© 2005 Jamie Zawinski
For posterity, here are the movie reviews that I posted to my
blog in 2005.
This is most of the movies I saw last year, and (I think) all
of the movies I saw in the theatre or on DVD. There's a bunch
of late-night-tv crap I didn't bother reviewing. These are
roughly in the order I saw them.
(See also: 2004.)
This is apparently Hellraiser 6, and -- though I know this will be
hard to accept -- it was actually pretty good! It was more of a
psychological thriller than a splatter movie, so it really wasn't much
like the other Hellraiser movies at all. It was very hallucinatory,
and through most of the movie it's hard to tell which events are real
or even what order they are happening in. I'm a sucker for that kind
of thing. The acting was decent, and the effects are low-key enough
that their budget didn't show.
For calibration purposes: I loved
the first one, and
thought the second
one was decent.
Hell on Earth was
complete garbage (leave the puns to Freddy, please) and
Hellraiser In Space
was notable only in that it was even worse than
Leprichaun In Space,
which came out that same year. I haven't seen the
This is the worst movie I've subjected myself to since
Dracula 2000. Oh my
god, fantastically bad. Even the effects were bad: during the big
climactic werewolf transformation scene I thought, "wow, that's the
hairiest Pillsbury Doughboy I've ever seen." The prominently-featured
wax statue of the Lon Chaney Wolfman was more convincing, and it
didn't even move. (The statue turned in ten times the performance of
Christina Ricci, too. Clearly the statue should have gotten top
Rick Baker won an
Oscar for the werewolf effects in An American Werewolf in
London, and this is the best he could do? He should just run the
stock footage instead of using that inflatable hairy baloon. There
have been better effects on Enterprise. Seriously.
"Did you not even consult
Angela sensibly asked. "I didn't think I needed to!
Serpent and the Rainbow!
I knew Wes Craven had executive-produced a whole bunch of shit
written and directed by other people, like the execrable
Wishmaster (though I
had forgotten that Dracula 2000 was, in fact, one of these.) I had
already caught on that "Wes Craven Presents" means "stay the fuck
away." But he actually directed this bloated turd.
Fuck you, Craven. We're finished.
If you are not a fan of the comic book,
Constantine might be
enjoyable. It's not a very good movie, but it's not terrible for what
it is. But they completely, utterly failed to capture the character.
The comic book Constantine is a con man. That's it, that is his
one purpose in life. He knows a tiny bit of magic, and convinces
everyone he knows more than he does, but fundamentally, he's a grifter
and a self-centered bastard.
The movie Constantine is a freelance exorcist, spending his time
pulling devils out of little girls in an attempt to attone for his own
attempted suicide and earn his way into heaven. Um, what? Who's this
guy? I guess he saves the world or something. By the time it happened,
I didn't care.
Tilda Swinton is absolutely fantastic as Gabriel,
and the guy who plays Satan is pretty good. Everybody else phones it
The broken-skull demons were totally uninspired and
boring. They were less scary than
And I cannot believe we were expected to take it seriously when he
was attacked by Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas.
Oh my god, this may be the most perfect movie ever made.
Next up was a film festival: I spent a week at The Roxie and
saw seventeen horror movies
(and one stage show). It was very worthwile, and if you're in
town, I highly recommend going to the whole thing next year.
Bakko Yokaiden Kibakichi:
This starts off with a pretty good fight scene, but I kinda lost
interest about half way through. It's somewhere between Yojimbo and
Nightbreed: "wandering samurai comes to town, discovers dark
secret". It really felt like an anime, despite being live
action. The way the shots were framed or something. I kept thinking
things like, "this is the part where the animated version would have
cheaped out and just panned across a still-frame." The fight
choreography wasn't bad, but the costumes were Godzilla-quality.
Sort of a talky, political version of Logan's Run. Not bad.
A screenwriter's script keeps coming true. I liked this one. There
were some techical difficulties, though: apparently the director was
supposed to be there, but he missed his plane, and he had the print
with him. So what we actually saw was a workprint version, with
timecode at the bottom, ambient sound, and the wrong aspect ratio. I
may go see this one again just because it'll be neat to see how much
the addition of music and sound effects changes it.
