Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A good movie for ONCE


So it’s the middle of the week and you feel like seeing a movie. Let’s grab the paper and see what you’ve got.

MR. BROOKS – a confusing mess of a serial killer movie starring Kevin Costner. Face it, his range is he can play both a major league ballplayer and a minor league ballplayer.

HOSTEL, PART II – Women being brutally tortured. If this is what passes for entertainment these days we’re in big trouble. Even the He-Man Women Haters Club from the Young Rascals would find this movie vile.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III – Reviewers and audiences thought Part II was a train wreck with boats. And those who’ve seen Part III are nostalgic for Part II. Please, Disney Corporation, don’t make the movie version of IT’S A SMALL WORLD.

SPIDERMAN 3 -- Long, stupid, and not a moment you haven’t seen four times and were bored by in the first two. Even Imax doesn't help. Unless the next super villain is Dick Cheney I've seen my last SPIDERMAN.

SHREK THE THIRD – Another franchise movie, going to the well one more time and proving that is IS easy to be green. You’ve probably seen it already…whether you’ve been to the theater or not.

SURF’S UP – Another Hollywood attempt to jam as many successful elements together to make a formula boxoffice hit. Penguins and animation. If HOSTEL II does big business next summer you will be seeing cartoons penguins being mutilated. With a Randy Newman score.

KNOCKED UP – You went the first weekend. A two-hour-plus comedy is not something you want to sit through again.

28-WEEKS LATER – The latest “gorno” to tank at the box office. Could be a victim of genre "overkill". I dunno, I haven't seen it, but audiences are staying away in droves. That's usually a sign.

OCEANS THIRTEEN – Like eating recycled food.

Before you throw down the paper and decide to clean fish instead, might I make a suggestion? If it’s playing in your area go see ONCE.

If I tell you the premise you’ll go “Huh? So? That’s it?” A young street musician in Dublin meets a girl who is also a musician and together they put together a recording session so he’ll have some demos. But within that slight scenario is packed more charm, humor, heart, romance, and great music than ten big Hollywood movies put together. I bet I’m going to get a bunch of comments echoing my enthusiasm (along with four saying I’m an idiot for not appreciating HOSTEL II).

Go see this little art house sleeper. For ONCE I can make a recommendation.

And if they ever do a sequel, I've got the title -- TWICE.

45 comments:

D. McEwan said...

You know that two years from now, you'll be complaining about how THRICE is a tired, hackneyed retread of the same stuff you've seen over and over, and an hour too long.

Ken Levine said...

God, Doug, you're right. And Jennifer Aniston will appear in it.

Anonymous said...

That's a little rough, calling 28 WEEKS LATER a "gorno." It may be a horror/thriller, but that doesn't put it in the same category as HOSTEL 2.

Ken Levine said...

Most reviews I've seen of 28 WEEKS specifically label it in the "gorno" genre. Since i'm not a fan I haven't seen it and can't differentiate. So you may be right. I'm just following the blood splatters.

Jim said...

A couple of recommendations from France if they should turn up near you. "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies," is a wonderful fifties spy spoof which has knocked out audiences wherever it has been shown. There are a few English reviews knocking around, and a some clips on YouTube, sadly without subtitles. Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp5JsKuz_H0 where our hero is taught to Mambo by his assistant, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnQ-f_FgPcw where he goes undercover for a couple which don't depend too much on the language.

And "Camping" is a lovely, gentle comedy in which a posh Parisian plastic surgeon hires an Aston Martin, Goldfinger vintage, to take his daughter for a trip to Spain, but breaks down outside a campsite and is forced to stay there while waiting for it to be fixed. It's no masterpiece, but just a lot subtler than any of the comedies that Hollywood releases nowadays and so much the fresher for that. Watch the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME3m_Dx3RpA but this is a lot less visual.

The Crutnacker said...

Personally, I like the title, "Once Again".

The point where I realized I'd become an adult was where I realized, after renting Saw II, that I had no desire to see what it was showing. It went to Blockbuster the next day.

