MY WEEK #42: Wrath of the Titans; 21 Jump Street; Mirror Mirror

Wrath of the Titans
Jonathan Liebesman, 2012
Tsk, tsk, silly Zeus, always causing mortal troubles with his notorious hubris. A sequel to Louis Letterier's "Clash of the Titans" remake had virtually no choice but to be an improvement, not because that remake was terrible in general but because it was attempting to tell an original story within the constructs of a classic tale, clumsily negating both yarns along the way. Here we have an original idea toying within the world of the great Greek myths, and daring where none to my knowledge have dared before by making none other than Kronos, ultimate titan and father of the gods, the big bad a la the prior film's Kraken. I will not pretend "Wrath of the Titans" is especially well-written, or even competently paced, for that matter, but I will shower well-earned praise on the main event - the monsters. Like a true successor to legendary and beloved screen magician Ray Harryhausen's indelible gallery of creations, the beasts in "Wrath" hold the most importance and deliver awe-inspiringly grandiose spectacle. The chimera in particular might make "Uncle Ray" himself proud, should he give the film the time of day. As for Liebesman, who showed moderate flair with an early sequence in last year's otherwise atrocious "Battle: LA", his frantic yet controlled camerawork and penchant for powerfully crushing rigid objects in to debris creates an effective illusion, masking certain narrative convenience in action scenes and lending significant weight to what could be weightless (IE computer effects - this makes for one of the very few times I'm not lamenting the death of Dynamation). Perseus himself sees improvement both aesthetically and thematically, as he has not just hair and a more tattered appearance befitting his chosen lifestyle but he's also actually been given some dimension beyond simply looking mean. Bill Nighy shines and recalls Burgess Meredith's Ammon in a brief appearance as Hephaestus (who in this interpretation has constructed the labyrinth to be a truly divine wonder of mechanical design - it really is something to behold), and I sure can't complain about the presence of one of my favorite actresses Rosamund Pike, even if she's not given much to chew on. "Wrath of the Titans" is essentially a reboot for its characters at what really could have been a logical starting point, and works in just about every way its predecessor failed. And was that some quick aspect ratio-shaving to enhance the trick of the 3D's positive space? When the chimera's tail attacks, I mean. Maybe I was just seeing things. Was I?

Further first-time viewings:

21 Jump Street - Phil Lord & Chris Miller, 2012
What has the world of comedy come to? I thought things had become bad enough already, though rarely we do see still see glimmers of classic quality as many had recently chalked Jonah Hill's passion project up to be. Here's a newsflash - simply saying the word "dick" is not funny. Saying the word "dick" while doing violent and homophobic things to the dick in question does not render the existing lack of humor somehow funnier. This is just a vague example of how poorly conceived the honestly boring revival of this particular Stephen J. Cannell brand is. Add a meta sensibility more overt and less consistent than in any terrible "Scream" movie (read: any "Scream" movie) over a piss-poor script more concerned with sappy juvenile bromance than anything and you have one of the very worst major releases of 2012's first quarter, which is saying a lot considering "John Carter", "Act of Valor" and "This Means War" (and, presumably, "Project X", though I've managed to avoid that apparent atrocity). Ransom Everglades alums Lord and Miller's almost-too-fast-paced-to-register style that worked so surprisingly well in "Clone High" and especially "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" only makes matters worse. Stick to animation, boys.

Mirror Mirror - Tarsem Singh, 2012
AKA "Tarsem Sells Out". Wow. It really is saying a lot that I've seen not one, not two... but now three movies already this year that are worse than the so-bad-I-thought-for-sure-it-would-remain-the-worst-I'd-see-in-2012 "Act of Valor". My pessimistically hopeless predictions were still too generous. I suppose children might enjoy the anti-cinematic flick, but more in the sense that it's attention-grabbing on levels so basal only children could possibly be interested before forgetting about it and moving on to commercials for the latest "Jersey Shore"-inspired Barbie doll, Jell-O Shot Kimberly or whatever. Despite Tarsem's barely discernable efforts amidst machine-gun editing (seriously, are modern editors incapable of holding shots for more than .5 seconds?), "Mirror Mirror" feels like a cheap high school drama production dead set on tarnishing the careers of Nathan Lane and Armie Hammer while stunting that of Lily Collins and occasionally tossing in an obligatorily "hip" quip delivered by a perhaps more-repulsive-than-ever Julia Roberts, who all but entirely drops character when poking said fun at fairy tales from a contemporary perspective. Get me out of here.

