Monday, August 25, 2014
Matt’s Week in Dork! (8/17/14-8/23/14)
Not a heck of a lot going on in the realm of Dorkness this week. Just a bunch of movies.
Lo: Not at all what I was expecting…and not really my kind of thing. A low budget horror comedy. Kind of handled/written like a play. I guess they’re going for a sort of Faust thing (which they reference a bunch). It’s got some funny bits, but overall, the humor felt a bit too college writing class for my taste. The acting has that feel, too.
Rango: A wonderful homage to Spaghetti Westerns, as well as a meditation on the nature of heroes and their quests, Rango is far more than a simple kids film. Sure, there are lots of clever references for adults to pick up on, but there are also deeper lessons that will help children and adults grow. This is the best sort of family entertainment.
Scanners: With a look and feel similar to that of Cronenberg’s Rabid, this look at good intentioned science gone horribly awry is pretty cool. I like how, similar to British horror/sci-fi films of the 70s, everything is accepted. Nobody questions the existence of Scanners (a new race of psychic mutants). It just is. They are. Then the movie rolls on. Psychic warriors, corporate conspiracy, weird science, and yes, the ascension of a new Humanity.
The Expendables 3: I’ve said it before, and sadly, I’ll probably say it again. Don’t make violent action films PG-13. And don’t make sequels to R rated films PG-13. It didn’t work with Aliens VS Predator. It sure as hell didn’t work here. Though not as bad as I was expecting, this sanitized actioner lets you focus more on the dreadful acting and script. Without all those body parts flying by to distract you, you can almost smell the smoke from the brains of these meatheads when they’re trying to remember their moronic lines. That gives the movie its own charm, frankly. Antonio Banderas is far and away the best part of the movie. He’s awesome. The rest? Meh. And Ronda Rousey? Wow. She’s impressively bad. So uncomfortable in front of the camera, she can’t even act ‘standing around’ right. Yikes.
The Hundred-Foot Journey: There’s nothing especially challenging or game changing about this movie. It’s a very cute, very nice romantic film. It’s funny and warm, and it’s sweet. If you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, check it out. The cast is charming, the locations pretty, and the food looks great. A good companion to Chocolat, The Big Night, or this year's other big food-porn film Chef.
Cowboys & Aliens: I like Weird Westerns, and this mash-up of alien invasion film and classic Western makes for a fun viewing. It looks good, moves at a good pace, and features plenty of nice genre bits. If you like a little weird mixed in to your Western, check it out. I feel like this would pair well with Valley of Gwangi or maybe John Carter.
Duck Soup: Well, now I’ve seen a Marx Brothers movie. Did I like it? Well, I liked parts of it. But the film is a jumble. The plot is, at the very best, secondary. It primarily serves as a frame to hang various bits and gags on. Some of those bits and gags are funny, others are…less so. Groucho is fun to watch do his fast talking retorts and insults. Chico has a kind of gutter charm. Harpo is as annoying as I’d always assumed he’d be. And Zeppo doesn’t seem to have much to do. It’s all nonsense, and as such, I suppose it’s fine. Not my cup of tea, but fine.
I Love Maria: Pretty good practical effects bolster a too zany comedy script. The film is goofy, the humor broad, and the English subtitles (only option) are nearly gibberish. A very, very young Tony Leung makes you wonder how he became such a fine actor. Director Tsui Hark gives a surprisingly good performance. But the movie sinks under the weight of its silly parts. By the end of it, I didn’t care who did what or who made it out alive. I was just glad the antics wound down. Not horrible. But not recommended.
Fa Meg Pa, For Faen: There are a million reasons I’m glad to be a dude. Watching this movie about a young woman, living in the sticks, trying to deal with budding sexuality is an awkward, painful reminder. The movie is cute, but so darned painful to watch. Alma doesn’t always make good choices, but she makes the kinds of bad choices kids of her age do, with sometimes hilariously stupid results. This is a realistic comedy, not the wacky antics of the American Pie series, or similar. Everything here feels like it came from a real place in the filmmakers’ lives. There are plenty of pitfalls for young men, don’t get me wrong. And I think this movie even handles a few of those pretty well, if from the outside. Artur does something powerfully stupid and tries to play it off like it didn’t happen. Yet, he’s not shown as a one-note jerk. The performances are good, even though many of the actors are not professional actors. A good movie for those who like less gross-out in their teen comedy...Not that there aren't some gross things; they're just not handled in as childish a way as one expects from most contemporary comedies.
Only Lovers Left Alive: The script has far too much ‘oh so clever’ references and nods, delivered with too obvious a wink or elbow jab. And yeah. I get it. Blood means drugs. It looks nice, and the cast is good. There’s not much of a story, really. And while I didn’t dislike watching it, I instantly forgot about it.
On Saturday night, we got together for our graphic novel club, where this month’s reading was Beasts of Burden. The book was pretty good, if not great. But the gathering was spirited and fun. Everyone seemed to be on, and in good spirits. It was a good night, sitting around with a wonderfully diverse bunch of brains.
-Matthew J. Constantine