DISTURBIA [2007] review

January 31, 2008

Continuing a Thursday night tradition of watching less serious movies, DISTURBIA was a worthy entry in this ongoing tradition, though not overwhelmingly so.  The ending was too over the top and way too gory for me, but before that, I was totally along for the ride.  This movie introduced me to Shia LaBeouf, who I have become a fan of since. 

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Futakotamagawa River Ride!

January 31, 2008

Distance: 32.28 miles

Time in motion: 2 hours 31 minutes 24 seconds

Average speed: 12.7 mph

Max speed: 29.0 mph

I'M NOT THERE [2007] review

January 20, 2008

Most people would think by my photographs and stories that I’ve mostly or only ever traveled alone. Yet that is untrue, for on every single trip I’ve ever taken, I’ve traveled with Bob Dylan. I’M NOT THERE is the first movie I’ve ever seen about Dylan, be it fiction or documentary. For me I’ve never felt much motivation to learn more or see more of Dylan the person. He lived for me only over my car’s speakers, or my apartment’s speakers, and on his album covers. That’s all I know, and the myriad stories and legends about him only come to me as echoes from unlooked for sources.

…So all of a sudden I decided to watch I’M NOT THERE as the gimmick of the movie appealed to me–having six different actors play six different aspects of Dylan’s character or personality or image. For the most part, this gimmick worked well offering not entirely different views of Dylan, but rather changes of pace. The only one that didn’t really work for me was the Billy the Kid persona. Cate Blanchett is getting a lot of accolades for playing the “Jude Quinn” version of Dylan, and rightfully so. She has to spit out some pretty dense dialogue and not make it seem like total pretentiousness. … I now remember he has a son who was in some pop band a few years ago, Jacob maybe?

…The movie uses Dylan’s songs performed by various artists as well as Dylan himself. Fans of his music will notice the oft used style of characters speaking lyrics as dialogue that then become the soundtrack to the next cross fade scene.

…I was not surprised that “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” was the last song played before the end credits rolled. I somehow knew and felt that they would use that song in the movie.

…So, after watching I’M NOT THERE, I can’t say I really know too much more about Dylan, and I’m happy about that.

Straight Ome Kaido ride

January 20, 2008

Distance: 14.27 miles

Time in motion: 56 minutes 32 seconds

Average speed: 15.2 mph

Max speed: 29.6 mphI’ve got to stop just riding straight on down Ome Kaido. It’s the most boring ride out there. The only benefit is that sometimes I can string a couple of green lights together and actually get my heart rate up and grind out a mile or two at full speed.

THE KING OF KONG [2007] review

January 19, 2008

THE KING OF KONG had a lot of buzz in the fanboy community, so I was expecting something quite funny. Instead, it was kind of sad actually. I didn’t laugh much. And the two main characters were sadly pathetic in opposite ways. This documentary follows the attempts of someone trying to break the long standing high score record in Donkey Kong. If you think who cares about such things, quite a few people do and high scores in classic arcade games are serious business. The guy with the record is made to look like a total dick, but I here that editing of the documentary had a lot to do with it.

The best part of the documentary I found to be when the guy trying to break the record is seen analyzing how to win at Donkey Kong. Unlike today’s video games, Donkey Kong and other classic games are truly, truly hard. Using a wax pen or something the guy would draw points where he needed to make Mario jump to avoid barrels and places he’d need to wait and when exactly he’d have to employ the “baiting” of barrels to go down a ladder or not. And considering it takes about 2.5 hours to make a run at a high score, it’s impressive anyone can concentrate that long.

This documentary shows that politics and cliques exist in even the most geekiest of geek subcultures. I respect the skill of the players though, just this wasn’t as funny a documentary as the buzz would lead one to believe.