Total: 3

Episodic Television (4): Louie (Bully - Night Out), Futurama (Cold Warriors - Reincarnation), The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (In Which Claims Are Made and a Journey Ensues), Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (East Meets West, Part 1)
- "Bully" marks a high point for the first season of Louie. Funny yet uncomfortable, entertaining yet challenging. Through brief segments of stand-up and almost sketch-esque vignettes, the show has created a full atmosphere around this central character we relate to on levels of general agreement over politically incorrect issues we can generally be timid to speak up on, and on much deeper psychological levels regarding topics such as shame, rejection, mortality and the insignificance of our redundant lives.
- "Futurama" continues to be that show that I'm never really all that in to, but that rarely fails to impress me nonetheless. The stylistically playful "Reincarnation" isn't a super-consistent episode, but it is referentially delightful and finds flat-out brilliant ways to depict plot points practically undoable within the show's traditional format.
- I guess I just don't get what people see in David Cross. He's not bad, he's just a combination of inconsiderate asshole and hapless idiot with comedy stylings conventional and predictable as can be, and that's not my bag. At least "Todd Margaret" gives me some overdue Sharon Horgan, who really held together her great yet short-lived show, "Pulling".
- On the complete opposite end of the qualitative spectrum, "The Next Mutation" (which despite my lifelong "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" fandom I've only just heard of) is close to the most reprehensible thing I've ever allowed to bombard my senses for 20 straight minutes.

Episodic Television Rewatches (1): Parks & Recreation (Hunting Trip - Galentine's Day; Indianapolis - I'm Leslie Knope; Citizen Knope - Campaign Ad)

Stand-Up Comedy (New!): Louis C.K.: Chewed Up
- It's been a while since I've laughed this much at a performance of one of my favorite art forms - stand-up comedy. C.K. just has a way of relating to people's darker sides that most comics surely envy. His schtick isn't too different from the usual material, but his delivery and sheer audacity when speaking the dirty truth about race, sexuality and cleaning poop out of baby vaginas make him a big hit, and perhaps one of the most important comedians since George Carlin.

Video Games (1): Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure
- The "Extra Game" feature in "Kirby's Dream Land" is tough, boy! I've managed to reach Dedede's palace, but making it through the bosses is quite the challenge. As of this posting I'm down to just the hot air balloon guy, but fully expect to lose all my lives and have to start over multiple times.

Literature (1): Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America (Leslie Knope, 2011)
- Leslie Knope is one great character in a group of great characters from "Parks & Recreation", and perhaps her greatest, most winning quality is an undying - almost blind - passion for her hometown, blemishes and all. This passion brightly shines through the appropriately funny yet desirably earnest "The Greatest Town in America", warmly and welcomingly making one wish Pawnee were a real place so one could actually take the "24 Hours in Pawnee" tour and eat at JJ's Diner for breakfast, lunch and dinner, etcetera.

"My Week in Movies" is a Saturdaily column in which I share preferentially ranked capsule reviews for the films I view in, well, a week, along with thoughts on other forms of media I'm taking in (or masochistically subjecting myself to).


My Week: March 24, '12

Attack the Block - Joe Cornish, 2011
"This ain't got nothing to do with gangs, or drugs, or rap music, or violence in video games!" The weakly justified plot hole of a premise makes for a unique alien invasion flick with an unlikely team of protagonists and self-assurance to spare, though I can't say it ever absorbed me beyond the level of an '80s camp-fest on super-crack. There's a moment when lead actor John Boyega hypothesizes the aliens are government constructs designed to kill blacks, thereby speeding up the process of the government's drug and gun conspiracies... now that's a more compelling (and poignant) adversarial concept. As it stands "Attack the Block" is a sufficient dose of entertainment significantly superior to the lukewarm state of the contemporary blockbuster, so I'll give credit where credit's due. Excellent slo-mo finale, too.

