Day Seventy – Some Reviews to Catch Up

11 03 2010

I’m writing this a month behind schedule, so I’m going to use some of my writing from one of my favorite social networking sites, Criticker, to help fill in the gaps.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

I liked the idea of ‘Not Quite Hollywood’. When I read the synopsis. It promised an examination of Ozploitation films and the folks who made them. Instead, you get a lot of “remember when”. They insist we should love their work, yet barely explain, let alone examine, why these movies were made or successful at all. They do a little, but not enough to justify the love they share over the films. I wasn’t around for these flicks, so the nostalgia was completely lost on me and this doc hinges on it.

Rating: 65 (3 Stars)

Wonder Woman

“My name is Zeus and I am the king among gods. Ares, my son, is the god of war. We must fight because we disagree.” That’s not verbatim from ‘Wonder Woman’, but it may as well be. I was rolling my eyes so much during this flick that my eyelids started to hurt. So many exposition dumps. Why tell each other so much information you already know? “You and I are sisters, Athena.” Would you not punch that person? I wish I could. When the plot picks up, it recovers, but not enough to save the film.

Rating: 40 (2 Stars)

Shutter Island

Is it okay to bore you to tears if your ending is good enough? That’s the question that ‘Shutter Island’ had me pondering once I left the movie. This film benefits like no other by watching it in the theater. Unlike at home, you’re captive and forced to see it through. Once you do, the ending almost makes the torturous first hour and some worth it. All the non-sense – explained away in one long expository scene. It had me thinking once I left, but had me steaming when I was left out of the loop.

Rating: 60 (3 Stars)

This is only the beginning. I have a lot of catching up to do and I’ve been writing a lot of reviews of not only movies, but restaurants, stores and books. Stay tuned for all that fun.


Day Fifty-Five – A Matter of Timing

24 02 2010

Timing is an important thing. I’m posting this post a day late, and clearly it won’t get the time it probably deserves when I post today’s post. It gets squeezed out.

The same logic could be used for movie releases.

Last year, the tubes of the internet were flabbergasted when Paramount announced that they were pushing the release of Shutter Island to February, effectively taking it out of the running for this year’s Oscars. Having seen the film, I don’t think it would have been nominated anyway, but that’s not why the move was such a good idea.

Shutter Island had the advantage of coming out in February, a time that is generally barren of high-thinking thrillers or prestige films.

Shutter Island opened with a $40 million dollar weekend. The highest on record for Scorsese or DiCaprio. Could this have happened in the “prestige” season of the fall?

I don’t think so. With so many other films coming out, week after week, jockeying for position, Shutter Island could have very well been lost in the shuffle. Given the choices in movies I had every weekend, watching a so-so reviewed thriller would have probably been the last of my concerns with films like Up in the Air and Brothers coming out around the same time.

Instead, Shutter Island is up against When in Rome and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Not to mention, Shutter Island came out unchallenged, being the only wide release of the weekend.

Not to mention, it had a couple of months to build hype, with people waiting for something they could once again sink their teeth into as they wade through the garbage that is January. Shutter Island had the identity of an Oscar quality movie, without any of the pressures that identity would have. Shutter Island is an okay movie. It definitely has its flaws (like not starting until an hour into the movie), but for February, it’s acceptable.

Avatar could be given the same credit. Would it have broken all the records it did if it was wedged in between Transformers 2 and Harry Potter? I doubt it. People who were missing the summer blockbuster in the cold of winter has their escape, and given the numbers, they did so multiple times at the same movie.

Cop Out is coming out this Friday, but the reviews aren’t looking pretty. They don’t usually for any film by Kevin Smith, so I take it all with a grain of salt. His brand of humor is definitely for a niche market, but what Warner Bros is doing right is releasing it now. Given the cast and the subject matter, an homage to the ’80s buddy cop movie, Cop Out sounds a lot more like a summer release, but would probably get lost in the shuffle. Releasing it now just gives it that much more of a chance to flourish.

Zach and Miri, Smith’s last film, is the perfect example of mis-scheduling. It came out on Halloween; a weekend that people were more interested in seeing Saw V. We’ll see if Cop Out can follow this record of excellent scheduling, but so far I’m impressed by Hollywood’s willingness to finally let go of the release system and just releasing a film when it’s right.

Day Fifty-Two – Forced to Endure in the Dark

21 02 2010

Though my movie experience can sometimes be ruined by people around me, I love to watch movies at the theatre. I’ve made a habit of late to go see at least one movie every weekend during AMC’s AM-Cinema, which allows me to see these movies without burning a gaping hole through my trousers. Whether I go alone or with a friend, I’m usually refreshed and happy when I walk out of the theatre.

Had I not been trapped in the theatre, I never would have subjected myself to the first half of Shutter Island.

