Plot: Aleksandr [sic] Luzhin is a brilliant and passionate chess player but has almost no ability to live any semblance of a normal life beyond the 64 squares of a chessboard or interact with anybody not made of wood. That is until he meets Natalia, the eccentric-lovin' daughter of wealthy parents, during the preliminaries of a chess tournament in Italy. She's attracted to his erratic genius; he wants to get in her pants. Or nudge her with his bishop, promote his pawn, exploit her flanks, have her mount his knight, etc. Will his obsessions get in the way of his newfound happiness and his ability to win the tournament? And what about the bearded guy?
I had to give a bonus point because the chess was real. The play of the grandmasters might not have looked real. They played awfully fast, but of course, nobody wants to sit around watching characters pondering moves over a chess board for the time it would take to make it realistic. I almost always enjoy Turturro, and I like him here as the obsessive genius type he plays so well (see, Barton Fink). The other characters are all pretty flat, and the antagonist's motivation doesn't make a lick of sense to me. The ending was unexpected, but not necessarily in a good way. Actually, the last fourth of the movie was a flurry of plot twists and silliness that butted heads with the reflective tone of the first three-fourths. I should admit that I did at least like the characters enough to get a little emotional and tear up a little at the end.
Rating: 9/20 (Mark: 7/20)
Plot: Bruce Banner has a problem where he turns green, gets really big, and turns monosyllabic whenever he gets really angry. The science is too complicated for me to explain to you cretins. Of course, I understand everything perfectly because I'm practically a scientist. I understand the nuclear reaction stuff involved, and I understand how when large and green, Hulk is capable of defying the laws of physics. And how Bruce Banner's bones, muscles, skin, nipples, and hair all manage to grow enormously while his pants always stay on? Yep. Perfect sense. Anyway, Bruce, his girlfriend, and Mr. Blue are working hard to find an antidote; unfortunately, the military keeps interfering and making our hero get all smashy. Oh, green snap!
Firstly, the environmental subtext here is sickening. The "Go green" message is so in-your-face that it makes me want to go out behind the house and burn a stack of tires or kill one thousand pigs and dump their carcasses in a river. Not a river that's close by either. No, I'd drive miles in a Hummer and take numerous detours to see the world's largest prairie dog, the factory where Jello is made, and Geronimo's bones. Take that, Mother Earth! Up yours!
Second comic book movie in a row at my brother's place. We started to watch a compilation of avant-garde shorts, but I became terrified at the prospect of seeing a penis and made the switch. This Hulk movie isn't a lot better than the Ang Lee version if it is at all. It's got embarrassing cameos and the clumsiest set-up for a sequel that I've ever seen. The special effects are at times tolerable, but a lot of the CGI stuff just looks ridiculous. The worst problem is with Hulk's antagonist, played by the always-wacky Tim Roth. Now, I like Tim Roth in a lot of things, but everything he does in this is awkward, sometimes awkwardly funny. He can't even walk right in this. And without an engaging bad guy, a movie like this just isn't going to work. The only reason the bad guy exists is to set up the bombast at the end. The conflict doesn't resonate, and there's almost no real tension created. As with all comic book movies, I had trouble figuring out what the heck was going on a great deal of the time, and more than once, I wished that I had left it on the penises. And come on, makers of The Incredible Hulk. Hulk smash? Really?
Rating: 16/20 (Dylan: 6/20)
Plot: Two Russian partisans leave their posse to travel through Nazi-peppered and brutal wintry conditions in order to find some food. They reach a village but discover it's been decimated. The one who sort of looks like Jesus is wounded, and the other helps him to a farm house. When German soldiers capture them there, they face their seemingly inevitable deaths in different ways, one with cowardice and selfishness and the other with dignity and bravery.
