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# Monday, May 18, 2009

As a huge movie buff I could always give quick opinion on a movie, a subject which tends to come up quite often in conversation. It occurred to me that, although since I’ve finalized my home theater setup I’ve been watching dozens if not hundreds of movies with my girlfriend, the sheer volume makes it impossible to review the lot of them in blog posts. Then the idea struck me that Twitter is the perfect platform for quick-and-dirty movie reviews:

  • Reviews have to be succinct; each review consists of up to 140 characters, a hard limit inherent in the platform. Subtract from those characters the movie length, final grade (more on that later) and (being as obsessive as I am about language) no skimping on spelling or punctuation marks either. Condensing my thoughts on a movie to such a limited medium means I have to focus on either one point with some elaboration, or at most two with no embellishment of any sort.
  • It’s non-committal. I spend a minute or two thinking up a few angles on which I can go, then another 2-5 minutes refining the text until I’m satisfied. It’s much easier and much more pleasant to spend five minutes after a movie writing up a message on Twitter than to spend a couple hours each week summing up movies days after I’ve seen them; if I wanted to keep this in blog form I would have had to write up summaries in the same manner anyway, why not just publish them directly?
  • Low overhead. Having a blog means I beat myself whenever I slack on posting, and I’m committed to keeping it up and running, indexed and technologically relevant (if only so I can move hosts freely and avoid spam). Twitter is a managed platform, means I don’t have to worry about storage, bandwidth, backup or crappy web hosts.

With the rationale out of the way, I give you movies à la mode: 140-character movie reviews!


The grade scale I use is my own, and while I believe it to be consistent I make no guarantees. To give you some sort of reference point, I consider the original Matrix a genre-redefining action movie, and as such would give it an 8; Reloaded, on the other hand, not only pales compared to the first, it’s also horribly overblown and would rate a 2 (for the effects and nostalgia).

There are a few reviews up already, go read them and please do comment!

Monday, May 18, 2009 12:59:33 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Movies | Personal
# Sunday, July 15, 2007

hot-fuzz-2007-11 Let's start off with Hot Fuzz. This movie, from the creators of Shaun of the Dead, is an action-comedy about an overachieving London cop who, in order not to make his contemporaries in the police force look bad, is sent to a backwater little English village. While the worst crime in the village appears to be serving alcohol to minors, a series of "accidents" lead Sgt. Angel to dig deeper into the unlikely inhabitants of the village until he finds out what really goes on. Combining hilarious action and outrageous comedy (not to mention goofy references to classic action films), this is going to be one of my favorites for a long time yet.


After an amusing but unspectacular sequel, Shrek returns in what I expected would be a "the quest for more money" kind of movie. Despite (or maybe because of) my ridiculously low expectations I actually enjoyed Shrek the Third quite a bit. It's not a brilliant movie by any means, but it has a much better signal-to-noise ratio than the second one in my opinion, and my companions and I laughed our asses off throughout the production. Bottom line? If you're looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours, it works very well.

transformers_movie_poster_optimus_primeIt's hard to explain just how low my expectations of Transformers were. To me, it's a classic "well how can it not suck?" kind of movie, along with Resident Evil and Bloodrayne (both of which sucked, in case you were wondering). And I'm not even a fan of the TV series, so I had every reason to expect a terrible movie.
Well, it actually wasn't. The first half is surprisingly funny (not "ha-ha" kind-of funny, I mean "laugh out loud" funny), and the second half is non-stop, kick-ass action. This movie is definitely going to become high-definition reference material when it comes out on Blu-Ray or whatever, and the intentionally simpleminded plot works very well indeed. Biggest surprise of the year - recommended!

Sunday, July 15, 2007 11:55:06 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Saturday, June 9, 2007

Starts out a little confusing, but really a lot of fun. Thumbs up!

Also in other news, Jamie Zawinski is hella funny.

Saturday, June 9, 2007 1:03:41 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Friday, May 25, 2007

To cut to the chase, Spiderman 3 was... part great, part awful. On the one hand, amazing cinematography and special effects, on the other hand a soulless script, misguided patriotism on the part of the director (this scene in particular reminded me of Raymond Chen's classic saying, "I bet somebody got a really nice bonus for that feature").

