Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Giant Size Movie Round-Up: Pt. 2

On to a second part.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986) - I rented this one after seeing a trailer at Movies On The Fox and discovering that Bill Murray and Steve Martin were in it. As a kid I was always aware of this movie's existence because of the giant talking plant image (don't know where I saw it, though). So the movie is a musical, and was apparently a stage play first, which would have been something to see. Overall, I didn't really care for it. I loved the puppetry (really impressive!), Bill Murray's scene was great, John Candy too, and it was fun seeing Christopher Guest, but the plot didn't do anything for me, and Ellen Greene's voice was excruciating. I've only seen Greene in this and "Pushing Daisies," but she has the same wilting voice and speech impediment in both. Is that just how she speaks? Or is it a deliberate character choice? As a choice, it's terrible. I had to fast-forward through all of her scenes after the first few, because it was like a mite burrowing into my brain.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) - It's ok. Has a couple of very funny moments. The inverted mohawk on Mr. T's character made me chuckle. There were some fun animation moments. The story is nothing special, so the best you can hope for are some good moments, and Cloudy delivers on that front.

Junebug (2005) - I didn't realize why this was rated R and watched it with my family, which, due to the numerous sex scenes, was a mistake. I only remembered that I had read a blog by John-Mark Reynolds a while back where he recommended it. I found that post (after some digging - Scriptorium doesn't have a friendly archive) after we'd finished it, and noted that Reynolds did caution about the sex; I just hadn't remembered that.

Anyhow, to the movie: the basic story is that a young couple is returning to the husband's hometown in North Carolina so that the wife can secure a weird and reclusive painter's work for her Chicago art gallery. The wife is an elite cosmopolitan woman with a British accent, very much out of her element in North Carolina. The husband's family includes a slacker younger brother and his pregnant wife (Amy Adams).

Adams is indeed as radiant and charming as I'd heard. I was also really impressed with Benjamin McKenzie's performance as the younger brother. Beyond the actors, the movie deserves praise for an even-handed portrayal of the people of the Carolinian community (is that the right term?). The young pastor character in the church basement was perhaps the best modern characterization of a religious figure I've ever seen in a movie. He's authentic and genuine. Every other pastor I've seen sounds really artificial; they sound like they were written by someone who'd never spent any time in a Protestant church. Like if I were to write a rabbi, or a Catholic priest.

Also worth noting is the contrast between the Southern folk and the gallery owner. Reynolds keenly observes that only a New York elite would seek out the deranged paintings for display in a high art gallery. My favorite moment came when the sister of the artist, who at first comes off as meddling and greedy, gives the art dealer a sincerely tearful and heartfelt condolence for a family loss. Not the sort of treatment you usually get in a Hollywood movie of a character with a Southern accent.

Fun note: Embeth Davidtz, who plays the gallery owner, was the princess in Army of Darkness! Despite knowing this, I cannot reconcile the fact in my mind when I picture both characters.

Overall, it's a good movie that says good things. But the sex made for a very uncomfortable viewing experience.

4 comments:

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:P

Josh Kenfield said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh Kenfield said...

Good reviews, but have to disagree with you on Little Shop. You might have liked the original ending better, the one in the stage musical. The off-Broadway musical was inspired by the 1960 Roger Corman film, which featured a very young Jack Nicholson (same role as Bill Murray). So this film is a mix of the musical and the original movie. If you need more of an explanation for performance of Ellen Greene, the role of Audre is suppose to talk in that manner based on the tradition of the musical. It's unfortunate that you didn't get to view this long time cult movie/stage phenomenon under better circumstances. Katie and I saw it at the Fox and it was a blast to view it with an audience.

Ryan said...

Ellen Greene also played the character in the Broadway show, so the voice was of her choosing all the way. And I stand behind my condemnation of it as unlistenable. It's a sonic personification of a Namibian Tunneling Brain Mite.