(relevant Talladega Nights scene here)
I saw some terrible movies this weekend: Birdemic: Shock and Terror (“recommended” by George) and The Room (“recommended” by Pavel). Rifftrax made them tolerable. Coincidentally, they both take place in the SF Bay Area.
The applause scene from Birdemic was probably my favorite. The choppy applause at the start of this clip is exactly how it occurred in the movie, completely unedited:
I’m not certain which scene is my favorite in The Room, but the flower shop scene may be it. Many of the lines in the movie are dubbed and aligned really poorly, which makes them sound even worse.
Oh, hi doggy.
Looking forward to seeing this at some point:
The 2011 winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature was Inside Job, a movie about the 2008 financial crisis. I saw it not too l long ago and strongly recommend seeing it. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a while and it left me more angry than any other movie I’ve seen (except maybe Battlefield Earth.. but I was just angry that I paid to see that).
I wish we could make a movie about how we dealt with a crisis and how we fixed the system. A movie with heroes who work for the common good and eventually turn things around. Or at least villains being punished. None of that happens. We’re still living with a system of too-big-to-fail banks controlling wider and wider swaths of the economy, helmed by vicious, cynical Gordon Gekkos who haven’t the slightest regard for the well-being of others. We allow crooks in suits to operate in broad daylight: swindling us and raiding the treasury when things go wrong, then when it comes time to balance the budget, many propose we go in and strip programs that benefit society’s most vulnerable.
I’ll stop there for now, but expect to be writing more on this subject soon.
These long videos are in parts not safe for work, but are absolutely worth your time. I learned a lot about movies while watching them, and they made me appreciate the original trilogy a lot more.
Still waiting to get my pizza roll…
(This is a post I wrote a while ago but forgot to post. This was before I sarcastically nominated Avatar for the Oscar for “Best Screensaver”)
I saw Avatar about 6 weeks ago, but I guess it’s not quite too late to write a review. Last week, I watched the review by the guy who ripped apart The Phantom Menace for 70 minutes and had a discussion with two of my roommates about the movie, both of whom thought the writing in the movie wasn’t defective.
First off, to get this out of the way: overall, I liked Avatar. If you haven’t seen it, you should, and you should see it in 3D. Despite this, I have very little interest in spending 3 hours watching it again. Actually, I’ve stated that I’ll watch it again if I have access to a fast-forward button. This doesn’t seem feasible.
This post contains spoilers, but the whole point of this post is that the spoilers aren’t really spoiling anything anyway.
The video review I linked to above contains a lot of the same criticism as this post, but he got rather sidetracked in things that were just anecdotal or somewhat interesting instead of focusing on review/criticism.
Avatar’s writing is not good and it makes the movie boring. Being visually stunning isn’t a workaround for this flaw: other movies with revolutionary effects, like Star Wars (original trilogy) and The Matrix would still be enjoyable with your eyes closed. Good writing builds characters that you care about, makes you experience emotions when things happen to them and sometimes makes you think. Avatar rarely did any of these things.
The main arc of the plot is Jake’s defection to the Na’vi and subsequent fight against the human invaders. Since Jake is a marine, a betrayal like this must be difficult for him. Sounds like a strong plot device, except it isn’t. While the defection should be hard for Jake, it’s not at all hard for the audience. We immediately know that Jake is on the wrong side and should switch, and we have no reason to feel conflicted about that. We don’t share any of the emotion that he’s supposed to have. Having clear villains is fine, but if a major plot arc is a character’s switch from one side to another, the difficulty of that switch needs to be impressed upon the audience, otherwise it’s worthless. Heck, even Star Wars Episode Three did a better job of this. I never thought I’d write that sentence…
An easy way to make Jake’s conversion more difficult for the audience would be to make the terribly-named “Unobtainium” meaningful in some way. What if it were needed for fuel or medicine? That would at least give us some pause before condemning the mining. But no, we are left with cartoonish un-nuanced villains.
The characters exacerbate this problem. The Colonel Quaritch and Parker Selfridge (the corporate guy) are completely unambiguous caricatures reinforcing the problems above. There’s nothing redeeming about either of them.
Meanwhile, Neytiri and Jake’s love story seemed ridiculous for reasons that are a bit more difficult to pin down. This is a lot more subjective, but had it not been completely obvious that the script demanded that they get married or whatever eventually, the romance would have seemed like it came out of thin air. In other words, it didn’t seem like they had any real chemistry until they were a couple.
The fact that the plot isn’t original (see Fern Gully, Pocahontas, and Dances with Wolves) isn’t a deal-breaker on its own. Heck, some remakes are great movies, but great writing requires nuance and detail in characters and events that make us care about them, one way or the other.
I’m not saying that Avatar is a terribly written movie, just that it’s not a well-written movie. It’s a shame, too, as it could have been so much better since it was visually quite beautiful.
“Shock and awe!”
I thought I had posted about this earlier, but I can’t seem to find it.
Moon was one of my favorite movies of 2009. It came out on DVD a couple of days ago. I’m not going to write a whole review since it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it, but I will say that Sam Rockwell was really good in it and the plot avoided some sci-fi cliches in a good way.
The trailer is very well made (in that if the trailer looks interesting to you, you’ll probably like the movie):
Also, they’ve released the first 7 minutes of the movie:
This musical remix of Up is really enjoyable. I liked it even more the second time I listened to it.
(via daily dish)
I realize it sounds ridiculous, but this review is one of the funnies, most interesting things I’ve watched in a while. If you’ve seen The Phantom Menace, you should watch this. Some parts are NSFW. Here’s the first segment:
There are also reviews of several Star Trek movies on the guy’s youtube channel. They’re also good, but definitely not as good as the Star Wars one.