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Films, television, videos, or other visual media that's currently caught my eye ...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

I caught a matinee of Snakes on a Plane yesterday, and it's a rollercoster ride.

That is to say, it's got its ups and downs, highs and lows, and some of them are pretty low.

I mean, the premise is whack. And while I knew that going in, just how whack surprised me. Like how they justify the whole premise really stretched my willing suspension of disbelief. Could have been done a little better, I think, and the believability of the climix could have been improved with only two slight tweaks.

That said, this is an engaging film. Think a bigger budget, tighter acted Lake Placid (which I really liked), but stretching the bounds of reality even more than that flick. Yeah, more.

It doesn't help that as a kid I was really into zoology, and yesterday's movie-going buddy is a veterinarian. Which meant we laughed out loud at places the film makers probably didn't intend. Big scary dramatic startling moments.

But there's good stuff in the flick -- some well-done comedy and irony, and moving, well-completed heroism -- not empty sacrifice, and it had a cost. Nice to see that, and I didn't expect it.

On a side note, I am, however, disturbed by a trend in movies and video games lately. An unspoken rule that's being broken.

That rule is, "Don't endanger or do violence to children" (another version of that rule is, "Don't endanger or do violence to furred animals"; which sucks for the snakes).

They're breaking this rule more and more lately, and I'm starting to get pissed off by it (The Hills Have Eyes, Dead Rising, etc.). It's a rule. Follow it.

Of course, at least this film follow's through on the rule's corollary: "Those who do violence to children/furred animals shall die."

Hmm ... Technically, it's writers John Heffernan, David Dalessandro, Sebastian Gutierrez, and director David R. Ellis that broke these rules. Beware the snakes, boys.

Anyway, worthwhile popcorn flick -- a good ride, with some surprising and fun nuggets, and the acting's not bad.

Oh, and another of my inspirational, in-it-for-the-long-haul actors, Lin Shaye, does a good, important job in the film. She's been doing this gig for 30 years. More power to her.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Miami Vice

I caught a matinee of Miami Vice the day it opened, and I really liked it.

I like Michael Mann. Quite a bit (Heat is still one of my most-like films, and Collateral positiively surprised me). The guy does it all -- Writes, adapts to screenplays, produces, directs -- and does it all well.

The film has Mann's fingerprints all over it -- in a good way. The pacing is slow, but good slow, yet not "deliberate" slow. Maybe "focused" or "determined" slow. I don't know how to describe it, but it worked for me.

There's also some cool gritty shaky cam work that slides into steady cam in slick, fluid ways.

The film does a good job building the characters, which keeps them from being boring, and really raised the stakes for me and my investment in the film. Which also made me care more when something happened to them.

Though billed in trailers as a "sexy summer action film", Mann's use of sex is interesting and well-done -- intimate, but not gratuitous, and build believable character intimacy (again, raising the importance of the relationships).

I wonder how cool it was for Mann to do this film, given he Executive Produced the original series.

And Jamie Foxx? What has he done right? Not one, not two, not three, but freakin' four Michael Mann films -- The Kingdom (written by Mann) in 2007 and Damage Control (directed by Mann) in 2008.

Good thing Foxx had Jarhead at the same time he had Stealth, otherwise all he'd have is stuff like Collateral, Ray, Any Given Sunday ... Oh. That's right. He's talented.

Miami Vice is a good film. I recommend it.

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