Plot: A few horny people hump each other amidst the greasy shadows and carnage of various car crashes.
Scars and cars, gnarled metal and steaming nipples, strangely dispassionate sex fiends and general stickiness! Step right up! See the bearded woman! See Joey Scales, the Fish Boy and his waving flippers! See James Dean's ghost dry humping a muffler! See Holly Hunter swallow a twisted sword! Step right up to the Cronenberg freak tent! Yes, we have yet another David Cronenberg movie that I just don't understand. What's his intention here? Is it to make me feel like taking a bath? Is it to finally convince me that James Spader, at least in my mind, has become more of a pet peeve than an actual person? Who can identify with the really flat characters in Crash? I don't know, but I don't want to be within spitting (or ejaculating) distance of them. This movie is thoroughly unpleasant.
Plot: Paul's ready to unwind after another boring day at his boring job with Balki Bartokomous. While reading at a coffee shop, he strikes up a conversation with an attractive girl and calls her up later that night. After hours. When he decides to meet her for a date (after hours), it sets off a surreal chain of events that all add up to one really crappy evening for poor Paul.
About halfway through this movie, Jen walked into the room, watched for a little bit, and then asked what was going on. This is the type of movie that makes questions like that nearly impossible to answer which is one of the reasons I love it. So much happens to poor Paul, the protagonist being a sort of straight man for one giant cosmic joke. There's an exquisite randomness to the proceedings, but at the same time, some parallel moments, some recurring imagery, and some self-referential gags fool you into thinking there's a method to the madness. Is there? I'm not sure it matters. This is a nearly-hilarious black comedy, something you can only watch late at night (after hours). It also works as a sleep-deprived absurdist noir, as a goofy Hitchcock homage, and as a cartoonish suspense flick. Very much in the like-it-or-lump-it category of movies, I think it's easily one of Scorsese's most fun movies.
Plot: Cult artist Robyn Hitchcock reflects on his 1984 solo album I Often Dream of Trains and performs the album (with a few extras) with some pals.
I just did some math. I've been listening to this guy for over half my life. He's one-third of Shane's Holy Trinity of Musical Peoples. I like all of his albums at least partially and a lot of them I love and a few of them I'm obsessive about and will always listen to. This is one of the latter, so it's cool to see him introspect on the times when the songs blossomed and the 25 intervening years since. Some of the songs (the title track, "Uncorrected Personality Traits," "My Favourite Buildings") are performance staples anyway, but a few probably hadn't been performed live in a long time. There's some of his typical between-song banter, largely improvised but with some that are obviously a little more written, but the focus is mostly on the songs with sparse instrumentation (piano, one or two guitars, the occasional trumpet or shaker) played in a quiet atmosphere. Interview snippets from, appropriately, a train add a bit of background on some of the songs although it's more likely that some of Hitchcock's descriptions will confuse more than enlighten. I really like how the main bulk of the concert was bookended by "I Often Dream of Trains" as a low-budget early-eighties video and then again in the live setting with more visuals from the video contrasting Hitchcock now and Hitchcock then. The whole thing is a lot looser than Demme's Storefront Hitchcock movie even though the song and visual variety add a little something extra to that one. My only gripe is that the show should have ended with the final haunting notes of the title track. Instead, Hitchcock flees the stage, exchanges his polka-dotted shirt for a flowery one, and performs an encore made up of recent songs. The encore was extraneous. Oh, and I guess I can gripe that not every song from Trains made the cut. The acapella "Furry Green Atom Ball" is definitely one I would have loved to see. A must for Hitchcock fans.
This is on Sundance a couple few more times this month. Catch the fever!
Plot: Suddenly, everybody is turning into rhinoceroses, and Gene Wilder doesn't approve. Pressures to become a rhinoceros are driving him mad, mad enough to raise his voice in that strained high-pitched way he does in every single one of his movies. But he'll continue resisting or die trying.
I didn't know this existed, or I likely would have watched it in high school and told everybody that it was my favorite movie. It addresses an issue that I was fond of back then (conformity, the same issue my movie Are You Asleep? addressed so elegantly and professionally), and I liked Ionesco. We even (incredibly) read Ionesco's The Sand Box in another class taught by the teacher who taught the class I made my movie for. No wonder that nut case was my favorite teacher. Anyway, Rhinoceros. Ionesco? Gene Wilder? I expected to dig this one, but it was way too long, way too stupid (read: it misses "absurd" and hits stupid squarely between the eyes), and way too repetitive. You get the message about halfway through and then it's drilled into your head by Gene Wilder's strained, high-pitched voice until you're almost ready to tell the kids they can turn Spongebob Squarepants back on. And speaking of Spongebob, what's the appeal of this show? I know why kids like it, but why do so many adults seem offended when I groan whenever the show is mentioned? "You don't like Spongebob?" No, I don't. And you shouldn't like it either. Anyway, Rhinoceros. And Gene Wilder. Don't get me wrong--I actually like Gene Wilder, and he is one of the bright spots in this otherwise dismal film experience. Zero Mostel's completely bloated performance is fine, too. But this just goes on and on and on, and there's not a single line or visual gag that made me smile, let alone giggle until my groin itched. And speaking of itching groins, should I have mine examined by a doctor? I seem to scratch obsessively, sometimes with my wooden "tea-stirring" spoon. Think it's a fungus? Anyway, Rhinoceros. This is proudly a low budget affair; there's not a single rhinoceros to be seen, the creatures' attacks are rudely pantomimed instead. That's pretty neat actually, as I think that's exactly how it works in the stage production, but after the fourth or fifth time seeing the characters looking at the camera and screaming, "There's another rhinoceros! We have to do something! Ahhhh!", it gets to be a little much. I also really enjoyed one scene where Wilder's character is walking the streets and can't see anybody's heads, sort of like how genitalia was concealed behind things in one of those Austin Powers movies. Or maybe all of the Austin Powers movies. Those weren't very good either. Anyway, Rhinoceros. Or not. Maybe it's not really interesting enough to waste a lot of words on.