This movie was just chock full of awesome. Cheesy UFO tv-show crew
goes to Wales; discovers/shoots/screws/shoots/gives birth to
aliens. Seriously, this was fantastic. Hilarious, gory, good effects,
full of references to other horror movies. Way better than Dead
Alive. Way better than Spawn of Chucky (even though it had no
little people). I ended up seeing this three times in one week, and it
did not get any less awesome. STRONGLY recommended!
Kichiku Dai Enkai:
I really didn't need to see this. It's a Japanese Manson Family
gore-fest, with carefully crafted details like: a guy has the top of
his head blown off with a shotgun by a woman who then spends ten
minutes fishing around in his brains. Later, after biting off
someone's dick, she is fucked with a shotgun. After the money shot,
there is ten minutes of the guy playing with her heart and lungs. In a
later arty moment, there is a loving arterial spray onto a Japanese
The most shocking part was what the one thing they chose to
censor: it was a scene where our heroine was running and jumped up in
the air. They blurred out the upskirt shot. Finger-painting with
lung-butter is fine, but pubes would just push it right over the
This is a classic zombie movie, and very well done. Almost the entire
movie is one very tense chase scene. The characters are believable,
and don't do anything criminally stupid. It's more suspenseful than
gory, and does not rely too heavily on spring-loaded cats or loud
noises. (You can tell I've seen a lot of bad zombie movies, right?)
The best part: the infection comes from mad cow disease. That's right:
Zombie Cow. Moooooobrains.
This was a crime drama, wherein some mobsters go to war with
an unstoppable assassin. It has the kind of very dark feel of Se7en or
Angel Heart. Good acting, lots of implied backstory, and really good,
realistic-seeming fight choreography. I loved this one. Also it was
the first film for everyone involved, and they made it for like
$200,000, which is unbelievably low for how professional it
looked. This and Evil Aliens were my two favorites of the festival.
All Souls Day:
Fratboy and girlfriend break down in small town in Mexico, get
abused by cultists and zombies. It had some ok moments, but mostly I
just found the main characters to be hateful and irritating and I
couldn't wait for them to die because then they'd shut the fuck up. We
were told that in the previous showing, the director was present, and
he didn't have much nice to say about the actors (and their
willingness to stick to the script), so it's not hard to believe that
the movie he tried to make was better than this one. But that's
not the movie we saw.
Cold & Dark:
This was a vigilante cop story, where one of the cops is (sort of) a
recently-turned vampire, and the other one is struggling with an "end
justifying the means" debate, as the two of them bump off the bad
guys. It's entertaining, well acted, and looks great, and the plot
holds up pretty well... until the end. I'm sorry to say, the end just
confused me. I have no idea what was supposed to have happened. (Well,
I have a few guesses, but those would be spoilers.) Still, a good
This was a short about a very calm, mellow cannibal serial killer. The
whole movie was narrated by his seemingly menace-less internal
dialog. It was hilarious! "I'm not too hungry, but I could eat. Oh
well. Break time's over."
Katie Bird: Certifiable Crazy Person:
This was a really interesting and intensely disturbing movie that
showed you the inside of the head of a serial killer by showing her
with her first and latest victim: she's telling the fellow currently
under torture about her first time, and how daddy showed her the
philosophy behind it. It makes heavy use of split-screens, showing you
multiple views on the same incident at the same time. It's really well
done. It's also full of the most graphically intense dental nightmares
that I've ever seen. And I know me some dental nightmares. This was
very hard to watch, but great. It's probably going into the category
of "really good movies that I never want to see again", along with
Dead Ringers. It's interesting to contrast this with
Dai Enkai: Katie Bird was more graphic, but was still the better
movie, because all that Kichiku had going for it was the gross-out
The Calamari Wrestler:
This was goofy fun. A pro wrestler that everyone thinks is dead comes
out of hiding after having himself transformed into a giant
squid. Then his nemesis makes a comback as a giant octopus. They are
of course after the same girl. It's full of dorky costumes and seafood
The Man with the Screaming Brain:
This was just kind of "eh." I expected more from Bruce Campbell. This
just seemed like a not-very-good take on the Steve Martin movies The Man With Two
All Of Me,
except that the slapstick wasn't anything to write home about. Ted
Raimi's range continues to consist of telling an un-funny joke then
making a dorky face at the camera afterward. Go see
A widower with a teenage son decides to take advantage of his role as
a movie producer to audition potential wives while pretending to
audition actresses. So, of course, he picks a loony. It's a bit long:
it bogs down some in the middle, after the set-up and before the
hallucinations and torture, but it's still fantastic and creepy.