This is such a simple movie. There's nothing fancy, nothing much to look at, nothing spectacular about the dialogue or the story. However, it works as a powerful, if incomplete glimpse into the human soul. Told in stark black and white (actually, it seems almost entirely white at times), the film forces you to focus on the characters, so much that it almost feels like you're looking right through them. Without the shock and awe of a Saving Private Ryan, this manages to be more gripping and emotional. It's definitely a brutal couple hours. There's some Christian religious allusions here which makes it really interesting for a 1970s Soviet film. I'm baffled by the title. There is a literal ascent in the movie, but I'm not sure it's enough to have the movie named after it. The Plunge would have been a more appropriate title.
Plot: A guy tries to uncover the mystery of the mysterious Cthulhu, a item you can buy at Taco Bell, eat, and almost instantly regret.
Such a terrible movie. I'm not even fully convinced the idea (apparently, taking an H.P. Lovecraft story that was supposed to be filmed in the mid-20's but wasn't, imagining what exactly that would have looked like, and then putting together a really cheap-looking laughable version) is a good one. It certainly doesn't look good, sort of like a silent film made in the digital age. Blue or green or gray screens were obviously involved. The story is a convoluted sloppy mess. At one point, there is a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. The film leaves the viewer on the edge of the seat. Suspense builds and builds until that magical moment everybody is waiting for when the monster emerges from what appears to be a gigantic cardboard box and does its Cthulhu thang. And boom! It looks like something that Harryhausen could have put together in thirty-five minutes. Well, if he was forced to wear mittens and had somebody hitting him in the back of the head repeatedly with a broom.
Plot: The Joker, tired of stealing from mob banks, unleashes madness on Gothem City. Batman, the cop, and the district attorney try to stop him.
Just when I thought this one was over, it went on for another (nearly incoherent) 40 minutes, keeping me up way later than my normal bedtime of midnight and making me grouchy this morning. As with most comic book movies, I didn't understand a lot of what was even going on, and Dylan wasn't around to explain it to me. Harvey Dent's transformation near the end befuddled me. But probably not as much as Batman's voice befuddled me. There was way too much movie here--Nolan was trying to fill half a paper cup with forty-three thousand pounds of grape jelly, the sweet kind that you can get at the 99 cent store, the kind that makes you feel really guilty for no good reason. That's why, after a little less than five and a half hours of sleep, I woke up with a mysterious purple stain on the front of my pajama bottoms. And I'm still going to contend that the action sequences in these two Batman movies don't make a lot of sense. Pass the popcorn, biatch!
Plot: Julien and Florence have planned the perfect crime, meticulously planning the murder of the husband in order to escape into the happily ever after and do each other. Unfortunately, a rope is forgotten, a car is stolen, and Julien winds up trapped in an elevator. Florence panics, and the teens get themselves into a little bit of trouble at a motel. Oh, snap!
Cool little movie with Miles Davis honking with some Frenchmen for the soundtrack and claustrophobic settings (not just the obvious title elevator) dripping shadows and dread. The thriller's tight and the story's punchy, irony so thick you can shoot it with a gun. The ending won't be spoilt, but there's a great interrogation scene that made me laugh a little bit despite the tenseness. Delightful!
Plot: Yukinojo is a transvestite who is pissed off at some people about something. So he really slowly develops a plan to use his fighting skills and his acting skills to get his revenge on them. And apparently me.
There's some weird stuff going on here, recalling Seijun Suzuki. There are some strange visuals and some interesting uses of color. Other than that, there's not a lot going on. To be fair, I was feeling way too lazy to watch this and kept thinking about that time I went to a circus and watched the ringmaster shoot a trapeze artist. I likely would have really enjoyed this under different circumstances. Like, if I were a gay man who liked samurai movies but made sure my gay friends didn't know.
Plot: A lonely guy who recently ended a relationship buys a sexy secondhand washing machine. Initially, the machine doesn't work right. He discovers the problem--the washing machine has a soul. It's a soul that he begins to exploit, first in the privacy of his home and later as a prostitute. Then the movie gets really boring and I lose track of what is going on.
