Thursday, December 29, 2011

Celluloid #137

In Theaters

the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Fincher - When I saw the original Swedish film last year, I had extremely low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the rape-revenge mystery-thriller. I think remakes (especially from foreign to English-speaking) are often incredibly unnecessary, but the only reason I decided to partake in this one was because of David Fincher's attachment to it. The movie is fine, but rarely even strays stylistically from the original except to tone down the more graphic scenes. 3/5

Shame (2011) McQueen - Brandon is struggling with sex addiction when his troubled younger sister comes to stay with him unexpectedly. I really liked the visual style and Michael Fassbender continues to be an actor to watch, however, the story is pretty medium. I don't mind having two main characters that are both incredibly unsympathetic, but we really don't know much about them at all, so there isn't really a clear "in" in this film anyway. I'm still interested in what McQueen will offer in the future, but this was a bit of a disappointment for his sophomore showing. 3.5/5

In Home

Escape From New York (1981) Carpenter - Totally campy, but fun film about a criminal, the notorious Snake Plissken. He is asked to rescue the President of the US from New York City. In the future, New York has been sectioned off from the rest of the country and criminals are sent there to fend for themselves. Isaac Hayes makes an appearance as "The Duke" (a ridiculous-looking villain), and Harry Dean Stanton plays "Brain". I enjoy watching films that imagine the future, especially when that future has already passed (1997 in this case). 3.5/5

Heat (1995) Mann - Ace Detective vs. Skilled Criminal in this extensive film by Michael Mann. Al Pacino plays the cop whose personal life is falling apart because he dedicates so much time to his job. Robert De Niro plays the successful mastermind who is a bit of a loner until he meets a young woman in a diner. At some point the two sit down and have a cup of coffee, but everything is leading up until the time when they will actually have to confront one another despite their mutual respect. 4/5

Jumper (2008) Liman - Dumb movie about David, a young man who can essentially beam himself anywhere in the world just by thinking about it. Samuel L. Jackson plays a really silly-looking villain who tries to capture and kill "jumpers" because they are unnatural. Meanwhile, David visits his hometown and reconnects with a childhood crush (Rachel Bilson) who he promptly whisks away to Rome, but tries to keep his ability a secret. Overall, everything about this is too cheesy. 2/5

Submarine (2011) Ayoade - Oliver is a teenager growing up in Wales. For the first part of the movie, we are witness to the awkward wooing of the angsty and sometimes cruel Jordana. After they get together, Oliver wants to share with Jordana about his parents' apparent imminent separation. However, Jordana reveals that her mom has brain cancer, which trumps Oliver's family drama. Oliver decides he needs to handle his issues on his own. Very twee, but often charming film. 3.5/5

Toy Story 3 (2010) Unkrich - I saw this on television while visiting my parents for the holidays, and it really hit a nerve about growing up and mortality. (Something that I'm typically sensitive about, but more amplified when I'm at home). The toys are taken to a local daycare, but are manhandled by the toddlers, so they try to return home to Andy before he leaves for college. Really recommended even for those who care little about many tears! 4.5/5

Warrior (2011) O'Connor - This has to be the fastest 2 1/2 hour film I have ever watched. You have the  Dark Horse vs. the Underdog in this story about estranged brothers competing in a mixed-martial arts tournament with the toughest men in the world for a prize of 5 million dollars. Nick Nolte does a good job playing a struggling alcoholic father and Tom Hardy & Joel Edgerton are also a treat for their acting and fighting sequences. Pretty straightforward and perhaps formulaic, but really worked for me. 4/5