Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Recent flix of note

By which I mean ones that made enough of an impression on me as to seem worth writing about.

In theaters now is The Tale of Desperaux, which I liked so well the first time that I went to see it a second time. I have not read the book, nor any reviews, so I came to it with no preconceptions of how it ought to be. And I will try to avoid spoilers. There's a good-hearted sailor, who happens to be a rat, who falls in with bad company. There's Desperaux, the misfit mouse, who reads a book that he should have been eating, and falls in love with the ideals of chivalry. There's a King who grieves, and, grieving, plays sad music on the lute, which keeps him from hearing an important message, delivered in a very small voice. There's a father who gave up his daughter. There's a Princess filled with longing, in a tower. And there's a narrator, who talks a little bit like this … but with somewhat more ironic tension, as she is not worried about spoilers. The animation is gorgeous. You want to see this on a big screen. It's clear that thought was given to how realistically the various characters and settings should be rendered. The royal family look like ivory sculptures, though a lot of work went into the Princess's long golden hair. The commoners are rendered a little more realistically, though only a little. The rats and mice are done in exquisite detail, as are their little worlds within the castle. And the action does not flag for a moment. Get your popcorn and hit the restroom before you enter the theater, as there are no superfluous bits.

On one of the TV movie channels, Event Horizon. I decided to watch this because some capsule review somewhere said it was Lovecraft in space. It looks like it was expensive to produce, but none of the money was spent on a decent script. I had a bad feeling right at the start, when the Captain (Laurence Fishburne) tells Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) that he needs to get into the grav tank because the ion drive will subject the ship to 30 g's acceleration. Ion drives work by using low thrust over extended time, not high thrust right away. Oopsie! And they are all smoking cigarettes, on a spaceship! Then there is a lot of dissension among the crew, that leads to fistfights. When they get to the derelict that is the object of the rescue mission, the Captain leads the away team. It just keeps getting worse, with spaceships supposedly designed by human beings but looking very Giger-ish-ly alien, and crew members having visions of loved ones who have died. A mixture of nasty bits from Clive Barker, Alien, and Stephen King, and just a tiny taste of Lovecraft, with characters who would be at home in a comic book. Bad enough to deserve a MST3K treatment, but so dark that getting to the funny might give even Mike and the robots a hard time. Oh, one more thing: is Sam Neill this generation's James Mason? If so, he should make it a point to avoid roles like this one.

On Turner Classics a while back: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Kirk Douglas's first movie, and a beauty at that. If Claudio Carvalho's review is still up at the IMDB link, go read that. I don't have much to add to it. He gives it ten points on the ten-point scale. I'm thinking "Twisted Lives" might have been a better title, a little more noir and a little more descriptive. Lizabeth Scott does a Bacall turn that's very impressive.

That's two winners and a loser. Two out of three ain't bad.


Darcy said...

Oh...interesting! I loved Martha Ivers and I had heard Desperaux was good.

My son is 15, but we still like watching these movies, and when they're good, they're good for all ages. I'm going to try to see this one, thanks!

Did you see Enchanted? We both loved that.

Hector Owen said...

Yes I did see that, and thought it excellent.

blake said...

Desperaux does not seem to be a child's movie, though. That is, I don't think I would take The Flower to see it.

Event Horizon was directed by Walter Hill, who wanted his name taken off it. But because of the recent "Alan Smithee" abuse, they had to retire that fake name.

EH, therefore, is the first film to be directed by "Thomas Lee".

Hector Owen said...

If we are very lucky, Darcy will come back and tell us what she thought of it. How old is The Flower, now? Some of the IMDB posters talked about scary bits. I was not scared at all, but then, I'm a man in my sixties, so my scariness level would be different from that of a girl maybe eight or ten?

blake said...

She's seven. But we lost a friend a couple of years ago to cancer and she can't bear the mere mention of death.

Hector Owen said...

Oh, I see. So, here's a spoiler, in rot13: gur Dhrra qvrf bs n urneg nggnpx — orpnhfr fur vf fb fubpxrq gb svaq n eng va ure fbhc — evtug ng gur ortvaavat, juvpu frgf va zbgvba nyy gur npgvba gung sbyybjf. Gur eng snyyf vagb onq pbzcnal, lbh frr?

So the way that the action is initiated might be a negative for The Flower.

blake said...

And after having written that bit about Event Horizon, I realize now that I was thinking about Supernova.

EH is a Paul W.S. Anderson film. He pretty much delivers exactly what you'd expect in every movie, after you've seen a couple of them. (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Alien vs. Predator.)

Milla Jovovich has borne his child, so he's got that going for him.