Posts Tagged ‘00s’

Lost and Found

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Lost and Found (2008/ Dir. Philip Hunt/ Entertainment One and Studio Aka)
Here is the short version of this review: Go buy this, it’s excellent.

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This isn’t going to be one of the fun reviews, with lots of screen caps and funny captions that people can put on pintrest. I’m going to take this thing to task, but not in a fun way. I didn’t even want to do it, but I came across something I wrote in a piece of fiction a few years back.
“If you have a talent, you’re responsible for how, or if you use it. Letting it go to waste is as bad as misusing it.” And I have a talent for explaining why things are bad. As far as I can tell, I’ve never been able to convince someone that a movie is good, but I can convince them something is shit! Not an enviable position, perhaps, but I’ve got a talent and I’m going to try to use it for good this time.

I’ve decided we’ve got to talk about this, we have to have a conversation about this thing because it’s evil and wrong and if I don’t warn people, I might feel responsible later. Let me be frank about this, so that we don’t misunderstand things. This is not a fun little cartoon, it is harmful, it is DANGEROUS! You should not watch this damn thing, no one should watch this thing. This is less a review and more of a warning, because watching this could drive someone to suicide. I’m going to discuss this in personal terms, since that last sentence seem hyperbolic, so I’ll explain….

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The Christmas Orange (2002/ Bardel Entertainment/ Dir. Ian Freedman)

So here we have something so obscure that I may be the only person who actually bought the DVD. Not only am I the only owner of the DVD in America, I bought it 10 years after the product came out. And I only bought it for a few dollars, on a whim because I’d never heard of it and reviewing things that say “Christmas” on them is a thing I do. So I decided to give it a try. Given the product was only $6, given that it was a one shot for Canadian TV, and given that it was 10 years after it was first broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to find a huge amount about the cartoon. It’s based on a book, that’s what I found out. It’s not a bad product, we’ll get that out of the way for starters. I’m not sure how good it is though. Let’s examine The Christmas Orange…

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I liked Wreck-It Ralph, let’s talk a little.

1. I thought the opening short was too good. I thought it might diminish the feature. It didn’t, but it was an utterly charming little bit of animation.

2. Going to have to buy this on DVD so I can catch all the little jokes and references they threw in.

3. “She has the most tragic backstory of all time.” That line killed.

4. They did their homework. Even if the people who worked on this are all about my age and as such are gamers from when I was gaming, they did their home work. There are a lot of gags, references, and an overall understanding of how video games work here. These guys knew what they were doing.

5. Most the jokes were funny, most the characters were interesting, most the story works really well.

6. Some of the characters move like their video game counter parts would move. They have no middle animation they just go from their hands out, to their hands raised, just like 8-bit.

7. The one human gamer we really see was a girl… BUT GIRLS DON’T GAME! my mind=blown!

Now, below there will be spoilers. (more…)

Movie Review: Windtalkers

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Windtalkers (2002/ MGM/ Dir. John Woo)

What happened to John Woo when he came to America? He had made some of the best action movies of the 80s and early 90s. Then he came to the US and had a string of near disasters and critical failures. That’s not to say his movies did badly. Mission: Impossible II actually did pretty well in theaters, despite what some smart ass critics thought of it. Face/Off was a big hit in the theaters and on video, as was Broken Arrow. None of them are really good movies though, and most have been rejected by Woo fans. Then this movie came along, which sank like a stone at the box office and heralded the beginning of the end for Woo’s American experiment. Allow me to state now, this is not a good movie. It will not be getting a huge score on the Graffiti Bridge Scale. HOWEVER! It won’t get a negative score, and that’s part of what I want to talk about here.

