Last five flicks I saw

It’s been a while since I did one of these, largely because I didn’t have an internet connection at home, and though I’m still working on it we got a television signal and have thus watched a lot of DVDs lately.
Don’t follow? Television these days IS CRAP! You might think there’s one of these executive looking, slick-haired MBA’s rearing his glistening face saying it’s not crap – it’s an app! as if that somehow makes it better. It doesn’t, so stop the daydreaming.

Television wasn’t what it used to be. Since we got our cable TV up the day before x-mas, the longest television marathon I have had was an entire Sunday spent watching M*A*S*H. It kicked ass back then and it still does! But that was that one day. Apart from Bear Grylls and Grand Designs — hey, I’m the poster boy of the post-modern man! — we only watch DVDs. Here’s the latest five.

I am Legend (2007)
I am LegendWe all know that Will Smith and acting are usually two different things in the movies where he’s on the poster. That’s not because Will Smith can’t act, I’d say that he can, but he’s often starring in cash-cow kind of productions. I am Legend is the exception that proves the rule, being both a cash cow production & a testament of Smith’s acting talent.

It’s a post-zombie virus breakout story. Add 2 years to the disastrous event and we’re watching Dr. Neville (Smith) chasing deer in an overgrown and desolate New York with his dog. They’re on the herd, closing in on a stray, but interrupted by a pack of lions from the zoo. The introductory scenes have him in a glistening red sports car that mysteriously vanishes from the rest of the film, making you ask yourself whether you’re watching an advertisement or not. But you are not. Dr. Neville looks at his wristwatch that’s beeping and it’s high time to go home. Or stay out and be torn to pieces.

Let’s not make a fool of ourselves; I am Legend is a zombie flick. That’s why we are so inclined to watch it in the first place. But most of this flick is rather about a post-apocalyptic survivalist feature; being on your own until crazy gets you. Dr. Nevill is the last man on Earth, he thinks, and we are ready to agree with the notion. In his struggle to find a cure, we get to learn his story and why the hunt for a cure has become him.

This is not the first time I saw this movie, and if you have watched the original, go see the alternate version. I promise you; the implications that were left out in the mere-zombie-flick give this film a whole depth. If I would make a guess, I’d say that the alternate version is the one that is closest to the original novel, simply because it puts Neville’s character and entire world into a larger perspective that is most worthy of your and my time. It gives a whole different meaning to the film, and one that you don’t often find in zombie flicks. It’s a shame they went for the Hollywood solution.

Up! (2009)
Pixar's UP!This is a very sentimental Pixar flick which is aimed at little children and their parents. It’s wholesome, good family fun, without the ugly kids-rule-everything destructive morale you see Disney aiming for most of the time. What can I say? Disney is Satan.

We’ve been meaning to see this ever since I stumbled over Pogo’s incredible remix called Upular that uses music from Up! And mostly because there are so many cynical and hard movies out there, you get a little tired. What happened to being all warm and fuzzy inside, without having to involve schemes, violence or emotionless sex? Well, Up! has got you covered.

This movie deals with the loss of loved ones, unfulfilled life ambitions and adventure, and is an ode to a child’s imagination. And not just ages under 9, but grown-up children as well, as in the case of the would-be grandfather Carl Fredricksen. He is involuntarily teamed up with slightly awkward but naively optimistic Russel, who only needs an Assisting the Elderly badge to fulfill his Boy Scouts dream, and talking dog Dug. What I really like about Pixar’s movies is that they allow their kid characters real depth and complex emotions, and the really brilliant animations’ expressions of these.

Most of the movie is directed towards children (more so than the next movie) but it’s well-entertaining for adults too. It’s not, however, your regular date flick or something you put on for the teens to watch. I sound old already.

Despicable me (2010)
Despicable MeWhile Pixar’s Up! may be for the youngest children, I would think Despicable Me is more for the older kids and probably even more fun for grown ups!

Sort-of-French looking and acting evil super villain Gru is the main character of this hilarious one and a half hour action adventure. He rules over a dungeon of yellow, rubber, Spanish-talking ahm.. minions, and partner to the insanely evil Dr. Nefario. Gru’s grand plan in this story is to steal the moon, as a response to the latest and greatest heist of stealing the pyramids, which was pulled by one of his competitors-in-crime, namely Vector. I tell you, every nerd knows (or is) a Vector.

