Tonight's Selection
Noah

this movie reminded me a lot of jesus christ superstar, except for the whole randomly breaking into song thing of course.  start with a well-known biblical story, flesh out a lot of detail (especially important in this case, if you want the movie to be more than seven minutes long), and use non-traditional interpretations that are entirely plausible characterizations for the premise.

  • my one complaint is lord-of-the-rings-style epic battle that goes on for far too long.
  • methuselah and the berries was a great touch.
  • ila is clearly the smart one of the bunch.
  • it’s always frustrating to see all the railing against a movie by people who haven’t seen it.  this movie has the added layer of people complaining that it doesn’t conform to the bible that they apparently haven’t read.
Pearl Harbor

i did it, you guys.  they said it couldn’t be done, but i did it.  i watched this movie.  all three hours of it, with the terrible dialogue, the insane characters, the random pauses to bask in heroic lighting, and the barrages of bullets that magically rain down all around everyone without hitting anyone.  where’s my silver star?

it’s a little weird to look back and remember that michael bay used to try.  he’s such a punch line now, regularly farting out some absurdly loud compilation of explosion effects and slow motion shots of women in hot pants, that it’s easy to forget how he lost all credibility in the first place.  i’m not sure which is the bigger drain on the industry; the michael bay who gave up and makes transformers movies or the michael bay who tries and makes armageddon and this movie.

  • this movie has pretty much the same cast as black hawk down, which was released the same year.
  • remember when josh hartnett was a big deal?  weird…
  • ben affleck’s character in this movie speaks in cliches more than professional athletes do.
  • despite everything else, the aerial combat scenes are quite enjoyable.
Pickpocket

the pickpocketing scenes in this movie are fantastic.  early on, when the protagonist is unskilled, there is tremendous tension in them.  it must take nerves of steel to stand inches away from someone and reach into their jacket.  later in the movie, when he is more proficient, the pickpocketing scenes turn into an impressively elegant performance, much like watching a seasoned magician manipulate a deck of cards.

  • this small, plotless movie featuring amateur actors playing young adults who don’t know where they’re going in life was made decades before mumblecore became hip.
The Final Member

the man who built the first penis museum is a lot less eccentric than you’d expect.  at his heart he’s really just a collector, and while the subject of his collection is unusual, his feelings toward it aren’t.  it started with the chance event of a gag gift, and then he became interested, and it was all downhill after that.  his collection is a hobby, but he loves it, and he loves sharing it with other people and talking about it.

i’ve always felt that collecting is more enjoyable (and less like random hoarding) when there are some rules, and the collection featured in this movie has some.  this movie is ostensibly about his acquisition of the final piece in his collection; the human penis.  one of the donors in waiting (and the one they suspect will be the first to do it) is a very old man who has promised his penis upon his death.  the trouble is that, as is inevitable, the old man’s penis is shrinking in his final years.  this means that as he lives longer, it becomes less and less the ideal or typical example to put it in the museum.  it also is putting him in danger of falling below the five inch rule for inclusion.

there’s a great conversation in this movie that typifies the nerdy fun of collecting.  three guys are sat at a table discussing the diminishing size of the potential exhibit, and whether the length minimum (which has roots in a hilariously bizarre folk tale) should be adhered to.  one person suggests that they could inflate it post-mortem to make it “legal” as well as a better exhibit, but there are concerns that this would be false or cheating in some way.  such a bizarre discussion when viewed out of context, but it made total sense to me.

  • the look on the doctor’s face when she realized that her patient had a flag pattern tattooed on his penis was fantastic.  i wouldn’t have warned her either.  too much fun to pass up.
  • the owner of the museum also is a member of the society of friends of foxes.  i wonder if it’s associated with the tv show “fox and friends” in any way.
Blue Ruin

this is a refreshingly new and realistic take on the revenge thriller.  no superhuman action heroes and no bumbling slap stick clowns either.  just an ordinary man with nothing to lose trying to deal with his mixed emotions on vengeance killing and to overcome the simple fact that he has no aptitude for it.  there’s also a surprising amount of subtle and appropriately dark humor that adds a good layer.

  • i was concerned that the cop at the beginning would be the kind that gives cops a bad name, but the opposite was true.
  • there was some good simple vehicle maintenance that you don’t usually see from homeless people who live in cars.
  • the conversation with the protagonist’s sister was great.  very real.
  • i don’t get the practice of sitting in uncomfortable positions while waiting to spring an ambush.
The Phantom of the Opera

this is another movie that falls victim to my war on unnecessary framing devices.  to all the directors who read my blog:  please, have some restraint.  save this technique for when you’re really saying something with it, as opposed to here, where it just provides an excuse to play with overbearing filters and pad the runtime of an already 120+ minute movie by another 10-15 minutes.

  • the phantom is what happens when people take music too seriously. we all know these people.  keep an eye out.
  • gerard butler and high notes just makes me sad.  i wonder how many hours he screamed into a microphone before they got the one little sample to autotune and loop into what they needed.
2 Fast 2 Furious

after watching the fast and the furious, you wouldn’t think that the sequel would be more cartoony.  it’s impressive, really.  they took an outlandish, over-the-top racing movie and made it more so.  this movie isn’t well constructed, but everyone involved seems to be genuinely having fun and that rubs off.

  • the 6 minute prelude that bridges the gap between the first movie and this one is wholly unnecessary but has some fun sequences and no dialogue (which is definitely a plus in this series).
  • putting a rear wing on a front wheel drive car drives me nuts.
  • the rat bucket scene is seriously disturbing and completely out of place in this movie.
Under the Skin

the lighting in this movie blew me away.  shot after shot, it’s a parade of diverse but universally beautiful images, and the lighting is the featured player.  the scenes in scottish forests would be pretty hard to mess up, but the shots in the mystery room are impressively stark and the nighttime urban driving sequences (which are so often drab) are some of the prettiest, with the camera pointed at scarlett and the lights moving past, reflecting off the windows and washing over her face.

Bethlehem

the israeli-palestinian conflict is a good setting for a spy thriller.  i’m surprised it isn’t done more often.  the unique circumstances of the tensions in that area induce a unique twist on the genre that makes this unspectacular but thoroughly competent movie quite interesting.  it keeps you guessing until the very end, and not with gratuitous twists, but with believable characters who are convincingly torn on what to do.

How to Train Your Dragon

the flight sequences in this movie are stunning.  whether nervously working out the controls in mid-air, or showing off an ability to channel peace and majesty, or thrillingly fighting in the climactic battle, the visuals are spectacular.  it’s no wonder how many electronics departments use this movie to demo their tv displays.

  • special shout out to the promotion of alternative pets.