Donnie Darko again

Spoilers below. Don't read if you don't want to know. But you could read what's below and still have a satisfying first view of the movie.

Found this link courtesy of Bryn's journal. There's a fairly insightful review at -- while I think most of the flaws he finds in the movie are answered by not considering it a science fiction film (I mean, why is it? because there's time travel/portals?), he does have a lot of interest to say about it.

He also points to a thriving fan board for the movie (though he calls it a listserve): It's glitchy at the moment, but I'll check it out soon.

Signs and Blue Crush

Well. I feel like Shyamalan had one extraordinarily good story idea that he executed well in Sixth Sense, but that his work has been monotonically worsening since then. Maybe the first was just a better "fit" for me, I don't know. But while the scary mood-setting in Sixth Sense was well-done, the totality fell flat for me.

There were lots of little things I felt were flawed. For instance, spoiler, but nothing that couldn't be anticipated from the trailer.Collapse )

There were a few of those throughout the movie, but only a few. Really, it was the ending that bothered me. Real spoilers: resolution of the story and all thatCollapse )

Blue Crush, on the other hand, was exactly what it was supposed to be and I have no complaints: a surfing flick featuring buff babes, with formulaic plot and lots of excellent action shots of surfers. There's no bad there.

Minority Report

Hey, that was good!

We went out to see Bourne Identity, but it was sold out. We watched MR because there was a showing a mere hour later, but I didn't have it in mind *why* I'd wanted to see it. I'd forgotten it was based on a Phillip K. Dick short story and all. (Help me out--what was the title of the short story? I have to read it now.)

The best scene had to be in the greenhouse with Dr. Hineman, played by Lois Smith. I didn't recognize her, but apparently I've seen a few things she was in, actually. She played a wonderfully eccentric character.

The best performance, though, was Samantha Morton as Agatha, one of the precognitives (no spoilers--this is the whole premise).

Now I get spoilery. Haven't watched it? DON'T READ FURTHER!Collapse )

the what now?

I just came back from seeing Dead or Alive. It is ironic that I watched this just after engaging in a discussion elsewhere about how I've never seen Pulp Fiction and don't particularly want to because of several factors, a chief one being the violence.

I feel rather deceived by the trailer. It emulates the opening minutes of the movie, a dialogue-free music video of slick stylized mob hits. We laughed when we saw the trailer, it was so over-the-top: Riki Takeuchi's slow-motion scowl during a heist; his leaping onto a car to assassinate someone by shooting down through the roof.

There's more of that in the opening of the film, but then we settle into a more mundane drama--a cop trying to solve a heist, and getting entangled in a yakuza gang war. This main part of the film is filled with--well, with more and more varied bodily fluids than I realized I was signing up for. There's a good movie around it, but frankly I keep coming back to the distinctly R-rated portions, and not in a good way.

And then there's the ending. First, I thought "no!". And then I laughed at the absurdity. And then I waved my arms incoherently. And then the guy behind me yelled, "what the FUCK?" And I have no intention of spoiling it, but man was that bizarre.

If you like/don't mind gritty violence and *really* seamy explicit material, then I don't need to warn you away and the rest of the movie is quite worth seeing.

The Happiness of the Katakuris

This is the second oddest movie I saw this week. And the second-oddest. Mulholland Dr. was the oddest, until I saw this one. Which remained the oddest only until we saw the second half of the double feature. ;-)

Katakuris is a surreal horror plot merged with a Japanese pop musical. With claymation and a fair dose of comedy thrown in. I've never seen anything quite like it before--it certainly defies genre classification. It opens with a cute claymation critter falling in love with a woman's uvula and ripping it out of her throat, and it ends in transcendant light.

Between those there's a horror plot (this family have opened a guest house, but there's a disturbing trend: all the guests die and have to be buried in the woods) alternating with feel-good pop songs, often with dance numbers. There was even a sing-along, for those who know their Kanji. And claymation returns at expressive moments or where the alternative would be to actually pay a stunt double.

Sort of a cross between Top of the Food Chain (which I heartily recommend to anyone with a stomach for sci-fi B movies) and... Nightmare before Christmas, perhaps. I'm really not sure.

It may not be clear from what I've written above, but this is a positive review. Catch this if you have a chance.

She's So Lovely

This is a 1997 movie that I watched in theaters. I watched it again with rmd last night.

I just looked up the IMDB reviews for this one, and boy are they split. Pretty evenly, too. Some think it's a waste of film, some think it's brilliant. I lean toward the latter. I'm not sure I'd shower superlatives on the whole film, but it was the movie that convinced me that John Travolta, Sean Penn, and Robin Wright Penn could all act. Sean Penn's quirky/insane character is particularly well-done. Given my estimation of their past performances, I have to give a lot of credit to director Nick Cassavetes (father John wrote the script).

I think the negative reviews were from people who couldn't identify with any of the characters. They're urban, working-class, hard-drinking people with guns, and the Penn/Penn romance is idiosyncratic, to say the least; he even has something like a psychotic break that sets the stage for the second half of the film. But it's also charmingly clear how meant for each other they are. Robin Wright Penn's character is irrational, with quicksilver changes, but I find her no harder (or easier) to understand than Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (whom I really didn't warm up to until after repeated viewings). They're both elemental women who follow their emotions rather than any rational course.

It's an edgy drama (I guess it was billed as a comedy and I can see how that would put off some people) and I'd totally forgotten some of the darker moments. In case anyone reading needs warning space for possible triggers, be warned.Collapse )

It's a Cassavetes film. Don't watch it when you want something light and fluffy, but do watch it.

[Oh, rmd, it was Debi Mazar who we were trying to identify. I think I recognized her from L.A. Law, but maybe it was Space Truckers. ;-) She was also in Goodfellas, Toys and heaps of other things.]