There is so much going for this movie that I couldn't help but attribute most of its shortcomings to a surprisingly shallow screenplay; my theory is that Sam Raimi's background as a B-Movie director ("in the trenches" is the term I'd use), while affording him impressive technical innovation and brilliant tongue-in-cheek humour, does not lend as well to his screenwriting abilities. The first two Spiderman movies were written by professional writers, and with Raimi's superb(not to mention distinctive) style of visual gloss the combination is very effective. For some reason the Raimi brothers took it upon themselves to write the script for the third movie, and it suffers accordingly.

Overt patriotism (which was much more subtle and agreeable in the first two movies) is very awkward for a superhero that is, in many ways, the antithesis of his contemporary who swears to uphold "truce, justice and the American way;" this reflects in the acting, and outlines how artificial those scenes were. The same goes for most love- or romance-related scenes which also felt forced and superficial. Tobey Maguire, who seemed in the first movie so appropriately docile and nerdy, on the second suitably vulnerable, now seems a little out of his element; in his defense, the over-the-top dialogue and violent mood-swings called for in the script would probably make any actor falter. A lot of the script just doesn't work.

Sandman is, and please remember that I have not actually read the comics, an utterly uninteresting character. It seems like a subplot, and one that doesn't make sense at that (it was never obvious to me why he fights against Spiderman); Thomas Haden Church plays, in this case, a very lethargic character that has - whether due to bad scripting or bad acting - very little depth. This would be a good opportunity to oppose a conundrum (minor spoiler ahead): at least once during the movie a fake news broadcast is shown, in which the anchorman provides commentary on the proceedings in real time. The anchorman provides the audience at home with the particular details of the combatants, and names them accordingly (Spiderman, Sandman, Venom). As my friend Yoav puts it, "who gets to decide these names anyhow?" (link in Hebrew)

On the plus side, James Franco actually seemed to learn to act, or maybe lack of any significant screen time in the first two movies never let his talent show. His dialogue is, ironically, quite sensible, and he carries it off very well indeed. A cameo appearance by the legendary chin is utterly hilarious, the music is great and the cinematography - as I previously alluded to - is simply fantastic. I'm not in the business, but I wouldn't at all be surprised to find out that Raimi has invented any number of new camera techniques in the course of filming Spiderman 3 alone. The special effects are brilliant and there is non-stop action - most of which is really good.

In conclusion, to reiterate the first sentence in this article: Spiderman 3 is not a bad movie, nor is it great (that title is reserved to the first movie in that particular series). I just wish Sam Raimi would stick to what he's (very) good at and leave the screenplay in the hands of people better suited to the task.

Lastly, it's worth noting that I saw this movie in Pathé Tuschinski in Amsterdam, which is undoubtedly the single most impressive cinema I've ever been to; it is a very large building, reportedly built in 1921 in the Art Deco style, and much more impressive on the inside than on the outside. Theater 1 is huge, spacious and comfortable, with an astounding number of chairs and two (!) levels of balconies. Audio and video quality was excellent - possibly the best I've ever experienced, and the lobby alone is worth the price of admission which, excluding discounts or sales, is €9-10 - quite pricey.

Friday, May 25, 2007 11:56:54 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Long time no update. Reason? A vacation in Europe - mostly centered around the Netherlands (which I like very much). In the meantime I'll just post some random musings:

  • Radiohead rock. I have this thing where, when I hear music that I immediately dislike or "don't get," I feel obliged to give it another go every year or so. It took my years to learn to like Pink Floyd, and even more time to learn to like Radiohead, but after a serious listening session I have to concede that my friend (who we shall term "the rhesus") was right to call OK Computer "one of the 20th century's sublime records."
  • At Outline 2007 (on which I will expand in a seperate post) I got acquainted with a Dutch tracker who styles himself Cosmiq. Take a listen to his second album, which I actually really liked (particularly track 3, "A Shine Too Much").
  • You'll notice that I added a button for the FSF's latest campaign, Play OGG, under "advocacy" on the right. I'll take OGG over MP3 any day (on account of better sound quality for size, and no licensing fees for anyone); I don't expect the campaign to be wildly successful, but you never know. Maybe I'll actually be able to enjoy my next iPod or car audio set on my own terms.
  • Had a bit of time to spare, so I watched The Karate Kid again. The movie certainly looks different after 10 or so years -- it actually looks better (if you discount the obligatory '80s movie influences). Pat Morita is extremely funny, and I've seen much worse actors than Ralph Macchio (who looks much younger than his 23 years at the time). It also happens to be a really quotable movie, mock Eastern wisdom notwithstanding: "to make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune."

