Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to Movie Watching ... With a Vengeance

It occurs to me that the three movies we watched this week all had an element of, shall we say, forcefulness that was unintentional. C'est la vie ...
  • Chinatown
    The classic neo-noir movie starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, featuring a host of "hey, it's that guy!" character actors. Rose loved this movie so much that she continually asked if I'd seen it yet. Well, now I can say yes and, sadly, tell her how unimpressed we both were. The look was great, the actors were great ... but where was the dialogue? Out for a nap, evidently. Accompanied by the plot, which I found less than impressive as well. My grade: B-/C+

  • Gran Torino
    I basically knew the plot of an aging Korean war veteran, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), whose neighborhood has changed drastically as it filled with Hmong immigrants and now edges on ghetto. I was ready for the racist talk, the helping the picked-on kid next door to learn what it means to be a real man, the look at how America has changed. What I was completely unprepared for was the much larger lesson underlying the entire movie. I appreciated those who didn't spoil my discovery by spelling out more, so I also will leave that unrevealed. This is going into my Top 20 Movies list ... although I'm not sure what I'm going to kick out to make room. My grade: A+

  • JCVD
    Here's what I knew about the movie. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in a self-aware role. I liked that idea. More about the plot:
    Jean-Claude Van Damme is an aging action star going through a bitter divorce and custody battle. He needs money to pay his lawyers, and new roles are not exactly rolling in by the pile. With few doors left open in Hollywood, Van Damme opts to return to Brussels, his roots, in order to clear his head and maybe find a renewed career in the international market. Upon arriving in Brussels Van Damme travels to the local post-office to pick up the funds he needs to pay his lawyer, only to stumble into a robbery attempt that quickly turns into a hostage situation. Through a combination of bad luck and public (mis)perception, Van Damme gets fingered for the crime-in-progress; his face gets splashed all over the news, and even while cops surround the post-office, a larger crowd of fans begins to gather outside the post office in support of their hometown legend. (Screen Rant)
    Here's what I didn't know about the movie. We expected it to be played much more lightly, a la My Name is Bruce (haven't seen it, only read about it) where actor Bruce Campbell is called upon for help by a town who mistakenly thinks his movie powers apply to real life also. That movie was played very lightly as I understood it.

    We didn't expect to see an art house quality movie where Van Damme breaks the 4th wall repeatedly. A fairly simple story, it showcased Van Damme's acting abilities which were surprisingly good. As well, we know all the jokes about Van Damme's career. So, it seems, does he and these are used in a very effective spot where we see him factually assessing his life and career, for the good, the bad, and the ugly. I'm not sure if we liked it so much because it was so completely something we didn't expect or if it was just that good. At any rate, my grade: B.

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