ATONEMENT [2007] review

January 13, 2008

It would be hard for me to state the genre that ATONEMENT falls into. At first you think it will be a period piece showing the subtleties of early 20th century rich English society focusing on a single family. Then it seems it will become a romance. Before that you might have thought for a second, due to some jump editing and flashbacks, that it is a kind of fantasy. And then all of a sudden at about the halfway point it turns into a war movie. How it ends, I can’t say.

No doubt this movie is a patchwork of genres and storytelling methods. There are the aforementioned jump cuts and flashbacks, one very long take that made me feel a little dizzy, some more fantasy and then the ending, which I can’t say. Not to mention a couple scenes of intense battle wound gore that I had to turn my eyes from.

…The event that sets all this in motion seems to me very trivial and something that could have easily been clarified. So I had a hard time buying the plot because of this. Once I got over that and movie changed gears into a war movie, I became more attached to the characters and hoping for them to meet the fates they wanted to. How we learn how each characters’ fate turns out was a bit gimmicky to me, and a bit abrupt, but still I felt some emotion despite the beginnings of the love story not really being developed enough, but are they ever?

…I don’t know how well this patchwork of genres and styles in ATONEMENT stands with me. I could recommend it on the basis of just seeing what genre you think the movie ends up being, if any one in particular, and if the style gimmicks work for you. For me, I’d say everything turned out 50/50.

3:10 TO YUMA [2007] review

January 12, 2008

I am a big fan of westerns, especially old westerns. So I was very impressed that a western like 3:10 TO YUMA could be made still. Like most great westerns, it has a very simple plot. Christian Bale’s character, Evans, is helping to transport a “prisoner,” Russell Crowe’s character, Wade, to a prison train. Wade is quite the famous outlaw and it’s easy to see why instantly. … In contrast, Bale plays Evans about as dry as one can.

…As well as being a great western and a great action movie, the greatest part is its psychological aspect. What is driving each man, Evans and Wade, to do what they do? I was often thinking to myself what kind of game is Wade playing at?

…The tension is taunt throughout most of the film’s 2 hour running time. … I can’t remember now, but one time Evans got a good “ha” out of me.

…It goes without saying that the great American western vistas were filmed beautifully. And the score and use of natural sound effects especially were outstanding. Listen carefully in one scene how the chug of a train engine seems to punctuate the scene. I imagine the slow chug was in tune to my own heartbeat at that time.

…3:10 TO YUMA is a powerful movie that should be placed on the shelf alongside other western classics.

Other westerns reviews:

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN [2007] review

January 6, 2008

Opening with a still camera and views of a still vista, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN for its entirety is largely a still movie, a still movie that is completely taunt and engrossing until the very end. For the first few minutes I had forgotten it was a Coen Brothers movie, but then the trademark violence and look of the film jogged my memory. The movie is set in west Texas in 1980. In 2000 I drove right across the whole of Texas, including the west of it, and it didn’t look all that different in 2000 than it did in NO COUNTRY’s setting. … You might think, “how can so many gunshots ring out and no one comes?” Take a drive through west Texas and it won’t be hard to understand.

…I knew nothing of the story of NO COUNTRY, and it turned out to be one of those movies that I begin thinking, “so this is what the movie is going to be about, really?” I thought it was going to focus on Tommy Lee Jone’s sheriff, but the focus for a majority of the film is on a duel between two unlikely opponents. The way this duel plays out is, well, all I can say is highly original and I believe it worked.

…I was fortunate to get to watch a very high resolution version of NO COUNTRY, and I recommend the same for anyone who can’t see it on the silver screen itself. The characters pay attention to details, and the Coens’ lens shows all those details beautifully, even though west Texas is mostly an ugly place, relatively. This is a very finely crafted film.

…There was less of Lee’s sheriff contemplating the fate of how things were compared to how they are than I thought there would be in the movie. … I could have listened to another hour of those tales. What I would really like to know is, why have things become so much more violent?

…NO COUNTRY doesn’t answer those questions, it just shows you one big reason why it is necessary, but can anything like that even be prepared for?

…I get that there are no answers.

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