During the course of this project, Gru wants to use three orphan girls to infiltrate Vector’s (incredibly cool) lair, and from here you probably will know what happens in terms of emotional storyline. It’s a classic that hasn’t failed since A Christmas Carol by Dickens. But it’s pulled off in such a funny way that you can’t leave your seat in the remaining hour, and you want to see more. It’s definitely up there with Monsters, Inc, leaving you only wanting to see more of the little, yellow ahm.. minions.

The Quiet Earth (1985)
The Quiet EarthMe and my girlfriend Lady C were on our way to the late night cinema to see whether there was anything good going, and yet again we were met with a lot of shite films. It’s as though someone had diorrhea, just pulled his pants down and aimed his ass cheeks at the wall. Luckily, we still had some gift card certificates from x-mas to spend at the local Media shop, and we bought a few DVDs including this one. It’s a New Zealand post-apocalyopse film only minus the apocalypse.

A man wakes up in his bed only to discover that he is the last man on earth. ‘Yeah,’ you might say, ‘that is what Dr. Neville thought too in I am Legend.’ But this is a whole different approach to the last man on earth scenario. There has been no apocalypse, the world is just empty… What would Jesus do?

This film mostly deals with the crazy that we talked about earlier. But its premise is a scary and effective one; you don’t really know what’s going on. Is it all inside his head? Or in a parallel universe? What’s the difference?

The movie is a really good production considering the year and country it was made in. You don’t hear a lot about the New Zealand sci-fi scene because there mostly isn’t any. I think quite a few other films have got their inspiration from The Quiet Earth, and some takes reminded me especially about 28 Days Later. Bruno Lawrence playing Zac is the perfect kind of guy for this type of story: he is not an action hero, nor Bear Grylls, he’s just a regular desktop office worker. At least, as far as we know.

There are two flaws in this movie that prevents it from being an all-time classic, in my honest opinion. The first is that the film avoids showing us that Zac thinks he has a clue what’s going on while story-wise it’s quite clear he had a suspicion from the get-go. This is probably not a problem in the novel it was based on. The second is that they tried to give it the Hollywood treatment, with at least 15 minutes of the film reminding me more of an episode of the A-Team than an existential science fiction exposé. This breaks from the general flow of showing disjointed cut-scenes of highlights in an otherwise eventless existence. Apart from that I accept the premise and enjoy the film.

Valhalla Rising (2009)
Valhalla RisingThis must be one of the best kept secrets of 2009, having heard very little of it on the shit chatter viz. radio, blogs etc. And to his praise I should mention that it was my friend Kornelius who recommended it. So when I got it at half-price it would be half-assed not to take it!

And I’m glad I did! Valhalla Rising is a beautiful experience with the kind of dreamy pace you would expect from a Nordic production. We make nice, quiet and slow films. It was shot entirely in Scotland, but some of the scenic shots could just as well have been anywhere along the coast of Southern Norway.

Despite what you’d think from looking at the movie poster, it’s not a Viking-version of The Gladiator. There is a lot of battle going on, but the battle ground is historical, mythological and symbolic. It has a lot in common with Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, though without the American flavor. Having seen the movie, the poster is more of a solemn icon of times past than a Rambo figurine.

It is a challenging movie and not very family friendly, but it’s not heavy-metal either. In fact, Kornelius told me most of the heavy-metal dudes going to see the movie left half-way into it. Losers. The story line is epic, but epic in the grand scale of Tolkien’s Silmarillion and not the gory-detail epic of just such films as The Gladiator. The conversation topics are largely on a religious level, though the motive of everyone involved is survival. I can’t wait to watch it over again. Just go and see it already!

That was the last five flicks post this time around. But when I was doing the images for this one I found a lot of other images to last five flicks posts I haven’t published yet, so expect some back-posts turning up for some time to come. In addition, I was very sad to see __this trailer__ of the American version of Let the right one in (2008) called Let Me In (2010). There is no way you can make the original better, it was a perfect film, and now you’ve gone and made an action/horror movie. What’s next? A McMona Lisa? Talk about a spoon-fed culture.

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