Posts about movies (old posts, page 1)

2004-06-18 13:55

Life imitates art. Not too good art, though.

Imagine the most ridiculously over-the-top cliche movie about sports. Here are some of the ingredients, and how last night´s match between Boca and River compares in a 1/10 scale.

  • A bitter rivalry

    9 This is a century-old rivalry, between teams from the same city, who happen to be the most successful and popular teams in the country.

    Trust me, this is serious stuff. So serious, that for security reasons, it was the first time ever in argentine football history that the visiting team´s fans were forbidden from attending the match.

  • It must be an important match

    9 It was a do-or-die affair, it being eliminatory home-and-away, but it was only the semifinal of the most important club tournament possible for them, the Libertadores Cup (S.Am. equivalent of the Champions League).

    It would have been better for this to be the final, but there has never been a same-country final in this tournament (that I know), so this was as good as it gets.

  • A clear favourite

    5 The first match (at Boca´s home) was won by Boca 1-0, but River could have won 2-1 or so, had they been even slightly lucky (Boca´s coach is recognized as the luckiest man on earth by some).

    River had kicked Boca´s butt all over the field a few weeks ago, playing ten times better, but...

    Boca has River´s number, and has had it for ten years or so. Boca has won close, and has won clear, has won at home and away, has won in local, international and friendly matches, has won deservingly and has won by sheer luck. But they have won almost everything for 5 or 6 years, including three of these cups, and two Intercontinental cups against the Champions League winner, so... noone was going to say River was a clear favourite. At all.

  • A hostile environment

    9 The largest hostile crowd in argentine football history. 66000 chanting, bloodthirsty River fans. And in the middle of it, about 20 Boca players, coaches and assistants. Scary stuff.

    It wasn´t Brazil-Uruguay in 1950, but then again, there has never been anything like Brazil-Uruguay in 1950 (and never could be again).

  • Ridiculous suspense.

    9 Boca came 1-0 ahead. River scored, evening the aggregate.

    Boca player ejected. Things look grim for them.

    Then River lost two players in the same play (one ejected, one injured, no replacements available).

    In the 89th minute, Boca scores. They are now ahead.

    In the 94th minute(!) River scores, all even. Penalties.

    The first 8 penalties are scored. It comes down to the last penalty for each team. The river player misses! It all is now in the hands of a single player, and a single kick. Which brings us to...

  • The unlikely hero

    9 The guy is 21. He is not even a regular substitute, but all the regular penalty shooters are for some reason unable to take them, they have been ejected, or replaced, or injured.

    So, he takes it, he scores, Boca wins, and 66000 looks as if someone has played a evil trick with their guts.

Man, I love this game.

2004-06-13 22:59

Lost in Translation, Duplex, Something's gotta give

I saw these three movies in the last 48 hours or so.

Duplex: it's dumb, dark, and the end cheats.

Something's gotta give: If I were Diane Keaton, I would have taken Keanu. If I were Jack Nicholson, I wouldn't have dumped the daughter. However, the concept is cool, and Diane looks damn good.

Now, the sight of Jack Nicholson's butt was completely unnecessary. Now I am so self-conscious I am going to buy a robe. I never imagined anyone could look so bad, and I need to make a habit of hiding my body before it all falls down.

Lost in translation: I want to marry Scarlet Johansson's character. I doubt Mrs. Johansson herself would be half as much fun, although she is obviously just as pretty.

On the other hand, I want to say, make it Suntory time. Now, to the right, with intensity. More Roger Moore!

If you have not seen it, the above paragraph makes no sense. If you did: I want to be him, too. Only younger. And married to her.

I quite liked the movie, even if my date didn't (she says, and she is right, nothing happens in it). Had the movie had a plot, it would be amazing. What is there is good enough it even survives the plotlessness as good.

I suggest Jerry Bruckheimer hires Sofia Coppola. Although he has the worst imaginable taste in directors (the wrong Scott brother! Michael Bay!), he requires all his movies to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and that the ending be different from the beginning.