Next on the agenda: Spiderman 3.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:20:11 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Movies | Music | Personal
# Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Robbie Williams plays an amazing comedian turned president in Man of the Year. The movie is a non-too-small jab at American democracy, the American democratic process and the American voting public in general. As such it's inevitably cynical, however it still manages to temper cynicism with a genuine attempt to make people see that the democratic process is not completely rotten, that things people take for granted are the result of a lot of hard-work by a lot of usually well-meaning people, and finally reiterates the old adage to "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Otherwise, it's a well-directed, well-acted (featuring, among others, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney and Jeff Goldbloom) and well-written movie. Recommended.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007 3:53:49 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've blogged about Neil Gaiman's MirrorMask before, and have neglected to follow up with comments on the movie. To make it short and to the point: it's brilliant. Original story (Alice-esque, but is otherwise new and fascinating), amazing artwork, impressive photography, great music and terrific acting. This is a top-notch movie which in many ways is better than Labyrinth, and easily parallels Dark City in imagination and visual production. Although this is not a movie for everyone, I would greatly recommend it to anyone who's enjoyed the above movies, or for that matter Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

A completely different beast is Borat (I'll spare you the full title). Anyone who's ever watched Ali G should already be familiar with how hysterically sad this character is; it's not that Borat as a character is funny, it's just how stupid the people he interviews are. To put it mildly, it was difficult getting up when the movie ended because my stomach muscles were so sore from laughing. And Borat speaks Hebrew almost the whole movie, to boot!
(Disclaimer: it's worth noting that this movie is completely idiotic, full of profanity and racist jokes. If you're touchy enough to be bothered by this, you shouldn't be reading this blog.)

I won't deny being an Alfonso Cuarón fan; although I've only seen two of his movies, they both impressed me by being completely original and visually striking. His newest movie, Children of Men, definitely struck a chord with me. I'm not sure if this is obvious to anyone but me, but the narrative is like a modernized version of War of the Worlds with a human emphasis (i.e. no aliens): a regular joe getting caught in turbulent times, just one amazing thread of story that appears meaningless when viewed in the grand scheme of things. I'm not a professional writer so it's difficult for me to explain this properly - I hope I've managed to at least pique your curiosity.

Finally, I just feel the need to share a bunch of anecdotes:

  • The Princess Bride is still (after so many years) a masterpiece of duality: sentimentality and criticism, virtue and wickedness, beauty and hardship. It's simply a brilliant tale, and if you haven't seen the movie you literally owe it to yourself.
  • Holy shite, they're making a new Beowulf movie! One directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Neil Gaiman no less. Who knows, maybe it won't utterly suck?
  • They're actually making new Rocky and Rambo movies. Rocky 5000 all over again?... I mean, I like Sly as much as the next guy, but he's over 60!
  • Pan's Labyrinth looks really gorgeous. The visual style is starting to get old, but the movie itself looks incredibly promising, and I'm definitely looking forward to it.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:11:35 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Monday, February 13, 2006

So I'm sitting at work, listening as I usually do to all sorts of music in the background. I found myself listening to the excellent soundtrack written for A Clockwork Orange (which also happens to be one of the best movies I've ever seen). Some of the classical pieces there have a distinct ring to them, as if they've been performed in a very peculiar and distinct (somewhat synth-y, for lack of a better word) style. It kept bugging me that I've heard this someplace before, and after some 40 minutes it finally struck me: it sounds highly similar to the soundtrack written for the movie Tron (also highly recommended).

I took a better look at the tracks to see who wrote them - a Walter Carlos. This was even more surprising for me, because I recall the Tron soundtrack credited to a Wendy Carlos. What's up?

Some digging in wikipedia proved once again extremely fruitful:

Her first six recordings were released under the name Walter Carlos, although, being a transsexual woman, she had already changed her name from Walter to Wendy. In 1972, Carlos underwent gender reassignment therapy. The last release to be credited to Walter Carlos was By Request (1975). The first release as Wendy was Switched-On Brandenburgs (1979). Carlos's first public appearance after her gender transition was in an interview in the May 1979 issue of Playboy magazine, a decision she would come to regret as it brought unwelcome publicity to her personal life. On her official site, her transition is discussed in an essay stating that she values her privacy on the subject.

The universe never ceases to surprise me.

