Recent Movies

I really need to start writing these reviews right after I've seen the movies, instead of letting them pile up until I don't even care any more... Ooh, look, a bunch of one-sentence reviews. That's what happens.

District B13

    A near-future french movie where an acrobat-criminal and a cop-on-the-edge have to work together to find the dingus and save the girl before it's too late. CAN THEY GET ALONG? Obviously you've seen this plot before, but that doesn't matter, what matters is the stunts, and they are mind-blowingly good: like Jackie Chan good. It's that "parkour" stuff you may have heard about.

Pirates 2

    An adequately entertaining sequel. Not as good as the original, but exactly what I expected. It gives good tentacle.

A Scanner Darkly

    This movie is made of drugs. The walls keep seething for at least half an hour after the movie ends, I swear. It's entertaining, and certainly the first movie based on PK Dick's work that actually captured the feel of his stories.

Clerks 2

    Eh. It was OK. I enjoyed it while it was on, and I've forgotten it already.


    Pretty creepy, but fascinating. This is one of those movies about sex that makes you never want to have sex again.

The Descent

    A group of women go spelunking and get trapped. I'm not particularly claustrophobic, but this movie freaked me the fuck out. The first half of the movie is really just them-versus-the-caves, and that in itself was a terrifying movie -- and that's before the Bad Things happen. The way this group of friends let their inter-personal issues completely screw them all over is also handled really well. Highly recommended.

The Cave

    I described The Descent to someone and they said "Oh, that sounds like The Cave." Um, no. Except that they're both set in caves. This movie is bullshit.

Velvet Goldmine

    A pretty entertaining story about the meltdown of a couple of Bowie-like glam rockers. I liked it.


    It starts off as The Ring and then turns into Day of the Dead. It's not scary, it's just dumb.

Million Dollar Baby

    I guess this, like, won an Oscar or something. It's actually really good.

The Illusionist

    This was great. Though I wish there was more time spent on the stage magic itself, and showing how the tricks were done. The ending has a bit of a Usual Suspects feel to it, but I liked how they left it ambiguous.


    This was exactly what I expected, so good for them: no plot, lots of ass-kicking. I really liked the editing style and the weird overlays they used for split-screen-ish effects. In a lot of ways, the editing was overdone like in Domino (which I hated), but I thought that worked really well here.
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21 Responses:

  1. fo0bar says:

    I loved the acting and direction in A Scanner Darkly, but thought the animation got in the way. Sure, animate the scanner suit, bugs, daydream thought bubble, maybe the crops/flowers at the end, but seeing a police car jerkily pulling into a parking lot at the police station adds nothing. And the rotoscoping of the actors were close enough to their real counterparts that it entered an uncanny valley realm.

    Regardless, Robert Downey Jr kicked ass.

    • jwz says:

      I dunno, I think they kinda had to rotoscope the whole thing, or the transitions would have been jarring. It wasn't Roger Rabbit... I don't think the animation itself was all that exceptional, but it did give a weird, claustrophobic pulsation to the whole thing.

      • ghosthacked says:

        Scanner Darkly felt a little tame in the current world of gitmo/enron/haliburton. Also the character merge they did with 2 main chars seemed to be out of place.

        • unwoman says:

          Yeah, did they really need to combine those two guys? also, Donna in the film would have been better suited to Winona had they shown Donna stealing cokes off a coke truck. As it was it was insanely well-cast, though.

      • I spent a bit too much of the movie taking my glasses off, unfocusing my eyes, and saying to myself 'wow it looks exactly like live action this way!', so that was self-inflicted distraction, but the other problem with it was in a few shots where the backgrounds needed to move in parallax but moved linearly instead.

        But MTV should totally do a series of shorts in that style with just the Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson characters doing their thing.

  2. belgand says:

    I have not seen the American remake of Pulse, but the original Japanese film was excellent. I can't imagine any way that it could be Americanized and still be the same film. It may not be to your tastes still, but I suggest viewing it.

    Personally I didn't care for Million Dollar Baby. It felt cliched, melodramatic, and completely lacking in any original ideas.

  3. ghosthacked says:

    I liked how towards the end of the movie you have Edward Norton's char fingering/polishing all sorts of projection lenses whenever they pan to a character/emo shot of him.

  4. pfrank says:

    A guy I used to work with is buddies with Iggy Pop and dropped hints that Velvet Goldmine is pretty close to a true story romance between Iggy and Bowie. I dunno how much of that to believe, but it was a sweet movie.

    • whittles says:

      That is definitely what I've heard as well. from multiple sources.

      still don't know how true it is, but it's sure compelling.

  5. cowbutt says:

    Yup, after I left the cinema, for a about 10-15 minutes afterwards, I kept expecting reality to snap into rotoscope-o-vision. *Shudder*

    "Made of drugs", indeed.

  6. mtbg says:

    what matters is the stunts, and they are mind-blowingly good

    Now go watch Ong-Bak. It has a quite similar flavor to District B13, probably due in part to Luc Besson's involvement with both.

  7. whittles says:

    You didn't like Kinsey? My reaction to that movie was so different. I just kept thinking how glad I was to be born after his work.

    grown adults thinking cunnilingus can give you problems when you're trying to get pregnant? how very sad.

    • jwz says:

      Oh, I thought it was a good movie -- I just found it creepy.

    • carus_erus says:

      The only thing I can think of that was creepy about the movie was the fucked up child molesting sheep fucker guy. Other than that the movie was pretty uplifting. I thought after watching the telecine came out of the theater thinking "Boy I'm glad I'm alive now rather than then".

      Then again I similarly had a "Boy I'm glad I'm alive now rather than then" feeling after watching Brokeback Mountain.

      • jwz says:

        Molester guy: creepy. The world they lived in: creepy. Kinsey's father: creepy. Kinsey: creepy. Kinsey's wife: creepy. Their swinger research staff suburb: creepy.

        Summary: creepy.

  8. lordmuck says:

    The Descent is a good movie, much better than The Cave. UK film has done some reasonable horror recently, perhaps Creep being a minor blip depending on your viewpoint. You'll probably enjoy Severance when that gets to the States.

  9. starjewel says:

    I'm planning on seeing The Illusionist this weekend... I'm glad you liked the ambiguous ending. I've read a lot of reviews where people complain about the ending. I'm a big fan of having things left to the imagination.

  10. re: Descent

    "I had no idea this movie would be so... empowering."
    "Wow, I can feel my ovaries rejoicing!"

  11. jwm says:


    Out of curiousity, did the version you saw of The Descent have an ending where one of them escapes to live traumatised ever after, or did you get the Brazil ending?