Pinhead (johnldhf) wrote,

SME '04 - Back at it

The movie: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
At a glance: Dangerous Lives
IMDb page:
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone
Quick outline: The story focuses on two 14 year old Catholic schoolboy best friends who are growing up and apart from each other. One's maturing and finding out about life and love, the other is on a path of destruction. The one thing still keeping them together is their comic strip they make.
Comparable to: I think I read somewhere we were supposed to think Stand by Me meets Ghost World. I love both of those movies, but their lovechild is not nearly on the same level.

Comments: Well I finally got around to watching this, on a Friday night at 2 in the morning. I had actually heard quite a lot about it so expectations were pretty high, although I had almost no idea what it was about. I'm not gonna say it was a disappointment, but I can't say I found this spectacular movie that everyone should run out and rent pronto. I watched the whole film straight through, plus the hour or so of extras on the DVD, so I can say for people who want something different this is a good alternative to the normal string of crap out there. One thing the cast and crew kept saying in the extras was that Dangerous Lives is one of the most "real" coming-of-age stories they've ever worked on. I probably heard that line 40 times in about 20 minutes. Now my question is, although I do agree it's a coming-of-age tale and a pretty good one, why in the hell do they call it real? For one thing, I never went to Catholic school and I'm not saying the students don't rebel against the strict lifestyle, but I think I'm probably pretty accurate when I say they don't rebel in such a way with such drastic results. I wish I could hammer my point home but I'm gonna try to stay away from spoilers. I mean even for 14-15 year olds they are STUPID. I like what they showed with Emile's character but how they handled Kieran was just bizarre. And speaking of bizarre, what in the hell is anywhere near "real" with Jena Malone's character? She is incredible and I think beautiful and an awesome actress, and what in the hell was her role about, seriously. Calling her character "troubled" doesn't touch the tip of the iceberg. And the thing that rubbed me wrong the worst was that there was practically no resolution to her character, and no explanation anywhere in the extras why they made her what they made her. Even just to say she was written like she was in the book would have been something. Instead I'm left wondering if life in Florida in the 70's was one long bad trip. I do love Jena Malone, but wonder what her fascination is with films with such heavy doses of religion in them. Saved!, which I just saw on Thursday but probably won't be able to write about until next week, and even Donnie Darko have some sort of very vocal stance on God and religion in them. I dunno if it's coincidence or she's just a very pretty weirdo. She is probably my favorite young actor now and both of the other leads do well also. As for the rest of the movie, a good 20-30 minutes of the movie is Spawn style animation, which is used to portray the inner emotions of the main character Francis as we go along in the story. All those scenes take place in his head, and in that regard it's a lot like Dancer in the Dark, which is real cool. A very original and entertaining way to avoid voiceover narration, which I was taught is almost always a big no no. Oh, Jodie Foster and Gomer Pyle from Full Metal Jacket are also in this, but both seem to kind of phone in their performances. Foster also produced so she was probably preoccupied.
Who would like it: Like I said, fans of the offbeat. Kieran is a lot more talented than Macaulay I know that much, so anyone who liked Igby Goes Down would probably like this too.
Who wouldn't: If you always find yourself skipping over Sundance Channel and the Independent Film Channel without even looking, you'll probably skip right over this too. Your loss I suppose.
My grade: B+

The movie: Shattered Glass
At a glance: Shattered Glass
IMDb page:
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloe Sevigny
Quick outline: This is based on the real story of Stephen Glass, a story a lot of us have no memory of because we were seniors in high school, and the last thing I gave a shit about was current affairs. Anyway, Glass faked a whole bunch of news stories for a political magazine.
Comparable to: To me a bunch of the movies that are based on recent events feel a lot alike, regardless of content. For example, watching this made me want to get out Searching for Bobby Fischer and Boys Don't Cry which are nothing like Shattered Glass in terms of story.

