Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eric Reviews Everything He's Ever Seen (Numbers 200, 220, 240, 260, 280)

I'm writing this now right after completing the second edition of reviewing everything. I scanned what I'm supposed to be covering in this post, and it doesn't please me. None of these movies have left a profound effect on me, positive or negative, except maybe 280, but even that's not a sure thing. I understood that I haven't only watched my favorite movies. I've seen good, bad and in between. This is the between.

200. Super Size Me (Directed by Morgan Spurlock)

I eat fast food a lot. Or... not 'a lot'... too often. Here in college it isn't so much chain-variety burgers and fries like back home, but I do cram so many burritos down my throat I could open a Mexican restaurant, and regurgitate a week's worth of meals. It's not healthy, but at least I'm self-conscious. I've been taught against doing this left and right, and to no avail. Super Size Me is one of those failing teachers. 

Super Size Me is such pop-documentary it's hard to take seriously. The investigative work sloppy, and the film presents the facts all so blatantly one-sided that it's more attack campaign than information. It's cool to see Spurlock gorge himself on McDonald's and face health-jeopardizing consequences. I accept it provides convincing arguments against the fast food industry. I do not think it's a substantial enough to hold up against my favorite documentaries, and think of it as airy entertainment, not interesting filmmaking. 

It scared me in the hours immediately after viewing, and stuck with me for maybe a few months after. I've forgotten all the facts and first-hand interviews. Well, outside of the way chicken nuggets are made and that some ice cream mogul was very sickly as a child from all the sweets he ate. I have it on a list of movies worth buying, but writing about it has made me seriously reconsider letting it into my house. I'll catch it on TV. 

220. Good Bye Lenin! (Directed by Wolfgang Becker)

We got to watch Good Bye Lenin! for AP European History and it was one of the happiest days of that class. It's not like we were used to teachers showing us good movies. Mostly we got late-80s/early-90s educational pieces and made-for-TV shlock. He did show us a decent French movie earlier in the year, but I was wary when I heard the title. I'd had enough of Russian history that late in the term. Then he started the DVD and we all found out it was a German narrative from only a few years ago, not an irrelevant historical documentary. I could have wept with joy.

So the movie wasn't half bad. Putting a label on it I'd go with 'very good.' Daniel Bruhl was an adorable charismatic lead, and I really felt for him when he was taking care of his mother. His relationships with girlfriend and best friend were as sweet as they were. He played a good guy trying his best to do good things with real conviction, and I thank him. A genuinely kind-hearted film without a showy message. 

240. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Directed by Gore Verbinski)

One of my uncles gave me a free trial of Netflix for Christmas '03. I used it to rent Futurama and Family Guy seasons mostly, but I also got a few movies I'd heard of, but hadn't bothered to see in theaters. I'd seen commercials for Pirates and it seemed like a semi-fun action movie. It was a free trial. What did I have to lose? 

Pirates wasn't a flat out waste of a rental. I thought the fight sequences were well-staged. I didn't think the bone pirates were impressive. I thought Kiera Knightley was cute. I didn't think the comic relief was relieving or comedic. The pluses outweighed the minuses, but the pluses weren't great pluses, and the sequel I bothered seeing was crazy bloated. There's nothing in this installment to expand on in further films. 

Oh wow. I forgot about Johnny Depp. Isn't he the main appeal of these things? He was kind of funny. I've never seen him be bad. I'd probably have a lot more to complain about if I had watched it now and not when I was in middle school, but it wasn't offensive that I remember. It is a damn shame there's more of them coming. 

260. The Bourne Identity (Directed by Doug Liman)

There are few thing I remember about the first Bourne movie. I remember Lola (Franka Potente) being the love interest. Daniel Bruhl is her brother in one of the later movies! And Bourne has two sequels, going on four, just like the Pirates franchise! This post's movies have so many bizarre connections. It should marry itself. Or have the same parents. It can get married and have the same parents, I'm not picky. 

That wasn't on topic. I had scenes to mention. Right. One of the scenes I remember is Bourne doing something with a gun, and then walking out into a middle-of-nowhere field to meet the man he shot, I think. I have no idea what they talk about, but that image sticks out. I think they talk about how Bourne was an assassin. Something to do with piecing his past together. Maybe I don't remember that scene. 

A scene I know I remember Brian Cox killing his subordinate. The kid is about to help prove Bourne isn't responsible for a criminal action, and Cox kills him because he doesn't want the evidence getting out. I didn't even remember Chris Cooper being in the franchise until they flashed back in the later movies. 

I'm not sure if the movie was forgettable. It might be that too much time has passed between now and then. I remember plenty from the second movie, and that came out only two years later. Bushels of movies before 2002 I remember clearly. I guess it was forgettable. 

280. Punch-Drunk Love (Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson)

I try to watch films the whole way through. I'm not a fan of pausing in the middle to make meals, or setting chunks aside for later. I don't think this makes me strange, I think most people watch their movies from start to finish if they're seriously trying. I'm driving it home that I don't stop movies when I can help it. With two films I've not only stopped, but have stopped, rewound and replayed a scene. The first is the opening sequence to Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. The second: the opening sequence to Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love. I wasn't re-watching out of necessity, mind you, I was re-watching to get a second look at actually mind-blowing cinematic moments. Am I a fangirl or what?

As kind of a side note I want to say this: Adam Sandler will only ever be good in Punch-Drunk Love. I state this as fact. I never liked him when I was a child when his Happy Gilmores and Little Nickys were all the rage. I didn't like him in Funny People where I was promised something better than goofy voices and man-childery. The only movie I consider him to give a near-human performance is here, in Punch-Drunk Love. I think he's great. He's insane, but he's also fragile and loving. He's funny, but in a subtle way, not in the trying-too-hard way. At least that's how I see his usual act. 

It was a meditation on loneliness and anger. It was painful to see the frustrations of Barry Egan, but made his triumphs that much more rewarding. There are moments that truly scared me, and there were sequences having me laugh out loud, all alone, which means I thought they were really funny. This movie was awesome. I bought it, and haven't had a chance to re-watch it yet. It'll have its turn. Don't you worry. 

Punch-Drunk Love marks the first of many movies I would watch between eight and ninth grade, when I went through my "watch two movies a day" phase. I discovered the popular indie directors of the late-80s and mid-90s: Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, the Coens, Quentin Tarantino, Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. I found their styles and their stories extraordinary. The characters were so lovable, the dialogue dense and witty, the aesthetics more interesting than any I'd seen before (excluding Scorsese's and Kubrick's). I found my favorite directors. 

 - Eric T. Voigt, Did It

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