Sunday, April 18, 2010

Film Thoughts - 3/10

Forgot that I had written these:

A Prophet - This brutal French prison drama follows a young delinquent named Malik through six years of incarceration. Initially he's focused on simply surviving, but is quickly offered protection by the Corsican mafia, with one requirement - he has to kill an inmate belonging to one of the rival Arab gangs. This act doesn't come easy for Malik, and it follows him throughout the rest of his sentence as he becomes more involved in the world of organized crime. While the film is brutal by its nature, it, like Malik, never loses its humanity. He enters as prison as a naive kid, and leaves a trained criminal guilty of innumerable crimes. Even so, we get the sense that he's done his best to get by any way he can, and hasn't lost his dignity. This is a gritty film most of the time, but it isn't afraid to give us a few moments of beauty and introspection.

A Serious Man - A really great Coen brothers film that meditates on the bad things that happen to people who try (and fail) to do good things.

The Broken - A pretty mediocre doppleganger horror film. After getting in a car crash, a young woman gets the feeling that everything in her life is not right and that people she was previously close to have been replaced by evil identical clones. Is she just suffering from brain damage, or is there something seriously evil going on? It's slow, and not that surprising in the end.

The Core - How many times have I seen this wretched movie? About five, which is four too many. I used to show this in my Earth Science class as an example of bad movie science. Recently, the physics grad student society chose it as their film for "bad movie night." What do you do when the core of the Earth stops spinning? Drive a huge drill down below and blow up some nuclear bombs to kick-start it again. The dialogue is terrible, the jokes are lame, and the science is heinous.

Gamer - This film riffs on the "video games as reality" theme that's been around since "Wargames" and probably reached its peak with "eXistenZ." The premise here is that felons are offered a get-out-of-jail free card if they can survive running a violent combat-zone gauntlet for a certain number of matches (a la "Death Race 2000" or "The Running Man"). The catch is that they're remotely controlled by players who manipulate them much like avatars in a game. While it sounds like ground that's been covered many times before, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor as directors (as well as an awesome performance by Michael C. Hall) make it worth a look. Gamer sports the same sort of frenetic You-Tube style editing and gratuitous violence and sex that elevated the duo's Crank films above the realm of typical action films. Unfortunately, it's not always enough to make up for the sloppy battle scenes and lack of originality.

Gomorrah - I caught this at the "Legacies of Neorealism" series on campus. I'm not exactly sure what neo-realism is, but this crime drama definitely seems realistic. It focuses on the lives of several people in Italy who come into contact with the Comorra (the other Italian mafia, not the Sicilians). Some stories are more interesting than others, but they average out to being pretty good.

The Hurt Locker - I thought this was a good movie, but definitely not the best of the year, especially when pitted against Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and A Serious Man. A renegade soldier defuses bombs. That's about it.

Road Games - Jamie Lee Curtis got her start in a series of slasher films (most notably Halloween and Prom Night), and this one seems to have disappeared from the collective consciousness. I caught this at Cinema Overdrive, and it's fun enough for what it is. A truck driver in Austrailia notices a suspicious van and begins to believe that a serial killer is abducting and murdering hitchhikers. Not by any means great, but still enjoyable.

Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season 3 - Watching this show is like lying on the couch at 3 am staring at local-access television while suffering from insomnia-induced hallucinations. This is probably the best season thus far, quality-wise. Previous seasons have been hit and miss as far as the consistency of the sketches, but Tim and Eric seem to have learned how to balance out all of their ingredients. This is humor that's willing to disgust and disturb you on the off-chance that you'll laugh out of embarassment.

The White Ribbon - A quiet meditation on violence and innocence set in rural pre-WWII Germany. More thoughts forthcoming.

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