Rental Roundup: The Heat; Stoker; Computer Chess
Here's some more 2013 films I've caught up on recently that I missed on their theatrical runs, and are now available for rent on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox, etc...
The Heat suffers from a common problem with comedy films nowadays: it's too long and it doesn't seem to have an editor and/or quality filter. This happened to be one of the worst cases of a movie trying to put in *EVERY* single joke they shot, regardless of the toll it takes on pacing and duration. Ya know, a lot of deleted scenes on comedy DVDs are hilarious, but they don't make it into the movie because there's just no place for them. It's a shame this happens, but comedy is about timing, and when the director just throws in every single joke they chuckled at in the edit room, you're inevitably going to have a problem with the final product. What resulted with The Heat's case of this is a two-hour long comedy, that should have been 90 minutes, full of extended attempts to insert unnecessary jokes. Watching Sandra Bullock attempt (and fail) to do physical comedy bits about having a bad leg and trying to maneuver a wheelchair was painful to watch. And they felt like they were inserted in the film as some sort of obligatory promise to her because they took the time to shoot it. That, and countless other jokes, had no place in the final cut of the film.
That being said, The Heat has plenty of jokes I did laugh at, and a bunch of funny cameos, etc, etc, etc. At this point, a movie like The Heat is redundant. It's not trying to create any new magic in comedy, simply replicate the formulas that have already been laid out. I don't think there's anything original in The Heat, but ya know, whatever... It's funny or whatnot? I don't even know anymore. It's a good mindless comedy, I guess. It benefited from a R-rating. I liked the paintings of Jesus playing sports. [stares at keyboard for three minutes trying to think of anything else of value to say about The Heat... nothing]
6.5 out of 10
I don't know what the hell this was supposed to be? Stoker is the latest film from the director of (the original) Oldboy, which was a movie I didn't really care for, and I don't ever really plan on watching Spike Lee's remake because people are saying it's a worse adaptation of a movie I already don't like. Stoker stars a girl named India, whose dad dies, and then her uncle moves in, and he's creepy and kills a bunch of people and I'm not sure any of it made any sense? I just watched this movie the other day, and I don't think I could tell you a point for point recap of the plot to save my life. There's lots of wooden acting, though! Lots! But it's intentional, I think? So it's just art. [slow clap]
Perhaps the only saving grace for the film is the cinematography and the editing. The whole movie *looks* fantastic. I have to give it an A+ grade in effort for at least trying not to be like every other movie out there. But still, hyper-focusing the sound design on little things like egg shells cracking on a table for seemingly NO reason other than "C'MON IT'S ART!" makes me want to hold back compliments overall for the stylistic choices. It's essentially a feature-length experimental film. I've seen a lot of Asian movies, and the story structure and plot points sometimes don't make any sense to me, but I usually don't complain and think "Well, it's from a different culture, maybe I just don't understand?" But when you adapt all those weird techniques to an American film, it just comes across as a bizarre mess. I'm happy I didn't pay any money to see this one.
3.5 out of 10
Computer Chess is a dramatization of a 1983 chess tournament at a hotel, where a bunch of smart dudes were pitting their computer chess programs against each other to see who had the best programming. It's shot in black and white, and with a 4x3 aspect ratio. I get the potential appeal of this film, it's an interesting concept, but it just could have been executed better. For the first hour, it really wants to be a Christopher Guest mockumentary, but it just doesn't have same caliber of humor. And then when it comes to a logical conclusion, I pressed the "display" button on my remote, and I realized there were still thirty minutes left... Then the director tried to turn Computer Chess into a David Lynch film. And I have no idea why. It was a very weird third act, but not in an enjoyable, Eraserhead kind of way. More like a boring, trying-too-hard, now-I-feel-bad-for-the-movie kind of way.
I would also like to nominate this film for all of the *worst* acting awards. For every great moment of making me immerse myself in the illusion that this is a lost film from 1983, I get violently yanked out of it by some dude barely being able to read off a cue card or remember his lines. I mean, wow. If you're gonna go all out and try to make a movie like this, you might as well spend a little extra money and hire some better actors. There was one scene with a kid trying to explain something at a restaurant table that should be used in acting schools on how to *not* read lines. I hope he's just the director's nephew.
If you're really interested in seeing a movie about 1980's computers and the nerds who run them, maybe you'll get something out of Computer Chess. But I've warned you of the failed attempt the film makes to be an existential mind warp of a trainwreck at the end. Nice try though, fellas.
5 out of 10
The Heat was kinda funny - agree it went on too long.
he other night we watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was surprisingly good. Sort of a coming of age Breakfast Club-like film. Seemed to take place in the early 90's and had a decent ending and endearing characters. Emma Watson as an American teenager was somewhat convincing, but she'll unfortunately still be Hermione when she's 60.
There is a Woody Allen marathon right now on MGM channel and other movie channels - I set my DVR to record maybe a dozen of them especially the 1970's era ones. Started with Sleeper and away we go.
This seems like a good thread where we can throw in random movies we have seen not deserving of their own thread.
[Mike Cohen] "This seems like a good thread where we can throw in random movies we have seen not deserving of their own thread."
I caught about 5 minutes of the movie "Beautiful Creatures" on HBO the other day. Unbearable. I couldn't even have it on as a background movie, I kept glancing over to it and getting angry.
I recently saw The Way Way Back and I thought it was really nice. Not the greatest film ever or anything, but it warmed my cold cinephile heart and I think I would probably watch it again. It reminded me of some kind of life experience I had, even though nothing I ever did parallels any part of the film in any way. Weird. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and stuff.
For New Years we rented 3 from RedBox that I would call "all that was available at 6pm Dec 31"
So we never heard of:
Paranoia - Liam Hemsworth playing a hot shot mobile phone developer working for Gary Oldman, who conducts industrial espionage against a grumpy, bloated looking Harisson Ford. Overall it was actually pretty good.
Iceman - a true-ish story about the mob's most prolific hit man and his growth in the profession through the 60's and 70's, while his loving family thought he worked in finance. Ray Liotta plays a meaner version of his Goodfella's role. Quite a good movie actually.
Gangster Squad - My grandpa Izzy would have described this as "a good shoot-em-up"
The Great Gastby - watching this movie made me realize it was designed for 3D. It was visually spectacular. DiCaprio is getting a bit typecast playing eccentric characters (Hughes, J Edgar Hoover, Gatsby) though he is good at it.
Beautiful Creatures - clearly taking a cue from Twilight and True Blood, this film has two teens falling in love as one of them struggles with her pending decision on whether to become a good or a bad witch. Nice special effects and interesting roles from Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons as Southern witches. I admit to falling asleep in the middle yet not felling I missed much.
More Woody Allen movies - see pending thread for those.