So, if Jerry wants to become a Weinstein-like fellow, and he keeps those requirements, eases up on the explosions, and forces Sofia to hire a writer (if at all possible, the one who wrote "Action!" with Jay Mohr?), man, that is going to be an actual movie, instead of just 2 hours of film.

Oh, you may say, Roberto is crazy! Sofia Coppola is artsy! Bruckheimer is crass!. There is such a thing as too artsy, and definitely, there is such a thing as too crass, but, surprise! There is such a thing as not artsy enough, and, worse of all, not crass enough.

Nowadays, movies fall either on one side or the other, except for some films, very few, vanishingly few. I propose exogamy, because the inbreeding of the artsy and the crass tribes is killing them.

Coming soon (not really): why Kiarostami should direct a Tarantino script.

2004-05-23 16:50

Double feature at the Electric

Sometimes, on saturday afternoons, I am a cheap bastard. When that happens, I go to the Electric.

The Electric is an old cinema, that shows two movies (usually 6-month old releases) for $4.50.

That´s 4.50 as in pesos. Roughly 1.5 Euros. As I said, on saturday aternoons, I am a cheap bastard.

The programmer there is probably a crotchety old geezer who has seen 89000 movies in fity years, but the pairings he comes up with are a thing o beauty.

Right now, you can see Secret Window with Taking Lifes. Or Hidalgo with a Denzel Washington movie. Or Startsky & Hutch with Master and Commander (!?!)

I chose the first menu, armed myself with a radioactive-yellow drink called Pomelo Neuss, and prepared to see Mr. Depp get weird.

I had read rather bad reviews of both movies, and was surprised to like both of them.

Secret Window

I must confess I have read almost everything Stephen King published (noone has read everything he publishe, including him), and liked, when younger, a lot of it. I hadn´t read this one, though.

It´s a unusual movie. The opening through-the-mirror shot is damn good, and makes lots of sense in the end.

Depp is a disturbed individual. Here he plays a crazed person.

Taking lives

It features Angelina Jolie´s naked breasts. That´s an automatic two-star movie at least. It´s also not a bad thriller, although it has enough plot holes to drive a truck into them.

The double feature (spoilers)

Amazingly, both movies are about the same subject. In one, a man contains two souls, in another, a soul so dislikes his human vessel, it reformats it into others through murder.

The clinical term for the first case is schizophrenia, for the second there isn´t one because it only exists in fiction.

The idea of a person loathing himself so much he wishes to become someone else appears for example in Les Miserables. Here we have Jean Valjean as a psycho.

Jean Valjean is shown goodness by a priest, and decides to become good, and he becomes a respected man, then he is shown evil in law, and becomes a father, and a fugitive.

Here, the assassin is shown contempt by his mother, and becomes a hermit crab, changin human shells, becoming someone else for a few years at a time, over and over.

And Javert is played by Jolie, looking damn good in discrete white blouses and black suits (she should keep dressing that way).

In Secret Window Depp is harassed by himself, and ends the movie by embracing his other personality, and is, in the end, thoroughly happy with himself.

As you can see, the characters in both movies are victims of self-esteem issues, of different kinds.

I am writing this on a public computer, and the keyboard is sticky. In particular, the d often fails. So, some letters may be missing.

2004-05-16 10:56

Troy (not McClure)

I saw Troy last night. I live close to the Atlas theater, which sports the largest screen in South America (although, sadly, no THX sound), which is well suited for this kind of thing.

And it is a traditional movie. It´s like Cleopatra, only the girl can´t act and the guy is not a middle-aged alcoholic.

I think Ebert got it right when he said that the actors are trying to make their characters human, and it´s counterproductive because the characters in the Iliad are not human, they are archetypes.

It´s a damn greek tragedy! The whole idea of greek tragedy is men without will being thrown into their fates by evil gods. I wonder how the greeks managed to stay religious considering all their deities seem to be bastards.