And that's the end of the festival...
I liked this movie a lot. It reminded me a bit of
Until the End of the
World. It's a weird little detective / love story set in a
eugenics-heavy future. The part I liked most about this was how well
the science fiction aspects of it were done: there's a ton of
backstory and technology in it, but almost no exposition about
it. They just dropped you in the middle of this internally consistent
future and let you figure out how the world worked as the plot went
along. Very well done.
I liked this a lot. It's a really interesting-looking movie, and it's
worth watching for the eye-candy alone. The plot is a little slow, but
interesting. The main character is on a sort of quest inside a
massively-multiplayer online game, and the division between the game
and reality blurs in a Matrix-y way. It's basically a live-action
anime, made by a Japanese director in Poland, which adds to its
Kingdom of Heaven:
I enjoyed this, but I've already forgotten most of it. I'm sure that
by this time next year, this movie,
all be the same movie in my memory (file under "Manly Men With
Crow 3: Salvation:
In one of my previous movie-review posts, someone commented that,
while Crow 2 was
horrible, Crow 3
was not bad, and was a decent sequel to
the original. Dear
whoever-said-that: you're an idiot. This movie was crap.
Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars:
I was a fan of the Farscape tv
series for most of its run, but honestly, I couldn't keep track of
half of what was going on in the last couple of seasons. It just got
completely incoherent. This ~3 hour miniseries wraps up the
cliffhanger and ends the series, but even watching it all at once, I
still was halfway between not following the plot, and just not
caring. Ok, I was also dozing off a bit, but that's not really a vote
in its favor either.
Kung Fu Hustle:
This was a lot of fun. Goofy slapstick kung-fu. I thought it was a lot
funnier than Shaolin
Soccer (same director/star).
Revenge of the Sith:
Utter crap. Less bad than the previous two, I guess. It felt like
maybe there was a decent idea or two in there struggling to get
out. Maybe ten years after Lucas dies, someone will remake these, and
that version won't suck.
Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog):
This was pretty good. Jet Li plays "innocent simpleton" well. The
fights are entertaining, and the comedy's not bad. I kept feeling like
I'd seen this movie before, though; "Jet Li, ass-kicking
fish-out-of-water in France" is pretty much the same plot as
Kiss of the Dragon,
isn't it? Maybe I'm thinking of something else.
This was fantastic. It really felt like two movies, back to back: one
about Bruce Wayne in the monestary, and then one about Batman. The
villains are awesome, and I appreciated the attempts at explaining of
where all his toys came from. When Batman dangles a scumbag off a
building and asks him a question, he doesn't just grumble at him, he
roars. Bale pulls off both roles really well, and the
supporting cast are all great (except for the Utterly Forgettable Love
Interest who is only there to remind you that yes, the guy in the
armor-plated pervert-suit likes girls).
Mr. & Mrs. Smith:
This was pure fluff, but fun. I've completely forgotten everything
happened in it already, but it had the sort of wisecracking
relationship that you'd expect in a Cary Grant movie. (Not that it was
that good, but that's the kind of target they were aiming for.)
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory:
This was just a big waste of time. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't
interesting at all either. Johnny Depp plays Michael Jackson, and a
bunch of kids play clichés. The title character is about as
interesting as tap water.
However, I'd say the worst part about this movie was simply that
it reminded me of the original, since I hated the original: I hated
the characters, I hated the acting, and most of all I hated the
songs. So, in that I don't remember any of the songs from the
remake, the remake must be far superior.
