Day 17, Movie 16

20 Nov

Castaway On The Moon  (2009)

A failed suicide attempt leads to a discovery of a new life and a new beginning in this Korean film.

The film opens with a middle age man who is massively down on his luck and in a state of distress.  This leads him to attempt suicide by jumping off a bridge into the Han river.  Much to his dismay he washes ashore on a small island located under an overpass, in the middle of the river.  His frustration with his failed attempt lead him to a frantic scramble to try to get off the island so that he can head to the tallest building and leap off of it.  After a day or so of failed attempts his view of his new situation changes and he starts viewing it as a new lease on life where he can be anything and do anything that he wants.  He begins to make useful things of the assorted trash that he finds and even plants himself a garden so he can eat something other than fish.  Perfectly content with his new life, it suddenly gets interrupted by a shut-in girl who has been viewing him through the long zoom lens of her camera.  She eventually reaches out to him via a message in a bottle and the movie shifts from there.

The movie had a distinct Michel Gondry feel to it with some surreal scenes and bright imagination.  You could overlook the flimsy premise because of the big “dream like” scope to it.  You forget how close the man is to society and start imagining what you would do in his situation.  The part that I was a little let down by was the ending which was all too predictable and not that well executed.  But I didn’t let that distract me from what was a very fun film.

Castaway on The Moon is a film with a big heart and big imagination and while the ending was a bit of a let down the journey was still a fun one.

7.5/10

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Chic-A-Go-Go

18 Nov

I was looking on Youtube for some Archer Prewitt video’s and I stumbled across this:

Archer and band fake playing along to his music on a Chicago public access show called Chic-A-Go-Go.  The show is a dance show for kids…………

And then there was Tortoise

Then there was this……..a David Yow interview and more show randomness

 

Day 16, Movie 15

17 Nov

Copyright Criminals   (2009)

Should an artist be compensated if a two second sample of their song is used by another artist?  Copyright infringement is a tough subject to handle and this documentary takes a look at the sampling issue from all angles.

Sampling in music has been used for quite a while now (the Beatles have even used samples in their music) but it came into prominence in the 90’s with the release of records by Public Enemy, De La Soul and a handful of others who were relying heavily on samples from 70’s funk records and tunes by popular artists.  With the popularity of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” (which sampled Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise), came the scrutiny of record labels looking for their compensation for using the sample.  Who and how much for are two of the central questions behind the idea of compensation and those ideas are discussed albeit very loosely by this documentary.  Interviews with the artists who’s songs have been sampled, the artist doing the sampling and other music industry reps comprise most of the film.  The footage with Steve Albini is as usual for him, outspoken and matter of fact which really helps keep this film grounded and well rounded from all points of view.

No matter what your thoughts on sampling are, this film is worth a watch because it doesn’t try to steer your opinion.  It shows no agenda other than to shed some light on the controversy of sampling and provided some interesting thoughts.

6.5/10

 

Day 15, Movie 14

14 Nov

Hannah Takes The Stairs  (2007)

Does every film “movement” have to have a name? Especially one as lame as Mumblecore?  Do these films have a place?

Hannah is not long out of college and is just starting to experience some of the trials and tribulations of life.  Working for a few television writers, she struggles to truly identify what she really wants in a relationship as she bounces from one guy to the next.  Her self-absorbed nature blinds her from the reality of her actions and makes her think that any guy that shows one little common bond and an inkling of interest, must be the guy for her.  To make things worse she does the proverbial no-no and decides to date one of the guys that she works with.  Creeper Lagoon’s “Wrecking Ball” comes to mind when I watch films like this.

At its core, mumblecore (I cringe each time that I mention that word) films are extremely low-budget, involve untrained actors (or newer actors) who are represented in their post college mid to late twenties and are very loosely scripted with a lot of the film ad-libbed.  On paper that seems like a creative idea for those young film makers who can tell a great story but can’t afford to make a Hollywood style film.  In practice, films like this one are poorly shot (lots of shaky camera work), poorly acted including a few times where Greta Gerwig (Hannah) looks directly at the camera and involve too many pointless scenes with pointless dialog.  How much self-pity can the viewer take?  Would working towards a solution or self-discovery be such a bad thing?  This film plays out like they chose a handful of random days in someone’s life and followed them with a camera.  They then take all the footage and try to edit it into a story of some sort without a beginning or ending.  Just a bunch of filler…………………

4.0/10

Day 14, Movie 13

10 Nov

Due Date    (2010)

There is a reason that I stay away from movies like this one but sometimes I need to watch one to remind myself.  Two decent actors, one substandard director and a whole lot of eye rolling.

Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is in Atlanta on business and needs to make it home to L.A. in time to see the birth of his first child.  Ethan Trembly/Chase (Zach Galifianakis) is an aspiring actor who is on his way out to Hollywood to try to make it in the biz.  The two meet after a completely idiotic situation at the airport curbside drop off and this “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” wanna be movie takes shape.  There were several more frustrating scenes including the one where they get kicked off the airplane and are banned from flying.  The situation was so frustratingly dumb but it was what the movie was built around so I couldn’t help but be more frustrated.  After getting kicked off the plane Peter is unable to rent a car because his wallet was left on the plane so he decides to get in a car with the person who got him kicked off and the road trip begins.

I would like for someone to explain to me why in comedies like this one they have to take the stupidity to the next level.  For every genuine, well scripted funny scene with an ounce of realism they have 20 scenes like the Mexico border crossing which had no place in the movie.  Are these just portals to the minds of a Hollywood writing room where they don’t believe that they can keep an audience’s attention if they don’t inject a movie with schlock.  Yes this movie isn’t meant for me to enjoy, but underneath all of the crap there was a decent story and some funny moments, so why bog those down with middle school humor?  The moments where they were talking about their relationships with their fathers where well done but those moments were far to few and scattered among the rubble that they were leaving behind them in the form of wrecked cars and broken bodies.  This movie wasted the talent of Robert Downey Jr. and my star crush Michelle Monaghan seemed very wasted in her part.  They could have casted Cameron Diaz and had the same effect.

Yup, these movies just aren’t for me but I will keep trying because I like to torture myself like that.

4.5/10

Day 13, Movie 12

9 Nov

Unstoppable   (2010)

Director Tony Scott hasn’t made a decent film since Enemy of The State and that was in 1998.  Is this a return to the form that gave us Crimson Tide or is this another Domino?

Due to some massive stupidity, this film revolves around an unmanned runaway train that is traveling at high speeds and carrying some hazardous cargo that could destroy a city if the train crashes.  Main characters Frank the veteran (Denzel Washington) and Will the rookie (Chris Pine) take it upon themselves to catch this runaway train even if it means sacrificing their own lives.  Both Chris and Frank have tension in their family lives but more than anything they seem to be self-inflicted wounds and you fail to feel sorry for them at any point.  In fact you start to bore a bit at the family banter material because it resurfaces several times without moving the story forward.

I had many issues with this film including the general stupidity of most of the people involved in the “mess”.  Including several scenes with people standing around engaging in idle chatter about what to do, instead of actually doing something.  The cliché “rookie” vs. “veteran” banter that popped up one to many times including the brutally stupid beginning to the film.  We have the “welder” who seems to serve no distinct purpose other than driving his truck during the climax of the film and saying a lot of dumb things such as this gem “jump you pussy”.  His character made me feel like I was watching an episode of Swamp Wars.  I can’t forget to mention the helicopters………oh the helicopters.  They were all over and in massive amounts to the point that it was a major distraction as they fly literally right next to the train.  I guess the cameras on the news choppers weren’t equipped  with a zoom lens.  On a bright note, Denzel did a solid job acting!

Damn you Tony Scott for wasting my time on this movie.  It was not worth the time I spent watching it, not even on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

3.5/10

Netflix News

9 Nov

Yes, I am a little slow to the draw on this one but I still think it is worth posting about.

I am a huge fan of Korean films as evidence by my inclusion of several Korean films in my “Essential Viewing” section and Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance making my Top 10 all time films.  I was pleased to hear a few weeks ago that Netflix struck a deal with CJ films, a big name in Korean film.  The agreement brought 20 new streaming titles to Netflix and is hopefully a sign of good things to come.

You can read more about the story here – Link

You can see the full list of titles here – Link

My picks of the bunch

  • I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok
  • Castaway on The Moon
  • Moss