Sunday, November 28, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Okay, enough of the polite, semi-professional demeanor. Reviewing movies is a new hobby for me, and I want to make a good impression. That being said, I also want to make sure that what you all read sounds like me; not my knee-jerk reaction to write for my high school English teacher. Now let’s get to the review.
What little creativity there was in The Expendables comes from the fight scenes. My favorite fight scene happens on a basketball court, and Jason Statham (Lee Christmas) is the one doing the damage. I also really enjoyed the fight scenes with Stone Cold Steve Austin, especially when he fights Randy Couture. And of course watching He-Man: Master of the Universe (aka Dolph Lundgren) as a washed out, drug addicted, soldier holds a special place in my heart; a place where childhood memories come to a screeching halt into reality when you realize a childhood hero isn't as cool as he used to be.
Okay, so we’ve talked about 80’s action movie icons and kickass fight scenes. I’d elaborate on the mass explosions, but I’m pretty sure that’s self-explanatory. I’m positive there’s more to say about The Expendables, but I think its best that you watch the movie for yourselves. I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience, as it is a movie worth watching.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
There are several specific episodes that deal directly with feminist issues, especially anytime the Amazon Tempest (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is featured. One episode, The Girdle of Hyppolyte, dealt with Hercules having issues with his “Home Grecinomics” class (ha ha, puns) because he didn't feel like he should have to do “women's work” like cooking. He winds up following Tempest back to her home because he thinks she's in danger and winds up at odds with the Amazonian ruler, Hyppolyte (Jane Curtain). Banished to the kitchen to do “men's work”, he meets Tempest's father, King Darius (Emeril Lagasse) and learns that cooking and homemaking aren't gender-specific, nor are they inherently demeaning. They stay clear of more prickly topics like reinforcing the gender binary and its inherent struggle for dominance, and the idea that homemaking as a full-time job isn't regarded any more highly in the matriarchy than in the patriarchy, but the ideas are in there if anyone stops to read between the lines. Pretty subversive for a daytime animated kid's show.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The first anime I ever saw that I actually liked, and to this day I still enjoy it, even the dated parts. Originally based on a series of novels by Kanzaka Hajime with illustrations by Araizumi Rui, Slayers is an epic fantasy adventure story that in part spoofs epic fantasy stories, while at the same time creating its own story with messages all its own. It's a great adventure saga, full of humor, action, at times suspense, and loads of great characters. Kanzaka really created his own world, with its own history, culture, and mythology, and even an intricate and fascinating system of magic, with sub-groups and spells that clearly do their own different things, and that interact with each other in different ways. And at fifteen original novels, and over thirty spin-off novels, not to mention the comics and anime series that spun off from those, there's plenty that gets explored. I especially love that this series is proof that the idea that 'guys don't identify with female protagonists' is bunk because not only is the lead character in this series a female, but the novels are written in first-person perspective. So not only did Kanzaka, a man, write a lead female character convincingly and uncondescendingly, but it became one of the biggest hits of the '90s in Japan, with four TV seasons (to date), countless manga spinoffs, a string of direct-to-DVD releases, successful movies, radio dramas, and hit songs, to say nothing of the merchandise that must have been produced. To this day it has an enduring fanbase, enough to warrant a fourth TV season years after the previous one aired. Lina Inverse is an anime icon because she's a fantastic character, and the series is full of many more.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
However, having said all that, I do still hold most romantic comedies in pretty high disdain. Not because I think it makes me cool or smart, but because I find them to be insulting to my intelligence (and often even my gender) and I simply don't enjoy watching them. I especially hate the version of "romance" they present as anything even remotely approaching healthy or charming, and would run screaming in terror from most of the lead characters should I ever manage to meet one in reality. These people are not healthy, and I resent the idea that I'm supposed to root for them to get together with the other screwed up person and make sociopathic babies. Very often this gets me branded as a non-romantic, and if the examples in movies like How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days or The Proposal are considered real romance, then that's fine with me. But that's not to say that I've never enjoyed an onscreen couple, there are many that I find charming for a number of reasons. So if anyone's looking for something maybe a little off the beaten track to snuggle up with their special someone with, you might give one of these a glance.
Stranger Than Fiction
This charming, genre-defying movie is one that works on just about every level for me, from the tone to the performances, to the quirky plot and its trust in the audience to get the jokes without flashing neon signs. One of my favorite aspects of it is the relationship between mildly OCD IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrel in a surprisingly restrained and nuanced performance) and Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the sleeve-tattooed "anarchist" baker whom he's auditing. On paper they might be your standard romantic couple trope of the people who start out hating each other but then inexplicably fall in love, but on screen, something much more interesting happens. They're charming people. Ana is understandably upset with Harold when he shows up to audit her and makes no effort to hide her anger, and Harold promptly sticks his foot very far down his mouth, and then stares at her breasts in the process. Instead of being played for big laughs, it's a humiliating awkward scene that feels more true than if it were trying to be funny. I have to say that I love the casting choices, too-- neither Ferrell nor Gyllenhaal are what would be considered conventionally attractive on the scale that most romantic comedy stars are, and that's part of what makes them so endearing. In her first appearance, Anna is less than ingratiating since she's yelling at Harold, and yet you can tell he's completely taken with her anyway. If this were Kate Hudson, not only would she be less intimidating but Harold's attraction would feel more shallow and superficial. Gyllenhaal not only isn't afraid to be abrasive, sardonic, and even unpleasant at times, she still manages to be likable, understandable, and very much a person who knows who she is and what she wants and who isn't required to change that for the movie to work. She and Harold don't spend the whole movie hating each other, or trying to trick the other one into dating them, or avoiding their feelings, and it's really refreshing to watch their relationship take its natural course.
