Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Puffy Chair

I have a suggestion for an alternate title for The Puffy Chair: "DO NOT WASTE THE PAPER YOUR NETFLIX ENVELOPE IS PRINTED ON." It has a nice ring, doesn't it?

In other words, I am giving up on the independent film industry. Consider us broken up. I can't take another dull and meandering film again.

From here on out it's nothing but Jerry Bruckheimer, Vin Diesel and John Travolta for me. Oh yes, I went there. Tim Allen? I'll eat him for breakfast. Tyler Perry and his various houses of things? I will laugh my various asses off.

No more vague plots for me. No more hazily formed symbolism. No more artsy for the sake of fartsy. From here on out I am dedicating myself to plots involving Nicolas Cage, his bad wig, a vial of plutonium and a possible prison escape.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Burn After Reading

In Burn After Reading, the Coen brothers are back in their dark comedy groove in a film that’s one part Fargo, one part Big Lebowski. Burn doesn't tread in new territory for the Coen's, but it's one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in a long time.

The plot is a twisted warren of woefully misdirected characters, each on a singular, selfish mission that prevents them from ever seeing the larger impact of their actions. It’s a stew of adultery, blackmail, government bureaucracy and the most loveably dimwitted gym employees on the planet.

The cast, including George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, delivered terrific performances. And it pains me to say it, but Brad Pitt was so hilarious that the theater was in laugh-out-loud mode whenever he appeared on screen. It kind of makes me wonder how Brad Pitt and George Clooney lucked into such fantastic roles...cue dream sequence music here:

PITT: Hey Clooney, see you’re still dragging that Oscar with you everywhere.

CLOONEY: Well, I didn’t expect you to bring along the entire cast of a Sally Struthers’ commercial, but here we are.

PITT: Those are my children, Clooney.

CLOONEY: I’ll pay you five million dollars if you can tell me all their names right now. I’d offer more but that’s all I’ve got in my wallet.

PITT: Save it, Clooney. I don’t need your money. I need a film, friend. It’s time to bring back some of that Brad Pitt magic to the big screen. I’ve been away too long saving the world and showing up Bono and whatnot.

CLOONEY: My god, Pitt, you’re really depressed, aren’t you?

PITT: You have no idea. I’m even too depressed to make another baby.

CLOONEY: Egads! Manservant! Pitt is talking crazy. Bring him a case of Chateau Margaux, a gallon of orphan’s tears and a stack of those Google stock certificates we use as toilet paper.

PITT: That’s sweet, George, but I don’t think it will help.

CLOONEY: No? We could light a fire using stacks of thousand-dollar bills. That always makes me feel better.

PITT: Nah. Did that yesterday.

CLOONEY: My god man, your life has reached a new handsome low. At least you still have your wife.

PITT: Sigh. For the thousandth time, she’s not my wife. She’s my lover-slash-co-parenting-partner. Why is that so hard to remember?

CLOONEY: Hmmm? Sorry, I didn’t catch that. I was too busy looking at my handsome reflection in this priceless mirror that belonged to Julius Caesar. Oops, dropped it. Oh, well, I’ll just get another.

PITT: Here, take mine.

CLOONEY: You know what, Pitt, you are a true friend. I think I’ll let you in on this next Coen Brothers film I’m doing.

PITT: Do you mean it, George?

CLOONEY: I’m too rich and handsome to lie. Consider it done. Manservant! Bring me a telephone! No, no, not the one covered in priceless gemstones. I want the one with a unicorn horn as the antenna!

PITT: A real unicorn horn? I didn’t think those existed.

CLOONEY: You don’t own a unicorn? Oh, Pitt, no wonder you’re so depressed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Bank Job

I'll be honest with you, readers. 2008 has been a slow year for movies. Painful really. Our Netflix Queue is a deserted wasteland. We got nothing. Nothing even resembling a good feature film. I've got quite a few documentaries, a zillion TV shows and some questionable foreign and indie films that may or may not prove watchable. But movies? What gives, Hollywood?

Which brings me to The Bank Job. This one keeps popping up as a Netflix recommendation every time I visit the site and I was beginning to feel like someone at Netflix was trying to give me a sign. RENT IT! YOU'LL LOVE IT!

I thought I'd give it a try. I'm always up for a good caper. And really, how bad could it be?

Bad. Bad, bad. It's not even worth discussing here.When the "villain" is a man named Michael X, the Caribbean version of Malcolm X, you know you're in for it.

So my readers, if you have any suggestions for movies that are actually good and are currently available on Netflix, please share. We are growing desperate here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wristcutters: A Love Story

If you're like me, nothing sends you running from a movie faster than phrases like:

...starring Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey
...starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey
...starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey
Collectively, these idiots have ruined the genre of romantic comedy. Or maybe the genre was already ruined by a boring formula that never changes: girl is a photographer/fashion designer/wedding planner/celebrity assistant. Girl meets Matthew McConaughey. Girl stares hard into the distance. McConaughey charms girl using phrases like, "Aw shucks, buttercup, why don't you slap some jam on my bread," or "Easy little filly, you go on stompin' them hooves any harder and you're like to break my heart." Girl marries idiot. The end.
Which is why a romantic comedy like Wristcutters: A Love Story, is so refreshing. Maybe it takes a movie about suicide to bring the romance back to this tired genre. Wristcutters is set in a world populated by all the people who've ever committed suicide. It's a bleak, dreary world where the 'offed' live otherwise normal existences, working at jobs, eating meals, hanging out at bars, etc. It's just that they're all dead.
Patrick Fugit, whom you'll remember as the kid from Almost Famous, stars as the lovelorn Zia, searching the otherworld for his former girlfriend, whom he's just discovered killed herself a few months after him. Naturally, as romantic comedies will, this one has a love triangle involving the lovely Shannyn Sossamon, whose ethereal sadness is perfect for this melancholy love tale.
Wristcutters doesn't break any ground in the love triangle formula, but it's filled with so much charm, offbeat humor and quirky little joys that you'll forgive its predictability. I can't remember the last time I actually enjoyed watching one of these movies, but Wristcutters delivered. So the next time you're looking for a romantic comedy, you can weigh your choices: Suicide or Matthew McConaughey. Really, if you think about it, they're one in the same.