Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Movie List 2013: 51 - 65

The continuing list of all the movies I've watched this year.

There is some occasional swearing, because I just love movies so much I can't help myself sometimes.

* = rewatched


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

 A man tries to kidnap the daughter of his former boss in an attempt to recoup the money he lost in his failed attempt to sell a kidney on the black market in order to pay for his sick sister's surgery.

Genre: Korean vengeance thriller

My friend heard I had seen Oldboy and wanted to know if I had seen the other 2 movies that apparently composed the The Vengeance Trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. I had not so she let me borrow them. Well, technically I don't think I asked to, I think she just went out to her car and then handed them to me, but that's neither here nor there.

I don't like this movie. There. I said it. All my favorite characters died for absolutely no good reason. The main character had the stupidest looking green hair, not to mention was dumb enough to try and sell a kidney to a surgeon so jittery that she couldn't even inject herself with a syringe full of narcotics.

Hey, buddy, first clue that maybe you're making a bad decision? It was right there.

Plus the film is full of bizarre things that don't make any sense! There's a scene where they show all these young guys jerking off together next door...for no reason. There's no reason to show it, unless it's purely there to make me confused and uncomfortable. In another scene there's some mentally handicapped guy is wandering around in the middle of fucking nowhere. Why?! Even the main characters are like, "What on Earth is this guy doing here? Go away! You're ruining the moment."

So yeah. I am not a fan.


Minority Report

 In a future where crimes can be seen before they've been committed and people locked up for crimes they haven't committed yet, a police officer is accused of the precrime of murdering a man he's never even heard of. He goes on the run to try and get to the bottom of this mystery and prove his innocence.

Genre: Sci-Fi Action

I can't say this is a great movie...I'm not even sure I can say it's a good movie, but it's definitely a memorable movie that has moments of greatness. And you know what? That's a compliment in my book. Most movies out there are forgettable and never even come close to greatness. I've gotta give credit to a movie that I still find myself wanting to rewatch every couple of years, good movie or not.

Let's start with the good. The movie has a number of interesting visuals and ideas. The pool of precogs (the three psychics who see the crimes before they happen)? Very interesting. The idea of precrime and the consequences of locking people up for something they haven't done? Intriguing. The philosophical ideas of free will? Thought provoking. Plus there's some really interesting visual moments (there's one scene where these little spider robots are after the cop that especially sticks with me).

But then there's this whole thing where they try to make it seem super futuristic with weird cars, and jet packs, and HORRIFYING new forms of advertising (the day ads scan my retinas and use my name is the day I go to live in the woods and/or start blowing shit up). The film is over 2 hours long and it really didn't need to be. The story is just needlessly padded out with chases and fights and scenes where they just want to show how cool and futuristic everything is.

So yeah. I'm a little hard on it, but that's only because there are some genuine moments of intrigue and fear in this movie and you can't help but to be a little disappointed that the rest of the movie couldn't live up to those moments. But they are there. While I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see this thing, I still think it has worth.


Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

A woman is coerced into pleading guilty for a crime she didn't commit in order to save her daughter. However, once she gets out she begins to execute an elaborate plan of revenge.

Genre: Korean vengeance thriller

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I watched this one in spite of my feelings for the other one. I feel socially obligated to watch things that people lend me. But luckily for me this one was much better than the others. I'd say this is my favorite of the 3, actually. Which, I suppose doesn't sound all that impressive considering I just ripped into Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but I did enjoy Oldboy. So there.

Lady Vengeance was definitely enjoyable, but wasn't without its problems. The whole thing kind of seemed like Kill Bill except without the same consistency of vision. Kill Bill had a full narrative and the arcs of the story flowed from one into the other. Lady Vengeance, however, seemed to have a story it wanted to tell, but it kept skipping from point to point and it made the narrative rather jagged.

Ugh. I actually really liked a lot of this movie. I really liked the main character, I liked her revenge at the end, I liked the flashback scenes to her time and exploits in prison, and the movie's visuals were all very interesting (the signature red eye shadow was an especially effective choice). My big complaint is just that this director doesn't blend jumps from one point to another. It's like he has all these moments written down on cards, but instead of leading one naturally into the next he'll just force some excuse then jump right into it.

In summary, I really liked this movie, but it has that nagging quality to it where I could have loved it. If it had just been polished a little more I could have loved it.


