Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Recent movies

I'm a movie nut. I watch everything I can get my hands on; the worse the movie, the more likely I have to watch it when my wife is out of town.
Recently we've watched a couple that are worth sharing with people.
If you don't know it's about Ray Charles, then I am not going to contribute. Much like Rain Man, that extremely ordinary buddy movie with the outstanding performance by Hoffman, Ray follows the very familiar story arc: Poverty - Trauma - Beginnings of Talent - Early years - Drugs - Drugs and Success go hand in hand - Eventual Triumph/Early Death. Ray is flatly directed and has a pretty standard style, but Jamie Foxx is well beyond outstanding as Charles.
A word of advice, when you watch the DVD learn from our mistake. Watch the theatrical version. Although the extended version has some interesting recuts of scenes, the producers didn't actually produce a second version of the film, instead they leveraged the technology buy giving the DVD two different chapter orders. Watching the extended version makes your player sound like the death throes of the motor. Unless your player has an extrememly short seek time, there's no end to the annoying breaks as you skip from the theatrical chapter point to the extended scene and back. Coupled with the unfinished colouring and editing of the extra scenes this makes an unsatisfying version of the movie.
The 40-Year Old Virgin
Aah, a comedy that is funny. My beard has made it down past my knees since the last one.
Oh and it's crude, base, offensive, cringe-inducing....did I mention funny?
My folks went and saw the movie a week before the mrs and I did. Shall we just say that my mother didn't enjoy? Hell, my father was bugged out.
All the way through, friend DEG and I laughed and cringed, although I was a bit more aware of the potential offense the mrs might take. Still, on the whole she laughed and liked it.
If you're one of the last few who haven't seen it, I recommend but with this caveat: there are jokes about fucking a horse. You're warned.
The Constant Gardener
A great suspense movie, with a genuinely intelligent plot (pay attention, I'm not there to hold your hand from the credits) and good performances. Ralph Feinnes can portray an inner universe of incredible vastness with just a twitch of the corner of his eye. A performance that could only be called quintessentially English. The camera work favours that grainy, documentary feel that's more common nowadays, and some odd angles worked out for what they mean, not how easy it is to find the principle in the shot. This gives it a more arty feel that the usual suspense/spy fare.
Just a quick thumbnail of what I thought.
And of course:
A bit over a week ago, friend DEG calls and offers a ticket to an advanced screening. So I took the requisite .084 of a second to decide and met him on Thursday.
Walking out neither one of us could say anything but, Wow. Actually, friend DEG was also able to say, Spanked Revenge of the Sith. (I still don't think Sith was that bad; of course it's just that we're getting used to Star Wars being so bad)
Serenity was well plotted and well paced. It was gripping. Although there were some concessions to popular sentiment like a battle in the upper atmosphere so there could be engine sounds and a strangely 2-dimensional, naval interpretation of interplanetary travel, the characterizations (a Joss Whedon trademark) and story didn't pander.
And the 'space western' motif seemed to click for a change. I was often a bit unsure of it in the TV series.
Anyway, Serenity is a complete must see. One of the better movies this year.

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