Recent movies

Since there's nothing interesting happening in the news today, I might as well post some movie micro-reviews.

The Crow: Upon a recent re-watch, I have a few observations:

  1. This movie is about Ellis Act evictions. That's the entire plot.
  2. Candyman is also a movie about a Vengeful Spirit fighting Gentrification. Therefore they are set in the same universe.
  3. I always forget that Tintin is Lord Nikon. In my headcanon, following the events of Hackers, after all of his white friends went away to college, Nikon's life took an unfortunate, more explicitly criminal turn. RIP Nikon.
  4. So now Hackers and Candyman are set in the same universe.
  5. To this day, a Graeme Revell score is enough reason for me to go see a movie.
  6. I saw a very clean 35mm print on a big screen, and even so, this movie is just so, so blurry. The mastering is crap. I truly hope that they never, ever re-make this movie -- it is and should remain a monument to Brandon Lee, and remaking it would just be an insult to him -- but I wish someone would re-master it, by which I mean, digitally generate a better render of every single frame. Throw some of that Fury Road tech at it and make a watchable 4K version.
  7. A reminder about that TKK performace.

The Matrix: I re-watched all three to get in the mood for our upcoming screening of the first one on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The first one is still a fantastic piece of filmmaking. That first scene, where we see Trinity performing the most incredible ass-kicking we've ever seen, and then she learns that Agents are inbound and she just turns tail and runs. She's afraid of someone? That's how you set the stakes. Also the dojo scene: "Do you think that's air you're breathing?"

The second two... can confirm: they are still an incoherent, babbling mess, and they make you like the first one less in retrospect. The freeway chase is pretty good. The Merovingian has a nice suit. That's about it.

And it reconfirms something I thought about Sense8: "Did they love that 'Burning Man rave in Zion' scene so much they had to expand it to 12 episodes? Yeah, I think they did."

Repo Man: I still love this movie so much. It's ridiculous. You should go watch it again.

The Magicians: I re-watched it from the beginning and it still holds up. The current season is killing it. And can I say how much I love that the Library Planets are triple mobius toruses? That makes so much sense to me in a Borgean way I can't explain. I am especially liking that the show is now totally "off book", because the show was always so much better than the books, largely by disregarding them.

The Man who Killed Hitler and Also The Bigfoot: This was great, and it was definitely not the movie I thought it would be. I mean, yes, those two things do happen, but mostly it's about how much he regrets them both, and they really make that work.

Perfect Skin: It's a "creepy stalker kidnaps and abuses a girl" movie, this time with non-consensual tattooing, so it's fair to ask "Why is this the story they chose to tell, again and again?" But the villain has this calmness to him and lack of mouth-foaming insanity that makes Stockholm Syndrome seem not-entirely out of the question. So, good acting and production. But still, "This story, again?"

Alita was pretty good. It was simple, but much punchy. It's relatively faithful to the manga, which is not necessarily great beause a lot of the manga was pretty stupid, such as her piece-of-shit boyfriend. The parts of it that were ripped off by Altered Carbon just made me angry at Altered Carbon all over again.

Vox Lux: This was really hard to watch. Good acting, but another movie about deeply unpleasant people. And it didn't really have much of an ending: I guess she just carries on being deeply unpleasant, the end?

Happy Death Day 2U: I am, as always, a sucker for Groundhog Day movies. This one is not as good as the first one, but still fun. It didn't waste a lot of time, so to speak. It adds some nice wrinkles in the cosmology, but it suffers from too much dumb slapstick. The "I am a blind French student in a beret and striped shirt" bit was stupid enough to almost overpower the whole rest of the movie. Why. Why would you do that, why. And the Dean doing his best Ed Rooney.... You are no Ed Rooney, Sir. Also, time travel fusion cores are clearly graduate level work, not undergrad, so why is that dude still living in the dorms?

Slaughterhouse Rulez: Well I should have known to veto it base solely on that "Z". Simon Pegg and some kids fight monsters, which sounds promising, but 3/4ths of it is on the theme, "English private schools are full of rich, bullying assholes", which was a daring revelation that I'm pretty sure has never before been committed to film.


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23 Responses:

  1. MattyJ says:

    As a 3D apologist, I have to add that Alita did 3D really well. It was shot with a 3D rig and you can really see the difference. Most of it is CG anyway but the live-action stuff doesn't look like a bunch of cardboard cutouts.

    My one piece of interesting Matrix trivia is that the outdoor set for the chase scene was built on the airfield in Alameda, and you can still see some paint and whatnot on [your choice of satellite mapping imagery.]

  2. Jayme says:

    I truly love when you do these. You're my people.

  3. Buddy Casino says:

    The Magicians is fun, but at the same time it makes you feel like a dumbass millennial teenager. I guess I really hate the characters (except that one russian magician prof) and love everything else.