That overall feeling definitely has an influence on the movies I see, and my opinion of them, as well.

Take today, for instance, when I watched Shutter Island with some friends. At home, I never would have made it to the ending of the film. I’m glad I stuck around, but with all of the other things I could have been doing, I wouldn’t have been able to sit through the constant shifts in tone and over-done style. But in a theatre, I endure.

I’m glad I did for Shutter Island, specifically, because the ending is what makes the movie. It may depend on it a little too much, but let’s not get sidetracked with that.

The point is that being trapped in the theatre, forced to stare at what the film-maker wants you to stare at does nothing but give the film the best possible chance to win you over. My attention at home is split a million different ways. Whether it’s the way I’m sitting on the couch. The incessant “click-click” coming from the PC at the other end of the room. The flicker coming from the elderly projector bulb, struggling to make full colors in the twilight of its life. My attention isn’t on the film alone.

Not to mention, the novelty of just getting out of the house. You’re bound to enjoy anything a little more if you’re not having it in surroundings that are too familiar. I dropped my brother off at university today and on the way home I got a Big Gulp. This carbonated cup of wasted money was much better than the exact same thing in a can at home. It’s the novelty of having something different that automatically works for it.

This is why I think, and I hope, the movie theatre isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Not to mention, Shutter Island, and every other movie coming out nowadays, seems to be breaking records.

Day Twenty-Seven – Movies I’m Looking Forward To Seeing

27 01 2010

If there’s one good thing about the January lull in the movie theatre, it’s that it gives me time to catch up on Oscar-bait such as Up in the Air and Precious. Though we are far from the summer when there’s a new movie for everyone every weekend, there are a handful of pictures coming up that have caught my eye. Some embarrassing, some just look good, but I’ll probably end up seeing them all.

February has one movie I’m excited to see and it’s probably not the one most film buffs are looking forward to most. Read on.

February 5, 2010

Dear John

I didn’t like The Notebook. I thought the story between the young Ryan Gosling and Rachael McAdams was great, but there was way too much of a disconnect when they returned to their old versions of themselves. For whatever reason, I’m sold on Dear John. It might be that I like Amanda Seyfried or it might be that I’m a softy. Either way, I’ll probably end up watching this flick, with or without the girlfriend.

February 19, 2010

Shutter Island

I’m not one of those film students who obsesses over Marty Scorsese. He’s a good director, great even, but he doesn’t get a free pass with me. There are movies of his that I’m not always interested in. That said, I really enjoyed the trailer for Shutter Island. It looks like an interesting psychological thriller that probably could have got some Oscar buzz if it came out when it was originally scheduled.

February 26, 2010

Cop Out

This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this February. I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith and it’s great to see him get a studio picture with Bruce Willis. Tracy Morgan is one of the best parts of 30 Rock and with Smith’s words in his mouth, it should be a good fit. Though Smith didn’t write this movie, I’d be shocked if he didn’t influence the dialogue. I’m hoping the trailer doesn’t do it justice. I’m assuming Warner Brothers isn’t sure how to market Kevin Smith to a mass audience, but I’ll be there nonetheless.

March looks a little more dense. The spring will bring packed with films, and the end of March looks like the ramp up towards it. It begins with the what will surely take the highest opening of the year so far, that is until the summer blockbusters roll out.

March 5, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I’ve never loved Tim Burton. His style rubs me the wrong way. So many unnecessary swirls and overall creepiness. Yet, if there was ever a story that Burton was most suited for, it would be Alice in Wonderland. For once, his style will make sense within the narrative, rather than detracting from it like it did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

March 12, 2010

Green Zone

Green Zone looks like the unofficial Bourne 4. I’m completely okay with that. I don’t need to see another Bourne. Let the series remain as it is, but I’m happy to see Matt Damon in a familiar situation. I’m really looking forward to this movie.

March 26, 2010


Chalk it up to my aforementioned kind eye for Amanda Seyfried or the buzz that Chloe got at the Toronto International Film Festival, but I’ll be watching this film. It seems like it belongs in the award season line-up, but instead it comes out in between action flicks and a 3D childrens movie. One of many3D movies. This will be one of the last smart, challenging pictures I see before the summer popcorn movies begin to sprout up.

How to Train Your Dragon

This movie reminds me a lot of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, as far as my interest in seeing it goes. I’m always up for a good animated movie, but if I don’t make it to the theaters to see How to Train Your Dragon, I won’t be too upset. It looks good enough, but not something I’d put at the top of my list. It’ll be a good exercise in shutting my brain off to get ready for the onslaught of summer blockbusters.

The spring and summer will definitely be a lot more busy with new releases. There are still a handful of potential Oscar contenders I have to get out to see. By the end of the winter, I’ll probably have seen about 10 or so new releases.

I’ll have my MovieWatcher card handy.