Neven Mrgan added
If you like 'Hostel', you may also enjoy this Eli Roth co-produced, co-written, co-starring little horror film. It's not nearly as graphic or depraved, and that plays against it in some parts; overall, it feels a bit slight, not taken to its full potential. Still, it featurs believable characters, an unusual plot, and lots of neat little symbology and crime/punishment stuff I prefer to supernatural voodoo you often get in horror movies. Fun.
It's true, I only just saw Minority Report now. The past decade has vindicated some of its futuristic predictions while other parts of it have dated rather badly, but it's just a fun cinematic ride, so I was happy to watch it that way.
Overall, it's rather shaky. The chief problem here is that Spielberg doesn't handle film noir very confidently; his obsession with grand American family themes, classical heroes, and neat endings doesn't really click well with a story that wants to be dark and bitter. The story is nonsensical, which is par for the film noir course; but this would be easier to ignore if we weren't beaten over the head with it so much, and if, in true noir fashion, it hinged on people's motivations more than on unlikely supernatural, technological, and social fantasies.
And speaking of which, while I realize this is a big hunky piece of summer entertainment and not an activist documentary, I still found it a bit offensive to paint a near future in which DC (of all places) suffers only "crimes of passion" such as a rich white man elegantly stabbing his rich white wife for cheating on him with another rich white man. I guess the drug- and poverty-stricken thousands that struggle with institutional and historic social problems which today lead them to depressingly high crime rates "got the message of precog" and just chose not to commit them. Cool.
The imaginary technology on display is attractive, but it's unfortunate that it's been so influential in the real world of software, since it's largely ridiculous. Spielberg's team wasn't trying to build real products, of course, but too many real companies have used this kind of flashy gadgetry as inspiration. Depressingly, the only part of Minority Report's technological future that we're seeing now (and are likely to see more of) is bigger, more frequent, and more creepily personalized advertising.
Neven Mrgan rewatched
In a just world, the Aubrey/Maturin series would result in at least a cinematic trilogy. Weir gets absolutely everything right here: it's a dense, highly specific story, told with wit, joy, and loads of energy. The cast is universally charismatic, the photography beautiful, the CG both more impressive and more realistic than all the Orc armies and sea monsters we've been battered with since.
A lovely, old-fashioned, big little movie, the kind of which we won't see again soon.
It's odd that Carpenter followed entertaining, tight movies like The Thing and Big Trouble in Little Chine with a slow, ponderous bore like this. Clearly he tried to do something "more serious", and while the original idea is interesting—Christianity as a front for a cult guarding the secret of Satan's origin as an alien being until science develops sufficiently to combat him—on a scene by scene basis, this is all poorly written, underacted, lazily choreographed, and neither frightening nor exciting. Perhaps it was all too much: too many characters, too much story (delivered almost entirely via exposition, leaving the action sequences to die yawning deaths), with no spirit to drive any of it forward.
These shorts starring Mater condense everything that made Cars Cars: corny humor, loads of Americana styling without much in the way of developed themes or points. Unlike the first movie, the onslaught of mad-libs-style bits never stops or lets up here. It's a bit overwhelming without being particularly interesting or innovative: Pixar's bubblegum epic, in an age when few chew bubblegum.
A very oddball mystery reminiscent of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with a fascinating performance by Bill Pullman. Not everything here works—it drags a bit, the plot is quite windy and yet sort of flat in the end—but the end result is not quite like anything else I've seen. With a slightly peppier pace, it could've been a cult classic. As it is, it's still enjoyable and memorable.
An attempt at recreating 1970s/80s electronixploitation movies, this is all glitz and no content. Any two-minute section of it will make you think Kubrick himself has been brought back from the grave, then cross-bred with with Dario Argento and Nicolas Roeg. But any ten-minute section will have you both yawning at all the utter boringness, and wincing at all the strings that are showing: the mediocre acting that can't possibly withstand the scrutiny of the constant extreme closeups, the claustrophobic environments that begin to look cheap and artificial more than scary and moody, the "just because" graphics and directorial flailing.
It's not a movie I hated or anything, but I was deeply frustrated to see such promising visuals wasted on a non-story, non-idea, non-point-to-be-made. Plenty of movies like this were made from the early 60s to the 90s, but it's not the ponderous, clumsy, boring ones we remember: it's the ones that end up creating memorable impressions. This one doesn't.
Ah, the 1970s—when New York was a rat cage, people were hairy and paranoid, the sky was brown, and directors proudly made slow, disjointed, not-even-close-to-pandering movies. This is one of those: an action thriller that constantly trades high-stakes punches and fuzzy/artsy shots. It's not a perfect movie (the editing is slapdash here and there, the story could be a bit tighter) but it's a very solid ride.
Neven Mrgan rewatched
This kind of pop-psychology story could've easily ended up as a lousy D-grade movie, but Powell's confident, golden-age direction, the beautiful cinematography, and the earnest performances make it not only oddly likeable, but also far more disturbing (entirely intentionally) than you'd expect from a glossy, graphically tame picture. The protagonist echoes 'Psycho's Norman Bates—but with mercifully less psychobabble—and 'Equus's Alan Strang in his sexual isolation and naiveté. This may be the sleekest exploitation movie you'll ever see.