Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Best Films of 2009 (So Far...)

I obviously haven't been able to catch every flick released thus far this year, but I have seen most of the major ones. Here are my five favorites, in ABC order:

Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial follow-up to Borat is even funnier and more subversive than its predecessor.

Drag Me To Hell
Everything you've heard about this movie is true. Drag Me To Hell is a return to form for Sam Raimi; it's funny, scary, and a helluva lot of fun.

Wrongfully bashed upon its release, Knowing is smart, dark, and boasts a few awe-inspiring F/X moments. It just came out on DVD, so you don't have a reason to avoid it anymore.

Two Lovers
James Gray (We Own the Night) has crafted a romantic, heart-breaking masterpiece with Two Lovers. Joaquin Phoenix has stated that this will be his last film. Let's hope not, though, because he gives a great performance here as a suicidal man caught in a love triangle with Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanessa Shaw.

Watchmen is one of the darkest superhero films I've seen. It's big and explosive, sure, but underneath all that it's unrelentingly bleak and intelligent. You can read my review of it elsewhere on this blog.

It's been a strong year for films so far. Let's hope it keeps up and surpasses last year's weak showing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Big Trouble In Little China

I was quite pleased to hear that The Cineastes would be reviewing Big Trouble In Little China this month. Not because I had seen it before, because I hadn't. The movie had been on my queue for a while, though. I was happy to review the film because I knew I would like it. I'm a sucker for cheesey, dumb, corny 80's flicks, and this one seemed to have it all.

Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a truck driver caught in the middle of 2,000-year old Chinese black-magic sorcerer's plan to kidnap and marry a girl with green eyes so he can become young again. That girl just so happens to be Jack's buddy's fiancee. So Jack and his friend, along with the lovely Kim Cattrall as lawyer Gracie Law (because why wouldn't that be her name) set out to rescue her.

This leads them to an underground world of ancient Chinese mysticism and monsters. They fight street gangs, wizards, demonic creatures, etc. The point of the film is fun, and Big Trouble succeeds. From the corny dialogue to the B-movie set pieces to the cheesey plot and characters, everything about the film is a barrel of monkeys.Kurt Russell is perfectly over-the-top as Jack Burton. Almost every line he utters is eminently quotable in its cheesiness.

Unfortunatly, though, the film is sometimes too dumb. Unlike some of director John Carpenter's other movies, Big Trouble In Little China doesn't really have any social value. They Live was about the economy at that time. Halloween was about young sexuality. Big Trouble is about...ancient Chinese secrets. The film exists for the purpose of having a good time at the theater.

And there's nothing wrong with that. You just probably won't remember much about it in a few weeks. But that's ok. Enjoy it while it lasts.


This month's CINEASTES review has been hosted by Crap Monster at YGG'noise (http://www.yggnoise.com/)