|DVRfest 2011 (11.05.11 - 11.06.11, 6 movies)|
|11.05.11||Predators||Nimrod Antal||Boom it's DVRfest time.|
Once again, I'll devote (or try to devote as the case has already proven to be) the weekend to clearing my DVR of saved movies and also celebrating another anniversary of this movie journal. Can you believe this is the 7th one!? I totally can. So if you still follow this and care about me seeing random movies that you've already seen, why not follow along?
Oh, that's right, because it usually starts Friday night and I usually would've seen 4 movies by now. That's why not. Well, As anyone bored enough to still read this journal knows, I've been in a non-movie-watching slump for like 3 years now. In fact, the past few DVRfests have reflected that slump getting so bad as me forgetting all about it last year until the very last minute. Well I have good news and bad news for this year. The good news is that, perhaps for the first time since the very first year, I actually have randomly-saved movies on my DVR dating back to February that needs to be cleared out. Nothing has been saved just for the sake of the fest and no netflix or computer movies will pad out the schedule. The bad news is that there's only 6 of them and I'm already behind.
I tried my best to start the fest last night but fell asleep two separate times trying to watch this first movie which is, as the title states, Predators.
So... I really love the Predator franchise. I think the first one is one of the top three action movies of the 80s (the others being Die Hard and... something else). I think the second one is a very worthy sequel that's mostly underrated (aside from the Gerardo music in the beginning) and I've always thought there was still new ground to uncover with the Predator species in new movies. The Alien vs. Predator films didn't please fans of either franchise and really only stand there to be made fun of and as examples of how to ruin a great concept twice. So when I heard there was a new Predator movie without the aliens back in the jungle with a decent cast, I got really excited. Of course, as everybody already knows, it's kind of a crap movie.
On paper, they seemed to get a lot right. Band of badassess, not set on earth (spoiler!), a cadre of multiple Predators hunting them... Sounds right, right? So Why did it go so wrong and end up boring enough for me to fall asleep during it, wake up and rewind to where i was, fall asleep again, and have to try again the next day? It's really such a shame. It should've been such a solid action movie but it really wasn't in any way. I didn't buy Adrien Brody as being tougher than anyone else (except Topher Grace), I hated how we hardly ever saw anything from the Predator's POV, much less got to see them using awesome alien group techniques. All their cool new Predator gear was either kind of lame (oh great they have a boomerang with an IR camera on it and it fits on their shoulder like every other peice of gear they have) or not shown well at all. In fact I feel like I barely got enough sense of the variation between the predators to even know which was which. Then all the deaths are lame and the ending really falls apart with these blaring wholes that they never bother to explain like how the ship takes off or when Brody had time to watch the first movie and memorize Arnie's lines. I know I'm supposed to think that the modern-day yakuza guy who knows how to handle a samurai sword because they teach that in Japanese grade school squares off against the Predator in the field of tall grass, but to me it looked like a guy in a suit who can't see shit waving his arms around and then they both die without us seeing what exactly happened. At this point I was a little embarassed for the fictional race of Predators. Somehow there IS a difference between the group of them not killing Danny Glover because he bested the one hunter who was out on his training quest to become a man or whyever these dudes go out one by one and a hunter letting the japanese guy get back up when he falls down because he's somehow absorbed ancient samurai dueling etiquette and wants his hand-claw slice to count for the judges. Breathe, Brian. new paragraph.
So, the reall bummer of this movie to me is that it sort of made me think that maybe there are no more good Predator movies to be made. I mean, the second movie managed to move the action to a city, introduce new Predator gear (like the awesome disc blade and expanding spear and personal napalm healing kit), expand the world by having Gary Busey aware of the alien and try to capture it for science, and expand the alien mythology by making them hunt other species and having their trophies on the ship. If that one movie that's considered crap by most do all of that, what's this one do? Oh great, there's a random jungle planet that they use for training, and there's a weird blood fued between Predators and slightly-larger Predators that makes no sense. Why is the smaller Predator even there if the whole planet is just for the bigger Predators to train? I mean, the hunting thing was already pounded to death with the AvP series anyway. So in essence, this movie is a near-complete retread in terms of franchise growth, but executed at a lower level than the first two. Great. That's worth watching. But what else is there to do? Go to the predator homeworld of course but I don't think that'd be very fun.