Plot: Bill Lee's an exterminator who accidentally shoots his wife in the forehead soon after the discovery that she is shooting up his bug poison. It's also soon after he begins taking in the stuff intravenously and soon after a giant roach tries to convince him that she is an enemy operative who needs to be disposed of. He escapes to Interzone where he continues to work for a variety of strange entities.
This was definitely better than I remember it and almost makes me wonder if I should give every other Cronenberg movie I've hated another shot. It's easily the most I've enjoyed a David Cronenberg joint, but a lot of that probably comes from already enjoying the Burroughs' book. Cronenberg keeps things pretty even which is good because a more chaotic approach would have made this repulsive and junky. Regardless, there's a lot of coolness here. The special effects are pretty cool (mostly grotesque insects and anthropomorphized typewriters), the music is about perfect, and the story weaves in and out of reality like a psychedelic mystery. Drug noir? There are some great performances; Peter Weller is excellently on-edge as Uncle Bill himself, and Judy Davis is wonderful in very difficult dual roles. If you "exterminate all rational thought" like either the Ginsberg or Kerouac character tells you to early in the film, you'll enjoy the mysterious reality-bending and slyly surreal plotline and dialogue gems like "I'm shooting up your roach powder," "The centipedes are downright arrogant," and (my favorite) "Mugwump jism can't be beat." But if the reference to mugwump jism doesn't make it completely obvious, this is definitely the type of movie that isn't for everybody. It is a good companion piece for Barton Fink (mostly as a surreal look at the difficulties of writing something) and Fear and Loathing (for obvious reasons).
Rating: 12/20 (Emma: 15/20; Abbey 10/20)
Plot: Once upon a time, an ogre fighting gastrointestinal disorder finds friendship and true love. And they all lived happily ever after.
There's a fart joke one minute into this movie. Then, thirty seconds later, there's another fart joke. If the first two aren't enough, there's luckily a few more right around the corner. Whenever I think of Shrek, I think of fart jokes. I used to think of crap, but that's unfair. The movie isn't crap, but, despite a intriguing premise and a few good ideas, it really isn't much more clever than an 80 minute series of fart jokes. Oh, and pop songs. Fart joke, montage with a very loud pop song, fark joke, montage with a very loud pop song, fart joke. And so on. I don't really like the animation in Shrek. There's a plastic sort of ugliness that recalls the really cheap Barbie computer-animated things that those producers seemingly are able to crap out weekly that my daughter likes. Shrek has about four different facial expressions. I do like some of the settings that are created, but I think computer-animated settings were done much better in Ice Age. A lot of people like the characters in Shrek, but I don't think they're all that well rounded, definitely more types than actual flesh 'n' blood characters. I do think some of the voice talent is really good, especially Eddie Murphy. I realize that's part of the type since it's parodying fairy tales and the stock characters of fairy tales, but it still hurts the overall story and makes it feel a bit cold. There's a novelty in the first fifteen or so minutes, but the fairy tale allusions and pop culture references eventually wear thin. I really don't care much for the humor in Shrek either. I believe I laughed once while watching this the first time (the first scene with the Gingerbread Man), and I like the scene with Robin Hood until it begins parodying kung-fu movies and then just gets stupid. You also get some all-too-typical adult humor "hidden" throughout, but it's neither funny or appropriate. One of my gripes with Dreamworks animated movies is that they use that sort of humor (and maybe the loud pop music) to make these things enjoyable with adults. Pixar does it with heart, but heart is too difficult to pull off, I guess.
Plot: Japanese researchers raised and studied a cute little brown monkey man. They call it a gargantua even though it's the size of a seven year old. One day, it escapes. Years later, a not-so-cute brown gargantua starts eating people and destroying miniature villages and rocking toy boats. Naturally, the gargantua that escaped from the researchers is blamed, but then it turns up later on as the green one's brother. They don't get along very well as the military is brought in to put a stop to the destructive mayhem.
"Do you still want to wet nurse that monster?"
As expected, this is very close to being the greatest movie ever made. It starts with a bang, a giant octopus's (good effects, too!) attack of a boat interrupted by the mean gargantua leading to a goofy fight between the two. With singing saw accompaniment! It's a great start. There's not as much lag time with this one as some of the other Japanese monster movies. The action scenes are still a little redundant at times, but they come relentlessly with the necessary moments of dialogue and plot development being peppered in instead of vice versa. The gargantua look like guys in monkey suits, but the special effects are really pretty good in this one; obviously, there's a bigger budget than the earlier Ishiro Honda movies I've seen. A lot more miniature houses, buildings, and forests are flattened in this one. There's also a lot more blood and human violence in this one. The green gargantua gets pretty beat up as the story progresses, and it shows with the large patches of fur that fall off or the blood on him. I'm not sure I could convince anybody that they're terribly engaging monsters, but I really like the brother-against-brother plot. I really enjoyed watching this one, and anybody who enjoyed it as a child should find it and relive the memories.