Let’s Go To The Movies

Or, more specifically, let’s stay at home in the comfort of our sparse apartment and relax by bingeing on rentals for the weekend. I even double dipped from Netflix and Blockbuster. (Addict.) Here’s the weekend rundown:

Nothing (*****) had me from the opening credits. I could attempt to explain why I loved this bizarre comedy (from the director of Cube no less) for all it’s wonderful production design, greenscreen creation of whitespace, great dialogue and acting, but just trust me and rent it. 

Kingdom Of Heaven (***1/2) wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Then again, Ridley Scott is usually enjoyable even when he goes slightly wrong. I typically would pay real money to punch Orlando Bloom in the face, but somehow, he managed to be mildly believable in this. (Which is not to say that he can carry the weight of an epic movie… Maximus Decimus Meridius he is not.) 

Flight of the Phoenix (*1/2) was crap. I wasn’t expecting much, it was a guilty pleasure, “I don’t want to think” sort of rental… but seriously… even for that kind of flick… crap. The making of featurette is about 20x more interesting than the movie.

Unleashed (****) was originally called Danny The Dog and I have to say, what a stupid name change, Hollywood. Danny The Dog was perfect. Nonetheless, i’ll watch anything that Luc Besson writes or directs (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element, The Professional, etc.) and I was pleasantly surprised with how good this was. A nice blend of brutal Jet Li fighting, Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman (as if he could play anyone else? Or we would want him to?), Bob Hoskins being evil, and enough cliches to make you feel at home. The first five minutes and/or the fight with the albino stranger are worth the rental.

Layer Cake (*****) is the sort of smooth, perfectly-paced London gangster movie that I wish Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and, to a lesser extent, Snatch (which was awesome in its own way) would have been. Layer Cake succeeds because it doesn’t play for laughs as much and because it has such a superb ending.

Murderball (*****) is everything good documentary storytelling should be. It gets out of the way and introduces you to a very normal world of everday life (with a bunch of Olympic athletes who happen to be paraplegics and play wheelchair rugby.) Murderball deserved all the critical acclaim it got.

Immortel (ad vitam) (***1/2) is one of those weird movies that, for what it is, is both stunningly amazing and complete crap. By that I mean, it’s a French comic adaptation with immortals, mutants, resurrected Egyptian gods, a floating pyramid over 2094 NYC, and a bunch of other oddities shot mainly on greenscreen with most backgrounds and characters CG-ed in (think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow but include some rotoscopy heads on real actors bodies, too) in a process that took a crew of 10-20 animators over three years to complete. It is also, unquestionably, a terrible story with bad acting and almost indecipherably pretentious dialogue. So i’m torn… I want to give it a high rating for the visual artistry, but as a story… it’s lacking. That being said, if you’ve been looking for a sort of Blade Runner meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit, then this might be the movie for you.