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In an effort to continue cataloging the movies I see each week I’ll be posting them in this format with the “movies of the week” tag. Each post will feature this introduction and a brief review of each movie including several merits and faults. Each description will have a short prefix including the format in which I viewed the movie, which I hope will provide some context for understanding how I ended up watching the movie. “^” means worth watching. “*” means a favorite. On a rare occasion I may use “**” to donate a must see. If a movie passes the Bechdel Test, it will have an “&” sign.

Also, I’m doing two weeks of movies this week, because I was on vacation.

Sukiyaki Western Django *
(Netflix DVD) Featuring a cameo in the opening sequence of the film by Quentin Tarantino, this is a film destined for cult status. Director Takeshi Miike’s movies aren’t easily accessible, generally speaking. This one is on the easier side—on par more with Audition (in terms of structure and content comprehension) than with the complexity of Visitor Q or Ichi The Killer. The costumes and makeup are unbelievable. There was an unfortunate epilogue of cheesy proportions (I’m exaggerating a bit, but the end did drag on a bit after the credits—in a funny way). The accents are so thick you basically need to watch the film with subtitles even though you’ve certainly heard the sayings a million times. Also, on the DVD there is a really long “making of” featurette that’s worth at least skimming through.

Fright Night ^
(Netflix Watch-it-now) This is a fantastic 80’s horror film. Featuring the classic “oh no! vampires moved in next door” plotline. The acting is bad, but not as bad as the other horror film I watched in the last two weeks (“Return of the Living Dead Part II”). The soundtrack also features a fantastic song, called “Fright Night”, which was ostensibly composed for the film. I would highly recommend the film for a nice night with friends, pizza, and beer—which is how I enjoyed it. As a final note, it looks like Dreamworks is re-making the film. Don’t see the remake, I can already tell you it’s a bad idea. The films unique atmosphere and mise-en-scene could never be replicated—especially not in today’s studios. 

Donnie Darko ^
(Netflix Watch-it-now) I have watched this film (and the directors cut) plenty of times, particularly in High School, when it was something of a pop-culture phenomenon for my generation. I stand by my conviction that Jake Gyllenhaal is a good actor (some may disagree based on his appearance in films like the recent “Prince of Persia”)—but it’s the combination of Jake with Maggie that gives authenticity to the film. The representation of family life is a major catalyst to the film. Lines like “you’re bitchin’, but you’re not a bitch”, and the entire pizza-dinner-“fuckass” scene are some of the most memorable for me. The high school part of the plot is rich, too. I’m not a huge fan of Drew Barrymore’s performance; though the science teacher, Dr. Fisher, and her seem somehow believable together. The best part of the school scenes during a scene with Beth Grant as Kitty, generalizing all human action into either fear or love, and featuring a cameo with Seth Rogen. Kitty is probably one of my favorite underrated elements of the film. Clearly, I think the film is worth seeing—but it hasn’t had a lot of staying power.

Hudson Hawk
(Netflix Watch-it-now) This is a terrible film. The premise is that there is a thief who plans the timing of his robberies according to the duration of show tunes—the thief is played by Bruce Willis. They’re goal is also ridiculous: to collect pieces of a mechanism invented by Da Vinci that turns stuff into gold. Even if you like show tunes and Bruce Willis, don’t see this movie—because Bruce doesn’t get to act in the way you want to see him, and there is only one scene, the final rumble, where the show tune theme is played out to it’s potential. If I had to pick one thing I liked about the film it’d be the candy-bar names of the enemy agents (i.e. butterfinger is a big brute character, who is always committing little foibles). Seriously, there are much better films to watch.

Pandorum
(Netflix Watch-it-now) Science Fiction horror films are not common. Ever since “Event Horizon”, though, films have tried to replicate it’s successes (namely this film and “Sunshine” by Danny Boyle, come to mind). “Sunshine” and “Event Horizon” have a relatively simple plot, where there is essentially one central imperative for their respective mission’s. “Pandorum” on the other hand is a clusterfuck of conflicting narratives, science fiction elements, and driving purposes. Between the huge ship, the mutated humans onboard, the imaginary people and the mental illness that only exists in space, there’s just too much going on. As a result, because of the jumping around, I was mentally and visually confused. The film is uncomfortable, but not in a pleasantly-cathartic-horror way, instead in an annoying I-wish-the-whole-stupid-thing-blew-up-even-if-they-are-the-last-hope-for-humanity, sort of way. I’ll save you some time: they landed on the planet, but sunk into its ocean, and have been there for hundreds of years. Alright, now go watch “Dark Star”, instead. 

Zoolander *
(DivX Encoded DVD to CD Backup) This was one of my favorite movies when I was really young, but I haven’t seen it many times—maybe three or four (compared with the countless times I’ve watched movies like Dumb and Dumber and 2001: A Space Odyssey). I’m sure most folks have seen this film by now. There are so many celebrities in this movie, it’s no wonder that it’s remained a popular film. David Bowie, need I say more? The film successfully pokes fun at an industry with a dark side that rivals the oil companies. So many memorable quotes and scenes from this movie; from the freak gasoline fight scene, to the walk-off competition, to “ooohhhh! the files are IN the computer”.Zoolander is hillarious, and still poignant today. Plus, there is a David Duchovny cameo. You’ve probably seen it, but see it again.

Brokeback Mountain ^
(DVD, friends house, Seattle) Jeez, I didn’t realize it, but I have been watching a lot of horror movies lately. Probably the most horrifying part of this film is the prospect of being Heath’s (Ennis Del Mar’s) wife. Seriously, terrifying. There isn’t much to say about this movie that you haven’t already heard. Nice costumes. Lot’s of drama. The tagline should be: Being gay is hard, being a gay cowboy is even harder, being a gay cowboys wife is hell. The scenery is beautiful. Where is Brokeback Mountain, anyway?

Return of the Living Dead II
(Netflix Watch-it-now) Wow, what a bad horror movie. At least when I watched “The Princess of Mars” last week, they didn’t know how bad they were. This film was unfortunate because the filmmaker knew they were making a bad movie and succeed. Featuring a tame b-movie plot and forgettable acting we turn to the special effects. The special effects were clearly made by alcoholic doppelganger of Stan Winston—and that’s a huge compliment. This is probably the second worse zombie movie I’ve ever scene, just above Romero’s recent “Diary of the Dead”. Worth seeing if you’re a real die hard zombie fan (or if you want to see where Robert Rodriguez took the idea for the military gas explanation for zombies used in his “Grindhouse” film “Planet Terror”)

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