07-26-12 - Movies

My taste in movies has changed a lot over the last few years; I used to be really into the realistic, depressing crap, but now I just find that tedious and boring. It's sort of too easy to make those movies, and often they're just terrible and rote, but the terribleness is hidden in a cloak of seriousness.

What I really crave now is a big Hollywood spectacle, but one that doesn't suck. This seems to be the rarest type of movie of all. I want beautiful people, lavish production, big real sets, lots of music, fast pace, feel good, but without being annoyingly stupid or cliche.

Bonus points are awarded for :

B1. Long tracking shots. Oh yeah, delicious. But not gratuitious "I'm showing off" or "look how clever I am referencing other movies".

B2. Montages, with music. Usually the best part of a movie. Pure fun without any of that retarded dialogue messing it up.

B3. Lots of color, rich saturation. ala Eyes Wides Shut or Almodovar.

B4. Steadicam, with movement. Man what a lovely feeling, the camera gliding slowly as it tracks the action.

B5. Sexiness. Not necessarily sex, but arousal. Love the standard scene where a girl changes her clothes while carrying on a conversation.

B6. Sparkly lights (particularly red and blue). A nightclub scene is always welcome. Wet city streets at night is another great standard.

B7. Good music that's fun and funky , not big dramatic orchestral score (yawn) ; maybe the overall theme is just fun and playfulness.

Minus points for :

M1. Violence. A tiny bit is okay.

M2. Computer graphics. Jesus CG sucks so bad, it ruins movies. None of that garbage like "The Fall" that people keep putting on lists of good looking movies. And heavy use of color filters is getting a bit old too (mainly on high-end TV shows, it's becoming way too common and heavy handed; oo everything is slightly blue oo how cool, no it's not, it's a fucking hack move to use that trick without intention or subtlety).

M3. Black and White. (see B3) Also a minus is being made before 1985 or so when film looked much worse.

M4. Horrible acting.

M5. Taking itself seriously. It should feel like the director is having a laugh.

M6. Superheros or the military.

M7. Foreign language. Sometimes I don't mind subtitles, but when the whole point is the visual beauty, having your eyes on the bottom of the screen ruins it.

Anyway, the obvious ones I can think of are :

1. Goodfellas
2. The Big Lebowski
3. ?

The whole Scorcese / De Palma period in the 80's-90's is obviously the model for this type of movie that various modern movies copy (eg. "Boogie Nights" is a very intentional recreation of one of those movies in a different profession; it works well at times, but is obviously way too long, and even in the best tracking shots in Boogie Nights it feels very forced; you can see the actors are concentrated on hitting their timing perfectly and aren't natural). (all the PT and Wes Anderson movies sort of fail in that they just feel too uptight, too forced; it's like how Martha Stewart is actually a horrible hostess because everything is just too careful, there's no "beautiful mistakes").

(unrelated to the first part)

I updated my Netflix -> CSV extractor so I can do this. Movies I have enjoyed in the last 12 months or so :


Jiro Dreams of Sushi - he's just so adorable
U Turn - the first 10 minutes are amazing, just the weird atmosphere of it; it goes downhill from there
    (Red Rock West is similar and better)
Powaqqatsi - I've discovered a love of Philip Glass in my old age
The Guard
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story - did not expect to like this at all, but loved it
    (The Trip is okay too but not as good)
Bridesmaids - best hollywood comedy in a while
Instant :
Mancora - highly enjoyable fluff
Brick - there are moments are sheer genius in this movie; really amazing writing
Alamar - wow, beautiful
Starstruck - wonderfully weird
Bad Day to Go Fishing
The Grocer's Son
Deep Water
Registered Sex Offender
Cocaine Cowboys
Berkeley in the Sixties
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress


Aaron said...

I'm pretty sure I can't tell what kind of movie you want to see. But... I'm not too surprised, communicating the kind of movie you want to see is pretty hard. Lost In Translation hits your bullet points in kinda a weird interesting way (depending whether you believe it takes itself seriously or not :)). The second batman movie (The Dark Knight) is pretty great (though a little tedious at times). The Avengers is ridiculously fun though of course it massively violates M1 and M2. Despite your aversion to Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox are both pretty cool... Wes Anderson is getting more watchable as he gets more commercial. It might be beyond your tolerance level, but for the most totally awesome knife fight in a movie you gotta see The Man From Nowhere (Korean, Netflix streamable).

cbloom said...

"Lost In Translation" - pretty sure it takes itself seriously, and it's ridiculous, but I did enjoy it. Doesn't quite fit this category though. Perhaps the only ScarJo movie that's even remotely watchable. (The Woody Allen shit with her in it is embarrassing).

"The Dark Knight" - no me gusta. I think I may be the only person in the world who vastly prefers the Michael Keaton batman to the new ones; the old ones are great, wonderfully campy and weird beautiful productions. The only vaguely good thing in TDK is Heath Ledger chewing the scenery, those bits are fun.

