October's DVD Reviews,
Quick reviews from my Netflix queue and/or
Much, much better than I expected.
I hadn't expected songs that actually propelled the story rather than just
being musical commentary on it. I hadn't expected Ricki Lake to be
topped by a new Tracy. I hadn't expected to even like this, but other
than Travola (who was just distracting) it was awesome.
Season 4, Disc 1
They've gone off on a religious
tangent that smells like stalling for time, and that's not like them.
I don't want this show to better than 90% of what's on tv. I was
it to be as good as it was up to this point.
It's certainly better than Rambo
III, but there's no reason to see it other than watching Rambo kill
people. Whereas that other comeback, Rocky Balboa, was filled
with existential questions about finding a place in one's life that can
coexist with one's legacy after past achievements can no longer be equalled
(plus sub-plots about a new romance and resolving conflicts with a son
who is similarly challenged by public perception of his father and whose
shadow he can never break free from), this is just a very quick kill-the-fuck-out-of-everybody
movie with a premise more than a plot.
I know Alejandro Jodorowsky more
for his comic books than film, but this is actually on par with his work
with Moebius for fantastic visuals and mind-bending stories. I think
it runs out of steam toward the end, but the first two-thirds of the film
are the most original you'll see this year. Even the first five minutes
meet that bar. I'm not shitting you.
Saw this at the show, actually.
It's hysterically funny throughout, although producer/host Bill Mahr never
tackles the fundamentals of religion as a phenomenon, just the extremists
(who, admittedly, are the most religulous). Also, in the last stretch
he's trying to tie it all together as a serious message (which, again admittedly,
it is) when, really, the rest of the film should have achieved that on
its own without the need for a summation directed at an audience confused
by the abrupt shift in tone.
The ridigity of the actors and
the always-locked-perpendicular-to-the-fourth-wall camera work get annoying,
but by the end, the faux soul-searching of the characters translates to
legitimate introspection for the viewer.
1, Discs 1&2
Remember The Day After
back in the '80s? Remember how bleak it was? Here the producers
take the same premise (what's the Midwest like after the nukes hit?) and
come to a seemingly opposite conclusion. In other words, there's
plenty of corn, literally and figuratively.
PICKS OF THE
LITTER: Musicals don't always translate well to film, but Hairspray
is a classic. For those looking for cult instead of camp, Holy
Mountain is not for the faint of heart, but it's unique to say the
least. And despite my reservations about Religulous as a whole,
it really is funny, and if you think you'll skip it because you might be
offended by it, then you're the most in need of seeing it.
DVD Reviews, Part II
More great stuff, possibly better
than at the start because the series seems to grow increasingly experimental.
This is all the more refreshing since it started out better than average
and subsequently earned the label "New and Improved."
Quality without originality.
Everyone involved does a good job, but this simply isn't entertainment.
It failed to surprise me. It failed to make me think about it.
It was simply a story set on a long, straight path, one where you can see
the end coming from the start and the scenery isn't especially great along
the way. My advice: Find a different route through the rental section.
Golden Age, 2007
I'm not a fan of histories (and
historians will quibble over the accuracies of this one anyway), but maybe
because history is my worst subject, I really enjoyed this one even through
the cheesy spots.
La Vie En Rose,
You know how depressing The
Doors was? Hey, at least Jim Morrison died when he was still
young and good looking. And you could understand the words even when
they didn't make much sense. Now let's take all of that away.
The one thing that isn't subtitled here? The songs in a movie
about a singer! Oh, and let's even skip completely over the most
interesting elements of the subject's life (e.g., her role in rescuing
POWs during WWII) in favor of footage of her slowly withering away in her
old age. Well-acted though.
They terraformed Mars to grow
corn. No, not really. Mars doesn't actually feature in this
at all, just John Cusack and a lot of corn. But I repeat myself.
Into the Wild,
A complicated story that acknowledges
the complexity with which you need to view its central character.
And yet it devotes well-deserved time to secondary characters. This
is a rare find, even if it's not for everyone. (Currently #133 on
PICKS OF THE
LITTER: Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the Empire Strikes Back
of what really ought to be a trilogy if Blanchet's game to return in another
ten years and there's more history I don't remember from high school worth
adapting. And Into the Wild is really good even if the filmmaking
sometimes goes as off the rails as its subject.