Saturday, February 26, 2011

Birdemic Fest

Birdemic: Shock and Terror
Dir.  James Nguyen

One year ago, yesterday, a movie was released upon the world with a message.  A message of world peace and keeping the world a greener place to fight global warming.  Let's just say, that message fell short.  Instead, another terribly amazing cult classic was received by audience members on the same caliber of The Room and Troll 2.  Terrible acting, directing, and CG ensues. See trailer for details.

So, as per recommendation of the director himself via youtube, Kyle, Nathan, and I partook in a Birdemic fest on this one year anniversary.  What constitutes a Birdemic fest?  Beer and a viewing of the movie Birdemic.  Just that easy, just that hard.  Not something I would recommend, but still something you could do from the comfort of your own home.  We, of course, went to the Drafthouse to enjoy some food and cheer with an audience you can only find there.  I mean, c'mon, how many places could fill a theater for this movie?

Anyway, back to the movie, this is yet another example, as I explained in my previous post about The Room, of a director that doesn't know enough English to have any business making an American film, nor seems to have any idea how humans interact.  Quite literally, as a Drafthouse host commented, "almost as if an alien came down, watched people for like 2 days, and just said 'I got this.'"  But, it seems like this with some terribly over-looped music, horrid editing with shots hanging on way too long, and some stock footage birds that can explode for really no reason, we have a movie that will be watched in smaller film-geek circles to quote forever.

I've got to run, I hear a mountain lion.

Run time 90 very painful minutes + 1982 = 2072 invested

I'll tell ya why we don't have girlfriends in three words. Women. Are. Morons.

Strictly Sexual
Dir. Joel Viertel

So, I'm not sure how many other people have in fact seen this movie, because I had never heard of it, and probably with good reason.  I think I need to get back to the recommendations, because I'm not sure it even fits with the whole idea of "I can't believe you've never seen that".  But nonetheless, if anyone has, I can talk about this awkward watch at a dinner party, and shock someone.

To fill anyone in that has not seen it, this movie is pretty much about two lonely rich girls who decide to pick up some prostitutes at a hotel bar, and it turns out, the morning after, the boys are not hoes.  So, they awkwardly storm out, but then try to come back for the cash, since they are pretty well broke in LA, with no place to live.  The  girls see the opportunity to keep them as sex slaves in exchange for room and board in their pool house.  Of course, from here, the movie is a dialogue on what is wrong with society, love, and the opposite sex from both perspectives.  And concludes with a fairly easy to predict ending.

I couldn't stop thinking during the entire movie how much Kirsten Kerr looked just like Olivia Wilde and how I had thought I had seen the other girl somewhere.  Turns out, she was in Buffy a while back. Otherwise, no one I really recognized being billed.

The movie as a whole, didn't seem to be just like anything else I had ever seen.  It seemed to take on a racy topic, and make it not seem quite so bad.  Otherwise, really nothing too noteworthy.  Not fantastic acting, not extremely catchy writing, and nothing really that kept my attention 100%.  I had been slightly considering changing the hulu selection a couple different times during the view.   Just sort of Ho-Hum.

Run time 99 min + 1883 = 1982 min.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Graduates

The Graduates
Dir. Ryan Gielen

Awesome news was announced sometime last week that Hulu Plus was about to begin uploads of the ENTIRE Criterion Collection for it's member's viewing pleasure.  As I, myself am already a very happy Hulu Plus member and having this project just taken flight, I was very excited to see what was coming to my PS3.   So, on my first full free afternoon, I started shuffling through, and somehow ended up clicking into something not part of the collection.

With this in mind, The Graduates is not to be confused with The Graduate, the classic with a young Dustin Hoffman.   This is an independent feature that was released in 2008, but seems to have been created without being tainted by high school comedies of the moment like Superbad that were much more hollywood and polished.  There is just something strangely watchable about this honest little movie.

