The Beast With a Billion Backs (2008)
The weakest of the three Futurama movies I've watched so far. It's a very strange story in the context of the show, completely ignoring the sort of single-minded devotion Fry had been showing to Leela toward the end of the series and in the first movie. This movie seemed to be trying quite hard to stay unified on theme--relationships, jealousy, love--but it left the characters mostly hollow (with the exception of Bender, actually; he was the emotional center of the movie, but it's a hard role for that character to sustain).
The religious satire was pretty great, though. And at least Kif got a very satisfying moment.
Bender's Game (2008)
The third Futurama movie. This one starts out strong but begins seriously floundering in the last twenty minutes or so, when the extended Lord of the Rings spoof starts. I like Lord of the Rings as much as anyone, but very specific parodies are actually tiresome at this point.
The rest of the movie is pretty funny, though. The HAL Institute for Criminally Insane Robots is always a treat.
Peeping Tom (1960)
Took a break from the Futurama movies to go see this suspense film about voyeurism and murder. It plays on the "it's always the quiet ones" trope, sort of like Psycho, and that wasn't the only thing that reminded me of Hitchcock. The whole style, the innovative, claustrophobic way the film was shot, the pacing and storytelling--at the very least, I think this film's director and Hitchcock shared some influences.
Though it's frequently very tense, it's also funny. The authentic awkwardness of the main character is part of this--it is rare to see a movie or television character so accurately mirror that kind of awkwardness.
Character is really the main thing I pay attention to in most films, especially ones I haven't seen before, and I was intrigued with how the protagonist was handled. His character is an insane murderer who gets off on seeing his victims' expressions of terror as they die (don't worry, that's not a spoiler), but the narrative truly treats him as the protagonist. He's a pathetic character who certainly has the capacity for redemption--we glimpse it, but then it fades. That choice may have been a matter of drama or a matter of censorship--the idea that crime should never go unpunished in entertainment was a strong one at the time this film was made.
Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)
The fourth and final Futurama movie. I really enjoyed this one. Like the first movie, Bender's Big Score (reviewed last week), Into the Wild Green Yonder maintains a near-perfect balance of comedy, story and character, with a little political and social comedy thrown into the mix. It's rare that a comedy can make a joke about feminists without seeming stale and misogynist (though I think part of how this one circumvents that is by turning it around and making it about misogyny).
The film actually goes out on a sweet note, and clearly was meant as the end of the Futurama series. We could stop there and everything would seem right.
A surprisingly enjoyable horror flick--not really all that scary, though, since it makes the mistake of showing us the well-crafted monster effects early on. It's also terribly predictable (I figured out how to destroy Pumpkinhead within moments of its first kill). And yet I certainly enjoyed it. It manages to build tension nicely, despite the monster being a known entity with known intent. The victims are, by and large, completely innocent, guilty only by association with the person who had wronged the monster's summoner, and that injustice works to give the viewer an interest in the otherwise flat characters staying alive. It's kind of a corny movie, really, but it's fun.
Only the second David Lynch movie I've ever seen. The first was Inland Empire, and that movie was so unbelievably terrible that for years afterward, I wasn't really interested in ever seeing anything else by Lynch. People have been telling me to see Eraserhead for years, though, and now, having seen it, I can testify that I enjoyed it. It's basically "Men's Sexual and Familial Anxieties: The Movie." Though I expect men will generally identify with it more than women will, anyone who was not already terrified of having a baby will be after watching this.
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Went into the theater expecting to see the 1968 original, and was a little disappointed when it turned out to be the remake. I had never seen either before, but I've heard that the original was a commentary on race, on Vietnam, on other tumultuous issues of the 1960s. The 1990 remake misses out on that. There's minor acknowledgement of the continued existence of racism (generally present more in the tone of what a couple people say to Ben, the only black character, than in the actual words), and a single scene presents the parallel between zombies and drug addicts (a major fear in the 1980s), but otherwise it's pretty low on social commentary, instead presenting the standard "but we're the real monsters" creature movie plotline.
If you just want to see an unsettling zombie picture, it's solid. The gruesome special effects look quite good--some are genuinely upsetting. The acting is okay, sometimes a little hammy. Barbara is the hero of this incarnation of the story, and she plays out the popular "final girl" trope perfectly: the traumatized woman becomes a real badass over the course of the movie, and of course is the sole survivor of her group by the very end.
- Waiting for Superman (2010)
- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
- The Sacrifice (1986)
- The Magnificent Seven (1960)
- I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
- The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2010)
The Maybe List:
- happythankyoumoreplease (2010)
- If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (2010)
- Helena From the Wedding (2009)
- Conviction (2010)
- Secretariat (2010)