rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

22-7-2006 (archived)

They say that any day on which you learned something is a day not completely wasted, and today I learned a thing.

It may be hot. Very hot.

It may be humid. Very humid.

You may be hungry. Very hungry.

Still, you should put on a shirt before you start stir-frying. Really.

In mitigating circumstance news, at least I've been in a position to spend the rest of the day shirtless with a fan blowing on me, and it's not as painful as when I learned not to fry bacon naked a couple of years ago. As you may have gathered, the reason I have so many qualifications is that, without them, nobody would believe I was not an idiot.

So, here I sit, irritable, smelling of butter. A fairly normal Saturday, really.

25-7-2006 (archived)

Just my luck” has had a bit of a kicking, not entirely undeservedly. The major problem is that an awful lot of it seems to be product placement for McFly, who frankly are poor enough in it that the Americans to whom they're trying to break will probably assume they were made up for the movie; they're not good enough to be a real band. On the other hand, it does remind us of why Lindsay Lohan is famous; not for cocaine and hanging out with Paris Hilton (which phase, along with the scary skinniness, seems to have mostly passed), but for being a charming, charismatic and immensely likeable young actress. And for breasts. Crap, but Lohan makes it enjoyable enough.

27-7-2006 (archived)

Superman Returns” is surprisingly decent, though the fear that all of the best moments were probably in the trailer turns out to be well-justified. Let me say straight away that if you know your Superman canon (I do not, not well, though I had some idea of the content of the first film), this film picks up after Superman II and ignores the later, dreadful, installments. Knowing what happens in II will lessen the weight of disbelief to be carried, though this really isn't a believe-in-it movie anyway.

It's heavy on the (pretty good) effects, and very heavy on the Jesus parallels, with less of the overt silliness of pre-1990 superhero movies, but still, I think this is a mistake. They should have done what Batman has done, and started from scratch. A sequel to, assuming plot recall from, films of 1978 and 1980 that weren't that good anyway is a clear error. On the other hand, Routh is an excellent piece of casting, there are some nice moments, and both Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey are excellent and entertaining. Hey ho. It's not fit to clean the boots of Batman Begins, and it's probably not as good as Singer's own X-Men movies, but it's still a very enjoyable popcorn blockbuster.

There will be no more posts until some time next week. Do not pine.

7-8-2006 (archived)

A week off has left me greatly refreshed and with a huge backlog of reviews to write; normally I try not to do more than about three reviews in a row without interposing some other babble, but on the principle that a rest is as good as a change, here are a couple more.

The Break-Up” is an interesting take on the romantic comedy; they both realise eventually, of course, that they still do want each other, and here is the mystery of the movie: neither of them is all that great. Vaughn's character is selfish and thoughtless, and Aniston's is manipulative and irrational, neither of them has any real warmth, and it's frankly impossible to work out how two people with so little in common - and whose meeting, which we see, is so un-promising - end up together. We see nothing of why they would want to be together, and all of why they wouldn't. Both of these stars are used to, and good at, playing people you like; here, uncomfortably, they're playing people you really don't. But, that said, it is funny, it does play fairly well on the emotions, and the ending, like the whole premise, is not what you'd expect. In the end, though, the best thing about it is imagining all the people who went to see the movie (with real-life-lovers and romcom regulars Vaughn and Aniston) on early dates and got this funny but very bitter, painful film.

Stormbreaker”, on the other hand, is neither bitter nor painful. Based on the popular child-targeted books, this is unashamedly a teenaged, less self-satisfied and far more contemporary Bond. For the grownup, while the action is enjoyable enough, the major value comes from the magnificently over-the-top performances of a cast including Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry, Missy Pyle, Jimmy Carr (surprisingly adequate), and a superb, unashamed film-stealing turn from Mickey Rourke. Stupid, certainly, but highly enjoyable.

9-8-2006 (archived)

OK Go's video featuring the band engaged in synchronised treadmill dance has been all over the net recently, but in case any of you have been living in holes, you still need to see it.

I'm willing to bet that that's a great deal harder than they're making it look.

13-8-2006 (archived)

I'm not really old enough to remember the TV original of “Miami Vice”, so I came into Michael Mann's movie without any real expectations except those created by the immensely cool trailers, all of which had perfect visuals and soundtracking.