Monday, February 13, 2006 10:02:58 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Music | Movies
# Saturday, December 17, 2005
Been a while since I posted about one of my biggest passions, being movies of course. Aside from spending an increasingly larger portion of my time on studies (who knew differential and integral calculus can be so demanding?) I'm still trying to find the time to work on some of my pet projects, particularly the home theater and car stereo systems I use. I did manage to see some movies and stuff though, so here we go:
  • Tim Burton's latest movie Corpse Bride is a mixed bag. Objectively speaking, aside from maybe being a little short (76 minutes) it is spectacular: visually beautiful, musically brilliant and featuring some of the best voice acting talent ever heard from behind the big screen. The problem is that it's not just a movie, it's a Tim Burton movie. It's no secret that I consider Tim Burton the best film director since... well ever, really, and I'm used to being so moved by his movies that I find it hard to breathe. Corpse Bride was great - the first half particularly so - but it gave me none of those "holy crap, I must've been holding my breath for 10 minutes straight" minutes that are the real highlights of the moviegoing experience.
  • I went to see Serenity with a bunch of friends today, but since some of them have already seen it the choice of movie inexplicably changed to The 40 Year Old Virgin. As far as shitty light comedies go this actually had some genuinely funny movies, but that's probably only because I wasn't expecting much. Bottom line: it's not much better than you'd expect, so stay away.
  • On the same note, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is another "light" comedy. This movie is the embodiment of what I despise in Holywood (stupid, pointless and unbelievably coarse), so I won't bore you with the details. There are funny moments certainly, but the bottom line is it's a really crappy movie.
  • I finally got to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and was vaguely disappointed. My compadré Oren seems to have similar feelings about the movie; it was in many ways great (particularly the way they went all-out on effects), but it missed out on a lot of seemingly unimportant details that are absolutely vital to the entire Harry Potter experience. Read my comments on Oren's post for more insight (?).
  • Finally, my brother and some friends came over and we settled on watching Total Recall again. It's been at least 5 years since I've seen the movie and it's every bit as good today as it was years ago, with one important distinction: now that I'm older it's far more obvious to me how bad a couple of actors are (yes, Arnold, that means you. You're still the bomb though), and it's also far more astounding that despite the action-oriented mindset of the movie it is actually very well written. They manage to give you all of the clues and none of the answers, and they don't even hint at what the questions really are right until the very end (with that poorly chosen "What if it IS a dream?" line). Bottom line: terrific movie. God I miss the '80s.
Some movies I'm looking forward to:
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe might be the "next big thing" (after Lord of the Rings...) I read the prequel a while back and the first book a couple of weeks ago and wasn't actually overly impressed - so far it seems like a plainly overrated fairytale (I can certainly appreciate fairytales, just not the overly childish ones). In some aspects it keeps reminding me of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (which upon reflection was actually really very good), I guess I'll just wait and see.
  • I'm still waiting for Memoirs of a Geisha. As someone who's usually not into dramas I'm not quite sure what it is about the movie that attracts my interest, but I have a good feeling about it.
Saturday, December 17, 2005 4:06:11 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Sunday, November 20, 2005
So I got to see a bunch more movies lately (right now it's the only thing keeping me sane in the face of the dreaded Technion HEDVA/1t course). Here's a brief review on each:
  • Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven is a rather belated attempt to capitalize on the "psuedo-historical epos" trend of the last few years which was ironically started by Scott's own Gladiator (in case you were wondering, Braveheart was not a little too early for its own good, having come out in 1995). Synopsis: Balian, the son of Lord Godfrey, is knighted, takes up the task of defending Jerusalem from the forces of Saladin and ends up saving the day etc. Throw in a bunch of clichés about love, what it takes to be a humane leader back in the crusades and some generic morality crap and you've got a seriously badly written film. In its defense it does feature some superb photography, OK action and a huge cast consisting of some favourite actors of mine: Orlando Bloom (who finally appars capable of acting), Alexander Siddig (of DS9 fame), Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons, Edward Norton (who does not appear visually), David Thewlis and finally Liam Neeson, who isn't actually on my list but does deserve a mention. Too bad the movie just plain sucked.
  • Nicolas Cage's latest movie Lord of War was an absolute blast. It is an amasingly cynical, mostly funny and quite surprising satire of what makes third world countries wage war, as well as what makes greedy people tick. It doesn't make any excuses for the clichés it employs, and in my opinion it hits the spot precisely: some messages simply do not come across until you bang them into someone's head with an allegorical hammer. My only issue with it is that it fails to keep the satire simply as that, and culminates in a verbal political message which is an exercise in redundancy.
  • Instead of making a long point I'll skip to the very end with a summary of The Exorcism of Emily Rose: good acting (particularly by Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson), reasonable dialog, crappy predictable storyline and no boobs at all. In short, a movie not worth your time; if you're interested in the legal/judicial aspects do yourself a favour and go watch Law & Order, it's what they do.
  • I've heard a lot of conflicting opinions on I, Robot. Maddox went as far as to say:
    Here's how I would have changed this film: start out with a shot of Will Smith in a grocery store buying a 6 pack of Dos Equis beer, except instead of paying, the cashier is a Dos Equis marketing rep who hands Smith a thick wad of bills. Next shot: Smith finishes the last of the beer, walks over to Isaac Asimov's grave and lets loose. Why not? Same message, none of the bullshit.
