December's DVD reviews


Lots of stuff this time around.  Holidays and cold weather meant bundling up and not getting many projects done.
Zabriskie Point, 1970 - Notable primarily because a still-psychedelic Pink Floyd composed much of the incidental music and there's that neat shot near the very end most people remember (because it's reused a million times in rapid succession), but the movie itself has almost no plot and runs its point into the ground.

G3 Live in Denver - Satriana, Vai, and Malmsteen tear it up.  It's mostly for guitar nerds, but it's a hell of a show even if you aren't a musician.

Doubt, 2008 - Not a masterpiece, but the cast is golden and the film is classy enough to carry the titular ambiguity all the way through.

Rachel Getting Married, 2008 - In general I favor movies about story more than about character, but this is a rare one that works because as a character study, it does genuinely study the central character (Kym; Rachel is her sister) rather than just being an exhibition of someone flawed going through life (see SherryBaby for the latter case).

Mamma Mia, 2008 - Silly and frivolous, and maybe knowing that going in is why I cut it enough slack to enjoy it.  It's fun, but don't expect anything deeper than the handful of Abba songs that spawned it (and were sometimes crammed into situations so contrived that the lyrics barely fit the scene or vice versa, but whatever).

The Room, 2003 - Hailed as the worst movie ever made, this is easily the most entertaining movie I've ever seen.  So bad you're laughing non-stop between gasps at, "Did that just happen?"  One sidewalk reviewer described it as "if someone was raised in a Skinner box and then was asked to make a movie about relationships."  I have watched this three times now (counting once with commentary by the Rifftrax (i.e., former MST3K) guys).  It is so terrible I cannot stop quoting it without provocation and impersonating its "writer"/"director"/"star."  The only thing funnier than everything in the film is everything about the making of the film and the cult (including comedy celebs like David Cross and Patton Oswalt) who have glommed onto it in ironic celebration of its sheer awfulness.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Season 1 - Less a sitcom than long-form YouTube sketch comedy built around a cast that inevitably get compared to Seinfeld for reasons owing more to tone than text.  What's new is how it goes places that make you go, "That's so wrong."  I actually LOL more at this series than almost anything I'm currently watching other than 30 Rock or The Office, which is saying a lot.

Buffy: Season 4 - The mythology has grown as ridiculous as the initial premise, and that's a good thing because suspension of disbelief is hard to maintain when a series has the ridiculous couched in unsustainable attempts at reality.  They've thrown that out the window this go round, and it's the first season I actually enjoyed without scoffing.

Religulous, 2009 - My second viewing, but the first on dvd.  The commentary track leaves a lot to be desired.  There are bonus features, but they aren't on par with promises of an afterlife.  Then again, they don't bill them as such.  You get this one for the movie itself, not the extras.  The film is genuinely funny and well-made.  It's no masterpiece, but it's a good attempt to tackle this subject with the appropriate level of snark.

Kathy Griffin My Life On the D-List: Season 3 - Very emotional season.  Some good moments, and Kathy's always entertaining, but the attention seems divided and uneven.  Some facets of her life get too superficial a treatment while they linger on other areas.  It's funny regardless, just clunky.

Seed of Chucky, 2005 - Another horror series goes meta (see later installments of Nightmare on Elm St. and Hellraiser for other examples of this desperate and abundantly played-out phenomenon).  Silly, but then again, you're watching a movie about a killer doll or three.  I mean, seriously.  What did you expect?

Mad Men: Season 2 - Not as ground-breaking as the first season, but it effectively avoids clichés and other predictability pitfalls.  It takes until the end of this season before the plotting heads in directions where there's a shake-up coming (and even then it's only hinted at, not delivered), but it's not an unenjoyable trip even when the show is running smoothly.

Kevin Smith: Sold Out - A Threevening with Kevin Smith, 2008 - I've said it before, and this thirds the motion: Kevin Smith is actually funnier in front of the camera than behind it.  He spins yarns about Hollywood as effectively and effortlessly as Kathy Griffin's stage show, and yet I suspect he'd never seek billing as a stand-up comic or any other variety of performer.

Baby Mama, 2008 - Nothing especially deep or original here, but gawd.  I love me some Tina Fey and Amy Poeler (why, yes I would!).

Milk, 2008 - An effective biopic about the gay activist.  Good movie and an important story with modern parallels (i.e., the fight goes on), but nothing surprising here if you know gay men kiss one another (Duh).

PICKS OF THE LITTER: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has the potential to evolve into this generation's Seinfeld.  It's the first comedy on this scale to say, hey, screw this "taped live in front of a studio audience" crap and go all Curb Your Enthusiasm.  And The Room.  Seriously.  I really thought the (nega-)hype was just that, but this is truly hysterical in ways never, ever intended.



Copyright 2009 Ale[x]plorer.
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