Friday, January 15, 2010

catching up on movies (continued)

ok. Movie 6 down, now on to 7-9.

Movie 7:
Sunshine Cleaning

Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about this. I sort of enjoyed it, but it's a relatively depressing dramedy about a family coping with past losses and trying to figure out a way to grow in the future. I was much more impressed with Amy Adams in this than I was with her performance in Julie & Julia. The movie also doesn't paint Albuquerque in any sort of a flattering light that would make me want to move there. The Detroit for Austin scenes in Whip It made Austin seem more appealing than the ABQ for ABQ scenes in this film. This is another example of one of those arthouse films that has a deceptive trailer. I went in expecting one thing and was left at least moderately underwhelmed.

Movie 8:
The Book of Eli

Our third Albuquerque/New Mexico movie of the evening. In an inverse of the previous movies great trailer/less great movie. The marketing for this had completely underwhelmed me but I was happy to be proven completely wrong. The Book of Eli has flaws but it's one of those films that just seemed to be firing on almost every cylinder. Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington are wonderful foils. There are great supporting performances from Ray Stephenson and Tom Waits. There's a very specific attempt to shoot the action in a way that is anti-Bourne... showing the kinetic choreography of how the fight flows. Small win piles up on top of small win.

There are areas that bothered me. Some of the cinematography choices seemed to exist in the realm of "We only make a movie every few years so we should try and use every trick we can while we can". Also, there were a few areas that had really old fashioned dissolves. It took me out of the story for a moment.

I never expected going into this that this had more to do with Lone Wolf & Cub or Zatoichi than it did with the Road Warrior and it was a pleasant surprise. I think I might need to see it again just to watch all of the pieces fall into place now that I've seen the story once. It's a rich enough movie that I think it'll be a rewarding revisit.

Movie 9:
A Boy and His Dog

Finally, a movie not shot in New Mexico. Actually. Wait. Let me check. Ok. Good. California. phew.

During the q&a portion of last nights Book of Eli screening Harry and the Hughes brothers talked a bit about this film. They're both apocalyptic quest movies. In Eli, the lead character is on a quest from God to deliver a Bible 'West'. In Dog, the Boy is just on a quest with his telepathic dog to find women for recreational sex. Both movies feature the character having a run in with a small bit of post apocalyptic civilization and both movies feature some sort of female sidekick... but Dog features seventies country soundtrack music and an acerbic telepathic dog. I'm not sure what I was expecting when Harry suggested that everyone of the 50% of the audience that raised there hands when asked if they hadn't seen the film watch it, but I know this film was odder than my expectations.

If you're an apocalyptic film completist or a Harlan Ellison junkie, check it out. Others probably don't need to apply.

Now that I've seen this, I should make a weekend of it and check off a couple of the other low-budget post-apocalyptic movies I haven't seen... particularly Luc Besson's directorial debut 'The Last Battle'.

Phew. caught up. more tomorrow?


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