    I won't deny that this movie has some serious issues (particularly with product placements; here it was even worse than The Island, if that's even possible) but I would take an opposite view to Maddox's: I enjoyed the movie immensely. Having read the book quite recently I find that the only place where the movie deviated completely from what is detailed in the stories (because I, Robot is not a single coherent storyline, rather comprised of several short tales) is in the depiction of Susan Calvin's character, who is actually very true-to-form in the beginning of the movie. Regardless, the movie features rather imaginative photography, some great action sequences, a plot which ultimately doesn't suck and some of the funniest dialogue I've heard in years (the only competition comes from the underrated Constantine). Bottom line? Recommended.
Sunday, November 20, 2005 2:34:39 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Seen quite a few movies recently. Here's a bunch of stuff:
  • The Life Aquatic is a unique movie. Not quite comedy, not quite drama, it still manages to be interesting, never dull, often hillarious and even moving at times. It tells the (fictional) story of oceanographer Steve Zissou (played by Bill Murray) in his last great adventure: trying to find and kill the shark that ate his life-long friend Esteban. Although this may sound like a modern-day Moby Dick, the rest of the movie certainly isn't. With an insane cast including Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Michael Gambon this movie seemed to have faded into obscurity simply because it is so odd and unusual most people simply can't figure it out. Recommended.
  • Versus is a Japanese action flick which includes Yakuza, zombies and supernatural forces. Despite terrific action scenes and some amusing characters (particularly the, er, protagonist) it completely fails to mesmerize; unlike some of its Chinese counterparts (such as Black Mask) the movie doesn't flow, it just drones on and on into monotony. Stay away.
  • Four Brothers is the story of, well, four unlikely step-brothers (two white, two black) whose mom is shot down by gangsters and they seek revenge. Although the base plot is pretty standard fare the movie itself is very well made; it reminded me strongly of The Boondock Saints (itself a highly recommended movie). Four Brothers isn't quite as good but still works very well and manages to combine comic relief with some drama and lots of action. Recommended.
  • Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is a hillarious movie with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. I usually dislike Stiller intensely, but in this particular case it works very well. The (relatively stupid) plotline pits Peter La Fleur (Vaughn) as a proprietor of Average Joe's Gym, a gym for people just like you and me (well, not really - I hope I'll never be as pathetic) facing foreclosure, against White Goodman (Stiller), owner of Globo "We're better than you, and we know it!" Gym who's trying to take over Average Joe's. Fast forward a bit, you got the guys at Average Joe entering a dodgeball tournament to win a reprieve from Average Joe's mounting debts; Rip Torn in one of his most bizarre and hysterical roles yet; great actor chemistry and goofball humour which all adds up to a really fun movie. It's not quite as good (or satirical) as BASEketball but it's great fun never-the-less.
  • I saw the first two episodes of Planetes and couldn't figure out what the big deal was; my brother (who usually knows his stuff) spoke very highly of the series but the episodes I watched bored me so badly I stopped watching in the middle, instead preferring to finish playing The White Chamber.
  • In other news, Serenity will be coming to Israeli theaters sometime in mid-November. Hoozah! Since the tickets to the screening at Icon were long gone by the time I tried to order this means I might yet get the chance to watch the movie, and might even do some catching up on Firefly beforehand.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005 12:12:19 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Monday, September 26, 2005
After having seeing most high-profile or otherwise interesting movies that came out this year I was under the impression that, with some notable exceptions, there wasn't much to look forward for. A quick look at IMDB's very useful "Now Playing" feature proved me very much wrong:
  • Serenity (a.k.a Firefly: The Movie) is out. I've never seen the show (although I intend to) but the trailer looks promising in the extreme (particularly since it's downloadable in HD WMV9).
  • MirrorMask looks like an interesting piece. Dave McKean's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's is stunningly beautiful; I've never read the book, but the trailer looks promising indeed.
  • Apparently they actually made Transporter 2. The first movie was a lot of fun (a hong-kongesque action flic with European actors? You bet), I hope the second lives up to it.
  • Lord of War might be a pretty fun way to spend a couple of hours. Mild comedy and action with Nicholas Cage? I see that.
  • Corpse Bride - a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp. 'nuff said.
  • I'm highly looking forward to the latest movie from Tony Scott (directory of Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Spy Game and Top Gun) called Domino. Seems interesting.
  • In the recent trend of epic, grandiose book adaptations started by Lord of the Ring, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe just might be "the next big thing". Trailer certainly looks awesome.
  • I can't believe they actually went through with it.
  • Yes, like it or not, I am very much into Harry Potter. Goblet of Fire's trailer looks like they blew the lid off the budget and I hope the movie is as visually artistic as the third (having already read the book I know what to expect plot-wise).
  • Stay is a controversial (at least according to the comments) movie from director Marc Foster; regardless of the early criticism, after Finding Neverland I'm willing to give Foster every ounce of credit I can muster. Add Ewan McGreggor into the mix and I'm sold.
  • I was utterly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the 1998 movie The Mask of Zorro. I was equally surprised to find that they're acutally making a trailer. I wonder if it'll be any good...
  • The Matador has potential. We'll see.
  • The Libertine looks promising as well. Johnny Depp always excels at playing out-of-this-world characters (Edward Scissorhands, Ichabod Crane, Jack Sparrow and lately Willy Wonka, just to name a few), which could only mean well for this movie.
  • I will watch Memoirs of a Geisha. Looks for too interesting not to, and the talent list is nothing short of astonishing.
  • Not sure what to make of Aeon Flux; the plot seems kind of ridiculous, and so does the trailer. Another comic-license wannabe?
  • If the Lethal Weapon movies are anything to judge by, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang should be da b0mb!
  • I'll have to give Paradise Now proper viewing time before I decide if it's a horribly political movie or the gripping tale of humanity it purports to be.
  • George Clooney plays Robert Baer in the "based on arguably real events" movie Syriana. There's some potential there.

