Archive for the ‘Movies W-Z’ Category

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Downward dog will steal your soul: “Yoga”

October 14, 2012

The Korean horror movie Yoga (its Korean title translates to Yoga Institute) tells a fairly simple cautionary tale about the perils of holding onto youth and beauty at any cost. This could easily be the setup for a clump of lukewarm clichés—and it does traffic in a few—but it manages to distinguish itself by putting a fairly probing sense of spirituality around the corners of the action. Oh, and it features mind-bendingly beautiful women doing yoga, so, yeah, I’m in. I mean, I can stand some black ooze and, hey, even throw in some creepy ghost-kids if you want, just as long as you pepper it with scenes of Korean girl-pop star Eugene doing downward dog in a half-shirt and yoga pants. I’m not the most discerning movie critic.
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Read the fine print: “The Wake Wood”

October 6, 2012

Let’s say somebody tells you they can bring a deceased loved one back from the dead. All you have to do is follow a couple basic rules—nothing weird, like  you have to wear a Carol Channing wig and dance the can-can (you know, unless that’s what you were planning to do with the resurrected dead, which, hey, I’m not judgmental), just your basic “don’t feed them after midnight” stuff. You’d follow those rules, right? As a matter of fact, you’d probably be extra-super-incredibly attentive. I mean, I don’t know you, but I think you’d probably agree that resurrecting the dead—violating the most immutable law of nature known—is the kind of thing worth sitting still for a long explanation. It’s not like clicking the “Terms and Agreements” box.  So why do people in movies like The Wake Wood just gloss over that part?
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Pounding sand: “Wrath of the Titans”

April 2, 2012

There may be no better example of the perpetual-motion machine Hollywood has become than 2010’s Clash of the Titans remake—a movie that made almost a half-billion dollars despite being liked by absolutely no one, including its own star! When you have that kind of haul, a sequel is practically a foregone conclusion, and so we get Wrath of the Titans, a movie well aware of its predecessor’s shortcomings, and that manages to simultaneously try harder and achieve less than the first movie. I’m not saying that it made me appreciate the 2010 Clash, just that it made me wish it had managed to not be so much worse.

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And yet more Capsule Reviews!

July 19, 2011

Okay, well we’ve got yet another crop of movies that aren’t substantial enough to warrant their own review. Hell, some of them barely even warrant mentioning. But here they are. I gotta be honest, here: the summer movies are sucking all the oxygen out of the theaters. Stuff like Transformers 3 and Harry Potter: Part Google are chasing everything else away, forcing me to trawl the lower levels of the Mangpong video stores like some kind of cinephiliac sucker-fish. Wow. That’s a weird image. Let’s retreat from that and instead look at what we have on tap: We have Boo, The Dilemma, Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis, Limitless, Wake Wood, and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. Let’s get started, shall we?

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Graduating Cum Laude: “X-Men: First Class”

June 7, 2011

Wow! X-Men: First Class was actually a lot of fun.  Who’d’ve thunk we could derive so much pleasure from an X-Men movie? Certainly not me, and certainly not after the grim death march that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the molestation that was X-Men 3: Brett Ratner Hates All of Us. I mean, when you really think about it, it’s been almost a full decade since we’ve had a fun X-Men movie. Okay, that’s just depressing—don’t think about that. It’ll make you feel old.  Think about X-Men: First Class instead, because it actually remembers to be a summer movie and not to take itself seriously.

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Gordon Gekko plays cupid: “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

September 27, 2010

The inequality between Oliver Stone’s now-classic Wall Street and its sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are perfectly encapsulated in the contrast between the two speeches Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko delivers. Gekko’s iconic “Greed…is good,” speech was a masterpiece of screenwriting. It was blunt, powerful, and perfectly established, not only Gekko’s moral bankruptcy, but how business itself had become a Darwinian bloodsport. In MNS, Gekko is stumping for his new book by delivering a speech at a business school. The speech is shown as a montage with Gekko delivering a series of acidic sound bytes, which don’t seem connected by any particular chain of logic. Nothing he says is particularly insightful, or even necessarily coherent, but the audience loves him (Example: “So now we take a buck and we shoot it full of steroids…I call it steroid banking…” and the crowd goes wild). The applause and laughter he gets is in no way earned, but rather a fabrication of the story, and Stone’s way of showing us that Gekko’s still got it! Because nothing we see onscreen would indicate that.

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Somewhere, David Carradine is smiling: “World’s Greatest Dad”

March 5, 2010

The 2009 film World’s Greatest Dad performs some weird alchemy. There is some sorcery at work here, because it takes some of the most odious, annoying, self-indulgent comedic staples of the 1980s, and synthesizes them into one of the funniest, and certainly the boldest comedy of the past several years. The comedic elements I’m referring to are the movie’s director Bobcat Goldthwait and leading man Robin Williams, and the movie is World’s Greatest Dad. Maybe this movie proves that beneath whatever fabricated personality presented to the media, most entertainers genuinely do have a wellspring of creativity that their profitable public persona stifles. One thing’s for damn sure: it’s definitely an object lesson in  what happens when you take the euphemism “choke the chicken” far too literally, and yet not literally enough.
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