This is a remake of
Parts: The Clonus Horror, which I remember seeing when it
came out. That movie was a terrible, lower-budget rip-off of
Logan's Run and
Coma, neither of
which were very good to begin with, and this remake shows that, much like
multiplying fractions, stupid times stupid times stupid equals really,
really, really stupid. (Most people who have seen Clonus probably saw
the MST3K version. Warning sign.)
Pretty much every 5 minutes, this movie had me saying, "Oh my god
that's SO STUPID!" and every time, they upped the ante. "Why
didn't they just... GAAH!" "They aren't really going
to... GAAAH!!" It was so stupid I was still reeling from its
stupidity the next day. It was the kind of stupid that sticks to your
clothing so that people on the street turn around and stare at you
with a "what's that smell?" look on their faces.
The best part is that the studio neglected to buy the rights to
Clonus, and thought nobody would notice that it's the same movie.
they were wrong.
This movie is really great looking, and the plot is kind of dumb,
which is to be expected, since that's the case with most of Bilal's
comic books too. I enjoyed it for the eye candy, but wow, some of the
computer animation was so incredibly bad! Half of the characters were
live-action and half were computer generated. It probably would have
been easier to take if they had done something like: have the humans
be humans and the aliens be graphics, but they didn't; for no sensible
reason, half the humans were computer generated too, and since they
were animated so badly, they seemed more alien than the aliens.
Kaena: The Prophecy:
I wanted to love it (half-naked blue alien chicks! Flying cars! A
giant Egyptian pyramid floating over New York!) but it was just so-so.
It invites comparisons with
The Fifth Element:
The Fifth Element has better effects and better acting. Immortel
has a better plot, and a complete absence of Chris Tucker. Advantage:
This was a very odd movie. It's fully computer-generated, and has some
pretty interesting critters and character design (talking worms with
jetpacks!) but is still well into the
valley. The design of the world is really interesting; some of the
bad guys live in this sort of lake of oil. The animators clearly spent
a lot of time working on the fluids, and it shows; much of the movie
is very trippy looking. The world is basically this giant tree
floating in the clouds, with superstitious hunter-gatherer types
living in the branches, which reminded me a bit of Niven's
The Integral Trees.
The Brothers Grimm:
Van Helsing was a far, far better movie than
The Brothers Grimm.
I think Brothers Grimm may be the worst movie I've seen this year, and
that's really saying something. Since I couldn't fast-forward, I
actually started playing solitaire on my phone a couple times.
A group of private-school students end up trapped in an
underground bunker, and a shrink tries to get the story of what
happened out of one of the girls (Thora Birch, who is great). The
story is re-told several times, Rashomon-like, and it gets uglier with
each telling. It's very tense, and I liked it a lot.
Shaun of the Dead:
Charlize Theron plays an ageing tweaker prostitute who, while
trying to provide for her needy, underage girlfriend (Christina Ricci)
gives up prostitution in favor of murdering johns. Theron won an Oscar
for this, and it was well-deserved. She's amazingly creepy and
I put off seeing this for a long time because, fan of zombies
though I am, I thought the preview looked really, really stupid. I
didn't even smile at one of the jokes in it. But, the movie is
actually pretty entertaining!
I had never seen this, and every now and then it would come up and
someone would say, "you haven't seen Falling Down? It's a classic!"
Well, I'm sorry, people, your memories of this movie far outstrip its
quality. It is complete garbage. It is wall-to-wall clichés,
starting with "it is Hero Cop's last day before retirement" and going
downhill from there. The racial stereotypes were especially bad: I
kept remembering a scene in
where Robert Townsend was trying out for a role, and they kept asking
him to act "more black". This could have been the movie he was
thinking fun of!
The movie is an extended revenge-fantasy, but it's the fantasy of
a writer who is just a dick.
