Saturday, August 18, 2007

DVD Review: "Zodiac"

What It's About: The Zodiac killer who terrorized San Francisco from the late 60s to the mid 70s.

What I was Expecting: I like David Fincher a lot as a director. On a blog posted on another site, I predicted that "Zodiac" would be a strong contender at the 2006 Oscars, but due to delays, the film failed to qualify for last year's awards. So, I guess you could say my expectations were a little high.

What I Got: Everything that I was hoping "Zodiac" would be. It's a slow-burning, creepy, highly effective thriller filled with a terrific cast. I missed it on its initial release due to my own personal post-Oscar burnout and I'm sorry I did. I imagine on the big screen that what was merely creepy on the small screen was downright terrifying. What I don't understand is the general reception to the film. Was it the lack of a shoot out ending or true resolution? Was it how it started off as a "Silence of the Lambs"-esque thriller and fades into something more less defined? That was a complement, by the way. The film plays out much like the real-life investigation of the murders. Tight with an attention to detail at first. Slow and unfocused as the details become more obscure. I believe this was entirely intentional. What the audience is made to feel towards the movie ("are they going to find out who did it or not?") is exactly what the characters thought and felt. How else can you do a film about a killer who was never caught?

Grade: A-

Five Random Thoughts:
1. The film is so filled with character actors who don't look like their normal selves, you'll find yourself often distracted and rewinding going, "wait! I know that guy."
2. It took watching the reading of the first Zodiac letter 3 times before I realized it was John Terry from 'Lost.'
3. Charles Fleischer is in this movie. The voice of Roger Rabbit. I boo him because he picked on me for a good 10 minutes at a comedy club one night. Boo!
4. So much for Roger Ebert's economy of characters. The rule is: Any recognizable actor must be important to the plot or else it would be a no name actor. Not true in this film. I kept expecting Ione Skye of "Say Anything" fame to turn back up after her one, albeit important, scene, but she never does.
5. Mark Ruffalo should be added to my list of actors who will win an Oscar soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Movie Review: "The Simpsons"

What It's About: Much like your typical episode of "The Simpsons", there's about 10 storylines.

What I Was Expecting: Well, "The Simpsons" has always been daring for regular TV, so I was expecting them to, very slightly, push the envelope here. Basically, I knew they would probably use one obscenity because using one, and just one, would be their style.

What I Got: Well, I got my one obscenity. And it comes when you're not expecting it, from someone you wouldn't expect (not Flanders). Overall, it's right up there with the best episodes of the show. It's funny, subversive and heartwarming. The exact same tight rope the show has been walking since Bart kissed his teacher in season 1 after getting a D on his history exam. Basically, if you enjoy the TV show, you'll enjoy the movie. It won't win any new fans. But then again, after nearly 20 years, I doubt there are any new fans to win.

Grade: B+

Oscar Potential: It has a shot at Animated Feature and really nothing else. Somehow, I doubt "Spider-Pig" will make the cut.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:

The opening joke is really funny. To me, anyway. I was the only one who laughed at the screening I went to.
2. Gee, Schwarzenegger sounds an awful lot like Wolfcastle. Why bother making the joke about Arnold?
3. How many times has Albert Brooks done the Simpsons? Answer: Not enough.
4. They overpromoted the movie. It was mildly amusing, but audience members recited jokes that were in the commercials.
5. They credit the voice for Patty and Selma, but were they even in the movie?

The Trailers:
Dark Knight:
The teaser trailer for the next Batman. Cool trailer, but a TAD disappointed that Heath Ledger was doing the Joker very similar to Jack Nicholson's.
Daddy Day Camp: Not only has Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s career sunk this low, but I had to explain to my nephew over the weekend that hugging Michael Jordan in the Hanes commercial does NOT mean he's gay.
Game Plan: This year's "The Pacifier". Take that as you may.
The Bourne Ultimatum: I think this one will be considered weak by default simply for not one-upping the first two films.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Jason Lee's filmography for 2007 include Underdog AND Alvin and the Chipmunks? This makes me sad.
Horton Hears a Hoo: Because the last two films based on Dr. Seuss books were SO good. I don't think reuniting Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell will save this one.