Friday, April 29, 2005

A Few Recently Watched Movies

Pretty much all this week the weather has been utterly not accommodating, so I've spent a good amount of time indoors watching the ol' boob tube. If it wasn't episodes of Babylon 5, it was movies. Interestingly enough, while Kristin has been gone I haven't actually watched that many movies. It was something I always enjoyed doing with her or with a group and since neither have really been available I've never had the urge to watch movies that much. With the spectacularly awesome weather of this week, after a couple of weeks of warmness, I resorted to making friends with the dvd player and catching up the stack of dvd's I'd let accumulate over time.

Last night I popped in Basic while the overcast skies kept me from being outside and going for a run. Samuel L. Jackson has always held a soft spot in my heart. For some odd reason, no matter how utterly atrocious a movie is (Deep Blue Sea for example) I seem to enjoy it a little more if Mr. Jackson is in the movie. Hell, he was pretty much the only good thing about Star Wars Episode II. In Basic he again reprises his role of saving a not all that great movie from becoming MST3K fodder.

There are so many plot twists thrown into the last half hour of Basic that you'll end up giving up on trying to keep up with them and just take up a running count while waiting for the final reveal. I'm a big fan of the plot twist, but not of playing plot twister. Once you reach the end of the movie and what has really been going on is finally revealed I simultaneously rolled my eyes and called bullshit. There is no way that the actual status quo that is established at the close of this movie could have worked throughout the telling of the story. There's just too many pieces that don't quite fit in like they should and if it did go down like the ending wants you to believe then it kind of makes the whole movie seem like it was just pulling the wool over the viewer's eyes. As it is, I didn't hate the movie. It kept my interest and the 99 minutes I spent watching it seem well spent, but to truly enjoy the movie just pretend the last two plot twists don't actually happen. It makes the movie more believable.

A couple of days ago I watched Garden State for a second time. When I initially saw the previews for this movie back before it made its theater run, it didn't look like anything more than another chick flick. I completely ignored its existence until a friend told me it was actually pretty good (and our tastes in movies are usually in alignment) so one night when I was bored I watched it... and fell in love with it. Zach Braff has created a movie that exquisitely details the process of awakening from the zombie-ish state that so many people in this world live in.

Zach's character has been going through life not really living, but simply existing and going through the motions. On a return visit to his home town, Natalie Portman's character awakens something inside of him that has long been dormant. As Zach starts to re-learn what it is to be alive and actually embraces his life, you see his character grow in so many different ways.

A good portion of the movie is swimming in a sea of melancholic emotions, but in the middle of the darkness is uniquely funny moments and a sense of hope and rebirth. I would wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone looking for something emotionally introspective while at the same time being able to make you laugh. Really, it's a great flick that needs to be seen.

Lastly, at the beginning of the week I took in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I completely expected to hate it, or at least hate the acting since I have no love for either Jim Carrey or Kate Winslet, but both of their characters won me over. The concept of having portions of your memory erased because you no longer want to remember certain things is quite intriguing and Kaufman easily crafts a movie that is bittersweet and thought-provoking.

So what would happen to someone who agrees to have their mind wiped of a memory but in the process realizes he/she no longer wants it done? There's no way to stop it and once the process is complete you wouldn't even remember what it was that you wanted to remember. Such is the case of Jim Carrey's character. You know he is tragically doomed to forget the love of his life, but the entire time his mind is being erased, he tries and tries to remember but you know he is doomed to fail. It's this hopeless drive for love that makes this movie so endearing.

All in all, 2 out of 3 isn't too bad when I think about it, especially considering there really aren't that many great movies that come along. Everything is either gross-out comedy, sappy chick flick, bloody horror, superhero adaptations, or cliched action. There are very few unique movies to come out of hollywood any more, so enjoy them when you find them. I'm really hoping Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is at least watchable, but I'm keeping my hopes low...

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