It’s been a while since the last What I Watched entry, given the days leading up to the Oscars, the big day and then the fallout since then. Between the last post and this new one, I’ve managed to make it through quite a few movies, so let’s jump into this super-sized seventh volume!
The Disappearance of Alice Creed – A movie that skirts the line between being a pure exploitation movie and a tense thriller, Creed is for the people who saw Gemma Arterton in Clash of the Titans and wondered what she looked like naked (because, you know, the movie was sooo great). Granted I didn’t know about the Arterton nudity (or the amount) before watching this. I was on an exploitation cinema spree this past weekend and this was the second feature following the movie below. This movie breaks down into three very distinct parts – Act One – The kidnapping done in true exploitation cinema-style, Act Two contains a bunch of plot twists including one that made me go, “Waaaiiiit a minute. What the f**k?!” and then Act Three is actually pretty tense and well-executed. Certainly not for everybody and you have to stick with it, but the payoff is pretty nice.
High-Kick Girl – This movie kicked off my exploitation cinema Saturday. Frankly I kinda wish I didn’t bother watching this movie. There are some B-level action movies out there that slo-mo repeat an action sequence. For example, High-Kick Girl would execute a nice combo and then there would be an immediate slo-mo replay of the combo, like we’re watching a live sporting event or something. It’s really annoying and one of my top editing pet peeves. I managed to somehow make it thru this movie. The final action sequence is OK I guess and if you’re curious, there is a sequel.
The Tillman Story – A sad tribute to the U.S. Government and military’s inability to admit error and continue to cover-up reality under buckets of lies. When you start thinking out it, this is just ONE family’s story. How many other military families faced the same sort of deception? We’ve known for quite some time that the government has secrets, I’m just glad the Tillman family had the bravery and courage to confront this massive machine with its B.S. “oversight committees.”
It’s not a perfect system by any means and the fact that an American citizen would volunteer to fight for his country, be killed in action and then used as a political propaganda puppet is sickening and just sad. EVERY American needs to see this movie, if only to open your eyes to the deception that is being played out before them everyday.
Knight and Day – This is one of those movies that I really, REALLY wanted to like, but in the end, it’s just too much of a mess to even bother with. Granted, the beginning and final action sequences are great, if not a bit cartoon-y, but the old film addage of “The 2nd Act is where movies go to die,” applies here. It’s a shame as this movie had a lot of potential. I did however enjoy seeing Tom Cruise back in the action genre. Cameron Diaz. Blah.
Charlie St. Cloud – A ridiculously predicatable storyline that really detracts from how good this movie could have been. The acting is actually really good. Don’t be jaded about Zac Efron being from the High School Musical franchise and write him off because of that. Dude can act. Amanda Crew, Ray Liotta, Charlie Tahan, Donal Logue, all good performances. It’s the plot twist middway thru that really delivers the final blow on how mind-numbingly predictable this movie is.
Cyrus – A really well made indie movie where the chemistry between actors really shines. The tension between John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill is pitch perfect as is the complex love story between Reilly and Marisa Tomei. Usually, I throw up a yellow flag when traditionally comedic actors take a turn toward the dramatic turn, but this time it actually works. Definitely worth checking out.
Animal Kingdom – I checked this movie out because Jacki Weaver was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, so I figured that this should be a pretty decent movie. WRONG. This was one of the most boring movies I have seen in quite some time. I’d rather watch High-Kick Girl again then have to endure this film. Now I know, I know, most critics and audiences out there enjoyed this movie and heaped praise on it becuase of Weaver’s performance. So let’s start there. Weaver is good. I wouldn’t say great, but she’s definitely subtley callous. My biggest annoyance was Ben Mendelsohn’s Pope continuous telling James Frecheville’s J that he’s there for him, if he needs anything, he’s there for him. “You know that right? I’m here for you. So if you need to tell me anything, I’m here for you. You can tell me anything. You know that right? Right? You can tell me anything. OK? You know that right?” Annoyed yet? That’s when I said eff this movie, fast forwarded to the end and hit the eject button.
Hoodwinked – The animation is crude and it kind of threw me off for a bit. But I stuck with the movie because, A.) it’s only 80 minutes, B.) there’s enough cheeky humor (some of which is groan-inducing) to make it thru the 80 minutes and C.) the big reveal at the end is SO obvious you’d swear an elementary student wrote this script as a summer project. Plus the singing goat was pretty awesome.
13 Assassins – It’s like The Seven Samurai meets The Dirty Dozen, only with Takashi Miike in the director’s chair. Granted it’s not the twisted, weird or grotesque horror mind-benders that Miike is used to churning out (Gozu, Ichi the Killer, Audition, Fudoh… I could go on and on here.) Instead, it’s a pretty traditional samurai movie for the first hour or so followed by an EPIC 40 minute samurai battle royale!! By far, one of the greatest non-stop battle sequences I’ve ever seen. The movie opens limited April 29 and is also available in Japan on Region 2 DVD. Also for SMAP fans, Goro Inagaki plays the main bad guy. No singing though. Haha
Hall Pass – Very crude humor throughout and a very hard R-rating. Initially, the movie starts out promising with Owen Wilson and Jason Sudekis having a tough time getting started with their “hall pass,” by hitting Applebys to pick up women, but the movie just never generates any momentum. Neither one of the guys actually cashes in on their pass and during the duration of the seven days they’re off from marriage, they continuously face rejection. The movie essentially plays out like a series of skits, the ending being particularly over-the-top ridiculous (and not in a good way). And then there is the plot twist, which seemed very unnecessary. In fact, one of the funniest sequences happens during the end credits.
The Last Samurai – I remember the first time I watched this movie in the AMC theater at Rolling Hills. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just knew that it had Tom Cruise in it and the word Samurai in the title. That was enough for me. I didn’t think I was going to be sitting there at the end with rogue tears escaping from my eyes as Tom Cruise held Ken Watanabe’s hand as he died a valiant death. The second time around, I still felt the emotional impact from that scene but no tears this time. Still one of my favorite movies from one of my favorite directors (Edward Zwick).
If you want ridiculous exploitation, check out, “Drive Angry”