On the other hand, Bana as Hector was ok. He has that what the hell am I doing here look a character in tragedy would have if he at the same time was aware of what he is doing, thinks it´s nuts but can´t stop it, which I think is how anyone would look if the gods forced him to go fight hand to hand against a guy that´s supposed to be invulnerable, while a thousand nice archers who are on your side just look.

What distracted me most during the movie is how modern military ideas made the logistics of the troy siege incomprehensible. For example, the landing is like a Delta-Day: D-Day with greeks. Saving Private Achilles. Any half-not-braindead guy would decide that maybe it was a better idea to lad a few kilometers away in a non-defended coast, take over a few farms, whatever. But no, they land smack in front of Troy. The boats are rammed into the beach. You know what that does to a flat-bottom greek boat? (I am assuming they were flat-bottomed, or it´s just too stupid).

Those things were pretty fragile. And if the tide was low, they would flood and sink as soon as it went up.

There is a reason why the amphibious troop transport ship was invented: you can´t do that with regular seagoing ships.

Then they don´t surround Troy. So, any Trojan that felt like fleeing could use a secondary gate and walk away from it all.

Oh, and just for kicks, the greek camp is at the bottom of a hill.

Not to mention massed armies running at each other over hundreds of meters. Marching was invented because if you do that, you are already tired when you get there. And fighting with bronze-age sword, spear and shield is a tiresome job!

Ok, I admit that 50000 greeks walking wouldn´t be so cinematographically exciting, but hey, I am just whining here.

Oh, and it seems the siege lasted all of a month. I wonder why the trojans didn*t just sleep through it. Ok, they are supposed to be morons, with the horse and all that.

But don´t get me wrong, I have seen much worse movies, like return of the lobster man or eyes wide shut. It´s just that Homer (or as he is known in Hades, "Spinning Guy") wrote a rather fun epic poem, and it really didn´t need all that much tampering.

2004-05-11 19:24

Kill Bill Vol. 2

As I mentioned, I saw Kill Bill Vol. 2.

While I enjoyed Volume 1's childish notion of grandeur by accumulation, I must confess I was waiting for that emotional moment, like S. Jackson's monologue at the Diner in Pulp Fiction.

Or the whatheheck moment like the death of Robert de Niro's character in Jackie Brown.

Or even the goofy quarter-pounder-with-cheese moment.

But all I got in Volume 1 was Uma Thurman in the slick Bruce Lee outfit, blood, Yakuzas, and the brass of RZA's version of "Battle without honour".

Which is not exactly a small amount of things to get, don't get me wrong, but not quite what I wished for.

And much later I started reading the reviews for Volume 2, and it seemed a more QT flick, and I like those, and I saw it.

And it's good. And it has the quater-pounder-with-cheese moment (Superman), and the whattheheck moment (Elle's), and it has the emotional moment (a lot of them), even if they are darker, and let's face it, basically evil.

So, there's a lot I liked. I was even happy about David Carradine's part (although his lisp drove me nuts (and I don't mean LISP (I mean he says yeth instead of yes))).

BTW: I read on a newspaper an excerpt from an interview he did for Uncut magazine... he's one crazy guy.

The Pai Mei stuff is hilarious. Michael Madsen's Budd is awesome. The very picture of moral decadence wrapped around the nastiest little-brother syndrome ever.

So, I actually quite loved this movie. It's not my favourite QT flick ever (that's Pulp Fiction, then Jackie Brown), but it's a hell of a lot better than almost everything else I saw in the last year or so.

All I want to know is what happened to Sofie Fatale (cheesiest name ever for a french character), and I would be happy as a clam.

2003-12-28 16:33

28 days after resident evil

Saw Resident Evil last night on HBO... it ends exactly the same way 28 days later begins :-)

Not to mention that both are cannibal zombie movies. Amazing coincidence.

Of course Milla Jovovich <> that english bloke.