I've also watched King Arthur while on vacation. I don't have a single word quite powerful enough to describe how utterly bad this movie is, so I'll settle with "horrific"; I mean, seriously, it was shit. Moreover, I'm not sure if Guinevere was a terrible character because of poor casting (Keira Knightley, who's also starring in the aforementioned Domino) or, more likely, due to a crappy screenplay. The camerawork was awful (most battle scenes were completely incomprehensible) and music uninspired. Bottom line: stay the hell away.

On the contrary, I also had the chance to watch Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, to me an obscure movie I haven't even heard of until a couple of weeks ago. How can a movie of this caliber remain so unknown? I believe it wasn't even shown in Israeli theaters. Anyway it was an interesting movie, very funny at times and certainly very beautiful and imaginitive, but I can't shake the feeling that we have here a Tim Burton wannabe... I still haven't decided about it properly, I intend to watch it again and then I'll have a final opinion on it.

Monday, September 26, 2005 9:10:42 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Saturday, August 13, 2005
I went to see The Island in the cinema with a bunch of friends the other day. Hey, it didn't cost me anything so why not, right?

It's sort of 1984 (at least in the beginning) meets The Matrix (towards the middle). There are plenty of very high-profile actors who do a pretty good job with the mediocre script (including Ewan McGreggor, Scarlet Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan) - there's even a guest role for our own Noa Tishby.

Bottom line: harmless generic action movie; ten years ago it might've been considered innovative but nowadays it's just a cash cow. The acting is, as I said, pretty good (considering the amount of star actors), the eye candy is great - but the movie itself is really uninspired.

Saturday, August 13, 2005 6:17:35 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
# Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Or to quote Penny Arcade from a while back:
Quit whatever you're doing, it's not important. Maybe you're performing a surgery. Put the scalpel down. Maybe you're holding a runaway car back from rolling over a carriage which contains an infant. There's no baby shortage, and even if there were, they're apparently a lot of fun to make. Run over the roof of the car, go home, and open up a browser.

