Thursday, September 20, 2007

Movie Review!!!!1!!!1!1!

I went through quite a long period of movie-less activity recently, which was abruptbptbltpylbluly ended ...god "abruptly" is awkward to type... by watching three movies over the past week or two. They were of varying "goodity", which is a value derived from "goodness" using the "sexy", "guns", and "originality" coefficients. The movies I saw, and my ratings of them, are:

1. Hot Fuzz: &++
2. And the Band Played On: C-
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: H
4. Bubba Ho-tep: R-

Did I say 3 movies? I meant 4. That's how good Bubba Ho-tep wasn't.

Now you might have noticed something peculiar about my grading scheme. Unlike the overgenerous school system, I operate on an extended grading scale that doesn't stop at "F" for "fucking failure" nor "A" for "altogether awesome." I just don't think there's enough gradation in there to properly encompass any movie you might see, from crappy Kazakh hardcore porn to mind-blowing action movies sent back in time to us from the future. My rating scale may or may not bottom out at "Z-----", which is five minuses below a "Z" rating. I'm also not sure where the top of the scale is. In fact, there is no top since it's my scale, but so far Hot Fuzz is close to topping it with an "Ampersand ++." In the future I may need to extend to exponentials and factorials of alphanumerics to properly rate movies, but we'll cross that turtle when we come to it. Movies are also awarded "Awesome Points" for being awesome, and the amount awarded is entirely at my unpredictable discretion.

Now that you fully understand my rating system, here comes the part where I tell you why I rated these movies as such, also known as the "content" of the blog post.

Here we go:

1. Hot Fuzz. RATING: &++ with 180 Awesome Points

Written and directed, and acted, by the same genius British minds behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz tells the story of a overachieving London police officer (not policeman), Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg) who is transferred to a small, quiet village in the English countryside which it turns out is vying for the "Village of the Year" award, an honor that is perennially just barely out of its grasp. This is of little consequence as several suspiciously violent accidents start to befall the residents of Sandford and the supermarket manager, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), is the focus of the potentially-criminal investigations. Let me pause here, because casting Timothy Dalton is a brilliant call. Not only does he perform outstanding in this character, but casting one of the worst James Bonds adds a measure of je ne se qua to the film's feel. So, Sgt. Angel's convinced these accidents are perpetrated by Skinner but can't get the homeboy police force to believe him. Angel is, however, joined in his quest for justice by one thick-headed officer, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). What makes the movie truly stand out is the combination of subtle British humor, wacky British humor, wry British humor, dry British humor, ...wait, I think I can just say "British humor and capture all of this. The movie also makes purposefully obvious tributes to American action movies, particularly Bad Boys 2 and Point Break, which are done so as not to be hokey nor unnecessary. As with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's previous accomplishment, Shaun of the Dead, the movie is chock full of both subtle and obvious foreshadowing, as well as using self-referential techniques within the film, which make the movie worth watching over and over. All in all, this movie easily earns it's "&++" rating.

2. And the Band Played On. RATING: C- with 5 Awesome Points

Meh, this movie was a bit of a shame. From what my taught Moroccan fiancee, Michael, tells me, the book upon which this made-for-HBO movie is based is fantastic. However, the film obviously doesn't get the adaptation right. In short, the movie portrays the onset of the AIDS blight that struck in the early 1980's and how the U.S. government, including the NIH, CDC, and White House, deftly kept it under wraps, since it was a "gay cancer." Only after about 25,000 Americans had died did President Reagan first utter the word "AIDS." Sadly, all of this is blindingly true, and it's scary because this tragedy could easily repeat itself. For such an important subject matter and one of considerable political tenderness, the movie does a disappointing job of explaining anything in any detail, and ultimately leaves you stuck trying to figure out if you're really watching an Oxygen Channel 2-hour feature or a Dateline NBC special investigation reenactment rather than being perplexed by what went wrong with the AIDS epidemic. The film boasts an "all-star" cast (Ian McKellen hit .315 in the majors) featuring Anjelica Houston, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Phil Collins (seriously), Steve Martin, Alan Alda, and a bunch of other people for which you'll find yourself saying "hey, I know that guy from something..." Problems immediately begin when you realize several scenes have been cut for brevity's sake but that leave you wondering what the hell is going on and who the characters are before they ultimately die of AIDS. For instance, Richard Gere portrays a nameless character credited as "The Choreographer," but it's not clear how he knows one of the main characters, who he is, why he's important, or why he's in the movie at all. The only saving grace for this movie, and the only reason I don't give it a "H.5 +", is that the subject matter is worth knowing more about. Although these days it's not particularly unimaginable to think the government is keeping important information from us, but it's valuable to understand there's plenty of awful precedent.

3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. RATING: H with 35 Awesome Points

As supersexyrawcool as the film noir genre can seem, actually pulling it off is another thing entirely. This is what, in my opinion, doomed Sin City to pointlessness. Similarly, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang misses the mark by 9 letters, getting an "H". I originally rated it "J", but then remember Val Kilmer, surprisingly, did a tremendous job playing a sociopathic gay private investigator. It also gets bonus points for positive "sexy" and "guns" coefficients. However, its negative "Robert Downey Jr. taking neurosis too far again" coefficient drags this back down a bit. Basically, as with every noir, we get a guy, a girl, some faceless bad guys, a big city, and a couple of murders. There's some funny lines in the movie, and some interesting plot twists that, admittedly, I am never able to follow in movies, and a good bit of unrealistic gore and violence. I think that, and the picture [caption: Robert Downey Jr.'s gotten himself into yet another mess] pretty much sums up the entire movie, so I'm done.

4. Bubba Ho-tep. RATING: R- 1 Awesome Point

.......... ............ .......... I'm sorry, I blacked out trying to figure out how many other movies I could have watched instead of this one. You'd think that any movie with Bruce Campbell would have some measure of subculture appeal one way or another, but this movie succeeds thoroughly in this absence. Bubba Ho-tep starts off with some fat old guy (Campbell) who thinks he's Elvis Presley waking up from a coma or something in an East Texas nursing home. Then an Egyptian mummy with a cowboy hat and torn jeans starts walking around late at night sucking the residents' souls out and killing them. Seriously. So Elvis and a black guy who thinks he's JFK devise a plan to torch the mummy using some sort of makeshift flamethrower, but something goes wrong and JFK eats it, but then Elvis ultimately bakes the mummy, but who then comes back to "life" somehow, but then Elvis wins again somehow and destroys it for good. It's all really fucking stupid. There was one funny line though: "Now the two key words for tonight- "caution" and "flammable."" That soft chuckle was certainly not worth 2 hours of my time, nor the 4 awards and 6 nominations it has gotten from such venerable institutions as the Fant-Asia Film Festival. Fuck it, this movie gets an "R-".


Jessica said...

My favourite quote from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Val Kilmer) :

Brice Lord said...

That was a pretty good part. My favorite quote was, "What, fuckhead? "Badly's" an adverb. Who taught you grammar? Get out. Vanish."

Ryan said...

"Still gay?"
"Me? No, I'm knee deep in pussy, I just like the name so much I can't get rid of it."

ah, Iceman, your wit is delicious.