Sunday, December 12, 2010

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XII

New Moon (2009)
I thought that this would at least be an improvement over Twilight. After all, they replaced the first director with the director of the snappy About a Boy so at least the plodding pace would be sped up. No such luck. The incessant pausing in mid-sentence by every single main character was amplified. We also get what pretends to be a love triangle for Bella whose talent for being vapid reaches new heights. I kept waiting for something to happen. And waiting. And waiting. And then there was a glimmer of what might be mistaken for some rising action and I thought, “Now we must be getting to the explosive climax.” But instead of something happening the credits just rolled. The climax was so uninteresting that I completely missed it and I had to think back and figure out what it was supposed to be. At least the first one had a poorly-staged action piece for a climax, but the only suspense in New Moon came from waiting to see if anyone could get through a complete sentence without a giant pause.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
This is a cute story about two girls dealing with their mother’s illness. The find companionship in Totoro, the giant, mute forest spirit that is half bunny rabbit, half teddy bear, and 100% adorable. And there’s a giant cat that doubles as a school bus.

Clash of the Titans (2010)
I enjoy Greek mythology and thought the original movie was pretty good, so I was interested to see the new take on the Perseus myth (though I did make sure to go in with low expectations). There were some fun action scenes and some wild visuals (that still failed to measure up to the gorgeous stop-motion work by Ray Harryhausen in the original) and I walked away from the theater feeling more satisfied than not. But the more I thought about it afterward the less I though of it. The fatal flaw in the movie is the world view or lack thereof. The trailer (and the tagline “Damn the gods”) make it seem like a humanist piece where Perseus rejects the gods and does things his own way. But in the movie he accepts gifts from the gods and uses them to complete his quest. And yet the gods are painted in such an unsympathetic light that a reading of “the gods are powerful and make things work which makes them worthy of worship and obedience” doesn’t work very well either. It’s as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide which extreme they wanted to shoot for and waffled back and forth so much that they ended up in a wishy-washy middle that would be stupid if it managed to be adequately expressed. I might be getting too worked up about a silly popcorn movie about deities from a long dead religion, but is an internal consistency too much to ask for?

Mulholland Dr. (2001)
The movie starts out fairly interesting with a story about an aspiring actress trying to make her way in Hollywood. But three quarters of the way through the film director David Lynch pulls the rug out from under the audience and takes the film in a completely new direction. The audience is supposed to be asking questions like: was it all a dream?, which part was the dream?, and how does my perception of the first three quarters of the film change in light of the final quarter? Me? I was busy thinking unhappy thoughts at the movie while I rubbed my bruised coccyx.

Perfect Blue (1998)
This anime film has some striking visuals but gets really weird and dark in places.

Coming up next: five more movies that don't have enough in common for me to come up with a clever teaser.


James said...

Hey Matt, Great to see your thoughts on "Clash of the Titans." I also agree with you on Perfect Blue. I think that was the second anime piece I ever saw; right after a DBZ marathon. Ok, now I feel better about my thoughts on those two films.

Herch said...

Glad you liked my thoughts. Wow, Perfect Blue as your second foray into the world of anime. Talk about jumping into the deep end head first without a life preserver.