Thursday, March 24, 2016

Film Week

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

DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON (2015)
A brisk, very entertaining documentary about the history of National Lampoon and the personalities that drove it, and how it changed the course of comedy. If anything, I wish it had been a bit longer, because there are so many interesting people to talk about, but as a snapshot of a revolution in comedy, it was just fun as hell. ***1/2

THE MARTIAN (2015)
I thought it was pretty good. I liked that it portrayed NASA in a good and helpful light, and was always optimistic about space exploration, even as disaster was happening. It's basically a movie about our ability to pull together and solve problems, which was very nice in an election year so contentious--even between people who think they're on the same side of the political spectrum--that I frankly dread opening my Facebook page. I found it a little hard to get into for a while. Maybe it's because I read the book a couple years ago and just enjoyed it so much that it seemed like the movie had a very different tone. Interestingly, the stuff I was more interested in with the movie--all the stuff with NASA--was the stuff that seemed a little too technical and wonkish to me in the book, stuff that I thought broke the flow too much of Mark Watney's experience on Mars. In the movie, it was reversed for me, maybe because I didn't find Matt Damon to be very personable in the role. Visually stunning, mostly, but I almost never find Ridley Scott to be a very good storyteller, and there's a sense of remoteness from the humans at the center that kept me at arm's length. That said, I overall enjoyed it--it's visually stunning, and I quite liked Chiwetel Ejiofor--and it's a hell of a lot better than Interstellar, but I didn't find myself moved by the human drama. ***

3 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I liked The Martian. I feared, after Interstellar, that it'd be boring.

SamuraiFrog said...

The Martian was very entertaining. Sometimes space stories can be so... ponderous.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I loved DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD, and the book of that title has a prominent place in my living room. Plus the documentary got me to reread Ellin Stein's far-more-in-depth history of the National Lampoon, THAT'S NOT FUNNY , THAT'S SICK and Josh Karp's wonderful biography of Douglas Kinney (One of my idols), A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE, which is now being filmed with Will Forte as Doug Kinney. (Doug as blond which Will isn't, but that can be fixed, and Doug, whom I met, was taller than Will, which is more problematic.)