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[personal profile] charloween
Continuing from last month, here are June's movie reviews from my Twitter account. Enjoy!

M. Butterfly (1993): 6/10. Gorgeous (...Jeremy Irons!) but ponderous. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.

More: has Jeremy Irons played a character that wasn't afflicted with tragic ennui? I don't deny that he's a fine actor, but I keep stumbling across roles of his where it's him in some historical setting and he's afflicted with tragic ennui. He has other settings beyond "hoplessly passive", ja?

Also, it's not exactly Cronenberg's finest film. That may have something to do with it.

Over the Hedge (2006): 7/10. An anti-suburbia rant, watchable for the voice cast alone. + cartoon animals, cartoon physics and a squirrel.

More: Only in a cartoon would you have William Shatner and Avril Lavigne playing father and daughter. As possums. The politics of the film are surprising, because most animated films don't skewer their target demographic (suburban families who'll buy the tie-in toys and all the rest). Also, I maintain I'm nothing like the squirrel. Nothing!

28 Days Later (2002): 8.5/10. An old favourite, marred by some shaky ADR. Lyrical, meditative, chilling but only kind of a zombie movie.

More: How do I love this movie... let me count the ways. I was a fan going in because I'm a shameless Danny Boyle fangirl, and was pleasantly surprised by this young Cillian Murphy fellow who was starring. I've seen it dozens of times over the years, this time around was to show a friend that yes, it's a zombie movie but yes, it's also more than that. There's some quality Christopher Eccleston going on (and yes, that's why I spent most of his season of Doctor Who a bit weirded out - I've seen him play not-nice fellows far too often to believe he wasn't going to rip Rose's face off).

Here's what I said to my friend when I was trying to convince her to come over and watch the film with me:

it's interesting because it's a monster movie without many monsters
it does one of those "the scariest people are the humans" things, but gets to it gradually
that's a wee spoiler, I guess
12:33 PM it's a zombie movie with lots of silence
not tense silence, but just pauses
and also the cinematographer is this indie superstar, which is cool
the acting is good
12:34 PM the cast is great: Naomi Harris and Brendan Gleeson
though you may not want to watch the first season of the new DW after watching this movie
12:35 PM also there's full-frontal Cillian. :D
12:36 PM unlike other zombie movies they don't do the "hey, crisis is starting" thing, but jump in a month after most everyone has been killed
and you can read it on a contemporary political level, re: British post-colonial angst
yeah yeah and there's zombies. But whatever. There's a half-dozen scare moments and whatever
12:37 PM ...but zombies don't give me the jibblies

I've got my problems with it: the teenaged girl character is played by an animated piece of cardboard, for example, and the sound mixer was asleep at the wheel for a bunch of it... but that's well worth sitting through for the rest of it. Because it's a Danny Boyle film it's got a happy ending, some clever use of music (the montage in the grocery store to Grandaddy's "AM 180", and a soundtrack by Brian Eno) and kooky, arty breaks in the middle of the horror action. My measure for a good movie is if it sets up expectations (by genre or whatever) and does something reassuringly left-field with them. Not just track star zombie (man, those guys can run) but doing stuff like starting the story after the world has ended, including gorgeous pastoral sequences in the middle of the film and the whole red dresses thing make it not the straight-up genre film you'd expect.

But then, a Danny Boyle film never is. :D

The Core (2002): 2/10. Bejeezusly bad. Could have been fantastic except for the constant bad decisions in production. Formulaic and trite.

More: The deal was I make my friend watch 28DL, and in return I'd watch The Core with her. Oh god. Such a bad movie. In between I showed her the first 20 minutes of Shallow Grave (another Danny Boyle film, this one with a very young Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor), and those 20 minutes had a fraction of the budget and yet several times the quality of The Core. Aaron Eckhart just wasn't enough to balance out the suck. My god there was so much suck.

Mon Oncle (1958): 7/10. Dir. by Tati, so it's cute, whimsical and clever. Limited dialogue & the story is told through pictures and music.

More: it's like a silent film, but it rides on sight gags to sell the joke. The plot is thin (boy has uncle, uncle is part of whimsical old Paris, boy's family is part of modern suburbia, uncle gets job at brother-in-law's plastic tubing factory, wackiness ensues) but the contrast between an all-automated modern house that's too uncomfortable to actually live in and the freewheeling loud neighbourhood populated by immigrants and crazy people is what sells the film. It's cute, but the ending doesn't satisfy.

Kung Fu Panda (2008): 9/10. Kung fu movie first, cartoon second. Killer action sequences and a simple - but well-executed - plot.

More: Plus you have David Cross and Seth Rogen as kung fu masters (along with Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu). It's well worth seeing this just for the stunning action work. The plot isn't nearly as noxious as I was expecting, and I was charmed right from the prologue. I tend to rate films on a balance of: a) was I entertained/captivated/provoked and b) was it actually a good movie. With this, I was kept amused/entertained the entire time, and found the storytelling satisfyingly competent. It's worth seeing just for the master/student battle. The scene from the trailers with the dumplings is but a tiny part of a longer fantastic sequence.

Indy 4 (2008): 7/10. Didn't think I could roll my eyes at a movie so much and still enjoy it. Swordfighting, aliens and archeology, hooray?

Cheesy, but aware of its own cheesiness. Not trying to make good art. Though, I'd watch Shia LaBoeuf in anything. I haven't watched and re-watched the original films (so I'm not a huge fangirl for Indy) and even though this one was entertaining, I wouldn't line up to see this one again. It was worth the price of admission, anyway.

Get Smart (2008): 7/10. Charming but toothless. Clever, daring action sequences and unexpectedly mature... yet lacks that extra 'edge'.

The size of the budget and the scope of the action sequences were astonishing. SC gets to act, but the film tries to be a comedy, drama and spy spoof at the same time and doesn't quite manage to do any of those things. It was enjoyable, but I never got the sense I knew what I was supposed to be watching. Is it a tribute, a sequel, a pastiche, homage...? The Rock was hilarious, and the main characters had unexpected dimensionality. Max himself was remarkable because he's an intelligent, competant professional who's good at his job and can think on his feet. I was expecting a schmuck or an Austin Powers-like mannered world.

In Dreams (1999): 7/10. Atmospheric thriller/chiller that takes many unexpected turns. Its oddity makes it effective, twisting a stale form.

More: The most remarkable thing about this film is that it goes places your average serial killer film wouldn't want to go. For example, the plot starts with a missing little girl, the latest victim of a nutjob who likes 8-year-olds. Oh, and our heroine has an 8-year-old. Just as you'd expect, the kid gets snatched early in the first act. Most films would make the heroine's psychic nightmares be the way for the cops to find the killer and bring the little girl home safe and sound. Not this one - the girl's dead before the half-hour mark. Mom goes nuts (even more) tries to kill herself (a few times) and still gets these crazy visions. Turns out that she's being sorta-possessed by the killer - who is still alive and is played by Robert Downey Jr. Now. That man is a fine actor, no doubt. But he makes the most unexpectedly adorable wacko loner serial killer nutjob. It's well worth the rest of the film to see all the interesting choices he makes with the character.

The movie was directed by Neil Jordan, and has the same composer Jordan worked with on Interview with the Vampire. Therefore, if you were the kind of teenager who'd watch Interview quite a bunch, there are several moments in this film that are familiar but different. It works to the film's benefit, which is lucky.

Orlando (1992): 4/10. A pretty film, but the film's resonance supposedly comes from the main character staring into the camera. A lot. Dull.

More: Not much more to say, really. This film suffers from a lack of anything happening.
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