This Week In Cinema: January 22-28, 2012

I’m not the guy to be messing with time travel, I can barely keep things straight as it is after all!

A handful of movies this week, although the quality wasn’t that high,

Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes, 2007, Nacho Vigalondo, Spain) ***1/2

The beauty of Los Cronocrímenes is what isn’t shown versus what is shown. With scarce resources director Nacho Bigalondo makes the most of his camera and his ability to put the focus on the actions of the characters and the momentum of the story versus the characters and the story itself. A key moment occurs when we see an unnamed girl for the second time. When we first saw her we saw all of her in a full frontal sense. This time we don’t as Señor Vigalondo crops her nudity outside of the screen, skirting the edge of showing her naked but never delivering. The focus isn’t on her nudity you see, Señor Vigalondo isn’t making a picture that’s looking for simple titillation or the thrill of seeing a beautiful woman’s naked body. The momentum of the story is what matters, the darkly comedic undertone of the certainty of what the audience is seeing, and the certainty of the actions of characters who have no reason to be certain whatsoever. Los Cronocrímenes and Señor Vigalondo have made one hell of a time travel picture, and that’s not so easy to do, the history of cinema tells us so.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009, Neal Brennan, United States Of America) **1/2

One amazing Will Ferrell cameo does not a great comedy work. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is trying so hard to be a zany comedy that it forgets to be funny most of the time and settles for stupid. It is funny, but it’s unfunny the majority of the time employing a throw every joke we can think of against the wall approach that does not work. A few characters, like Kathryn Hahn’s “Babs”, aren’t just stupid, they’re insultingly stupid. The Will Ferrell cameo is very funny, but the rest of the movie misses the mark by a wide margin.

Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009, Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon, United States Of America) **1/2

A brilliant premise is squandered by means of a forgettable story and inconsistent animation. The story is been there done that with a message that is palatable but very old hat. I’m not sure if I would buy the Susan as a feminist statement argument either, her character would need to be fleshed out in some way to be making any sort of statement about feminism. The animation is very clean, but at the same time the detail isn’t quite there. Too many scenes have a dead look to them, with backgrounds that are static and without definition. I should have loved a movie about a gaggle of monsters versus an invading alien force, instead I was let down immensely.

Air Buddies (2006, Robert Vince, United States Of America) **

As far as these types of movies go Air Buddies is passable entertainment. Outside of one too many fart jokes there’s nothing to offensive to be found here. The syncing of the voice acting to the movements of the animals mouths is a tad unnerving, but otherwise Air Buddies is a film that is the definition of average. A serviceable story, paint by numbers direction, and so on and so forth. The dogs are cute, and my daughter gets a kick out of these movies, so there is that I suppose.

Snow Buddies (2008, Robert Vince, United States Of America) **1/2

It’s still not great, but you know what this is easily the best of the Buddies movies I’ve seen so far. The fart jokes are still present and the story still takes a lot of cheap shortcuts, but it’s not all that bad. Snow Buddies is funny at times, it’s cute throughout, and as far as the CG backgrounds go they aren’t half bad. For the most part I found myself laughing right alongside my daughter and that’s why this is the best of the Buddies movies.

Lonesome Ghosts (1937, Burt Gillett, United States Of America) ***

There’s something about the way that Donald Duck becomes furious that is always funny. I chuckle every time that darn duck undergoes a fit of consternation, and when the supporting players are Mickey Mouse and Goofy the movie has very few places to go wrong. The ghosts themselves are a bit rough, both in portrayal and in the voice talents behind them. Still, Donald, Mickey, and Goofy have a fun time and I laughed a fair amount, so there is that.

Alice In Wonderland (2010, Tim Burton, United States Of America) **

I’ll give Tim Burton this much for his version of Alice In Wonderland, it has some stunning visuals, lovely set design, and lavish costumes. The visuals aren’t enough to save the movie from a meandering story, bad acting, and Mr. Burton’s surreal affectations to the story. Futerwacken says it all in regards to this version of Alice In Wonderland, a ridiculous dance that has no meaning, adds nothing to the story, and is, frankly, stupid. Mr. Burton’s film is empty, and it shows in a film that has no heart, no heft to the story, and offers little outside of visuals for me to care about.

Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002, Jay Roach, United States Of America) **

Jay Roach brings more of the same in the third installment of the adventures of Austin Powers. The beginning Hollywood send-up is quite funny, but after that the film recycles the same jokes from the first two films and exhaustingly so. There are still laughs to be found in Austin Powers In Goldmember, but the gap in between laughs is now much longer. The movie is very episodic with just about every episode going on longer than needed, much like this franchise I suppose.

Audioslave: Live In Cuba (2005, Lawrence Jordan, United States Of America) **

The appeal of the concert film has been lost to me from the moment I first realized they existed. Audioslave: Live In Cuba is no different than any other concert film I have ever seen. It’s a concert that was filmed and is presented in close to its entirety with pretty much the same handful of camera techniques repeated over and over again. I really like Audioslave and I like the performances on Audioslave: Live In Cuba, but as a film there’s little interest on my part in what the concert film, and by extension this film, has to say.

Wrap-Up:

The week started off with a bang and it slowly went downhill from there. It would have taken a gem of a film to beat out Los Cronocrímenes, but that film never came around and thus movie of the week honors go to Los Cronocrímenes. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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