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Der Schuh des Manitu

Native Americans are a dicey subject in fiction, mainly because of the stereotyping. There is also the problem that the term Native Americans can rub a cheese grater over the nerves of their souls. But really, it’s the stereotype that bothers most of us, I think. I mean, think about it a moment. I said Native American, and what did you think of? Buck skin wearing, noble savages with long straight black hair and a rudimentary grasp of language at best? Well, shame on you! They also talk about the Great Spirit at the drop of a hat and want to sing you the song of their people. Them and the Orientals get that weird, condescending attribute of being strangely wise, or mystical while also insulting them with the old ‘but of course they’re like children’ refrain as well. I’m not going to go into a lengthy discussion on it, but I sort of am because I’m talking about a movie that is set in the old west and involves made up Apaches. But it’s made by Germans, so they have like no connection to the actual history of the Native Americans and the movie is actually pretty funny since its jokes rarely ever touch on the known stereotypes beyond basic visuals and the Apache characters are the heroes. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like watching a hilarious movie about slave conditions in the Antebellum South made by Italians in blackface. You know that there is something terribly wrong with what’s being done, but the people who are doing it can’t begin to understand, and they’re being genuinely funny anyway. Look, maybe its better if I explain from the beginning…

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Wallace & Gromit – A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008/ Aardman Animations/ Dir. Nick Park)

I really hate doing this. I hate having to be the one to do this to a franchise I like so much, but there is nothing for it. I am not a hipster, I do not watch things “ironically” and not just because that’s not what ironic means. I don’t seek out things because I know they will be horrible, even though I will occasionally seek out things that I know won’t be very good. I don’t watch old Hercules movies so I can laugh at their lame production value or sneer at the lousy translations, but because I genuinely enjoy them. Even something like Hercules and the Captive Women, I decided to watch and review it with the hopes that it would be charming and fun. However, that movie wasn’t fun and this movie isn’t fun. That’s what I hate about this, I hate having to tell you that this is just really, really terrible.

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Let’s be perfectly honest, this is not the best anthology series in the history of ever. I’m not going to do the run down of Stephen King’s career, or chronicle the ups and downs of his work here. Lately, I’ve found that no two people can really agree when exactly it was that they stopped loving the man’s work or when exactly things just plain stopped working for them. My particular view is that King has always been sort of lopsided and uneven. There are moments of brilliance and moments that don’t work and it’s up to each person to pick and choose what does and doesn’t work for them. However, for the most part, Nightmares & Dreamscapes didn’t much work for me. One problem was that it was greatly shot in Australia, but it’s trying to look like America (Or in one case, London) and it just doesn’t. That’s less of a problem here, as part of the show was shot in San Francisco (or someplace trying to look like it mixed with stock footage and matte shots) and the other part was just on a soundstage. None of that is very important though, the only really important question is “Does it work?” or possibly “Is it entertaining?” since I’ve admitted things that are complete train wrecks can be entertaining.

Well, the answer is “Yes.” A further answer might be, “It’s not the best Stephen King adaptation that’s ever been made, but it’s certainly the most fun.”

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Okay, so when I first heard the concept of Brick, I was not a fan. Oh goodie, I thought, a Film Noir set in a high school. There will be teens in fedoras and talking fast like their trying to be Jimmy Cagney, despite the fact that Cagney never made a film noir because he was too big a star to be in those b movies. To be perfectly frank, I was expecting a high school version of Bugsy Malone, complete withy pie shooting machine guns. However, I heard some things and someone sent me the movie as a gift and I had to watch it then. So I watched it and was pleased to discover that my fears were misplaced. This wasn’t a bunch of teenagers playing at film noir, it was film noir playing with a bunch of teenagers. That probably sounds like I said the same thing, but it’s the difference of “I mean what I say is the same thing as I say what I mean.” If you get my drift. To put it in a short, declarative sentence: These guys got what film noir means rather than just trying to ape what it looks like.

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The Great Train Robbery (1903/Edison Studios/Dir. Edwin S. Porter)

Made in 1903, this is possibly the earliest western movie, although even the director of this movie would disagree with that statement. Not important, but he thought another movie was the first western, however I don’t think it was a proper narrative film like this is. See, before this time, most movies were just an event. Not even a series of events but a single scene with the camera simple pointed at whatever was happening. The earliest movies are quite frankly, dull. Unless you’re a movie nerd, or a history nerd, most of the “first” movies in history hold little to no interest because they were primarily just pointing a camera at a city street and capturing what was there. This was back in the day when simply seeing a picture move was enough to get riled up over. Now it’s true that there were movies with plot and editing and before this, but The Great Train Robbery was the first one to really bring everything together in a way that made it a big hit. One might say that this one proved there was something to this whole movie making thing. If you’re able, go out and buy Edison – The Invention of the Movies, which is where my copy of the movie comes from. If you get other versions, you may not get some of the brilliant use of colors that this one has.

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