Sunday, July 31, 2011

Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

This series of vignettes about sex is a very uneven collection. Some are inventive (such as the final one looking at what's going on in the brain during sex), but others are just over-the-top and unfunny (like a choppy segment about a giant breast from a mad scientist's lab terrorizing the country). The good thing about movies like this, though, is that if you don't like a specific segment, you only have to wait about 10 minutes until there's a new one. It was a good idea for a film, but a pretty wimpy result. Not one of my favorite Allen films. 2.5 stars.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Birdcage (1996)

It's been awhile since I laughed this hard and this often at a movie. The Birdcage has a funny premise to begin with, but the dialogue and the acting really make it come to life. It's sharp and witty and funny and, while it is about flamboyant homosexuals, finds the humor through the characters more than it does through the stereotypes. (Hank Azaria as their Guatemalan maid was one of the highlights for me - just a very funny character.) Robin Williams is beautifully understated, which lets Nathan Lane do wonderfully in his over-the-top role. Overall, a very funny comedy that had me laughing out loud several times. 4 stars.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Sunshine Boys (1996)

While this is not quite as charming as the original 1975 version of the play, I really like aspects of this remake. While in the original Walter Matthau embodied his character much more than Peter Falk does, I really like Woody Allen's take on Al Lewis. George Burns was funny, but his overly subtle character always faded into the background next to Matthau's. Allen's over-the-top neuroticism makes his Lewis a great opponent for Willie Clark. Some of the updated lines don't quite work and Sarah Jessica Parker is really wooden as Clark's niece, but overall, pretty entertaining. 3.5 stars.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Although I liked the sci-fi portions of the movie, I found the romance a bit heavy-handed and, halfway through, I was yelling in my head at the characters. I have little patience for movies where people choose a specific loved one over an otherwise happy life. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are charming enough to watch, though, and there are a few entertaining chase scenes. Probably more suited to the sci-fi fans who aren't as cynically opposed to movie romances as I am. 3 stars.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rango (2011)

Perhaps it was a result of too much hype, but this was not as funny or as original as I expected. There were a few laughs, but overall it was just a straightforward western... just with cartoon animals. Westerns are a genre I always have to push myself to enjoy, so there was already at least one bias against it, but on top of that the hype gave me unrealistic expectations of it. Disappointing. 3 stars.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

The first 1/3 of this was very hit or miss for me. There were moments I found hilarious, and others that were just stupid and made me roll my eyes. As the story went on and I warmed to the silliness of the characters, the humor settled a bit better with me. If it were more consistent, this could end up as a favorite, but since there are a lot of jokes that fall very flat for me, I have to give it a medium rating. 3.5 stars.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

The metaphor is taken a bit far in this early anti-war film. There were moments I was really interested in this family's story, but found the transition between that and the "big picture" themes to be very jarring. While watching this, I realized I have not yet found a silent drama I truly like - I think the disconnect between acting styles is still something I haven't been able to get used to. 2.5 stars.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ran (1985)

There are some very haunting visuals in this movie - especially a few chilling shots of Lord Hidetora wandering mad through his land, and the final shot is breathtaking - and the story is solid, if extremely dark. However, as with its Shakespearean original, I never really connected with or cared about the political aspects of the story. The center of the story is the insane father. Whenever his story faded into the background, so did my interest. It's Kurosawa, so, of course, it was good enough to keep me interested most of the way anyway, but the story never grabbed me emotionally - just a few isolated images. 3.5 stars.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creation (2009)

Although Paul Bettany does a great job as Charles Darwin, everything else in this movie is a bit lacking. It can't decide whether it wants to be about his personal struggles or his work. With neither topic getting much emphasis, they both end up fading away into the background. This could have been a very interesting and powerful biopic but never quite comes together. 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

This is a thoroughly charming little movie. I'd never heard of it and didn't know what it was at all going into it, but the characters really captured my attention, especially Anthony Quinn as Bombolini. The subplot with the Contessa and the soldier was uninteresting and unnecessary, but it took up only a tiny portion of the movie, and the rest of it told a great story. 3.5 stars.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Waterloo (1970)

It was interesting watching this right on the heels of Abel Gance's Napoleon. This, however, had what Gance's film lacked. I was very drawn into the minds of the two opposing leaders. Wellington was played beautifully by Christopher Plummer, who created a fascinating aristocratic soldier. Napoleon was clearly the supporting character of this story, but he was also significantly more interesting than in Gance's version. The characters of these two held up the movie for me when I lost interest in the battle logistics. Nicely done. 3 stars.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Napoleon (1927)

It takes someone with more resolve than I to sit through a four-hour silent French biopic in one sitting. Although I was really impressed with some of the film techniques used, particularly at the end, the movie itself seemed more a series of historical facts than any kind of interesting character development. I spent four hours with Gance's Napoleon and have absolutely zero idea what his personality was. This biopic is, sadly, a rather unengaging history lesson. 2 stars.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quitting (2001)

Wonderfully inventive format for a documentary. It had the potential to turn into some sort of a sappy biopic, but the director doesn't force it and neither do the people involved. It's just the story it is. I don't really have any words for this right now... but I liked it. 3.5 stars.

Laserblast (1978)

While not as bad as some that MST3K have done, this movie didn't even really bother to fully set up its premise. It could have been a fun cheesy sci-fi movie if it had explained questions. For example: What WAS that hole in his chest? What did the aliens want? Why did the laser take over him? Why did it only take over him at nighttime until the end? It would also need to cut all the extraneous scenes of people just wandering around doing nothing. With good writing, it could have been ridiculous but fun. This way, it's ridiculous and boring. 1 star.