Monsters (Gareth Edwards) *** - I saw this primarily to "prepare" for Godzilla opening this week since it's from the same director. For a very low-budget independent film, I'm actually quite impressed by what writer-director-production designer-visual effects supervisor Gareth Edwards has accomplished. More then the impressive creation of the seldom-seen "creatures", he also somehow created a believable world in chaos. The film is essentially an indie road movie but with sci-fi/horror bent as two people make their way across Mexico that's being plagued by alien monsters. There's actually very little monster action but it still holds your attention throughout most of it. It's far from perfect but you can definitely see the potential.
Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors
(Sergei Parajanov) **** - Set in a small village of indigenous
Ukrainian Hutsuls, this film follows a tragic love story. Yes, we've
seen tragic love stories before but this one is really something else.
This is my first time dipping my toes into the cinema of Sergei
Parajanov and it certainly will not be the last. As the story unfolds,
the film takes on many, many forms and actually surprises you. The
combination of the rather exotic milieu and Parajanov's unique visual
style gives the film moments of surrealism, fantasy and occasionally
even horror. It's something every serious cinephile should check out.
The Bank Dick (Edward F. Cline)
***1/2 - This is my first foray into the feature films of W.C. Fields.
Much like the Marx Brothers movies, this film's plot takes a back seat
to one-liners, bits and gags by the famous comedian. It's pretty much
about a drunkard who wishes his loudmouth family to leave him in peace
and gets into one trouble after another. It starts quite strong with a
lot of real good laughs. It also ends strong with an insane car chase.
The middle part, I must admit, was a bit hit-and-miss for me. It's a
solid comedy and I'd see a W.C. Fields movie again but I think I prefer
the Marx Brothers.
Godzilla (Gareth Edwards) ***1/2
- I saw this movie on 3D IMAX. Personally, I don't think the 3D was
needed but the large screen of IMAX is more than worth it. You can
actually see the scale of the large monsters (yes, MONSTERS) in this
picture and it's a stunning sight. That's not to say this is a perfect
film. I have a few issues with it. I mean like with lots of movies of
this ilk, the human story could have been A LOT better especially since
they've hired great actors to fill it (and Aaron Taylor-Johnson...ZING!
Kidding, he wasn't that bad) but it's good enough to ground the monster
action that is to come. Unlike the 1998 Roland Emmerich film, this film,
I feel, as a fan of the original film, RESPECTED Godzilla and the
monsters here, it's a strange thing to say, but they have SOULS. The
ending was oddly moving. Gareth Edwards was a promising filmmaker in Monsters but he fulfilled that promise with this film. A truly enjoyable summer blockbuster.
Love and Death (Woody Allen)
***1/2 - My exploration into the so-called earlier, funnier Woody Allen
movies continues with this really, really funny film that's essentially
an Ingmar Bergman parody (though Russian cinema and literature gets
parodied quite a bit too). Basically, it's the Woody Allen-type neurotic
character transposed into 1700's Russia during Napoleon's invasion. The
result is quite hilarious. It sometimes feels like a Marx Brothers
movie with only one Marx brother. Personally, I prefer the late 70's to
mid-80's Woody Allen but these earlier, funnier ones are really worth
watching and funnier than most comedies today.