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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quickie Movie Reviews (2009): Volume Nine

Yet another batch of old movies viewed and reviewed. Some interesting ones this time, but also some really bad ones. Here goes:

Wings of Desire (Peter Falk)
Daniel, an angel who spends his days easing the mental suffering of human beings, falls in love with a young woman and must sacrifice his wings and immortality in order to be with her.
Pros: An interesting concept (this is a film that predated City of Angels) and the last 20-30 minutes of the film are actually quite good. Plus, there’s the lovely Peter Falk playing himself in a rather unique way (in fact, the little surprise about Falk at the end made me grin).
Cons: It’s really boring. Most of the film is spent establishing the concept, and, quite honestly, they could have spent more time on other things. The concept was obvious in the first ten minutes, but the writer/director wouldn’t let up and just pounded it into my head relentlessly. It was too much.
Rating: 1.5/5
Value: $2.00

This quasi-science fiction / psychological comedy movie posits a world in which a strange cockroach virus has devastated Taiwan, forcing the government to begin evacuating people against their will. But for a couple of unusual characters (a sleazy young man whose upstairs apartment perpetually leaks into the one below it, a woman who randomly breaks out into song, and a bicycle-riding boy who plays games with people’s doorbells), evacuation is not an option.
Pros: There are moments of sheer brilliance in this, like when the guy upstairs decides to shove his whole leg into the whole in his floor and dangle his foot around in the singing woman’s apartment. I found myself laughing here or there, but I think it’s fair to say that this is not a comedy so much as a weird psychological film.
Cons: There is no plot and the movie plods along at an astonishingly slow pace. The good bits are far and few between. There is some good here, but I’m not sure if the wait is worth it. Granted, at least it’s not as boring as some of the films I’ve watched. The subtle humor seems to work well.
Rating: 1.5/5
Value: $2.25

A Japanese version of Dante’s Inferno, this follows a young man whose life gets turned upside-down when he and a friend run over a drunk gangster on the way home. The event causes an avalanche of disasters that eventually land him and his entire family in hell…
Pros: For its time, this must have been freaking terrifying. It’s fairly gruesome and doesn’t pull any punches. Hell literally looks like hell. The story itself is convenient, but it gets the job done.
Cons: Can be a bit slow in parts and is clearly outdated. It’s good, but it’s from a different era of film, and if you’re not into that, then you won’t be into this. The acting is somewhat ridiculous, too, but, to be honest, I think the insanity portrayed by the characters worked well.
Rating: 3/5
Value: $5.50

The Big One (Michael Moore)
In this short companion to one of Moore’s first book tours, our favorite Flintian takes on corporate downsizing and outsourcing.
Pros: It’s Michael Moore. You either love him or you hate him. Here Moore is somewhat more level-headed than in his higher profile documentaries, and his jokes and antics are much appreciated and enjoyable.
Cons: This isn’t really a documentary, though I had expected it to be. It’s good, but Moore really should have taken this further and made it more a traditional documentary.
Rating: 2.5/5
Value: $3.50

Titus (Anthony Hopkins)
A semi-modern adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most twisted works about a Roman general who slowly loses his sanity after his children are killed, maimed, or worse by a vindictive Goth queen-turned-Roman-empress.
Pros: The opening for this is amazing. I absolutely loved it. The story is also twisted in a good way, and Anthony Hopkins is amazing here. The other actors are mostly good, with a couple bad eggs here or there.
Cons: Not for the faint of heart, though not nearly as gruesome as some of the horror films being made to day. One of the key problems with this film is that all the dialogue is in typical Shakespeare style, which makes it really difficult to understand what is going on at times. Most of the time it’s pretty obvious, but unless you’re familiar with this particular story, the subtlety is lost to you.
Rating: 3.25/5
Value: $6.50

And that's that! I think I'm going to get Netflix, because the University of Florida library is running out of good stuff...

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  1. 1.5/5 for HOLE?!? No way, Jose. The pacing and atmosphere of that movie is brilliant, dammit. Jingoku is MUCH more boring than HOLE (how many oooo, aaaaahhh artistic visions of Hell do we need?). I get that HOLE isn't for everyone, but 1.5? 3.5 at the lowest, as a proffered second opinion.

  2. Just to clarify: we're talking about the same Hole from Taiwan, right?

  3. And for the record: Jingoku is an older movie. From 1960. So it's not like it's new or anything like that. For its time it would have been rather...disturbing.

  4. Yup, the Taiwanese one taking place almost entirely in the one apartment complex. Not the Keira Knightly one. I super-duper enjoyed the Hole. I don't disagree with your written critiques, I suppose, just that you're defining them as detracting critiques. I think the movie used its pretentions better than most.

  5. Dave: I just found parts of it to be really boring. It has its moments, but it failed to grip me all the way through.