Monday, March 29, 2010

Drillbit Taylor, Still Life, Magic and Bird

Short review time of a few films I've watched in the past couple of weeks.

The problem with getting a blu-ray player is you are tempted to watch junk you wouldn't normally watch--just because it's on blu-ray! That's what I found myself thinking as I wasted nearly two hours of my life on the very bad 2008 comedy Drillbit Taylor. Was I being weak or can I blame the fact I watched this on the lack of choices on this DVD format? Either way, the movie is a compete disaster that sees Owen Wilson hiring himself out on the cheap to a trio of high school nerds who need protection from the school bully. The only thing I remotely liked was Adam Baldwin's cameo--and that lasted four seconds. Even Danny McBride can't help this mess. Blu-ray is wonderful, but you get suckered into watching films that aren't worth the time, or the format itself, like Drillbit Taylor.

Now for the first of two recommended films. Still Life is a 2006 Chinese film from director Zhang Ke Jia that is a no nonsense slice of realism set around the massive Three Gorges Dam project. The story follows a man as he looks for his wife and daughter. He hasn't seen them for 16 years and they've moved away due to the flooding of their town due to the dam. Film is very slow and most of the actors don't seem like actors at all. It's as if Zhang has assembled a bunch of people who really live in the Three Gorges area and has put them into the movie. I love it when films feel like that--authentic. Still Life is a somber film that exposes a lot of unglamorous and rarely seen parts of China.

Magic and Bird is a new documentary that I recently watched on HBO about the rivalry and friendship of basketball players Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It's an energetic, entertaining and stylish look at these two all-time greats at their sport and traces their stories from childhood to present day. I didn't know a lot about Bird's rough upbringing in a rural community in southern Indiana so learning about that made me connect with the type of player he was. I couldn't stand him or the Celtics in the '80s when I was growing up--didn't like the Lakers either actually--but I grew to admire his hard nosed style post-career. Emphasis on team basketball was one of the things that brought this pair together--kind of refreshing in this day and age. Worth watching if you have HBO or when it's out on DVD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

UTW review of The Ghost Writer

Go here if you want to read my review for Roman Polanski's latest film The Ghost Writer in this week's Urban Tulsa. It's kind of a political thriller. I liked it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do it for Johnny!

To celebrate THE OUTSIDERS winning the poll, here's a very short clip of Matt Dillon acting up a storm in a classic moment from the film.

Glad that KEYS TO TULSA didn't get a vote. That was one awful movie.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

UTW review of She's Out of My League

Go here if you want to read my review of She's Out of My League in this week's Urban Tulsa. It's a comedy that asks the question: can a regular guy really have a chance with a super-hot woman? Deep, I know.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughts on Whit Stillman films for CineRobot

I'm forever pimping Whit Stillman and his three movies so in my first attempt at a video blog--here's me talking about Whit Stillman's movies! Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cadillac Records; A Man, A Woman and a Wall; Romance

A few short reviews starting with the below average music picture from 2008 Cadillac Records. There's just too many of these woefully simplified, abridged music based films. These films have lots of songs, drama, good times mixed with the bad and hard to believe stories. Cadillac Records is about Chess records in Chicago as they put out music by Muddy Waters, Etta James, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and others. It's pretty to look at but has no substance or anything to recommend it other than the predictable, superficial story and characters.

Now a couple of films with a lot of nudity and sex in them! A Man, A Woman and A Wall (2007) is a highly sexed, kind of pervy, low budget drama/comedy from Japan that I ended up liking way more than I expected. Maybe I was letting out my inner deviant with this one?

Directed by Masashi Yamamoto, the story involves a guy who moves into a new apartment with really thin walls. He begins to eavesdrop on his fetching neighbor. At first it's just putting his ear near the wall. Soon after he's got listening devices working and is rifling through her garbage. The woman is being harassed by a prank caller and the new neighbor begins to slowly get drawn into her world.

A Man, A Woman and a Wall has lots and lots of nudity in it. The female lead, Aoi Sola, has worked in the Japanese porn industry, so a little bit of nakedness isn't going to bother her. It also has a quirky, fun vibe to it that kept surprising me as I watched it go in unexpected directions. It's not just about a woman taking off her clothes (although she does that quite a bit!) as it's a strange romance the two have. A fun surprise.

Now a film with a lot of sex in it that isn't any fun at all: Romance. This French film from writer/director Catherine Breillat is a tortured, erotic-free look at one woman's disastrous love life. Her boyfriend won't sleep with her so she begins to take on more and more out there behavior, all the while moping around pining for the man who treats her like crap.

I remember this being pretty controversial when it came out in 1999 but it's really not that dirty. Sure, there are some graphic scenes (including all you ever might want to see in a gynecologist visit) but I've seen way dirtier in "mainstream" movies than what is in Romance. The major problem with it is it isn't a very good movie. Silly story, bad dialogue and tiresome from start to finish. Watch A Man, A Woman and a Wall if you want to see something with a lot of skin in it--at least it makes sex look like fun.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Exhibit promo

Enjoy this no-frills promo I just made to promote an exhibit at the Tulsa Historical Society. My day job if you didn't know is as the archivist at THS.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New poll question/UTW review of Brooklyn's Finest

Since CineRobot is based out of Tulsa, I might as well have a question connected to the city. What is the best movie either shot in or about Tulsa or Tulsans?

Go here if you want to read my review in Urban Tulsa this week. I saw Brooklyn's Finest.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sean Connery Is James Bond

Sean Connery won the recent poll question on who was the best James Bond so why not let him introduce himself. Over and over and over.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tarantino and the New Beverly

While I find Quentin Tarantino a bit irritating and annoying at times, go here if you want to read about how he's helped out the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles from going under. Tarantino has ponied up money and even purchased the place so that the theatre can stay open and can keep showing new and old films. Very cool way to spend your money Quentin.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

UTW column on the Oscars

Go here if you want to read my column this week in Urban Tulsa. I talk about the Oscars that are coming up this Sunday, get in some digs and pick some winners.

Monday, March 01, 2010

February movies

February was a month of lots of older films--11 of the 18 films I saw were from 1987 or earlier. I saw a couple of more Francois Truffaut films with the short Antoine and Colette and I watched Small Change two times! More Truffaut to come. Best line of dialogue of the month: "Son of a bitch must pay!" from the great Kurt Russell and Big Trouble In Little China. 

Designing Woman---1957---usa   **1/2
The Maid---2009---chile   ***1/2
Caddyshack---1980---usa   ****
Lymelife---2008---usa   **
Antoine and Colette---1962---france    ****
Knowing---2008---usa   ***
Dear John---2010---usa   *1/2
Crazy Heart---2009---usa   ***
Pieces---1982---usa   **1/2
Bonnie and Clyde---1967---usa   ****
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lighting Thief---2009---usa   **
The Devil's Rain---1975---usa   **1/2
Small Change---1976---france    ****
Tender Mercies---1983---usa   ****
Cold Souls---2008---usa   ***
Small Change---1976---france   ****
Big Trouble In Little China---1987---usa   ***1/2
Vanishing Point---1971---usa   ***1/2