Mid-month mainstream mix

Why review one movie if you can review a couple at the same time? Not always DV material, these movies were nevertheless released in 2009 and deserve a word. Be that good or bad.

I can’t say I looked forward to the second Twilight movie. Not because I’m not a teen girl (therefore I don’t go all putty when I see Pattison) and not because the first one is still on my massive “To See” shelves, but this one smelt foul… here are the clues:
1) The press people weren’t allowed to see this upfront. Which either indicates the film has a couple of secrets the movie people don’t want to leak out… or it’s a piece of shit. Given that this film was based on a book which has been out for a while, one may be inclined to predict the latter reason is the valid one.
2) The Batman Forever phenomenon. The more indier a soundtrack gets, the more there’s a reason the film tries to draw you in with fancy names. Movies like Juno have a clear view of what they want for their soundtrack, hence it being based predominately on Moldy Peaches tracks (with a hint of Belle and Sebastian – because it fitted). However, Batman Forever had a soundtrack of which only five tracks had made it to the film itself, the others were “inspired by the motion picture”. If you were somewhat musically conscious in the 90s, you’ll drool over a list of bands like Nick Cave, Flaming Lips, Michael Hutchence covering Iggy Pop, Mazzy Star, U2 and PJ Harvey. The great soundtrack to this film (and sequel Batman & Robin) didn’t make the films any better, though. Twilight 2: New Moon features tracks by Bon Iver & St. Vincent, Lykke Li and Thom Yorke. Looks like you’re better off just listening to the soundtrack.
3) One clip I watched showed me bad direction and worse effects, not unlike The Golden Compass, also a Chris Weitz movie. Also bear in mind this was a preview clip. That’s the clip they want you to see upfront.
Conclusion: avoid!

Slumdog Millionaire
Yes, believe it or not: this Danny Boyle film was released in 2009 in my country and therefore it’s a 2009 film. I hadn’t watched it before it won all those Oscars, so in hindsight there’s no way you can’t think of this film as multi-awarded while you’re watching it. Was Slumdog Millionaire so good all those Oscars were justified? No. And it’s quite likely that if the film hadn’t gone for such an absurd deus ex machina (providing us with one of the least likely final scenes of a film this year) it would’ve gotten less Oscars. Still, after the absurd climax the film ends in a Bollywood song, with a tone that seems to mock the previous scenes. Anyway, Slumdog Millionaire was a decent film in a year (2008 in most countries, including the UK and US) not too many films didn’t stand out, which is probably why it was so awarded. Regardless of the hype, the film deserved an 8/10 for its good direction, great camerawork and decent performances. And yes, we’ll choose Slumdog over Sunshine anyday.

The Informant! is the latest Steven Soderbergh film, starring Matt Damon (who gained a lot of weight to be in the film). The film shows you how Matt Damon’s character Mark Whitacre becomes (rather unwillingly) an informant for the FBI because his company and many other international companies in the food industry were involved in fixing prices. Whitacre is somewhat of a dope character, but he isn’t passed off as the gentle nincompoop you can both laugh at and relate to. Which is good, as it makes the film more plausible.
Still, this movie could have been one of the key films of the year, mainly because its themes: company fraud and food-related issues, can it get more 2009? Yet I felt the film didn’t have enough punch to become truly memorable. It’s so fluffy a couple of days after the film you have to think what the film was about. And by now we know Soderbergh can direct and Damon can act, so less is no longer more. The film picks up speed and content in the second hour, so at least you don’t leave the theatre feeling hungry, but again it shows that Soderbergh still seems more obsessed by quantity rather than quality. The verdict is 7/10, but it’ll be the lowest of the 7-rated movies in my upcoming list.

Coming up as well: Fish Tank and a movie you might have expected earlier on DV, but the end of the year is nigh and we save the best for last… any guesses?

3 thoughts on “Mid-month mainstream mix

  1. deeopey December 17, 2009 / 10:33

    New Moon eh, I came very close to getting talked in to it but managed a perfectly timed duck. I shall not judge you for it though, I expect the same respect of my dignity when I walk out of Avatar at the weekend 😉

  2. Kurtodrome December 19, 2009 / 02:17

    Same here. Only my cinema doesn’t have 3D screens and it’s the only reason I can think of to watch the film. The Abyss is the only Cameron film I could stomach (bear in mind I haven’t seen Aliens). Looking forward to hearing your view on Avatar, as I’ve been hearing mixed reviews.

  3. deeopey December 22, 2009 / 12:15

    Well Avatar was good fun. It looks spectacular obviously. A pet hate of mine has been that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to shoot a decent action scene, I mean they’re just boring, Avatar is actually exciting. It’s unfortunately very predictable but wasn’t boring.

    Interestingly for a mega-budget hollywood film as well it actually has something to say about the war and a strong eco-message. The message isn’t very subtle though and I think Wall-E managed it better (though I love that film).

    Still I’m comfortable saying Avatar is quality escapism, maybe 7/10.

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