Monday, August 11, 2008

DJG's Weekend Watcher

Psycho * * * * *
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock / 1960

Very few films rattle the halls of film canisters quite like Alfred Hitchcock’s convincing masterpiece, “Psycho”. Nearly 50 years old, the film still shakes suspense valves, leaving with hairs and ideas still standing days later. I could easily write a long and windy essay on everything I carry through the thrash-hold with this film, but I’ll leave that up for my third or fourth watch, or for your own eyes. All I wish to say is that if you haven’t seen it and think you’ve seen some great horror-suspense films or just great films in general, then you’re really missing out on this slice of genius and history.


Pineapple Express * * * *
Directed by: David Gordon Green / 2008

Director David Gordon Green, one of my favorites in the age range of 30, exchanges his usual dark and somber filters for a shot at a stupid-awesome-cool-stoner-action comedy. I think “Pineapple Express” was a smart choice for Green, in a healthy gear switching after already carving major respect, promise and praise for his Terrence Mallick-like poetic dramas (“George Washington”, “All the Real Girls”, “Under Tow” and “Snow Angels”). By all means was I not disappointed with his first comedy feature (seemed like a less serious Quentin Tarantino meets Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg violent fun fest mixed with a ton of buddy action flicks and a pinch of Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours”…if that makes any sense?), but at times it felt a bit rushed, sloppy and opted for over-kill on pre-fab computer scene-switch filters (like what you’d see in a cornball corporate presentation). However, at the same time they fit in an odd way with the overall extreme of a plot surrounding a dead-beat stoner who witnesses a murder and seeks refuge in on-the-run antics with his burnout drug dealer and company. James Franco shows he’s got some really promising acting chops for the first time since “Freaks And Geeks”, as he trades in his pretty boy for druggy boy and Seth Rogen plays himself, charmingly so. These two anti-heroes bring much excitement and stupidity to the screen, but it was supporting funny man Danny McBride (Hot Rod) who brought my biggest laughs (I couldn’t wait to hear more about celebrating his dead cat’s birthday!). Produced by Judd Apatow, “Pineapple Express” isn’t without his typical stamp of snappy, clever, fresh, crude and gut-busting humor that is thick to the core. My beef is that three quarters of funny was put on the backburner for a formulaic falling out of the BFFFE (Best Friends For F-in’ Ever). Though, the climax drug lord shoot-off and goofy ending redeemed itself into my hurting guts as one heck of a stupid-awesome-cool-fun time at the movies.


The Man Who Wasn't There * * * * ½
Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen / 2001

The Coen Brothers have a ton of incredible films, but “The Man Who Wasn’t There” is my personal favorite and I feel it is their most under-appreciated masterpiece. So much mystery and darkness hide in the layers of gorgeously drenched black and white, leaving a lot of gray room in the story and subjects to effectively move and mystify me. I conjure different ideas and wonders each time I watch Billy Bob Thornton’s 1950’s bored barber whisper through life until he unravels (for better-or-worse) like the smoke and ash of his cigarette.


Magic * * * *
Directed by: Richard Attenborough / 1978

Anthony Hopkins delivers one of his finest performances, possessed by talent and success, talking for two as a ventriloquist in “Magic”. My initial thoughts were that the film would be great cheese in the “Chucky” realm, but in fact I was surprised at how effective and well-pieced it really is. I was also pleased it didn't resort to fantasy and left the magic up to incredible acting and an incredibly creepy doll!


Charlie Bartlett * * * ½
Directed by: Jon Poll / 2007

Thin hints of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Rushmore" (among others) and commentary on our thick obsession with mental health fuse this unbelievable yet surprisingly well-played take on the wear and tear of the high school condition. Life throws many punches, but nothing seems as worse than the mid-to-late range of teenage life. Remember?! Groomed for success and wealth, mischievous Charlie Bartlett is kicked out of private school and shipped off to the angst and anxiety battlegrounds of public high school. Subject to much bullying and abuse, Charlie visits with the family therapist and is supplied with anxiety medication which brings him to the streets in his underwear and loudest shout. Charlie sees this as potential in banding with the bullies and selling medication to his fellow high school peers in pain. The student body doesn’t fall to pressure, rather Charlie's therapy sessions and prescriptions in the boy's restroom/pharmacy.


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