There’s nothing I could write in this cold open that would come close to matching that batshit insanity of MirrorMask!
I watched some movies this week, here they are,
Scared Shrekless (2010, Raman Hui & Gary Trousdale, United States Of America) **
It pains me to know that Gary Trousdale directed this soulless cash-in to the Shrek franchise. I enjoyed the moments with Puss in Boots, but that was about it. Otherwise it’s another lame entry in the Shrek franchise that relies on pop culture references for all of its humor. It’s not funny anymore, and it wasn’t incredibly funny to begin with, it’s just really lazy writing and humor. How far have you fallen Gary Trousdale?
The Code (2011, Mark Blitch, United States Of America) ***
The Code takes a very interesting premise, one that any horror fan should have fun with, and goes a tad too far. The first three minutes of The Code are really funny. The bickering, the back and forth between the archetypal characters, and the scenario they are in create a humor that far outweighs any bad acting or lack of flare in the direction. Then the final two and a half minutes happen, and I lost interest. The way the short is capped off really doesn’t mesh with what comes before. The Vanna Helsing character is a bad joke, and while it doesn’t stop the first few minutes of The Code from being funny it does put a damper on the film as a whole. Still a good, and funny short, but I could have done without the ending.
Take A Hike (2012, Mark Blitch, United States Of America) ***
Another solid effort from Mark Blitch, but another film that suffers from inconsistency. I was struck by the visuals employed in Take A Hike. They weren’t anything fancy mind you, but the film was shot in a wide manner that helped to convey the gulf that exists in the relationship between the two characters. I also thought the heartfelt moments of the films finale were well earned. And in a very short time Mr. Blitch managed to give his characters a fully realized identity, if that makes any sense. Where Take A Hike suffered was in the comedy department, specifically its need to have any comedy at all. The comedy in Take A Hike is out of place, it does not fit with the overall tone of the film or the impact the ending is aiming for. A good short, and Mr. Blitch shows promise, he just needs to work on the internal consistency of his films.
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009, John Krasinski, United States Of America) **1/2
Being based on a David Foster Wallace story I’d like to think there is something here. But, there really isn’t, the film thinks there is, but it’s just not true. The problem is the emptiness of the words and of the lead actress Julianne Nicholson. She is a vacuous presence, a void on the screen that gives the film no meaning or purpose. The words that all the characters speak are also vacuous and without meaning. I was instantly reminded of a certain subset of college kids who say a lot of stuff that sounds great but carries no meaning. Maybe the film sought to single out that way of thinking and to mock it. The film succeeded in doing that, but I didn’t enjoy watching the proceedings.
Caine’s Arcade (2012, Nirvan Mullick, United States Of America) **
A viral sensation, Caine’s Arcade is too much of a news story and not enough of a film. Caine Monroy and his cardboard arcade extravaganza is a great story, I was genuinely intrigued by what this nine year old kid had built. The film is the opposite of intriguing however, choosing to feel staged and far too produced. This is a segment one can easily find on the local ten o’ clock news, and that’s not a quality I look for in my movies.
MirrorMask (2005, Dave McKean, United Kingdom/United States Of America) ***1/2
While MirrorMask did remind me of certain movies, most notably The Wizard Of Oz and the Disney version of Alice In Wonderland, that is not a bad thing. The reason I was reminded of those films was because of the willingness of Dave McKean’s picture to be so utterly weird and fantastic. The world that is created is fantasy in its purest form. There are asily found connections to the real world and allegories all over the place, but a design that is out of this world. It’s easy to get lost in the visuals of MirrorMask, they are so far fetched so as to be mesmerizing. The story is a bout of imagination, but it is frightfully interesting imagination.
Special (2006, Hal Haberman & Jeremy Passmore, United States Of America) ***
Michael Rapaport is an actor that can be grating to some, I know this because I have quite a few friends who find him grating. I’ve never had any real problems with him, but a role like that of Les in Special does help to show why he can be grating. He is terrific in Special, but he’s terrific because a lot of his trademark ticks and mannerisms are gone. Mr. Rapaport fully throws himself into his role and he helps to enhance a sometimes confused film. I do believe that Special has elements going for it beyond Mr. Rapaport, but it hedges its bets in those areas. It’s a comedy and a drama, but it’s neither because it’s never willing to fully commit one way or the other. Special could have been a great movie, as is it’s a good movie with a great performance.
American Pie 2 (2001, J.B. Rogers, United States Of America) **
An uninspired rehash of the original. It’s basically a situation of taking the cast from the original, virtually eliminating all the female roles, and having the boys do the same gags all over again. Admittedly some of them were funny, but most weren’t, and the film was full of lost of lazy montages. I’m not sure if this series holds up for a lot of people, but this film certainly didn’t hold up for me.
Monsters Vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space (2009, Peter Ramsey, United States Of America) *1/2
If not for the gorgeous, and highly detailed, animation this would have been a dud. It’s not funny, it’s not cute, it has no charm, I’m not sure why it exists. The attempt at a story is bad, as it actually tries to apply logic and then goes against its own logic. I should have realized that it was going to be bad when the opening sequence features a spaceship releasing it’s waste system over a farm in a manner that obviously alludes to it taking a crap. Monsters Vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space is just that, a big piece of crap.
An uneven week, but a week with a lot of movies so I can’t complain. MirrorMask takes home movie of the week honors, it’s inventiveness and imagination won me over. Until next week, watch more movies!
I’m glad someone else enjoyed Mirrormask. I think they used every kind of animation there was at some point, except maybe for rotoscoping.
It is a visually arresting movie, and I am a fan of fantasy tales that are willing to eschew logic in favor of the pure wacky joy of fantasy.