Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mini Movie Reviews

Vacation and it's aftermath has given me the opportunity to view a number of movies, some of which I was interested in, others, not so much.


I wasn't too interested in this one going in and was less interested going out. It wasn't just that I knew the ending- Hitler survives- it's that I just plain didn't care. I didn't think Tom Cruise was particularly good and none of the characters were very well drawn. Ultimately, I just didn't understand the motivations of anyone in the film not motivated by fear of the Nazi regime. Even the politics, which could have been intriguing, were rather black-and-white and uninteresting. Not really worth your two hours.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I laughed pretty hard at a Family Guy joke about Seth Rogen and have to admit I may be succumbing to Seth Rogen backlash. Or maybe it's just that this movie wasn't any good, but whatever it was, I'm beginning to feel a bit tired of the Rogen shtick. In this case, neither Rogen's or Elizabeth Banks's characters are particularly appealing and the romantic part of the romantic comedy isn't unbelievable, just stupid.

The worst part of the film- other than a couple of jokes even I thought were too gross to be funny- was everything about the porno idea. The basic idea of "let's make a porno and sell it to our old high school classmates" is one that might ring true to a lot of people. After all, who wouldn't want to see someone they grew up and went to school with get naked. Only problem is, that's not what winds up happening. Moving from making a sex tape into the realm of making a full length pornographic feature was when the film moved outside any semblance of reality.

And maybe it's because of the internet, but an R-rated film about making a porno is just lacking, visually speaking. We have horror films and the "Saw" variety of torture porn where the truly awful is made to seem realistic, but when it comes to sex, however much porn there may be on the internet, the mainstream world is still pretty damn prude.

Gran Torino

Fucking brilliant. I was expecting this to be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be this good. The shocking part of the film was not the racism of Clint Eastwood's Walt Kowalski, but his humanity. The racism, as they say, only ran skin deep. In truth, it doesn't take all that much effort for Walt to develop relationship with his young Hmong neighbors, first Sue and then Thao. And for all his crotchetiness, it's not as though Walt doesn't know people either. It takes him no more than a minute to pick up on the fact that another Hmong teenage girl was interested in Thao.

It's a sharp contrast to the "get off my lawn" image that was sold to me in the previews and seemingly established in the film's early scenes. Looking back of course, it's not all that surprising that the grouchy old man was at his worst right after his wife died. What's truly interesting to see as the film goes on is how little Walt's family understands him and how little they care to try. Most telling was the granddaughter, whom we only see in the film's opening scenes, asking Walt if she can have his Gran Torino and then again at the end of the film, wondering why she's not the one ending up with it. It's a smack in the face of privilege and the illustration of why Walt can't relate to his family. Thao becomes close to Walt not because of blood, but because of the character traits that matter to a military man.

Gran Torino is one of those films that leaves you satisfied with the conclusion, yet leaves you fascinated with the characters. You're left wondering more about Walt's past and about Thao's future, while feeling nothing but bittersweet about the ending.


I was bored by the historical montages in the early part of the film, mostly because, I had no context in which to place them with my limited knowledge of the gay rights movement. Ultimately it serves to place the characters- mostly Sean Penn's Harvey Milk- in a political context. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for my money, that just reeks of begging for recognition rather than wanting to simply tell a story.

And that's what stands out to me, because as uninterested as I wanted to be, I couldn't help but be drawn in by Penn's performance as Milk, so much so that I was left wanting more. We may have gotten the story, politically speaking, but there was seemingly so much to know about the man.


Post a Comment

<< Home