Away We Go

A young couple with a child on the way realize that there's nothing keeping them at their present location and decide to move to somewhere new for a fresh start. However, figuring out a place they could consider home is harder than they thought.

Genre: Drama-Comedy

I remember hearing about this one, but I ended up forgetting about it before I got a chance to see it. But lo and behold, a friend put it in my hands and told me I would like it. (This seems to be happening a lot in this list.) Anyways, she was right and I loved it.

First of all, John Kransinski does an amazing job in it. I'm glad he managed to get away from that License to Wed crap he was doing for a while. The chemistry between him and Maya Rudolph is fantastic.

Second of all, this is the second time I've seen a movie starring a pregnant Maya Rudolph (the first was A Prairie Home Companion, in case you were curious). This doesn't really pertain at all to the movie, but I found it interesting and it's my blog so there.

A lot of movies have such grand scopes and yet this one's is quite small. It's just about a couple who are trying to figure out where they want to live. The stakes aren't very high, no one's life or love is on the line; it's just a big decision in the lives of these characters and through it we're able to learn about them.

As I've mentioned before, I'm rather character-centric when it comes to stories. If I don't like any of the characters it really doesn't matter how grand the story is. So a movie like this that is entirely about charming characters is right up my alley. The fact that the movie is both funny and heartfelt, sincere and silly at the same time just makes it even better.


Jurassic Park
[in 3D]

An amusement park featuring living dinosaur clones goes horribly awry.

Genre: Dino-action!

The very first time I saw this movie my family was late and so we missed the very first scene where they're putting the raptors in the pen. We came in right at the bit after where the lawyer is on the raft in the jungle. Anyways, what I'm getting at here is that every time I see that opening scene now it feels like a deleted scene or something.

In other news I wasn't planning on seeing this, because despite how cool it would be to see Jurassic Park on the big screen, 3D is stupid. But as I told my sister, "When a beautiful woman asks if you want to see Jurassic Park with her, you go." And for the record seeing it with a lovely lady heightens the experience much more than seeing it in 3D does. The 3D, like usual, was more distracting/forgettable than it was beneficial.

But who cares about ridiculous 3D and those horrible glasses that you have to wear on top of your normal glasses...well obviously I do, but it's Jurassic Park!

I love this movie. I kind of hate that one little kid in it, but I love the movie. It holds up so well over the years. In no small part because of the practical effects used in the film. It still looks awesome because it was made with real awesome looking things! Except for the parts that are so obviously computers, but there really aren't that many of those scenes. Plus that kid gets beat up, nearly eaten, even more nearly crushed, and severely shocked with electricity. You gotta love a movie that will do all that to the annoying kid character.

But maybe you haven't seen this movie?! What can I say to you to convince you to see this movie? It has Samuel L. Jackson in it playing a badass computer engineer guy. There's a scene where they show a giant pile of dino poop. Jeff Goldblum is in it and he's at his Goldblumy best. The science on display in the movie is so ridiculous it's kind of hilarious. There's freaking dinosaurs in it! Sure they keep referring to a dinosaur that is clearly a Deinonychus as a Velociraptor, but who cares! DINOSAURS! What part of that aren't you understanding? Dinosaurs, Sam Jackson, Jeff Goldblum...why aren't you watching this already?


13 Going on 30

A 13 year-old girl wishes that she was 30 and awakens to find herself in the body and life of her 30 year-old self. However, even though she finds she has the life she always wanted, she also learns that getting what she thought she always wanted has come with consequences.

Genre: Cute Romantic Comedy

No shame, this movie just makes me happy. It's cute and fun and it has a happy ending and think what you will of me!


The Great Gatsby

A wannabe novelist turned stockbroker moves to New York and discovers he lives next to one of the city's most enigmatic figures: the mysterious Mr. Gatsby. Soon enough he finds himself entangled in the many mysteries and love affairs that surround this unusual man.

Genre: Modern adaptation of a literary classic

I went into this one expecting to not like it at all. The trailer seemed to show it as strangely futuristic, which I didn't care for. But after seeing it I'm actually quite impressed with what they created. The story is set around the roaring 20s, where people were throwing their money around in extravagant ways, but if you set your movie purely in that time period it simply becomes a period piece. However, if you incorporate a modern sense of opulence into the period of your subject matter (like this movie did), the story immediately becomes that much more accessible to a modern audience. Really, it was a brilliant choice.