Now, don't get me wrong, this movie has some pretty big faults.  The audio was not good.  The soundtrack was decent, but the dialogue at times seemed to have been muffled and just not captured well whatsoever.  There were some jump cuts that seemed unnecessary.  There were quite a few very cheap jokes along the way as well.  But over-all, it almost seemed like from the beginning that the movie was being made by someone about the same age as the people in the movie, but by the end, it just feels so much more beyond that vantage point in life that you know you are being manipulated.  Maybe this is why it worked so well for me.

I think I would definitely need a second watch to really figure it out, but I'm not sure I'll ever sit back down for a second view.  Just an okay movie.  Nothing to write home about.

Run time 97 min +1786 = 1883 minutes invested.

A place you can go to have a good time...

The Room
Dir. Tommy Wiseau

I want to begin with an apology.  I am so sorry that I'm following up such a great classic with this movie.

But, onward and downward, I suppose.  The Room is a movie that makes me feel better about my own movies, and seems to reiterate the idea that you should 'write what you know'.  Tommy, seems to have lived under a rock until this point, and doesn't seem to fully understand how humans interact with one another.  This seems to be a classic example of a movie made by a foreign director who only has enough knowledge of a language to follow along with the translating cassettes they used to learn it, but has taken it upon himself to make a movie for the American public.  Take that into account and don't have much of a budget and mix in some unknown casting from off the street, and wha-la, you have a cult classic. Another movie that I seem to have become obsessed with after watching Best Worst Movie (a fantastic documentary with heart, that everyone should see) that seems to follow in the same vein is Troll 2.

It amazes me, though, after watching the commentary of this as to how completely oblivious Tommy seems to be to the movie's success through being so very terrible.  I'm not sure if it has to do with his still slipping grasp on the English language or it's reality he has the issues with.  Either way, a very quotable movie to watch with friends for inside jokes later.  Definitely not a movie I'd be comfortable sitting next to Tommy Wiseau to view.

"You invited all my friends.  Good thinking!"

Run time 99 min + 1687 = 1786 minutes

French Lesson: Le Samourai is French for The Samurai.

Le Samourai
Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville

So, I've officially moved to Austin, TX!  Which means for you dear readers, I have quite a few posts coming up from before/after arriving here that had to be pushed back until I could sit, and reflect.  So, here's yet another recommendation from Mr. Golembiecki's stack of dvds he so generously let me borrow.  Thank you, sir!

This movie is quite slow moving, but can pack a punch.  There are a lot of very slowly calculated shots with long takes and not much action for very extended times, but in juxtaposition the times that something does occur seem to pack much more of a punch because of this.  I really do feel like any film buff and/or filmmaker should see this movie.  It will shine quite a bit of light on where many other spy and action movies have been influenced.  It'll be just like meeting your friend's parents.  A lot more will make sense afterward.

For instance, when I visited I Luv Video yesterday, I was walking through an aisle and picked up the dvd of The American from the shelf.  In case you are unfamiliar with this video rental store, they are a quirky little place that serves free beer on tuesdays for patrons, has an extensive selection sorted by director, genre, etc, and most times their cases collect small reviews from workers and customers about the film they are attached to.  Well, in short, on The American (the George Clooney movie that not nearly enough people skipped Paranormal Activity 2 to see) dvd case, a character named Ben simply posted something along the lines of, 'it's pretty much Le Samourai, only in English'.  Which is pretty true.  Either way, they were both very good movies.

Anyway, for anyone worried about subtitles, because I know those times when you just don't want to work so hard for the entertainment or reading just is toooo harddddd, don't worry about it (those last 4 words would be more funny if you'd join me in watching the next movie I have backed up to blog about, so stay tuned).  There really isn't much dialogue in this movie.  Really, you could probably follow it without the subtitles even on, although, unless you know a bit of French, I would not recommend it to get the full effect.

So, if you like the strong silent type, I would definitely recommend this movie.  No, I take that back.  If you like movies, you should see this movie.

Run Time 105 min + 1582 = 1687 min

Monday, February 14, 2011

"To make God laugh, tell him your plans."

Amores Perros
Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

I find it a little odd that I found myself watching a movie that translates to Love's a Bitch on Valentines Day while waiting on Kyle to get off work.  Whatever works I guess.

