Monday, June 22, 2009

View from the Tank: Valu-Pak

What follows is essentially a compilation of my recent movie review tweets, with some elaboration beyond 140 characters (elaboration on tweets and/or multiple tweets indicated by long dashes).

At screenin[g] of THE GRADUATE at Hollywood Forever cemetery. Crazy crowded. People love watching movies while picnicking. --- The movie is still sort of funny, after all these years. Is Michael Cera doing a young Dustin Hoffman mumbly dreamboat thing? Some of the flashy editing seemed a little dated. Also, only in Los Angeles does the line about driving in "all the way from Tarzana" get a laugh. Four tentacles.

Tempted to give DOUBLE INDEMNITY five tentacles. Can't think of a better movie I've seen. Wilder & Chandler double each other's powers. --- Barbara Stanwyck is a pretty hot femme fatale. And how can you not love a movie where the protagonist/villain is an insurance salesman?

ENTER THE DRAGON 3.5 tentacles - a little stupid, but still a must-see for everyone. "There is no I." --- I had forgotten that the black dude gets killed in ENTER THE DRAGON. Lame, but par for the course at the time. Also, the 70's loved turtlenecks. --- The famous Hall of Mirrors scene in ETD - most literal interpretation of a Shaolin master's teaching ever. --- The Hall of Mirrors scene is high art.

CITIZEN KANE is overrated. Acting and story are better today. It may have been groundbreaking, but I don't care-still boring. 3 tentacles.

ROMAN HOLIDAY is a fantastic film. Seeing it again, ending is much sadder than I remember. Understand finality better now that I'm old. 4.5 tentacles

They were definitely not hypermiling in MAD MAX. --- MAD MAX may have been Detroit's finest hour. --- Re final scene of MAD MAX: lucky thing the Interceptor is an automatic. 4 tentacles.

UP was almost uniformly fantastic and pretty moving at points. The most human Pixar film to date. 4 tentacles. No need to see in 3D. --- On my second viewing I was less sanguine. The movie does become sort of pedestrian and prefab after the characters land in South America. Too many ideas tossed in (the rare bird, the talking dogs, the old explorer, etc.). Still good, but probably closer to 3.5 tentacles.

DRAG ME TO HELL was a lot of goofy, campy, gross fun. Not a classic, but thoroughly entertaining. 3.5 tentacles.

So, there it is: I gave DRAG ME TO HELL a better review than CITIZEN KANE. OCTOPUS GRIGORI, your source for accurate movie criticism.


David said...

Kane overrated. Also happiness, justice and water overrated.

Anonymous said...

I am wild about Roman Holiday--the ending kills me every time. Gregory Peck leaves me breathless.

I adored Up, but even if I didn't, I was overjoyed to see a genuine Asian-American lead character in a big studio movie (the fact that he has no neck makes him even more adorable).


Octopus Grigori said...

D: I take it you really like Citizen Kane? I just can't get past the cheesy acting, the heavy-handed imagery, the dopey quest for Rosebud, etc. The dialogue was crappy and the cinematography pointlessly showy. Willing to hear the other side, though. Most arguments in favor of the movie stress its groundbreaking technical accomplishments -- but why should we care about those much when the movie's such a bore?

David said...

I find the film captivating. I could watch it 100 times and never get bored with it. If the imagery seems heavy-handed now, that's only because it was so profoundly influential that it has been copied so thoroughly over the years. This was far and away the best-looking movie ever when it came out.


Octopus Grigori said...

D: Fair enough. I know I am in a tiny minority. Almost everyone I talk to in L.A. who is in any way into movies seems to share your view of CITIZEN KANE. I do go back and forth on whether a movie should be judged by the standards of its time, or without context. That is, should we have to know about the time the movie was made, why it was such a breakthrough, how it surpassed what came before, to enjoy the movie? Or should a movie stand on its own, and be enjoyable even without knowing the history of the film, the year it was made, how it differed from earlier films?

The analogy I often think of is to books or plays. One doesn't need much context or background to enjoy HAMLET, THE ODYSSEY, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, or A CLEAN WELL LIGHTED PLACE. Those works stand on their own, on the strength of their stories, characters, details, etc. I'd say the same for 2001, JAWS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, VERTIGO, etc. But whenever people talk about CITIZEN KANE, they have to frame their appreciation for the movie in terms of its historic and pioneering qualities -- and not so much on the story, characters, acting, dialogue themselves.

I can agree that CITIZEN KANE is important as a movie artifact -- as a piece of technical achievement, in much the same way the earliest films were great just for being made, not so much because they were so compelling or interesting. But I think it's a different thing for a film to be great and compelling on its own terms, stripped of context. I guess it's just two different ways to approach movies. Would be interested in your thoughts.