It would be so cool to have an alien movie where the predator completely invades like half-way through. Pull a total Psycho and not mention the predator in any of the trailers or anything and actually have some form of alien movie that's interesting enough on its own, then BOOM a predator lands in the middle of it just to stir up shit. Like a weird Predator sub-plot in the second act. That'd be sweet.
Anyway, Disappointment with this, as you all could have told me before I sat down last night. Maybe someday another Predator movie will come along that really lives up to the first two but my hope is dwindling.
So... Next up is... probably a movie I shouldn't bother watching!
|11.05.11||Sex and the City 2||Michael Patrick King||Sex and the City part 2... Why did I have this on my DVR? Well... watching the show was kind of a guilty pleasure for me although I only saw the last 3 seasons or so. I didn't rush out and see the first movie and drink cosmos or anything but I did watch it with Molly on HBO and thought it was terrible. I was mainly curious to see this one because it seems like everyone lurved the first movie but loathed the second. I couldn't imagine it being much worse than last time...|
Eh, I don't think it is. Yes it's not good, and all the middle east woman empowerment was groan-worthy and really the whole plot was plodding and meandering and ridiculous along with the dialog and costumes and everything else. I don't know, maybe because the show had less of a budget they had to keep things smaller and that kept them from being so bad? Or maybe the true strength is in the supporting cast which are always shoved to the side in these movies? I dunno. I don't remember the shows being so on the nose and clunky.
I don't really feel like getting into details. It's way too long and not good but now I've seen it and it's deleted. Moving on...
|11.05.11||Cinema Verite||Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini||This was an HBO movie about the 1973 TV show "An American Family" which I had no idea existed but I guess was the birth of "reality television" since it followed everyone in a family arouned EdTV-style until they got a divorce (spoiler!). Diane Lane plays the 70s liberated wife and Tim Robbins plays the slimy adultering husband. James Gandolfini plays the manipulative show producer. It's funny, I don't usually think of PBS producers as shady and manipulative even with their full 70s beards, and although he's not exactly an angel in the ethics department, the prevalence and escalation of this kind of "filmmaking" today sort of proves that his ideas had merit, that people wanted to see the dirt swept under the rugs.|
Having no prior knowledge of the show, I found this movie to be pretty interesting. Of course I have no idea, but it all felt pretty authentic and that the directors had no qualms of inserting original footage to set up chapters of the film gave its authenticity confidence. I'm a big fan of showing the original subject somewhere in these dramatization movies to see how close they made up the actors and how well the actors matched performances. I know it's bad to want them to mimic and actors bring their own ideas or whatever but whatever to that.
This is one of the better HBO films that I've seen. It's weird how casual their films seem to me. I'll watch them and they'll play out and end and that's it. There's no prescene or impact with most of their stuff really but I felt this was pretty well done and definitely worth watching. Lane and Robbins are pretty good playing a 70s couple.
Next up is a Michael Winterbottom movie. yay!
|11.05.11||The Killer Inside Me||Micheal Winterbottom||Jarrette worked on this one! Casey Affleck plays a small town sheriff who's also a batshit crazy person. We follow him as he does some psycho things and plays it cool. This is one of those movies that has a great cast and is acted and directed very well but is ultimately not that much fun to watch just because the subject matter is disturbing. Usually I like this sort of thing, and the noirish elements are right up my alley, but something about the pace or setting or Affleck's narration seemed long for me. I was kind of hoping to like this more but instead wind up respecting it from a distance sort of. I acknowledge that it's a good movie but it kind of lost me toward the end or something. Oh well.|
I am amazed however that this was made by the same guy who did The Trip and everything else. Winterbottom is such a versatile director, it's really incredible.
