Tuesday, August 03, 2010

unpause

easing back into the regular rhythm of life, slowly but surely.

i thought i'd resume blogging with some film reviews and do a major catch-up later this week when i've had time to sort through my thoughts and feelings a bit more to be able to do them justice.

on saturday night my family saw "dinner for schmucks" - it was TERRIBLE. long, boring, and very, very unfunny. the problem with the film (other than that it's SUPPOSED to be a comedy and isn't by a long shot) is that the farcical elements aren't really dumb ENOUGH and are anchored by this very "serious", non-farcical storyline around paul rudd's character and his gf - it turns into this increasingly implausible comedy of errors regarding their relationship, but the serious turn takes you out of the comedy, and both narratives end up suffering. unlike movies like "airplane!" or "naked gun" or "major league" which are out-and-out slapstick, stupidly funny farces, this one was always stumbling with these serious interludes and a pretty bad case of mis-casting. paul rudd wasn't allowed to be funny, and i'm pretty tired of zach galifianakis' schtick, which i don't find very amusing, generally. steve carrell's lovable idiot wasn't a fully-fleshed out character so the audience's credulity is stretched without the pay-off of the big laughs that you get in some of the other comedies mentioned above. the short of it is: DON'T GO.

the dotytron and i saw "inception" on sunday night. overall, i think the mixed reviews are deserved. people have been so hopped up in anticipation of this film, which is admittedly good, but is also standing uncontested in what has been a very lacklustre 2010 for movies so far. i think critics and audiences were really hungry for SOMETHING decent at the cineplex, and christopher nolan has that kind of "thinking man's blockbuster" appeal that provides succor to people numbed out by the summer blockbuster afterbirth that the writer's strike spawned.

this is a good movie, but not great. conceptually, it is interesting, my major complaint is that it's not interesting ENOUGH. i personally didn't find it as complicated as so many people have been claiming, it's not that crazy a mind f**k - it's basically just a few layers of the same thing. i agree with critics who found that ellen page's clunky expository dialogue to be a bit laboured and forced, she might as well have broken the fourth wall and addressed the audience directly. my principal issues with the film is the failure of the imagination - these are the most mundane, plodding "dreams" that i've ever encountered. as we left the theatre, the dotytron wondered aloud what slavoj zizek would think (he's a theorist that writes on film and does a lot with psychoanalytic stuff - his comments on "the children of men" dvd extras are quite prescient in my opinion) about "inception" and i guessed that he wouldn't have much to say at all - the subconscious is so banal, so dreary, so mechanical in "inception."

i found it a little too easy for cobb's team to plant the idea, playing on the very linear psychology of cillian murphy's character. i thought that the character named "mal" would have been a LOT more malevolent and that the big reveal of her motivations and her role in cobb's life ended up being quite reductive and unnuanced. people weren't tortured ENOUGH given the set-up of the film. when i think back to movies like "jacob's ladder" or "being john malkovich" i feel like the depiction of the subconscious there and the tricks the mind can play on you spoke more to the untold mysteries of our deepest, darkest, psychological depths. the world created by cobb and mal in their "limbo" was terrible! really? you spend a lifetime with your love in a world of your own making and what you come up with is a generic midwestern u.s. metropolis with some childhood relics thrown in?!? c'mon!

if you think back to your own dreams and how fantastical and nonsensical they can be, it makes the dreamscapes depicted by nolan to be quite utilitarian which is at odds with the way the film labours to set up this top-notch caper-y team of experts. ariadne's (again, the portentous naming of the characters belies their relatively nondescript personalities) set designs never approach the fantastical mystery hinted at with the mc escher staircase or the maze which she teases the audience with only to swap out a nondescript hotel and james bond stock alps bunker. the movie lacked an emotional depth and creativity, once you get beyond the initial concept.

i can't say that i wasn't engrossed - the film kept me captivated, i just think that nolan is ultimately more mathematical, puzzle-brain guy as opposed to creative guy - there was a lot more opportunity for dazzle in that film and it was under-realized.

we saw some abysmal trailers. the new ben affleck boston-ode "the town" was SPOILED by a trailer that gave away far, far too much. why would you do that?!? dear hollywood: GIVE THE AUDIENCE SOME CREDIT!


the new david fincher movie looks kind of boring, imo. guess who doesn't care about the rise of mark zuckerberg and the creation of facebook? THIS GUY *points thumbs at self* i'll probably see it because it's ALREADY generating oscar buzz but i don't have high hopes. the trailer gives it all away and tries to make it seem all serious-o and like, HEAVY when it's really about a bunch of privileged harvard barbershop quartet dudes (for some reason, i'm CONVINCED that all guys do in harvard is join weird barbershop quartets and do other stupidly east coast male-bonding things like that) making a website. i mean, it's cool that facebook is so widely used and whatnot and blah blah blah social networking blah blah, but like, toothbrushes and toilet paper are also equally as ubiquitous and i don't really need to see a super dramatic movie made about the inventors of those two items. also: children's choir, much?!???!!! so so so lame! pop music use of children's choirs takes all the intrinsic heart-warming qualities of children's choirs and decimates them.

this trailer is also balls. i haven't seen the original "wall street" (film club?!???!!) but this one looks awful, just awful, and so antiquated. i'm not really a fan of carey mulligan - she seems a little droopy dog - i call it over-steamed dumpling face. and the story and everything just looks so dullsville. the theatrical trailer we saw had the rolling stones' "sympathy for the devil" playing over it and that STILL wasn't enough to make you want to see it.

we're intrigued by "tron: legacy" if only because we think that seeing it in imax 3D will be like watching a really long daft punk video with excellent sound and 9 years with the dotytron has taught me nothing if not appreciating dynamic range and sound engineering as an element of the film going experience. one of the best moments in "inception" was that i could see the dotytron staying for the credits and i knew it was because he wanted to find out who had scored the film. i guess hans zimmer and he disagreed (the low brass was a bit of a decoy and kind of un-zimmer-esque, overall) but i was right! i love being right!

the next day i failed to correctly identify john coltrane in some video footage.

and so the eternal balance of life continues.


fin.

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