2003-12-20 13:22

Late Movie Review: S.W.A.T.

To escape the heat of the afternoon, I dived into a movie theater downtown, and the movie I hadn't seen was this.

I am a fan of Samuel L. Jackson. I think his role in Pulp Fiction is incredible. I think his screen presence (and a little acting) makes his characters interesting and intense, and larger than life, which is a good thing in many movies.

But why, please, is he trapped inside of a fascist fantasy movie?

In this movie, 4 policemen and a prisoner (who is described as evil, sure) are in a car, and because of something he says, just a nod from one of the policemen prompts the other to hit the prisoner. Who is cuffed, BTW.

Ok, so that is a felony comitted by one of the "good guys", with acquiescense from another. It is also, of course, a cowardly action, and think about it: just a nod, and whack. That shows habit, so the subtext is apparently that these nice guys, members of "the most respected police force in the world", routinely hit defenseless prisoners.

Yup, those are the heros in this movie.

But let's put aside the obviously rotten ideology this movie represents, where it's ok for a character, just because he is labeled as "good", to break the law without consequences, and without even suggesting that such a thing may be, you know, not the best thing to do.

Let's talk about cinema. This is the kind of movie where two characters of similar height and build fight, in a dark railroad set, backlit.

For minutes, they punch, and kick, and throw themselves at each other.

And it's phisically impossible to see who the hell is beating the other, because you can't tell them apart.

That's lazy filmmaking, and it shows this morally bankrupt movie is not even well done garbage.

At least Leni Riefenstahl's movies are allegedly beautiful to look at. What's the excuse for this one?

2003-11-28 17:52

Time passes, things change.

I have been thinking a little about being relatively old in IT/Internet/dog-year terms, and some things have changed. A lot.

When I was a kid (say, 8 years old?) there were only two TV channels where I lived. And I lived in a rather largish city (350K people). In fact, it was more like 1.5 channels, since one only worked from 6PM to midnight.

Now, I could have 300 channels, if I had any time free to watch TV.

Of course, it was black and white TV, color TV was still 2 years in the future. Hell, our TV still had vacuum tubes. Now I can watch DVDs with Dolby 5.1 sound. I only saw my first _movie_ with Dolby sound when I was 14.

At that time (although I had not heard of those things yet), the university where I would later study and work was buying a computer. That modern marvel had 64KB of main memory, and supported up to three simultaneous users on teletypes (yes, teletypes), but at the time they only had punchcards. My phone has more computing power than that.

Eventually, I used that very same computer to learn Fortran III+ using a line editor and a line printer, although it only had one teletype, since it had been upgraded to glass ttys (wyse60s, IIRC). I still have some glass ttys at home (real wyse60s, nice toys).

Phone lines were so hard to get that a house with phone costed roughly 50% extra. To make a phone call to a town 60KM away, the procedure included calling an operator, and waiting two or three hours for the operator to call back.

Now, people get mad at me because I am not in MSN messenger all the time, and I have lost 5 phones in two years, but it's only a minor annoyance. In those days, the idea of losing a phone was about as bizarre as losing a doorstep.

Bills (power, phone, water, etc.) had to be paid on specific banks, on specific dates, and usually there were lines of a block or two on the last available date. Now I have them automatically paid from my bank account, and I get informed via email to authorize it.

Since I was 5 years old, I took a bus (not a school bus, a plain city bus) to school every morning and noone found that too weird. Now I am the only person I know who takes random cabs, because it's safer to call one by phone.

Every country in every direction, including my own, was under a repressive and criminal military dictatorship, and half the world was communist.

But... the last time a man had gone to the moon was with Apollo, the coolest-looking and fastest plane in the world was the SR-71, Ema Peel looked great in The Avengers, summer was hot, girls on bathing suits made the heat bearable, girls make anything bearable, anyway, so _some_ things never change.

I had just finished reading The Count of Montecristo, and I thought it was a great book, and it still is, although I appreciate all the sex and drug abuse of the book more now!

I was a chubby kid, I am a chubby adult. I was a skinny teenager, though, but that didn't last ;-)

So, just because I can now buy a real laser beam for the cost of a hamburger (which was a novelty food when I was a kid), while it was before the stuff Bond villians with lots of money played with, are things really different... well, yeah! ;-)

2003-11-23 20:47

Late movie review: Matrix Revolutions

Although it opened here (Buenos Aires, Argentina) at the exact same time as almost everywhere else, here's a late review of the movie.

I liked it. I have read the critic slam it, and you know what? I understand them. But I liked it anyway.

Now, why is that, and why don't I slam it as well? The problem critics had with Matrix: Revolutions is one of expectations.

They expected it to be a movie that lifted Matrix: Reloaded into a meaningful and worthy sequel of the original film. That is of course impossible for many reasons.

The main one is that it's 2003, not 1998. In 2003 lame movies like Bad Boys II have special effects that are about as good as The Matrix's were. We are jaded to them.

In fact, we are not only jaded to special effects that were special five years ago, we are jaded to surprise itself, like if showing us something new was an old thing itself.

So, even when there is a sequence that should awe us (like, say, the slow motion punch into Smith's face, look how you can see the fist pushing individual raindrops, the face deforming under the pressure, the detail of the impression of the knuckles... do you know how that was done? I don't!)... well, awe is old news.

So, I went to the theather expecting a movie that would be a fine action movie, with impressive sights, lame acting (not a decent actor in the bunch, except Lawrence Fishburne, and he was apparently directed not to act, but to look serious and important), some sophomoric babble, and some kung fu (I wanted more seraph, though).

In that level, it works. In making us all be five years younger, it didn't.

And to those who said the ending just drops the ball of the story threads, well, guys, this was a christian parable, Neo died for the sins of the programs, he was not the christ figure of the humans, but of the machines.

The robots in the city are the romans, the oracle and other "good bots" are israelites, the architect is Herod, Smith is the roman legions oppressing the israelites, and Neo's messianic "death" (he didn't die, but he is shown in a crucifiction-like pose, and doesn't move) is the second coming announcing the raising of the new temple, by turning the romans against their own legions and ushering peace on earth.

And the humans in Zion are vermin in Jerusalem's sewer system. Just ask the Merovingian (He, I have no idea who he is in the analogy, I just thought this as I was writing, be happy if it holds for another 30 seconds ;-) Ok, he is Mary Magdalene's pimp.

See, that's the kind of thing the Matrix trilogy does, it induces otherwise reasonable people into trying to shoehorn random data into patterns it doesn't fit (at least I tried to make a slightly original one).

That not specially cool quality is shared with other upper-mediocre-crust entertainment, such as "Catcher in the rye". While amusing, its produce is, of course mostly pedestrian.

The trick here, I think, is one used by people like Berlitz, writing about the magic proportions of the pyramids. If you have a large set of numbers, and allow yourself some freedom to tweak, they will match some of the hundred of "important" numbers in nature.

My height * 1000000 ~ the distance to the moon. I must be really important!

The Matrix movies have dozens or hundreds of nuggets of things we recognize from somewhere else, usually only slightly veiled, so we can feel smart about unveiling them, and smarter still about connecting them.

Well, like the size of the stones in the pyramids, you can plug those nuggets into almost any structure you want, as long as you are willing to stand a few holes and forced fitting... and man, did that get old quick after the first movie or not?

So, that's why it didn't work on the philosophical level: we are tired of it, we only had gas for one of those movies.

Add that to the special-effects-are-not-special-anymore syndrome, and you have a recipe for a movie that, while ok, can't work.

And that, friends, is why it didn't.

2000-07-18 19:53

Advogato post for 2000-07-18 19:53:02

Whoa, with all that brain activity about freedom, I forgot to write the diary entry I actually wanted to write.

