Sunday, July 29, 2007

how i've been getting back into movies

which means i owe you some reviews. so here goes it:

starring seth rogen, katherine heigl, paul rudd, and leslie mann
written and directed by judd apatow
viewed at the amc van ness 1000, san francisco, ca

judd apatow's got it figured out. tell a story that people can relate to with characters significantly less than perfect, pepper it with jokes you haven't heard before from voices unique in their own stature, and then cast actors you don't really know so they can get into their characters without bringing their schtick into it.

i hope he never wavers, because i actually think "knocked up" is better than his previous, "the forty year old virgin", and anything else he's ever had a part in and trust me, that's saying a lot.

seth rogan is comedy gold. you believe him, you know him and he's made you laugh not only with him but at him. katherine heigl supplies the goods. i'm not a big paul rudd fan, but leslie mann's usually very good. and rogan's buddies are fantastic. maybe this movie went about fifteen minutes too long, but if you've ever been in a relationship, this movie hits you.

well played, apatow. well played.

starring homer, marge, bart and lisa
directed by david silverman
viewed at the century theater on market, san francisco, ca

at the end of this review, you're probably gonna come away with the impression that i hated it. trust me, i didn't hate it. i just wish it weren't burned out.

if this movie had been made years ago, let's say ten years ago, when each episode of "the simpsons" was biting, epic, gut-bustingly funny and provocative, could you imagine what an extended 90-minute story could have been like? it seemed like each episode, homer got into something you couldn't conceive. the plots took you to really strange places. there was nothing i'd rather watch.

nowadays, i have it tivoed, and i watch it intermittently. and when i do, i don't really laugh, i just say, "oh. that's funny." and as i watch the show, the plots seem familiar, and although it might make a slight detour, it winds up exactly where i thought.

i guess what i'm saying is that nowadays, "the simpsons" are tired but still enjoyable.

this movie felt tired.

and yet, it was also still enjoyable.

viewed at the red vic, san francisco, ca

in case you are of the uninitiated, this is a double-feature of "B" movies made by robert rodriguez and quentin tarantino that pay homage to the cheap exploitation films that leveraged sex, monsters, cars and drugs in their plots. they had very little artistic merit, and yet, fun as all get out.

and i got to watch it in the type of rundown theater it was meant to honor.

starring the absolutely delicious rose mcgowan, freddy rodriguez, marley shelton and josh brolin
written and directed by robert rodriguez

rodriguez doesn't waste any time, as within the first five minutes, we're clearly in a zombie movie, and there's no lack of bloodshed, decapitation and gunplay throughout the remainder of the film. you want a plot? well, you try to piece it together. it's really just an exercise in how gory and ridiculous you can make a story. in fact, if you want to really get technical and scientific about it, the amount of plot in this story is inversely related to the amount of fun you'll have watching it.

seriously, i had a smile on my face throughout the whole thing. it was written to have terrible dialogue and predictable plot twists. it was meant to be ridiculous by any means necessary. the actors were directed to overdo it.

and it had zombies. bubbling, disgusting, saliving zombies.

if you've laughed, screamed and loved movies like "the texas chainsaw massacre" (the original by tobe hopper) or any pure slasher flicks from the 70s, then you'll love this.

i did.

starring kurt russell, zoe bell, rosario dawson and tracie thorns
written and directed by quentin tarantino

tarantino took another route - this of a psycopathic killer on the loose. but instead of using a chainsaw or a machete as a weapon, this guy used his stunt car to kill hot chicks.

simple enough.

but as exciting as "planet terror" was, with the constant action and gore, this movie had a little too much tarantino. if the idea of these movies is to pay homage of these B movies, tarantino only meets it halfway. the plot is dead on. but the way he shot it and wrote it doesn't match up.

i mean, the writing is too good and too longwinded. the directing is too sophisticated. it's way too much, too thought out, too well done, for a genre of movies that was meant to be made quickly and shipped out even quicker.

so, i guess what i'm saying is that this movie needed to be crapped up.


okay, but as it were, there's no real tangible storyline, and that's fine. it's all about making the best car chase ever, and in that respect, tarantino doesn't disappoint. in fact, it's downright exciting and hilarious. plus, the idea of casting actual stuntwomen in lead roles so they can provide their own stunts was a stroke of brilliance. it's not meant to be shakespeare in the park; it's "bullitt" in tennessee.

did i enjoy it? hell yeah. permanent smile on my face.

was it as good as "planet terror"? not for the genre.

taking them both in, for three and a half hours of film, it was damn well worth it. it's a great idea, really, down to the fantastic fake movie trailers between the films. of course, when it was out nationwide, it bombed. maybe the public didn't actually get it the idea behind it, but that's not necessarily the fault of the filmmakers.

it's a niche movie meant for niche moviegoers. it's not a date movie.

still, it's a helluva good time.

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