Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie Reviews!

Brain dump in 3...2...1...

Avatar: James Cameron, released 12/18/09
Saw it: Christmas time 2009
Have I reviewed this one for you yet? Not like I need to, it’s a great movie and everybody knows it. Sure, we all saw it before when we went to see Pocahontas and it’s not like the plot is a big fat mystery or anything, but it’s a visually stunning piece about an ancient theme which is still as important as it ever was. I saw this with the family of my very own main squeeze and we all came out swooning. The 3d is not to be missed. The flying scenes and the dragons and the beasties are all really entertaining and the story moves at a great pace. It is a satisfying, comforting, rewarding experience. Thumbs up.

Alice in Wonderland: Tim Burton, released 3/5/10
Saw it: Springtime 2010
This one I’ve been holding off on a review because I’m still kindof digesting it. Visually I liked it. We didn’t see it in 3d and I don’t feel like we missed much but I did feel like there were obvious scenes filmed for the 3d and that felt a little ham fisted.

Otherwise I’ve always been on the fence with the whole Alice in Wonderland story anyway. It seems as though the original book is about a girl and her struggle to find her place in a grownup world. Easy, right? This movie, though, seems to be more about a vapid teen who harbors a bouquet of psychedelic charm with a thick, chocolate coating. Moreover, our beloved Tim Burton seems torn between finally having his fill of a really meaty horror movie and ultimately squeezing out another family-friendly romp through the softer side of his imagination.

As witnesses for the defense, I call the sublimely endearing and terrifying bandersnatch. Ohmygawd. Luv. Also to the stand I call the Jabberwok. Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times. Yes. For the Prosecution, I need only submit as exhibit A the insulting Frillywog (whatever) dance that the mad hatter does at the end of the movie. It is all wrong. The dance, the music, the setting, the scene, just everything is all wrong. Does not belong. Do not want. Get it out. Hate it. Yech. Bad. Brainbleach. Bad. *ahem*

Her highness the queen of hearts was deliciously great, as was her very appropriate entourage of pretenders but her love interest guy was an obvious tack-on that she would have done just fine without. She needs no motivation for her decisions. She’s fine without him. Get rid of him. He serves no purpose.

Finally, the part about how Alice comes back and decides to start a business and be her own, unmarried woman… it rings false. Victorian girls of her alleged background just didn’t do that. Not even for pretends. It was almost as if Alice had already fallen through a rabbit hole once and landed in this hallmark-y, wedding cake-y, polyester lace-y Victorian world and then fell the second time into wonderland properly. One tumble before the movie started into Stupidland, and a second tumble while we watched into the actual Wonderland.

All that aside, I’m not sure what the message is beyond a hearty “you go, little imagination girl!” She galvanized her own identity, slayed the dragon, escaped the confines of marriage and is off to conquer her father’s world with her uncle’s fortune. What’s the takeaway to us drifty-headed girls with no rich uncles? Kill that dragon! Yes. Ditch that loser! Okay. Run along and effectively give your entire family the finger (your otherwise entirely well meaning family) for some dodgy, ill-conceived global business which has already failed once and demonstrates a ready history of slavering anti-feminism! You lost me.

Damn. I’m getting old again. Where’s that drink-me bottle again?

See also: Women just didn’t have that kind of influence or power in those days. Less so the unmarried young women. Stockings or no stockings, that whole part of the story was crap. Does anyone even know anymore how hard women had to fight for the right to vote? Does anyone remember that they did so in skirts? *inhaling slowly, finding happy place* *inhaling slowly, finding happy place*

Lo: Travis Betz, released 2008
Saw it: Two weekends ago

This is a campy little gem of a “scary movie”. It’s like a horror film done by the high school drama club and probably would be a spectacular hit in that arena. On film however, it’s just campy. I honestly didn’t sit through the whole thing because if I had I would have fallen dead asleep. HOWEVER, the parts I did see, I enjoyed tremendously.

I loved the story, I enjoyed the idea behind it, and even though I couldn’t actually sit still through the whole thing it still maintained a respectable pace. The visual effects were great – and would have given me miserable nightmares had I seen them when I was, say, 13. The surprise ending was less a surprise than a satisfying kind of mental hug which congratulated me effortlessly for figuring it out ahead of time while also not phoning it in having realized that the “surprise” was already out of the bag.

If you like campy scary movies, this is a very refreshing addition to the party. If you are bored by highschool productions, this may not be for you. It’s artsy, it’s funny, it’s spooky and there’s tension. I dig.

Chocolate: Prachya Pinkaew, released 2008
Saw it: Two weekends ago

Last one. Do not confuse the title of this one with the French romantic thing “sho-ko-lah”. No no no, my dears, this is a butt-kicking journey through a scrubbed-for-cinema Thailand underworld. It’s fun, it’s heartwarming, it’s exciting and overall excellent. I enjoyed it all the way up to the very end and beyond. Even the hard-to-watch bits. This is a must-see for Jackie Chan fans, for Jet Li fans, and for anyone wanting a good “drinkin’ beer and watchin’ movies” movie. It's no Roshomon, and it's not really on par with Seven Samurai (what is?) but for a good old fashioned good guys kicking the tar outta the bad guys? Can't be beat.

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