Monday, November 28, 2005

Movies, this time for reel (NaNo Day 28)


As promised, here goes nothing:

Constantine - John Constantine is somewhere between a exorcist and a demon hunter. He sees these things that no one else can see, and uses this ability to send the demons back to hell, all in an effort to get back into Heaven's good books. Except that Heaven isn't interested in taking him back for the "life he took" (his own, albeit briefly), and Hell is only too eager to have him back for what he's done to all those demons over the years. Enter Angela, whose sister Isabel committed suicide in a Catholic mental institution (and is now in Hell), wanting to know why. Turns out that Isabel and Angela also saw/see the same things Constantine does. Also, there's been an increasing number of demons lately, and a whole thing about the Spear of Power (dun dun dun!), and an impending apocalypse.

I like Keanu Reeves - I really do. I wish he'd be cast in more roles where he gets to smile and laugh sometime, because although I'm impressed by his ability to do deadpan, restrained frustration and outrage, the Neo-clone roles are making worry there's typecasting going on. Rachael Weisz was good - not overly sentimental or drippy or wimpy, but just vulnerable and tough enough. Tilda Swinton - love! She does androgyny like no one else. The story was good, if a little light on exposition, and the special effects were outstanding. Also, brings up some interesting questions about the nature of Heaven and Hell.

The Animatrix - Nine short films about the Matrix and the Matrix universe made by some very talented writers and directors. All of them have very different styles of animation (one of the films is a two-parter), and I'd be hard pressed to say which one I liked best, although The Second Renaissance Parts 1 and 2 were very useful in providing a historical context for the three movies. Look for it in the Anime section of the video store.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie - A tanker truck explodes, and people start dying. The government isn't sure if it's toxic chemicals or a bioterrorism attack. Of course, it's the latter, but is the government agency who created the chemical agent really interested in releasing the antidote? Who is the former secret agent behind this, and isn't he supposed to be dead, like, three times over? And will the bounty hunters catch him before the Halloween attack?

I can't decide how much I liked this one. I like the concept of a pair of bounty hunters, a computer whiz-kid, a Welsh Corgi, a gambling tomboy, and a space ship, but the plot of this movie didn't really do it justice. The animation was good, though - I find some anime is choppy and skimps on the little things, but this one, like both Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke were strikingly detailed about the actions.

Sugar - On Cliff's 18th birthday, his sister gives him a mini bottle of vodka, a package of condoms, and instructions to take the subway to "go get sex." Did I mention his sister is about 11? (She was my favourite character in the movie!) While out following her directions, he befriends a hustler and becomes immersed in drugs and the seedy lives of those who live on the streets. At first, his friendship with Butch is great, but then Cliff starts to realize that things between them aren't going to end well, and tries to cut him out of his life.

The whole movie had the feel of a documentary, or an improvisational piece. The dialogue had a very unscripted, natural feel, and it looked as if it was filmed using an old hand-held camera. The story itself was barely there, at times very sweet and touching, and other times brutal and hard. I especially enjoyed the actor who played Cliff, Andre Noble, who died shortly after the film was released.

(Rant - One of the reviews on the back of the case suggested that this was a "bittersweet coming-of-age story". Frankly, I hate that kind of description because it's a cop-out. All stories involving teenagers discovering parts of themselves they didn't know existed and learning life lessons in the process are going to involve some joy and some pain - but that's how things are in the real world. Try to be more original next time, 'kay? End rant!)

Childstar - A famous child actor is sent to Canada to film a major blockbuster movie, but all he really wants is a family. He's spoiled and cynical, and is tired of being treated like a child. His mother is bored, self-absorbed, and when her son goes missing, sees it as an opportunity to renegotiate his contract. The driver is an aspiring director, and when he tries to impart some wisdom onto the child, he's rewarded with failure and a chance to screen his movie. Go figure.

I dearly love Don McKellar. He's got a dry, twisted, almost sarcastic sense of humour, and while you don't really laugh at his movies, you just might grin sardonically. None of the humour is really slap-your-knee funny, but it's barely there, just enough to make you chuckle every now and then. He wrote, directed, and plays the driver for the young star, and does a pretty good job of it all. Jennifer Jason Leigh does very good detatched narcissism. And Mark Rendall, who plays the Taylor, the child star, is excellent (a bit of trivia - he's also one of the voice of Arthur!)