Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

My Bodyguard – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Oktober 6th, 2010


At his new school, fifteen-year-old Chris Makepeace is bullied, so he decides to hire the one guy everyone is scared of, Adam Baldwin, as his bodyguard. The business relationship soon develops into a friendship as their limits are severely tested. The film doesn’t quite know what to do with the premise. It crams a few too many plot elements into the erratically told story and waivers between serious drama and light-hearted comedy. There is much promise here, but ultimately very little pay-off. Solid performances, especially from Ruth Gordon as Makepeace’s grandmother, make for an entertaining film, but it’s kind of sad to think what it could have been.

Random Observations:

My Bodyguard at the IMDb

I have to admit that I mostly picked up this film to see the début of Adam Baldwin, of firefly fame, who is decidedly not a Baldwin brother.

This appears to be “80s teen movie week”. No idea how this happened. Check in Friday to see whether it continues.

Another film with a very young Joan Cusack. And also a very young Matt Dillon. While instantly recognizable, they sure have changed a lot in thirty years.

Sixteen Candles – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 4th, 2010


A day before her sister’s wedding, Molly Ringwald’s entire family forgets her sixteenth birthday. And that is not the only trouble she has: the boy she likes doesn’t even know her and she has to fend of the advances of perennial geek Anthony Michael Hall. In short, not one of her better days, but things are definitely looking up in this classic teen comedy from classic teen comedy writer-director John Hughes, his début feature. He hasn’t quite gotten the grip on teen angst he later demonstrated with The Breakfast Club and the film is not nearly as outrageously funny as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s a solid first effort that is definitely worth seeing if you’ve ever been a teenager and especially if you were a teenager in suburban America in the 1980s.

Random Observations:

Sixteen Candles at the IMDb

Both Hughes regulars were only fifteen when the film was made, actually fitting the age of their characters.

John Cusack has a small role in this film as another geek – not quite the role he’ll be remembered for.

His sister Joan Cusack is also in this film. And a Beth Ringwald – Molly’s older sister. John Hughes definitely made family films…

Dear God, was Long Duk Dong ever offensive. I always thought political correctness had arisen in the early 80s.

Rain Man – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Oktober 1st, 2010


Not exactly successful car dealer Tom Cruise isn’t very sad when his father dies. But when he hears that he left all his money to a formerly unknown brother, who is severely autistic, Cruise more or less kidnaps his brother to get at the money. But naturally, things don’t quite work out this way in this classic drama about brothers, life, autism and Dustin Hoffman’s acting abilities. Though not quite as brilliant as I remembered, the film still holds up reasonably well more than twenty years after its release.

Random Observations:

Rain Man at the IMDb

In the farm house scene, where they go to watch “People’s Court”, Beth Grant plays the mother. I honestly did not recognize her. How embarrassing.

Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for his performance, the starting point for the famous “full retard” speech from the solid comedy Tropic Thunder.

I was inspired to watch this film again by the casino/card-counting scene from The Hangover, that was a clear homage to this film.

It’s funny what you remember from films that you haven’t seen in many years. I completely forgot about Cruise’s girlfriend and I could have sworn that the last scene was different – but the scene in my mind was only alluded to throughout the film. “Dad let’s my drive slow in the driveway. I’m an excellent driver.”

The Hangover – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 29th, 2010


Having your bachelor party two days before the wedding in Las Vegas is a bad idea – especially when the groom-to-be is missing. So the three friends try to figure out just what the hell happened in their night of debauchery and hilarity ensues. No, seriously, it actually ensues. Despite nothing in the film actually being particularly funny, the film as a whole is quite hilarious – no idea how they pulled that off. Probably by being better craftspeople than I am.

Random Observations:

The Hangover at the IMDb

Zach Galifianakis, of the unpronounceable name, is probably the funniest ingredient in this very entertaining film. He plays the not-all-there brother-in-law of groom-to-be Justin Bartha.

I wonder: is Bradley Cooper in any way related to Chris Cooper? Probably not, but the new IMDb design doesn’t allow me to painlessly look it up. And it would be very funny if it were the case. So I am just going to pretend that he is Chris’ son.

The comedy here is painted in such broad strokes, that it is sure to appeal to almost everyone.

Crank – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 27th, 2010


Most action movies are, almost by definition, silly and over the top. Compared to this one, however, they are downright sensible. Ejected with a drug that will kill him as soon as his heart slows down, Jason Statham goes on a rampage throughout L.A. in order to keep the adrenaline flowing, his heart pumping and kill all the bad guys – or at least those that pissed him off. The film is designed to be a ninety-minute-thrill-ride, but is actually fairly boring at times, which, combined with the fact that it is not silly enough to be seen as a farce, makes it an almost utter failure. But then again, at least there are some decent action set pieces.

Random Observations:

Crank at the IMDb

The German theatrical release was heavily cut in order to secure a FSK 16 rating. There is nothing unusual about that, but the way it was done here exaggerates the violence more than eliminating it.

I’m pretty sure the film was supposed to be somewhat stylized, but it was done so inconsistently that it was more annoying than anything else. Especially the odd video game references throughout the film.

This is the 650th post published on this site. Somehow, I feel like celebrations are in order. Especially since everything here is about to change.

