Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movies #45 - #47: The Invasion, The Strangers, and W.

Much to my friend Vanessa's chagrin, it's time for more reviews of bad movies! (golf clap) She's rather adamant in her belief that there's a better use of my precious time...and she's probably right. She thinks I should be running, reading or rebuking the demons of my past. Of course, it's all these awful movies which give the appropriate context for me to fully appreciate the few good ones I do see. To put it in terms she'd more easily understand---it's like knowingly dating assholes so you can better identify the non-assholes when the right one comes along. This is like practice, Vanessa...and nobody enjoys that.

#45 - The Invasion (2007)

This remake of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), the third such effort, is not the total and complete failure that most critics made it out to be. It's easily the least interesting of the "Body Snatcher" movies, the final act is so preposterous and poorly done that it looks as though it was tacked on by a different director (because it was), and the editing is unnecessarily confused in a vain attempt at being artistic...BUT, as a simple sci-fi film, The Invasion succeeds at creating and sustaining genuine tension. There are more than a few creepy moments along the way and, despite its innumerable flaws, it's a decent popcorn film. Keep your expectations low and you just might find this a passable waste of your time. Might.

#46 - The Strangers (2008)

This low-budget horror film starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman generated a lot of good buzz early on due to a trailer which most people (not me) thought was one of the scariest previews ever made. Oddly, this is one of those movies where the horror elements were not as interesting to me as the character elements. Taking place over the course of one night, Tyler and Speedman return home from a party where she has just rejected his marriage proposal---parts of which are seen in episodic flashback. It's an interesting and adult dynamic to witness (in a slasher film) two characters who are obviously fond of one another and yet who have just reached the emotional conclusion of their relationship. It's played quietly and realistically and it almost saves the movie. In the end, however, this is essentially another installment to the torture porn genre. It feels like a Sam Peckinpah movie that's been forced to adhere to the studio's demand to "give the audience what they want." Or what they think the audience wants. In the end, it feels like the studio won.

#47 - W. (2008)

Rule number one about biopics: Wait until the person is dead, mostly dead, or at least change the person into a thinly veiled work of fiction (ala Primary Colors). Seeing the life of George W. Bush, as told through the highly subjective eyes of Oliver Stone, is downright uncomfortable. It's not a "bad" film so much as it's an unneccessary one. The story of Bush and his presidency may well be a fascinating one to tell one day, but not now. Not by Stone. And not in this way. Stone doesn't exactly tear into Bush the way one might expect him to, but his choices do seem awfully speculative and inauthentic.

For example, while Bush was famous for his many fumbles with the English language, he certainly didn't always sound like a complete and total neanderthal...yet Stone delights in recreating almost every famous flub Bush ever the illusion of someone far stupider than they actually were. The ensemble cast does its thankless job of mimicking the cabinet reasonably well...particularly Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney and Thandie Newton, unrecognizable as Condy. Even if you're a political junkie like me, I'd skip this. The annoted notes section in the Blu-Ray extras was far more interesting.

The Invasion 5/10
The Strangers 5/10
W. 4/10


Blogger Vanessa said...

The Staff Caf switched from Hellman's Mayo to Kraft? Gustatory blasphemy! I wouldn't know since I'm on week three of Staff Caf Boycott - I'm choosing to vote elsewhere with my food dollars and urge you to do the same with your entertainment bucks as you’re metaphorically slathering your movie sandwich with Kroger-Brand mayo. Nast. After you stopped airing my dirty love laundry I quickly lost interest in this blog post Zzzzzzzzz

April 2, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

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