I can't see the movie without thinking of the book, so I have to take a moment to discuss the work as an adaptation. Overall it follows the book pretty much exactly. I mean, sure they make Nick into a wannabe novelist which he wasn't, and they try to give him some personality, but it just makes him all the more dull. However, the one big issue I have with the movie is that they nailed down all the metaphor and ambiguities of the novel. What is left as mystery and suspicion in the book is carved into a stone tablet in the movie.

For example in the book there's a scene wherein at one of Gatsby's parties Nick and Jordan come across the library. Inside there's a drunk old man who seems to be amazed that all the books are real. In the movie the same scene exists, but this time the man flat out says that he's amazed all the books are real because everything about Gatsby is a disguise, and the fact that the books aren't just decoys goes to show how deep the disguise goes. So yeah, they really spell everything out for you.

Personally I prefer the novel's wonderful use of metaphor and mystery as it pulls you into the story as you try to piece together the truth yourself. The movie just seems extremely heavy-handed in comparison. However, I also feel that this movie is probably the greatest adaptation you could wish for from a book like this. It really does a great job at bringing these characters to life and the soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission.



Two kids desperately try to protect each other from the evil forces of mobsters, business men, gangs, and supernatural hitmen.

Genre: Animated Japanese Masterpiece

Every time I see this movie I love it a little bit more. The story is so deep and metaphoric and it's just beautiful. The animation works so well with the story and allows them to depict things that reality just couldn't handle.

I have an extremely hard time trying to explain this movie to people, because it is so far outside the realm of the usual. People want to know what the plot is, but in something like this the plot is secondary. It's not about what happens so much as how it happens and why it happens. It's about darkness and light. About how they both work together and what happens when you embrace darkness too fully. It's about friendship and love and being there to support someone you care about. About how we need those people we love to keep us in balance and to tip us back when we start to lean too far one way or the other.

Really I can't recommend this movie enough. It's brilliant and lovely and odd and fascinating and I just can't say enough nice things about it.

Fun fact: "Tekkonkinkreet" is a child's way of mispronouncing the word Tekkin Konkurito, which is Japanese for reinforced concrete.


Ping Pong

Two friends who have played Ping Pong with each other since they were kids try to find a way to inspire one another while maintaining their friendship.

Genre: Japanese sports but-not-really-about-sports movie

Anytime I try and tell someone about this movie the person will inevitably go, "Wait? That stupid movie with Christopher Walken?" And I have to go, "NO! Not Balls of Fury! PING PONG! It's Japanese and it's amazing!"

I would go as far as to say that this is my favorite sports movie. Which is ridiculous because it's about ping pong, but the fact that it's based around something as silly as ping pong just makes it that much more appealing. It gives an air of humor and light-heartedness to the movie that is kind of super charming.

It is a movie about ping pong and players who want to be the best and overcome adversity and all that shit you expect from a Sports movie, but it is so much more. At its heart Ping Pong is a movie about friendship. About those people in our lives who come in when we're feeling down and pick us up, who give us hope. How sometimes even our heroes fall, and then we're the ones who have to save them.

Fun Fact: The main characters names are Hoshino and Tsukimoto. In Japanese Hoshi means Sun and Tsuki means Moon. The metaphor gets lost in the translation so I figured I'd mention it.



A 13 year-old kid wishes that he could be big on a carnival's Fortune Teller game. However, his wish comes true and now he's stuck in the body of an adult until he can find a way to reverse it.

Genre: Dark family comedy

13 Going on 30 and Big in the same list? Yes, yes, I'm aware. What can I say? I saw the one and it reminded me of the other. Plus I hadn't seen this movie in years so I figured I should correct that.

I think I watched the extended edition, but it's been so long that I can't remember what was extended and what was always there. I definitely didn't remember the kid going all the way with his coworker love interest lady. Because DAMN...that's kind of fucked up in a Big way.

(see what I did there?)

Despite the obvious creepiness inherent in this movie, I've got to give it credit for taking the dark path through this story. 13 Going on 30 takes the light-hearted path. For instance, by putting her into the future it skips over all sorts of dark aspects of Big. I mean in Big his mom thinks he's been kidnapped! She thinks her son has been kidnapped and she's separated from him for months and is out of her mind with worry. Even when he's having fun with his friend and dancing on the keyboard, the idea of the traumatized mom is still there in the back of your head.

