Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Movie: Twelve Rounds

I won't be seeing the movie "Twelve Rounds." I saw the preview for it this evening and they gave away the ending. For a lot of movies, it doesn't matter that you know how it ends. However, if that movie is a suspense thriller, you are supposed to be held IN SUSPENSE. How can there be suspense if you know the ending? That makes it NOT A THRILLER.

There was also the deja vu factor. I was in the theater for "Taken." From what I gleaned from the previews (I obviously hadn't seen the movie at the time), "Taken" was about a special forces verteran whose daughter was, well, taken. At one point, the father is on the phone with the kidnapper and says, blah blah, "I will find you and kill you." The kidnapper says, "Good luck."

In the preview for "Twelve Rounds," a cop's wife is kidnapped. At one point, the cop is on the phone with the kidnapper and says, blah blah, "I will find you and kill you." The kidnapper says, "Game on" or something like that. Probably a coincidence but the first movie to use the technique gets to call itself innovative. The second one gets called derivitive.

Back to why I won't bother with "Twelve Rounds." It violates one of my rules. If they're stupid enough to give away the ending in the preview, don't encourage them by giving them ticket money.

Movie: Marley and Me

I skip commercials so I don't see a lot of ads. I caught a few and saw the preview a few times, so I had an impression of "Marley and Me" before I went to it. The movie couldn't have been farther from the commercials. I anticipated a zany romp with slapstick moments galore. What I got I coulda gladly missed. No zanyness. No slapstick. Just a dog and two stupid people.

Here's the thing. I'm not a dog person or an any pet person, for that matter. I don't mind seeing movies with dogs in them, especially if the dog is a prop or a foil or a gag. "Marley and Me" was a family drama and Marley was a key component of the family. If you like movies about dogs who are family members, THIS IS YOUR MOVIE. I don't like movies about dogs who are family members. When the dog misbehaved and it misbehaved a lot, I wanted to (humanely) discipline or dispose of the critter. Then I wanted to inhumanely slap the people who let themselves get abused by the dog.

OK, we've established that I don't like dogs and I really don't like dog-people. The movie, however, was good on a technical level. Jennifer Aniston was radiant and worth watching. Aside from the misleading advertising and main characters I would not tolerate in real life, "Marley and Me" was a well-made film for dog people. It was just not a movie for me.

Movie: Once

My Netflix disc last night was "Once," a 2007 Irish indie. It was pretty darn good, in fact, riveting at points. It's about two strangers in Dublin who share a love of music (and a pant load of talent). Roeper and guest host raved about it when it came out, but indie movies usually don't make it to my neck of the suburbs so I had to wait for the DVD.

"Once" won an Academy award last year for best original song. The music is pretty good. Starting about 15 minutes in, the two end up in a music store after hours and start playing a song the guy wrote. The scene is just of the two people and lasts about four minutes but is mesmerizing. She starts tentatively playing along on piano and by the end of the song, it sounds like they've been playing together forever.

Highly recommended. I even ran out to get the soundtrack I enjoyed it so much.

Either IMDB is wrong about the lead actress or I'm darn unobservant. Both are possible. I thought she was thirtyish and that's how I interpreted her character. According to IMDB, she was 18 when the film was shot. If 18 is correct, I may have to watch it again to see how that changes my impression of the movie. I might have to watch it again anyway.

Once Follow-Up

I told you in a previous post about my experience with "Once." You'll be happy to know the soundtrack works pretty well on its own so it will become a permanent part of my music collection.

In a funny coincidence, a Lisa C came over the other day to make an unsolicited recommendation for a movie to watch. "Once." She had seen it last Saturday night on HBO, probably the same time I was watching it on DVD. I've never heard her make a movie comment before, so her watching one at the same time I'm getting blown away by it is quite unlikely. Rose, who has been prodding me to see Once for about a year, and I had a good laugh.

Watch "Once" with the subtitles on if you can, but just watch it.

Movie: Valkyrie

I finally got around to seeing "Valkyrie" the other day. I don't know where to start in describing it, so I'm going start at the conclusion: It's a pretty good movie.

I understand the reluctance of people to see a movie where Nazis are the heroes (and villains). I acknowledge but don't understand some people's dismissing of Tom Cruise. What I really don't understand is why is was so quickly dismissed by people who haven't seen it.

First, "Valkyrie" is a very good technical movie. The costumes were head and shoulders above those on "Hogan's Heroes," although I know nothing about historical accuracy. The sets looked very period and I understand some scenes were actually filmed in the same locations where the actual events took place in WWII. Director Bryan Singer tends to make pretty good movies, Kate Bosworth's miscasting in "Superman Returns" notwithstanding. "Valkyrie" was nicely paced and had a clear, comelling narrative. So far, so good.

I don't get what the big deal is about Tom Cruise. One of my rules about movies is that I don't care about or generally pay attention to what actors do in their off time. What counts is what I see and hear on the screen. I have a memory of reading headlines about Tom Cruise having a meltdown or something a few years ago but I didn't pay attention then and I care even less now. However, I see headlines still today that refer to him as damaged or a nut job. I don't care. I only care about the entertainment value, so by the only standard that matters, Tom Cruise, star and producer, gave me a pretty good entertainment product. The rest is puppet theater.

Your own preconceptions will color your enjoyment of "Valkyrie." If you like WWII movies, suspence thrillers or Bryan Singer films, this one is probably for you.