Stef (firecat) wrote,
Stef
firecat

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movie roundup

In which I make comments about
American Hardcore
Amelie
Ghost of the Shell 2: Innocence
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Cars by Pixar
Dark City
with a special guest appearance by Bram Stoker's Dracula



Last weekend:

American Hardcore. I liked playing the music when I had a punk rock radio show in the early 80s, and I liked going to the occasional show at Toad's Place, but the movie did nothing for me—interminable interviews with middle-aged former members of hardcore punk bands, accompanied by bad home-made video of said bands in concert. In other words, half-true to the "DIY and fuck appearances" style of the original scene, but in ways that just did not age well. They only featured one band I liked—Flipper. Some of the rest I remembered having heard of, barely.

Amelie. I wanted to like this. Several friends whose movie taste I respect love it, and it's full of the kinds of things I often like in movies—ordinary-looking people with quirky personalities, a focus on small details. Unfortunately I didn't like it at all. I even almost turned it off a few times. It was just slightly off. Some of the reasons it might have felt off to me (I think there are other less-articulable reasons): the people seemed exaggerated in subtly wrong ways, the colors were garishly artificial for no reason I could discern, the main character seems to get what she is after in spite of herself instead of by growing into the kind of person who deserves to get what she is after, I cared about very few of the characters (really, only the guy with the brittle bones).

It might be the kind of movie I don't like the first time I watch it and then like later. I'm that way about a fair number of movies, including my favorite, Wings of Desire, which this has a few vague similarities with. I started listening to the director's commentary and was enjoying the movie with that soundtrack, but I didn't finish it. So I'll probably try watching it again some other time.

Friday/Saturday:

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I'm a big Ghost in the Shell fan. The original Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite movies, and I have enjoyed the "Stand-Alone Complex" episodes I've seen. I won't say that Innocence is better than the original, because the original did such a great job of establishing the whole world of the series, its look, music, recurring characters, and philosophical themes...and IMO this movie really can't be appreciated without a very thorough understanding of the first movie. This movie does less with the recurring characters than the original—it focuses almost entirely on Batou (and does a really good job of that, mind). But it's a very respectable sequel. The OH thought this movie was a lot more visually interesting than the original. There was certainly a lot going on in the background of most scenes, in ways that kept us hitting the pause button to just sit there and go "Ooooooh." The music was similar to the first movie's and well done. The scenes with the basset hound were almost painfully poignant. (No animated basset hounds were harmed in the making of this movie.)

Murder on the Orient Express. Probably most people have seen this by now. I had seen it once a long time ago and didn't remember the plot at first, but it came back to me fairly early on. What I especially loved this time around was Albert Finney's exuberant Poirot, who is really having fun with the mystery when he begins to figure out what's going on, and Lauren Bacall's completely-against-type role. I also got a giggle out of noticing that Wendy Hiller's portrayal of the indomitable Princess Dragomiroff seems to have been copied note for note by Gary Oldman for his performance of the old Count Dracula at the beginning of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Even the body language is the same.

Sunday:

Cars by Pixar. We got around 15 minutes into this one and decided we didn't care enough about the main car-acter to continue watching and besides we were annoyed by the glorification of car culture and driving. (I was also kind of charmed by that though, as a native Detroiter....and I certainly never expected to see a movie with impressively realistic animation of "driving past corn fields at 65 mph"). But we did watch for long enough to get to a throwaway "Freebird!" line which had me laughing for almost five minutes before I could even begin to explain it to the OH (who is not knowledgeable about classic rock).

Dark City. We've watched this several times—I like the movie quite a bit, but really I keep rewatching it to try to understand why Roger Ebert dotes on it so (he even did a commentary on the DVD). It's certainly not for an airtight and original plot. Or for a realistic portrayal of egalitarian human relationships. But it's really interesting to look at, and carefully stylized in ways that are internally consistent, and the questions it poses about human personality and memory are interesting.
Tags: movies, reviews
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