I was ready to stop watching after about 10 minutes, but my friend
was captivated by the sights of the early 90s LA strip malls and
freeway construction. I didn't know you could be nostalgic for that
kind of thing, but apparently you can.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose:
Dumb fun. Not as good as the first one (which was... not great,
but entertaining.) Very near the beginning, a skinny blonde woman
dressed as a nurse rips open her coat and proceeds to aerate the
building with machine guns while wearing only soaking wet
lingerie. That kind of sets the tone for the rest of movie. There is
some decent fight choreography. Unfortunately there's also a
precocious child, and an almost complete disregard for the laws of
level boss ending is somewhat
A girl dies during an exorcism, and the priest is on trial for
murder. The story is told mainly in flashbacks to the big event. This
was pretty good; it was suspenseful without too many spring-loaded
cats. It was interesting how the telling of the story managed to
remain fairly noncommital on the question of "was it demons, or
But man, religious people are weird. It always seems like they've
heard of Occam's Razor, but they just don't quite get how it
works! They kept saying things like, "God allows people to be posessed
to prove to others that God exists". Well you know what, if God really
wanted to prove that he existed, I don't think he'd have any trouble
doing that, being God and all. Instead of making a statue bleed in
front of some backwoods hick, why not make ten thousand statues
bleed at the same time? It's fuckin' God! So the obvious,
clichéd answer to that is that God doesn't actually want to
provide proof, because he wants people to have faith
(AKA "believing something for no reason at all"). In which case,
posession proves nothing except that, well, God's kinda mean.
In fact, providing proof of God would be more up the
Devil's alley, wouldn't it? Proof would destroy faith. So is God
skulking around like the Men In Black covering up Satan's spoilers?
Also there was some nonsense about 3AM being "the witching hour"
because Jesus came back from the dead at 3PM. Which immediately made
me ask, what time zone is God in? And does he follow Daylight Savings
Maybe I could just Google this, but why are Catholics always
seeing Mary instead of Jesus? Is she like the Press Secretary or
something? Or is she more like Karl Rove?
My excuse is that Liz had free passes to
this. While waiting in line, I got my first look at the
poster and said, "do you think the designer felt any guilt at
using that font?" You know the font: the one that says "I AM A
VAMPIRE MOVIE." Well, it went down hill from there. This was basically
a softcore Cinemax movie of the type that I didn't think ever got
theatrical release any more. Elizabeth Bathory is still alive and
killing lesbians, and this cop whose wife got eaten is trying to track
her down while fucking everything that moves. Oh, and all his friends
and neighbors are 18 year old kinky bisexual supermodels. Then at some
point it turns into
Eyes Wide Shut.
I have looked into the future, and seen the next five years of the Hot
Topic toy section.
Man on Fire:
The movie starts off well enough, in that I enjoyed
Christmas, and it's largely the same. It turns out that Hell is an
Oingo Boingo version of the the Muppet Show, which is kind of
awesome. But I'm afraid to say that I dozed off in the middle. I think
I was just tired, and this was not an editorial nap. It seemed better
than James and the
Giant Peach, and I'll probably watch it
when it's on TV.
I enjoyed this more than I expected to; Denzel Washington plays an
alcoholic ex-CIA assassin working as a bodyguard in Mexico; things go
badly, and he does the Revenge Thing. There aren't a lot of surprises
in this movie, but it's very well done. It's really good looking, the
sound design is cool, and there are a number of hallucinatory bits
reminiscent of the title sequence of
The Butterfly Effect:
I only started watching this while flipping channels one night (I
mean, come on, Ashton Kutcher?) but it hooked me. It's actually a
pretty decent time-travel/three-wishes kind of movie (in the ballpark
of Groundhog Day
The main character finds a way to do over certain bad events in his
life, and each time, things get worse. "This time for sure." It's got
that great Twilight Zone "end up in hell" feel about it, with almost
no comedy. I enjoyed it a lot.
You may recall that after seeing that piece of trash
swore I'd never see another Wes Craven movie again. Well, I didn't
know this was his until I saw his name came up on the credits, and I
But, it turns out, this was actually pretty good. Girl meets boy
in airport bar, they end up sitting next to each other on the plane,
and then oops, turns out he's a hitman and she's the target. It's a
little hokey, but it bounces right along and never takes itself too
seriously. This is what always used to be good about Craven's
movies: he could do a really simple plot and make it work without
getting bogged down in clichés. It also helped that the hitman
is the guy who played Scarecrow in
Batman Begins, and I
was still residually creeped out from that, so that made him seem more
This movie sucked ass. From the preview, it looked like it was going
to suck ass, but Jodie Foster's in it, and she's not generally in
movies that suck, so I gave it a chance.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
Do not make this mistake. Avoid.
