Thursday, January 24, 2008

More recent movies - Call of Cthulhu, Eastern Promises, Zodiac, Stardust, The Big Sleep

The Call of Cthulhu (2005) - A short film adapting the HP Lovecraft short story. I appreciated that the filmmakers adapted the story with no apparent changes (something only fanboys can/will do). Good gravy, though, there were about 8 levels of flashback nestled within one another like a Russian doll. Starts off with main character, in sanitarium; flashes back to main character with great uncle; flashes back to great uncle's story; flashes back to policeman's story; flashes back to ship captain's story; flashes back to first mate's story. I have no idea if it's like that in the book, but it made for disruptive movie watching. Still, they did an admirable job of keeping the sense of the madness and horror of otherworldly knowledge. Scenes on the mysterious island were stylized as one might dress the set for a play, but it still worked, for the most part. Even the only passably animated titular creature still evoked a feeling of terror when he appeared.

Eastern Promises (2007) - I actually watched most of this with Amy, though we both turned away during the throat slashing scenes. It's pretty good. It's interesting that Cronenberg cast an American, a German, and a Frenchman in the lead roles as Russians. Viggo does a great job, but his accent was still troublesome for me. I think it must be tough to do a Russian accent that sounds authentic. The German and the Frenchman sounded more authentic, but I think that was because they had authentic European accents that came out of their attempted Russian. I wonder how hard it is to take on an accent in a language that isn't your first?

Zodiac (2007) - I watched this one on my own, and I'm glad I did for the first half. The murder at the lake is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. The murder at the beginning is pretty bad, too, but it pales in comparison with the stabbing. The movie as a police procedural is quite enthralling, and all the actors carry themselves admirably. Robert Downey Jr. borrows from his A Scanner Darkly performance here.

Stardust (2007) - Pretty fun. All the other reviews I've read have decried the comparisons to A Princess Bride, and I think that's accurate. It's comparable in that it's fantasy with comedy and some dark moments, and a cast of fun characters. Robert DeNiro appears to really enjoy himself. Claire Danes was an enigma, though: sometimes she looked beautiful, and sometimes her bleached-blonde eyebrows blending in with her skin and she looked like a freakish monster. The lead guy was likeable and should go on to bigger stuff (how did a no-name like him get the lead in a movie with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeifer, and Robert DeNiro, though? And Peter O'Toole!). The dead brothers were pretty funny. Ricky Gervais was funny, though his sort of comedic performance almost seems out of place. It's ultimately not, given the tone of the movie, but it hits a different note than the way the rest of the characters dialogue is written. Not a great movie, but it entertained me.

The Big Sleep (1946) - My first Bogie and Bacall movie. You can easily see why they were paired up repeatedly. The plot was pretty convoluted. It was difficult to keep the characters and their relationships straight. We watched most of the movie with the subtitles on. Bogart's character is awesome. And Bogie's just perfect at it. He may be the coolest character in the history of cinema. He's tough, smart, calm, moral, and girls throw themselves at him. He's James Bond without the cockiness.

1 comment:

jeri said...

Eastern Promises and Zodiac were two of my favorites this year, despite the difficulty of watching those murder scenes..