Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some media reviews

I originally mentioned media reviews over a month ago. I'm slow.

Donnie Darko -- Some people told me this movie was really deep, and I'm not sure I get that. It leaves you with a question at the end that is mildly provoking: would you sacrifice yourself for someone you care about if they would never appreciate it? At times I wasn't sure whether I was enjoying this movie, but in the end I did like it. Were I rating it, I'd probably go 7/10.

Truman Show -- Rudy said something like "this movie tries, but doesn't quite get there." I think I agree. It was entertaining, but it seemed like it was shooting for more, and it didn't get there. It was Jim Carrey's first serious role, but he was still kinda manic.

Batman Forever -- I wanted to see this back in 94, and never got around to it. After Christopher Nolan's superlative Batman Begins, I thought Batman Forever was facile. I also felt sorry that an actress like Nicole Kidman had to do a role that dumb. Hollywood doesn't really turn out that many interesting parts for actresses. Much better to be an actor, I think. And I'm not going to use this opportunity to talk about how excited I am about "The Dark Knight." But it's going to be brilliant, because Christopher Nolan is the best director in Hollywood. And my favorite.

The Bank Job -- Nothing really stood out for me in this one. I know some people who really liked it, but it didn't get there for me. Standard.

Sideways -- Best Picture Oscar winner (or nominee? I might be wrong) a few years back. I met one of the financiers in LA. There aren't many movies that I dislike for most of the movie but end up liking at the end. Combine that with being artsy enough to be an Oscar winner, and that's impressive. Still, I didn't think this was a Best Picture winner, although I recall that that year was weak for movies. If you like Bildungsromans, this is a decent movie version.

Also, I watched all the Best Picture Oscar nominees from last year:

Atonement: I don't know, this was good, but not amazing. I like Keira Knightley. I can see why this was a nominee, but I don't think I agree. Knightley could be a nominee for her acting though.

Michael Clayton: This was honestly the wort movie I've seen in years. Oscar nominee? How terribly baffling. This may be the most cliched, dull, stupid movie I've ever seen. I've always been annoyed at how I'm the worst at predicting movies, but I predicted everything about this movie. Even various lines I said aloud before the actors said them. Horrible, horrible, horrible. In my mind, anyone who likes this movie has serious explaining to do, because I didn't find a scintilla of worth. Maybe one of the early scenes was half-way interesting, but that's the best I can offer.

There Will Be Blood: Some people love this movie. I don't. I thought it was slow, and it left me somewhat depressed. There was some absolutely impressive acting, including by Day-Lewis. But in the long run, entertainment should be entertaining. Or provoking. This was neither for me.

No Country for Old Men: I describe it as Big Lebowski meets Fargo, but everyone hates my inclusion of Lebowski as a reference point. I liked this, I was on the edge of my seat almost every second of the movie. However, as time has gone by, I have become less impressed.

Juno: I thought I was going to love this. My expectations were probably part of the problem why I didn't enjoy it that much. It was cute, and it was sometimes funny, but many of the funniest lines you saw in the preview. In the end, I think that's really all there is to say about it: cute.

Death Cab for Cutie -- Narrow Stairs. This album is growing on me, but after Plans and Transatlanticism, it falls short. In 20 years, I'm unlikely to be listening to this album, whereas I'll still be putting on the aforementioned two. That said, I liked what they were doing here. I liked the Beach Boys style "You Can Do Better Than Me," a song that I thought was much longer than 1:59. Perhaps this album augurs well for the future, even if this isn't their seminal work.

Chris Walla -- Field Manual. Death Cab for Cutie is probably more Ben Gibbard, but Chris Walla is the other guitarist in Death Cab. I loved this album at first. Some of the songs haven't really held up though. Too saccharine or occasionally too reliant on good production (Walla is a good producer).

Indie rock is notorious for being non-danceable. I can't remember the band (they were du jour around 2001) that did the song "Doing the Standing Still" to describe fans at indie rock concerts. People standing around, nodding their heads. Anyway, all this is a windup to say that if a few songs on Walla's record don't make you stand up and start dancing, then you must not be paying attention to the song. Especially "The Score."

Copeland -- Dressed Up and In Line. I think this b-sides and unreleased songs album was done to get them out of their major label contract. The usual story: the guy at the label who had liked them and convinced them to sign left the label and they got no promotion. As seen by this album, it's a shame, because Copeland produces impressive music that could be a huge success if they got promotion. In my opinion, they have the talent and style to be one of the biggest rock bands around. How many bands can put out a bsides album that is equal to their other work? In some cases, I much prefer the alternate recordings on this album. "You Love To Sing (slow version)" is sublime, and I'm baffled that a song as good as "Thanks to You" was only released here. As expected from a bsides album with 15 tracks, there are some songs that don't work for me, but maybe that is because they were from Copeland's emo period. This album is brilliant.

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