This movie's case is completely covered with awards and nominations for any and every festival and huge award program there is.  So, I know there is something to learn from this movie before I even plopped it into the dvd player, which is completely the idea behind this 300 by 25 experiment.  But while watching, I felt like there were quite a few times where I felt like this was a movie I had seen before, or a scene that I could predict from some other viewing.

So, here's some of the movies I've seen before that seemed to take away from the buzz of this one.  Not in a terribly awful way or anything, but they seem to have quite a few things in common.

Slumdog Millionare - two brothers, one is kind of a good guy that wants to do right even with unordinary means, the other is shot leading a life of crime. (Seems like a stretch, but the scenes seemed to be quite similar.  Think I need to watch that movie again though, to do a more accurate comparison there, since it's been about 2 years now).

Crash - I mean, c'mon.  This film was the Mexican crash.  Less Hollywood and more gritty, but what can you expect.

Requiem for a Dream - Everyone is investing so much of themselves into one thing, that it's sure to be taken away in their greed or over nurturing and indulgence in their plans.  The end was very different from Requiem, but I felt like there was a direct connection between the two in the moral department.

I think I could go on, but again, I feel like some of it is a bit of a stretch.  Now, this film came out in 2000, whereas Slumdog and Crash both came years later (Requiem, the same year), therefore, they could have found influence from this movie.  I really don't know.  But overall, it seemed somewhat predictable from the lessons learned in the other movies.  So, that kind of took away from the action a little.  But otherwise, I felt like this was a really good movie.  It deserved it's awards for sure.  Still hoping they didn't really kill any of those animals.  Surely not.

153 min run time +1429 min = 1582 minutes

I've found my Rushmore.

Dir. Wes Anderson

I loved this movie.

The more Wes Anderson I watch, the more I like his style.  I still think that The Darjeeling Limited is my favorite so far (could be stemmed a little from my fixation with Adrien Brody ever since I saw the Brothers Bloom).  Maybe it's an acquired taste?  Or maybe the more I watch, the more I feel like I understand his sense of humor?  Either way, this movie made me happy and content in a way Anderson only can.

A couple things I like about Anderson movies:
Color schemes - teal blue/green and orange.  It's simple color wheel stuff, but these colors were meant to be used together.
Fish tanks/underwater environments always look amazing on film.
Laughably awkward characters, but you don't laugh, because you always feel a little bad for their socially inept ways.  And you always want them to make it.
And his casting of the Wilson Brothers, and more often than not, Bill Murray.

Back to Rushmore though, this is a coming of age tale chronicling a teenager that thinks he knows what he wants.  I say thinks, because he really doesn't seem to have any idea who he is, or where he fits in within school or even the world.  For instance, he creates clubs for anything and everything and is in nearly every extracurricular, but he isn't especially good at any of them.  But it seems like throughout the film, he is hurt over and over, thinking he has lost his "Rushmore", but in the end, finds something that just fits.
A good feel good movie, but not escapist.  The humor makes you think, and the awkwardness makes you smile.  I hope to never loose my Rushmore, but if I do, this movie makes me know, I'll be alright.

I can't wait to watch Bottle Rocket.

Run time 93 minutes +1336 =1429

And you too Mama?

Y Tu Mama Tambien
Dir. Alfonso Cuaron

I'll start by saying that I'm not sure that I have seen many movies that "Sexually Charged" and "Wildly Erotic" described so well.  Sex seems to show itself as a strong motivating factor in this story, and doesn't seem to be ashamed to hide it.  In most American films that sense is there, but it's more of a background, understood thing what people's true intentions are.  And not only that, sex isn't glorified or made to look like two perfectly polished people having a beautiful moment.

It seems more honest for some reason.  It is almost like Luisa holds some kind of key to unleash the animal instincts of the human condition.  I'm not sure if it's due to her situation in life or some other reason, but it's almost as if in the overall scheme of things, she holds an omniscient vantage point of the boy's wants and thoughts.  It is very hard to explain what I'm trying to put into words.  The ways she comes into the boy's lives, exposes their secrets both personal, sexual, and social, and then floats back out of their lives just seems almost like a phase in their lives they had to go through to reach maturity and grow up.

