Scud at the Movies: Part I

I have not been going out for the past three weekends as part of my “save money” campaign except to go to church and do my bi-monthly grocery shopping. Instead, I stayed at home and watched more than half a dozen movies.

I watched the not-so-funny comedy I Now Pronouce You Chuck and Larry.I don’t know why but I just don’t dig the type of comedies that the likes of Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey churn out. When I think about it, the movies that I liked from these actors were not of the comedy genre. The Wedding Singer and Punch-Drunk Love comes to mind for Sandler and The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Another comedy that I’m not a big fan of was Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This earned rave reviews from American critics but I just don’t get the point of the whole movie. A guy gets dumped. Wallows in self-pity. Decides to go on vacation to his ex-girlfriend’s favorite island – Hawaii. Alas, she’s also there on vacation with the guy he was dumped for. Pathetic, if I may say so. In the review I read, viewers who got dumped would relate to the embarassing situations the dumped gets into. C’mon! He’s a freaking idiot. Avoid this movie like the plague.

I also watched the male-version of My Best Friend’s Wedding. This time Patrick Dempsey reprises Julia Roberts’ role in Made of Honor. The ROberts starrer is far better although credit to its director for choosing Dashboard Confessional’s Stolen as part of its soundtrack.

Then there was Rambo 4. I remember that the first (or was it second?) installment of this tired series was the first movie I watched on the big screen. I remember mama telling me that the screen would be like a giant television with no commercials. That was my initial foray into movies at the cinemas although, I would like to believe, that my tastes have vastly improved over the years. haha.

Paprika, an animated version from Japan, has stunning visuals but confusing story. People who have problems can get cured through their dreams. Something goes awry and suddenly dreams and reality mesh. You guys should watch this movie when you’re in the mood to analyze this animation’s storyline. I watched this to get entertained but sadly I wasn’t.

Stop-Loss, the second feature from Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), is about a US soldier who fights in Iraq. His “contract” with the US army completed, he looks forward to live a normal life away from the chaos that IS the Iraq war. But then he gets stop-lossed, meaning he is re-enlisted and must fight again in Iraq no questions asked. The soldier (Ryan Philippe) decides to fight the system.

Fracture, pits the talents of Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling. This is an entertaining movie but not in the whodunnit category. On the get go, we know that Hopkins is the murderer. The whole movie is simply about how Gosling proves that Hopkins is guilty. Watch this movie for Gosling, who I think is the Edward Norton of his (or our?) generation.

I was more entertained by the Spanish (or is it Mexican?) ghost movie The Orphanage. This is one terrific ghost movie in the league of The Sixth Sense and The Others. Recent Filipino ghost movies that I would recommend are Sigaw (a US remake (The Echo) has been completed and last I heard it got pretty decent reviews when it premiered in some festival somewhere in Canada) and Feng Shui.

Sex and the City is surprisingly quite different from the tv show. The movie is more melancholic and introspective but that doesn’t make this a lesser version of the tv show because it’s not. The sex is still there, although my officemate who watched this in the big screen and on dvd says the sex scenes were spliced from the theatrical version, plus a humping dog and sushi. Charlotte’s “I curse the day you were born!” line was also a hoot.

Another introspective movie is Iran’s Taste of Cherry. This is about a forelorn middle-aged man who looks for a man who would aid him in his attempt to commit suicide. This film won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival. Terrific performance from its lead star.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This film is not about the exploits of the infamous Jesse James nor is it about how Robert Ford planned to kill Jesse James. This is more about a man, played brilliantly by Casie Affleck, hoping for stardom resulting from a single act of heroism and falls short of his goal. This is an amazing 2.5-hr long film. The actors who played the titular characters didn’t disappoint. Brad Pitt won the Best Actor award at last year’s Venice Film Festival and Casey Affleck won himself a Supporting ACtor Oscar nomination. The cinematography is superb. At times the photography seems to caress the screen reminiscent of Terrence Mallick’s The Thin Red Line.

Another film based on a true story that I watched was Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday. This is about a peaceful rally that became a bloody massacre of innocent civilians and how the perpetrators of the murder got away with it and even get a citation from the Queen of England. That gives a morbid twist to “Nt all good deeds go unpunished”.

I’ve been reading a lot abouy how great Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy is so I took the chance and grabbed myself a DVD copy while hunting hopelessly for a copy of 400 Blows. The reviews weren’t wrong. This is a great movie from del Toro after getting blown away by his Oscar-nominated masteriece Pan’s Labyrinth. Hellboy is now included in my favorite comic book film adaptations together with The Dark Knight, Spiderman2, and XMen2.

Sony Picture’s attempt in film animation, Open Season, is a disappointment. They still have a long way to go to top Disney, Pixar or Dreamwork’s animation output like Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Shrek, and Toy Story among others.

Children of Heaven is a story about a 9-year-old boy who loses his younger sister’s school shoes. The siblings decide to keep the lost shoe a secret and share the boy’s tattered sneakers. The sister goes to school in the morning. Immediately after class, she runs home and exchanges shoes with her brother in an alley. Then, an inter-school sprint contest is held and a pair of sneakers is part of the prize, for third place. The boy joins the contest and the film’s terrific ending may not be what the viewer’s expect but it is a fitting ending to a bleak but uplifting movie.

The last movie I watched was the Canadian indie, Young People Fucking, which was shown in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. The story revolves around the sex lives of: a couple on a first date, two exes who still aren’t over their romance, a pair of friends who decide to get their rocks off with no string attached, a couple struggling to revive their bedroom life, and an almost threesome among two flatmates and a girlfriend. This is a hilarious and surprisingly poignant movie. Don’t expect porn-type sex scenes from this movie because there’s none.

Scud Recommends: The Orphanage, Sex and the City, Taste of Cherry, Children of Heaven, Hellboy, Bloody Sunday, The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert ford, Young People Fucking,
Next on my list – The 400 Blows (many thanks to my friend J who dl a copy for me), The Fly, Donnie Darko, I’m Not There.

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