Further first-time viewings:

The Hunger Games - Gary Ross, 2012
What is the idea of tentpole franchises doing to Hollywood? For example, there may yet be hope for "The Avengers", though last year saw Marvel churning out not one but two vanilla offerings with the key interest of keeping mainstream audiences whetted while avoiding the alienation of a core fanbase as opposed to delivering actually great products. These films lack what we most admire in cinema - risk. We gravitate toward risk, and with the right talent that risk can pay off in a win/win scenario for both us and the studio. The first major event picture of 2012 was crafted from the start to be a tentpole, and thusly does it suffer. It is obligatorily drawn out, politically correct to detrimental ends and habitually rather goofy. I'm sure there's a great movie in the material, but this missed opportunity isn't it, which makes me wonder why it is so apparently difficult to get right. Hollywood is neutered. I can say this, at least - flaws and all the film does offer a full, if not engrossing journey driven by character, albeit straight down the middle of the road. For better or for worse "The Hunger Games" brings more to the table than mere fleeting diversion. Read the full review at Icon Magazine.

Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale) - Kinji Fukasaku, 2000
A crude onslaught of kill sequences amongst characters hardly developed by default simply for the fact that there are far too many of them. Frequent melodrama fails to lift it all any level above flat-out boring, particularly since that isolated aspect itself fails to breach the level of even the cheapest J-inspired dating game. Political metaphor? Easy thrills? Neither are to be found, says I, unless you really get off on seeing what high school social dynamics could be like were the phrase, "I'm going to kill you!" taken literally. It's been done better (fewer characters - or at least less reliance on sympathizing with them as individuals - being a key), and it will be done better again.

Total: 3

Episodic Television (2): Parks & Recreation (End of the World - Lucky); Louie (Pilot - Dogpound)
- Louis C.K.'s on-screen vision of himself is compellingly unique in that it is as relatable as any successful comedian would want as much to be, but in what is about the practical opposite of self-deprecation, C.K. often overtly acknowledges his general intellectual superiority and enviable fame. More importantly, with his show as with his stand-up he is unflinching in throwing his audience in uncomfortable and even scary situations for the sake of unveiling - or in certain cases, justifying - much of modern Western living's preposterousness and short-sightedness.

Episodic Television Rewatches (1): Parks & Recreation (Rock Show - The Camel; Li'l Sebastian; Citizen Knope; Lucky)

Video Games (2): Burrito Bison Revenge; Kirby's Adventure
- "Burrito Bison Revenge" is almost annoyingly addictive. I've poured far too many hours in to missions and upgrades for a flash game that involves mere clicks to control. The colorful irreverence that is a man-bison luchador-crushing seething throngs of gummi bears and bashing through walls to retain his Bad Mother Fucker wallet has been, however, too captivating to put down. So far I've completed 90 of 120 missions with high scores of $72,183 earned, 43,145m traveled and 393 smashed.


My Week: March 17, '12

The Big Swallow
James Williamson, 1901
AKA "A Photographic Contortion". A film only one minute in length, but from an age of cinematic birthing that makes it an important and simultaneously delightful and fascinating in its experimental nature. The two edits - simple by today's standards - are purely magical in the truest sense of the term, and the focus pulling is phenomenal. I'm not sure I've ever been more impressed by mustache stubble.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass, 2012
Many of us live with some form of amorphous, ambiguous and arbitrary mysticism that we either pragmatically ignore or allow to guide us beyond a life of nobody-dom. Jason Segel's Jeff, who stagnates while humorously but affectingly following "signs" in an aimless search of some greater destiny, teaches us that even if we don't believe in deeper meanings to coincidence, having some similar form of positivity in our lives is never a bad thing. "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" feels at first like a midseason episode of a television program in the sense that much information about our characters is left as read, despite the fact that we haven't "read" it. This leads to my only real complaint, in that Ed Helms' Pat's storyline feels underwritten to the point that I don't know what to feel about it, even from an objective stance. We are simply not given the backstory required to really ground the issues, leaving Pat's conflict difficult to connect with but on vague levels. Its emotion hits hard, regardless, as do the many other tough emotional moments. For as funny as the film can be, it revels in its ability to make us weep - and many of the tears come as a result of joy and beauty. One moment in particular seems to mirror a past time in which Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer played mother and daughter - in "Elizabethtown" - although this time it's Sarandon basking in the spray of fire safety sprinklers.

