Juno

I’m pretty sure that I had decided before watching Juno that I didn’t like it. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but in retrospect I was definitely not looking forward to watching this movie. Which is probably why its been a month since I watched a List movie, come to think of it. I was wrong though – Juno was a pleasant surprise.

So many of the characters in this movie seemed like archetypal caricatures at first glance. Every time a new person came on screen, I made that first impression snap judgement, and the movie consistently spent about five minutes allowing me to think my assumption was right before beginning to add nuance to them and make them into a real person. It was a neat trick, and I’m a sucker for falling for it literally every time.

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Good:

  • The store clerk has a very punchable face. And voice. And manner.
  • Hamburger phone
  • McMansion Montage
  • I kept looking for a character to hate but couldn’t find one
  • ‘When will you guys learn that tots can’t ice skate?’

Bad:

  • ‘Honest to blog’
  • Michael Cera, as that one character Michael Cera always plays.
  • Ding Dong Ditch
  • ‘Thunder cats are go!’

A Scanner Darkly

At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the gimmick of this movie, the veneer of cell shaded animation over the top of film. But, I got used to it, and overall it fits the tone and fuzzed perceptions of the main character really well. As stylistic choices go, it was risky but it paid off. I don’t think I would have liked this story nearly as much if it had been presented in live action. It would have been a little too gritty I think, and that is an aspect of heavily drug related movies that usually irks me.

Post production must have been hell though. Obviously this started off as a cell shading filter over film, but there was a lot of handwork in the crafting of the final product, and it shows.

What a plot though. I surmised that this had to have been based off a book – movies this odd are almost always based on a book. Certain things, like the way the camouflage suits work, just don’t get written for screen. Pragmatism gets in the way. Fiction authors are not so restrained.

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Good:

  • Everyone wants the (substance) D.
  • Animated Keanu
  • The one monologue (probably from the book) which had to go into the movie unaltered
  • Grim dystopic twist ending
  • The dedication at the end. Ouch, my feels.

Bad:

  • That is a very complicated way of making someone unidentifiable
  • Cell shaded breasts
  • This might be a third type of stoner movie, somewhere between the two extremes
  • Sex scene in an animated movie

 

Robocop

I think I can see why they wanted to remake this movie. I may not have seen Robocop before tonight, but I definitely knew 90% of the plot and major moments before sitting down to watch this one. Its a touchstone. Of course, remaking something so iconic is risky, and I hear it didn’t work out. Seems like a shame to me.

I like me some near-future cyberpunk dystopia, and this is a good example of it. The world is terrible, and the Evil Corporation is evil, but some regular folks are alright. Not many, but enough. All good tropes of the genre. Though given just how widely know this movie is, I do wonder if any of those genre staples originated here.

The thing that surprised me most is how well all the special effects stand up. I mean sure, they show their age, but they look old without looking bad. They have aged gracefully.

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Good:

  • The future of law enforcement is a terrible murderbot
  • Scientist bedside manner
  • Drum beats for footsteps
  • Fake 90s commercials
  • STAIRS, MY ONLY WEAKNESS

Bad:

  • Body horror
  • If you’re wiping his memory, why bother with organic components at all?
  • Not turning off the malfunctioning cyborg while you have the chance
  • More body horror

The Deer Hunter

I don’t quite know how to feel about The Deer Hunter. It was…intense. Too intense for my mood definitely, had I know what I was getting myself into I probably wouldn’t have watched this right now, but them’s the breaks.

I had a major issue with the sound work in this movie though. It was very noisy, and not in a good way. All the unimportant background noise was incredibly loud, often to the point of entirely obscuring what was being said. I did a little be of reading on the film’s wiki page, and it makes me think it was intentional, showing off some new tech allowing for quite ‘dense’ sound effects. But it was overused I think, so most of the movie was a blur of noise. It was very appropriate for the battle scenes and some of the high tension moments, but overall it was just too much.

It also didn’t need to be a full three hours long. I am so goddamn fatigued on every level after watching this.

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Good:

  • The noise density in this film really shows its value in the war scenes
  • Holy fucking shit, the Russian Roulette scenes

Bad:

  • Main character is about to get married at the start of the movie? No way that ends well.
  • Lots of people talking, no discernible dialogue
  • Child abuse
  • Forty minutes into the movie and nothing has actually happened yet…holy shit, this thing is 3hrs long!
  • This entire movie’s audio has been mixed as if it were a live concert recording
  • Suddenly, Vietnam.

10 Things I Hate About You

I’m so glad I wasn’t sober all the way through this movie.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed it anyway. It was a good movie, with a decent plot, and actors that I recognized (but weird, younger versions of themselves. very off putting in a way). But it is SO VERY 90s, and I’m pretty sure if I’d been watching it with a more critical eye I would have judge it for that.

This film was a played straight high school love story. Several of them even. Now, I’m sure that actually happens. Totally. But it didn’t happen TO ME, so I console myself by tell myself that it is a rare and magical thing. Like unicorns. So sue me.

But, 10 Thing I Hate About You (obviously the title of the poem at the end, by the way) was a lot of fun, to the point where I actively chose to pause it when I was getting distracted by social media so that I didn’t miss the nice guy getting his due (ugh) and the tsun melting (aww). This was a good feel good movie. It appealed to my romantic aspect immensely. Simple fare, but good for it.

