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My Movie Subconscious: I Will Never Forget


Part of the point of starting The Blogulator back in the day, for me anyway, was to encourage myself to write about all the movies I see - new and old. I've really been slacking on this lately, only blogging about a select few here and there, always doing previews of movies I haven't seen and probably will never see, fake Kathie Lee and Hoda transcriptions, and what have you. Poppycock is what it is, really. Absolute poppycock. Here I go, digging I guess not so much into my deep subconscious as I am digging into that goopy layer of brain juice where there lie memories of films both underrated and overrated by yours truly upon the initial viewing. You need to help me decide:

Kung Fu Panda: Ugh. And yet, also meh. I suppose I should have known this was not going to be an animated feature that appealed to both children and adults. With plot sequencing that was written by a computer and overuse of Jack Black screaming that wacky scream (as a reaction to falling, conquering, getting punched, and meeting other kung fu animals, just to name a few), the only thing minutely redeeming about it that I recall were the vaguely entertaining fight scenes. And even then, I had to constantly endure variations on the Jack Black scream, so it was hardly worth it. Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Overrated.

Nashville: You know what's a great idea? Inviting all your friends over on a Friday night to watch a two-and-a-half hour Robert Altman movie from the 70s that deals exclusively in a series of scenes of his trademark plotless naturalistic character studies. Oh and his centrifugal style of overlapping dialogue to give you the in-the-room feel unfound in 99% of all film surely had wide appeal amongst the group too. Seriously though, it really is my fault for thinking that'd be a great hangout movie. Especially at the end of the week when no one had seen each other for days and wanted to catch up. Definitely need to watch this again, but from what I saw, it was classic Altman, y'all just need to slow your roll and get into it on your own. Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Underrated.

The Strangers: Thursday afternoon, I casually look at what's playing at my local multiplex. I switch the view to Friday to see what comes out and what's going away. I realize this is my last day to see what many of my favorite critics (Pajiba, AV Club) are calling the best mainstream horror movie in years. And you can't see horror at home - it's gotta be at the theater. I haven't seen a good one since The Descent, so I had to run off and catch this by myself. The first two-thirds really are the best horror movie in years (even better than The Descent) but then the last third does the biggest nosedive in the history of horror. It takes the easy and exploitative route, turning into Saw or a Rob Zombie movie rather than staying the minimalist freakfest that preceded it. Too bad so sad. Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Overrated.

Surfwise: Documentaries seemed doomed to always viscerally affect me at the time of viewing and then immediately escape from my mind the second they end. The story of a surfing family of nine that lived in a van together, never sent the kids to school, and had sex almost every night in front of them in said van, was obviously never dull. Especially when we got to see how these kids turned out now that they're adults and their attempts to reconnect with each other. It's amazing how just through zooming in on old pictures, showing old surfing videos, and present-day interviews, you can get such a deep sense of what the lifestyle was like. And yet, like so many documentaries, its director also had the burning desire to implement a stylistic framework of flash-bang bold colors and overimposing surf soundtrack to muddle the emotions and stories of the family. Too bad, it could have been brilliant, and maybe I would have had more of an itch to blog about it earlier. Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Overrated.

Hairspray (1988): Jerksica connived me into seeing the remake last year (it wasn't that hard for her to succeed, I'll see anything) and I was remarkably not offended by it. I even downright enjoyed elements of it: James Marsden is slowly rising to becoming the best hammy actor of his generation (also see Enchanted) and somehow you can still never go wrong with Christopher Walken, even when he's dancing with John Travolta. So I had been meaning to see what was probably the dirtier and therefore better version of the film from 1988 for quite some time now. Finally I gave control of the Nerdflix queue over to Jerksy and we had this gem arrive at the door. Not out of this world extraordinary, but an even smarter and slyer version of the self-aware race relations theme explored in the new one, all through John Waters' delightfully campy lens. And The Cars' Ric Ocasek as a crazed painting-destroying beatnik! Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Underrated.

The Visitor: Here's the movie whose trailer almost made me cry and I claimed it to be the only movie worth seeing in 2008. After several weeks of it surviving at the nearby indie-theatre (though I just learned the Landmark chain is owned by Mark Cuban, so can we call it that anymore?), Jerksica and I finally got around to catching it on a weekday night. The throbbing urge to see this had died down and we were just casually walking into it, so that might have had something to do with it, but in the end, the movie was...good. Just good. Since I saw it I've been wondering what else I wanted from it so it could be considered great or mindblowing, but I can't pinpoint it. It's a very reserved film with no intent on manipulating your heartstrings (like the trailer did oh so well) and still showing a very deep connection between a weathered professor with nothing left to live for and a vibrant young illegal immigrant musician who gets caught. Really, it's too bad, the movie's too modest for its own good, and yet that should be a good thing, but it doesn't leave it overly memorable or outstanding. Unfortunate to the maxxx. Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Underrated.

Breaking The Waves: How I never managed to see this movie until recently boggles me. I didn't fully realize until I saw the ending of this movie that Lars Von Trier is one of my favorite directors, and almost certainly my favorite foreign one. This 1997 semi-dogma film garnered Emily Watson an Oscar nom and rightfully so, though it's frustrating that she got notice but neither Bjork for Dancer in the Dark nor Nicole Kidman for Dogville did (two of my favorite actress performances from my two favorite Trier films). The structure and plot to Waves is a lot more traditional and less shocking (the first two acts anyway) than the other two films just mentioned, but its final act makes up for it tenfold. Without giving too much away, Watson plays a Joan of Arc-esque character that does whatever God tells her, anything she hears that He tells her will help her relationship with her husband, Stellan Skarsgard. Really that's all I can say without the weight of the film's events having the proper effect on the viewer. So highly recommended, thought it require patience and investment (which I was weary about during my initial intake of the film). Underrated or Overrated at the time of viewing: Underrated.

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  1. Blogger Sean | 10:52 AM |  

    the new x-files film.

    overrated.

  2. Blogger chris | 10:58 AM |  

    Did you go at Midnight?!?! Don't ruin this for me, Sean! I'm going in two hours.

  3. Blogger Brigitte | 11:01 AM |  

    i really liked watching nashville--and i kinda feel like those actually are good hang out movies, since you can sort of pretend that you, too, and your friends, are all in the room with the characters (just makes that overlapping dialog even more...realistic?). seriously, i liked it a lot, and i don't know that i could like it if i were on my own, in a too-quiet room, giving it my complete attention.

    kung fu panda looks so terrible that just that still photo actually makes me hate children. i'm frowning at it right now and thinking about how i'll probably only let my kids watch movies i enjoyed as a child. good luck being popular on the playground, future kids!

  4. Blogger Lady Amy | 1:29 PM |  

    Don't be mad at kids for what's being marketed to them, Brigitte. Instead form a group of kids to protest films that undermine their intelligence...wouldn't that be cute?!

  5. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:56 PM |  

    X-Files overrated? Strong words, considering it currently sits at 48 on Metacritic.

  6. Blogger chris | 5:12 PM |  

    I see your point, Brigitte, and I had thought that but didn't know how to articulate it. However, I love getting totally immersed in an Altman movie because the closer you pay attention, the more you hear the characters say to the right or left of the screen rather than just the ones that are the focus of the scene. But that's also another reason to watch the movie more than once regardless of what the first experience is like.

    Oh and I Want To Believe is a great extended episode of The X Files with tons of clever wink wink nudge nudges that has a fantastic feminist female action/thriller protagonist, drowning in a sea of adventure summer maleness. Good movie for a non-fan? Hell no.

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