Further first-time viewings:

The Big Shave - Martin Scorsese, 1967

Upright Citizens Brigade: Asssscat - Eric Cochran, 2008
Yep, funny stuff. I'd not seen any of UCB's improv before, so I suppose it was interesting. I'd rather rewatch episodes of their Comedy Central show, though.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil - Eli Craig, 2010
What do you get when two well-meaning hillbillies haplessly stumble in to a series of slasher movie clichés? A sorta halfway decent movie, I guess. I do love Alan Tudyk's "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" reference, though. The man dances almost as well as Leatherface.

Total: 5

Rewatches (1): The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
- "The Skin I Live In" is even better the second time around.

Episodic Television (2): Parks & Recreation (Ron & Tammy - Meet 'n' Greet), The Walking Dead (Better Angels)
- It's almost counteractive to subjectively compare "Parks & Rec" to "The Office", because in doing so one compromises the originality each possesses, but I'm just going to bluntly state it - "Parks & Rec" is the better show... to the point that it makes its predecessor look like it's trying too hard. I say that from a technical standpoint, but also from a personal one as no show has drawn me in this deeply since I discovered my beloved "Scrubs" (I'm obsessively binging, clearly - I reached the current season in a week!). The subtle character development that skirts clichéd relationship scenes is borderline genius, and in turn makes episodes that are less shameful in their approach to relationship building such as season 2's Christmas episode all the more endearing. The gradually, gracefully established emotional core is so strong, and every character is so winning. Leslie Knope may seem definitively bumbling to the casual viewer, but she is the backbone of her department. Ron Swanson may similarly appear gruff and weird - and he is, to be sure - but he is a giant sweetheart and I nearly wept when his favorite steakhouse was shut down despite the scene feeling more geared toward comic effect. Tom Haverford is the dopest dope, and his own worst enemy. Andy is my favorite character, Chris Pratt plays dumb better than just about anyone and his romantic arcs have been the most involving of the series thus far, for me. I believe one day Jerry is going to come in and shoot everyone. I could go on. I almost wish I were even further behind in the show, because once I catch up with the current season, I'll be left waiting week-to-week just like everyone else who realized the show's greatness sooner!

Episodic Television Rewatches (1): Parks & Recreation (Pilot - The Banquet)
- Looking back after falling in love with the series, the "Parks & Rec" pilot really isn't as bad as I've been feeling it is for however long it's been since I first viewed it. Not in the least, in fact. It perfectly sets up the characters. I was resistant at first because it felt unoriginal (ostensibly a copy of "The Office", which is already a copy of "The Office") and it co-starred the paragon of anti-quality, Aziz Ansari. Oh, how those conceptions have been dashed.

Video Games (2): Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Kirby's Adventure
- Finally, a fifth shard of the "Amazing Mirror"! These buggers are tough to find. It helps that I finally managed to uncover Carrot Castle and Peppermint Palace. Phew! Now where the heck do I go...

Comic Books (New!): The Walking Dead (#91 - #94)
- It's a credit to the best comic book title I've ever read that even repetition is riveting; the current reminiscence of the Woodbury arc is all the more haunting because we know what could occur based on what's come to pass, rather than just feeling like it's just an uninspired retread (like just about every episode of the show is, even this early on). Considering the recent injury suffered by Carl and the outsider from another community taken prisoner, it makes one wonder if plot points from the current issues of the comic are being purposefully utilized in the bafflingly subpar television adaptation.


