Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fool's Views (2/28 – 3/6)

Good day, lords and ladies!

During the week examined below (yes, yes, I'm a little behind), we completed the final lap of our Godzillafest, and word to the wise, 27 G-films is a WHOLE lot of Godzilla in a single month. (Note: I did not watch the original Gojira this time out, as I’ve seen both the Japanese and its American iteration numerous times in the past couple years and can play them scene for scene in my head.) No regrets, but I doubt we’ll be doing that again anytime soon.

The remainder of the time was devoted to civilian fare, primarily dictated by a number of films that were ending their “streaming” engagement on Netflix, so I had to get them in before they expired. These included a surprising number of rom-coms, a couple big studio action flicks, and one blood-boiling documentary. Hope you like.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
(2nd viewing) d. Kaneko,
Shuseke, who helmed the enormously successful (both artistically and financially) GAMERA reboot in the 90s, takes the reins of the Godzilla franchise. However, purists be advised, the boy wonder isn’t interested in slavish homage to the past – in fact, Shuseke basically rewrites the rulebook, setting up Godzilla as a unqualified evil monster, complete with dead, milky white eyes facing off against Mothra, Baragon and (in his only heroic appearance) King Ghidorah who are dubbed, fittingly enough, “the guardian monsters.” There’s a lot of brutal monster action, and the human casualties are addressed onscreen in more explicit terms than ever before. Despite its unwieldy title, this is one of the finest entries of the entire series.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) (2nd viewing) d. Tezuka, Masaaki
Another direct sequel to the original 1954 picture, this time resurrecting the bones of the original Godzilla to function as the skeleton of a new biomechanical defense machine…new in name only, since it’s our old pal Mechagodzilla, here referred to as Kiyru. However, an unforeseen glitch occurs when the dormant DNA in the G-bones awakens and Kiyru goes on a rampage against the very city it’s supposed to defend. D’oh. Luckily, those wacky scientists are able to rewire Metal-G and send him back into battle. A little boggy at times, but not terrible.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) (2nd viewing) d. Tezuka, Masaaki
Masaaki delivers this immediate follow-up, in which the twin fairies appear to warn mankind that Mothra wildly disapproves of messing about with the bones of the dead Godzilla, and that Mechagodzilla needs to be dismantled. When the humans prove unwilling to lay down their biomechanical arms, Mothra and her microscopic minions then do a complete about face and fight alongside the humans against their common atomic-breathing enemy. Confusing? Yes, but there’s a fair amount of kaiju action to compensate for the lack of coherency.

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) (2nd viewing) d. Kitamura, Ryuhei
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the original GOJIRA, Toho pulled out all the stops for a very grand exit. In addition to the big G, there are a fundan kaiju eija (English translation: a lotta big monsters) on display here, something like 13-15 creatures total. As directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus), the experience is much akin to watching a video game with as much human combat action as rubber suited monsters, but it’s still fairly entertaining stuff. At just over two hours, it’s significantly longer than most 'Zilla flicks, but on display are aliens, space battles, and fights, fights, fights…albeit very short ones, just a few smashes and/or fiery blasts and it’s over. (Big G even blows his 1998 CGI American counterpart to bits.) While I definitely missed the extended crash-boom-bang of the old-school G-movies, I gotta admit, I was never bored.


(500) Days of Summer (2009)
(1st viewing) d. Webb, Marc
Refreshing, time-tripping journey through a relationship, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deshanel and an awesome showstopping Hall and Oates musical dance number.

Adventureland (2009) (1st viewing) d. Mottola, Greg
Very funny and touching look at young love and amusement parks. Solid work from all involved, including Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and Martin Starr.

Deliver Us from Evil (2006) (1st viewing) d. Berg, Amy
Infuriating documentary about a serial child abusing priest and the Catholic Church’s indefensible aiding and abetting of a 30-year crime spree. You will lose your mind.

Foot Fist Way, The (2006) (1st viewing) d. Hill, Jody
Astounding theatre of embarrassment, with Danny McBride as a dunderheaded Tae Kwon Do instructor. More shockingly un-PC than legitimately witty, but brave comedy nonetheless.

Gas, Food Lodging (1992) (1st viewing) d. Anders, Allison
Terrific look at a single mother (Brooke Adams) attempting to raise two daughters (Ione Skye, Fairuza Balk) in a desolate New Mexico town. Human, real, authentic, quirky and well realized.

Hot Fuzz (2007) (2nd viewing) d. Wright, Edgar
Watched this again at the behest of buddy John Pata, who feels it’s genuinely funnier than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. For my money, the comedy in the aforementioned zom-com-rom is more specific and intelligent as opposed to the broader strokes of sending up Hollywood action movies, but there’s no denying this is a very funny and well-built flick with an amazing supporting cast.

Island, The (2005) (1st viewing) d. Bay, Michael
In the hands of anyone other than Michael Bay, this might have been some sterling sci-fi, despite being wildly derivative of PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR. As it stands, you’ve got a pretty amazing 20-minute car chase sequence and a lot of widescreen panning shots, attractive leads (Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johanssen) wearing skintight jumpsuits, and Hollywood gloss a foot thick that nothing real can penetrate.

Lincoln Lawyer, The (2011) (1st viewing) d. Furman, Brad
The scrappy (i.e. non-romcom) Matthew McConaughey is back, as a wiseass, cocky, wily and intelligent lawyer who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Continental in L.A. Solid thriller, with a high paycheck supporting cast that includes Ryan Phillipe, Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy and Bryan Cranston. Great groovy musical soundtrack.

Machete (2010) (1st viewing) d. Rodriguez, Robert/Maniquis, Ethan
It’s big, it’s silly, and it probably could have stayed a faux trailer. Nevertheless, I was happy to watch Danny Trejo take center stage for 90 minutes. And Lindsey Lohan getting starkers was a not-unpleasant surprise.

Starting Over (1979) (1st viewing) d. Pakula, Alan J.
Funny and heartfelt (at least until its artificial “happy ending”) romantic comedy, with Jill Clayburgh and Burt Reynolds riding the rocky roads of relationships. Candice Bergen nearly steals the show as Reynolds’ tone-deaf songwriter ex-wife.

Streamers (1983) (1st viewing) d. Altman, Robert
Faithful if unremarkable screen version of David Rabe’s caustic Army barracks drama, with fistfuls of chewy dialogue wrapped around notions of racism, homophobia, misogyny and impotent male rage. Starring Matthew Modine, David Alan Grier and Mitchell Litchenstein (who would later write and direct the wonderful 2007 horror comedy, TEETH).

2011 totals to date: 115 films, 64 1st time views, 60 horror, 6 cinema


Arrested Development – 1 episode

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