  4. Eric says:

    Makes me think there should be Academy Awards for audiences, in particular an "endurance" Oscar category for people who somehow made it through all three Matrix movies.

  5. Megohm says:

    I read the original J O'Barr comic of The Crow after seeing the movie, and I was retroactively impressed with just how well the movie captured the dark Gothic feel of the comic. "I am the boiling man... come to break the bones of your sins, meat puppet..."

  6. Nick Lamb says:

    it's fair to ask "Why is this the story they chose to tell, again and again?"

    I presume it's because this story is inside lots of people. That's where most stories come from. Humans are a mess of contradictory and unpleasant impulses, mostly contained. Suicides aren't just people who thought of killing themselves, that would be almost everyone, suicides are the people who weren't able to prevent that thought from becoming an action.

    Given that Hollywood decision makers were historically almost all men, not to mention the fact that we keep finding out key men were total creeps I think you can take that one step further and reason that, whatever the eventual product, the story starts out as "I would kidnap and abuse a girl, but..." rather than "I would get myself kidnapped and abused, but..."

    This is one of the ingredients that makes some movies extraordinary. Almost everybody is walking around with a dreary romantic comedy or a mediocre thriller inside them, but not everybody has something like Brazil or E.T. in there. Of course having an extraordinary idea isn't the only thing that matters, John Wick isn't an extraordinary idea and neither is Before Sunrise. That Yellow Bastard pretty much literally is the "kidnap and abuse a girl" story albeit maybe the person imagining the story has themselves as Hartigan rather than Rourke Jr, but both the book and the original Sin City movie stand out anyway.

    • jwz says:

      Sure, based on the stories out there, it definitely seems like Fridging is the story that is inside a lot of people. And by people I mean hacks, mostly male.

      Also, "this is the story inside me" doesn't explain why 90% of television is about doctors, lawyers or cops. Only laziness and venality explains that.

      (Even better is when a story is adapted to TV and they say, "You know what would make this story really pop? If we ditched everything people loved about it and turned it into a police procedural." iZombie, Lucifer, etc.)

      The only reason I mentioned Perfect Skin at all was that I found it unusual in that it was the same old bullshit torture-porn plot, but that it was made watchable by some unexpectedly decent acting.

  7. Charles says:

    A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.

  8. Thomas Lord says:

    Something about the long truck down a neon-lit tunnel (Vox Lux) and the style of the agents (Matrix) makes me wonder if kids these days still like Diva.

    • jmags says:

      Sadly, I don't think this movie was ever popular. It does seem to be available for cheap on Amazon/iTunes/etc., so maybe it can finally get the recognition it deserves.

    • Frank Hecker says:

      Ah, Diva, a movie I remember fondly. I’m glad someone else does as well.

      • Doctor Memory says:

        Oh man. The first R-rated movie I ever saw. The aesthetic imprint that movie left on little 14-year-old me would last a lifetime as it turns out.

        Time to go watch it again.

  9. cdavies says:

    So in your headcanon, is Skank from The Crow actually Cereal Killer from Hackers after taking too much meth? I can see how that could be argued.

    (And now I'll post this comment to the right thread.)

  10. Rich says:

    I caught Kasane on a flight to Japan recently. It has a nice mix of Orphan Black + Dead Ringers + manga which might appeal. Definitely better than the 6.3 score it currently has on IMDB.

  11. Nibby says:

    Repo Man seems to have these timeless characteristics:
    - Let's you figure things out for yourself.
    - Makes you rethink everyday situations.
    - Has you consider that batshit crazy people are sometimes right.
    - There might be a subtle metaphorical ironic layer to reality that doesn't have to conform to your parameters.
    - Is even better in the censored for TV version, wherein he says: "Flip you motherflipper!"

  12. Lloyd says:

    Flipper is therefore the horniest dolphin ever. Flipper's fecundity explains the tv and movie remakes.

  13. k3ninho says:

    > I am, as always, a sucker for Groundhog Day movies.
    Give Netflix's Russian Doll a spin. It's a short 8-long set of 24-minute episodes. Love/Hate polarising items might include: Natasha Lyonne's (Orange Is The New Black) wisecracking and the show's large use of slapstick. The show's timing is very well done.


  14. Mark Crane says:

    Even though The Magicians (tv) is a millennial soap opera, it has some great moments. I differ with Mr. JWZ in that I thought the books were pretty good, although the TV show has probably eclipsed them.

  15. Ben says:

    Apollo 11 is quite good. It's at the IMAX for one more day.

  16. Tim says:

    By the way Matrix Trilogy has been released on 4k UHD Blu-Ray recently (completely new 4k HDR scans) and reviews are glowing.