Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jackass 3D - 2010

"Jackass 3D" - 2010
Dir. by Jeff Tremaine - 1 hr. 34 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Sometimes, familiarity isn't such a bad thing.  There's the whole gang here again, and even though Jackass never concerns itself with things like plot or character development, by now we all know the personalities involved.  You know Bam hates snakes, you know Johnny Knoxville is going to get chased by a large animal that belongs on a dinner plate.  And probably the best thing about this movie is that Steve-O seems to be coherent and mentally present, which makes his stunts come off a lot better.  Honestly, it's a lot funnier to see him dread doing something that he knows is a really bad idea and still going through with it than it is to just see him one-upping himself without that same awareness.

And while the stunts were generally on par with previous installments of the franchise, none of them ever elevated above simple stunts and pratfalls.  What made the first two almost defensible was the first segment of the first movie and the last of the second - the rental car demolition derby and the fake terrorist plot.  Those were longer pieces of anarchic filmmaking, layered and interesting.  Despite the low-brow nature of Jackass, it showed signs of some intellect (and storytelling ability - knowing that Knoxville was going to have to return the rental car in person made every ding and dent from the demolition derby an exercise in building tension), and made the first two movies more than just a highlight reel of people falling down.  There's nothing of that sort in the third, which was a disappointment.  Even though I enjoyed this movie, I can't imagine sitting down and re-watching this one like I have with the first two.

2.5 / 5 - Theatre (standard, not 3D)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Predators - 2010

"Predators" - 2010
Dir. by Nimrod Antal - 1 hr. 47 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

This was a competent movie, but that's about the best thing I can say about it.  The action was fine, the story was okay, the acting was okay.  But if you've seen any of the Predator movies over the years, the cat's sort of out of the bag.  Everyone already knows what the Predators look like and what they're capable of, even if the cast of the movie hasn't figured things out yet.  And, in fact, knowing more than the characters do made me kind of want to root for the Predators to just murder everyone in the most brutal way possible.  The interplay between the humans wasn't anything to take note of, so why root for them?  The way the movie turned out, it was strongly suggested that the humans aren't anything more than replaceable meat anyhow, and in that case, no one is going to root for an ambulatory can of Alpo over their dog.

The predictability of "Predators" really hurt the movie - I know that in action films part of the enjoyment is in hitting those sweet spots along the way, but even the lone twist to the film was pretty predictable.  Even then end battle lifted heavily from the original "Predator."  Unless you're a super-Predator fan (which I'm not), I'd probably skip this one.

2 / 5 - DVD

Friday, December 10, 2010

Due Date - 2010

"Due Date" - 2010
Dir by Todd Phillips - 1 hr. 35 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

With comedies more than any other type of movie, I leave the theatre disappointed.  Maybe disappointed isn't the right word, more like underwhelmed.  Perhaps I'm continually overestimating the funniness of certain actors and directors, or perhaps it's just that no one hits it out of the park every single time at bat.  "Due Date" falls into that category.  Certainly, if someone were to tell you that Todd Phillips was going to direct a mismatched buddy film with Zach Galafinakis and Robert Downey, Jr. (fresh off "The Hangover"), you're likely going to have some expectations.

I keep finding myself having to back off of how bad I make this movie sound.  It's not a bad movie at all, perhaps a little uneven, but not a bad movie.  There are a number of laugh-out-loud scenes, the characters play fairly well off of one another, but it never coalesces into something more than the sum of it's parts.  I'll put it this way, if you see this movie, you'd probably have a good time.  But you're not going to tell people that it's as funny as "Old School" or "The Hangover" was.  Sure, those are pretty lofty goals, but if you've got those two movies under your belt (like Phillips does), pretty much every movie you make for the rest of your life are going to be judged on that scale.

I'm definitely not saying not to watch this.  I enjoyed myself throughout.  My warning is that it's probably not going to be quite as funny as you hope it will be, so lower your expectations and enjoy.

3 / 5 - Theatre

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Janeane Garofalo: If You Will - Live in Seattle - 2010

"Janeane Garofalo: If You Will - Live in Seattle" - 2010
Dir. by Michael Petok - 59 minutes

"Ghosts" - clip

by Clayton Hollifield

Even if you used to have a fearsome crush on Ms. Garofalo like me, this isn't the greatest stand-up special ever made.  I guess it's positives are about the same as the negatives - it's an accurate document of where she's at as a comedian right now.  I'm sure your political bent might have a lot to do with how you view her and her work, but ignoring that, what you've got is a seasoned, funny comedian putting on a good show.  I wasn't blown away here, but I'm a little baffled that it's taken this long to get one of her shows on the market.  In that respect, I'm happy that finally happened.

There's a bit in this show where she talks about her manager being upset that she doesn't have any "internet presence."  It almost feels like this DVD is result of the same complaint - she didn't have any comedy product on the market, and this does at least fill that gap.  But I wouldn't recommend it beyond that - if you haven't seen her perform before, this is sufficient (but not excellent).

3 / 5 - Streaming

A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory - 2007

"A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory" - 2007
Dir. by Esther Robinson - 1 hr. 15 min.

Official Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

Lately, I've been getting more and more into the Velvet Underground (and Nico, as well), and based on that, Netflix recommended this documentary (and a couple other movies) to me.  It's about Danny Williams, a film editor and lighting technician that worked in Andy Warhol's Factory (several interviewees suggest that Williams was also one of Warhol's lovers, as well).  Visiting his family, he disappeared into the ocean at age 27 with no clues as to what happened.

The filmmaker, Esther Robinson, is a relative of Williams', and ends up painting a somewhat confusing portrait of him.  A few people flat out didn't remember him, some diminish his importance, more than a few thought that Warhol had not done right by Williams.  The film ends on a rather philosophical note by John Cale, who upon being asked what he thought had happened, deflects the question by saying that what is really being asked is how each individual would have disappeared themselves.

In the end, no conclusions are really drawn.  Williams disappeared at a young age, before he was really able to gain any traction with his own film-making.  There are many examples of his experimental films shown, and they're interesting (yet not really groundbreaking).  I enjoyed the film, at the same time it didn't seem to accomplish that much.  It's a hazy photograph of the departed, and I suppose that the attempt to render Williams' work into something to be remembered is an accomplishment of sorts.

3 / 5 - NF Streaming