Saturday, May 31, 2014

Some Stuff I've Watched Recently

Here's a quick run down of some stuff I've recently seen that, maybe, aren't deserving of longer reviews, or at least I'm too lazy to give them any:

Foyle's War
A British-produced detective procedural set in Hastings, England during the second World War. It's slow-paced and hard to get into (I had to try watching the first episode about three times and finally push through before it clicked), but boy is it good. It was a recommendation by my sister Tanya, who referred to it as "the British Colombo."I don't completely agree, since Colombo is more silly and funny, but both are about unassuming but brilliant police detectives who solve murders with an almost supernatural level of skill and brilliance.

And the setting is just cool and leads to some interesting stories and concepts. It does require a bit of knowledge about the second world war, but it's still accessible as a straight up murder mystery series. Anyway, I recommend it and think it's a lot of fun.

12 Years a Slave
Ok... I didn't actually watch this one, just the first thirty minutes or so, but that was long enough to learn it wasn't for me. Great movie. Great performances. Great direction. Great cinematography. Great period costumes and locations and sets. But after about the tenth torture scene, I decided to do something else. An important story to be sure, and we should never forget the atrocities of slavery, but I just didn't want to sit through a three hour movie that was so bleak and gruesome. I already know slavery is awful and I think I'm a nice person, so I am ok with skipping it.

But check it out if you're interested. I wasn't.

What does it say about me that I turned off 12 Years a Slave and actually finished Pompeii? In my defense, Pompeii is the kind of movie you can have on in the background while you do other things, like fold your laundry, work on your blog, or just search the web. You can't do that with a real movie, just a fake one like this, especially one by the phenomenally underwhelming director Paul W. S. Anderson.

Also, what does it say about me that I've seen every film by Paul W. S. Anderson but only one or two by Paul Thomas Anderson? Anyway, this movie was pretty terrible. It was basically just Gladiator, except it ended with a volcano erupting and killing everybody. I'm not even joking: It's literally the same plot as Gladiator, where a guy's family is murdered and then he's kidnapped and forcibly turned into a Gladiator... and then a volcano just erupts after an hour of twenty minutes then the movie ends. Of course, I knew all of this going in and didn't expect to be surprised, but I did expect the action to be better directed and edited, for the CG to look a lot less cheap and fake, and for the acting to not be so dreadfully bland.

Anyway, feel free to skip this one. You were gonna anyway.

All is Lost
Robert Redford as a sailor on a sinking yacht somewhere in the middle of the ocean. There is only one actor, two sets (the yacht and, later, a life raft), and less than a minute of dialogue in the entire film. It's basically just about a guy in a sinking boat, and... well... all hope is lost. It's a good film with an entirely original and brave concept that I recommend for movie fans who want to see something different, but it falls short of greatness if only because it's a bit too slow paced in some places, and a bit unbelievably over the top in some other sequences.

Anyway, this is one of those movies I put on my Netflix queue almost at random, and then when it came I couldn't remember why I thought that sounded good. It sat on my shelf for a week or so before I finally decided to just give it a try for a few minutes, but right from the start it hooked me in and kept me interested.

There's really not much to say about this one, and the story doesn't have any twists or turns or even a real plot. It's just a guy in a sinking boat, but the direction was great and Robert Redford nailed it. Check it out.

Thor: The Dark World
I liked this movie, even though I can't remember a single moment where I wasn't completely confused. I never knew what was happening, what the relationships were between the characters, or anything about the overall conflict. Simply put, it made no sense at all... but it sure was fun. Visually, it was really awesome and took the glimpses of Asgard from the first film to the next level. The original Thor was about an Asgardian trying to make his way on Earth, while this film is all Asgard all the time, and it's the better for it.

The first Thor is probably a better film, and it certainly has a more coherent story, but this one was just sillier and campier and more fun. The special effects were dazzling, the action set pieces were exciting, and all of the actors seemed to be having so much fun, especially Tom Hiddleston as Loki who has offically ranked as the greatest villain in the history of comic book movies. Maybe.

Anyway, I recommend this one. It's great fun.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

I felt largely the same about Thor 2, if I'm reading you right. The first film was maybe more charming and certainly more straightforward--maybe a better movie about Thor--but the second film was hella fun just from beginning to end. A lot of times I just get bored during the inevitable half hour action sequence at the end of films like Man of Steel or Iron Man 3, but in Thor 2, I was just sitting there smiling. Would watch it again.

12 Years a Slave--I watched it. All of it (my wife fell asleep). It was really a remarkably well made film (ummmm...why didn't Chiwetel Ejiofor win an Academy Award for best actor?), but you're right--it's relentlessly bleak until the last five minutes. Really sad.

Whenever I watch a movie like this, it's like, I can't even fathom that this was only ~150 years ago. How the fuck did human beings ever allow this situation to exist? To me, it's literally crazy.

Mugato said...

I tried watching Foyle's War and couldn't get through episode 1 either. I will try one more time