Sunday, July 5, 2009

Varying Degrees of Tastiness

After viewing some of what's out there in Summer Movies during the past week, I feel the need to mention what actually worth consuming, IMO:

I'd Spit It Back, If I Could

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - this has to be my most despised movie of the summer (so far). Having sat through the first movie two years ago with my son, and being too old for this Hasbro toy line to really care, it was just okay (in that Michael Bay, actiony kinda of way). However, that first movie now seems like classic cinema compared to this monstrosity (I'm actually checking for signs of the Apocalypse since it's making money hand over fist). Where do we begin? Loud, long, chaotic, offensive (especially for the adults taking their kids to this for the inappropriate language and its promotion of the worst of racial stereotypes for two new autobot characters), and for having Steven Spielberg totaling forgetting his responsibilities as an Executive Producer to deliver something he could be proud of and have his name associated with it. And I really hate it that my son absolutely loved this--where did I go wrong as a parent!!!

Tasteless: As In It Has Almost No Flavor

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - I'm beginning to think if it has a colon anywhere in the title, you should be suspicious. Ever since Pixar began its long line of quality animation films, others have tried to get in on the genre with movies of their own. 20th Century Fox has to be third in line (behind Dreamworks) in regards to what they put out. The first Ice Age was cute, not great (I mean, who could have imagined Dennis Leary doing safe voice work in a kid's movie). But, its subsequent sequels have been going down in quality and concept. I'm with critic A.O. Scott on this one:
But the idea that a hot, verdant land, populated by giant lizards and carnivorous plants, might have lain hidden beneath the glacial, prehistoric ice — I’m sorry, but that’s just idiotic.
It has its moments, namely anytime the swashbuckling Buck is on screen (voiced by Simon Pegg), but it definitely is not worth getting excited over.


The Proposal - right up front, I'm a Sandra Bullock fan. Most of the time, her smart and sexy persona and timing in a romantic comedy are impecable. And here, she returns to what she does best. I'll just point you over to Pop Culture Nerd's review of it since she's already said it, and said it well. I'll just add that the wife of Jesse James is mighty impressive in an hysterical nude scene in this film, and worth seeing just for that alone.

The Hurt Locker - Kathyn Bigelow always makes the most interesting of action films (whether they are great or not, they are never boring). From Near Dark to Point Break to K19, The Widowmaker, the woman is a hell of a director. And this one is one hell of a film. Intense, gut twisting suspenseful, and evocative--THL is memorable. I think it is likely to go down as the first film of the Iraqi War that's worth experiencing. But, I warn you now. The director makes use of hand held camera techniques in the film, and its inherent motion. Not since Peter Berg's The Kingdom have I gotten motion sick like I did with this one. Now if someone could only have her teach Michael Bay how its done, the nausea would be worth it.


Public Enemies - out of this partial list of Summer Movies, this film was it for me. Michael Mann is a master of the crime genre, and he breaks new digital ground here with his film centered upon John Dillinger and the rise of Hoover's FBI. Johnny Depp gives a subtle but great performance as the Depression-era outlaw. But, this is still Mann's film and he details with his usual care an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. And though past gangster crime films have been the territory of B pictures, this is one A level film. I can't say it better than L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan does:
"Public Enemies' " title, though taken from Bryan Burrough’s history of Depression era crime, offers uncanny -- and deceptive -- echoes of one of the iconic gangster films of the period, William Wellman's "The Public Enemy," which starred an incandescent James Cagney as a hooligan so hard-boiled he shocked American by squeezing a grapefruit into girlfriend Mae Clarke's face.

But if Cagney is all exuberant, anarchic energy, Johnny Depp’s Dillinger is just the opposite. There is a formal, almost existential quality about his fatalistic portrayal of the scourge of the Midwest, more "Le Samourai" than "White Heat," more Alain Delon cool than Cagney hot.
Something tells me that I'll be adding another Mann film to annual viewing list...

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  1. Wow, you've been seeing some movies! You deserve a medal for sitting through Revenge of the Fallen. No one could pay me to do that. Well, maybe if they gave me $2000. That should cover medical bills to treat destroyed brain cells and bleeding eardrums afterwards.

    I'd really like to see Hurt Locker but am ultra sensitive to Shaky Camera Syndrome. Was stricken by severe nausea during Blair Witch Project and couldn't finish it. The Bourne Supremacy also made me sick. I wonder if some Dramamine would help.

    I still have to see Public Enemies and am glad to hear you liked it.

    Thanks for the reviews and link to my Proposal post.

  2. I've always been susceptible to motion sickness since childhood. Dramamine always makes me sleepy, though. I recommend Meclizine (AKA non-drowsy Dramamine and Bonine). But get the generic versions sold at Horton & Converse, Walmart, etc., instead. Cheaper and they come in the smaller 12.5mg tablet. Take a tab an hour or two before the movie and you should be able to get through it.

    I keep hearing from others that Ginger pills are also good for this. HTH

    Thanks for your comment, PCN.

  3. You've already been through more movies this month than I've attended all year.

    I have a friend who gets the motion sickness not only from hand-held camera work, but anytime the scene is a long flyover shot (like the beginning of The Big Easy). I'll have to mention the ginger pills.

  4. It's just that time of year for the kids and me. Luckily, we have an understanding mom/spouse ;-). Thanks, Corey.

  5. Ooh, thanks for the tip about ginger pills. The movie had better be worth it if I have to go to the trouble of sucking down pills just to see it!

    Must also admit to nervousness about war movies. As Mama says, "We lived it. Why watch it?"