Monday, October 20, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part VIII

The Natural (1984)
This fantasy/love letter to baseball mostly works, with a wonderful performance by Robert Redford and a great score. However, too many plot points are either contrived or completely unexplained for it to get my ringing endorsement.

The Guns of Navarone (1961)
This film has a lot in common with The Dirty Dozen, featuring a ragtag group of soldiers who embark on a potentially futile mission during WWII. However, with the exception of David Niven’s eccentric explosives expert, none of the characters are particularly memorable. The climax is thrilling, but the plot meanders too much in the second act.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was definitely not expecting an amateur production with unexciting slapstick fights, vampires preying on lesbians, Jesus joining forces with a Mexican wrestler, and the occasional musical number from out of the blue (one of which I am sure was inspired by "Every Sperm is Sacred" from The Meaning of Life). The production values are shoddy, the script is on par with your average student film, and overall the film is more dumb than sacrilegious (which says more about its intelligence than its theology).

The Great McGinty (1940)
I suppose it was groundbreaking in its time with its views on politics, but I didn’t find its social commentary particularly biting, and it was not nearly as funny as Preston Sturges’ other works. Overall it is a well made film, but disappointing when compared to the rest of the Sturges canon.

Hudson Hawk (1991)
I had heard conflicting opinions of this film: some have said it is a travesty against cinema (it did win the Razzie for worst picture) while others have said it is actually a good, fun movie. It has a couple interesting ideas (most notably using objects on site to facilitate the heists instead of having a backpack full of high tech gadgets) but is very silly (the bad guys are trying to reassemble a gold-making machine that Leonardo da Vinci invented and disassembled because it would mean the end of the world as we know it). It almost works as a parody of action films (akin to Last Action Hero) but is still fairly dumb and way over the top. Ultimately, if you are able to turn your mind off to the absurdities of the plot, you get a mostly enjoyable 100 minutes of forgettable entertainment. Think Van Helsing.

Coming up next: A couple rich spoiled brats who change after meeting a woman.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part VII

I know some of you are still waiting for the final Batman installment, but it's been much more difficult than I thought to drag the short circuits in my brain out onto the page. In the meantime, here are some movies I saw way back in February.

The Dish (2000)
This is a pleasant little Australian film that chronicles how the crew of a satellite dish in the middle of nowhere, Australia find themselves the center of attention when they are named the primary relay station for Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk. There are plenty of quirky characters to go around and some surprisingly dramatic moments as well. The film also wonderfully captures how amazing it was at the time for a man not only to walk on the moon but to then come home, and the uncertainty of whether we would be able to pull it off.

Amazing Grace (2006)
It is nice to see Hollywood making movies with Christians as the main characters, doing what they can to live Godly lives. I suppose it helps that our hero is both a rebel and a civil rights activist (two things Hollywood eats up). While the film is overall pretty good, there is no reason for the story to be told out of chronological order, and it actually takes away from getting a good idea of the ups and downs of William Wilberforce’s career.

The Edge (1997)
Man is his own worst enemy!

Dracula (1958)
(Also called Horror of Dracula.) While it sports lush colors and features the perfectly cast Christopher Lee as Dracula, it lacks the atmosphere of both Nosferatu and the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, and lacks the sheer cinematic qualities of Coppola’s Dracula.

Pot o’ Gold (1941)
This is a fun little comedy bordering on being a musical starring James Stewart that is of little consequence but is enjoyable while it lasts.

Coming up next: A Razzie winner and one that should have gotten a Razzie.