17 January 2010

Caligula/Ink/Into Temptation/The Odessa File/The Girlfriend Experience/Big Fan/The New Twenty

Since the last time I posted here I've seen seven movies. I haven't gotten around to posting anything because I wasn't sure I had anything to say about any of them. Or maybe I've just been feeling blah lately.

First was Bob Guccione's Caligula, which was one of the more entertaining movies I've watched recently. I found it to be generally deserving of its cult classic status although Fellini Satyricon is obviously better. Malcolm McDowall plays young Caligula, biding time until his grandfather (or was it his uncle?) Tiberius dies and he can take over. He indulges in numerous vices, including incest with his sister, and he takes out anyone who might want to infringe on his leadership. C

Next on the agenda was Ink. I haven't come to rest yet as far as my feelings for this movie are concerned. I generally liked it. It's an indie movie with a relatively unique feel to it about a little girl who gets taken off to the nightmare kingdom so she can be sacrificed there so that a disfigured soul can become an incubus. It's not quite as colorful or spectacular as I had imagined it but there's something kind of poetic about it. It almost sort of made me think of waves of modernism or something. There's all this stuff about the girl's father and his sort of existential crisis and it sort of smacks of amateurish mumbo jumbo but I found something winning about it. B

Given all the camp possibilities for a movie about a priest played by Jeremy Sisto trying to help a hooker in trouble played by Kristen Chenowith, you'd think Into Temptation might have been a little more fun. I liked the ambiguity of the ending and the movie was generally engaging but it was kind of hohum altogether. C

The Odessa File is a cheesy thriller based on a novel by Frederick Forsyth. It stars Tom Voigt as a German journalist who catches a trace of a secret organization of former SS officers and goes off in search of the Butcher of Riga or whoever. It's kind of silly but I enjoy these silly, clunky old thrillers even though I recognize that they're kind of bad. The accents range from surprisingly good to surprisingly bad, sometimes in the same scene. The writing isn't so hot either but it's entertaining. It did sort of bother me that film indicated that it was based on actual events when "inspired by" might have been better way to put it since the events in the film didn't actually happen and the characters the movie uses are based on real people but their fates and situations are so completely distorted it's a wonder they'd make such a claim. C/C-

Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience is about the life of a high priced escort at the peak of the hysteria surrounding the current financial crisis and the 2008 presidential election. I like that the film is so specific to a certain time and place that actually means something to most people watching it, although some of the dialogue seems rehashed though I think a lot of people actually talk like that so maybe he's just disposing of the convention that people in movies be more articulate or interesting than regular people. The film ranges from intriguing to creepy and tiresome. I might watch it again. C

I was sort of intrigued by Big Fan after I heard a piece on NPR about it. I feel like I've sort of outgrown NPR with its seemingly indiscriminate boosterism. The movie was really promising though. I mean it was all primed and set up to make an interesting examination of an idea I haven't seen looked at so much before. I kept thinking when I was watching it that it's true that you don't have to be a sports fan to appreciate the movie. It could really be about any unhealthy obsession or outgrown coping mechanism gone awry. Sadly, the film goes off the track at the end and lands in disappointmentsville. C-

The New Twenty is a sort of blah soap opera of 30-year olds making their way in New York. It's kind of like St. Elmo's Fire but less fun. It's really not fun at all. I generally felt indifferent to all the characters and their situations... D+

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