Harold and Maude – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, September 24th, 2010


Harold is a young man obsessed with death – he attends funerals for fun and likes to stage fake suicides. His rich single mother naturally despairs. Maude is about to turn 80 and embraces life to the fullest, doing whatever she wants with vigour, fascinating Harold. Hal Ashby’s 1971 film is the first quirky American romantic comedy, pairing two people who couldn’t be more different and yet fit together perfectly, despite or especially because of the huge age difference. The film is funny, touching and bitter-sweet, accompanied by a Cat Stevens soundtrack that fits the tone of the film perfectly. Really, there is no excuse for not having seen this film yet, but if you haven’t and enjoy grotesque humour paired with horribly true life lessons, you’ll love this film.

Random Observations:

Harold and Maude at the IMDb

Bud Cort is perfect in the lead role – I wonder whatever happened to him or rather his career. I don’t think he made a single good film since then.

The faked suicides are highly unrealistic, but very entertaining. How’s that for a sentence I never thought I’d write?

It’s a real shame that the Jaguar hearse did not survive the filming. Now there’s a car I’d love to drive!

Surveillance – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 22nd, 2010


Jennifer Lynch’s main accomplishment in life is being born as the daughter of visionary film-maker David Lynch. This film, her second feature, which she also co-wrote, did nothing to change that fact. She tried very hard to borrow from her father and his style is immediately recognizable in this abnormal thriller, even if she tries to give it some of her own flourishes. Two FBI agents come to a small town to investigate a series of gruesome highway killings. The local police is in way over their head and the tales of the witnesses are not entirely trustworthy. So the question is: what happened? And even more importantly: what is going to happen? But despite every attempt, there is nothing truly new, creative or unique here. The story is patently predictable, the violence is superfluous but not entirely unreasonable and the depth of human nature that are pumped have all been seen before. Without anything really standing out, including the performances from some name actors, the film has very little to recommend it. Still, if you are bored and have 90 minutes to spare, you can give it a try.

Random Observations:

Surveillance at the IMDb

Speaking of actorly performances: the film features the severely underused Pell James. Sure, she might not be the most talented American actress under 30, but she is certainly one of the prettier ones…

The film was co-written by Lynch and Kent Harper, who also plays a crucial role.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 20th, 2010


Life is all about second chances. You give them to people. People give them to you. And sometimes – not very often, mind you – you offer them to a film. I first saw Were-Rabbit back in its theatrical run in 2005 and I was less than impressed. But after watching the recent Wallace & Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death and enjoying it immensely, I thought it was time to revise my judgement. Sadly, I was mistaken and my judgement still stands. Sure, the film has some outrageously funny scenes, some inspired ideas and is beautifully animated. (Claymated? That doesn’t sound right.) But ultimately, there are just not enough jokes or plot to sustain a feature film. The shorts are hilarious, but the film is somehow less. It’s by no means bad, but it’s just not great, with the story becoming increasingly silly (and not in a good way) and many of the jokes falling flat. And seriously, Gromit’s eyes are impressively expressive, but there is only so much one can take of them. In summary: it’s a good thing that Aardman went back to making short films – it’s where claymation belongs.

Random Observations:

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit at the IMDb

The film took half a decade to make, with only 3 seconds of footage being produced on most days. Stop motion animation is a lot of work, doing the whole thing with clay even more so.

It’s nice that the studio and director/creator Nick Park managed to retain Peter Sallis as the voice of Wallace. Some better known actor would have been a horrible choice.

The first third of the film, before the plot gets really under way, is easily my favourite part of the movie.

Sneakers – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, September 17th, 2010


Combining genres is tough. Combining thriller and comedy is nigh-impossible. Sneakers still attempts it – with middling success. It’s an absurd story of professional thieves that test out security systems so that real thieves don’t break in who stumble over what may be the biggest invention in human history. The thrilling moments are rare and so are the funny ones, mostly due to a charismatic Robert Redford in the lead role, while the impressive supporting cast (Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, David Strathairn) is mostly reduced to being annoying. Nevertheless, the film manages to be solid entertainment – and often, that is quite enough to be remembered two decades later.

Random Observations:

Sneakers at the IMDb

The film features a pre-elder-statesman-aged David Strathairn, which just goes to prove that some actors are born to play one part, even if they have to wait fifty years to fit the role.

Nice bit of Fabricated Truth trivia: this is the first “proper” entry I write since my return. And even though I’ve been back for more than a week, this is the first new film I’ve seen. (I watched Casablanca again a couple of days ago, because it’s just that awesome.)

A Streetcar Named Desire – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 15th, 2010


Faded Southern Belle Vivien Leigh comes to New Orleans to stay with her sister Kim Hunter and brother-in-law Marlon Brando. She labours under a good many delusions and can’t deal with the fact that her sister married (and loves) a working class man. He, meanwhile, can’t stand her and just wants her out of the apartment. Naturally, things come to a dramatic end. Tennessee Williams’ famous play was adapted for the screen by much of the same people who first made it a hit, including director Elia Kazan and large parts of the cast. Personally, I couldn’t care less for any of the people involved, but it’s a gripping story that is well told, so I guess that makes it a good film.

Random Observations:

A Streetcar Named Desire at the IMDb

Three people won acting Oscars for this film, including the two female leads and the always glorious Karl Malden. But it was really Brando who made the film, bursting onto the scene with his method acting and raw naturalism that changed cinema forever.

Seriously, Brando is so good, you almost forgive him for being the villain.

The film is also really interesting as a case study about the Breen Office, the League of Decency, and Censorship in Hollywood. The DVD Special Edition features a nice little extra about that, especially explaining about the last minute changes the League demanded.