Movie Review: The Grindhouse

There is certainly an element of self-indulgence in these two movies (Planet Terror and Death Proof that make up The Grindhouse double-feature bonanza) and I believe there’s enough old-style cheesiness in the trailers to make most teenagers stay away which is good because, frankly, they’d be disappointed. There was enough cheesiness for me to give it a try though.

In Planet Terror, you can look forward to many people in the audience whispering “That’s Bruce Willis,” and even better… “That’s the guy from Lost”. They are in fact referring to Naveen Andrews who plays Sayid; here he has his English accent on display and for some reason displays a penchant for a ridiculously inexplicable and bizarre trophey that I wont reveal…

Death Proof is for the most part utterly boring and even the eventual stunt-scene (which seems to go on for no apparent reason, although that’s probably deliberate) focuses on largely one stunt for a long time. The end is pure throw-back. Kurt Russell doesn’t seem to do all that much acting – but look for him at a bar stool in the second cafe scene.

Some people will probably say that some of the worst parts of the movies are genius, but if by that they acknowledge that the movies are slow, have no character development to speak of, are boring in most places and offer some awful close up camera angles and what amounts to a not very entertaining movie, they’d be right.

For self-indulgence: Quentin Tarantino gets a cameo in both movies and does in one scene what no man, even in the worst porno, has ever done probably; Robert Rodriguez (apart from probably having the more entertaing movie) of course does every job he can (including the music) except act in it (but has a surname namesake actor do that) or provide catering.

If you’ve ever been to a grind house movie from way back (and clearly these two guys have seen too many) you may enjoy this (and critics may love it for old-style cinema replication qualities) and it did admittedly have some laugh out loud cheesy moments. However, it was not entertaining enough, much of which could be equally attributed to the excessive length.

Movie review: Blades of Glory

Those were some glorious blades…

The laughs kept on coming in Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. A couple of male champion figure skaters get into fight and are banned for life from singles figure skating… but not from doubles. That, a love interest, and a hell-bent-on-winning brother-sister doubles skating pair for competition, sets the plot for the rest of the movie, and surprisingly the premise manages to last all the way through. William Fichtner, who seems to be in lots of things these days including Fox’s now-slightly-dragging-on-and-it’s-going-to-be-break-out-Sarah-for-Season-3-it-seems but still entertaining Prison Break.

Fortunately Jon Heder didn’t seem like his usual depressed dork character which was a concern going in. The audience kept on laughing and some gags got a bit of a roll going, but it wasn’t a total gut buster. It was a great unwinder of a movie to see.

I wonder what’s next in Will’s subject-matter trail – Brooms of Bravado? That could be a Curling or a Wizard movie.

Movie review: The shooter

I haven’t settled on a style for post titles but I’m not into wordy/unstructured post titles for reviews – it’s one of the things that makes the Engadget feed harder to skim through; so for now I’ve made it clear that this is a movie review and what the movie is vs. something like “Wahlberg hits the mark from a mile off”.

So The Shooter starring Mark Wahlberg came out this weekend. A military marksman is quickly set up to take the blame for an assasination at a presidential appearance and of course has to work to clear his name while uncovering how high the conspiracy goes…

It also features the now raspy Danny Glover. His character really didn’t ramp up enough on the side he ended on. Mark Wahlberg carried the hero role well enough but didn’t exhibit too much emotional range. The plot resolution was a little unsatisfying but the revenge quotient worked out just fine.

The movie makes a few direct digs about global war and oil. My favourite TV show, Boston Legal, does this fantastically (and with occasional gut busting humour) through the closing arguments of lawyer Alan Shore (played spot on by James Spader). Rhona Mitra is a supporting character in the movie and an ex-cast member of Boston Legal – she was under-used in the movie.

It’s an entertaining enough action movie, though perhaps a little long at 125min.

Movie Review: Fido (Speaking of zombies…)

The movie Fido recently had a wider release.

It’s a black comedy about zombies as house slaves and is quite funny at times. It includes the very funny (with crude humour) Scottish comedian Billy Connolly – he has no dialogue in the movie but still conveys his ‘lines’ well. It also includes Dylan Baker who is very well cast in the 1950s-style era that the movie is set in, Carrie-Anne Moss in a great and far from Matrix-Trinity performance, along with new comer and Culkin-like-expression-maker K’Sun Ray.

A delightfully entertaining and original movie. Includes zombie violence, head shots (of course) and bloody feasting.

Look me in the eye and tell me…

I recently got a SeeEye2Eye; actually I got two after a clerical error on my part. I envisioned something like this some time ago and happily someone went to the trouble of making one. It basically allows you to look in the camera at the same time as looking at the other person in a video conferencing app; put one of these on each end of the conversation and you are looking at each other eye to eye.

In action picture from the product website

It certainly works but you really need the person on the other end to have one. On the downside: it is bulky; it darkens the image; the depth of the unit needed to incorporate the angled one-way mirror means it can’t be arranged well on one side of a large wide-screen monitor; with a bright screen, lines are added to your camera image due to the reflection of the screen on the plastic ridges in the top of the unit.

Windows Live Messenger can’t be positioned quite properly with it because of the hidden windows/menu frame that prevents the conversation window from being flush with the top of the screen, but that’s a WLM issue and not a show stopper.

So I thought of this a few years ago and someone has made it. Now I’m going to wish for a USB 2.0 device that has a screen and camera combined with eye-to-eye alignment that either can be treated as an additional display that I can position the video window on, or has an SDK that is used by apps like WLM so it can be a dedicated desktop eye-to-eye video conference solution – anyone?