Monday, July 18, 2011

Missed Movies Number 7

This one is devoted to movies that might not be the best things around, but are worthy of your time and attention...That's about it.

I Love You Phillip Morris

One of the most underwatched movies of 2010 (behind Winter's Bone), this one centers on Jim Carrey as Steven Russell, a man who, after a series of traumatic events in his life, comes out as gay to his wife and moves to Miami to live the high life with his new boyfriend. Unfortunately he's paying for the high life by being a con man and is caught and sent to prison, where he meets the titular Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), and falls in love. Oh and did I mention this is technically based on a true story?

The vast majority of the narrative is given over to a fairly lengthy examination of Steven Russell, and while neither Jim Carrey, nor Ewan McGregor are quite up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Trainspotting levels, respectively, they both give it their all. The primary way this film works is mixing just enough sweet and bitter together so that you don't choke on either. It's a well made and occasionally moving film, and failing that a genuinely funny comedy, so if you can track it down, give it a look.


This one is a bit wonky, but it's technically a hardboiled detective story (is there such thing as a softboiled detective story?) taking place in a California High School, as Brenden (Joseph-Gordon Levitt, also known as that British Guy From Inception. The short one. Now you remember) investigates the suicide of his ex-girlfriend and the connection to a...well Brick of Heroin.

This is a strange film and it won't appeal to everyone, as it pushes the concept of a film noir acted out with high school students all the way, and can get extremely nasty on occasion. But if you're willing to stick it out, it's a unique take on the film noir genre and a fascinating story on occasion. So if you see it on Netflix or whatever it is you kids use these days, consider trying it out for size. Just chase the prudes out.

Howl's Moving Castle

This one suffers more from it's heritage than anything else. Oh it's not a perfect film on it's own. It's characters are broad, the messages obvious and often stated outright and it's just a little too close to an Oz tale for comfort. But those aren't the reasons it has trouble, it's a fine enough film on it's own. The reason it has trouble is it's a Studio Ghibli by Hayao Miyazaki, who's two previous works were Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, two of the best animated films of all time. And Howl's Moving Castle just isn't quite up to that level.

The story is concerned with a Hatter (save your Alice in Wonderland jokes, please) named Sophie who, after catching the attention of a womanizing wizard named Howl, is prematurely aged to an old woman, and ends up working for Howl as his house cleaner. While there she befriends a flying dog, a fire spirit and a scarecrow, while trying to find a way to de-age herself and see what I mean when I say it's like an Oz story? Fortunately it all looks gorgeous (Miyazaki does good work) especially the subtle changes used to de and re age Sophie as the scene requires and the characters and story can be touching occasionally. The narrative does pick up once the actual conflict kicks in near the middle, but it can drag a bit before then, so if you like animated movies, give this one a chance.

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