Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie List 2012: September

* = rewatched



A young girl's baby brother is kidnapped by the Goblin King. Now she must navigate her way through a labyrinth in order to rescue him.

Genre: 80's lovechild of David Bowie and Jim Henson.

You know what? I never noticed this movie's prominent featuring of David Bowie's package until a few years ago when this video pointed it out. Now that it's been pointed out to me, however, I can't help but notice. And now that I've mentioned it to you, you won't be able to either.

Good luck with that.

Anyways, I have some mixed feelings about this movie. It doesn't work on most of the levels I'm usually looking for in stories. The characters are all rather cut-and-dry, the plot is extremely simple, and you know what, I'm just gonna say it: the songs are weirdnot bad, mind you, just really bizarrely inserted into scenes.

And by all rights I shouldn't like it. But dammit if Jim Henson wasn't one superbly creative genius. The plot only has 4 beats (Kidnapped, Labyrinth Tasks, Rescue Scene, Happily Ever After), and the Tasks one dominates the vast majority. Yet somehow Henson creates such imaginative and memorable visuals that the plot of "Overcome puzzles" becomes interesting to watch.

I might knock it around a bit, but it is a classic. And like any true classic you just can't quite put my finger on what it is that makes it that way. It really is memorable and quite fun and if you haven't seen it I think it's definitely worth a watch.

Batman Mask of the Phantasm

A masked killer is murdering members of crime syndicates, but will Batman let an old flame distract him from solving the case?

Genre: Animated TV show brought to big screen

I've always heard such good things about this movie and yet had never gotten around to watching it. But recently I was reading a bunch of Batman comics and finally found myself in the mood to see what it was all about. And you know what?


My goodness, I predicted the identity of the Phantasm so fast it wasn't even funny. I really don't get what the fuss over this movie is. It's basically just an extended episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Now, Batman: The Animated Series was a brilliant show, but it was a television show and this is a movie. Correction: This is a movie done in the exact style of a television show.

I think I need a comparison. Let's use Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop was an amazing cartoon and it had a movie made after the series was done. While the movie has all the elements you loved from the show, it was a Movie. The animation was nicer than ever, the plot was bigger and the stakes were higher than normal. It really made use of the format. Batman, however, had normal TV cartoon animation, the plot was no different than a normal episode of the show, and the stakes were also no different than a typical episode. It doesn't make use of the format and if you weren't told you'd probably think it was a two-part episode of the show.

If you like the show, you'll like the movie. It isn't bad and it isn't great, but it just doesn't have the scale a full-length-released-in-theaters movie should have. There were some interesting elements wherein Batman struggles with whether or not he should continue along the path he's created, but I felt they weren't brought to fruition.

In the end this just reminds me of a watered down version of the great graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween.

Robot & Frank

Set in the near future an ex-burglar named Frank is suffering from senility is given a personal care robot to look after him. At first the Luddite Frank hates the idea, until he learns that perhaps it is the perfect tool for an old thief.

Genre: Alzheimer sci-fi buddy comedy.

This is such an unusual movie.

What's more is that it's unusual for a number of reasons. The story it's telling is much smaller than most movies you see. Not to mention  that the extremely-near-future setting is one you don't see too often; most people preferring the deep future or the present. And the fact that it's a buddy comedy that deals with a serious topic like Alzheimer's through a sci-fi heist set-up. I mean...where did this thing come from?

I'm not knocking it or anything, in fact I really enjoyed it, but I want to compare it to something and I'm a bit at a loss here. So if you're in the mood to see something really unique that's both amusing and touching, I'd highly recommend you check out this one. It's funny, it's touching, and it's quite unlike anything else.

Sleepwalk With Me

A struggling comedian's relationship stress begins manifesting itself through vivid and increasingly dangerous bouts of sleep walking.

Genre: Indie comedy

If you're familiar with the This American Life regular Mike Birbigula then you've probably already heard this story. And it's a pretty great story. One that deserves to have been told in so many mediums. In fact one of the things I love so much about this movie is that it has a voice all it's own. You can tell this was a product of love produced independently from the big studios, because a big studio would never have been able to tell a story like this properly. It was a blessing in disguise that Mike Birbigula starred and directed this movie, because it's his story to tell.

