Continuing with my digging through the foreign offerings on Netflix streaming....
"13-year-old Sinikka vanishes on a hot summer night. Her bicycle is found in the exact place where a girl was killed 23 years ago. The dramatic present forces those involved in the original case to face their past."
Dark, disturbing and bleak. Lots of tension, but not of the "who is the killer?" variety. Stars a bunch of Germans you've never heard of. Decidedly not a formula Hollywood movie. Really, really good.
A couple more, some of them being big movie franchises I hadn't watched yet:
As I said in the Sci-Fi thread, a cool and memorable movie. It has some flaws but makes up for them by being gutsy and different.
The Hunger Games
I hadn't watched these but was pretty surprised that I enjoyed them, I expected them to be bland and constantly dealing with teen issues and while there's some of that it's not to the point of ruining it for me.
The Hunger Games 2
I liked the 2nd movie a bit better for some reason, the premise seemed to be a complete re-thread of the first movie but I found the old, jaded hunger games winners to be more interesting characters than the ones in the first.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Had to give this a shot after I liked The Grand Budapest Hotel so much, maybe I was wrong about Wes Anderson? But no, it's just a bunch of quirky people rushing from one place to the next while being in a constant state of trying to be mildly amusing but not outright funny. It gets old quick.
I've never read the books but I'm sure they're much better than this mess. It needed to be a mini series or something, the movie just has the protagonist jumping from place to place in his training, you barely get enough time to get used to his supporting cast before they're switched out when he graduates 15 minutes later and moves on to the next test. The only constant is Harrison Ford and he's just as dull as he's ever been, I haven't liked him in a movie since Air Force One and that was 17 years ago! There just isn't much to like here, anything you could potentially care about gets left behind with every move forward. You know nothing about the aliens, there's some pointless twist about a hero the last time they fought, a good chunk of the movie is dedicated to the equivalent of Quidditch and just like in Harry Potter you don't really give a crap about it. At least it's interesting to look at, special effects are top notch but the story just feels rushed. Oh, and the ending is garbage too.
Should have been good but wasn't, that's what makes me mad. Premise is decent enough, solid actors, great sci-fi world and effects... it's a good recipe. Unfortunately the story was predictable and full of holes, the characters were weak and the message was heavy handed. Jodie Foster's character was especially uninteresting.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Solid and forgettable. It's alright, keeps you interested... Didn't understand why Patrick Stewart was now alive when he died in an earlier film but he's back I guess. I'm struggling to remember anything good or bad. Not a fan of the time travel cliche of having everyone getting killed in a scene then just time travel back in time and everyone is fine again. When it's done as obvious as in this one you lose interest because you know the action and their deaths are meaningless. But overall not a bad flick.. wish Dinklage had a more interesting character.
The story of an undercover agent infiltrating some hippie organization and, shockingly, in a twist no one expected, she starts to sympathize with them. Seriously though, it's not bad even if the story is somewhat predictable.
Brendan Gleeson is awesome and really saves an otherwise pretty uneventful film. It's a bit of a "who dunnit" mystery but unfortunately I can't say I saw any real clues along the way. Maybe I'm just bad at it.
I thought the backstory was quite good and interesting, once he's established as Captain America about halfway through the movie loses steam. They shoehorn in a villain and you don't really get time to care one way or the other about him before the final showdown. Very forgettable second half.
6/10 (bordering on a 5)
Captain America 2
Much better. Good action throughout, interesting twists for the most part, funny at times.. Black Widow and the villains (including Winter Soldier) didn't really do it for me but the overall arc of the story was good enough to keep me interested.
Last time I left off with Giovanni Ribisi and I noticed he was in another movie that had been sitting on my DVR for over a year, Contraband. And not only was he not annoying twice in a row, but he nailed a character that was completely different than the one he played in Gangster Squad. This time he was a trashy drug dealer with a trashy Louisiana accent. Kate Beckinsale was in the movie briefly enough that I didn't realize it was her until I saw the credits (also, she was blonde). It took me a little while to get into the movie, because I was expecting an action thriller, and it was more of a drama with some action. There's a good amount of cliché involved with the storyline (Marky Mark gets PULLED BACK IN to smuggling because his brother-in-law made a mistake and owes Ribisi lots of money, and Marky Mark is THE BEST THERE EVER WAS at it), but the movie did a good job of introducing me to something new - modern day smuggling where people take jobs on legitimate import ships and hide their goods on the ship. Both Marky Mark and the movie are solid. The most action-heavy scene, an armored car robbery in Panama, is pretty over the top, and I'm not sure why is there such an expensive painting being transported with such poor security in a dangerous part of town, but it was funny to see the cops just shoot everything that moves. The main climax of the movie, where Marky Mark outsmarts the authorities and Ribisi is great, though, and the tension of him being helpless thousands of miles away while Ribisi and his goons terrorize his wife works well.
