Saturday, September 15, 2007


My first thought after this (late showing of the) movie ended was, "Damn, I wish there was a 24-hour record store somewhere so I could go buy the soundtrack NOW." I had to wait til the next morning and that was much too long to hear the songs again. This was the movie that-- if any of our lot had been at Sundance 2007 and seen it there-- we wouldn't have shut up about between January and when it opened.
The lead guy is the singlemost attractive ginger male I have ever seen in movies, TV, or otherwise. He owes most of his sex appeal not to his carrotty mop but to his singing voice, showmanship and generally awesome musical talent.


I’m not fond of fall, but September always heralds the best time of year, cinematically speaking: The end of summertime schlock and the beginning of good movie season! Even the movies that aren’t that great (like The Brave One) are at least ambitious.

3:10 to Yuma

I can count the number of Westerns I’ve seen on one hand, but if they can get this good, maybe I should see some more. Steve thought this movie was only OK, but I thought it was superb, with really exciting action sequences that rely more on old-fashioned suspense rather than special effects. The performances of Christian Bale (who can really do no wrong) and Russell Crowe made this a really compelling movie. I wasn’t bored for a second.

Eastern Promises

I want to say so much about this movie, but I won’t, cause I know y’all haven’t seen it. Don’t read any reviews! Just go watch it! Viggo is so mind-numbingly awesome! Yeah, I’m biased when it comes to Cronenberg, but I’m not lying, this movie is wonderful.

The Brave One

Eh, whatever. One of the points of going to movies is that you get to empathize with characters who have questionable morality. But the morals of this movie are hopelessly muddled and unbelievable, so it was really difficult to enjoy it. It has its good points, and I’m glad to see that artful cinematography is becoming more routine in Hollywood movies. I also continue to find Terrence Howard attractive, even though he seems like a total jackass.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Ryan and I went to this show of our own accord; Andrea was dragged unwillingly. I have never in my life been to a booty-shakin’ concert before, as I don’t often listen to that sort of music, but I have to say I had a great time. The arena was like a giant icebox, but the pyrotechnics actually warmed the place up. It wasn’t filled to capacity, so they switched our crappy seats for some on the side that were actually really close. I love reggaeton music no matter what anyone says, and I thought the whole thing really fulfilled my expectations of what a spectacle concert should be: Costume changes, indoor fireworks, lots of almost-naked dancers (both female and male), even dancing robots! Oddly enough, I heard less Spanish being spoken in the crowd than I have ever heard anywhere in the entire city of Chicago since I moved here… which was funny, because the crowd was approximately 100% Latino. I think Ryan was the token non-Latino there (although he doesn’t look particularly lily-white). Poor guy didn’t understand a single word Daddy Yankee said, but I don’t think it bothered him one bit. I can’t wait for the concert DVD to be released. My sister only enjoyed herself marginally. Whatever, she’s European, she can’t be expected to understand our pop culture.

It’s Already September and I’ve Only Seen 38 Movies

Oh god, how did I fall so far behind? Even if I do a glut of movies at the Chicago Film Fest, I’ll never get anywhere near 100 this year. Here are my two most recent viewings:

I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Hollywood movies due to the time of year, and my brain has been rewired and programmed to find them more amusing than they actually are. The framing device of the movie is a sociological study of rich women who live in Manhattan’s upper East Side, and it was clever enough to win me over. I don’t quite get Scar Jo-Jo’s appeal; she’s cute and all, but far too sulky and bland to really stand out in my opinion. She did a decent and believable job as a clueless college grad thrust into the world of super-needy, pampered women. I’ve put up with a few women like that in the past, and am quite happy that I don’t presently have to. I suppose a good chunk of the humor was the uncomfortable variety that was funny because I could empathize with it.

Hey look, Keith is in this movie for some reason:

This movie was bad. Sorry, but it was. It’s an action movie with almost no action in the first solid hour. Crappy action movies are fun because of the violent setpieces, which are tied together with implausible scenarios and terrible dialog… Now imagine an action movie made only of the painful dialog and bad acting and none of the action. Sample lazy dialog line: “Your obsession with this man has already cost us our marriage, don’t let it cost you your son!” I’m serious… Not fun at all! I’m sorry, but why in the world would you pay Jet Li countless millions if you’re not going to utilize his skills? Dude didn’t even throw a kick for at least an hour and twenty minutes! To be honest, there were some good twists and great violent bursts in the last half hour, but at that point it was too late and I was thoroughly bored.

Halfway there

Movie #12, Stardust

Stardust seems to belong to the '80s; it belongs in a trilogy with Labyrinth and The Princess Bride - fantasy movies that don't take themselves so seriously. I think Stardust captures many of the strengths of The Princess Bride, but some of the weaknesses of Labyrinth.

In my opinion, Stardust really works best when it winks at its own over-the-top drama. Neil Gaiman's sense of humor is showcased here to great effect. Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer are particularly fun to watch, but I enjoyed Claire Danes and Charlie Cox too, and I was surprised to find myself engaged by their love story.

But there are pacing issues. And the main character remains a bit of a blank, so sometimes it feels like there's really nothing to hold onto. The motivations of the characters get really muddied, and the movie asks you to take a number of mental leaps that the story just doesn't back up.

And yet... I could see myself watching this movie over and over, because there are a lot of great little moments to make up for some of the flaws. Or maybe I should just read the book.