recent movies

I think I've seen more movies than this lately, but I can't remember any others, very probably because they all sucked.

The Prestige

    I loved the book, and I thought the movie did a good job of capturing it. It must have been tricky to adapt, since the book is, basically, two diaries, the first half of the book being the story from one guy's point of view, and the second half from the other's. The movie followed a more linear structure, and I think pulled it off pretty well without screwing up any of the revelations. But, if I hadn't read the book, I'm not sure I would have really understood what was going on: a lot of it seemed pretty glossed over.

The Fountain

    I liked this a lot. It's weird in the way that 2001 is weird, and the effects are great in the way 2001's effects are great. There are 3 interleaved stories, some of which might not really have happened. It's a cool structure. I also liked that the connection between the "present" and "future" stories -- the part where the protagonist finishes his project and changes the world -- is left completely implied.


    I only saw this because it was the only movie starting that day at 2pm. Even with my expectations wedged firmly down in the fifth sub-basement, this movie is complete crap. It's approximately as bad as Harry Potter, possibly even as bad as Dungeons and Dragons. Though at least Dungeons and Dragons had beholders. This has no beholders. And the dragon has feathers. Feathers!

Casino Royale

    Certainly the best Bond movie in recent memory, though it gets a little too talky and spends a little too much time psychoanalyzing him. I like that it is not smirky and stupid like most Bond movies, and that the violence is actually ugly. This Bond acts like the thug that he is.

    The "parkour" stuff at the beginning was a pale shadow of District B13.

The Good Shepherd

    This is the one about the founding of the CIA. From this movie we can learn that: A) secret agents are emotionless bureaucrats, B) anyone who ever tells you the slightest fib is probably going to try and get you killed, C) LSD is not a good truth serum, D) senators and spies like playing homoerotic scat games. It's long, and didn't quite put me to sleep, but only just.
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29 Responses:

  1. i agree with your thoughts on the fountain.
    it was gorgeous.
    i actually want to see it again.

  2. usufructer says:

    Regarding The Prestige, I hadn't read the book; there were a couple of spots where I lost the thread for a moment, because of the way they interwove it, but for the most part I got it. My main gripe was that it depicts Tesla making actual magic rather than sufficiently advanced technology. Had it been a made up character, and not an actual person, it wouldn't have been so annoying.

    I highly recommend Stranger Than Fiction. It's better than any Will Ferrell movie would ever be expected to be.

    • jwz says:

      Well, that's the thing about magic and technology... anyway, I think that was handled a lot more believably in the book, probably just because more time was devoted to it.

      And I cannot possibly believe that anything with the stink of Will Ferrell on it can be worth my time.

      • usufructer says:

        Indistinguishable, etc, I know. But there's a point where it's magical magic, i.e. completely impossible, and what they depict is beyond that point. At the same time, it's neat to see Tesla mentioned.

        On Will Ferrel; I know, I was quite surprised. It's like Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine, or Mark Hamill in Castle in the Sky; good enough to forget who it is for most of the movie.

        • I just want to know where the extra mass came from. As far as I am concerned, Quantum Mechanics is magical enough for the rest.

          • usufructer says:

            That is indeed the sticky bit. There's no way to pull and store two billion gigawatt hours of electricity to make him from energy. That's the entire U.S's electrical energy output for 84 days; and that's the 2005 generating capacity, not 1899.

    • kfringe says:

      Tesla. Bowie. Cool machine with fucking lightning bolts.

      Your definition of "annoying" confuses and distresses me.

      • usufructer says:

        Implying that you wouldn't know high voltage science if it beat you about the head and shoulders.

        • kfringe says:

          You're right. I always attend fantasy movies for their realistic representation of technology.

          • usufructer says:

            Up until that point it wasn't a fantasy movie. My argument is that it would have been better had it not used a real scientist to depict fantasy.

            • jsl32 says:

              this whole idea that fictionally using a real person just somehow magically (hah) makes the movie 'annoying' is weird and silly.

              and up until that point, the characters were certainly not sure what was reality and what was fantasy, so that's not even a relevant point.

              i swear, obsessive nerdery about minutiae in harmless entertainment is way more annoying to me than occasionally fantastical portrayals of science.

  3. Yep, Eragon was complete crap. Seriously, how can a mere human tell a dragon what to do. "I am the rider, and I decide!" That, and the primitive usage of thematic music shaped like shark fins telling you to feel this now. Blech.

  4. ghosthacked says:

    i didn't like how the past story of the fountain is totally false, a story within a story. I thought they coulda tied it in a bit better... like maybe if izzy(bella) was a history / archeologist or something.

    The sword he was using didn't fit the timeperiod, cup hilts were 1620/1650 and up. But meh.