MARKY MARK PLAYED A BOXER IN THE FIGHTER AND DANIEL DAY LEWIS PLAYED A FIGHTER IN THE BOXER BUT NEITHER OF THEM HAD TO FIGHT ROCKY DESPITE THERE BEING SIX ROCKY MOVIES AND I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO WATCHING THE SECOND ONE
Rocky II is basically just an extension of the first movie. Same opponent, same music, same working class Philly vibe, same random characters shoehorned in to various levels of success (including Frank Stallone, low on the success meter), same mostly realistic drama feel, same big fight at the end. It even starts right after the first one is over. The lack of originality weighs it down somewhat, even though on its own it is in the same league as the first movie. The only real new elements are Rocky learning how to blow his money on tacky jackets with a tiger on the back and us learning that ROCKY NEVER LEARNED HOW TO READ. Talia Shire continues to look terrified of her man, as she probably should be, especially when he first takes her back to his crappy little apartment. Having Philly get behind Rocky with the hometown fight and the kids doing the run to the stairs with him was so cheesy but it totally worked.
ROCKY AND APOLLO CREED SPLIT TWO FIGHTS THAT BOTH COME DOWN TO THE WIRE AFTER FIFTEEN ROUNDS OF PURE ACTION AND SOMEHOW THERE IS NEVER A THIRD FIGHT? THAT IS THE MOST UNREALISTIC THING OF THE ENTIRE ROCKY SAGA, AND INSTEAD OF FIGHTING CREED AGAIN HE FIGHTS HULK HOGAN AND MR. T AND SOME BLONDE ROIDED UP RUSSIAN STEREOTYPE BUT I CAN'T TELL YOU ANYTHING AFTER THAT BECAUSE I STOPPED PAYING ATTENTION
Speaking of blonde roided up Russian stereotypes, Pacific Rim was filled to the brim with lazy stereotypes and cliché plotting. Guillermo Del Toro wanted to play with fighting robots, so they concentrated on the visuals and effects and no one bothered with the rest of the movie. A disturbingly clean-cut Jax Teller LOSES HIS PARTNER AND QUITS THE GAME BUT THEY BRING HIM BACK BECAUSE HE IS THE BEST. THE BEST! The young punk thinks he is hot stuff and fights with Jax for most of the movie but then he learns to be a team player at the end. The government IDIOTS WANT TO SHUT DOWN THE PROGRAM BUT THE BOSS WON'T LET THAT HAPPEN. The TALENTED ROOKIE HAS THE SKILLS BUT DOESN'T HAVE HER HEAD RIGHT (at least it being a female is new). Despite the metric tons of cliché, despite the fact that I could give a crap about robots fighting monsters, despite the painful jokey portions of the movie with Charlie Day being Charlie Day and Hellboy going over the top, despite some serious logic problems (this robot sword kills the crap out of alien monsters - let's never use it until now! / these robots have to made of some super-strong metal to work - let's punch the alien monster with a fistful of hollow shipping containers!), I got into the movie after a while and did enjoy it quite a bit. The robot fights at the end were good, but the best two fights in the movie were the two between humans on their own two feet, which were both excellent. Jax, his partner, the hotshot and Max Martini were all pretty good. Idris Elba was a little too much with the yelling. Obviously the visuals were incredible. Bonus points for Max Martini and destroying Frisco.
AT LEAST THE CLICHE CHINESE TRIPLETS WERE PLAYING BASKETBALL AND NOT PING PONG (WHERE ARE YOU PLAYING PING PONG ON A REAL-WORLD SPACE STATION, GRAVITY), BUT BACK TO THE RUSSIANS
Still speaking of blonde roided up Russian stereotypes, Kick-Ass 2 was a lot better than I had been told. Mostly the same filthy-mouthed fun of the first movie, with some points deducted for the accompanying lack of originality. They try to put in some new material by having Hit Girl struggle to fit in at school, but it mostly feels like filler and her final victory over the mean girls is a cheat. The movie also has a huge problem with having no idea what its tone or message is. One minute the characters need to stop playing superhero and live normal lives and the next minute they are born to be superheroes and it bounces back and forth. One minute everything is silly and the next minute someone is getting stabbed in the neck. Also, the ability of the characters to fight varies between realistic and superhero movie quite often, basically as the plot dictates. That said, the movie is often hilarious and all the various superheroes and villains are creative and amusing, especially Jim Carrey and Mother Russia. Turk from Scrubs I just can't not see as Turk from Scrubs. There were turns of the plot I did not see coming, even if here and there people do things that are completely stupid (like the guy who gives McLovin' the vital information near the end). The action scenes were all quite good, making me think that they should just drop the fake realism and tone issues and just make a straight (but R-rated) superhero movie with Hit Girl destroying people.