My love for seeing movies in the theatre diminishes each trip. This last one we served as a babysitting service for the family of 38 sitting behind us, in front of us, to the side of us, and hanging from the ceiling above us. The movie was a bit long, but luckily the Van Trapps had a two year old girl who kept peering over the edge of the 4 story drop from the stadium seating. By the 70th time she did it, we weren't sure whether to save her or help her over the edge.

richashby said...

Nice post. Completely agree with you about films like Hostel 2.

I'm a fan of classic horror, but think movies with this level of sadism are actually detrimental to cinema and cheapen the artform.

Misogyny seems to be back in vogue again, and I think that's very worrying.

Hated Sin City for the same reasons.

Blarneyman said...

A good Irish movie? Heaven forfend. About feckin' time.

Seymour said...

Well, if the HOSTEL sequel was about torturing Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, et al, I'd buy the DVD. That's Entertainment!

Payback's a bitch.

Oli said...

Nope, 28 Weeks Later ins't Gorno. Unpleasant, certainly, and very violent. However, it's a horror thriller with a fairly hefty dollop of subtext. A bit like calling 'The Last Seduction' p**n. They share elements, but they're in a different class.

Will Teullive said...

I would recommend for your summer viewing pleasure a film that may well became an instant classic; I’m speaking of course about the cinematic tour de force know as Delta Farce. It stars the Newman and Redford of our generation; Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall.

It’s a riveting tale of two National Guard reservists, about to bravely serve our country in Iraq. Instead they are accidentally deployed in Mexico, and they valiantly defend a small peaceful village from ruthless criminals.

The on screen emotional range exhibited by Engvall is enough to make Russell Crowe envious. Larry the Cable Guy, so dedicated to his craft, packs on the pounds and adds another chin. ala DeNiro in Raging Bull.

The Oscar buzz in very strong… When I saw the movie the only other guy in the theater was an illegal alien named Oscar and he was really, really high. I could tell because laughed at all the inappropriate times; from opening credits to closing credits.

It’s a real must see, get to Blockbuster now before it’s too late!!

Mary Stella said...

Once sounds like a movie I'll enjoy, but we only have a single screen theater in town, so I doubt the film will show in my part of the Keys. Pirates 3 has been there for three or four weeks, but I haven't gone yet because P2 annoyed me to the extreme. I'm hoping for Oceans 13 to come soon. Even if the plot's thin, the eye candy is exceptional. Our movie theater serves wine and beer, as well as popcorn, so I can ogle George Clooney while sipping a fine merlot from that stellar January 2007 vintage.

I would recommend for your summer viewing pleasure a film that may well became an instant classic; I’m speaking of course about the cinematic tour de force know as Delta Farce. It stars the Newman and Redford of our generation; Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall.

Thanks for making me laugh and spew my morning tea.

DodgerGirl said...

You deserve a crack over the head for putting the idea of a movie version of "It's A Small World" out there in the universe. Sheesh!

Pirates 3 was a butt-numbing experience.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I love ya, but there's nothing more irritating than someone who dismisses a flick without having seen it.

R.J. Marcej said...

"Most reviews I've seen of 28 WEEKS specifically label it in the "gorno" genre. Since i'm not a fan I haven't seen it and can't differentiate. "


Wait-a-minute so you didn't see 28 WEEKS LATER ?
How many more of the films listed haven't you seen but felt compelled to slam based on what someone else said?

I just saw a handfull of the films on that list and if someone asked would only give my opinions on those that I saw.

A film, like HOSTEL 2, looks by the trailer and by it's synopsis, like something I'd want to miss, but I wouldn't go around ripping it without seeing it.

I'm guessing that with this post you wanted to have some fun and specifically plug a film you actually saw and liked, but as a creative person I'm really surprised you stooped so low by ripping other people's work without seeing it.

Disappointing.

fj said...

Glen Hansard is the lead singer of the Irish band, The Frames. They are as popular, if not more so, in the native country. I saw Glen and Marketa in concert last Decemeber. They were the opening act. It is the only time I have ever seen the opening act get a STANDING OVATION. This movie is a must see.

fj said...

Opps, incomplete second sentence above... I meant to say, "they are as popular, if not more so, than U2 in their native country."

Kevin Arbouet said...

Ken:

Wait...you gave Knocked Up a bad review?!

Now I am curious, how many of those movies did you actually see?

Graham said...

Hey, I liked OCEAN'S 13. I mean sure, if you cut up the three movies and put the scenes together in random order no one would notice, but they have a lot of style.

Sometimes trifling piffle for the sake of trifling piffle is a *good* thing.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Ken saw a fraction of these movies. Who cares? His descriptions made me laugh and that's the only thing that should matter in this case. If I want an in-depth critique of SHREK THE THIRD I'll check out Roger Ebert's website...

Ken Levine said...

No, I did not give KNOCKED UP a bad review. I said you probably have already seen it. I do think it was a little long but nowhere did I say it wasn't terrific.

I also never said 28 WEEKS LATER was bad. I said it was in a genre whose popularity is waning, blaming overkill (no pun originally intended but now that I see it...). In fact, I will revise the post to reflect.

But I miscalculated -- I thought I would get angry commenters on HOSTEL not 28 WEEKS LATER.

And again, a gentle reminder, if you want to rip me just leave your name. I know Anonymous hates me. It's you others I want to hear from . Thanks.

Ken

The Minstrel Boy said...

big, big, echos of your endorsment of Once

it has wit, and a very affectionate charm. i was hipped to it by my daughter who just got married to an irish lad and lives over there.

The Minstrel Boy said...

oh yeah, and usually i absolutely hate movies about music and musicians. i loved this one. it had inside information and truths on a par with Mo' Betta Blues

David J. Loehr said...

I think if they make a sellout sequel to Once, it should be called Once More. (Somehow, I think they wouldn't do that to us.)

LAprGuy said...

But seriously, KNOCKED UP wasn't terrific. As with tv, it's a movie that is better than what folks have seen recently, but it's not better than what even John Hughes was doing in the '80s, just a little dirtier.

RAC said...

I saw 28 WEEKS LATER: It sucks ass and spews bile, but less so than HOSTEL II. Maybe I should see it again just to be sure, though.

CJB said...

Looking forward to ONCE, and KNOCKED UP did not make me look at my watch...but it did make me shift around a bit in my chair...

Perhaps it is a personal issue, but anything over two hours leaves me aching to adjust, stretch, and maybe powder....more easilly accomplished at home in front of the DVD player.

They need some special seats in the theatre for big fat guys.

Anonymous said...

The people annoyed by the "28 Weeks Later" comments are reacting that way because it's a sequel to "28 Days Later" -- a terrific film, which you should check out. Both are made by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, a director and novelist/screenwriter (respectively) of merit who can't be dimissed as adolescent misogynists like the "Splat Pack" filmmakers.

As to "Knocked Up", I'm convinced it wouldn't have gotten the rave reviews had it not been released amongst a sea of uninspired Thirds (Spiderman, Shrek, Pirates, Oceans...).

You're right Ken, it was too long -- but so is every Apatow movie. (The danger of only hiring your buddies? When everything's an inside joke, it NEVER stops being hilarious.)

Every single scene of that film was at least 20 seconds too long. Ample time to spot the holes in the story.

--SD

donna said...

and then they can make "Three Times a Lady!"

Chris said...

The only way they're getting me back in the cinema is if I can have the remote control for the projector.

Fialkov said...

Once is far and away the best movie I've seen in years. It's just a breath-taking example of the power film can (and unfortunately, usually doesn't) have.

And I guarantee you'll be off buying the soundtrack after you walk out of the theater.

Jimmy Rabbit said...

As an aspiring screenwriter, I'm curious how professionals can endorse KNOCKED UP.

The "script" was nothing if not lazy. One scene after another was so hackneyed and dramatically inert I can only imagine Apatow wrote, "Actors will improvise something funny here for ten minutes."

Had I written that screenplay first, exactly as it appears onscreen, I NEVER could have gotten it sold.

Anonymous said...

I'm compelled to add my resounding agreement - ONCE is a huge breath of fresh air. So touching, so non-formulaic, so unamerican and so enjoyable. And I bought the soundtrack that night. A first for me. Don't miss it!

D. McEwan said...

I look forward to renting 28 WEEKS LATER when it hits DVD, as I liked 28 DAYS LATER quite a bit, though not as much as SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

HOSTEL, and the other torure-chic films, I'll pass on. I get enough torure when my neighbor's kds crank up their rap "music".

Allen said...

knocked up and twenty-eight days later are go sees

Andrew said...

Vitriol notwithstanding, it's very much worth taking a little time on the 28 Days/Weeks Later movies - because, as has been said, there's SO much more to them than 'gore'.

Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Robert Robert Carlyle; Danny Boyle, Alex Garland, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo - these guys are huge, serious, respectable talents; they're not exploitation hacks.

This is a remarkable, intelligent and well-made pair of movies, with gallons of substance and serious intentions - dramas far more than horrors.

For all the talk of Romero's zombie subtext, you can still dismiss his movies as badly-acted, bloodthirsty and silly. (I wouldn't, but it's easy to justify.) It'd be extremely hard to say the same about 28 Days/Weeks Later, where the realism, characterisation, drama and subtext are as rich as they are.

The first film actually has 'something to say' about mankind's nature, and the second's commentary on US intervention overseas is absolutely chilling when it's brought away from Iraq and into locations some of us wander past all the time.

I mean, you could dismiss The Midwitch Cookoos or The War of The Worlds or Jeykll and Hyde as 'just' horror sci-fi if you wanted to. And lazy critics can lump Weeks in with Roth's latest schlock all they like...but the film performed well here in the UK, and was rarely tagged as just 'more daft horror'.

Which may suggest its failure Stateside isn't genre-related. It might, rather, have more to do with American audience's general reluctance to embrace 'foreign' cinema - "I don't understand their accents" - and the film's open criticism of US foreign policy. The genre being rejected is 'liberal Brit'.

Love the blog, BTW - just couldn't let this one pass without comment!

All over the map said...

Once is a terrific movie, and it turned out to be a bonding experience with my daughter, who also saw Glen and Marketa in concert, as a dynamite opening act. He had a small role in The Commitments, so I was able to Netflix that movie and introduce it to my daughter as well.

Playing Past Focus said...

I want to see Once too, but sometimes i'm sick of not seeing people of color in love. Seems like that's reserved for people who are white or very light skinned. Sad really.

David said...

*pokes head in shyly*

I liked Pirates 3. I thought it wrapped up the trilogy very nicely, and it actually made me appreciate Pirates 2.

I'm sorry for having a positive opinion. It won't happen again.

D. McEwan said...

Gee Andrew, I've lived in America for over 50 years, and I was unaware of the "American audience's general reluctance to embrace 'foreign' cinema - 'I don't understand their accents'"

To the best of my memory, we have had hundreds of foreign films that hits here over the years, especially British films. Ever see the grosses on the Harry Potter films, for one dull example?(Subtitles do lose the "I don't go to the movies to READ" crowd.) The people who complain about understanding accents are a TINY minority of fools.

Oh, and John Wyndham's (aka John Beynon Harris) great novel is THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS, not "The Midwitch Cookoos, but both film versions, the great one and the mediocre remake with Christopher Reeve, were released as VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, possibly because we plebeian colonialists didn't understand the real title.

Andrew said...

Well, Harry Potter isn't a British film. But still, do you think if the books hadn't come first some exec wouldn't have had them shift the entire thing to the U.S.?

Movies that haven significant box office players over here only graze the American box office. It's just a simple fact. Trainspotting, say, or The Descent. And this is just mainstream stuff - outside of New York, you're lucky if the populce has even heard of them.

This is not to make a comment on 'every American', just a general point on audience figures.

Similarly, we have stacks of great dramas and comedies that can't get on mainstream TV over there - they abandoned to PBS of BBC America. The reverese isn't true in the UK - and I think the reasons are pretty clear.

Andrew said...

I apologise for the typos there. Again. My head will be hung in shame for a long time...

The Muyu said...

www.galatasaray.com

Anonymous said...

Good call, Ken. "Once" is a perfect little film. It is such a simple idea, and yet so much has to happen within this "simple" movie to entertain so thoroughly. Music, love, humor, inspiration...I don't want to overhype it, but it works on every level.

RadioSilence said...

Once has been by far the best thing I've seen this summer. The soundtrack will haunt you afterwards. And if it doesn't, well that's prolly cause Dick Cheney has eaten your heart.