And that's pretty much what you get - visually this is an astonishing film. Every shot is great. The soundtrack is perfectly chosen. The air of, yes, cool, and of Mann's trademark high-stakes machichismo is held throughout, and (again in Mann style) there's next to no humour (though the one funny moment, in Foxx's sex scene, is very funny indeed). The dialogue is minimal - I doubt either lead actor had more than a couple of dozen lines - and both Farrell (sporting a stupefyingly awful moustache-and-mullet combo) and Foxx recognise that they're not here to deliver dialogue. Much of what there is is fragmentary, often so jargon-loaded as to be meaningless, and mostly inaudible behind the engines of large, shiny fast things, or shit going boom. And that's fine.

So. Stunning, genuinely beautiful cinematography (every bit as good, and nearly as stylised, as the hugely praised Chinese martial arts pictures of recent years), with nearly overwhelming cool, a coherent plot, and so much testosterone you can almost feel your balls swelling. Not, perhaps, art, but brilliant.

14-8-2006 (archived)

We saw “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” on a day when we were tired and willing to put up with adequately-entertaining shit, which was frankly just as well. Thurman is massively out of place doing comedy at the best of times, which this frankly isn't, and even Eddie Izzard struggles to wring much in the way of genuine laughs out of the rather poor script. There are a few up-sides, notable the rather lovely (and pleasingly not-quite-symmetrical) Anna Faris, who manages yet again to embody perfect but unrealistically hot girl-next-door come workmate. The movie does resonate to some extent, of course; how many of us have never dated a mad, clingy, borderline psychotic? We found ourselves turning to each other and saying “yup, recognise that” fairly often. And there is at least one genuinely funny line: “Why did G-Girl throw a shark at us?”. Still, that's not really enough reason to go see it.

If romantic comedies hadn't been in such a dry patch recently, this would probably look awful. As it is, this is not a film to avoid, precisely, but it's certainly not one to make any effort to catch.

16-8-2006 (archived)

One of the best things about blogging is that you sometimes get email from real people who you don't know, who have things to say that are worth hearing. Even better is when you get mail from people you DO know but haven't seen in years, and whom you had no idea read you. Better yet is when they enclose an excellent link that you hadn't seen. So, thanks, Thomas!

Oh, yeah, the link. Everything sounds like Coldplay now.

18-8-2006 (archived)

There have been quite a few cartoons recently, so here's a quick roundup.

We were dubious about “Cars”; the trailers were poor, and we'd had some negative word of mouth from the US. On the other hand, we'd heard some good things, too, and I can't not see a Pixar movie. Fortunately, while it's not one of their greatest, it's still a great kids' movie, with astonishing animation, some great minor characters (especially Guido and Luigi) and just the right amount of sentimentality. Also, tractor tipping rocks. As a final bonus, if you like cheesy high-production-values classic rock, the soundtrack will make you happy indeed.

The Ant Bully” is yet another animation about ants, revealing yet again just how short of ideas these guys are right now. There was a lot of charm, a heartlifting message about bullying, and one really funny moment (the ant version of crying). To be honest, though, it still wasn't all that good. Not bad, just forgettable.

Monster House”, on the other hand, is pretty good. There are some really good jokes about kids and how they relate to each other, and it does a good job of being scary enough for the kids without being, I think, too much. It's also a pretty good story, well handled, and very funny in places. Again, it's not up with the best of Pixar's work, but it's pretty and pretty good.

We like cartoons, and we have no shame.

22-8-2006 (archived)

Nacho Libre” is very, very silly indeed, but not so silly as to be not based on a true story; yes, there really was a Mexican wrestler by night, man of god by day, paying for orphanages.

The script is, not to put too fine a point on it, rubbish, and there's no attempt to play it as anything other than ham; the only value to it comes from Jack Black's horrifying simpering and admittedly gifted physical comedy. It's a lazy film, reminiscent of a lot of those Peter Sellers movies that knew (rightly) that it would be funny because of its star, and so did not bother to do anything with him. Black can and should be doing great work, and this is barely passable.

My email is screwed again, and I am having trouble getting it sorted. You can, temporarily, contact me at rick at altrion dot org, if you need to. Edit: all fixed now, we think.