It's rare that I encounter something which I can't find the proper amount of superlatives to describe. That something is Charly and the Chocolate Factory, the latest Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie based on the famous novel by Roald Dahl (which I admit not to have read). I will not bother you with the list of superlatives I did manage to come up with, but trust me: you owe it to yourself to watch this movie. Just stop whatever it is you're doing and go.

Another recommendation that's bound to steal a few days of your life (and repay you by making the remaining days worth living) is the fantastic Psychonauts. It hardly matters what you're playing now, it can't compare. Remember Monkey Island? Day of the Tentacle? Grim Fandango? Same guy, and Psychonauts just might be his best work ever. You owe it to yourself to play this game. Just stop whatever it is you're doing and go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 8:30:11 AM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
Gaming | Movies | Personal
# Tuesday, June 7, 2005
I thought I wouldn't bother with the third Star Wars movie. I really did. Well no, not really; it took me exactly five minutes to snap out of it and stop lying to myself: I was going to watch the movie in the theater even though I knew it's going to suck, much like Matrix Revolutions or Terminator 3. I can't help myself. It retrospect it amuses me that I'm willing to spend money on a purely mainstream product I know there's no chance I'll enjoy, but then - it's Star Wars, if I didn't go I'd feel left out...

Anyway, bottom line - I did go and did see it in the theaters. And it did not suck. Not even remotely as much as I feared it would. Now admittedly I've read the various "it doesn't suck" quotes on the 'net, but being my usual sceptic self I had to see for myself. I wouldn't call it terrific, though; it has two major problems without which it would probably have been the best in the series: crappy dialogues that seem to have been written by a 6-year old (particularly the various Padme vs Anakin scenes), and Hayden Christensen. Not even Ewan McGregor, whom I hold in very high regard since Big Fish, was able to keep me from noticing how poorly the dialogue is written, and not even the really terrific action scenes and utterly astounding visuals could keep the grimace off my face whenever Anakin came on-screen. Add to that an anti-climaxic Darth Vader experience and what you have is a pretty decent movie that could've been the biggest thing since, well, Lord of the Rings. A crying shame.

I had a completely opposite experience with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: I was never a big fan of the series (yes, I read all of them) and had very low expectations. When the trailer came out I was plesently surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed quite a bit, so it was with mixed feelings that I went to see it in the theater. Suffice to say that when the lights came on for the half-time break I was quite surprised: 45 minutes had gone by, and I didn't even notice. This movie is funny as hell! It's well-written, well-acted and even well-designed (visually); there are a lot of subtle jokes (as opposed to the incoherent in-jokes I originally expected) and this just made everything even better. I'm also very happy that the authors of this movie didn't give in to the fanboys, which means the authors did have some artistic license - I actually prefer the movie to the book this way. So in summary: this movie rocks. Watch it.

I had reasonably high expectations for Sin City: I like dark films and the trailer seemed very nifty. I had no idea what the movie was about though (never read the comic, nor could be bothered with previews) so I had no idea what I was getting into when I went to watch it. All in all I dub this film "high quality garbage." The production values are as high as it gets, but it doesn't stop the movie from being generic comic-based film-noir. The plot lines are overly simplistic and what the movie lacks in story-line it makes up for in insane amounts of gratuituous violence. When I made this argument a friend of mine challenged it, saying that I enjoyed Kill Bill immensely despite the level of violence which was at least as high; now don't get me wrong - I'm not squeamish and enjoy a good violence scene at least as much as the next guy, but the difference is that where violence in Kill Bill is intentionally portrayed as ludicrous and works to advance a simplistic plot (not to mention homage to '70s Hong Kong action flics), the violence in Sin City is not portrayed as ludicrous at all and works mostly to take the place of a nonexistant plot. It may work in the context of a comic, but I've never been a comic fan, so for me it merely detracts from a quality production. That said, the acting is top notch and the graphic design is absolutely beautiful, but as a whole Sin City is one movie I'm probably not going to watch again.

Finally I have a recommendation to make: grab Oldboy from the nearest Blockbuster and watch it. It's a Korean movie and I'm not sure how to best define it, but it's combination violent, disturbing and thought-provoking, with incredible acting, visual design and music to boot. Heartily recommended. Also, if you get the time, check out Kung Fu Hustle - I think it's in the theaters (in Israel) right now, or will be soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 5:57:18 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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