Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Elisa's Movie Marathon #4 Mini-Reviews

Over the past couple of weeks, I've seen a bunch of different movies, and thought I'd share my thoughts on them with you guys. I went all over the map this time, mostly renting from the library or watching stuff on Netflix InstantWatch (my new best friend).

If anyone has any further thoughts on any of these films or recommendations of what I should see next, feel free to comment below. Thanks! :)

Elisa's Movie Marathon #4

The Hot Chick (2002) - This was a surprisingly adorable Rob Schneider comedy. The plot is simple - an ancient curse puts the mind of a teenaged beauty queen into the body of a petty thief and vice versa. Hilarity ensues. No really, it does! Really cleverly written, I loved the way the subject matter was handled. Instead of going for all boob jokes and low-blows, it really explored the female persona, relationships, and friendship. For something I thought would be totally awful and stupid, this was a highly pleasant surprise. And my ever-growing crush on Ana Faris pretty much fell into complete swooning after seeing her play the ditzy, yet endearing best friend. It's on Netflix Instantwatch, so what are you waiting for?

Tales from the Hood (1995) - Much like Tales from the Crypt, this Darin Scott film is an anthology of four stories, each with a very clear, yet not "in your face" message related to African American culture. Subjects like racism, stereotyping, and gun violence were all touched upon and given a fantastic horror slant. The "wraparound" story deals with an eccentric funeral home director (played brilliantly by the one and only Clarence Williams III) and three youths who have come to pick up a special "package." Before the director will give up the precious loot, he relates these stories to the boys. One story about the KuKluxKlan was very hard to watch, but very, very well done. My favorite of all was the "doll" story starring Corbin Bernson, but I can't say to much without giving away the awesomeness of the stories, so I'll just say, definitely watch it, especially since it's on Netflix InstantWatch. After having seen the awful Dark House, I was pleased to know Mr. Scott can make good films like this and his brilliant Film Noir Caught Up.

King Kong (1933) - Having never seen this classic previously (*gasp*), I thought it would just be cheesy fun, but it was actually quite a good story! A rogue director brings his new starlet and crew to a remote island in hopes of discovering a legendary immense beast, and gets more than he bargained for. Highly enjoyable and Fay Wray is totally pretty! Honestly, I prefer Peter Jackson's take on Kong a bit better, since we feel a bit of empathy for him, and he's more "realistic," but although this is a lot less cerebral, it's a lot more fun, and Naomi Watts is thankfully missing. The Kong special effects were absolutely stunning (and pretty darned scary!) and still hold up well today. Well worth a watch, if not multiple viewings.

Les Miserables (1935) - Still on my Fredric March kick, I got this from the library, expecting to just ogle him and not really enjoy the movie itself, but I loved it! Having seen the musical as a kid (and loved it), I readily remembered Victor Hugo's original story, but had forgotten how heartbreaking and deep it truly was. March plays Jean Valjean, a petty thief who remakes himself and becomes a rich man, although his past still tries to haunt him. Charles Laughton was brilliant as Javert, the police inspector obsessed with following the law to the letter and bringing Valjean to justice. March really gave an amazing and touching performance, and is truly worthy of his iconic star status. Great, great film - a must watch.

The Lovely Bones (2009) - Having read bits of the book and not being that impressed, I only rented this film because it was at the library and free. Boy, am I glad I did. Directed and written by Peter Jackson, we enter the world of young Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), and see the events of her untimely murder unfold from her perspective "between worlds" of life and death. Beautifully shot and absolutely stunningly surreal, this wonderful film reminded me a lot of Jackson's earlier, Heavenly Creatures that I absolutely loved as well. I am truly sorry I didn't see this at the theatre, since much of the amazing cinematography is meant to be seen on the big screen. Mark Walberg again proves himself to be a very solid actor (his turn as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights totally sold me, and made me love the film even more than I thought I would) as Susie's devoted father who would stop at nothing to find her killer. Although a little cartoony, Susan Sarandon as young Susie's grandma was a nice comic element in the piece. Stanley Tucci totally deserved his Academy award nomination for playing the incredibly creepy murderer George Harvey with a delicately subtle touch that made him eerily believable.

Halfway through the film, I recognized an early song by Brian Eno being used brilliantly as incidental music during an intense scene and quick Google discovered that he had composed the whole soundtrack to the film!!! I was ecstatic and returned to watch the rest with increased interest. Mr. Eno has always been one of my favorites, as his music is so transcendent and ethereally beautiful. The two early 1970s songs he used in the film - "The Great Pretender" and "Baby's on Fire" - were requested by Fran Walsh (Jackson's writing partner) who is a fellow fan and both fit seamlessly into the storyline. I recognized them instantly, since they are two favorites of mine as well.

An absolutely beautiful film that reminded me why I love Peter Jackson so very much.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) - This, in a word, was awesome!!! Having never seen this film previously, I was excited to finally have the chance. A crew of young scientists happen upon a mutant fish-man creature that was only considered myth previously. The creature is none too happy with the company, and makes his feelings known. Wonderful underwater photography, great, cheesy plotline and acting, and Julia Adams is totally hot! And if there hasn't ever been slash written about the two main scientists, David and Mark, there totally should be!!! They kept leaving Kay on the ship and heading down to that "grotto"...uh huh. XD Loved it! The creature makeup was incredible, too.

So there are a few movies I've seen lately. Feel free to recommend anything else!

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