Dullsville. I suppose under the right circumstances I might have liked this more, but it was so slow-moving. And aimless. Movies that move slowly don't typically bother me, but when something is moving slowly toward nowhere, there's a problem. This is a movie I'll forget that I watched in two months.
Rating: 20/20 (Dylan: 6/20)
Plot: Oh, snap! The Cold War is on, and batshit insane General Jack Ripper, suspecting the Commies of contaminating the precious bodily fluids of Americans, uses a loophole in the chain of command and sends bombers to blow up the Soviets. British Captain Mandrake, locked in a room with Ripper, tries to convince him to reconsider; meanwhile, in the war room (where no fighting is allowed), the president, his advisors, and the title scientist communicate with the Russians and try to figure out a way to reverse the crazy general's actions before bombs are dropped and the Doomsday machine kills all humanity.
I need to have my son's head examined. This, by the way, is not a movie about war. It's a film about sex, and that is why it's brilliant. Well, that and the direction, Peter Sellers' multiple roles, the rest of the acting, the dialogue. This is one of the funniest movies ever made that won't make you laugh. Actually, you might laugh, but you won't laugh until afterwards, when you're sitting by yourself thinking about how the movie is more about sex than it is about war.
Plot: Two really obnoxious girls are graduating from high school and have plans to withdraw from society and get an apartment together. Along the way, they decide to be really mean to a lonely weird-looking man whose sin was apparently placing a personal ad wishing to connect with a woman he met at the airport. The girl who isn't Scarlett Johansson winds up befriending the socially awkward record collector, and the two girls begin to drift apart.
Here's an example of one of those movies I find it impossible to love nearly as much as everybody else seems to. I just can't like the characters (Buscemi's being the exception) enough. No redeeming qualities which make me want to root for either of them. And although there's a quirkiness and some details that will stick with me, the gripes it makes against society (I think) come across as art-schoolish and juvenile. I'd watch this as a television show and would likely even like how it ended. It seems to me that with the confusing symbolism and unclear message, this is really open to interpretation and that there is probably more than meets the eye, but I've seen this twice now and wasn't grabbed either time. My brother really likes this movie but since he doesn't like The Color of Pomegranates, I'm not sure his opinion can be trusted.
Rating: 9/20 (Jen: 7/20)
Plot: A guy and his drug dealer get mixed up in stuff, and it isn't nearly as funny as it should be.
This would have worked with a much better script and much better acting. It loses a point for forced sentimentality near the end and loses the rest of its points for being too one-note and for making me roll my eyes forty-three too many times. There are moments, but you have to wade through some real garbage to find them.
Plot: Government experiments to make an army of undead soldiers results in the spreading of a virus and the subsequent zombification of strippers at Freddy Krueger's underground strip club. Highly trained soldiers are called in to stop the madness.
For a movie with both "zombie" and "strippers" in the title, this sure is boring. Shame, shame, shame. If you make a zombie stripper movie, and it turns out to not be entertaining even the least little bit, you should have your movie-making privileges suspended. This is a stupid movie that is not worth watching.
Plot: An eccentric multi-gazillionaire named Guy Grand befriends and eventually adopts a homeless guy of indeterminate age. Together, they mischief make, exploring just how much people will do for money.
Another misleading poster considering Raquel Welch and her whip are on screen for less than a minute. That was in a part of the movie where it almost seemed like they knew they weren't going to get a high enough shane-movies rating and decided to up the ante. "Let's throw some random midgets in there! How about a guy in a gorilla suit? I know! Raquel Welch cracking a whip near over fifty topless women!" The movie's a mess, and I'm not sure what purpose Ringo Starr plays. It's a pointless character. The satire works occasionally and there are a lot of humorous moments, but the stream-of-consciousness approach and the dated look only go so far. This is definitely a product of its time although it is also at times strangely similar to Freddy Got Fingered. Why is it that I always want to like Peter Sellers more than I end up liking him?