Comments: Watching this film was the main reason for the posting delay. I wanted the third movie of the set to be kind of different like Memento and one that not a lot of people have seen. So I waited for Dangerous Lives, which I still haven't watched yet. Gonna watch it tonight and finally finish this post. Anyway, I watched this by myself one night after Brian left, from 330-530 in the morning. If you're asking yourself what the hell I was doing watching shit at that time of day, well, so was I. I am really glad I decided to rent it because I enjoyed it quite a bit. The one thing I'm afraid to get into too deeply though is the Hayden debate. I could seriously go on for pages and pages about how conflicted and disturbed I am with the new Star Wars movies, and my biggest problems with Attack of the Clones being the stupid dialogue and Hayden. Just thinking about that scene in the Tatooine garage place where Hayden bitches and moans, and they do a closeup on him and he makes this idiotic pouty face makes me want to puke. His delivery was poorly timed and mostly wooden, which makes the fact that the actual words he was saying were so terrible even worse. He reminded me of a soap star, and I remember having a conversation with someone a couple of years ago about how he belongs on Destinos and far, far away from my franchise. Uhhh so anyway I decided to give him another shot and see if most of the AotC blame should go to Lucas. I read a lot of good reviews for Hayden for Life as a House which is in my Netflix queue somewhere. I went for this one first because it was new and did well on the festival circuit. Plus it has Chloe who I really like, and Peter Sarsgaard who really is a great great actor who doesn't get enough respect. He was in Boys Don't Cry with Chloe and they brought both movies to better places. To bring it back around to Hayden, he was made for this movie. Stephen Glass is an absolutely pathetic dork, and Hayden has already proven he can do a really good absolutely pathetic dork. So I'm still sitting on the fence with him, because he pulled this role off incredibly well only thanks to the fact that the real Stephen Glass is as much a whiney bitch as Anakin Skywalker turned out to be. The movie is entertaining and very well acted. I even listened to about 45 minutes of the commentary cause the whole thing is pretty interesting.
Who would like it: Anyone who actually remembers when this happened and was interested in it, or the more recent scandals involving this same thing. Or people like me who think being based on something real usually makes a pretty cool movie.
Who wouldn't: I know some people want to see Hayden travelling across the River Styx so if you're not one of them, go check it out.
My grade: B+

The movie: Memento
At a glance: Memento
IMDb page:
Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Quick outline: We walk forward in time and backwards in time watching Guy Pearce ... blah blah blah I think everyone's seen this movie already.
Comparable to: This is hailed as one of the most unique films of the last decade. I guess out of all the movies I've talked about so far Blue Velvet is the closest. Kind of a twisted Fugitive too, I guess.

Comments: It feels like I watched this movie like a month ago, but in reality it couldn't have been even two weeks. I think I watched this right before we finished Freaks and Geeks and then went into a posting standstill. I was on a pretty good pace though so I guess I deserved somewhat of a break. Bad news for me is I didn't take any sort of a break on watching new material and I have 21 films/tv shows on my plate. So to get started we begin with my second viewing of Memento. This is a good film that most everyone has seen or at least heard a lot about, so I don't think it needs much of an introduction or anything. It's pretty surprising that this is sitting in the 19th spot on the imdb list. Not to say this is a bad movie, I think everyone should see this once. And that also is my problem with the film. It suffers from the same thing Schindler's List does. How many times do I see myself sitting around after a long day of work (or in my case a long day of jack squat) and saying "Gee, let's put on Memento" ? That's why I don't own this movie or consider it great. To me to be great you have to have the replay factor. Well, most times anyway. Schindler's List is great because of the content and the fact I actually think about it and remember quite a lot of it. Memento is something I spent 2 hours watching, then promptly forgot about, twice. Joey Pants does a great job though, he is one of my top 5 favorite actors easy. And it is pretty cool to see a movie that's really about man vs himself, and one in which the "bad guy" wins, but despite that Memento really leaves me cold. Like I said, everyone should see it once for the original approach to storytelling and some good acting by Pants, but on repeat viewings your mileage may vary.
Who would like it: I know a lot of my female friends seem to have this "thing" for Guy Pearce. It makes a lot more sense than Orlando "Nancy" Bloom, I'll tell you that much.
Who wouldn't: The VDA on the outside would say something to the effect of "hells yeah that shits RULES" but deep down they would hate it, and themselves, because of how involved and confusing it is. People wanting mindless action or uninvolved drama should go rent Torque.
My grade: B+
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on the hayden christensen thing:

-i've seen him in shattered glass,, and the tv series higher ground. he plays the same type of character only varied a bit - immature/whiny, but learns a lesson and grows up. so one can make the argument that that is all he can do. but i wouldn't make that argument until he tries something different and fails miserably.

-he is good in the movies/tv shows mentioned. so he is at least a good actor for some roles, which as long as he picks the right roles it's fine with me (if he can only do one type of character, that's fine, just always do that one character)

-i think it must've been the directing to blame for the star wars performance. think of it:
-he's good at the whiny character roles, and this was a whiny character role.
-other actors in the movie are normally good in other movies and seriously stunk in star wars
-the making of the movie seemed to be focused on special effects, not content or performance
Hey, thanks for posting.

I agree about the new Star Wars being almost entirely the fault of Lucas, but something about Hayden just bugs me.

It's not exactly typecasting, but even if it was that wouldn't be a good thing. To me, what makes an actor actually good is range, and ability to constantly be different people in different roles doing different things. He's only been able to act one way, there's no third dimension to his characters. I want to be impressed, I want to like the guy. He just has to show me something.... I dunno.

That's what people like Gary Oldman are so great to watch, and why Hayden still has a big question mark over his head in my book.

I'm gonna see Life as a House, I heard a lot of good things.

Thanks again for posting.