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The Bourne Supremacy

Posted by james on April 19, 2007

(post.rating: 9)

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Just got done with Bourne Supremacy, and I'm amazed. First, I vaguely remember watching the prequel, The Bourne Identity. I can't remember much, except that it had Matt Damon (doing ok), incredibly fast paced hand-to-hand action, a non-standard female lead (Run Lola Run's Franka Potente), and was mostly decent. I really can't remember much of it though. Oh yeah, and Julia Stiles in a out-of-place strange/confusing role (some pretty girl in a broom closet talking on the phone, randomly).

The previews looked good; they always do. But this time, thankfully, they didn't lie as usual. The action was pretty intense, the characters all seemed right. There's a certain brusque and concise manner to the actor's physical movement, a no-nonsense approach to action and spy-ification (spy as a verb?) that's the complete opposite of all-flash James Bond style movements. Each physical fight under-emphasizes each movement and lets things get lost in a flurry of movement. Frankly, it's what I always wish for while I'm waiting out the typical 20-second slow motion flying-roundhouse kick, plus an extra 3 seconds to watch Tom Cruise's hair move back into place. Do I digress?

I was sad that Franka had a 5 minute role in the movie, and I almost wished they'd established either her character or her importance to Bourne/Damon. But after watching to the end, it makes sense. Any time spent emphasizing their relationship would've been cheesy recap for the "There was a first one?" crowd, and wasted valuable time. Touche, nameless director, touche. I'm beginning to think that Brian Cox is doomed to be type-casted as, what I'll only name, "The Creepy Guy with the Drawling Voice". I didn't even think about Joan Allen as the no-nonsense female boss during the movie, which is quite a compliment; she did exactly the role, perfect. Usually they stand out with "I'm tougher than any guy!" insecurities and get in the way. Karl Urban wins first prize as the best bad guy with the least amount of lines. I didn't even realize he hadn't spoke much, his intensity makes up for it.

Last, the dark horse... Julia Stiles. She's actually a double-surprise. She's supposed to be a favorite, but all the things I can remember her in she's been absolutely miserable (actually, all I can picture is her in "10 Things I Hate About You". Gah). But during that one scene (don't want to say too much), wow. Just incredible. It's one of the most amazing moments on screen I've seen in a long, long time. It's one of those things that make you reevaluate your opinions on a seemingly overrated actor(ress). Is she actually good in anything? Worth trying to figure out...

Last, Damon. Pretty amazing. He's been really good in other roles (Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan of course) and he's still good. It probably has a lot to do with good script writing not trying to ham everything up, but he's just good.

Overall, I'm really surprised to find a great and solid sequel to my vague memories of an uninspiring action movie. I really do think I'll have to rewatch the Bourne Identity now...

PS. I almost forgot! My only complaint about the movie is actually attached to a compliment. They hired some indie-director to do an almost documentary-style approach, which really helps. I really do appreciate the underkey, personal cinematography, it really does engross you in Bourne's struggle. However (and this is a big one), I would also like to deem the action sequences of the movie "NaseaVision". Really close, really shaky, all confusing. Come on man, use some medium shots to balance out those "in your face" closeups. It's like watching an earthquake from 2 inches away. Chaotic, confusing, and gives me a headache.

The Wicker Man

Posted by james on April 16, 2007

(post.rating: 1)

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I just watched The Wicker Man. The previews looked like a typical generic "horror" movie (for lack of a better descriptor), nothing special. However, after watching a hilarious <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo">remix clip</a> on youtube I had to see this movie. My good friend Winton confirmed what Rotten Tomatoes and pretty much everyone else said; this movie was an absolute bomb.

Just... go watch that youtube clip. Almost all of those scenes are continuous clips from the movie, not edited to make it look weirder than it really was. The movie really is that bizarre. The worst part is that you sit through hours of Nicolas Cage screaming "What's going on??" at various people, and then no one answering, and then the movie continues to the next scene. You also see lots of strange things; men who can't talk with deformities, baby fetuses in jars, crows everywhere, bees everywhere. What's does it all mean?? Next paragraph...

I'd have to say that this is the worst "horror" movie (again, a better description may be "annoying butchered American remake fest") I've ever seen. I've seen others that are just laughably, ridiculously bad (Evil Dead 1, Dead Alive, modern B-movie classics like The Relic, etc) but this one just is tops for it's courage. The directors had the audacity to put lots of crazy little things in there to pique the viewers' curiosity (so... Why are there baby fetuses in bottles?), <b>without explaining any of it.</b> Bravo. I'd say it's symbolism and deeper meaning, except that I suspect that it's not. The original British 1973 <i>Wicker Man</i> was supposed to be a modern (1973-era) confrontation of a Christian and Neo-Pagans, with authentic representation of the pagan rituals. The new one? I figure they had 6 year olds watch a few B-movie horror classics, draw with crayon and paper what they thought of it, and then assembled those with dialog for Nicolas Cage. And then told the rest of the cast these instructions:

"Yes, and one more thing... Nicolas Cage has been given lines in this movie, but he has not been told that no one else is actually allowed to speak. If he asks you anything, just avoid answering and keep going until the director yells cut."

And I'm sure Cage still wakes up sweating in his room to this day... "*snort*... The bees! Why is it burned? WHY IS IT WHY IS IT BURNED WHY IS IT BURNED????"


Actually, the most interesting thing about this movie (besides "Why in the world did anyone agree to do this movie?") was that the original 1973 protagonist was an adult Christian virgin. They had to change that for Cage's character, as nowadays an adult virgin would be too unbelievable. The funny thing is, an adult virgin in a modern day movie would be unbelievable even to me... and I <b>am</b> an adult virgin. I sometimes think how much of an anomaly I am, and it's funny and sad all at the same time.

Children of Men

Posted by james on April 14, 2007

(post.rating: 9)

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I just saw this at the dollar movie theater. It looked very interesting in the trailers (though that's often misleading), but rotten tomatoes gave it a <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/children_of_men/">high 90% score</a>, so I figured it would be good. It was pretty amazing. It has a good amount of excitement, but never indulges in the "one man against an army" kind of guerrilla warfare bit. The movie struck a good balance between suspense, an incredibly immersive Orwellian world, and the impact of the plot. There are moments where the movie slows down and it's almost sad/beautiful.

In the midst of a lot of really bad movies (and it always seems that things are getting worse), I was surprised how solid this movie was. Definitely worth viewing, though it wont be the action-fest that some might expect. All the actors seem just fit for their roles, no one sticks out (not even red-head Julianne Moore in the midst of a bunch of brits). At a few points it seems like Clive Owens is speaking with half his jaw tied behind his back (he has a unique accent), but it's decent for the rest of the movie.

The man... Chiwetel Ejiofor. I knew I'd seen him somewhere before! Serenity, the crazy philosopher/killer. Gotta love that guy. Claire-Hope Ashitey does a really good job, I love hearing those kinds of accents (don't even know what they are, really) and she never pulls a pity card in the movie, just makes it believable. Also, I think I now know where babies come from... that was about the most graphic birth scene ever.

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