NICOLAS CAGE WAS IN THE FIRST KICK-ASS AND HE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER BUT EVEN HE COULDN'T SAVE THE NEXT MOVIE BUT THEN NEITHER COULD MARSHALL ERICKSON, ANNIE EDISON, OR ANDY DWYER
You what people have not been clamoring for? An alleged comedy where the generic characters are miserable for 90% of the movie. I think The Five-Year Engagement refers to how long it feels to watch the movie. There are some sporadic funny moments, and the end of the movie shows that Marshall learned something from being on How I Met Some Chick To Burn A Few Years With Until The Woman I Was Obsessed With Split Up With My Other Best Friend Because Deus Ex Machina, but it is not worth it getting there. The movie was so depressing I didn't notice that the sister was Alison Brie until the very end. The d-bag teacher is amusing, but I think the movie is secretly one of those mind-f experiments that Emily Blunt went all the way to Michigan to learn how to do. I don't want to know how many of my tax dollars go toward that, by the way. In a running gag, Emily Blunt's grandparents die one by one every time the wedding is postponed. HILARIOUS! At one point, Marshall loses a toe just so Andy Dwyer could later make two bad puns at his expense. HIGH COMEDY! Why does the little girl say "I'm Katniss" when she fires the crossbow in the commercials but "I'm Pocahontas" in the movie? I mean, besides because 50 times as many kids know who Karniss is. Bonus points for that stupid part where Marshall goes hillbilly native and makes his own honey because it allows me to end this with...
NOT THE BEES!!!!!!
I'm way behind on this.
Chef - Jon Favreau is a semi-famous chef, but the local bigtime food critic pans his work and he makes an idiot of himself yelling and screaming at the guy in front of people with cameraphones and starting a Twitter war. So he goes on a vacation with his ex-wife and son and re-discovers his love of making food. He starts up a food truck making Cuban sandwiches and they travel cross country and he learns to enjoy the simple things in life. Very enjoyable, low-key film from Favreau. You can kind of see where it's going early on, but it's smart about it. It's funny and it's got some of that heart-warming touch-y feel-y in it, but it doesn't feel overdone. I liked it a lot. No explanation as to why a guy like Favreau can pull Scarlett Johannsson and Sofia Vergara in the same movie, but if I can suspend my disbelief for Pacific Rim, I guess I can do it here, too.
Fast & Furious 6 - I must confess I've never been a fan of this series. I know people, am married to one, who enjoy it because of the ridiculousness of it all, but it's never done much for me. Ditto this one. I do enjoy making fun of it while watching, though, and I have zero problem watching the Rock in pretty much anything, so it was fine as a distraction. I am actually slightly looking forward to the next one, hoping that the addition of Jason Statham and Tony Jaa can do the trick for me.
Un Flic - Herman Melville's last movie, starring Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve? Innnnnnnnnnnn. It's a somewhat standard cops and robbers story, with the twist of one of the robbers being good friends with the cop. It's interesting in that it's a very slow, deliberate film. There is very little in the way of excitement, but it's got a bit of a hypnotic quality to it. I liked it, but nowhere near as much as some of Melville's more classic stuff.
Got busy. To be continued...
R.I.P.D. - This was actually slightly better than I expected, but only because I expected to turn it off before it ended. Very wanna-be Men In Black, but without the same level of wit and charm. I do enjoy watching Jeff Bridges work, especially when he teeters on the edge of the deep end, so I wouldn't say it was as bad as the reviews made it out to be. But, it was extremely bland and in some ways, that's almost as bad as being terrible. Maybe. Sort of. I don't know.
Manhunter - I'd never seen this, despite it being a Michael Mann film. And it being an adaptation of Red Dragon. The movie is incredibly dated-looking. It's so 80's I half expected Culture Club to make a cameo, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it quite a bit. It's unfortunate that Brian Cox, who plays Hannibal here, doesn't get much screen time. His version of Hannibal is very different from Anthony Hopkins' and I think it would have been interesting to see what he would have done with the character because, man, I ****ing love Brian Cox. It's an effective, moody little movie and if you can handle the synth soundtrack and the clothes and hair, you might be surprised. It's no Silence Of The Lambs, but I think I like it better than Red Dragon.
Kick Ass 2 - Had it's moments, but I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did the first one. Which is also how I felt about the comics.