My Week: March 10, '12

Paradise Alley
Sylvester Stallone, 1978
Stallone is not one to shy from the cheese, and his directorial debut "Paradise Alley" - a sensible creative bridge between his growing roles in front of and behind the camera in "Rocky" and "Rocky II", respectively - brings it in spades perhaps even more ample than those of "Rocky III", going as far as to include a slow-motion freeze-frame opening credits sequence to the tune of an original Bill Conti theme song heartily crooned by none other than Sly himself. The unabashed gusto in bits like this endear as opposed to falter, seeing as they know full well what they aspire to be and reach for those stars with few recognized limits. With the sheer quantity of films I take in on a regular basis, it strikes me when I am found truly caring for characters as opposed to simply looking at what they represent socially and culturally or, in lesser efforts, as mere tools in a narrative. "Paradise Alley" follows a year or so in the lives of three brothers, and outside "Young Adult" I'll be damned if I've cared this much for a set of screen individuals since my viewing of "Skin Game" last year. The passion Stallone puts in to the content of their characterizations and intertwined stories is palpable in every frame, through the detailed set decoration to Stallone's own performance as Cosmo, the hot-headed but sensitive ("I'm sensitive!") big shot caught between ideals. These characters, and anyone surrounding them, are born beneath a glass ceiling - one few can so much as hope to scrape, even momentarily. Added to that, their world is changing, rendering them relics in their own era. Their stubborn perseverance, resolve, ingenuity and, well, brotherhood, carries the film through even its technically weaker scenes. It's a pity the piece ends on an honestly foolish climax that purports professional wrestling as authentic and leaves many threads unresolved - or in a certain case, wholly unexamined - but as a whole the feature experience is indispensably winning.

The Mill & the Cross
Lech Majewski, 2011
With a 1970s sensibility one could liken to that of Pasolini when considering certain shots and the general atmosphere, Majewski brings aptly lit motion and backing culture development to Bruegel's famous painting. Though I can nitpick by pointing out occasional blue screen-generated illusion-breaking, the film is spellbindingly composed with striking imagery as it fleshes out its depicted world. I would suggest a similar treatment for my favorite painter Hieronymus Bosch, but I see Majewski already has a film entitled "The Garden of Earthly Delights"! Screenshots after the jump.

Further first-time viewings

The Ten - David Wain, 2007
Though it peaks with its ferociously uproarious opening story, "Thou Shalt Worship No God Before Me", with the exception of one abominably stupid animated segment "The Ten" is thoroughly watchable and frequently funny through fun references and an altogether dis-conventional demeanor that relishes in-humor and relentless irreverence.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio - Michel Hazanavicius, 2009
After "Cairo, Nest of Spies" introduced me to Jean Dujardin's charmingly stupid yet eternally slick Hubert Bonisseur, I was primed and wanting for "Lost in Rio" to bowl me over with triumphant comedy. Sadly, it's a merely competent return for the parodic spy, whose humor this round is less classic and more tongue-in-cheek to lackluster results.

Snowballs - Harmony Korine, 2011
Perhaps I look too deeply for purpose or meaning in Korine's works. "Snowballs" purports cultural relevance through its surface-level offensive costuming and intentionally short-minded narrator and brutish yet cheaply sympathetic central character, though I'm not sure it's there for anything more than to simply depict another honest oddity from the filmmaker's recollection of youth.

Tight Jeans - Destiny Ekaragha, 2008
With an intentionally simple script as thematically transparent as this, it's interesting that something as minor as continual dollying to and fro before our immobile cast helps maintain interest in the predictable and docile conversation comprising the brief piece. Cues seemingly taken from the books of Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater don't hurt.