It starts out as a re-tread of
(starring Jodie Foster stand-in Julianne Moore) The Forgotten was
basically a B- to C+ episode of the X Files, and hey, I liked the
X Files, so I could accept that. But this was worse. The first half of
Flightplan is basically Jodie Foster just totally freaking out for an
hour, but then it takes a left turn into Mission Impossible-land, then
there's a terrorist, then there's a really amazingly stupid ransom
plot, and at the end everything is sweetness and light and even she
and the Arab guy she accused of stealing her daughter make up. It is
This movie is amazingly, incredibly good. Please note that I normally
can't stand Jim Carrey, but he's not playing "Jim Carrey" in this one
at all. The plot is that there is a company who can erase your bad
memories, and he's having his recently-ex girlfriend deleted. The
story mostly plays out in reverse, as he's watching the memories being
deleted, and realizing that he's made a mistake. It's not as gimicky
as Memento, though,
because the story is really moving in both directions at once. This is
one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
I know I'm a little behind the curve on this one, but I finally
got around to downloading this. I had to install and learn how to
use fucking BitTorrent and everything, and man, that sucks. Anyway,
in case you've been living under some other rock than the one all
the nerds live under,
Global Frequency is a
fantastic comic by Warren
Ellis that almost became a
TV series. It's about a
secret organization that stops weird disasters, kind of like Men In
Black but without the aliens. A pilot was made, then the show was
not picked up (and rumor has it that the fact that the pilot was
leaked to the internets is part of the reason why, but who knows.)
The pilot's worth watching. The copy I found was a bit dark and
muddy. It looked kind of like a VHS transfer, but that may have just
been crappy encoding.
Regarding the muddiness: for example, early on, they have a
prop that's a corpse that has been cut down the middle. Ellis
posted about having seen this prop in person, and how insanely
realistic and impressive it was. Well, the thing could have been
made out of wet cardboard for all I could see of it in the few
seconds they flashed it on screen. Bad encoding, or edited away
for grossness? I couldn't tell.
As all pilots do, it suffered from too much exposition, but
you have to get used to that. Unfortunately, it also suffered from
a bunch of other Standard TV Stupidities, such as: their laptops
have software that can magically -- and with much beeping each
time a new number rolls up -- calculate the exact number of people
who will be killed when a bomb goes off.
Miranda goes all Matrix to break into the Secret
Facility, and then once she's in, she gets out by calling the
Secretary of Defense and saying "I know what happened in
Bumfuckistan." Um, ok, great. If you'd made that phone call
first, maybe you wouldn't have had to beat up the guards?
My suspension of disbelief snapped like a rubber band when
they needed to recruit a gymnast to jump over the Death Star Shaft
to reach the off switch -- I repeat, the off switch
-- for a power distribution substation.
And when they go to recruit Gymnast Girl, all it takes to make
her leave the house in the middle of the night with a stranger is
"OH WOW, YOUR CELL PHONE." I'm sorry, you've really got to sell it
better than that.
In the comic, the recurring characters were the two
ringleaders; each issue featured a different set of recruited
specialists. Miranda and Aleph, the ringleaders, were done really
well in the show. But, they seemed to be setting up the series to
have the real main characters be "Nerdy Physicist Girl" and
"Former Cop Living On The Edge". You know the guy, his stubble
shows that he doesn't follow anyone's rules but his own, and not
even those. That was... not really working for me.
So, yeah, it seems like it could have grown into a good
show, depending on the quality of writing they got for subsequent
episodes. It certainly would have been better than most of the
started this tv
season. But I guess we'll never know...
