Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's up Netflix!

Yesterday, I briefly reviewed "The Switch". Here's what else I've watched this week:

The Last Exorcism- 3 stars- I've been looking forward to seeing this movie since it was called "Cotton" and all I needed to know what that Eli Roth was producing it. Since then some things have changed; namely, the name. The Last Exorcism (how lame a title) is nothing new to fans of horror but, unlike other films of its ilk, it doesn't try to be. Preacher comes to small town Louisiana to perform exorcism on possessed young girl. Is it all an act? Is it real? Should we care? The acting and writing is top notch, especially Ashley Bell as the possessed. Sure, we must check much of our brain at the door (I mean, who really goes looking for a crazy person in a darkened house or follows voices into the woods), but that's beside the point. At the moment, we believe it. I did appreciate the subtle humor woven throughout the film. Our audience giggled several times. However, only one person screamed out and that is never a good sign.

The faux-documentary style now popular in modern horror is starting to wear on me. The jerky camera movements and "accidentally" exposed jump cuts are no longer new or interesting. It works here and on a lower budget because it can help disguise any short comings. That being said, I wish all filmmakers of faux-docs would watch more real documentaries and study the camera movements in them. Many documentary cinematographers are exceptionally skilled and (I assume) pride themselves on avoiding the "student work" look. If you are a fan of horror, I would recommend this movie. Otherwise, you can take it or leave it.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief- 2 stars- I remember being intrigued by this movie when it was in production. I know nothing about the book series (for kids I think?), but I love, LOVE, Greek mythology. It seemed to be in and out of the theatre pretty quickly, but that isn't necessarily a comment on the quality of the film anymore. Most movies make their money back in DVD, so why not push them through while you can?

Percy lives with his Mom (Catherine Keener- love!) and her slob of a husband. He's popular enough and has good friends. While touring a museum, he is attacked by a Harpy and discovers he is actually a demi-god- that is half man, half god. His father is Poseidon and they have been charged with stealing Zeus' lightning bolt. Off he goes to learn the ways of the demi-god, make more friends, and battle demons and gods. Sounds kind of exciting, no? Problem is I fell asleep. When I woke up, I'd lost 45 minutes and had to start again the next day. The problem that seems to plague most myth based films is how to introduce characters while not boring us with their "E! True Hollywood Story". "Percy" doesn't quite know how to do that and to make matter worse; it's as if Percy has never taken English or History in his life. Who doesn't know who Zeus is? The Hydra? How is he so oblivious to this knowledge yet he knows he can look at Medusa through a reflection? It bothers me.

The adults in the film (oh god, Uma Thurman what were you thinking?) look bored and chew the scenery around them. It proves the fact that just because you've successfully directed another myth based film (Harry Potter anyone?) doesn't mean you can do it again. Lightening, it seems, does not in fact strike twice.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- 5 stars- What can I possibly say about this movie? Have you read the book? No? What's wrong with you? It was an international best seller and managed to avoid the grasp of Oprah! It's being remade into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Daniel Craig (don't get me started on that. I will NOT see it). It is one of the highest grossing films in Nordic history. It is, without any pause on my account, an event.

The story is impossible for me to recap in so short a space, but I'll try. Mikael Blomvist is a respected reporter and magazine editor who is found guilty of libel from one of the biggest corporate names in Norway. Before he must serve his 6 month sentence, he is commissioned to look into the 40 year old disappearance of the grand-niece of another of Norway's most respected businessman. He moves to the small island near Hedestad and begins to uncover secrets to a wealthy and respected family as well as his own. Aiding him in his quest is the most unlikely ally: Lisbeth Salandar- master computer hacker and seriously fucked up young lady. The literal translation of the title from Norwegian is "Men Who Hate Women". She is nothing short of a genius and holds a mysterious secret all her own. Don't worry, there are two more movies/books to get through that explain it all. The film is one of the best adaptations I've seen ever, well acted, and well directed. We feel sickened at the horror that befalls Lisbeth and cheer at her revenge. We lean forward in our chairs every time Mikael discovers a new secret.

Of course, this film is in Norwegian but the subtitles are excellent. It annoyed me how they seemed to jump ahead, a line appears on the screen before it's uttered, but I ended up liking that mistake. It allowed me to watch the performances more closely. This is a must see for everyone!

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