Friends with Kids - Jennifer Westfeldt, 2012
Invoking these names is far too complimentary, but If Robert Altman oversaw Woody Allen making an over-edited film with a sorely underdeveloped central relationship, it might look a little something like "Friends with Kids". In other words, the heart is in the right place, but a good movie this is not. It's a credit to the talents of Chris O'Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig and John Hamm that despite dubiously limited screentime we care far more about their issues (which are left forgotten by the time the credits roll, all too quickly at that - just like everything else). On the strong side, the subject matter is highly relatable, particularly for those of us with children.

Trash Humpers - Harmony Korine, 2009
Korine has gone off the deep end. His apparent goals here are accomplished, but is anti-aesthetic of artistic note simply due to having been intentional?

John Carter - Andrew Stanton, 2012
Laughable from the opening seconds and sporting the worst, most cardboard 3D I've yet seen, I can now verify that yes, Disney has indeed fouled up big time here. Like "Prince of Persia" in space, but somehow worse, "John Carter" is preposterous, wooden, emotionless, ugly and an excellent example of how not to write a screenplay. Or how not to do anything, for that matter.

Total: 9

Rewatches (1): Rollerball (McTiernan, 2002)
- So people hate on the "Rollerball" remake but go gaga for "The Fast & the Furious"? I found "Rollerball" exhilarating in theaters when I was 16, and it doesn't hold up even close to as well upon this, my first rewatch since then... but man is it better than similar adrenaline junkie thrillers of its ilk.

Episodic Television (2): Parks & Recreation (Canvassing - Greg Pikitis), The Walking Dead (Judge, Jury, Executioner)
- After being wholly underwhelmed with the pilot however long ago, I've decided to jump on a bandwagon and give "Parks & Rec" the ol' college try. Despite Aziz Ansari, who I make a rule of generally loathing but is tolerable and even occasionally funny here, the show is amusing. I suppose it's tough to go wrong when you've got Chris Pratt, Rashida Jones, Paul Schneider and Nick Offerman on board. So far "The Stakeout" has been the best episode. "I was born ready. I'm Ron Fucking Swanson." Although as far as isolated gags go, it'll be tough to top Burt Macklin, FBI.
- I have been completely forgetting to add "The Walking Dead" to these entries. The show deserves as much, and in all likelihood I'll forget to add it again next week. Listen to what myself and cohort Deepayan Sengupta think of the program in detail on Reel Time's "Don't Listen, Dead Inside" podcast, which is the only reason I continue tuning in.

Episodic Television Rewatches (1): Scrubs (My New Coat - My Philosophy; His Story; My Clean Break; My Rule of Thumb; My Screw Up; My Choosiest Choice of All - My Self-Examination)
- "Scrubs" is the definition of "comfort zone" for me. I could curl up and watch all day on any day in use of such comfort. I've been picking and choosing my episodes, but I could stand to go through the series from beginning to end. For a fourth time, that is. I'll need to DVD it up, though, because Netflix uses the copyright-afflicted alternate soundtracks. Totally ruined the endings of "My Monster" and "My Sex Buddy"! It's funny to remember which throw-away gags appear in which episodes. "My Fault", just for one example, is practically non-stop!

Video Games (2): Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Super Mario Land
- Absence makes the thumbs grow stronger in the case of "The Amazing Mirror", apparently! I put it down for a brief stretch for I was coming up empty when searching for yet-discovered lands... and as soon as I resumed play, I found not one but two, rife with secrets! The secret rewards aren't too satisfying, but I suppose it does relieve some stress to know that if I see one I can't get to, in all likelihood it's just a silly collectible to view from the menu as opposed to a new path to a new land. I'll have to put it down again, though... I'm already re-stuck!


My Week: March 3, '12

Harmony Korine, 1997
I'm not surprised to have received this recommendation based upon my recently discovered adoration of Pasolini's "Salò". Harmony Korine's apt "Gummo" displays the barbaric cores in all of us that surface in the highlighted culture with pale societal structure as mere obligation - as though oppression of the unwittingly grungy human spirit - where there is little to nothing encouraging more sophisticated being. In a sense I feel this may be Korine's "Clerks" in that while subsequent titles may be more specific and affecting (as evidenced immediately below), this will always be what perfectly sums up the filmmaker's relevance in both in subject and in execution. It's so unpleasant, and so good. I couldn't wait for it to end, yet I was finding it brilliant throughout. "Yes, Jesus loves me." Screenshots after the jump.

