Home > Uncategorized > 5/20/2008: Madison Ave Apocalypse; Netflix Reviews: Seraphim Falls, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard, more

5/20/2008: Madison Ave Apocalypse; Netflix Reviews: Seraphim Falls, Sweeney Todd, Walk Hard, more

FIVE

FIVE DOLLAR

FIVE DOLLAR FOOT-LONG

IT’S C-C-CREATING A LEVEL OF HATRED FOR MADISON AVENUE LIKE NEVER BEFORRRRRRRRRE

I truly believe that each new commercial that comes out form Subway with that jingle is bringing us that much closer to the apocalypse. The end times. The rapture. Yes, any day now, Christ himself is going to come down from the Heavens while that Godforsaken jingle plays. And as he descends with a smile on his face, he’s going to hold up five fingers and then hold out his hands EXACTLY one foot apart (the measurement will be perfect because he’s Jesus). Then Pat Robertson, in the confusion, will take off his pants.

Also, the bottleneck slide on Elliott Smith’s “Oh Well, Okay” is one of the most beautiful 20 seconds in music. I say this not because it’s relevant to anything else in this blog, just because it’s true.

I suppose I should write some brief reviews of Netflix DVDs I’ve watched recently, since I haven’t done any of those in awhile and people still ask – on occasion – for my uninformed and wholly irrelevant opinions. Also, I’m bored as all get-out.

SERAPHIM FALLS
If you’re like me and you love Westerns (of the non White Hat/Black Hat variety), you’ll at least get some enjoyment out of this movie. However, for all their efforts, Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson just can’t get the inflection down necessary to convince me that they’re American, let alone Civil War veterans. It’s a noble effort that’s beautifully shot at times, but all aspects of the film – the cinematography, acting, writing, and overall direction – make you feel more like you’re watching a film that a handful of guys really wanted to make/be in just because they’re big fans of Westerns. Which would be fine if it didn’t take itself so seriously and didn’t have hacky stuff like a metaphor for The Devil encountering both men in the desert towards the film’s climax. Still, B- for effort.
Rating: 3 out of 5

SWEENEY TODD
Not surprisingly, the cast of this film pulls out the emotional end of things. What is surprising is that the vocal performances aren’t laughable. With the excessive blueish hues and over-the-top cartoonish violence, there’s no doubt at any point that you’re watching a Tim Burton production of “Sweeney Todd.” Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, though he is at a point in his career where a pleasant surprise or two stylistically wouldn’t hurt. It’d also be nice if directors started moving away from using CGI landscapes just for the sake of using CGI landscapes, because I almost feel as if more actual set construction would’ve helped set the mood that Burton was going for. But those are all nitpicks. This film’s a blast, and Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t completely lose herself in Angela Lansbury’s shadow – which is no small feat.
Rating: 4 out of 5

BILL MAHER: BE MORE CYNICAL
An HBO special from a few years back. And boy, does it ever exhibit Maher’s weakness as a stand-up comic. I like many others love “Real Time”, but most of his material is so hyper-relevant to that day’s edition of the newspaper that it comes across less like a stand-up comedian performing his craft and more like a video on YouTube from six years ago that’s commenting on that evening’s NBC Nightly News. Ascerbic and still funny at points, but the material dates itself before it’s even released on DVD…let alone more than five years after the fact.
Rating: 2 out of 5

THE SAVAGES
You really can’t go wrong with Philip Seymour Hoffman as your lead playing a frustrated chubby artist trudging unsuccessfully through a mid-life crisis. The film is absolutely great when exploring the relationship between the two siblings, however gets lost in the middle of the film while venturing into the father’s character while never giving us a real glimpse of the heavily hinted abusive relationship he had with his children. It also had some serious pacing issues, but it’s still worth going out of your way to see just for the performances.
Rating: 4 out of 5

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY
It’s one of those films that if you laugh, no explanation is necessary; if you don’t, no explanation will do. Yes, that’s an overused and overly simplistic explanation, but it works. For someone like myself who was so bothered by “Walk the Line”‘s insistence on using the tired rock star biopic cliches in telling the life story(?) of Johnny Cash, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at lines like “Give him a minute…Dewey Cox has to think about his entire life before he performs.” Tim Meadows is the highlight of this movie, and I can’t fathom why he’s not in more mainstream comedies. There are some painfully unfunny scenes, in particular the sequence in India where Dewey Cox meets The Beatles (I defended him longer than anyone but I can now agree with those that say Jack Black’s act is really tired). NOTE: Do yourself a favor and watch the theatrical cut rather than the Director’s Cut. The punny title they give the Director’s Cut isn’t really a pun…there’s a reason those cuts were made in the first place.
Rating: 4 out of 5

ZODIAC
Holy crap, a “true crime” movie that runs two and a half hours and is actually pretty freaking awesome? AND IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT THE CRIMES AND THE KILLER IN THE TITLE?! I can’t believe such a film really exists, let alone that I actually saw it.
Rating: 5 out of 5

More later…

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  1. May 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Oh man, I LOVE ZODIAC SO MUCH. In nerdy film-geek ways that I can only barely manage to put into coherent words. It’s scary! It’s well-acted! It’s filmed beautifully! And also, the ending is satisfying despite there being no real conclusion, which is damn impressive. My only problems with it are 1. Why did Chloe Sevigny need to be in it? I mean I like her so I’m not complaining but seriously, that is like the most boring generic random wife role ever, and 2. The only person in that movie who aged even slightly convincingly was Robert Downey Jr. Mark Ruffalo and especially Jake Gyllenhaal did not have me believing they were 6 months older than when the film started, let alone years and years. But I can look past those issues because oh man what a great movie.

    • May 21, 2008 at 3:50 am

      Yeah, see, that’s why I kept my review short, because otherwise I’d be gushing over it for hours and hours and hours. So. Fucking. Awesome.

      1. Yeah, it wasn’t until her second or third appearance in the film that I realized it was Chloe Sevigny. Not that it was that amazing of a performance and she completely immersed herself in the role to the point of making herself unrecognizable, but more that the character had no personality whatsoever. Let’s review the major scenes involving the character:
      in monotonous tone “…that sounds scary. You should call him.”
      in monotonous tone “…I’m taking the kids and leaving you.”
      Yeah.

      2. And really, they only aged the Downey character because he became such a boozer/drug addict. I found it was more noticeable with Gyllenhall’s character, just because dude has a babyface.

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