I really do think it's dreadfully interesting to compare these two movies side by side. They take the same idea but go after it in completely different ways. While 13 Going on 30 is about how your choices can affect your future and how you should care about the people who care about you, Big is about how we can't have everything and that you have to deal with some shit if you want to be happy.

But yeah, I love this movie. I can relate to that depiction of being a kid trapped in an adult world. Heck, I think we can all relate to that, don't you?


A Mighty Wind

A legendary folk-music producer dies and his family tries to reassemble all his greatest bands in order to put on a tribute concert.

Genre: Mockumentary

My best friend's family turned me on to mockumentaries and I've had a soft spot for them ever since. There is just something about them that is just so goshdarned TRUE. I realize that they're satire and they're poking fun at reality with exaggerated situations and characters, but while doing so they end up much closer to real life than most dramas. People are ridiculous and weird and movies like this do an excellent job at pointing that out.

Anyways, I wouldn't say that A Mighty Wind is a particular favorite of mine in the genre, but it's still a lot of fun. The songs are much better than they have any right to be. The thing holding it back is probably just that there really isn't much a plot per se. It's just about a tribute concert. There's not really any high stakes or drama. Something like Best in Show was about a competition so it had natural drama to it, while a movie like This is Spinal Tap went to a lot of different locations to gave its characters new situations to interact with. A Mighty Wind really doesn't feature all that many locations and there's no mystery, or competition, or anything of that sort. It's just an exploration of some humorous oddballs and some music. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just saying it's a low key movie so don't go in expecting to be Thrilled or whatever.


Midnight in Paris

While vacationing in Paris with his fiancee a screenwriter turned novelist happens upon a way to travel into 20s era Paris and talk with all the legendary artists who live there. While these visits prove to be just what his novel needed, they begin to play havoc on his relationship with his fiancee.

Genre: "Arty" comedy

I watched this one again entirely because I saw The Great Gatsby and it made me want to see this movie's depiction of the Fitzgeralds.

I know a couple of people who really love this movie, but I don't really see what it is they're seeing. For me its depiction of 20's era artists is the only real strong point to the movie. I don't really care about the main characters at all and the plot isn't really about anything.

Plus it features one of my story pet peeves which is characters that are given terrible relationships just so you can feel better about them cheating on them on finding someone better. I don't care if you're engaged to some lady who you don't get along with at all for some inexplicable reason. That doesn't make it okay to cheat on her. If you don't want to be with her break it the fuck off. Come on! Not. Cool.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer

A high school cheerleader is told that she is the reincarnation of a force known as The Slayer and that it's up to her to kill vampires or die trying. She is less than pleased at this news.

Genre: Campy Comedy Horror

For some reason I can never remember Donald Sutherland's name. As my sister can well attest, anytime I need to reference him I'll refer to him as "that guy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And bless my sister's heart, she knows exactly who I'm talking about. I think a lot of people would think Luke Perry...or possibly David Arquette. But obviously I'm talking about Donald Sutherland!

Anyways, what a great movie! It's campy and funny and surprisingly heartfelt. It's the kind of early 90s movie you can watch a million times and never get sick of.


The Faculty

A motley collection of misfit students begin to suspect their teachers are infecting everyone in town with a horrible body-snatching parasite and they join together to try and save their town (and the world) from this parasitic scourge.

Genre: Horror attempt

Right off the top can I just say that this movie obviously saw John Carpenter's The Thing? I mean, the tentacles, the body parts moving on their own, the whole "How do we know who's human?" thing? I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, I'm just saying the impact is pretty apparent.

Anywho, I've been meaning to see this one for a long time and never quite had a good opportunity. Until now! One of the coolest movie fans I know said I could borrow any of her movies I wanted! Any of them! So obviously I'm going to take advantage of this gift...to watch movies like The Faculty...

That probably says something unfortunate about me, doesn't it? Or something awesome? Let's pretend awesome.