Julien Donkey-Boy
Harmony Korine, 1999
Coming absolutely from the same world as that of "Gummo", Korine's more dramatically faceted and utterly crushing feature follow-up to that portrait of basal humanity imbues a more focal character as uncomfortable to follow as he is sympathetic. On the heels of that premiere auteur effort, it took me a while to warm up to "Julien". I mean, simply based on the other film's cats, I was wincing just thinking of the horrible things our protagonist might do to that turtle. From an outsider perspective, I'd say Julien himself represents how many of us view ourselves, no matter the truth of our impact or social reputation - the enthusiastic abandon regarding personal identity and endeavors and the inescapable clumsiness, haste, small-mindedness and hate that defines our self-significance and results in a seemingly doomed culture of zealots and nobodies. Between this and "Gummo", I am thoroughly impressed with Korine. I can hardly think the man's name now, without feeling a circumstantial lump in the pit of my being simply due to his subject matter and Dogme 95 (or at least Dogme 95-esque) approach to it. Anyone else notice what is essentially "Sydney's Loop" right after the bacon sequence? If you can even remember it after that ending, that is. I'm still attempting to retain composure.

OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d'espions (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies)
Michel Hazanavicius, 2006
Like a more earnest "Austin Powers" that looks back in cinematic legacy further than "Bond" to mine its uproariously parodic and practically sketch-based humor that features some instantly classic bits. This only makes perfect sense to be found in the catalogue of the team behind "The Artist". Dujardin is so good I wound up dreaming of tandem bicycling with him o'er a cobbled path by a babbling brook... before we then accidentally got on a freeway traveling the wrong direction and wound up in the middle of a bustling greyhound racing track.

Further first-time viewings:

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax - Kyle Balda & Chris Renaud, 2012
FOX News is right! "The Lorax" is a shamelessly classic case of propaganda with roots in the subjects of iconic Soviet examples such as Davydov’s "Shareholders" and Borzilovsky & Prytkov’s "The Millionare" and the blatant structures of Disney’s notorious WWII cartoons. Thing is, although the obvious purposing cheapens it (the thing ends with an anthem and a quote, for crying out loud), it’s environmentalist, anti-corporation propaganda. That’s A-OK with me! Read the full review at Reel Time.

Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos - Raman Hui, 2012
Quite cute. And often very funny. The big eyes gag has officially run its course.

Il cittadino si ribella (The City Rebels) - Enzo G. Castellari, 1974
AKA "Street Law". It sports an obviously different storyline, but this reminds me of a relatively more produced "Blazing Magnum" (AKA "Shadows in an Empty Room"). This is a good thing, and "Street Law" is grittily entertaining for it, though I suppose I'd really just rather rewatch the great and greatly raw "Blazing Magnum".

Jodái-e Náder az Simin (The separation of Nader from Simin) - Asghar Farhadi, 2011
AKA "A Separation". A realist's intimate look in to dynamics of Iranian family life. With superficial reliance on performances and dialogue, it is the unspoken that reigns crucial to the conduct and respective fates of our characters. Also, the movie is dreadfully boring.

Total: 7

Rewatches (3): Puss in Boots (Miller, 2011), Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review (Stoklasa, 2011), Star Trek: First Contact Review (Stoklasa, 2009)

Video Games (3): Streets of Rage 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Golden Axe
- Made it to the final boss of Streets of Rage 2! Granted I'm tweaking myself up to 8 lives per continue thanks to the PS3 launch menu's noob-friendly customizations. Man, my 12-year-old self would be embarrassed. I'm using personal favorite Max now (Axel's a very, very close second), but I could have used Blaze and beat the sucker without even falling to my final continue back in the day. That rollerskate kid, though, that's another story. No, thanks.