Sunday, February 08, 2009

More Movie Reviews w/MC RoboChrist

From an e-mail from MC RoboChrist

Ok, so I've finally seen what is probably the best movie of the year. While it isn't a classic and no one will be surprised by my choice, you gotta see this move.

Gran Torino - *** 1/2 - Clint does it again, falling just short of three late-era masterpieces (Million-Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Unforgiven) with a smart movie in the minimalist style of Million-Dollar Baby. If anything, that is its main failing - it's a bit TOO simple cinematically. There are maybe a half-dozen settings, and you get little sense of the town being a Chicago suburb, rather than, say, a New York or Boston suburb. ... But that's splitting hairs. The story is filled with the surprises Clint's been giving us ever since he stopped playing some version of Dirty Harry/Blondie (fun as that was) with Unforgiven. And unlike Unforgiven, where you think you knew what's coming at the end and were right, trust me - in this one, you don't. And you'll think about that ending for hours if not days after you leave the theatre. ... The true acid test was Mrs. RoboChrist, a non-Clint fan, who declared this her favorite film of the year before I had a chance to cast judgment. ... While the story could have been message-y (old white racist living in Asian neighborhood finds redemption), Clint never stops showing this character's racism - in some of the funniest dialogue he's ever uttered - in every scene, and at every race, right up to the finish. In deciding to defend his Asian next-door neighhors against a local gang, Clint isn't looking for redemption as much as he's acting on principle. That alone makes it the smartest, if not the best, film of the year. The world is not black and white, and neither is this story. Clint's character is a bad man with a few good qualities, not a bad man who becomes good. ... Somehow, Hollywood missed this one altogether. No nominations, which I attribute more to Clint's decision to cast (other than himself as lead) a no-name cast of largely minority characters. Fuck the Academy. Go see this movie.

Rachel Getting Married - **1/2 - Decent film, with the best attribute being a smart depiction of an addict in recovery by Anne Hathaway (surprisingly good). It avoids the Hollywood myth that addicts are either doomed to die miserably (Leaving Las Vegas) or instantly cured after the miracle program (Clean and Sober, 28 Days) - all of which presumes that the drug/drink itself it the addict's sole issue. Hathaway's character, set loose the weekend of her sister's wedding, battles not just the urge to drink or use, but her own immaturity and emotional baggage (including one REALLY large bag), the pressure of the wedding, and family members who each have major issues of their own. You know - reality, which Hollywood rarely does well. One scene - Hathaway makes 12-step style amends to her sister in front the entire family during her rehearsal dinner toast - is about the most uncomfortable thing I've seen in a movie. Throughout, you're left wondering not only if she's going to use again, which you expect at every turn, but whether she'll survive the weekend. The movie falls shorts, though, mainly because the director/writer either ran out of dialogue and usable footage or because the filmmakers fell in love with what was an admittedly cool soundtrack. Minutes at a time are spent watching the characters dance to and/or listen to the wedding band. It gets repititive and made me wonder if there were only 75 minutes of script, so they pushed the movie closer to 2 hours by adding music videos.

WALL-E - ** - Great animation, but the over-the-top message - oh, we are ruining the environment; oh, we're such lazy fucks! - was only slightly less insulting when Al Gore spewed it in An Inconvenient Truth. Thirty minutes in, I was bored. Plus, it wasn't funny. Unless they are billed as graphic novels or avant-garde animated horror, cartoons are supposed to make you laugh. Meh.

See Gran Torino, or eat a dick.

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