I actually like Wes Anderson movies a lot, just don't think they fit this category because they have no funk, soul, or jive. No looseness, no rhythm. Dioramas are fun though. But they don't want to make me jump out of my seat and have fun.

I appreciate the beauty of the production of the Korean violent stuff, but don't enjoy watching them. They leave me with a really ill feeling.

I always dreamed of being able to go into the local indie movie shop and meet some wannabee filmmaker who knows everything about movies that I could say "I like this and this but not this, what do you recommend?" , but it rarely works out. Sadly the computer automated recommenders are still even worse than Bob the Video Store Guy.

Aaron said...

Presumably you've slummed about Scarecrow? They generally know their shit. If you feel bad not renting from there because of their draconian return policy just buy a punch card or something and don't rent anything :)

Yeah, you definitely don't go into Korean cinema looking to enjoy, you go in wanting to depress the shit out of yourself. Some of it is too good to be missed though :)

Moneyball. Not feel-good, but so very good otherwise. Hmm.

Wild-Target. Not hollywood. But good.

Knight and Day. *Horrible* Also kinda good.

How to Train your Dragon. Fuck, all CG. Pretty great in it's way though.

cbloom said...

Yeah, scarecrow is actually good, but too far away. Maybe I could go and take notes.

"Knight and Day" (thanks for the rec) reminds me that part of this movie taste change for me has been that I've gone from totally hating Tom Cruise to absolutely loving him. He is an absolute master of what he does, which is just exude positive energy and seduce you with his eyes; he's like a Charles Manson or a David Koresh or something, he's hypnotizing.

Aaron said...

Yeah, Scarecrow is kinda an event. We don't go often, but when we do, we tend to rent an armload of great stuff.

Oh yeah haha, I totally feel that about Cruise. I enjoy when he 'plays himself' like in Magnolia and Tropic Thunder as well.

If you're on a Cruise kick the Mission Impossible series can be fun. I'm a fan of the first one and the latest one is pretty wicked (Brad Bird directed, and it's kinda overproduced, but it has some extended moments of just pure greatness).

His performance in Magnolia is a lot of fun.

Oh and if you like Knight and Day there is Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The original version is a bit better than the unrated one.

Thatcher Ulrich said...

Collateral and The Social Network both occur to me.

zed said...

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders Czech but not much dialog
The Price of Milk
The Descent
In my Fathers Den

cbloom said...

@zed - thanks, unusual stuff, will check out.

So far not so good :

Collateral - could only take about 30 minutes. Way too violent, not enough fun and funk, and hand-held cam and generally trying to look like a low budget indie movie is a big turn off.

Wild Target - this is definitely the right idea, but it didn't work for me. There's this certain type of male-female dialogue that people write for movies that's supposed to be "funny" or "sassy" or something, but to me it's just bickering and it's really unpleasant. Also the car chase / action sequences are pretty boring. Too bad cuz I like both the leads.

Aaron said...

Recent re-watchies (not recommendations, per-se, but some notes):
* There Will Be Blood - So good, but so dark and evil and gross. Yet, so very damn good.
* 3:10 to Yuma - feh, kinda sucked, but it was a Western. Don't really recommend unless you really want a western.
* I Am Legend - Such a simple story. Nice transportation to another world. Kinda decent. Not that great.
* Wasabi - So great, but I think I've recommended it on hear a year ago or so (and it spiraled into a Luc Besson deathmatch)
* Wall-E - First couple times I thought this movie was great. Now... I'm settling into to it being just kinda Ok. It has some moments of incredible magic (everything related to Eve is just awesome).
* John Carter - shut it off after 30 seconds! Horrid! I'll try pushing through the rest of it another time
* Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Lame. More like 'Before the rise of the planet of the apes'. No ape takeover of civilization (which was what I wanted to see). Bad CG apes.. I dunno. Did not like.

cbloom said...

It's awesome that Netflix has so severely fucked up their community features that my blog comments are a better way to share movie reviews. WTF they are trying so hard to Yahoo themselves. If ever a company was ripe for hostile takeover to kick out the moron founder CEO, Netflix is it.

There Will Be Blood is (I suspect) one of the all time masterpieces. I need to watch it a few more times before I'm confident in that. Definitely not in the "fun movies" category though.

TWBB made me think about something else too. Sometimes you see a rising star and think "they might make something great some day", but usually they never quite do it, they don't get the right opportunity, they never fullfill their potential. (certainly this happens all the time in software; truly great programmers get stuck in bad companies and wind up just never making anything particularly great in their entire lives; very sad). Anyway, when I saw TWBB I thought PTA has finally made the movie he's supposed to, and he can die knowing that he made one great thing. That must be nice.

Aaron said...

The Master is coming in October. We'll see how he does taking on Scientology.

old rants