Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Update

Yeesh, it's hard to keep up-to-date on this thing when I'm working 60-hour weeks. But enough excuses, here's a quick roundup of the last several things that I've seen:

Anvil: The Story of Anvil. Why the redundant title? Otherwise, it's a pretty good, if limited, picture of a couple of guys in mid-life crisis as they try to recover their glory days, basically a cross between American Movie and This Is Spinal Tap (down to the almost carbon-copy finale). I don't care much about heavy metal, but the movie is smart enough to gloss over the technicalities in order to linger on the elements that do matter, like working crappy day jobs and getting shafted by Czech promoters. I enjoyed it and it's funny and touching, I just wish it had gone a little deeper and not been quite so conventional in its storytelling arc. 7/10

Star Trek. Yes, I'm the guy (alongside Roger Ebert and Armond White) who didn't like J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. I want to say more about it separately, but for me it all comes down to Abrams' vision simply being less expansive and imaginative than what Roddenberry put into motion 45 years ago, and I thought it was frantic and pointless. On the plus side, we have good performances from most of the cast and one beautiful image (the Enterprise rising out of the clouds of Titan). 4/10

Adventureland. Sweet and funny, and richer and more complex than Superbad was. This makes me want to check out Mottola's other stuff, especially The Daytrippers, which I ignored back when it came out. My only gripe is with the finale, which seemed contrived and emotionally phony in a way that the rest of the movie hadn't been leading towards. Also, I hope Jesse Eisenberg grows into his horseface sometime soon. 8/10

Monsters vs. Aliens. Amusing, forgettable. Makes me wish that Guillermo Del Toro was directing his remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. 6/10

Il Divo. Amazing visuals and an obviously excellent performance from Toni Servillo, playing Giulio Andreotti as a cross between Peter Bogdanovich and Nosferatu, but not being a student of post-War Italian politics, I didn't have any fucking idea what was going on in this movie. Not the movie's fault, obviously, but it was sort of like watching Oliver Stone's Nixon and only knowing that it was about a sweaty guy who had gotten into trouble about something, somewhere in politics, sometime in the '70s. To be revisited on DVD. 7/10

Tyson. Really fascinating stuff, and I like the strategy of simply structuring the film as a long, free-flowing first-person monologue, bringing us inside the head of an odd, but understandable and very human person. This film might just be one of the more avant-garde things I've seen in quite a while. And on the subjects of his domestic violence against Robin Givens and his rape conviction, Tyson gets enough rope to hang himself with. 8/10

Dark and Stormy Night. This is the newest undistributed film from Larry Blamire, the guy who made The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. It's a stilted parody of the 'old dark house' movies of the 1930s and '40s. As such it's funny and entertaining but kind of an artistic blind alley - this is the kind of clever genre rehash that everyone accuses Tarantino of making, except without the creativity. Still, if you only see one movie this year involving a guy in a gorilla suit, a psychic in a turban, and a freak with two heads, this is the one. 6/10

More to come soon!

No comments: