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Hot Fuzz (2007)
Quirky and Entertaining But Grisly Action-Comedy
It's hard to pigeonhole this one as a comedy, an action film, or a thriller, but it's fair to say it has elements of all three genres. If you are accustomed to Hollywood films that neatly fit into one of these genres, you will no doubt size this one up as a cop/buddy film (i.e., Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, etc.) but you will be in for a shock as the film progresses, if only for the occasional but graphic violence that lies ahead. I say "graphic," but it all seems a little cartoon-like when you see how the characters react to it. If you think of the Monty Python skit of the knight slowly being dismembered but continuing to fight off his foe sans arms and legs, you're on the right track. I didn't see Shaun of the Dead so it was my first encounter with either of the leads, who are both very good. All in all, this is not a classic but it is a nice diversion from the fare that Hollywood usually serves.
Did I see the same movie you guys did? It was BORING
First of all, I'm a big fan of indie film and music, especially the variety played by Glen Hansard's band The Frames, so I was looking forward to this going in. The music does not disappoint and is quite nice. As a vehicle for showing off Glen's writing skills, this film works.
As a story, however, the film is a total snoozefest. Nothing - and I mean nothing - happens. There are no conflicts, no heroic actions, nothing, nada, zilch. Plus, while I liked listening to the songs, it wasn't necessary to have the same song played over and over and over.
As much as I wanted to like this, in the end, it just didn't have enough going for it. I notice a lot of the reviews are from Sundance festival goers. Maybe in the context of the Sundance festival, this qualified a diamond in the rough, but even by indie film standards, I found it lacking in substance.
***SPOILER WARNING*** The reviews lead you to believe it's a "boy meets girl" type of love story but THEY NEVER EVEN KISS and they don't end up together in the end. Plus, wasn't it a tad unrealistic for them to walk into a bank, play a demo for a banker on a cassette player and walk out with money to rent a recording studio for a weekend?
Very Entertaining Parody of Slasher Films
I decided to post a comment because there were so many negative ones and this movie really isn't that bad. In fact, it's pretty enjoyable for what it is. What it is not is a true "sequel" - except in name only - to the ultra-violent "American Psycho." In fact, aside from the fact that the main character is supposedly a survivor of Patrick Bateman, this could be a stand alone film. It probably should not have been set up as a sequel since I'm sure it ended up attracting (and disappointing) the audience who liked the first film and kept people away who would have liked it but who thought it might be another graphically violent film.
This one features Mila Kunis (Jackie of "That 70s Show") as a girl who wants to become the teaching assistant of a professor who teaches a course on crime (specifically, serial killers). The professor is played by William Shatner, so you know the tone of the film isn't going to be too heavy handed. Kunis proceeds to kill off her competitors for the job, and although the body count builds up over the course of the film about 99% of the violence is off screen. Nothing too graphic here. Kunis is actually likeable, much more so than her victims, including Shatner, who is having an affair with one of his students.
If you approach this as a parody and not as graphic violence, you may just find it to be as fun as I did. If you're looking for more of what the original "American Psycho" offered, look elsewhere.
Lost and Delirious (2001)
Well-Acted Although Downbeat
I watched this to see Piper Perabo in something other than "Coyote Ugly." Here, she plays a very different character, a lesbian at an all girls school who is in love with her roommate. The whole story is told as seen through the eyes of a third roommate, played by Mischa Barton.
The acting is top drawer, and the story is engaging. I had an idea of how it might end up but I wasn't sure right up until the last few minutes. Nowadays, you can usually predict how movies will end about 10 minutes after they start, so it was refreshing to be kept on edge until the end. That being said, I'm downgrading this one a little because I didn't care for the ending they chose. I could have envisionied a couple of alternate endings that would have made this a stronger film.
How I Won the War (1967)
You'll need a British interpreter...
I just saw this film for the first time last Friday night at an American Cinematheque screening in L.A. I had pretty low expectations for it but was curious to see John Lennon in an acting role. You could see this film as a pre-cursor to M*A*S*H, but I think that's giving it too much credit.
In short, the film succeeded in meeting my low expectations. I've seen my share of British cinema and particularly a lot of Monty Python, which this film vaguely recalls, and this was a challenging film for me to watch in terms of understanding the humor, the language, and the slang being used by the characters. The bits of slapstick are good, but there aren't enough of them to save the film. Michael Crawford is really the star of the film, and I discovered that a little of him goes a long way. Ninety minutes of him is too much. As for Lennon, he's mostly a small supporting character, although he's given virtually equal billing with Crawford. If you saw Help! or A Hard Day's Night, you know a little about John's personality, and it shines through in the same way here.
I'd recommend watching this at home on video, where you can stop it and return to it if it gets tiresome, which it probably will. I understand that it's due for a DVD release sometime soon.
The Family Way (1966)
Very Good Film
I saw this film last Friday night at an American Cinematheque screening in Los Angeles. It was my first time to see it, although I'd long been curious about it since McCartney provided the musical score.
The film was the second half of a double feature, paired with How I Won the War, and it was worth staying to see. McCartney's score is top notch, and it's a shame it's not available on CD. The film is based on a play, and it has the feel of watching a filmed stage production. There aren't a lot of different locations used for filming, and most of the action takes place in a house. This may not sound so interesting but the story and characters are worth following. Hayley Mills is wonderful and her father, John Mills, turns in a stellar performance as her husband's overbearing father. They don't make films like this anymore, which is too bad.
Note: The film has garnered a slight notoriety for a "nude" scene involving Hayley Mills. What this amounts to is a very brief shot of her holding a towel around herself and baring part of her backside. The shot is so brief that you will scratch your head wondering how this ever became even worthy of comment. I'd guess that this film would be rated "G" or at worst "PG" by American standards today, as it has no foul language, very little violence, and no on screen sex or nudity.