Wednesday, March 25, 2009

study break!

or, more realistically, rewriting break. i went home last weekend and, as is my habit when i go home, i watched a lot of movies.

  • night watch. okay, this one i didn't watch at home. but it's really good. my only problems with it were more technical than anything else -- it took me about the opening 7 minutes to wrestle my dvd player into the proper combination of russian audio and english subtitles without any additional commentary, "for the hard of hearing" indications, or anything else tricky. once that was done, however, the movie was totally worth it. loved the ending. we'll leave it at that.

  • brotherhood of the wolf. watched this one in boston, too, and, wow, i wish i hadn't. what a waste of 2+ hours. the disc sleeve said something about it being "luminescently filmed" or words to that effect and, yeah, it sure was pretty. note to filmmakers: i'm pretty sure no-one in the 18th century would have volunteered for a fullbody wax by contemporary methods which is the only way those guys would have been as shiny as they were. it was about as historically accurate as a lump of cheese and as involving as dustbunnies. i originally rented it because i thought it might be about the same collection of werewolf legends and witchcraft trials in france that neil gaiman has written a couple of short stories about and that i have seen referenced elsewhere but no such luck. then i thought it might be a rather clever political allegory about power in france prior to the revolution -- but it wasn't. then i just hoped for a good beastie -- and there wasn't one. give it a miss, is my vote.

  • my blueberry nights. great stuff -- good cast, good music, nicely balanced plot. i described it to someone as being like love, actually without quite as much comedy. it doesn't have quite the same setup of being layers of co-incidental interlocking stories -- it's more like a sequence of three or four stories told by one or two narrators, but it works along kind of the same lines. and it has a completely satisfying and very sweet ending.

  • in bruges. nothing at all like love, actually. far more like sexy beast or layer cake. it felt a little like a stage play -- which i don't believe it ever was; there was a very small cast, the action took place in a fairly circumscribed area ("in fuckin' bruges?!" as one of the characters remarks regularly), and the characters are telling the story rather than the effects. it's actually a very quiet movie -- quite literally -- but i thought it packed a fairly intense emotional punch. oh, and be sure you watch the gag reel and the "fuckin' bruges" reel after you see the movie. the second one especially is hilarious.

  • blow-dry. alan rickman, bill nighy, natasha richardson (rip), rachael griffith, rachel leigh hunt, josh hartnett. the latter with a yorkshire accent. okay, yes, they should have cast jamie bell but since they must at one point have hallucinated about getting an american audience for this, i can see their point and he does really well with the accent. there's a heavier story underlying the comedy in this, but the whole thing is very well-balanced and the wider story -- a u.k.-wide hairdressing competition finals being held in keighley in yorkshire -- is completely hilarious. some of the things done with hair in this movie are unbelievable.

  • greenfingers. i'm not a huge clive owen fan, so i actually had rented this movie before and turned it off about ten minutes into it 'cause, frankly, he just kind of stands there and i didn't know what to do with it. the supporting cast, though, makes it worthwhile -- david kelly, paterson joseph, and helen mirren being the notables although the rest of the prisoners make a good showing, too. it's "based on a true story" about prisoners in an open-prison in england who took up gardening as part of their rehabilitation and ended up successfully competing in the major garden shows in england. it probably borders on the heartwarming so, fair warning.

  • the sarah jane adventures. i was a little loath to try this since i remember the original attempt at the doctor who spin-off for sarah jane smith called k-9 and company back in 198....something or other. i actually have it on tape, more fanpoints to me! and -- it isn't that great. credit to liz sladen for making it work as well as it did, but k-9 was clearly having major technical issues and nobody else seemed to have put a lot of thought into it. but now, with the ground beautifully cleared for successful dw spin-offs by torchwood, i think maybe giving it another try was a very good idea. the first episode, "invasion of the bane," was very fast-moving, funny, sarah jane has gained a nice sharpness without losing any of her essential sense of humor and kindness, and her new "companions" will be, i think, good additions to the widened dw canon. oh, and everything is better when it's sonic as captain jack would, i'm sure, be pleased to know.

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