Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ern's Monthly Visual Victuals (September 2010)


Hey, check this out. I finally got caught up with my film reviews. And as I haven't watched that many films this month I may have nothing to review for October. Well, the month isn't over and I know that my local DVD rental shop is once again having their "Rent 4 for 1000yen" campaign, in which you can also borrow at least two new releases. So for the month of September, I watched one Academy Award winner, one Japanese film, one French film, a silly B-movie, a SF flick (which isn't the B-movie but comes close), and one other major Hollywood feature. Now, grab yourself a bowl of popcorn and lets go to the movies!

THE HURT LOCKER (2008) – The Academy Award winning film! What is there to say except excellent! Skipping all the politics of why we, the U.S. is still in that country for no good reason, (thanks Bush!), this flick will keep you on the edge of your seat. Even though you know it’s a movie, you can’t help thinking there are people portrayed in this film in Baghdad as well. The main story centers around a bomb disposal guy, or in the case of Iraq, the Improvised Exploding Device disposal guy who seems to arrogant for his own good can careless in thinking about the buds that are on his team. Maybe it’s just too real as we still have troops over there doing their job. We can only hope that peace will one day come to Iraq, but it probably won’t happen as long as we have troops there, and a government that still wants their oil.

ゴルデン・スランバー [Golden Slumber] (2010) – Based on the book by Kotaro Isaka and yes, the title is based on the Beatles song. This had great potential and at least one of my Japanese friends thought it was awesome. This flick starts with our protagonist meeting an old college friend for a fishing trip. But it turns out, that was all a set up. Dude’s friend tells him he’s being “Oswalded”. Our protagonist who once saved an idol from some stalker is now being set up as the scapegoat for assassinating the Prime Minister. Dude says to friend, “What the hell are you talking about?”. Friend says, “I invited you on this fishing trip. I drugged your drink so you would wake up with this car parked here. Run now, and whatever you do…Live!” Friend thinks he’s joking until the car in the motorcade in which the Prime Minister is riding is blown up! And the police are already on his trail, already determined that our hero is guilty. And then it’s long cat and mouse game. Sounds good doesn’t it? It was great until the end, which is probably why Japanese films don’t do so great abroad. As to why I did not like this. First, you have the mysterious person or group who’s controlling the police. Who this person or group is never brought to light. Second, although our hero escapes the police with the help of the idol he once saved who happens to know a good plastic surgeon who gives him a new face and a new life, his name will forever be associated with being the man who assassinated the Prime Minister, even though he was innocent to begin with. It just doesn’t seem right.

INFESTATION (2009) – Released as “Big Bugs Panic” in Japan. I liked the Japanese package better than the U.S. so I included both. An excellent and classic B-movie, it’s even worse than “Mosquito”. At least in “Mosquito”, you knew why they grew to such an enormous size. In this flick, which also stars a bunch of nobodies (they don’t even have someone like “Leatherface” to pull viewers in), with a story that makes absolutely no sense, except to give amateur FX people something to do and call it “making a movie”. For one thing, the major star is a complete loser who’s just about to get fired from his job that his Dad got him. But in the next scene, he’s wrapped up like a cocoon but manages to break free after upchucking whatever it is. He then moves on to free some of his co-workers who are also wrapped up cocoon-like. They wake up to find that the world has been taken over by a bunch of oversize bugs! And nope, no reason why, it just is. And so a handful of survivors are going to take on an army of bugs.

SKATE OR DIE (2008) – A French crime action drama. Two teen skaters are resting in some abandoned building where they witness a drug deal going on. One of the dudes takes a video of the action with his cell phone. The drug deal goes awry and one dude gets shot point blank. Wouldn’t you know it, right after that Dude’s Mom calls him setting off the chime of his phone. Now, the dudes run to the police station not only to report a drug deal, but a murder as well. As they’re filling out a form, the men who killed the drug dealers are heading towards the station as well. You see, the men who killed the dealers are…are you ready for this? They’re cops! Ooh, bet you didn’t know that was coming. Not only are they cops, but they’re a special task force (hey, doesn’t this sound a little like “Leon”? That would be “The Professional” for you Americans). So off the Dudes run with their skateboards while the cops chase them all over town.

Another novel by Dennis Lehane adapted for the big screen. The other title being “Mystic River”. Directed by Martin Scorcsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a US Marshall who comes to investigate the disappearance of a patient at a mental institution located on Shutter Island. The thing is, after movies like “The Sixth Sense”, “Secret Window”, and “Hide and Seek”, my wife says predicted the ending which turned out to be right on the nose. I suppose if we didn’t see those movies I just listed we may have found this one more entertaining. As it is, we figured that the Marshall wasn’t really a Marshall but probably an inmate as well! D’Oh, sorry readers who haven’t yet watched this film, did I ruin it for you? However, it’s keeps you entertained and is worth watching, even if you’re not a fan of DiCaprio.

DISTRICT 9 (2009) – I had one friend who went to the theater to see this and this is what she had to say, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”. However, I disagree. This was made in the same vein as a B-movie and deserves better credit than that. This probably had a bigger budget than your standard B-movie and I thought it was great. A huge alien Mothership has been hovering over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa for a number of years. The aliens, called “Prawns” because of the way they look are forced to live in an area called District 9. The man chosen to evict the aliens to District 9 was really just a pawn who’s girlfriend’s father held the real power. When poor dude accidentally sprays himself with some kind of alien weapon, his body slowly changes. Good news for the Big Man, as their looking for a guinea pig to test so they can use the alien weapons which only respond to alien genetics. The great thing about this flick, some would say its weakness, is that the dialogue was mostly ad libbed. But the aliens aren’t going to sit quietly when all they want is to go home to their planet. And scapegoat dude escapes the government clutches going to the one place they won’t think to look for him…in District 9! I think this is well worth watching and quite well made. Thumbs up.

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