Anyway, I feel like there is much to say on this topic, but I'm not going to over-analyze it.  I believe this may be the first Mexican film I've ever seen, which kind of surprises me, but I can't think of any others off the top of my head.  It was a pretty good watch though, but not conservative in nature whatsoever.  So, I guess, my advice is to not pop this movie in to watch with your grandma.

run time 105min +1231 = 1336 minutes

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Existential Flower

Progress - 10/300
Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Alright, I've changed my mind about P.T. Anderson.  This film blew me away.  As a recommendation from a Mr. Gasser after having seen Punch Drunk Love and admitting my dislike for any of the previous films of his, but I completely retract my sentiment.  This guy has a lot to say about the human condition, and the meaning of it all.

So, you cannot talk about Magnolia without talking about it's big picture storyline.  What does it all mean?  I feel like this film completely takes a side in existentialism that indicates that things are not predetermined in life.  The characters from the very beginning don't end up where they are by coincidence.  They have made conscious decisions that have affected where they are in their lives.  At many points the characters are at forks in the road, and where they choose to go intertwines and causes this 2 and 3 degree separation of their paths.

I really liked Mr. Partridge's speech from his death bed on regret.  If life in fact is directed by decisions and is not some predetermined path that we will one way or another fall into, then we cannot not regret decisions.  Those decisions could have taken us somewhere else completely.  Maybe these words don't hit home with everyone, but with my big move next week coming up, it really did for me.  Making the decision to move to Austin is a game changer, and with anything like that in anyone's lives, you know at some point, you will look back and say, what if I hadn't...  Everyone has that.

And the frogs.  It turns out this raining frogs thing has in fact happened, believe it or not.  Probably not quite that extreme, but it's in the record books.  But the Exodus 8:2 references throughout the film seemed to be a nice touch of foreshadowing.  There were quite a few times when I'd see an 8 and a 2 and just think, what?  Until, of course, I saw the full reference in the crowd in the TV studio.  So, really, what does it all mean?  Something this epic happens in someone's life, now what?  It's a nice question to leave.

So, some amazing storytelling.  A great plot and the three dimensional characters that P.T. is known for. This was a great watch, and I feel like anyone with some time on their hands should see this film, and if you have before, pop it back in the DVD/BRD player and have yourself a second view.  I know I will.

Run Time 188 min + 1043 previously viewed = 1231 minutes

Friday, February 11, 2011


The Runaways
Dir. Florida Sigismondi

I was sad to notice after watching this movie, that it looks like the approximate 10 million $ that it cost to create, barely made 4 mil back, even with a 244 screen release.  This movie seemed to fly under a lot of people's radar.  Maybe it had to do with the casting or the trailers, but in the end, this was an amazing little find for my 300.

These girls show their chops in this film.  If you can get past their Eclipse pasts and get into this movie, they seem to do a really good Jett/Cherie.  And they especially seem to work in this bildungsroman tale (a little vocabulary lesson, it's a coming of age story).

The lighting in this film is fabulous as well.  I loved the intensity of the shadows and the passion and fire of the reds.  This could have been a make or break for a movie that has about 1/4 of it's action taking place on a stage.

And of course, the music was like a cherry on top.

So, anyway, I feel like this movie, despite the girlie pop cover and traliers, was actually a pretty nice surprise.  Plus, it's currently on Netflix, watch instantly.  So, hit that up!

Run time 106 min +937 = 1043 minutes viwed thus far.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We Were Really Bad.

Very Bad Things
Dir. Peter Berg

This movie had it's faults.  It was an alright storyline that you can tell has been done since, but overall, I had some major issues investing myself into this one.

So, right off the bat, it seems like there are a lot of moments in this movie, mainly with Cameron Diaz, where I feel like the editor or the director should have sped up the takes or had the other actor speak quicker.  If you watch, for instance, when they are in the parking lot, and Laura comes out to tell the boys she wants them inside, she stands there for an awkwardly long time pointing at the door before anyone else speaks.  It's almost like everyone in the scene forgot what comes next.  But this happens quite often, causing some party scenes and fighting scenes that should be more fast and chaotic seem... well... choreographed.