Well, that may be it for tonight. I might start the next movie but have no intention on staying awake through the whole thing tonight. I'll have to pick up the last two tomorrow!
|11.06.11||The Innocents||Jack Clayton||God black and white scope is beautiful. The early 60s was really a great time for cinematography. Wonderfully baroque images of this huge English estate fill each frame as little creepy kids hop around and ghosts drive Deborah Kerr insane. This is one of those really well-regarded classics that I've never seen and have always felt a need to fill in. As such, it probably seems a bit overrated to me right now just because it doesn't pack quite the punch of The Haunting or Psycho for me, but I can definitely see how people love this movie. Kerr is great and the ghostly stuff is really handled with creepy subtlety. Particularly the hussy lady in the reeds on the far side of the lake. I don't know why long shots of people standing still are so creepy but they totally are.|
This reminds me of something. Why haven't any movies deliberately re-done the Three Men and a Baby cardboard cut-out trick? Remember that? Everybody got so freaked out that this kid was in the room for one of the scenes and a mythology quickly formed that he had jumped out the window (even though it was an interior set in some studio on the ground floor and I guess the kid was just a cardboard stand-in used for focus testing) and everybody watched it again and got super creeped out. And wasn't whats-his-name accidentally being in the shot the whole basis for the killer Bob character in Twin Peaks? It seems like this technique of leaving random creepy-looking people in the frame is un-mined territory. If i ever made a horror movie, any scene with extras I'd have one looking directly in camera and as much as i could i'd have random people standing still in the background. Free creepiness right there!
Anyway, yeah part of this movie creeped me out a bit in an old early 60s way but by the end the histrionics were too much for me and I didn't quite understand the ending. Oh well. Horror movies are a bit like comedies in my mind in that regardless of plot or production quality or how well the film is actually constructed, they either work or they don't. 70% of Caddyshack is pretty boring, but the 30% that works is classic. The few scenes in this were memorable enough for me to call this a good movie even though it was probably a little long and there was a bit much running around at the end. The dude outside the window and the hussy at the end of the lake worked.
Next up, later tonight, is the last movie of the fest: an exceedingly random end to a pretty random weekend of films. My DVR is down to 17% full though which is pretty awesome.
|11.06.11||Crazy Heart||Scott Cooper||This year's DVRfest closer is on the schedule solely for Jeff Bridges. I'm really not a bit country music guy which led this to falling through my considerable cinematic cracks when it came out, but it was on at one random point and I thought it'd be worth seeing for Bridges' performance. I'm not wrong, of course, and the rest of the movie is tolerable too.|
I'm being a bit harsh. It's a good movie. I loved seeing solid names in the cast pop up pretty deep in the film. Although Maggie Gyllenhaal's charms have always worked at like half power for me, she did alright here. It's really Bridges' movie though. He's really just on fire these days, right? I loved how the film begins with him cursing a bowling alley.
I'm actually kind of surprised by how much I liked this. Some of these "Oscar" movies get so bloated with praise that I'm almost guaranteed to dislike them, especially actor vehicles like this one. This was good though, which was good.
Hmm... Not much else to say. It's late Sunday and to be honest I want to get a few HBO shows in before I hit the hey. I'm a little sad that this was yet another year of trying to fit the fest in among normal weekend activities. With any luck, I'll have a second DVR in my little man cave for next year and will give it a little more respect. I'd love to get back to the grandeur of the first three years. Wait, did I say all of this last year? I think I did. Shit...
So stats: 7 movies in the past week, 9 in the past month, 87 (ouch!) in the past year, 2237 since the site started. An average of 1 movie per day, 0.3 per month, 0.24 per year, and 0.88 global. At least this year I didn't have a month with no movies like last year, although I only saw 1 in June so I don't know why I'm bragging. Huh. Thank goodness for FantasticFest; it's just about doubling my averages lately.
Depressing stats aside, I still enjoy watching movies and I'm more grateful than ever for keeping notes on them. Here's to hoping I keep this going for another 7 years! Pervy old Bogdanovich would be proud.