Tuesday, June 30, 2009
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL - One of the only movies I’ve ever seen where I wanted to reevaluate the director’s entire career afterwards as potentially total fucking shit. As they say in the standup world, he really ate his balls on this one. Pretty much everything that was kind of appealing about his stuff – notably the deadpan tone hinting at something enigmatic and profound – is stretched so thin here that you realize there was actually never anything underneath, except stupid high school poetry platitudes and hip as fuck casting.
The 2nd half of THE HANGOVER– The Pineapple Express of 2009. On paper this thing looked so fucking unbeatable. Basically Old School + a mystery plot to deepen things beyond just a rehash of frat dudes in mid-life crisis + Galifinakis. And it’s good, like hysterical for about about 40 minutes. And then you realize the mystery plot is kind of lazy and halfassed. And it just runs out of steam and keeps hitting the same beats, just less funny or at least less funny in unexpected ways as it goes along. And then just to underscore how lazy they got with it, Bradley Cooper makes nice with his wife for no reason and they throw in the wedding singer from Old School.
WHATEVER WORKS – Or Whatever ho Woody was banging that gave him the inspiration to make Vicky Cristina—his only full fledged beginning-to-end great movie since he hooked up with Soon Yi—he aint be bangin no more.
TERMINATOR SALVATION/WOLVERINE – just a sad, pitiful end to franchises that should have stopped short at part 2. The fact that the overedited incoherent clusterfuck that shat out of McG can be called ‘action’ while playing across the street is The Hurt Locker—the best American suspense/action film maybe since Cameron dumped Bigelow for Sarah Conner in the first place—is fucking retarded. If there was any justice in this world McG and Gavin Hood would be subjected to the Hitler Rape Machine while watching Bigelow in the editing room.
TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3 – I don’t know why I held out hope for this one. Maybe I thought it would be written by the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential and directed by the guy who made Top Gun & True Romance. But, no instead it’s from the writer of The Postman & 976-Evil and the director of Domino. Also maybe I thought the source material would give them an edge, since it’s, I don’t know, one of the best examples of suspense and comedy in the 70’s, not to mention a near perfect snapshot of how fucking dyspeptic and mean New York was at the time. Like everything that made the original great—Shaw’s quiet menace, Matthau’s snarky comebacks, the jazzy score, and how all the hostages transcend their stereotype character names (even ‘The Homosexual’!)—all of that is just totally flipped to make it suck—Travolta screaming every line, Washington way too serious & emo, the soundtrack’s 10 years too late jungle beats, and the hostages who are so forgettable and disposable they’re not even allowed to develop into stereotypes. The fucked up thing is if they did this to Jaws they would never be allowed to work again.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I apologize for the hiatus, but I let this show get away from me for a while. Following the theme of our last episode we stick with the “greatest directors” topic as we discuss some of our favorite Stanley Kubrick films. I'm sure this will be the first of many episodes on Kubrick as many people, including myself, consider him to be the greatest filmmaker that ever lived. Growing up with a heavy movie-watching background once in a while you catch a film that really sticks with you. You may not know why you like it, but maybe you feel compelled to see it over and over again. Well, over the years I came across a few that, to this day, I consider them to be some of the best films in existence. It was early in my high school days after seeing Full Metal Jacket for the first time that I realized most of my favorite movies were directed by the same person. At that point, the planets were aligned and everything made sense. Virtually all of his films had the same, profound effect. I've never been as consumed with every moment on the screen as I am when watching Kubrick. If the man were still alive, he could film a 2 ½ hour movie about two guys in a staring contest and it would be enthralling.
I think one of the reasons this episode is shorter than expected is the fact that there aren't any bad ways to rank our favorite Kubrick films and we end up, for the most part, in agreement with each other.
