Okay, so I’ve been in Samoa for the past six months and have had limited access to current entertainment. But, just for fun, here’s the lowdown on some of the movies and such I’ve had opportunity to see over the past few months. I should point out, that I don’t really watch movies in the same way I did at home. I analyze in much the same way I always have, but in terms of what I actually enjoy, I’m all topsy-turvy. I get way more enjoyment out of something bad (see: Eagle Eye, Death Race), but there’s no way I can get through something heavy or thought-provoking I would have enjoyed at home.
(There are spoilers, but all these movies came out months ago.)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
I also watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang this week. This one I actually enjoyed. It’s sort of along the lines of The Big Lebowski, in that’s it’s an L.A. detective story that really isn’t (and by the end you’re not totally sure what it was about, but enjoyed the ride nonetheless). Although, where The Big Lebowski revels in the absurdity of the setting, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is more about mocking La La Land from a New York perspective (favorite line: “This isn’t Good Cop/Bad Cop, this is Fag and New Yorker”). I was also thinking today about the scene where Robert Downey Jr. has his nuts hooked up to the car battery and Val Kilmer won’t shut up, RDJ keeps yelling, “Stop helping! Stop helping!” – I kind of related to that sentiment sometimes…
Unlike Tarantino’s Death Proof (which was actually a pretty good movie) Death Race is a true B movie. I went to see this one at Magik Cinemas; I was hoping for something a little more over-the-top and ridiculous, something that would make me chuckle, but it didn’t really do that. I can’t complain too much I suppose, because really, Death Race delivered what it promised: cars with Gatling guns and lots of T & A. Personally, I give more credit to a undeniably bad movie that never tried to be something that it’s not than a mediocre movie trying to be something more. Although, as a friend said leaving the theater, “I kept hoping for a plot point just so the cameras would stop moving.”
So Hal has a girlfriend, who knew? Other than that, I’m not totally sure what this movie was about. I spent most of the movie with the same look I used to get when I tried listening to George Bush speak (head slightly tilted, eyes squinted and brow furrowed, mouth slightly open as though about to speak, trying to make some sense out of what I’m witnessing). I enjoyed Billy Bob Thorton in a totally out-of-place role just being Billy Bob Thorton (as always), and Shia LaBeouf isn’t bad to look at for a couple of hours, I guess. The ending had the canned stench of a focus group influence (LaBeouf was supposed to die, Billy Bob was supposed to live, I’m sure that’s how the script must have read). I didn’t mind the absurdity of the plot, although overall the movie was a bit seizure-inducing (although still not as bad as Death Race).
Good Night and Good Luck
Good Night and Good Luck could be one of those movies I may have liked at home, but not so much here. Although really, my problem with GN&GL was that the characters were totally flat. Such a great cast, but still no character development – the characters felt less like people and more like these bodies reciting dialog to each other. By the end of the movie I felt like, “Oh that was it?” I just didn’t feel the dramatic tension.
I went to see Tropic Thunder in the theater the night of the U.S. elections. My company did not catch the fact that the three trailers before the movie were phony, just a device to introduce the characters. I guess some alcohol had been consumed (but still, three famous actors being introduced as names that clearly aren’t theirs and two of the trailers were sequels to movies that don’t exist, come on guys). I think “Satan’s Alley” was my favorite, no I take that back, “Scorcher VII: this time it’s different” was the best.
I’ve seen more that a few Nam movies, and I enjoyed the spoof. Robert Downey Jr. totally stole the show (“Why are you still in character?” “I know, but I don’t have to tell you”). I caught a few references: Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Saving Private Ryan, I was watching for an Apocalypse Now nod, but didn’t catch it (although apparently it is in there).
I’ve also since watched the DVD cast commentary, during which Robert Downey Jr. stays in character. The commentary is well worth the extra time, I was cracking up through the whole thing.
When I first got to my site, my host family had the first season of Prison Break on DVD. This is another one I never, ever would have watched at home, but here I got totally into it and now I’m dying to find a region four copy of season two. I’ve been assured that the series goes steadily down hill with each season after the first mediocre one and I can’t wait.
I guess Prison Break, for me, is another lesson in what makes a TV show watchable and successful – it’s the characters. The story is ludicrous and the writing is questionable, but the characters (especially the B characters) are just so good that I kept wanting to watch just to see what would happen to them.
Wall•e & Ratatouille
I keep waiting for the newest Pixar movie to let me down and not be quite up to par, but man, it sure hasn’t happened yet. Wall•e was adorable – a little ironic that Disney produced a movie about a huge corporation that takes over the world, but okay, we’ll accept that Pixar was the driving creative force and let that one go (since the movie was just so charming). Ratatouille was great all-around, but that one moment where the food critic tries the ratatouille and is instantly rocketed back to his childhood in the French countryside was one of those totally perfect moments.