September 27, 2003
once upon a time in mexico


i love sneaking into movies. so free! and exhilarating.

i expected this movie to be better after the praise my brother heaped on it. but it was kind of a let down.

once upon a time in mexico is a sequel to desperado, which itself followed el mariachi (which had different actors). i wish i could give a plot synopsis of ouatim, but sadly there was none. if anything the story was, "mexico is not as weak as you think. fuck off and let us handle our own problems." seriously. this movie had, as far as i could tell, almost NOTHING to do with the previous one.

they followed some of the same conventions in pacing and story telling. ie at the beginning someone walks into a bar and hears a story about the legend myth man of EL mariachi. but then this one just went all to pieces with too many plot elements to follow, too much double crossing, and too much 'revenge'. and whose fault can all these problems be laid at the feet of? johnny depp. his character was trying to mastermind this whole coup to stop a coup to have his own coup, that everything became mushy like pea soup. and similarly opaque.

on the other hand, johnny depp was brilliant as ever. and even said, "savvy" which he says all the time in pirates of the carribean. ahhhh the man really only plays one role. and he does it so well.

antonio banderas just goes around shooting things and being all noble. people who died in desperado are alive and well. a new bad guy has popped up and has a past with selma hayek's character. completely out of the blue. she herself is hardly in this movie. it was all kind of flighty.

plus enrique iglesias is in this movie. he's a son of mexico you know.

some good lines by depp. "are you a mexiCAN or a mexiCAN'T?" that's really more racist than good. "fuck you." "fuck off." i like it when he swears. the whole movie he just speaks in english to all these mexicans and then tells them to fuck off. the first time he speaks any spanish is to say "no se" (spelling?) which i felt was ironic. in a good way.

in conclusion, this movie is a piece of mexican propaganda (the three mariachis save the day under the auspices of being "sons of mexico" and the fading images at movie's end are of banderas kissing a sash of the flag.) canned politics was an interesting direction to take an action sequel. but apparently robert rodriguez (the man behind the spy kids franchise [1, 2, and 3]) had something to say and he was going to cram it in come hell or high water.

Posted by michele at 03:51 AM
the rundown

the rock, seann william scott, and christopher walken. which of these does not belong? sadly in the rundown all of the above applied. even though i hate walken because he scares me i have to admit he is in a whole other league in terms of cinematic appeal than a wrestler and the walking shit eater grin. crap i am all talk. i totally find the rock appealing. it's the way he kicks ass. and sws besides being mentally retarded (that actually casts an aspersion on retarded people which is totally unfair) somehow scrapes under my irritation radar and makes a comfy home in my heart. damn him. i am weak.

this movie is not so bad. it's not so good either though. the rock is a "retrieval specialist", or bounty hunter, who is sent to get SWS from the brazillian forest. he is sent by sws's father who is mob-like and mad at him. the rock is confronted with the despotic ruler of some corner of the forest in the person of walken who doesn't want to let SWS go before he finds this fun ancient artifact crafted entirely out of gold. goooollllllddd. there's then a romp thru the jungle with meetings of monkeys and small rebel armies. since this is brazil, they have the nation's dance fighting craze utilized to brilliant effect. they're like spinny devils of pain! i wish i could do that.

fave line (delivered by the rock): are you threatening me with pee?

pee is a wonderful thing to make light of in my book.

walken also does this humorous turn where he tries to explain the tooth fairy to some non-english speakers/silly american tradition cultural wastelands.

note: this is the terrible movie i went to see for post-rejection release. i don't know what i was thinking. luckily i then snuck in to see once upon a time in mexico for a johnny depp fix.


Posted by michele at 03:19 AM
September 25, 2003
matchstick men

well.....nicolas cage first off. the man played a character with many irritating psychotic tics, the thing is that he did it with style. yes, style. he kind of makes you like him. mostly just because of the human interest with his daughter (played by allison lohman--so adorable) who is clearly happy to be around him. sam rockwell, on the other hand, is a god. the man has to do nothing but stand there with that smirk on his face and a hat pulled down over his eyes and i melt. completely melt. add to that the fact that at one point he wore a cowboy hat and claimed that all the ladies love it. and we did. we did love it. swoon.

for those of you unclear on the concept i'm saying that i love sam rockwell.

at the beginning of that previous sentence i was trying to write that i would give a synopsis of the film for those who hadn't heard of it. but i got sidetracked. i apologize. roy (cage) and frank (rockwell mmm) play partner con-artists. and roy is a little mentally disturbed with agoraphobia and issues with dirt. it comes out that roy has a daughter (lohman) and getting to know her makes roy a little more laid-back. frank and roy then go after this big mark and that is the second, tumultuous half of the film of which i want to give nothing away.

i thought the film was going to be a lot more high-paced with action, but it turned out to be more of a human behavior piece on father/daughter relations. which was nice and they did a splendid job, but still.

lohman was great. rockwell was a little too glib, as if sometimes he wasn't even trying. cage was good, but then sometimes he would completely lose his tics. at which point i ceased to believe he was playing a character and was just hanging around being chummy.

the plot twists were good and the end of the movie irritated me as i felt it was vaguely unnecessary how they decided to tack on the final shots.

on the whole it was good, but due to the lack of anything big happening the theatre is not required for viewing this movie. therefore i would recommend waiting for video.


