Movie Diary

a) The Killer Inside Me
Had no reason to expect this to be any good but man, it was just totally awful. Casey Affleck should never ever carry a movie, especially not one where he pretends to be southern and/or have a complex interior life.

b) The Crazies
I've never seen the original but I really enjoyed this remake, really easily one of the best horror movies I've seen of late. The scenario of a virus that makes people insane and violent but still pretty much themselves and not total zombies feels way scarier and more realistic than what usually happens in movies like this, and the tone, direction and acting were all pretty understated and well done.

c) Leap Year
I don't think of myself as being particularly gaga for Amy Adams but the skirt she wore for half the movie was almost reason enough to sit through this mediocrity.

d) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
After all the talk of this being Heath Ledger's last film and an assortment of other actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell) stepping in to fill in the parts he didn't get to film, it was slightly disorienting for none of the above actors to even show up until about 25 minutes into the movie. But I did like how they handled having all those different actors play one character, although really some of Gilliam's psychedelic CGI screensavers were a bit corny-looking and made those parts of the movie a little flatter than they could've been. And the Devil being played by Tom Waits in a pencil-thin mustache is strangely an idea that seems better on paper than it is in practice.

e) The Slammin' Salmon
I haven't really thought much of the Broken Lizard movies since Super Troopers, but I ended up really liking this. It helped that they didn't make the plot too convoluted and kept everything in one setting and just kept the laughs coming, and there were a lot of funny bit parts by familiar people outside the troupe.

f) The Men Who Stare At Goats
Had heard pretty mixed and unenthusiastic things about this, so I didn't go in with high expectations, but this is pretty much exactly the movie I'd hoped for from the trailers and I thought it was pretty consistently entertaining. It kind of creeped me out that "More Than A Feeling," which plays during the movie and at the end over the credits, was playing on the radio when I got in the car a couple hours after I finished watching this.

g) The Road
I read and was not an especially big fan of the Cormac McCarthy novel, and I'm not very precious about adaptations taking inevitable liberties with the source material most of the time, but it did feel just a little bit gratuitous how they'd pad out roles for actors like Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall to justify putting them in the movie. And it really did make things a little more visceral to actually watch the bleak stuff I'd read about in the book, and they got the color palette of browns and greys pretty perfect. The minimal dialogue didn't translate very well, though -- having a 11-year-old boy say things like "please papa" all the time just comes off kind of ridiculous onscreen.

h) I Love You, Beth Cooper
This kind of surpassed my modest teen comedy expectations, not great but had a good cast and some decent writing, and I like that they actually made the dream girl character not just the usual one-dimensional caricature.

i) Observe And Report
I heard bad things about this, and given my ambivalence toward "Eastbound & Down" and absolute hatred for "The Foot Fist Way," I hesitantly watched this expecting the worst. And maybe it's because I braced myself, but it wasn't that bad. But it made me realize that Jody Hill basically is a Wes Anderson wannabe who happens to like crude and dark humor, his stuff is full of so many slow motion montages where he shows off his record collection and it kind of clashes with the type of comedy they're doing in a weird way.

j) Push
My wife watched this and seemed to like it, so I gave it a try later, and it just never held my interest enough to even figure out what was going on.

k) What Just Happened
Barry Levinson's had such an inconsistent career that it's hard to know what's worth even checking out, but I decided to give this a shot and it wasn't bad. It would've been better with someone less wooden than DeNiro in the lead role, and in the end the whole thing kinda felt like a shrug, but I liked the overall tone and approach to the side of Hollywood it was satirizing.

l) The Fall
Remember that movie The Cell that had the insanely creative and colorful visuals married to a boilerplate Silence of the Lambs knockoff starring Jennifer Lopez? Well, this movie has the same director, and it's just as visually arresting and outlandish, if not more so, but here there's an actual interesting story going on, told in a really offbeat and playful way, and some good acting too. This is probably my favorite movie I've seen in a while, really can't believe I've never heard anyone talk about how good it is.

m) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I'd heard so much about what a travesty this was that I'd kind of made up my mind to not bother, but then it came on TV and I was like OK, let's see how bad this is. And it was kind of bland and unremarkable but I guess I was already kind of prepared for the worst parts so it didn't seem so bad all in all. Still obviously shouldn't have been made, though.

n) The Darjeeling Limited
It's really depressing to watch this after The Brothers Bloom and Observe And Report and realize that Wes Anderson feels as derivative of himself as anyone else is of his early films at this point. Granted, I haven't seen that animated one he's done since this yet, but man this and The Life Aquatic represent one horrible rut for this guy, and I say that as someone who still loves Bottle Rocket and Rushmore to pieces.

o) Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
There's something really off-putting about movies like this that act as if they're novel or cleverly structured, but really give you no particular surprises or artful narrative devices as they pile on the misery and death in a slightly non-sequential way. I mean, the story begins in a kind of mildly bleak place so there's nowhere to fall from grace, and even the moderately good intentions the characters start are kind of an inevitable path to the bad stuff that happens as a result. So I guess what I'm saying is naked Marisa Thomei is the only thing I really got out of this movie.

p) Spider-Man 2
Somehow I managed to see the first and third movies in this series without ever really sitting down and watching all of its most acclaimed middle installment, so I finally did that recently. And I gotta say, this stuff is just not aging well for me. A lot of people were turned off by some of the goofy dancing and shit in 3 but I thought Raimi laid on the camp a little thick on this one, too, and the action and effects just never really grabbed me or did anything substantially different from the first movie.

q) Bubba Ho-Tep
This seemed like a much more fun idea on paper than in practice, I think Bruce Campbell works best when he's working at a level of camp that isn't too knowing and deliberate and there's a little more level of sincerity to it.

r) About A Boy
I liked High Fidelity well enough and had been told this other Hornby adaptation was a good flick, but I don't know, something about it rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it was mainly the horrible Badly Drawn Boy score or the kid's creepy eyebrows, though, some parts of the story and Hugh Grant's performance were good.

s) Wrongfully Accused
The day that Leslie Nielsen died, this was the only movie of his I could find on the Comcast OnDemand menu, and to be honest I probably could've honored his memory by watching one of his good movies again instead of seeing this weak later one for the first time. But really I'm kind of a sucker for these kinds of flicks and there were a few big laughs in this one, among the many misses.
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