I liked Serenity, but it felt rushed. It seemed like they tried to fit
the entire second season of Firefly into a single two hour movie. They
lost all of the subtlety and ambiguity; pretty much every character's
quirks were laid out for you right on the surface. At least some of
this was no doubt because they felt the need to have a lot of
exposition for the benefit of people who hadn't seen the series, but
still, it was annoying.
One of the best aspects of the show was the clever, bantering
dialog, and there wasn't too much of that.
It was nice to see the story get (mostly) wrapped up, but I guess
it just wasn't terribly satisfying, since I could see how much better
it would have been if they'd had half a dozen more episodes to flesh
it all out. So I feel like I'm being extra critical of it, not because
it's not a good movie (it is) but because it wasn't the second season
that it could have been.
Book's character was totally wasted. We never ended up getting
any backstory about him at all, and he had the potential to be pretty
The new Reavers origin story ("it was teh drugs!") was much less
interesting than the old one ("space madness!") I also found them much
less scary than in the series. The very first Reaver attack, on the
bank-robbery planet, was really well done (mostly because you hardly
saw any of them.) But after that, they just seemed like the Borg's
slightly retarded cousin. And in the big, alegedly-climactic space
battle, I couldn't tell whose ships were whose.
I fully expected the sexbot to be a Buffybot. How could they pass
The "secret radio station hidden on the other side of the Death
Star Shaft in the basement" was just total fucking idiocy. Give me a
break. That whole scene was intelligence-insulting and a waste of
Also, haven't I seen that endgame in another movie? Oh, yes.
This movie is an incoherent train-wreck. If you've seen the trailer,
the whole movie looks and sounds like that: it's the same washed-out
look that Tony Scott used in some of the more surreal parts of Man On
Fire, but this time the whole movie is like that. Also, the
stuttering, echo-delayed voiceovers are also like that, through the
whole movie. It's a cute trick once or twice, but not for two
hours. It's a cute trick once or
twice, but not for two hours.
The plot, such as it is, is about a bank robbery run by
idiots. They end up dismembering somebody because of basically a
pun. There's an interminable Jerry Springer bit -- it was
probably ten minutes long but it felt like hours -- that has
absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the movie. Like,
someone thought, "ha ha, I wrote this funny thing about how Jerry
Springer is funny, let's just stick that in here too." It is not,
of course, funny. At all.
And yet, this movie couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a
stupid slapstick comedy, or a bleak look at some fucked up peoples'
lives, or a music video, or just an excuse to watch Keira Knightley
pout for two hours. They really should have just gone with that last
This movie was just ok. Backing up a little bit for context, I really
Cube. I thought
the Lord of the Flies aspect of the mistrust between the prisoners
was done well, and the punchline -- (mild spoiler, I guess) --
that no one person really designed the thing, that it just sort of
happened -- was a really nice alegory for how profound evil can
occur in the world simply through bureaucracy rather than malice.
A History of Violence:
Hypercube wasn't terrible, but it wasn't really very good
either. Not only did it go into impossibly magical technology (where
Cube hadn't) but it gave us actual bad guys, which I thought
weakened it a lot.
Zero is a prequel that deals with the behind-the-scenes
operators of the machine, and how they don't really know the whole
story of what they're doing or why. In that respect, it's more in line
with the first movie, but it still brings in a lot more fantasy
elements. It seems like they wanted the ending of Cube Zero to
mesh with the beginning of Cube, but it doesn't quite.
This is great. Definitely Cronenberg's least weird movie ever, and as
such, not as creepy as you'd expect from him, but still very
good. It's all about violence begetting violence, and it's handled
really well. The violence is pretty graphic, but in a realistic way
that makes you not want to be anywhere near it, instead of the usual
Hollywood way. All the actors are fantastic.
This is Penn Jillette's documentary about the history of a particular
joke. The structure of the joke is such that it's an excuse for the
teller to just be as crude as possible for as long as they can keep it
up. There are a lot of different tellings of the joke itself, which
are awesome, and that's not as repetetive as you might think, but
there's also a lot of discussion about why the joke works, and why
it's funny. I really didn't expect a concept like this to be able to
hold it together for the length of a whole movie, but it really
does. It's hilarious. There's a mime version of the
joke. There's a version done as a card trick!