The Doomsday Machine now has an email address, so any comments, questions or future show ideas should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I thought Wall-E was one of the best films of last year, and The Incredibles was one of my favorites of 2006. With Up Pixar hits one out of the park again. This film shows why they are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Not only do all of their films look better, but the writing and music is far superior than the other studios. When I saw the previews for this film I thought the story seemed dull, but it was anything but. I figured most of the film would be about a old man living in a floating house, but that is actually only 15 minutes of a 90 minute movie. The story is very original and the characters are deep with great dialog. Up starts out as a love story and then turns into a great adventure with many memorable characters. I got to see it in 3-D which was a added bonus,but it wasn't gimmicky. Pixar doesn't mix in too much pop culture to date their films and time will be very kind to them. I also like the fact that Pixar doesn't get big named stars to do the voices on their films. When you hear Ed Asner's voice you think of a regular old man. When you hear Travolta doing Bolt you hear the actor, not the character. Up is funny, heartfelt, and one of the best films of the year. 4 out of 5 stars
Thursday, June 18, 2009
JULIA - Best criminally underrated movie no one will ever hear about again. Like Cassavettes’ Gloria w/o all those shapeless actors workshop shouting matches & instead devoted to the story’s trashy pulp. Best Tilda Swinton maybe ever, a kind of balance of the sweaty armpitted neurotic corporate killer and the batshit warrior queen rocking the lion mane.
DRAG ME TO HELL – Best comeback from someone I didn’t realize I had fallen off so hard until now. Some directors do better with modulation (see The Straight Story), but Raimi isn’t one of them. All he has in his grab bag are dutch angles, clamorous sound effects and a joyous devotion to cranked up absurdity, so when you dial it down you have nothing but safe, serviceable Hollywood movies nowhere near as inspiredly kinetic as something like this. Most balls-out PG-13 movie since Rusty saw tits in European Vacation.
UP – Just one scene short of a masterpiece. One beat really. There's nothing wrong with talking dogs. It’s just with all the time spent humanizing the characters in the first 30 minutes, there needs to be maybe one or two more Mr. Frederickson double-takes to bridge the gap between the two worlds of heart-breakingly real and goofball. Like, “Really? Talking dogs? Really? Okay then.” That’s it. Outside of that, flat out top 5 animated all time, right behind Fievel and Bravestarr: The Legend.
HUNGER – Just as OCD in its over-calculated airtight masterly tableaus as Kubrick or Wes Anderson, but oozing with the corporeal in a way those filmmakers were never interested in going near. A tie for best sound design with Drag Me to Hell -- I will never think of ointment being applied to a festering wound the same way again.
TYSON – Best boxing movie since Fat City, better than Diggstown & Teen Wolf Too combined. Way funnier than the entirety of The Hangover, Tyson in all his batshit glory gives Toback the inspiration to make something for the first time since Fingers that isn’t just a cheap stunt.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I have always been a big fan of Sam Mendes and have enjoyed all of his films. I didn't care for the trailer for Away We Go,but went to see it because he directed it.This is Mendes first misstep,and I don't know if it's his or writer Dave Eggers fault. The movie does not have a Mendes feel,and it seems like a project from a first time director more than a seasoned veteran. This film is a copy of Flirting With Disaster except it's not a comedy and doesn't have the wit or characterization of that great film. The film is about a young couple, who are expecting their first child, trying to find a place spend the rest of their lives together. Everyone they encounter are Indie Film quirky cartoon characters,who are unrealistic and annoying. With the exception of their old college friends(Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey) and Maya's sister(Carmen Ejogo) every other character (especially Maggie Gyllenhaal) is ridiculous. In fact the movie only worked when those characters were present and I wanted more of them. I did think John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph had great chemistry and were really good in this film. This movie only works in the last half hour, and thats because all of the quirkiness is gone. The rest of the film you have seen before because it follows the Indie formula. It probably deserves 2.5 stars, but I expect more from Mendes and I thought he took a step back. 2 out of 5 stars.
Friday, June 12, 2009
15 years ago today O.J. killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. I was a O.J. fan growing up with The Towering Inferno, Capricorn One, and the HBO series 1st and Ten. It was his character Officer Nordberg in the Naked Gun Trilogy that made me love him. I was shocked, like everyone else, when the murders happened and then convinced of his guilt with his getaway in the Ford Bronco. I even skipped class to see the results of his trial. It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years and although I still enjoy Nordberg in the Naked Gun films today,there is always a hint of sadness and anger when you see O.J. on screen.