This movie is delightfully odd. For one thing it's got a truly bizarre and extensive cast of stars. This must have been before most of these people got real famous, because damn. The movie is just chalk full of famous faces. I'm not even going to tell you who's in this thing. There's too many people to name. A lot of them I can't even name, I've just seen them in all sorts of memorable roles in other places. It's wonderful.

Ugh! I'm having a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to describe this movie. It's either pretty good or so ridiculously bad that it's thoroughly enjoyable. I haven't quite made up my mind. All I know is that I had a blast watching it. It's just so much fun. I kind of want to watch it again in fact.

My one significant complaint is the ending. I am not a fan of the ending. It is way, way too happy-go-lucky. People who should have been died weren't and one character hooks up with the total bitch character, even though she's a total bitch and is only with him because he's famous now. And now that doofus is probably going to turn into a douche himself and that's depressing. I realize it's supposed to be a happy ending because he fancied her, but it still bums me out. The movie is still awesome though and that minor complaint is really the only one I have.

You know, sometimes I really want to tag team a movie review as I know people who would have much more interesting things to say than I would. Unfortunately for me they choose to use their time for things other than talking about movies they've seen...I can't say I blame them for their practical thinking, but still! Let's be quietly annoyed with them anyways, because now we all have to settle for me.



A brother and sister survive a werewolf attack, but find themselves slowly changing into werewolves themselves. Now they must survive continued attacks on their lives while also finding a way to free themselves from the curse.

Genre: Horrorish?

This was on the same DVD collection as The Faculty and I figured, "Hey, why not give some of these other movies a watch."

Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci star in this movie! What? I was not expecting that from a weird werewolf movie on a strange horror movie collection dvd.

I don't even know what to say about this movie. I will, however, start by saying that Eisenberg's hair post-infection is RIDICULOUS. It is the silliest looking thing I've ever seen. It is incredibly distracting. I couldn't take any scene with that hair in it seriously.

Also Eisenberg uses a butt double in one scene. Which is lame. If we're not watching movies to see movie star butts then I don't know why we're watching movies at all. Obviously I'm being hyperbolic, but if they won't show us their butt then can you really expect them to show us their true talent? Think about it.

As for the movie itself? Well, it's not good. It's silly and dumb and I had no small amount of fun watching it, but I won't do you the disservice of telling you that it's a brilliant movie, because it's not. The plot is extremely shallow, the characters terribly stereotypical, the werewolf looks like a mutated ape, the villain fairly obvious, and the movie is extremely heavy-handed about reminding you at every possible chance that it's a werewolf movie: it starts off with a song about little red riding hood, there's a wolf cuckoo clock in the siblings' home, the wolf mauls a girl in a cat costume, there's a Wolf Man statue in the background of a main set in a club that they do everything but draw a big circle around it to point out to you, and more! "Have you forgotten that this movie is about werewolves? Please don't!"

But whatever! It's fun. There's a part where a werewolf gives the middle finger! Say what!? You can't hate a movie like that, can you?

1 comment:

  1. Damn, I have a lot of commentary for you so strap in!

    The scary-as-shit advertising in Minority Report seems like it's on a fast track to becoming reality. There are apparently billboards now with cameras that scan the faces of pedestrians and change the ad to something geared towards that person's demographic/sex/age, etc. Spooky.

    Your Jurassic Park review made me want to rewatch Dan Telfer's "The Best Dinosaur" bit.

    Knowing (and for the most part, appreciating) Baz Luhrmann's film style, I never doubted he would do a spectacular job recreating the roaring 20's, with emphasis on the ROARING, but subtlety is definitely not his game. I haven't seen the film yet though, and don't really plan on it since the book wasn't a huge favorite of mine. *shrug*

    The Faculty. Man, I don't why I remember that movie so fondly. No, I lied, I know exactly why. The relationship between the smart dealer kid and the geeky shy teacher (insanely hot Famke Jansen, hey heeeeeey!) trying to get through to him was touching to me. Yep, I said it. I was totally rooting for the inappropriate affection between teacher and student. I'm incorrigible.
    I never saw the Thing parallels until you mentioned it, and now that you have I feel silly. Maybe I was thrown off by the fact that Thing is scary as shit while Faculty is only vaguely scary in a morbidly thrilling kind of way. Seeing Famke Jansen's head crawl across the ground to get back to her body is awesome. Never gets old.

    This entry made me laugh hard multiple times, thank you for that Jesse. Never stop.