I'm getting slower about returning movies, lazy me.
Three Kings; Arlington Road; MST2K: The Movie; The Iron Giant; Go; Sling Blade
I was impressed with the performances, given who the actors were. The movie was interesting for trying to say something about the war. I feel bad for saying it didn't go far enough, but the problem was tonal; it was humorous here and there, a heist movie most of the time, weird violence some of the time, stylish weirdness some of the time, critically political some of the time. None of that added up to anything. Also, I'm getting really annoyed at people fluffing up their DVD menus with footage from the movie. I avoided seeing trailers for a reason. I want to see the really neat bullet-through-internal-organ sequence for the FIRST TIME in the context of the movie, at the moment when it happens in the movie, not in a trailer, and not in the DVD menu sequence when I click 'special features' to see whether there's a commentary track before I watch the movie. 3 out of 5
I watched this and had vague feelings of disappointment. I remembered reading some criticisms by Ted Elliot of the Wordplay screenwriting site, so now that I'd seen it, I went back and read those. Having read them, I have lost any ability to form my own criticisms anymore, since his were so compelling. But all in all, I remember feeling unmoved, unconvinced. The way in which the girlfriend gets "caught" implies hideously overly powerful conspiracies--not only do they JUST KNOW she was a "bad person" (from their POV), but they manage to track her down impossibly quickly. As Ted points out, the movie's criticism of the FBI in the two big early cases discuss conflict: in one they complain that the FBI nailed a single guy instead of suspecting a bigger conspiracy; in the Ruby-Ridge-alike they complain that the FBI suspected a bigger conspiracy when there was none. Damned if you do, damned if you don't--which echoes what happens with the actual plot and its big "twist". Bah. 2 out of 5.
MST3K: The Movie
A perfectly fine regular episode, with bigger-budget between scene things. But really, it wasn't a standout episode. You'd think with a bigger budget they'd spend more time finding the right movie, more time coming up with really funny things to say. But no. 3 out of 5.
The Iron Giant
Why did I watch this? Sigh. Cliche cliche cliche cliche cliche cliche. Music? Cliche. Characters? Cliche. Laxative? Cliche. I love you giant robot? Cliche. 2 out of 5.
Ok, this slowly grew on me. I was going to call it 3 out of 5, but I've decided on 4 out of 5. My problem with it is twofold: one, nothing really happens--nobody changes, the situation for people hasn't really changed. However, with respect to the characters, this seems to be intentional--they're young, and they've learned no lesson from their experience. Ok, so, fine. But the other problem I have is the movie's casual relationship with violence. Violence is big and scary--the first bit of violence is fairly freaky and dark and drastically changes the tone of the movie. But by the end, everything has worked out fine. One character is bruised and walking funny, but still right back at work the next day nonetheless. Another character suffers a major wound offscreen, but we're assured he's all right. And that just doesn't work for me. It's like violence is just a plot point, just a device used to make us feel sympathy for characters, not like it's something real. It turns out that the screenplay had a fairly different climax one that took violence more seriously, but after filming it, the director wasn't satisfied with the tone, with how it fit the movie, and worked with the screenwriter to produce a new, funny climax. I understand their motivation here, and I'm not saying the original climax was necessarily the best fit for the movie, but at least the violence really still meant something. Oh well. 4 out of 5.
Some folks call it a sling blade, I reckon. Weird, slow character piece about such a simple character that, well, do we need a slow character piece about him? The film winds inexorably to the obvious conclusion, and, bah. 3 out of 5 but some really nice performances shades it higher.