Posted by michele at 09:28 PM
September 19, 2003

i just went and saw underworld, and damn but that movie is sick. it has everything a girl could want. vampires, lycanthropes, guns, semi-impressive new technology for fighting the above species, love. AND an exciting and unexpected ending! well, not the whole ending. but the little twist at the end. that was good.

so this movie is about selene (played by kate beckinsale, who has come a long way from her days playing hero in much ado about nothing, you've got to admit), and selene is a vampire whose family was killed by lycanthropes and she was rescued by this old pure-born vampire named viktor who took her in. and she stumbles upon this lycanthrope plot to make a special new weapon out of scott speedman (from felicity. ha ha. but no, seriously, he's not bad in this) playing michael corvin. so the movie follows this war which has been waging between vampires and lycans for 1000 years and thru exciting flashbacks and carefully revealed info we learn the cause of the war, the truth about selene and michael's respective pasts, and the future of the vampire/lycan conflict.

in between the whole movie is this dark imbued cinematography. i don't think they once filmed during the day, they all wear dark colors, so generally the only light things were the moon and the vampire's glowing blue eyeballs when they change.

the fight scenes are not really rave worthy, but they're not bad. since it's almost all done with guns, it's fairly typical choreographing with the added benefit of a few jumps from very high up, and half the opposing forces turning into big ugly werewolves sometimes. but kate beckinsale wanders around encased in tight black leather all the time, and there's nothing wrong with that.

so, if you're a fan of the laurell k hamilton books or buffy, i strongly recommend this movie. it's fucking sweet. if you're against supernatural/occult films then you can go see the fighting temptations.


Posted by michele at 02:02 PM
September 09, 2003
the magdalene sisters

(ahem. hello cody.)

whoa. 1996. fer fuck's sake.

so. in ireland the catholic church set up all these 'asylums' for naughty girls/women called the magdalene convent/order/asylum/correctional facility/whatever. and basically they were places of slave labor where the women were forced to work, generally as laundresses. the last one closed in 1996. this movie is set in the 60's/70's. (i think. it starts in the 60's but then they're in there for quite some time soooo i'm not positive when it actually ends.)

19 fucking 96. insane.

this movie is pretty intense. first off, it follows these girls--4 in particular--who are trapped in the asylum. one is raped by her cousin and sent off by her father, another is in an orphanage and flirts with some boys on the other side of a fence, and the other 2 have children out of wedlock.

they're beaten by the nuns, one of them is forced to give the priest blow-jobs before sermons. when bernadette tries to escape they shave her head and in the process cut up her scalp quite a bit so that her face is covered in blood and there's this shot of her eyeball with sister bridget (sadistic old bitch) framed in her pupil while this gooey, congealing blood is clinging to her eyelashes. it's fucked up. at the same time, even though things are horrible i kept expecting there to be MORE horrible things. i was expecting some serious beatings and some more kinky sex acts. but other than the humiliating scene where the girls are all naked and two nuns are playing a game to pick out who has the biggest/smallest breasts/ass and hairiest pubic area, there's not that much mental anguish performed on them. well, other than the whole being held prisoner and forced to wash clothes.

i also kept expecting some lesbian action to pop up, but sadly was not rewarded in this hope.

this movie is based on the true stories of these girls and it was moving and semi-frightening in its portrayal of that truth. at times it was more shocking and better at plunging the depths of human emotion, but even the sort of dry sections were good. the nuns acting jobs were superb. the 4 main girls wavered every so often. the one i liked least was actually the best actress.

even though i want to say that this movie is super 8 great and that everyone should see it as a lesson to be learned and a moral fibre/art house gem, i have to admit that cinematically it's really not that compelling. it lacks a certain sparking essence which would make it great. it's a little too....both timid in approach and lackluster in true emotion. basically i think it was not directed as forcefully as it could have been and this let down the end product.


Posted by michele at 11:55 PM
american splendor

have you seen crumb? i saw crumb. i didn't like crumb. i should have known better than to go see american splendor. admittedly, it was less disgusting than crumb, but it was still kind of boring.

yes. boring. i was bored by american splendor. there's nothing really bad about it. nor is it a terrible movie. it's just very slow. and boring.

there's a lot of comic strip simulated visuals where the camera pans and there's cuts and various frames. that's all cool. there's been a definite rise in that in films lately what with all the comic-made-movies. but i don't feel it's gotten old quite yet.

in particular there was this scene where harvey pekar (the actor one not the real one) is giving this soliloquy about phone books and the other harvey pekars who come and go in it while he questions his own individuality/self which i thought was both well written and visually impressive.

i also like how much of an integral role the real harvey pekar played in this movie. he did some voiceover narrator work but then they also did kind of interview scenes and behind the scenes work. there was this one funny part where real harvey and the real toby (his co-worker/friend) are discussing jelly bellies and toby (who is a little giovanni) eats a chocolate one. and the actors playing harvey and toby in the background sitting in set chairs are kind of giggling. well paul giametti (who plays harvey) is chortling. guy playing toby was busy taking off his sweater vest i think.

i'm curious if people who are really into american splendor the comics enjoyed this movie. since i've never read one i have no basis for judgment. i think they would like it, but am not sure and cannot make the broad generalization. ah well, onwards and upwards.

Posted by michele at 11:31 PM