I had an unspoken goal to provide a brief written review of the many dvd’s to cross my netflix path. I’m behind on that goal (read: never started). Let’s get to it.
Sweeney Todd – three stars – It just didn’t do it for me. Great set design, great actors, interesting story, but it never came together for me. Probably a character issue – there isn’t much to identify with or even remotely like about Barker. I really wanted another amazing Burton/Depp experience, like Edward Scissorhands. I have a love/loathe relationship with the new Willy Wonka; Depp’s character work was incredible (the quiet menace in his eyes) but I absolutely loathed the Oompa Loompa dance numbers.
The Darjeeling Limited – four stars – Good, not great. The performances are strong overall, but this didn’t get me like Tenenbaums or Rushmore, which are both very high on my list of favorites. Anderson disappointed me with Life Aquatic, and Darjeeling was better, but I’m still waiting for another incredible experience a very talented filmmaker. As expected, the art direction was incredible.
Deliver Us From Evil – documentary – I don’t like giving stars for documentaries; there are certainly differences in storytelling and craft between them, but the subject matter has so much to do with my experience that I can’t rate the director on what the reality of a situation is. That said, this was a disturbing yet worthwhile look at a California priest who sexually abuses children, repeatedly, and the bishop simply covers it up and moves him to another parish. Very moving interview footage, including the priest himself being candid and only partially apologetic for what he did.
For the Bible Tells Me So – documentary – An examination of religious groups using the bible to hate homosexuality. Good subject matter, decent presentation. Too many characters are introduced to make a narrative flow. The expert interviews were very interesting, which made the whole thing worthwhile. I just realized that I’ve already reviewed this, sort of.
There Will Be Blood – four stars – Greedy oilman takes on an orphan to make himself appear more sympathetic, then gets into a power struggle with a small town preacher. Simple story, great performances. Daniel Day Lewis provides his usual bravura and I was thoroughly sucked into the setting. I definitely liked the film, but I have this sneaking feeling that it didn’t quite live up to the hype it was given.
Lake of Fire – documentary – Do not watch this. It’s an examination of abortion from all sides, including at least two sequences of actual abortions. I’m getting ill just remembering it. Deeply disturbing to see. I didn’t even finish it. The story was very interesting, but I just can’t get those images out of my head. Ughh.
Fall from Grace – documentary – I probably wouldn’t recommend this…because it’s just too long. Fred Phelps and his family are the stupid fucks who believe homosexuality is a curse from god and soldiers are dying in Iraq because god is pissy about it. They protest military funerals with a variety of incredibly outlandish signs. It is literally a church based on hate. I think Fred Phelps, the preacher, is gay. I’m not making fun of him…I just think he’s lashing out with anger over feelings within his heart. Horrible man, horrible family. But the documentary goes on for something near 105 minutes…but it’s incredibly repetitive. Could have been done in 30 minutes.
Volver – four stars – Pedro Almovodar tells a very enjoyable story about a woman who returns from the dead to settle things in her family. But the movie should have been titled: “This is Penelope Cruz and she’s really hot and you should look at her tits.” The director does everything in his power to make her look like an impossibly beautiful single mother – she just consumes every scene she is in. Overall, good film.
King Corn – documentary – Definitely worth watching. Somewhat related to my post about In Defense of Food, we are made of corn. Corn is an over-produced crop that is only profitable with pointless government crop subsidies. Two college grads grow an acre of corn in Iowa and attempt to follow their crop into the food chain. Interesting points abound, including the fact that most of our corn is used to feed livestock (which shouldn’t be eating it) and fattening them really quick. If you eat food, you’ll enjoy it.