12 July 2012

Stuff I've Been Consuming 6

  • Whales on Stilts, M.T. Anderson
  • Ender's Shadow, Orson Scott Card
  • Camp, Elaine Wolf
  • The Robot Olympics (Tom Swift, Young Inventor), Victor Appleton
  • Ong-bak, Prachya Pinkaew
  • Prometheus, Ridley Scott
  • Mercy, Patrick Hoelck
  • Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson
  • The Chaser (Chugyeogja), Hong-jin Na
  • Rock of Ages, Adam Shankman
  • War of the Arrows, Han-min Kim
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, George Roy Hill
  • True Grit, Henry Hathaway
  • A World Without Thieves, Xiaogang Feng
  • Magic Mike, Steven Soderberg
  • Blackthorn, Mateo Gil
  • The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Jee-woon Kim

Blasted through thirteen movies this month, which would make it seem like I didn't go anywhere but in reality, it meant my social life was on an uptick. I mean, what else do you do with people around 11pm and nothing's open? You throw in a movie! Thus, the nine Netflix movies consumed. Also, I got sucked into watching a whole bunch of Asian thrillers and then Westerns.

Both genres collided with The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a Korean flick that has all the classic elements of an American Western but set in Manchuria and done with a slapsticky giddiness that would never fly here. From what I've seen, we like our Westerns gritty and serious.

Well, that's not true, I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and that was apparently highly regarded back in 1969 for taking the traditional Western into buddy cop territory --or more accurately, setting the template for those -- as Paul Newman and Robert Redford joke back and forth during gunfights. The swings in mood were a bit much for me though, especially when the "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" bicycle scene came out of nowhere. I much preferred 2011's Blackthorn, a fictional add-on to the Butch Cassidy legend. It had a much more classic Western tone and was cinematically wonderful.

And if you saw the Coen brothers semi-recent version of True Grit, you'd be shocked at how terrible the John Wayne one is. I queued up the 2010 version immediately after watching the old one and it made me admire the Coen brothers' work even more. They made such a tight, focused movie, taking inspiration from the same source material. The John Wayne version is comparatively a campy mess.

Next month I'll be working my way through some classic Wayne and Clint Eastwood stuff as they've become my late night alone movies of choice. Few people will suffer through them with me but I can't get enough of the gun slingers and dusters.

This probaby should have gone up top but I've got some super movies to recommend this month. One is for the young at heart and the other is for sadists. Let's start with the former. Since watching Moonrise Kingdom mid-month, I've been pushing it on everyone to no avail. Clearly nobody listens to me because I keep offering to rewatch it with friends but nobody will go. Even if you aren't into Wes Anderson, I think Moonrise has something to offer anyone who has experienced young love before. Hello, that's everyone!

Some of the scenes in Moonrise Kingdom are just so absolutely touching, hilarious, and poignant all at the same time that I want to live in the movie. Sure it lost me a little at the end but I didn't care at that point as I was still reveling from all the other fantastic parts. Outside of possibly Life Aquatic, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite Wes Anderson and it's been receiving great reviews. My friend told me that Wes' movies never make any money and I didn't believe him but then I looked up Anderson's box office numbers and they are hilariously low. I'm sure he makes back his budget in DVD sales or something but I guess I didn't realize how niche Anderson was to the general public. Outside of The Royal Tenenbaums, his films' domestic grosses are pathetic. Oh well, as long as people keep financing his royal twee-ness, I'm good with it.
Here's my recommendation for those who like their crazy Asian serial killer movies: The Chaser (Chugyeogja) by director Hong-jin Na. I don't even have to tell you what it's about if you're familiar with the genre but suffice to say, it's got some seriously disturbing moments, an insane amount of tension, and afterward you'll be shaking with disbelief. Shock and awe, shock and awe.

There's a tiny sweet spot for twisted movies like this that I enjoy. All of the Japanese stuff by Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) is way too gross for me, and some of the Park Chan-wook (The Vengeance Trilogy) films are toeing the line of bearable. However, after watching The Chaser I'm ready to go on a Korean movie run to see what else is out there. Now if only I had a friend to watch them with, because these simply cannot be watched alone.

I also want to sing the praises of M.T. Anderson's Whales On Stilts, which is a middle grade novel about three kids who team up to defeat an invading cetacean army outfitted with laser eye beams and well, stilts. Lily's dad happens to work for the evil mastermind but is very non-plussed about it all, bringing her along for Career Day, which is when she figures out that something weird is happening. Amazing right? I don't know if actual middle schoolers would get the winks and nods to classic adventure tales but I sure loved Anderson's references.

If I had know there was this kind of good stuff in MG, I would have started reading it sooner and starting padding my "books read" list. Hum, seeing as I'm a little behind on the fiftyfifty.me challenge, maybe I'll start doing that. Feels like cheating though. By the way, I have a lot to say about Magic Mike and Ender's Shadow, but that'll have to come in separate posts.