Cold in July (2014, Jim Mickle)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

I’m not sure exactly what to say about this bizarre film that offers a new twist (or several) on the age old “redemption through violence” theme in American cinema. The plot goes a very different way than I would have ever expected which is to the novel’s credit, I guess. But that big left turn (which becomes significantly bigger) is hard for me to reconcile for reasons I cannot quite identify. I often like movies like this, but something about this left turn didn’t sit well with me for the whole film. Read More

Jason Bourne (2016, Paul Greengrass)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

Why there’s another Bourne movie I don’t know. This one hits all the marks you’d expect: Bourne is mad at the CIA and is taking some kind of action, there’s someone on inside helping him out (actually 2 people, but whatever). The cast is too good for the material, as is usual with these films, and Greengrass does a good job with a plot that gets dumber and dumber as it goes on. SPOILERS! Read More

The Fate of the Furious (2017, F. Gary Gray)

Categories: 2017 and Movies.

It occurred to me after I watched this latest of the Fast franchise films that these movies have the Bond license: back when Sean Connery and then Roger Moore made Bond films, these films could be filled with the most ridiculous nonsense and nobody cared. In fact, people celebrated them. You put that crap in another film and people wouldn’t accept it but in a Bond movie and it’s perfectly okay. Such is the case with the Fast franchise and this steaming pile of garbage that everyone else but me enjoys. I feel like I watch different movies then everyone else who likes these films. Read More

Clash of the Titans (2010, Louis Leterrier)

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I have only ever seen pieces of the 80s Clash of the Titans, but my memory of it was that it was actually based on Greek myths. I emphasize this fact because this remake appears to not care about its sources in the slightest, pulling a creature from Norse mythology as its climactic bad guy, bringing in some Arabic mythology, and generally completely altering the stories of the Greek myths it is ostensibly putting on screen.  (I recognize that a fine film could be made out of the idea that all myths from all cultures are variations of the same Read More

Marauders (2016, Steven C. Miller)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

Why can’t bank heist movies just be about bank heists and stealing money any more? This film feels like so many other bank heist films I’ve seen recently – there has to be another angle aside from making money. And that’s just so tired. Despite committed performances from Meloni and some other people (and a bizarre performance from Bruce Willis), this film has too much plot to know what to do with. Everyone has a backstory that matters and the one person that doesn’t…well, you can guess why we don’t know his backstory. There’s so much backstory in this movie Read More

John Wick (2014, Chad Stahelski, David Leitch)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is a revenge film that takes place in a bizarre universe in which all the hitmen I (and hitwomen!) hang out at the same hotel and club. That is a ridiculous conceit that would bother me if the movie around it wasn’t entertaining. I mean, why wouldn’t the police (virtually non-existent in this film) or the gangsters who want to kill the hitmen, just blow up the hotel? Read More

Body of Lies (2008 Ridley Scott)

Categories: 2008 and Movies.

I have no idea whether or not this film is accurate as to the day to day actions of CIA operatives in the Middle East – I doubt it, but it is a fictional film – but, for much of its run, it is an effective political thriller with a strong sense of place and grounded in what feels like a realistic portrayal of CIA operations in Iraq and Jordan during the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Crowe and DeCaprio are both excellent, as is the supporting cast, which makes it easy to like the movie, even while Read More

BloodRayne: The Third Reich (2011, Uwe Boll)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

This is a pretty awful film that seems intent on reviving the Naziploitation films of the 70s that everyone fondly remembers. (Oh, you don’t fondly remember them? You think they’re offensive? That’s weird.) I can’t say whether or not this is a fond tribute to those films, as I’ve only ever seen one of them, but it’s a shitty, shitty movie. Read More

Ant-Man (2015, Peyton Reed)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

This is a reasonably enjoyable “goofy” Marvel movie, of the kind that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And it has to be, since the whole idea of Ant-Man seems kind of ridiculous. There are some rather massive plot issues that would drive me insane if it wasn’t amusing. It’s not so amusing that I really enjoyed it, but it’s amusing enough (especially some of the site gags in the climax) that I really could forgive some of the really silly plot holes. But this is just another moderately amusing Marvel film. There are so many films in this universe now Read More

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo)

Categories: 2014.

