Sep. 2nd, 2006

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Spirited Away

This animated feature felt like the sweetest nightmare.

From No-Face to the little soot balls to the paper birds, there was so much visceral information presented that it was easy to fall into Chihiro's world and hang out for a while.

The big scene in the bath house was totally awesome, and while the paper birds tweaked a nightmare memory of my own, the animation overall felt dreamy and fluid and particularly well thought out.

Sweet nightmares, fun journey for little Chihiro. Plot-wise, it felt a tiny bit like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, at least in some of the structure.
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[ profile] thajinx made me put this on my queue so that it would arrive when he came here for a week in June, so we could watch it together. One of the things that cracks me up about our friendship is that we experience a voyeuristic glee at watching the other experience some movie or game or song/band for the first time. Of course, because he's a bit more thoroughly hardcore about movies and games than I am, it means I am under almost constant observation when he's around, but I suppose I shall suffer the hardship. Somehow.

So, yeah, Snatch. A totally dumb and chaotic movie, with just the right amount of thuggish hip stylee and quick cut editing to keep you on a rollercoaster of unintelligible accents, bumbling crimes, and the word "fuck" uttered 153 times (according to IMDB).

Good times. I miss watching movies with people.
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Henry & June

Basically, this is a movie about really pretentious people who get all insular and lie to each other and think that their genital's needs are more important than anyone else's.


edited to add: I admit, Maria de Madeiros was quaint eye candy, but that was about it.
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The Secret of NIMH

Many movies on my Netflix queue are movies I've seen before, but hadn't actually viewed since their release, or shortly thereafter. NIMH is one of them.

Elizabeth Hartman's voice work in this movie as Mrs. Brisby is so amazing that it made me really sad to find out that she committed suicide only five years after this movie was released. She seriously makes this movie for me. The Don Bluth animation style is soft, and delightfully ominous in parts (owl, anyone?) - he brings out the magic and triumph in a situation without trying to wow you with animation tricks or over-the-top visuals. Instead, it's the little things: the way Mrs. Brisby grasps things, the lighting inside the rats' lair, the movement of each animal type with a direct and well-stated correlation to their characters, etc.

It was very fun to hear Wil Wheaton in a role that I had forgotten he'd done. Also, Shannen Doherty. Hee. Little tiny mouse children, all grown up now. How odd.
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This would be yet another of the movies that I've already seen, but not really since its release.

I figured I just had to rent it again, since I had just finished playing Kingdom Hearts 2, and was jonesing for the original plot and characters. I was pleasantly surprised to see exactly how faithful the KH2 use of Tron was - I never realized that Sora and his pals essentially mirror the main plot of the movie, and yet manage to make it make sense in terms over the overall game plot. Nicely done.

The visuals really are so great for 1982. I remember everyone at the time being so excited by this way of presenting a virtual reality, with vivid color and a sense of the surreal - it's one of the core challenges of good sci-fi, after all, to create a sensical analog between what the audience is familiar with, and what the new world reveals, without being too cheesy. I know I was completely absorbed by it, although, since I was 9 or 10 at the time, I could've done without the embarassing (and yet totally tame) romance sub-plot. I just wanted more racing and crazy-ass traveling inside of a computer.
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Unfortunately for this movie, Dangerous Liaisons was released a year previously, and so even though the production times would indicate that Valmont would be the first out of the gate, it wasn't to be.

So, you'll read a lot of critics decrying this as the lesser interpretation of the same source material, but I guess until I see the other one in its entirety, I'll just have to hold my judgement.

On its own, Valmont strives to be lovely and careful, which really works for the most part, as the plot can certainly be interpreted as a slow dance of manipulation and twisted-up passions. There are sections which are positively anemic, though, and I felt sort of bad for these actors who are so obviously capable of more, but seemed as though they were reigned in with satin ribbons and languid garden tea parties.

Annette Bening seemed to be having fun, and while I thought Colin Firth suffered from the anemic direction most of all, I still enjoyed watching him, and how he approaches each moment.
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Bend It Like Beckham

A totally cute movie about girl's soccer/football. I dunno! It was cute! And fun. A bit formulaic, a bit twee.

And while I have nothing against Keira Knightley, each movie I see her in further demonstrates to me that while she's certainly a capable actress, she really just has very little about her that's uniquely appealing, you know? Like, she does the big old dazzling smile, and you think, hey, nice smile! Or she's all quirky and determined, and you think, boy, she's sure got some spunk! what a feisty chick! -- but none of it ever seems grounded or rooted in character work. A lot of it feels surface, and facile.

Which is fine! There's a lot of movies (like, um, this one) which require Generic Girl Power Tomboy Antics Plus Sexy Teen-or-Pre-Teen energy, and she fits the bill really well. I dunno. I suppose I am just sort of puzzled as to why she's gotten as many roles as she has.

Parminder Nagra rocks as Jess, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers sure is pretty, isn't he?


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