This is old, but somehow I missed it. It's great: it's about a bunch
of temps working in an office and how they start out as friends but
eventually get beaten down by the system and turn on each other. It's
kind of a sadder, less-comedic version of
I liked Clockwatchers so much, I made that night a Parker Posey
double bill. I'd seen this a long time ago, but it's still
awesome. Shallow, directionless club promoter finds her true calling
as a librarian, re-arranges room-mate dj's records by the
If you were
that there had ever been a cartoon called Aeon Flux, you might have
enjoyed this movie. Since I was a huge fan of the cartoon, this movie
was a huge disapointment. Not just because the story and characters
bore only the slightest resemblance to those in the cartoon, but
because it wasn't even the same kind of story. It wasn't even
remotely weird enough. This wasn't a surprise, though; trying
to make a live-action version of that cartoon was obviously a terrible
idea from the start, even if everyone involved had been fans. I doubt
it could be accomplished at all. I guess it wasn't the train wreck I
expected it to be, but it still wasn't very good. Bad science, worse
The plot of this one will remind everybody who hasn't forgotten
about it already of the execrable The Island (above),
making this a stupid re-tread of a stupid re-tread.
The one good thing to come out of this movie is that they finally
re-released the whole cartoon series as a 3-DVD set.
The always-awesome William H. Macy plays a miserable casino employee
whose job it is to screw up people's winning streaks: but he does this
just by standing near them, since his super power is that he is
incredibly bad luck. Then he falls in love with a girl, which
is of course his kryptonite.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
I loved these books when I was little, though I haven't read them
since I was 9 or 10, I guess? From what I can remember, the story was
very faithful to the book. The acting was decent, and the effects were
ok. I thought they did a lot better with the realistic animals than
the fantastic animals: e.g., I thought the centaurs were kind of
hokey, but the beavers were great. The big battle scene was mercifully
brief. Still, there was something kind of flat about the whole
thing. I can't put my finger on it, since all the right elements were
there, but I came out thinking it was just ok.
Good Night and Good Luck:
Still, I liked it a lot more than the Lord of the Rings
movies. I thought Fellowship was ok, but by 40 minutes into
Two Towers, I was done. It turns out that about 4 hours of
Tolkien is all I can stand: I never even bothered seeing
There's been a lot of talk about the Christian overtones in
Lion, but really, who cares? It's still a good story, and as
far as I can tell, they didn't mess with the book at all.
Until he appeared on screen, I had completely forgotten that Santa
Claus is in the story: he's their arms dealer! Onward Christmas
This is about Edward Murrow going after Joe McCarthy. It was a great
movie, and the analogies to modern goings-on were subtle (an easy
mistake to make in a movie like this would be to beat you over the
head with it, which they didn't.) I had heard that all of the McCarthy
footage was historical, because they didn't want anyone accusing them
of putting words in his mouth, and I was expecting some kind of CGI
trickery, but it was a lot more interesting than that: they just
showed you everyone watching him on tv. You get the strong impression
that through this battle, Murrow and McCarthy never actually met face
to face, which hadn't occurred to me.
Overall, though, it felt like kind of a small story about office
politics; I understand that standing up to McCarthy was an incredibly
risky and surprising thing for someone to have done at the time, but
it seemed like they didn't sell that very well.
I kept thinking about
the story about the tobacco industry whistleblower who got left out in
the cold by 60 Minutes when their corporate owners pulled the plug on
This is pretty good. It could have done without most of the first hour
(it really drags until they get to the island) but the fight sequences
with the dinosaurs are fantastic. Most of the effects are pretty
good. Kong himself is consistently convicing. When he's picking up or
tossing around tiny humans, they are consistently
unconvincing. Also the "stampede" scene wasn't very
believable. But overall, pretty impressive effects. All of the human
actors are decent, except for Jack Black, who is as intolerable as
always. (I haven't liked him in anything but
High Fidelity, and I
probably would have hated him in that if I'd seen him in anything else
first. He only ever plays the same dickhead.)