I think I like this more than the first movie, though I can’t necessarily identify why. One thing that differentiates it from so many other current super hero movies is that the enemy at the end of the film isn’t some ridiculous, world-destroying force or space monsters, or whatever. So that’s something. But there are difficulties: I agree about the criticism regarding Black Widow – she sure feels dependent on the Cap’n and some of the other male characters a lot of the time. Also, the dating talk…for fuck’s sake. This movie is already so long but it needs a Read More

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015, Francis Lawrence)

Categories: 2015 and Movies.

I think, on some level, this is a superior film to the previous entry. I mean, for one thing, all that did was set things up. This (sort of) knocks them down. I will say that, as far as these things go, this series is a little less politically naive (I stress “a little” as this is still an extremely naive view of the world) than even some works for adults (i.e. revolutions eat their children). But that doesn’t excuse the laziness of the writing. Perhaps the best example I can think of in terms of the lazy writing is Read More

Big Man Japan (2007, Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Categories: 2007 and Movies.

This mockumentary has an ingenious conceit – the everyday life of a superhero. It combines a satire of Japanese monster movies with a satire of reality TV/slice of life documentaries. This is a ridiculously silly movie – which gets sillier at the end, something I’ve always admired – but its points are still worth taking, even if the film is extremely silly as it attacks easy targets. Something else. 8/10 Read More

Beyond Outrage (2012, Takeshi Kitano)

Categories: 2012 and Movies.

The sequel is more of the same: tons of people getting shot (and occasionally stabbed) because of some perceived offense. At least there’s a little character development this time, but the parade of creative death scenes feels less creative. I just don’t really get these films; they’re like typical American revenge movies transported to Japan and the incomprehensible (to me) Yakuza culture, but with barely any attempt at character development. I guess the idea is the Yakuza setting is supposed to give us our character development, but that sure doesn’t work for me. 5/10 Read More

Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010, Paul Ziller)

Categories: 2010, Movies, and TV.

How do I put into words how monumentally dumb this movie is? I’m not really sure. It’s one of those films that you want to live blog o live tweet because of the inane/insane lines, the utter ignorance of scientific facts and the budget (and what is forces the characters to do/say). It’s just awful. There’s stuff about Stonehenge detonating volcanoes and destroying the world. There’s stuff about a map that is among the most poorly drawn maps I think I’ve seen in a movie. There’s a hilarious (willful?) ignorance about how governments work. There’s the totally awful CGI (though Read More

Non-Stop (2014, Jaume Collet-Serra)

Categories: 2014 and Movies.

This is one of those Liam Neeson action movies. It’s also one of those thrillers set on a plane. And like so many of both of these types of movies, if you think about it for a moment, everything falls apart. I can’t tell you how many things are wrong with the plot of this movie because there are so very many. It’s one of those films where so much doesn’t make sense, from the plot, to the motivations of everyone beyond a couple of the characters, to the response to the absurd plot, which is equally absurd. But the Read More

Bellflower (2011, Evan Glodell)

Categories: 2011 and Movies.

First of all, it’s really, really hard to like a movie when you don’t like any of the characters. (And I mean any.) And it’s hard to like a movie when you don’t understand why anyone does anything. These people drink all day and spend money. (And do some drugs too.) One of them appears to have a part time job, but the rest of them just appear to be living off…uh, I don’t know what they’re living off of. Every single one of these people is a person I would avoid if I met them. Every. Single. One. What’s Read More

Beowulf and Grendel (2005, Sturla Gunnarsson)

Categories: 2005 and Movies.

Note: I have never read anything more than a child’s abridged version of Beowulf. This appears to be an attempt to make a more “realistic” and revisionist Beowulf: Grendel is presented as humanoid, there is a lot of focus on Grendel’s reasons for terrorizing the Danes, there’s focus on the coming Christian conversion, and Beowulf is ambivalent about the whole thing. I think there’s probably something worthwhile in this. Unfortunately: the budget is lacking (this is, unsurprisingly, a Canadian film) and that is even more in relief in part because of the knowledge of the big Hollywood version from a Read More

Deadpool (2016, Tim Miller)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the best Marvel film outside of one or two of the X-Men sequels (the recent ones have been shockingly good). This film is funny – it’s not just mildly amusing, like Guardians of the Galaxy – and it manages to preserve the rather elliptical nature of (this particular) comic storytelling rather intact – i.e. it feels more like a comic book movie than a Hollywood blockbuster (and I mean that as praise).  The short version is that it’s entertaining in ways that (most of) the massive Marvel blockbusters of recent years Read More