Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Viewing Journal: 6/1/10 - 6/8/10

I'm going to start logging every film I see here to try and measure about how many I view in one year. Should be interesting.

(2010 dir. Nicholas Stoller) Date Seen: June 8 2010

thought this was reliably funny if ultimately not a comedy revelation. & I didn't like it as much as FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008). If you like Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss or Rose Byrne you definitely shouldn't miss it. I thought it was hilarious that Diddy basically played that absurd character Dave Chappelle turned him into in his spoof of MTV's Making The Band.

(2009 dir. Peter Stebbings) Date Seen: June 7 2010

Maybe I'm just burned out on superhero revisionist pics (or superhero films in general), but this movie didn't do a whole lot for me. I don't think it's particularly funny or smart. But the novelty is "cute," I suppose. Woody Harrelson is really the main reason I would recommend it to anyone. He's just a charismatic dude.

(2007 dir. Stephane Gauger) Date Seen: June 6 2010

A charming vision of Saigon street life made accessible via conventional indie aesthetics. I didn't think it was anything new in the way of the childhood coming-of-age dramas, but did appreciate its genuine romantic sentiment. And even though I feel the director's outlook on Vietnam's poor might be a little too soft, I would never accuse OWL AND SPARROW of being "poverty porn" (ala KAVI). If you're interested in contemporary Vietnamese cinema, you could do a lot worse than this.

(2010 dir. Vincenzo Natali) 2nd Viewing: June 5 2010

Right off the bat: Vincenzo Natali is obviously no David Cronenberg. He may present many of the same philosophical ideas through genre like his fellow Canuck, but Natali never really fleshes them out with quite the same level of prestige or depth. I think he's more interested in pushing an audience's buttons and manipulating sexual hang ups. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. He crafts some pretty darn entertaining schlock. SPLICE is just thoughtful and disgusting enough to be engaging. And I found the overall design of the mutations aesthetically pleasing too. The main creature, Dren, reminded me of that weird alien girl from the "Mental Wealth" PlayStation commercial Chris Cunningham designed in the 90s. Creepy yet beautiful. On the downside, I do think it devolves into a bit of a lame monster movie in its last act. I guess what I'm getting at is, it's too outrageous a movie to be truly transgressive and too derivative of other classics for me to consider it a masterpiece. For what it's worth, it's a lot of fun throughout most of its runtime. I have to give a film props for at least trying to show the average audience crazy biological accidents.

(2008 dir. Gregg Araki) 3rd Viewing: June 4 2010

May very well be the most tonally accurate depiction of being blazed ever committed to film. That is to say dumb as hell and completely scatterbrained! Ha.. But also pretty darn amusing. Anna Faris is always funny to me. It doesn't matter what she's in (THE HOUSE BUNNY, OBSERVE AND REPORT, SCARY MOVIE, etc.) or how silly a character she's playing, she just cracks me up. Not my favourite film of Araki's, but I really enjoy it every time it's on. You can tell everyone involved had fun making it. 

Also, is it just me, or does it seem like many classy auteurs have been trying their hand at the stoner comedy lately?

(2010 dir. Mike Newell) Date Seen: June 3 2010

I don't know what else to say besides I thought this was dumb as hell. You don't deserve production values this slick if you're going to stage your action this boring. Sad to think all of this silliness was once based on the prestigious Arabian Nights.

(1999 dir. Ang Lee) Date Seen: June 2 2010

A vast improvement over the theatrical cut in my opinion. I still have a hard time connecting with it on any real emotional level though. The academic in me is drawn to the literary tone and details of the period, but the dramatic narrative still feels a little flat. As well as some of the characters. I actually prefer Lee's much-hated 2003 version of HULK over this. But hey, I'd take an ambitious misfire like RIDE WITH THE DEVIL any day over other contemporary Civil War fluff like COLD MOUNTAIN or GODS AND GENERALS.

(2010 dir. Rodrigo Garcia) Date Seen: June 1 2010

I liked it a hell of a lot more than PASSENGERS, that's for sure! Good performances all around by the entire ensemble this time. It's emotionally affective for most of its runtime, but crazy schmaltzy at a few parts too. I would say it was kind of a mixed bag if there wasn't so much that actually moved me. Hopefully Mr. Garcia's cinema will continue to grow on me, 'cause I really appreciated this one.

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