Thursday, September 29, 2011

Movie Update 19

I feel like I should be building these posts around common themes, so I can give them more interesting titles than just a number, but right now the movies I watch are dictated by what's on my carefully curated list and what's about to expire from streaming. So... whatever.

Dead Alive

This was part of an impromptu horror marathon I had last Saturday when a bunch of crap was about to disappear. It's one of Peter Jackson's earliest movies, before he had started working in Hollywood, and it's also possibly the most disgusting movie I've ever seen. There's an obvious campiness and sense of humor to the extremely gory violence, so it isn't very difficult to watch, but it's still pretty darn gross. Leaking fluids, strange creatures, and dozens of people getting chopped and torn to bits. It's basically a really kooky zombie movie, except the plague is caused by a weird rat/monkey thing, and they're almost impossible to kill short of chopping them into tiny pieces. There's no real logic to it, they can pretty much do whatever the insane script calls for. Very fun, very gross movie.

Ed Wood

A sort of biopic about the career of one of Hollywood's most infamous directors, from around when he meets the great Bela Lugosi to the completion of Plan 9 from Outer Space, his most infamous film and maybe the worst ever made. Being a Tim Burton movie, it's not just a standard biopic, with a weird sense of humor reflective of the kind of mind that might produce crap like Plan 9. It's a very sympathetic story, showing Wood as a bright, friendly, enthusiastic man who just happens to make garbage. Johnny Depp is very good  as Wood, though Martin Landau sort of steals the show, winning an Oscar for playing the morphine-abusing, vulgar, theatrical Lugosi. The rest of the cast is solid too, and the black and white cinematography is generally excellent. And I loved how the film's moment of triumph is centered around the filming of one of the worst things to ever appear on a screen.

Kicking and Screaming

A funny but also thoughtful comedy by Noah Baumbach, who's known by many as a frequent collaborator with Wes Anderson, and watching it you can envision how that partnership might have started. I found it incredibly easy to relate to the movie's main characters, but I expect that's true of most people who ever graduated from college and weren't sure what to do next. The four friends all stay together in town, unable to move on from their experiences for whatever reason. We get a really good idea of why they're friends in the first place, but also what might cause that friendship to end. Really, they're all just scared to get started on that whole real life thing, which I'm not sure anyone was fully prepared for. Solid acting, really good story, and it's just a funny movie, too.


This is the kind of movie people talk about when they use words like "delightful". Moonstruck is kind of an oddball romantic comedy, starring Cher in a remarkably natural performance for someone I don't really think of as an actor as a widow who decides to settle for remarriage with someone she doesn't really love. Things change when she meets her future husband's brother, a one handed baker played by a charmingly unhinged Nicolas Cage. The two have nice chemistry, and things happen about the way you might expect. Also, Cher's dad is having an affair, and her mom suspects it but is too nice to make it into a tragedy. Olympia Dukakis does a really nice job with the part, and both women won Oscars for their work. The movie's sense of humor is definitely off-beat in an unexpected and likable way, and while nothing in the film is groundbreaking, it's pleasant to watch all the same.


A horror film for the whole family, directed by Tobe Hooper and written and possibly actually directed by Steven Spielberg. Ignoring the debate over who really had creative control of this movie (I'm guessing the true answer involves the word "both"), it's a pretty decent little paranormal movie. A family gets terrorized by ghosts that can move furniture and suck people into another dimension filled with goo. There's a bit of humor, but it's mostly the kind of horror movie intended to elicit a few jumps without being truly terrible or horrifying. Not that most kids probably wouldn't be freaked out by it. The eventual explanation for what's going on is pretty unsatisfactory, but the climax itself is exciting enough. There are a few ideas here worth checking out, especially if you like a little jolt but don't want to see anything truly traumatic.

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