A tip: Mix up some chocolate chip cookie dough and keep it in the fridge until after the movie. You will want a warm, gooey cookie straight from the oven like crazy by the end of this.
3-Iron (Bin Jip)
This movie took me really off-guard the first time I saw it. Based on the title, I was expecting some sort of golf movie, and while the sport does play a part in the film, it's not at all what I was expecting. The story is about a young man who breaks into people's houses while they're away, but instead of stealing their things, he repairs broken appliances and does their laundry in exchange for eating their food and using their homes. There's not explanation as to why he does this, he's a college graduate who rides a nice motorcycle and seems by all other accounts to be pretty normal. One day he breaks into a really upscale place, not knowing that the wife of the man who owns it is still inside. Clearly abused and battered, she watches him go about his normal routine of doing laundry, cooking, and repairing her bathroom scale, and never calls the cops or tries to escape. When her husband comes home, they fight again and she leaves with the younger man to accompany him on his routine of living in other people's homes while they're away. What follows is probably one of the sweetest, most tender and mutually respectful relationships I've ever seen on screen. It's all done without a word exchanged between the two, leaving one wondering how necessary words really are in understanding who someone is. For anyone not familiar with Buddhism, it might be a bit confusing at the end, but the whole movie is basically a Buddhist parable. It's a gentle, loving look at how people are capable of relating to each other in ways we don't often consider, and a reminder of how our actions influence the lives of those around us. "Haunting" is probably the best word I've heard to describe it.
When Harry Met Sally
I saw Norah Ephron in an interview once stating that she thought the ending to this movie (which she wrote, in case you didn't know) was unrealistic, and I'd agree, but there's something that's still so much fun about watching these two idiosyncratic people go through different phases of their lives, become friends, and eventually lovers. He's neurotic, cynical, and reads the endings of books before everything else in case he dies before finishing the book, whereas she is optimistic, confident, and likes to order food in very specific, exacting terms. They're both flawed and quirky but not unpleasant and you don't feel guilty rooting for them to them to get over themselves enough to get together. Even though it was made in the late 1980s it still holds up and I found it to be a genuinely entertaining movie when I watched it with my mom a few months back.
Movies don't get much quirkier than this, or more evocative of the little pleasures in life that we often don't notice, like the feeling of sticking your hand in a basket of dried beans, or eating fresh raspberries off your fingers. The title character is odd, to say the least, and she lives a somewhat reclusive life in her little Paris apartment. There is a romance of sorts with a man she sees in the train station one day, but really, this movie is more of a romance with life and its oddities, tiny pleasures, and unnoticed opportunities.
The Band's Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret)
Not a romance as much as a sweet moment between two people who cannot be together due to life circumstances just as much as who they each are. It doesn't focus on the idea of 'what might have been' or lament the missing of an opportunity, but instead quietly revels in the beauty of the connection that was briefly made. It's a wonderfully sweet movie, full of hope and idealism for two cultures that despise each other so fiercely in reality. It's not a realistic movie in that sense, but it is an optimistic one. Sasson Gabai and Ronit Elkabetz give wonderful performances as two lonely people who happen to share one evening in each other's company, then each go on their way to wherever they were going.
The first time I saw this, I described it as the Chinese version of Amelie, and there are some similarities, but really, they are their own unique movies. This one actually has two stories, both involving lovelorn policemen meeting someone new. The first cop meets a woman who, unbeknownst to him, happens to be involved in a drug smuggling syndicate and is on the run after a job goes bad. The second cop just got dumped by a flight attendant and catches the attention of a young woman working at the fast food place he frequents. This is the story that's Amelie-esque (even though this movie came out before Amelie), in that this young woman takes it upon herself to interfere with the cop's life in unusual ways, doing little things to break him out of his routine and help him move on from his past relationship. It's also really interesting in how it plays with time and makes you aware of the timing of things, and how sometimes when a moment passes us by, it's not always a bad thing or a good thing. Sometimes things just are what they are and it doesn't mean they have more or less value in life.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but I can't help it, I love watching this movie. I love the overblown emotion and the goofy characters and the food, food, food, and the sheer operatic nature of it all. It's just fun, and the cynical view of life, death, and love is so funny because they managed to not overdo it. Everyone's theatrical and overblown, but somehow it all works. Cher's classic "snap out of it!" line still kills me every time.