The Naked Kiss - Dafuq?! This movie is weird. It straddles the line between serious and parody so closely that I honestly have no idea which one it was meant to be. The opening scene is so bizarre that I was sure I was going to be watching an intentionally weird/bad movie, but the further I got, the less sure I was. It doesn't play it up the way you would think an intentionally bad movie was, but it never really feels like it's taking itself overly seriously, either. So I don't know.
I would say I enjoyed it, but I don't know how much. It's the kind of thing that I would love to show if I owned a theater just to gauge/watch people's reactions. I don't really do movie parties anymore, but if I did I would totally buy this for that. But just for watching it myself? Maybe if it's on TCM again.
Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71 - Finally. The only Stray Cat Rock film I'd yet to see because I couldn't find a bootleg with english subs. There's a Blu-ray set coming out in the UK soon, but when I saw this on eBay I snapped it the **** up. I don't care if it's a burned DVD that I'm paying $10 for. Gimme. The Stray Cat Rock series is a series of 5 movies that have nothing in common, other than they are all about gangs of youths in the early 70's in Japan and they all have Meiko Kaji and Tatsuya Fuji in them. Some of them, like Sex Hunter, are awesome. Others, like this one, are less so.
I'm pretty sure the biggest reason the previous 4 films have made it out as bootlegs with english subs is because of Meiko Kaji's post-Kill Bill popularity, so it stands to reason, then, that bootleggers might not be as interested in this one because she's barely ****ing in it. And because all the cool leather jacket motorcycle **** you see in the press materials is nowhere to be found in the actual film. Sigh.
What you get, then, is a fairly run-of-the-mill youth gang story, the kind that Japanese directors made a whole bunch of during this period. And it isn't terrible, but it's outshined by many of its contemporaries. Recommended only for obsessive completists. So: me.
A Bridge Too Far - 'Dat cast!! Pretty solid movie about a losing effort in WWII that suffers some from having too many characters that are hard to keep track of, even if most of them have recognizable faces. This is the kind of thing that would make a good mini-series nowadays. I liked it, but didn't love it.
Red 2 - I want to say this one wasn't as good as the first one, but I can't think of any reasons why, really. There's not much difference. It's fun, empty entertainment. I'd definitely put it above something like RIPD, but not too far.
Possession - Oh, you guys, the new limited edition Blu of this movie is soooooooooooooo goooooooooooood. Worth every penny. I hadn't seen it in a long time and was very happy that it was just as good as I remembered it being. So crazy and ****ed up and weird. So good.
Enemy Of The State - Hadn't seen this before. Pretty enjoyable. Interesting to see just how prescient it was. Would have liked to have had more Gene Hackman, but it was fun.
To be continued again...
The Internship - As a software engineer by trade, I really liked this one. Overall, the movie is fairly formulaic, but the subject matter made it enjoyable. While it takes its liberties, it's one of the better representations of the tech industry to make it to film.
Oldboy (US) - Lame. Just plain lame. I spent an hour and thirty minutes getting sucked into the story only to be let down by an unbelievable end. I understand the original Korean ending is a little more cohesive and believable, but even that one just seems - meh.
Delivery Man - This one blew me away. The story was touching, and Vaughn knocked it out of the park. It was nice to see him do something beyond the fast talking funny guy he's fell into since...forever. (except for Clay Pigeons maybe) Probably my favorite Vaughn performance.
Now You See Me - Unfortunately, I did see you. The whole movie. The amount of times I asked myself, "What the hell is the point here?" was many. It seemed like the writer's tried to make the entire movie about misdirection, which works for a magic trick but not the plot of a movie.
Narco Cultura (Documentary) - I was equally fascinated and horrified by the phenomenon of nacrocorridos. Presents food for thought in comparison to the popularity of gangster rap in the US.
Fire With Fire - Run of the mill action flick. Worth a watch, but only as brainless entertainment.
Ali - Too much focus on his life with the Nation of Islam, not enough on his boxing. And way too long for it.
Jack Reacher - Quite surprised. I liked it a lot. Jack Reacher is a pretty awesome character. I even read one of the Jack Reacher books after watching this. I really hope they make more of the books into movies.
Red Dawn (2012) - Dare I risk losing my 80's Kid Club Card by saying that I liked this more than the original? The action was better. Playing up the "insurgents" angle was better. The original will always have a special place in my heart, but I just liked the remake more. Hollywood managed to get it right on a remake for once.
World's Greatest Dad - Never saw it before. Hard to watch given the current circumstances. Very funny though. I've shied away from independent comedies lately, but this one really delivered for me.
And continuing my 80's/90's kick:
Lethal Weapon 1-4
Bird On A Wire
New Jack City
Plus, the requisite Robin Williams (RIP) revisits:
Death To Smoochy
Good Will Hunting
The Fisher King