My biggest issue with the overall film, and the reason I don't feel like it worked nearly as well as other movies that have come out since, is that it doesn't seem like the movie can decide what kind of movie it wants to be.  Is it a comedy?  Is it a roadtrip movie?  Is it an ethical movie that you should take sides on and try to figure out who's the bad guy in this?  Or is it a deranged chaos trip movie?  It never really makes that decision either.  The Hangover works because it's a comedy.  Fear and Loathing works because it's an arty drug trip.  Plain and Simple.  But with this movie, it was just so undecided and scattered.

Now don't get me wrong, it did have it's moments.  I liked the dark humor bits scattered in there, like when the widow fights back and when Laura shows her bridezilla side.  But overall, there was no common thread throughout this movie to hold it all together.

Run time 100 min + 837 previously viewed = 937 so far

Open Door Policy

Going the Distance
Dir. Nanette Burstein

This was a recommendation from a Mr. Ronald Short down in Texas.  So, shout out to him!  :)

Hit up the Redbox for this little gem, and was surprised to see what had flown in under the radar.  Very funny little movie about two people trying to make a long distance relationship work.  And rumor has it, the leads, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore were, and maybe still are, dating.  Those kisses didn't look fake, I'll put it that way.

I must say, I feel like this was a really well put together script.  You could tell the writer had some experience in the subject (I had thought this during the view, and imdb confirmed).  The only real issues that I had with the flow was in the beginning of their meetings.  It just seemed like they were not emotional enough in that moment of shock.  Maybe that's me though.  People respond to these things differently, but I feel like these two should have considered sitting at an airport and seeing people reunite for a little research.  It just seemed more like they had just seen each other again after a day or two apart or something.  Small flaw, though.

Otherwise, the comedy was amazing.  Charlie Day is a hilarious comedic relief to any moment and putting Jason Sudeikis as his counter part in their circle just worked.

Now, I wouldn't say this is a must-see, but if you're looking for a fun movie and you don't want to have to exert yourself much into mind bending exercises or trying to sort out moral and ethical dilemmas, this is a good kick-back movie.

Run time 102 + 735 = 837 minutes invested into this so far.

Wall Street

Wall Street
Dir. Oliver Stone

Having had the sequel's trailers caught my eye, as per usual, I decided I must see the first one before going into the second.  I'm a little OCD like that and can't handle feeling like I'm not in the loop.  But, of course, I never found the time to see the first one, and completely missed my chance to catch the second in theaters.  Working for a company that makes a bit of a big deal with new releases though, when it came out on dvd, I felt the need again.  And again I failed to see the first one.

Anyway, long story short, this is something that was on my list for a while, and has now been checked off.

So, some amazing lighting in this film.  The shadows seem to mirror the whole feeling of the film.  In this, I mean that at times people stay in the shadows, others, they show parts of themselves, and some characters aren't shadowed at all, but they don't seem to have the secrets to hide from the others.

Michael Douglas was fantastic.  Every move he makes on screen is calculated.  You can read him, but you can't.  You don't know how fully invested in someone else until he comes out and says it, and even then, you don't.  There was one particular moment with this character that I felt was a complete game changer for me.  When Gecko is on the beach, and instead of talking about business and the fact that he thought other's shouldn't sleep because time was money, and money never sleeps, he looks out and he takes in the ocean.  He says something along the lines of, 'I wish you could see what I see'.  It's this moment that makes Gecko human.  He has vaults, and he's not just a money grubbing maniac.  I don't know how much of this was scripted/directed/or just Douglas, but it's powerful stuff.

Anyway, I cannot wait to see the sequel.

Run time 126 + 610 = 736

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ray, man.

Rain man
Dir. Barry Levinson

I know.  I can't believe I can even call myself a cinefile without having seen this, especially after having seen it. Whoa.  All I can say is that a whole lot of other movies make a lot more sense now. 