Today's topic is one that probably has never been covered in advogato (and there are more of those ;-): Alexandre Dumas (père).

Why? Because I lately see him everywhere. For one thing, a few weeks ago, I watched a movie. I think the english title is "the ninth gate". That movie, while apparently a books and demons sort of thriller with Mr. Depp, is based in a book by a guy called Pérez-Reverte.

Now, that book is way better than the movie. In fact, it's one of the better books I've read in the last year or so, and I read a lot.

The book is called... El Club Dumas. Which in english means roughly the same thing as in spanish.

Now, I can understand why Roman Polansky would throw away half of the book (The Dumas half) and keep the other half (the devil's half), and making a movie based on the book would probably be impossible otherwise, but hey, it still sucks.

Why does it suck? Because the Dumas side of the book is way better. It's fun. It has a plot. Or two plots. It has characters. It has great dialog. The devil's half is, well, about the devil, and about books. Old books.

And I prefer the Dumas half, because it has a ghost of the real thing. That real thing being, of course, Dumas' work.

I had read Dumas when I was a kid, and I thought it was funny, and that I had outgrown it, until one day, two years ago, I felt a irresistible urge to buy a 1300 page mammoth called "The Count of Montecristo".

In the first 120 pages or so, it has, love, politics (with Napoleon!), evil scheming, prison, drugs, escapes from prison, sex, religion, loyalty, betrayal, and, the most important thing, it's so much fun you don't even care about the stranger parts.

I remember a article in Salon a while ago, like a defense of the plot in literature, against style. And Dumas is the greatest example of why that makes sense. The style is not bad, mind you, but it's functional to the plot. Characters in a Dumas book exist to do things. They make decisions, they try to advance to their goals, they push and kill and fuck each other as if their lifes depended on it, and well, as far as a character has a life, doesn't it depend on it?

And then I realized the bad luck Dumas' books have had when turned into movies. And I can't understand why. After all, they have everything to make good, or at least fun, movies. They have guns, explosions, scenarios, action, and sex! Ask Peter Dragon to make one!

But last night I saw The Man in the Iron Mask on TV. Oh, man.

Ok, I understand that noone could make a movie about the man in the iron mask with the original title (The Vizcount(sp?) of Bragelonne), because people would mistake it for a Merchant-Ivory movie.

I understand that they had to make Leonardo diCaprio into Louis XIV. Hey, he's not so bad at it, even. He does look like a bland inbreed with an attitude problem.

I accept that they had to cast 3 actors from UK and the US as mousketeers, and that they had to fake french accents (why? the audience wouldn't notice it is set is France if they didn't?)

I can accept the way they totally screwed the character of Athos' son, turning him into a moron.

What I can't accept is the ending.

In the book, Athos dies of grief. Porthos dies saving his friends. Aramis (who is NOT, for christ's sake, the secret general of the jesuits) retires to a monastery, D'Artagnan dies many years later in the siege of Maastricht (to match the death of the real D'Artagnan), and Louis XiV wins.

It's a very sad ending. But it actually makes sense. You don't go and replace the king of a country, get caught and then get away with it, sad as it may be.

The movie? Oh, well, let's see, the man in the iron mask becomes king, Athos, Porthos and Aramis become his counselors, Athos gets the (new) king as a (new) son, as if it was a new goldfish to replace the flushed one, and the only one that dies is D'Artagnan, but he dies saving everyone else, so it doesn't matter.

Oh, and D'Artagnan is revealed to be the father (with Anna of Austria) of Louis XIV (and the man in the iron mask). Why was that? Someone saw "The empire strikes back" while drafting the script?

And it's not the first time. Monsieur Dumas has (ok, no, he's dead) seen many movie versions, and each one massacred the books in similar ways.

And here I am, hoping one day someone will burn 120 million bucks in a 5 hour epic called "The vizcount of Bragelonne".

With people speaking without accents. Or in french, or with a real french accent. And where everyone dies in the end.

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