Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Weekend update: Pirates, Streets of Fire, The Night Listener

Low-key movie weekend for me. The films were good, of course, but I was kind of in a place where there were few things that I really wanted to see. Taking myself out of the new-release loop for a couple of weekends with Fantasia put me "behind", in a way, but also gives me a chance to examine just how much I'm really interested in certain movies, and how much I'm just sort of riding along. I just got around to Pirates of the Caribbean II, and it was just the one that fit my schedule that day better than Lady in the Water, divorced from "every website on earth is leading with this and you're seeing dozens of trailers and and and and..."

So I saw some decent movies, with the most fun winding up being the midnight movie at the Brattle.

Only a couple more Fantasia reviews despite the time between the recent posts, because they're the type of decent-but-not-exceptional movies that are hard to speak passionately about: Shinobi and Vampire Cop Ricky. The count now stands at 2 Fantasia reviews left, 21 others.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

* * * (out of four)
Seen 5 August 2006 at AMC Fenway #7 (first-run)

A fun sequel to a fun movie. I thought the first Pirates was an above-average time at the summer multiplex, and the team returns mostly intact, doing the quality work I'd expect. In a way, that's an issue - the same Johnny Depp performance that was fresh and full of surprises a coupe years ago became, well, the same Johnny Depp performance this time around, and still manages to wipe Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley off the screen. The first was an exciting blend of swashbuckling and the supernatural; this one amps up the supernatural but the characters are no longer shocked by it. And Bill Nighy is almost completely squandered.

But, it's got great set pieces - I loved the sheer exuberance of the hanging cage sequence, for instance. I dug the cynical black comedy as Sparrow tries to recruit a crew whose sole purpose is to be given over to Davy Jones. And the kraken is a cool effect. I must admit, I can't wait until next summer, when we get Chow Yun-Fat.

Streets of Fire

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 5 August 2006 at Brattle Theater (The Late Show)

I'm a big fan of films that bring the crazy, and Streets of Fire has all kinds of crazy - its environment is a strange mix of eighties urban paranoia and fifties style; it's got Michael Paré, Amy Madigan, and Rick freakin' Moranis mouthing off to each other while on their mission to rescue Diane Lane; it's got Willem Defoe leather overalls being completely insane. People fight a formal duel with sledgehammers. And it's one of those "would like to be a muical but doesn't quite go there" deals - you know, where no-one breaks into song but there are a succession of stages where people can sing.

It's all in good fun. I dig it.

The Night Listener

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 6 August 2006 at AMC Boston Common #8 (first-run)

A nifty little low-key thriller with the toned-down, serious Robin Williams. He makes an interesting amateur sleuth, a writer and high-end radio personality trying to figure out if the precocious, dying child he's been speaking to on the phone actually exists. There's nifty ideas to it about the nature of truth versus fiction, and how we can blur the line between the two with enough massaging and repetition. It is not, however, a particularly exciting story, and once we've got the idea that Williams's character looks like the dangerous creep from certain perspectives, it kind of gets into a rut.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have a really nice blog. Regarding your review on Pirates of the Carribean I thought the movie was almost as good as the original. I think you were a little too harsh. Overall your review was very well written.

I have a movie blog as well