District 9– I went in to D9 with no idea what to expect, other than a few images I’d gleaned from the ads. Actually, I tried to turn off the sound or look away from the ads, too, since I got the feeling that I didn’t want to know too much, anyway. I was anticipating some sort of mind-bender, with a crazy twist that the mysterious ads were keeping from us, and what I got was a rock-em, sock-em action movie with cool guns and lots of great ultraviolence. Okay, that’s cool, too! It wasn’t the game-changer I had expected, but it was really intense, and a lot of fun to watch. Sort of Children of Men meets The Fly meets Cloverfield meets Predator. Even cooler was that the whole time I was watching, I was convinced that the story was based on a graphic novel or a book or something, but it turns out, it was a wholly original Sci-Fi idea! Wow! How long has it been since one of those made its way into theaters? The Matrix?
Point Break– The roommates and I have been going through our house’s (frankly, really impressive) VHS collection, watching old movies whenever we’re all around with nothing to do. The most recent of these screenings was of Kathryn Bigelow-directed “Point Break,” which is about as awesome as you remember it. What I didn’t remember about the movie was how gorgeously shot all of the surfing scenes are, and how much the film felt as much like an homage to the lifestyle, and to nature, as it did a cop movie. I think that it’s almost entirely due to Bigelow’s influence – when I saw that she just directed the (by all accounts amazing) “The Hurt Locker,” it made me want to see it even more.
Miller’s Crossing– For a long time, I was the guy who said that this was my favorite Coen brothers movie (at least, until Yiddish Policemen’s Union comes out). Re-watching it, I think that in the years since I last saw it, Lebowski has maybe edged it out a bit, only in that the Dude, Walter, and Donnie’s words are never far from my day to day life, and you gotta respect that. However, Miller’s Crossing is just so effing good. Especially after watching so much In Treatment, it’s a blast to see Gabriel Byrne in another role, and to see that the Coens clearly saw the same amazing leading-man qualities in him that many in Hollywood never did. That slow, climbing hero-shot in the end! When was the last time a director practically made out with his leading man like that? The whole film is so deliberately old-fashioned in tone and style, and the amazing way that Joel Coen gets those tracking shots make it feel fresh. God, did I just write that? What is this, an intro to film class?
The Final Destination 3-D– Timmy and I went and saw this on Saturday – full disclosure: we went expecting a pretty shitty movie. And that is exactly what we got. Man, the 3-D was fun and everything, but whatever spark of originality the Destination movies had is long gone. I’m fairly certain that they weren’t all always this bad – the first one had Ally Larter, and the dude from Candyman, and Stiffler, and that freak-out with the bus killing the chick… I just remember it being really fun to watch, dark and funny and a trip to realize that the slasher in this slasher film was Death itself. The second and third ones (though they kinda blend together in my mind) were also cool, with callbacks to the original, and some rad gross-out deaths. This fourth one just felt phoned in, and they even had the balls to call it “THE Final Destination.” Based on that title, was it too much to expect something awesome? There were a handful of cool gross-outs the whole time, and the script and pacing were so lame… I could go on, but whatever. It was crappy. If it comes out on DVD not in 3-D, it’s not even worth looking at. Drag Me To Hell, even rated PG-13 and in normal 2-D, rocked this movie into next year.
Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist– So, a year after this big music movie came out, I finally saw it. Hmm. I dunno, I have the sneaking suspicion that I just watched a 90-minute ad for a bunch of bands from Sony’s record labels. The movie itself didn’t really… exist? Though I’m actually willing to forgive a lot, since it sort of just floats along, with two really likable leads talking and flirting and being cutting and winning and sarcastic the whole time. Sort of a lot like American Graffiti, which isn’t a bad thing, so much, and all of the songs features did sound very nice. Kind of a lot like Garden State, you know, depressed mopy indie dude meets weird, cool girl and they realize they’re meant to be while great bands that the director thinks You Should Know About play in the background. But I liked Garden State, too. I guess I’m more on the Stephanie Zacharek side than the Roger Ebert side. Though the “sex” scene in the recording studio seemed kinda gratuitous. What was that all about, exactly? Staying true to the source material or something?
Wow, this was a pretty great summer for movies – Star Trek, Up, Drag Me To Hell, District 9… and I didn’t get to see Half-Blood Prince or Ponyo, either. Add to those earlier releases like Coraline, which I thought was bloody awesome, and Watchmen, which was also freakin’ sweet, and the year so far looks even better. I just saw Joe’s Low Resolution list of the best films of the year so far, which reminded me of even more movies I really want to see – The Brothers Bloom, In The Loop, Inglorious Basterds, Away we Go, The Hurt Locker, and Humpday, and damn! 2009’s been a pretty good year!