Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Recent Movies

Over the last week and a half or two I've actually managed to watch a bunch of movies. I go in spurts where I will watch a ton of movies and then I'll go for a while without watching any. I'm very spurty like that when it comes to entertainment in general. Some weeks I'll spend just watching tv shows, others I'll focus only on reading, others it's movies, and yet others video games. These last couple weeks have been a combination of tv show watching and movies. Happily, most of the movies I watched were pretty good.

On a suggestion from a friend/co-worker I watched both I Heart Huckabees and What the Bleep Do We Know a little while back. Both were good and very philosophically oriented, which is always a surefire way to get me to like a movie. Huckabees story of rival existential detectives trying to help three men find the meaning of life is, well, something I definitely didn't expect. The previews made it seem like it was a somewhat semi-intelligent comedy that would rely mostly on off-the-wall situations and odd transitions. Thank God it was so much more.

At its most basic, Huckabees basically pits the nihilistic existential outlook against the interconnected, Spinozistic metaphysical model. A lot of the comedic moments arise from the complete disconnect between the two philosophies. Mark Wahlberg plays the perfect aspiring intellectual that feels like he has a grip on reality's underpinnings, yet is completely clueless. Jason Schwarzman's confused, edgy character is a hoot. I would imagine that anyone not philosophically educated or inclined would relate most with his character as I'm sure many of the topics covered wouldn't exactly resonate too well with the majority of everyday moviegoers.

Jude Law's portrayal of the empty, corporate stereotype who defines his meaning in the world by his successes, yet wonders if there really is more out there, is easy to sympathize. So many of the people I know fall into this category of being. They define themselves by what they've managed to do in their lives so far and by what they have. Consumerism at its finest.

Anyone who has any philosophical inclinations, or is even moderately intelligent should go out and pick up I Heart Huckabees at your next convenience and give it a screening. It's a movie that is rarer and rarer in today's movie industy, an industry obsessed with explosions, comic book adaptations, fart humor, and sappy romantic comedies.

What the Bleep Do We Know is a combination of a documentary, a new age recruitment video, and a narrative story of self exploration. It's another intelligent movie, but at times it gets bogged down in its new age existential ramblings. Often these ramblings aren't explained very well and come across as ideas that are just being thrown out there for random consideration instead of actual deep debate. There are some very interesting bits that deal with quantum physics, which I found educational, and some interesting bits that discuss God and the big picture which are thought provoking, but other parts of the movie, such as the overarching thread of creator/observer philosophy in the latter half of the film left a lot of open holes that could have used some more time to be explained.

Over the weekend I finally took in the extended version of Return of the King with Kristin. We'd both been waiting to watch it and finally found a solid 4+ hours to dedicate to it. I have definitely enjoyed the extended versions much more than theatrical releases. Some of the scenes that were added to RotK I felt really should have been in the original movie, but considering how long it already was something had to get cut. If you ask me, they should have cut down the ending a little, or lost a couple of them. Anyhow, the scene where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli hijack the pirate ships with the ghost army was a great addition.

Another scene that I couldn't believe they left out of the original version was the resolution of the Saruman plotline. Watching RotK in the theaters by the time the battle of Minas Tirith started I was wondering, "What the hell happened to Saruman? Is he going to somehow come help the orc forces? Does he play a role here soon? Are we to assume he's dead?" I just didn't know what happened to him.

The last additional scene that I thought was needed was Sam and Frodo donning orc armor and travelling with the pack. In the original version of the film it seemed like they just magically teleported across a vast expanse of land, but this scene helps to show why they're so tired at the end and how they crossed the sprawling expanse of orc land on their way to the mountain.

Now, like any good comic book fan and like any Batman fanatic, I went to see Batman Begins last week. It is easily the best Batman film, which is not necessarily an easy thing to become considering how good I thought the first two were (and in case you don't know, I thought the first two were freakin' sweet). I'll also go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best superhero film outside of X2. If you haven't seen it yet, you really should check it out.

Lastly, I also caught Land of the Dead in the theater with my family. Odd family movie, I know, but there wasn't much else playing that we all hadn't seen. As I somewhat expected I was the only one of our family to enjoy it. I'm a sucker for zombie movies and as long as they're done decent, I'll enjoy them. When they're done crappily, I'll hate them (I'm looking at you Resident Evil movies). I guess the best way to classify this movie for casual zombie moviegoers would be to say it's a nice combination of the horror/gore of the recent remake of Dawn of the Dead and some of the more morbid comedic moments of Sean of the Dead. If you don't mind seeing blood & guts up on the movie screen, like a little political commentary with your horror, and dig zombies go see it.

No comments: