scribbles and lies - Even-Handed NetFlix Reviews #17

Feb. 13th, 2011

08:47 pm - Even-Handed NetFlix Reviews #17

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Some old animation, some new live-action. Some pleasant surprises, some expected disappointments.

MULHOLLAND DRIVE: * * *

I swung up and down on this. It was okay at first, then it got really good, then it got really WTF. Oh, David Lynch, why do I always forget that you always do this? However, given time to reflect and review and reconsider, I do think it holds together enough to be worth it. But I won't give it any more than that.

THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN: * * * *

Watched at home on instant play on a rainy day, as I recall. A little harder for Liana to "get" than the original and overall just not as pitch-perfect, but it's still a fine film. Really, it's hard not to enjoy the Muppets. Something would have to be wrong with you.

THE HUDSUCKER PROXY: * * * * *

I should have seen this a jillion years ago! Why did no one ever tell me this film is entirely delightful?

THE SWORD IN THE STONE: * * *

Decided to try some Disney backfill. I had fond memories of the magical duel. But it doesn't really hold up that well. Most of the plot is just filler gags around shape-changing and the conflicts (such as they are) never really develop properly. Also, the quality of the animation is really noticeably poorer than that which came before and that which came well after.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK: * * * *

I had this vague understanding that Russell Brand is a British comedy douchebag, of the radio shock jock sort in at least some form, but I think C had read some of his book or something that suggested he might actually be funny, so we pulled this one down. A swell surprise! Brand is excellent and Sean "Diddy" Combs is out-of-left-field phenomenal. It's only core flaw is that Jonah Hill (and the Jonah Hill Type) seems rather implausible for an industry entirely of, for, and about the completely opposite Type, but he's very good in the role.

MODERN FAMILY: SEASON 1: * * * *

Right in the zone for evening comedy watching: half-hour, reasonably sharp, reliably funny, awkward humor not too painful. A bit maudlin with the episode wrap-ups but at least they know what their message is and stay on point. Well cast across the board but Ed O'Neill, especially, is pure joy to watch.

MEMORIES: * * *

The film that Katsuhiro Otomo made after AKIRA (* * * * *), consisting of three short films based on his manga work. I've had the excellent soundtrack for years; it was about time to see the film. Sadly, about as disappointing as I'd been led to believe. All three of them suffer from feeling padded, at times, by drawn-out sequences that add nothing to the story but time. The middle story, "Stink Bomb", about a lab experiment gone apocalyptically awry, ended up being my favorite (by which I mean, the only one of the three that I was able to stay awake through entirely without ever dozing off and needing to rewind several minutes.)

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE: * * * *

Does what it says on the tin. Plagued, unfortunately, by a handful of anachronisms (ironic, in a time travel story, I know). Good thing you checked your expectations of realism at the door when your eyes saw the words "hot tub" and "time machine" in a title together.

FANTASIA: * * * * *

One of those films to just come back and revisit every several years. This time, for Liana's benefit. Surprisingly, her favorite sequence is not Mickey in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (which she finds just a bit too anxiety-inducing) but rather, the Ancient Greece of Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony". We re-watched that segment most every evening for over a week.

IRON MAN 2: * * * *

Suffered from exactly the problem that most hit comic-book movie sequels face sooner or later: Too Many Fan Service Elements. The fall of Tony Stark! Hammer Industries! Whiplash! War Machine! SHIELD! Black Widow! Most of the film consists of stuff other than Iron Man, it seems. Most criminally, there is way more focus on Black Widow than on Pepper Potts. Why go through all the trouble of actually crafting a role that makes Gwyneth Paltrow appealing, and then underuse her in favor of ScarJo who, really, would be entirely appealing as a parking meter.

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For consideration: next up we have a bunch of things other people told me I really ought to see, most of which paid off

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Comments:

From:kithrup
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
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I thought Iron Man 2 failed by being too much set-up for The Avengers.

