it super-cute! Really... that’s all it is. No educational voiceovers, no facts and figures… just ninety minutes of pure, unadulterated baby cuteness. Although, I did pick up on some anti-American sentiment, which was mildly annoying. I mean, really, if you’re gonna make a movie about cute babies, just make a movie about cute babies and leave the commentary out of it!

gethimtothegreek GET HIM TO THE GREEK -- Hey, remember the Judd Apatow film FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, which introduced us to the crazy, womanizing, boozing, British rock star Aldous Snow? Well, someone got the idea to make an entire movie about his character and, I guess it was a good idea because the result is some pretty funny stuff. It’s probably about equal to FSM in terms of overall laughs (though, there is no single moment that is as good as Dracula: The Musical). Basically, if you like Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, you’ll probably get a kick out of it. P. Diddy also gives a surprisingly funny performance, and I really liked cutie Elisabeth Moss as Jonah’s girlfriend. (Speaking of Jonah Hill, um, it may be time for him to start following the Seth Rogen weight loss plan. Goddamn, he got huge!)

solitary-man SOLITARY MAN -- I’ve long been a Michael Douglas fan, but he hadn’t done much of anything in recent years... until now. This is a brilliant character study of a complete asshole. A former renowned car salesman who, after getting a scare from his doctor, decides to throw caution to the wind and embarks on a journey of infidelity and crooked business practices that leave his life in shambles. The film shows us what happens when he hits rock bottom, unable to stop his philandering, alienated from his family (which includes Susan Sarandon as his ex-wife and Pam Beasley herself, Jenna Fischer as his fed-up daughter), and forced to reevaluate his life. Tremendous film loaded with solid performances (including Jesse Eisenberg, again doing the Michael Cera thing better than Michael Cera, and the captivating Imogen Poots -- not to be confused with my friend Poot -- in a pivotal role). Definitely worth seeing as we await the return of Michael Douglas’s most memorable asshole character in the upcoming WALL STREET sequel! (Incidentally, this movie really reminded me of a movie from a few years ago called ROGER DODGER, which dealt with some similar themes -- would probably make a great double-feature -- even the posters are similar!)

micmacs MICMACS -- The first movie in five years from the great Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of AMELIE (my #1 movie of the ‘00s, for those keeping track). The wackiest, most colorful and fun commentary against weapons manufacturing that I’m pretty sure I’ve ever seen, it’s about a guy named Bazil who gets shot in the head by a stray bullet, and whose father (we learn in a flashback) was killed by a landmine -- both of which were built by the same manufacturer. Alive but now homeless, Bazil befriends a ragtag group of misfits who help him exact revenge on the evil ones responsible for his plight. Featuring Jeunet’s trademark whimsy and starring some of his usual players (including the awesome Dominique Pinon), it feels like it could totally occur in the same Paris as that of Amelie Poulain, the very thought of which fills me with glee.

Thus ends the month of May. What will June bring? Well, we know that TOY STORY 3 is going to rule. Beyond that... we shall see!

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