I've gotta say this was one of my favorite movies I've seen this year. It's weird and it's funny. I love all of the characters even when they're making bad decisions. It's fun, quirky, and when you're done watching it you continue to think about it because you'll have found that it really had something it say.

De Vrais Mesonges

The owner of beauty salon receives a love letter. She then sends the letter to her depressed mother in order to make her feel better about herself. However, soon everything becomes rather complicated.

Genre: French...comedy?

So I stumbled across this one while working at the library. I saw it starred Audrey Tatou and the cover featured reviews saying that it was just like Amelie. And since Amelie is my favorite movie ever, I figured this one was worth a look.

But it wasn't.

It most definitely wasn't.

It's so bad. There isn't a single character who you don't start to hate by the end. Generally I love the whole mixed-up love polygon set-up, but here it's just creepy. They make it so, so very creepy. All the characters are petty assholes who seem to lack any real empathy.

I don't even want to talk about it anymore. Just trust me: It's awful. Don't watch it.

From Dusk Till Dawn

A pair of fugitive brothers take a family hostage as they try to escape the US and get into Mexico. However, things take a turn for the worse when they stop to make a rendezvous at a trucker's bar that turns out to be a vampire feeding ground.

Genre: Over-the-top Action-Horror

You know, if ever there was a movie that was just an excuse for the crew to have fun, this is it. At first it's the story about these fugitive brothers, and then it takes up a different kind of angle with the kidnapping, and then suddenly there's vampires and things just get wild. It's kind of like the writer started out and along the way kept drinking and getting high; and so it just keeps getting exponentially wilder. As a movie I think it's a bit of a failure. The characters are all one-dimensional and the story is too mercurial to create anything even remotely meaningful. However, if you're having a drink and are in the mood for a piece of over-the-top ridiculous fun, then I'd highly recommend it.


A crime syndicate uses time travel as way to get rid of the people they want to kill. They send the victims back in time where an assassin called a Looper is waiting to kill them and dispose of the bodies. The Loopers get paid well, but as part of their contract they know that eventually they'll have to kill their future self. However, one Looper's future self gets away and starts trying to track down the head of the syndicate as a child and change the future, while his past self is out to stop him.

Genre: Time-Travel Action

I would describe this movie as being a combination of Primer and Akira. I doubt most people will be familiar with both of those, but if you are then there you go.

It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. They play around a lot more with the possible repercussions of time-travel then I originally expected.

I had a great time with this one. My one big complaint is that they alter Joseph Gordon-Levitt's face to have him resemble Bruce Willis and for the life of me I couldn't stop thinking about it. It just looked so unnatural and I could never look at the character without thinking about the alterations. I guess I can see why they did it, but I'm pretty sure a lot more people spent this movie paying attention to the alterations, then would've paid attention to the fact that Levitt doesn't quite look like Willis. I mean, there is such a thing as the suspension of disbelief. If you tell me that they're the same guy at different periods in his life I'm willing to roll with it.

It's got an interesting set-up, the acting is all very good, the action is all very good, and it is all a lot of fun. If you like science fiction and action then you'll have a blast watching it.

Mystery Team

A group of former boy detectives, clinging to the former glory of their youth, try to solve a real case in order to prove themselves.

Genre: Quirky—and moderately raunchy—comedy

Have you ever seen the tv show Community? Well, Donald Glover (the actor who plays Troy) is the star of the film as well as one of the writers. So maybe that'll give you a little sense of what the movie is like.

It's a strange little film. It's really kind of bizarre, but that also seems to make it all the funnier. It isn't perfect. For instance I feel that the make these former boy detectives too ridiculous, to the point that you start to think that they must really have some sort of mental handicap...which just makes things really creepy.

But in the end, it's another indie comedy, and the thing I love about indie movies is that they're unique. It's not another cookie-cutter Hollywood movie. It goes places and does things you won't see in most comedies and I really enjoy it because of that. The acting is really good, the plot is really goofy and fun, and as you can imagine from a comedy there's plenty of hilarious jokes. So yeah, not perfect, but far better, far more endearing, and far more memorable than your usual comedy fare.