1. Movies I watched, Sept. 8, 2012:

    Yes, it’s that time again. I’ve watched a few movies these past couple weeks. Currently, I’m also trying to finish “That ’70s Show” and “Nip/Tuck.”

    On “That ’70s Show”: Up through season 5, it was one of the smartest, cleverest, and well-written sitcoms I’ve ever seen. Then came season 6. Then season 7. Both of which have equally become shallow, obvious, predictable, and just dull. Also, the characters made me overtly angry in their ignorance, which was rarely as frustrating in the prior seasons. Like, when Hyde’s going to marry Jackie, and then she sleeps with Kelso because she wouldn’t stop and give him a minute of her time because she was afraid he was going to turn her down. What a bitch. Same goes for Donna trying to blackmail Eric into not leaving for Africa. Bullshit. Those two women became manipulative, irritating, and downright senseless…and I loved those two for five seasons straight. Shame really. Show should’ve been condensed into seven seasons. That way, the pacing could’ve been at least fixed, and the twists and turns would’ve brought new life to the comedy. Initially, I’d have given the show a 9/10. Now, it’s at max an 8.25/10. And steadily dropping. Especially if Bret Harrison’s Charlie character (brought in late in season 7 to replace the non-contract-renewing Topher Grace) can’t hold his own through season 8, the final season. [UPDATE: I imagine the public’s critical reaction to Charlie made Randy the newbie of the group instead, as I come to see in season 8 that Charlie is nowhere to be found. Lolz]

    As for “Nip/Tuck”: I just finished season 3 ep 8, and the show has never been better. The drama, the twists, the sex…it’s all so very epic. I keep fist pumping because it’s so fucking epic. It’s like ancient Greek drama in modern day. P.S. I appreciate that the creators know the Carver storyline is currently their bread-and-butter, and they show that by not solving the Carver case in a string of episodes, but rather over the span of multiple seasons. Very wise. So far, I’d give this show a 8.75/10 or so. Maybe a 9/10 if it keeps it up!

    Now, onto the movies!

    1. Tales From the Hood" 7/10 [It’s a Spike Lee joint (production, not directed by), so you know what the subtext will be. Rather, text, not subtext…because Spike Lee is rarely subtle. But the horror movie conventions he and the director play with here in this anthology are quite impressive. Twisty and turny too, with a brilliant, manic performance by Clarence Williams III, the funeral home director.]
    2. Darkness Falls" 4/10 [This is an early Jonathan Liebesman film. Which means it stinks. In an unoriginal horror reimagining of the Tooth Fairy myth (been there, done that, not scary), the protagonist just comes off as silly and there’s only a few moments of intrigue. Otherwise, forget about it.]
    3. Ali G Indahouse" 5/10 [Thank god for Larry Charles ("Borat," "Bruno," "The Dictator"). Without him, Sacha Baron Cohen may never have emerged from this typical comedy. Sure, like with any film Sacha makes, there’s some very clever satire ("Keep it real"), as well as just blatantly funny ideas. Unfortunately, they try so very hard to keep it conventional, which keeps Sacha from flying free. That man needs a lot of room to work.]
    4. Think Like A Man" 6.75/10 [Tim Story is a comedy director, nothing more. However, that doesn’t save this film from being about twenty minutes too long. It could’ve been better reviewed and a box office smash if they just picked up the pacing and trimmed it. The story structure was brilliantly set up in the multiple relationships arc from about 40 minutes in. By the end of the film, no matter how many times I laughed or nodded agreeably, it felt more overlong than Apatow comedies do to me. I wonder how the announced sequel will play out?]
    5. The Good Son" 8/10 [Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood when they were young. And I mean young. This movie came out in 1993. The best part about this movie is how purely plausible it all is…particularly the bad things that happen, caused by Culkin’s sociopathic character. This is a kid without boundaries, moral or parental, and he’s been purely envisioned and very well-acted. It’s scary, and yet he doesn’t do anything on a big scale, or have some end game. He simply acts out, threatens, and then scares. Solid.]
    6. God Bless America" 8.75/10 [My roommate compared this film to "Super." They’re two different beasts, though the dynamic between the lead and his kid sidekick are strikingly similar. This is the atypical "man lashes out against his repressive life and culture" film, with a strong intellectual backbone. The subtext and philosophizing on modern culture is flawless, and serves the film well. I’m starting to become a serious Bobcat Goldthwait fan, after this and “World’s Greatest Dad.”]
    7. The Help" 8.5/10 [Yes, racial tension movies are not my forte. In fact, I find them frustrating, because it bases such a significant amount of the film on the ignorance of people in their mistreatment of others. It’s a lot more heartfelt than "Do The Right Thing," though, for sure. Its performances are all flawless (I think Jessica Chastain is an angel. Like, divine)…why hasn’t Octavia Spencer won any awards?? The story unfolds like a novel, but maintains proper focus so that the pacing doesn’t suffer for it. This was a completely understandable choice for a Best Picture nominee. Also, it had a lovely arc about how burying the truth can do serious harm to the individual (or a race), yet setting the truth free can be the right step towards reconciliation.]
     

  2. Movies I watched, mid-May, 2012:

    1. **”Dark Shadows" 6/10 [I’m always good for a Burton-Depp monster mash, but what should’ve came so naturally easy for Burton became a struggle over tone and proper plotting. Depp doesn’t disappoint, nor does the rest of the cast. Just the uneven tone and lack of momentum. Also, the clever moments are pretty clever.]
    2. The Devil’s Advocate" 8/10 [I was perfectly enthralled in this film (despite Keanu Reeves’s poor performance)…then the Devil had to monologue and preach to the audience for a minute. That deflated the momentum. That made itself far too known. Prior to that, it was a fun morality play with heavy consequences, with perfect pacing to wring out every drop of development. Also, best interpretation of the Devil I’ve seen onscreen thus far.]
    3. Tower Heist" 7.5/10 [Everybody knows I hate Brett Ratner’s guts more than most directors in Hollywood. He’s caddy, shallow, and his films are equally as generic. This film had a great cast, some laughs and decent pacing. That’s the only reason it’s perfectly passive as afternoon entertainment. Also Eddie Murphy, triumphant.]
    4. The Darkest Hour" 5/10 [If the characters had been a bit more fleshed out, and the action beats made closer together (trimming down the runtime), I think this could’ve been a bit more than generic. But it’s average, obvious, typical, with a few creative flairs that were the reason this film was probably successfully sold to a studio.]
    5. **”The Dictator" 6/10 [Sacha Baron Cohen is king of modern character-based comedy. He emerges effortlessly into his characters, a feat that is just diverting enough to save a film that’s only half-baked. This film should’ve been smarter (knowing Larry Charles and Cohen, of "Borat" and "Bruno" collaboratively). Also, though it had its great, awesome moments, the structure is all too similar to the prior collaborative efforts. We know you guys are smarter than this.]