Quick Takes – 05.29.11

Inside Job (2010)

Grade: B+ | 1st Viewing

Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story focused more on the human toll of the economic crisis, focusing on individual stories of hardship. Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job used a more holistic approach with emphasis on the econometric and statistical reasons for the downturn. Both are nicely assembled documentaries by two filmmakers who know how to ask tough questions (Ferguson less cartoonish and therefore more effective). However, the Economics Major in me was more intrigued and intellectually stimulated by Inside Job.

It was truly fascinating how he was able to get access to some of the very people who contributed to the crumbling of the American economy. With his wealth of knowledge and research Ferguson is able to ask probing and interesting questions and the audience gets to watch as the men get defensive, yet continue. Sometimes I wish Ferguson would have gone even further, but for the most part his (and our) questions were answered. The movie is also successful (unfortunately) in making one feel utterly helpless in the running of the U.S. government. The men in power have too much money and too many friends to be going anywhere soon. It is a very scary truth.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Grade: A- | 1st Viewing

I finally got around to watching this movie which has been on my Netflix queue for years and I’m glad I did. This film ties in nicely with the discussion of comedy that we had on this week’s podcast. John Cleese is the undeniable standout in a film that also includes the likes of Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Michael Palin. Cleese offers a master class in comic re-acting with some of the most sincere and honest facial expressions that tell more than any line of dialogue could. This is particularly noticeable in the first office scene he has with Jamie Lee Curtis and even more so in the confrontation with Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Cleese’s wife at his home.

The film also offers some nice commentary on comedy itself and the uptight nature of Brits as it differs from Americans. In the end, however, we’re all the same with comparable neuroses and fears. The situational comedy with Michael Palin also continues to make me smile.

What movies did you watch this week?

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  • Jose

    Kung Fu Panda 2
    I had a lot of fun watching it, although I thought the story was executed a bit unevenly but wow was that movie awesome

    It was ok, I actually think this is a bit like the first Hangover in where everyone else is like “Oh my God this movie is awesome!” and my reaction is more like “It just ok”

    Black Swan
    3rd viewing
    Saw it on the airplane so a bunch of stuff was taken out, but its still a worthwile experience. And the person next to me was watching Gulliver’s Travels and it looked stupid (why is there a robot there?)
    Black Swan:B+
    Gulliver’s Travels F

  • “Deadwood” Season 1 – A

    One of the best shows I’ve ever watched, hands down. Almost done with season 2 as well, which is even better.

  • “Tokyo Godfathers” (2003) A-, 1st Viewing

    An exceptionally funny and poignant anime film from a few years ago from writer/director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Millennium Actress), “Tokyo Godfathers” benefits from human characters, a well-developed storyline, and powerful voice acting that comes through even in native Japanese. The movie becomes somewhat predictable in its “random” happenstances relating to the three main characters, but the dialog is quick and funny enough to the point where you just want to see how it all turns up. Excellent film.

    “Thor” (2011) B+, 4th Viewing

    Yeah, I liked “Thor” quite a bit. I went a 4th time because I realized that my opinions regarding movies that fall into my fanboy universe (comic book movies, primarily) are near worthless for the first week. I need a bit of time to digest and repeat the viewing in order to bring a critical eye to the proceedings. This time I watched it with Alex Carlson’s disappointments in mind, but I still found myself caught up in the splendor of the movie. I really enjoyed the Loki character, and though some say the movie lacked a villain until the third act I would argue that Loki was as much a villain as the movie needed from the beginning. It’s interesting to see a comic book movie that does not threaten our world, but instead another, and I still found myself caring.

    “Twister” (1996) C, 2nd Viewing

    A local MN theater shows Midnight Retros every weekend, and for Memorial Day they picked the 1996 released summer blockbuster film. It’s probably been since 1996 that I’ve seen this, and in the last few weeks leading up to it I had convinced myself not to go. A last minute change of plans swept me away, however, and I found myself attending the Saturday night showing. I’ve got to say – I hate Bill Paxton. I found his acting annoying and ham-fisted and his expressions always seem fake. Helen Hunt did a well-enough job, and the movie itself was the kind of fun-bad movie that can make an enjoyable experience. Poor timing not withstanding (given the tornado that ripped through North Minneapolis a week ago) the movie is still quite a bit of fun without taking itself too seriously. And I hate Bill Paxton.

  • Hoop Dreams: B (1st viewing)
    I’m not sure why Roger Ebert thinks this was the best movie of the 90s. It was good, but nothing special.

  • “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) A+, 10th (?) Viewing

    Technically, this one belongs in next week’s Quick Takes, but since I saw it in a theater for the first time I wanted to throw it in here. This is one of the greatest westerns ever made, simple as that. It’s long, yes, but the story of trust, betrayal, gold, danger, and the value of perseverance set against the Civil War creates a beautiful tapestry of film. Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, and Clint Eastwood deliver powerful performances, and the entire film is framed within a score by award-winning composer Ennio Morricone that is at times haunting, piercing, and driving. All in all, a wonderful film experience that should be enjoyed by all.

  • Jose

    Where was The Good… playing in theaters? I woukd love to watch that in the big screen!

    By the way, anyone else planning on watching The Lord of the rings extended trilogy re-release?

  • @Jose – It’s playing at a repertory theatre in Minneapolis. I would love to see that on the big screen as well.

    As for The Lord of the Rings, I probably will skip that one mostly because I saw it on the big screen so recently. I will save my money.

  • @Jose – Yeah … yeah, I’m probably going to be seeing the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings in theaters. I’ve got the blu-ray boxed set on pre-order, so I’ll schedule a separate time in the fall to watch them all back to back, but I don’t like passing up opportunities to see them in theaters. So excellent, especially the extended edition of The Two Towers (which should have been the theatrical edition in my mind, so many important scenes were cut out).

  • Jose

    Well I never saw them in theaters, so I will do my best to watch them even though I’ll only get to see the Return of the King

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