I can't remember -- have you seen The Last Airbender (the original series, not the movie)? I also like both Fullmetal Alchemist serieses.
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From:crisper
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:53 am (UTC)
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Haven't seen it.
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From:kithrup
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
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I recommend it. It took me about half of the first season to really get into it, but then I was hooked. I was very glad it was on Netflix streaming, 'cause I'd end up watching three or four episodes a night.
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From:porphyre
Date:February 14th, 2011 09:01 am (UTC)
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I second that. (Not the netflix bit, but how it hooks). It's entirely worth your time.
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From:jwgh
Date:February 14th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
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I've started watching it recently and have enjoyed it.
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From:occlupanid
Date:February 15th, 2011 06:03 am (UTC)
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double-recommend airbender series! It's an absolute joy, the humor is consistent and spot-on with great timing. Also the world is incredibly unique, complicated and inventive, yet never has to over-explain itself- all that stuff is just in the background.
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From:testing4l
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
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I thought for sure that association with zenomt would have forced The Hudsucker Proxy on you sooner.

I, too, have very fond memories from childhood of the magic duel in The Sword and the Stone. I guess those -- like The Black Cauldron -- may be memories best left unrevisited.
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From:jorm
Date:February 14th, 2011 07:24 am (UTC)
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I loved both Get Him to the Greek and Hot Tub Time Machine precisely because they're so goofy. I pretty much hated Iron Man 2.

Mullholland Drive lost me quickly and never recovered.
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From:ronebofh
Date:February 15th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
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I read "Short Bus of Social Interactivity" on gaijin.com and wondered if it was the same jorm, so i guess this answers that. Good work there.
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From:jorm
Date:February 17th, 2011 06:33 am (UTC)
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Thanks!

I need to write up something like that again soon, I think.
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From:mmcirvin
Date:February 14th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
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The Hudsucker Proxy is, I think, my favorite Coen movie or close to it. However, few people agree with me about this and a subset of Coen fans seem to actively hate it, so I've tended to keep quiet about it.
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From:crisper
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
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HUDSUCKER PROXY is definitely more or less the opposite of, say, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN at least in terms of how it's intended to make you feel. I can see how some Coen fans of BLOOD SIMPLE and FARGO the like might feel betrayed by something so guilelessly joyful, but I thought it was a terrific demonstration of breadth on their part.
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From:ronebofh
Date:February 15th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
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So where would you put True Grit?
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From:crisper
Date:February 15th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
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Didn't get out to see it in theaters; it will be coming up the NetFlix queue shortly. But calibrated response among my work friends suggests I will like it very much.
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From:ronebofh
Date:February 15th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
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It's been sitting on my shelf for months. One of these days...

My favorite Coen Bros... can't decide between Burn After Reading or No Country for Old Men.
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From:ikkyu2
Date:February 14th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
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All three of them suffer from feeling padded, at times, by drawn-out sequences that add nothing to the story but time.

Good thing that wasn't the case with AKIRA. ..

Why go through all the trouble of actually crafting a role that makes Gwyneth Paltrow appealing, and then underuse her in favor of ScarJo who, really, would be entirely appealing as a parking meter.

Is this a way of saying you don't like ScarJo? I am trying to see her actually playing a parking meter, but flashbacks to Ghost World are either interfering or making your point, I am not sure.
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From:crisper
Date:February 14th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
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No, the opposite - it's a way of saying, everyone already knows how they feel about ScarJo, there's no changing it at this point, so nobody has to invest a quarter of their Very Long Movie into making me like her even more. Meanwhile, they spent a substantial effort in the first movie making me like Gwyneth Paltrow, and then in the second film they just go ahead and let her turn back into the Disapproving Ice-Mommy that is her go-to movie role.
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From:epileptikitty
Date:February 20th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
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I've only seen ScarJo in "The Man Who Wasn't There", a Coen Bros. movie. She was like 16.

For a long time I could not remember her name, because her face is so generic. Hmmmm....'S' and 'J'... Susan Jacobson? When I can't remember Anne Hathaway's name, send me to the knackers' yard.
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From:moondispatches
Date:February 23rd, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
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I've been watching Fantasia with Riley (age very nearly 3) every other day this past week. She loves it, especially "The hippos one." It has also led to Zeus joining her entourage of imaginary friends.
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