Saturday, January 29, 2011

Missed Movies number 2

I might make this a regular feature, but here's a second attempt, with movies outside of this last year:

Burn After Reading

This is a movie that, by all rights, should not work. When I say 'sex based spy parody movie' what comes to mind? Maybe something in the vein of Scream, a movie that looks and acts just like what it's parodying but occasionally turns and winks to the audience? Well you're half right, and also all wrong.

See, what makes Burn After Reading work (besides you know, the Coen Brothers directing it) is that, on a fundamental level, it's NOT a spy movie. It's actually much closer to a screwball comedy, based around mix ups and character actions. But, and here's the catch, EVERYONE in it is convinced it is a spy movie and this overriding delusion, not only that they're actions are important to National Security or whatever, but that any of them have any idea what they're doing, is what fuels the lunacy behind the plot, when in fact, nothing of import is at stake.

As a mid-career Coen Brother movie, it's got some of their signature style around them, and it feels like a break between 2 much better but harder to watch films (No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man) although it doesn't come close in quality to their most accessible film O' Brother, Where Art Thou. (Side Note: If you haven't seen O' Brother go fix that. TRUST me, you want to have seen it, it's a full on masterpiece.)

Other than that, I can't say without spoiling, but I will say given that it's a Coen Brother movie, it's not for kids. The script is VERY R-Rated (I think they go past they're 1 allowed 'Fuck' in the opening scene), much of it is based around sex and trust me, anything can happen to anyone. Here's a good barometer: Do you like Dr. Strangelove or maybe The Big Lebowski then you should get along with this. It's unique in a way only the Coen Brothers can be and it deserves your attention.


I should make a rule that one of my 'Missed Movies' movies has to be foreign each time, because it's likely to fall that way anyway. Nightwatch is, put mildly, a weird ass movie. A Russian horror film directed by Timur Bekmambetov (who some of you might remember as directing Wanted or having produced 9) it's half X2 half Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The premise is kinda weird but it works. There's the usual guff about witches and shapeshifters and vampires and all sorts of things being real (all falling under the heading of 'Others') with the twist that when you find out you're one of them you have to choose to be on one side or another of a big conflict that, due to an ancient mystical pact (because what other kind is there), neither side can technically win. Both sides have half their guys devoted to making sure the other side doesn't break the pact, and half devoted to trying to figure out to work around the pact.

All of that sounds like it's set up for a big showdown at the end as both sides figure out how to have it out in open warfare, but its actually devoted entirely to other things. It feels like it might be building towards a big confrontation, but due to being busy with other things, never actually gets there. It's a weird one, and I can't guarantee everyone will like it, but give it a shot, it might surprise.

Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical

This one has an odd history. Starting life as an impossibly shitting 30's exploitation film on the dangers of Marijuana (movie term of the day: Educational Exploitation Film. Go look it up. Bet you wish you could've watched that instead of Schoolhouse Rock), then moving on to a little seen satirical musical and onto a Showtime Original Movie, it's almost impossible that something good would come out it.

But it did, much better than it's so bad it's good original movie. It's based on the exceptionally weird musical version and it's no less weird in film form (it actually might be weirder) but it all works, because it hangs on it's own wavelength. It's all very clever in it's satirical way, with no attempts to clean it up or modernize it. It's nothing close to a classic film and it won't change your life, but if you get the chance, give it a look.

Oh and about the original exploitation film: It's in the public domain and therefore up on youtube and hulu, so if you're into hilarious over the top acting and cheesy moralizing, give it a look.

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