So, even if Tom is a little crazy now, it's hard to lose any respect for this guy after this movie.  This character made you just want to punch him, BUT I can't say I was surprised that he'd eventually come around.  

Now, having heard the advice from tropic thunder, "never go full retard", you know Ray totally isn't, which makes him and his potential for not just fart humor(which he can still bring to the table and make work), but even counting cards and picking up women becomes more and more entertaining along this road trip.  I mean, Rainman almost bankrupt a casino and he's a retard.

I'd argue this is the best road trip movie I've seen so far.  A very feel good movie that should make everyone's must see list!

Uh oh, fart.

Run time - 133 + 477 = 610 min viewing so far!


Rules of Attraction
Dir. Roger avery

So, this was a double feature night at my apartment with the movie previously blogged about, Wild at Heart, but was very different.  I can def see where this movie fits into a "must see" category though in the grand scheme of things, especially for a filmmaker.  Although, i really don't have much to say about it.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie.  The pacing was very good, and the characters were well developed, and they all seemed to get just what was coming to them, with the exception of Lauren, i would debate, .  maybe, it was just a lot to digest when I wasn't ready for it.

I was very taken aback about how quickly this movie changed from what looks like a college flick that's very two dimensional to a very deep and ironic movie that had something to say about the college experience.  The case seemed to imply i was about to watch She's all That or something of the same capacity, but went somewhere completely unexpected.  At times, it seemed to turn back to wink at that type of movie too which would make me start to worry that it was about to stop, but then, it'd turn right back around and go racing forward into one of their backstories leading up to the end of the world party.  Anyway, a beautifully handled film.

Rock'n Roll.

Run time 110 min + 367 = 477

Not Quite Wilde at Heart, but it'll do.

3/300Wild at Heart
Dir. David Lynch

Alright, so, I'd like to start this with an apology for being delayed in these posts by nearly a week.  Just went to Austin to secure an apartment for a big move.  Very exciting, but very draining.  So, i come to you from the passenger seat of my car on my way back to Indiana from my new Texas home.  Which means for you, dear readers, soon enough these posts will be taking a nice turn to draft house cinema and South by Southwest indie flicks.  How very exciting. :)

Anyway, I have never been a fan of Nic Cage.  He does a good disgruntled human being (YouTube it, there are awesome montages), but other than this, I've always felt like he doesn't even know who he is enough to feel comfortable in his own skin, especially when trying to make his skin be someone else's.  This movie seemed to fit him in his identity issues.  I don't know how much of this was planned and how much can be chalked up to him just being weird.  Whatever, it works.

There is a lot to say about this film, most of which is kind of just random thoughts.  For instance, the fact that they used a roller coaster screaming track when he sings the Elvis music when they go dancing....  Maybe i was the only one to catch this though, having worked in a theme park and heard this on a daily basis for several years myself.  Anyway, it bothered me.  And Nic's Elvis voice is reused again when he did Ghostrider. Ick. That movie alone is enough to loose respect for m completely.

The biggest things that were interesting and helped this film really have a sense of self were completely Lynch related.  Having seen Eraserhead, i feel like Lynch really shows his inner thoughts and fears in his films.  Not knowing much about him as a person, as a viewer i can conclude that he is terrified of having children, maybe he doesn't know how to connect to them as a mother and child can, but his fathers def don't handle children well, and themselves are worried so much about being good fathers themselves, they actually become bad ones instead. Sailer does redeem himself in the end, but he still does acknowledge this fear.  

He also has a very strange take on sexuality.  It seems almost as if he cannot decide if it's beautiful or repulsive.  For instance, he has Lula wear red lipstick in a very passionate and suggestively sexually heated sense, but later we see her on screen after being raped with the same bright red color, but instead it's blood gushing from her lips.  It's this sort of mixed emotions about things that leave the viewer at unrest.  

Otherwise, this was a typical Lynch film.  A little more of a clear cut story line, but the same chaos of strange characters and random happenings.  Liked this more than Eraserhead, but that made me know I'll never be ready to have an alien-looking baby.

Run time 124min + 243 previously viewed = 367 min