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Good:

  • This feminist rant predates tumblr, right?
  • Can you ever just be whelmed?
  • Have you seen the unwashed miscreants that go to that school?
  • I heard he ate a live duck once
  • Don’t ever let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want
  • You know, you’re not as vile as I thought you were
  • Paddle boasting
  • Happy endings

Bad:

  • Budweiser
  • Nice Guy-dom actually working. Fuck you, movie.
  • I’m actually a little sour about the Nice Guy getting the Cute Girl at the end. I mean. It was nice, but I feel like if the this movie were to be made now they’d find an different but equally cute way to end that particular plot thread.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer was really fucking cool (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Simple but compelling world set up. Interesting and diverse cast. Excellent and varied action. Beautiful CGI work. I am actually struggling to find more things to write. I have nothing bad to say about this movie, and most of the good things are best experienced rather than talked about. Go watch Snowpiercer.

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Good:

  • Rattling Arc is an excellent name.
  • Oh, I’m bleeding. What does it taste like?
  • Frostbite
  • ‘This is size ten chaos.’
  • I don’t think that fish is really the best way for you to get your point across right now
  • Well, I guess that’s why the movie is called Snowpiercer.
  • ‘We go forward.’
  • Immortal henchman
  • Willy Wonka moment
  • ‘Nice.’

Bad:

  • Worldbuilding by audio newsreel, immediately reiterated by on screen text

Alien

Alien is a slow-burn suspense horror movie, which is usually not my cup of tea. Turns out though, watching this sort of thing with friends and shit talking all the way through it goes a long way to blunting any discomfort I might have otherwise had felt. Who knew?

I do have to recognize that it was well executed though. I’m pretty sure I would have liked Alien even if I had been watching it alone and in the dark – though possibly for different reasons. I know I probably missed one or two reveals and ‘aha’ moments over the course of the movie, at least, and that is the sort of thing that usually redeems suspenseful movies for me.

I quite liked that almost every mistake the crew makes that started and perpetuated their little alien problem are perfectly explainable with ‘its a space truck, these aren’t exactly the best and brightest’. Taken in that context, everything done and said more or less fit together nicely.

Jones

Good:

  • Obligated by law to investigate potential distress beacon
  • I assume that cat was also in stasis
  • Our ship stubbed its toe and now everything is on fire
  • Doctor that doesn’t give a fuck about the risk to the patient once someone else says they’ll take responsibility
  • Eat my drive cone, bitch.
  • Mr Jones lived

Bad:

  • Not immediately leaving as soon as it became clear the ship wasn’t human
  • Not leaving the damn eggs alone
  • Fake out jump scare
  • Actual jump scare
  • WHY IS IT RAINING ON THIS SPACE SHIP
  • Space truck with a self destruct mechanism

Trainspotting

This was not a movie about trains and the watching thereof. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or relieved.

This is another one in the ‘drugs are fucked up and bad things happen’ genre of movies that I have very mixed feelings about. I mean, I don’t relate to them, at all. No context. But on the other hand, they are always interesting (in either a good way or a bad way). Trainspotting was good because it didn’t spend too long on the surreal (which I tend to tire of quickly), and what trips they did include were more a change of pace rather than just an excuse to put some fucked up bullshit on the screen.

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Good:

  • Suppositories
  • Unintentional statutory rape, followed by blackmail
  • ‘Being Scottish is shite’
  • ‘One thousand years from now there will be no guys or girls- just wankers.’
  • The kitten was fine

Bad:

  • Demon hallucination baby
  • I probably missed about 10% of the dialogue because of how Scottish it was

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the sort of movie where the story being told doesn’t matter so much as the manner in which it is told. Ostensibly, it is a narrated story about a hotel concierge and his lobby boy caught up in a murder mystery and conspiracy. But I feel that in boiling it down to that one sentence, one would rather miss the actual point.

I’m coming to appreciate these arty movies. Everything in the experience oozes colour, eschewing realism and putting in its place an alternate setting where the story can unfold with less baggage. The use of lurid palettes and heavily stereotyped iconography allows for the movie to immediately show what something represents, without necessarily invoking all of the baggage of its real world counterpart. The experience isn’t well grounded, and that is almost the point in itself.

I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what was great about The Grand Budapest Hotel, but great it was.

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Good:

  • A story in a book, told by a narrator, who in turn had the story narrated to him.
  • Willem Dafoe
  • The Lobby Boy hat
  • Detailed model buildings
  • “You’re a straight guy.” “Well, nobody has said that to me before.”

Bad:

  • A few scenes were just a little longer than they needed to be
  • I’m very glad I was in the right sort of mood. This could have easily lost my interest if I wasn’t already in a go slow sort of frame of mind.

The Big Lebowski

I don’t have much to say about the Big Lebowski. It bored me.

I could see the movie’s sense of humor, but I didn’t find it funny. I could see the tropes that the characters were playing on, but I didn’t enjoy seeing them taken to their extremes. I could see the plot, but it didn’t interest me. I guess this one just wasn’t for me.

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Good:

  • Tumbleweed
  • Jeff Bridges
  • The music
  • Nihilists

Bad:

  • Nothing really. *shrug*