    Overall I thought it was really nice, a brilliant romantic comedy. And it didn't remind me of the matrix/starwars/startrek.

    I'm not sure but the wikipedia description of it implied that the future bit of it was actually going on only in his head - that it was a result of dealing with and overcoming the grief complex. He only goes on with the present.. etc.

    Altho being blown up screaming in the face of a supernova is one hell of a way to go.

    Have you seen the 1964 version of Casino Royale? The Comedy?

    • joel says:

      My girlfriend's take on The Fountain was that the futuristic part was Tommy's ending to the story that Izzi left for him to finish. I'm biased, but that explanation seems to make the most sense to me. (All that I remember Tommy doing is burying the seed that Izzi gave him, without any magic to turn Izzi into a tree)

    • joel says:

      I suppose I could have read the excellent discussion on the Wikipedia Talk page before responding... A good roundup of plot explanations is here:

  5. drhoz says:

    re feathers. So what? So did a lot of the dinosaurs.

  6. phoe6 says:

    Good to know that you enjoyed Casino Royale. Lot of people had expectations from this movie in the lines of previous bond played where he as transparent cars, jumps from one flying airplane to the drivers seat of another plane etc etc. With those expectations on the Bond,many I think did not like Casino Royale.
    This movie shows the formation of the Bond, had more realistic gadgets ( well if you can call Sony products as gadgets) and this guy was performing good stunts which I have not seen any of the previous bonds doing.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, obviously I liked this movie because I'm not really that much of a fan of Bond movies. I can see how people who are would have hated it.

  7. telecart says:

    Mmm. Really looking forward to seeing The Fountain. Glad youto see you gave it a thumbs up. Have you read the VERTIGO graphic novel version adapted of the original script/vision by Kent Williams?

    • jwz says:

      No, I'm even less likely to read novelizations of movies than I am to see movies starring Will Ferrell.

      • kap_ says:

        It isn't really a novelization of the movie per say. It was produced after the first production fell apart and it looked like it would never get made. The script is supposedly different enough from the movie we saw that it's a significantly new experience.

        I'm a comic geek (and Aronofsky fan), and that said, I haven't and probably won't get to it any time soon either. The visuals in the movie were so stunning, I just don't think I need another viewpoint. Maybe if I had read it first..

      • telecart says:

        Normally, I'd swear by that myself (both accounts), but this comics is a thing of pure beauty, and is apparently more of a Director's Cut than a straight adaptation.

      • kfringe says:

        Is it just a measure of Will Ferrell's ubiquity that the standard is no longer movies that have Will Ferrell in them?

  8. marapfhile says:

    Re: Eragon, I was a big fan of the feathers--after all, the big dinosaur story of the year was that they had feathers, right? As for the film's other issues, the majority of them were caused by making it half the length it should have been. The book really needed the full Lord of the Rings treatment, with a three-hour movie. It felt more like selected paragraphs illustrated as three-minute scenes then a coherent movie, which is a pity, as the book is actually quite good.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, that would have been ... great. Three more hours of unoriginal shit lifted from dungeon modules I played in 1983. Wow. How could they have left all that out.

      Or were you saying they needed more of the gay porn parts at the beginning with the barely legal blonde farmboys wrestling?

  9. ninjagirl says:

    Eragon was dire. It was crap, and it wasn't even funny-crap. It got a chuckle out of me when "you look.. dressed for battle" was used as a pick-up line, and that's about it.

    I'm glad I only paid £1.50 to see it thanks to some vouchers.

  10. kfringe says:

    I agree with your endorsement of the first two flicks. I've been refusing to see the second two, and your endorsement of Casino Royale does nothing to change my mind. I do appreciate the warning about the Good Shepherd. I had been tempted to catch a matinee, but my suspicion that it would be two dull hours of smug Yalie porn kept me away. Your review has hardened my resolve.

    My only question is why the current crop of movies in release is so detestable. Night at the Museum? Eragon? The closest thing we even have to a zombie flick is Rocky XXIX or whatever the hell number it is. Can someone please remind Hollywood that we Americans require tits, explosions, car chases and undead serial killers on a regular basis? Why are they neglecting their core audience this way?

  11. falc0n2600 says:

    I'm extremely glad that there's somebody else in the world who appreciates The Fountain. It was wonderful.

  12. webserf says:

    I too have been referring people who liked Casino Royale to District B13 to see more and better chase-fu gymnastics.

    Re Eragon: the book was written by a 15-year-old and it does show. Though, as you point out, there is plenty of mediocre (to be kind) fantasy written by purported grown-ups too. A more charismatic lead might have helped the film. For me, Jeremy Irons made it watchable.