Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

The two new Mickey Mouse shorts. I like this new series of design-oriented cartoons. I know there's a lot of criticism of them for being flash-animated instead of fully-animated, but when it comes right down to it, I think they're funny and charming. It's nice to see Mickey Mouse doing something besides playing Dora the Explorer on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Both shorts ****.

So, apparently this was written by Rita Mae Brown as a parody of slasher films, but the filmmakers decided to direct it straight. Missed opportunity? There are attempts to deconstruct the gender politics of slasher movies that get missed because of the serious tone; it's also unintentionally hilarious. It's not a great movie, but it's kind of a fun-stupid one that I'll probably never need to see again. Unless it's for Brinke Stevens' scenes, because I have always been and will always be in love with her. **1/2

This movie seems to have compromise written all over it. I would like to think that director Mary Harron wanted to take an honest look at the sad weirdness of Anna Nicole Smith's life--the AV Club described it perfectly when they said the movie paints her as someone whose biggest flaw was an almost suicidal passivity--but Lifetime wanted more of a bizarre train wreck. But Harron is just sympathetic enough to Anna Nicole as a human being that it's impossible to laugh at. I think there's a much better movie that could have been made with Harron's approach, but probably not one that Lifetime was totally interested in making, so there's no meat here. It's so off-putting in the beginning with its strange device of little Vicki Lynn seeing visions of her future self as Anna Nicole, and then it just becomes shallow and fleeting, and finally it's just a collection of sadness and tragedy that becomes really hard to watch. It's not Liz & Dick silliness, but it's not substantial, either, so it just sort of sits there, the elements of something with a point of view trapped inside, just making you feel bad. Could've been something, I really feel that way. **1/2

Oh, fuck off, Lifetime. *

Three selfish, self-destructive bitches (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher) act selfishly, self-destructively, and bitchy when their fat friend (Rebel Wilson) dares to find happiness and get engaged before they do, but then are given magical, unearned redemption because there's a third act and that's just how movies end. Good performances, actually. The humor is sort of bracingly honest to the point of being harsh, which is hard to take, but which would be understandable if it were going anywhere other than predictable sentiment that literally seems to come out of nowhere. At least it's not too apologetic about what unlikable assholes nearly all of its characters are. **1/2

Beautiful footage of chimpanzees in the wild. DisneyNature comes under fire for shaping a narrative in its films, which doesn't necessarily bother me on its own. I quite liked African Cats. But there's just too much of it here, too much of an attempt to anthropomorphize the animals, and Tim Allen's narration is just pitched at a level that is less documentary and more telling children a story. It just didn't work for me... until I turned the sound off. I watched this on cable. You know what would be nice? If the DVDs of these movies had an option to watch the movie without the narration. I can follow it fine without being talked down to. Worth watching without sound just for the incredible photography. **1/2

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