Thursday, July 31, 2008

July Movie Watching

I saw five movies theatrically this month, which constitute some of the biggest blockbusters of the year.

The first one was Hancock, the July 4th offering. Will Smith scored another big moneymaker with this one, but it was among his weakest entries— if still offering a decent amount of entertainment value. Although I liked it in general, I could detect what appeared to be studio tampering. I generally dislike longer movies but when this one clocked in at 92 minutes, I got the sinking suspicion that the studio's plan was to make a not-so-great movie palatable by getting you out the door before you realized what happened.

Next, I caught up on late-June's Wanted. A popcorn movie that I liked. It was a 2008 compilation of every action movie from about 1999 onward shoved in a blender. This will be a big year for Angelina Jolie, with The Changeling due out October 31. I did notice that annoying thing in which something in the trailer is NOT in the movie. I think this scene was put into the trailer to ramp up the "sexy" aspect— he says "Is this where we bond?" and she says: "Would you like to?": not in the movie. *** SPOILER ALERT*** : I think this scene and potentially others are not in the movie because the producers decided the relationship between the two leads should be toned down specifically due to the fate of her character, so we wouldn't feel badly at the end; they left their relationship more distant and cold so we could accept this ending— that's my theory anyway.

Hellboy II was another fun one. I liked the original movie (which seems like it came out ages ago). This one was fun for its settings and the characters— especially Seth MacFarlane's "Johann Krauss": I want that action figure. The plot had a string of improbable moments and familiar devices, but was acceptable.

Then, the BIG ONE: The Dark Knight. Burning up the box office charts, The Dark Knight wasn't perfect but was a hell of a ride: and what a showcase for Heath Ledger. Ledger was excellent and the choice of doing his make-up the way they did was a masterstroke. Two things impressed me most about the movie in addition to Ledger's performance: the camerawork and the tone. The tone is where the influence will be felt in subsequent movies. And finally! I'm so sick of the jokey one-liners, etc. in every action movie (and subsequently in the comic book genre). Both Casino Royale and The Dark Knight (and probably Quantum of Solace) will erase these action movie cliches for the 2010s. On the minus side, the movie seemed to be unrelenting, you couldn't catch your breathe, and there were many plot holes (on Imdb someone listed 24 of them)— however, you just kind of went-with-it. It's definately been exciting watching this movie leap the rungs on the box office list. I suspect it will indeed get one of the five Best Picture slots come Oscar time, as well.

Lastly, I saw Step Brothers. It seems to me that this movie was generally panned, not because it wasn't funny, but because reviewers were uncomfortable with the premise itself. A 40-year-old man acting like a child is just not acceptable. However, it was a satire, folks! Now, unfortunately it wasn't all that brilliantly funny, so it would be hard to say within any kind of certainty that this was the reason for the critical drubbing, but it seems like it to me.

On DVD I watched The Boondock Saints, which a friend lent me. What a CRAZY movie. Pretty ambitious too. I can see why there is a cult following. You'll never look at Willem Dafoe the same way again.

On TCM, I watched two classics from the 1950s— 3:10 to Yuma (terrific: actually better than the remake [which I really liked] and with a different ending) and Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (also amazing, although I didn't think it ended strongly). I also watched 1965's A Patch of Blue. It's as manipulative as can be, but I have to confess it really stayed with me: that poor girl! By the way, I'm finding these Elvis Mitchell: Under the Influence shows to be so pretentious: ugh!— I watched the Bill Murray and the Quentin Tarantino ones.

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