Review of Labyrinth

They don’t make movies like this anymore. And unlike Frankenstein Island, that’s not a good thing.

LabyrinthWith Toy Story blazing the trails for the exciting new world of CGI full-length features, there will probably never be another puppet movie like Labyrinth. Sure there was The Muppets, an Oscar-winning movie that came out as recently as last year, but it’s not the same. And though I refuse to articulate the reason why, I stand by it.

While I was watching this movie, I wondered why no one thought to make another film like this one (or Dark Crystal) since 1986. Sure, it’s campy by nature, but it’s also fun as heck and probably somewhat globally important to have a kid’s movie that isn’t just all invented inside a computer.

Yes, the premise is that a teenager wished her baby brother away to the land of the Goblins, and if dissected completely, the plot wears thin in a place or two, but it is a fun variation of the typical kid’s movie and it would be nice if somebody tried to do something like this again. Unfortunately, I think we all know why no one has tried this in 25 years (R.I.P. Jim Henson), but it would be nice for someone in that camp to try to pick up the baton and run with it. Maybe Jennifer Connelly can executive produce it. Jenn? Please? 9 bugs (out of 10).

Review of The Social Network

A movie about Facebook was nominated for Best Picture. And it came damn close to winning.

The Social NetworkI wrote reviews on all the Best Picture nominees last February and to conserve time and because my opinion hasn’t changed since then, I’m just going to cut and paste that in here with an updated Bug Scale Rating at the end. Anybody mind that? Good. Also of note is that this movie came in 3rd of the 10 nominated this year (in my opinion), behind Inception and The Fighter.

I’d have to check again, but I think this might be the best dialogue in any movie I’ve ever seen. It was fast, it was fun and it was smart. I was pleasantly surprised by this and I don’t think they made Mark Zuckerberg out to be an ass at all. Just a really justifiably arrogant and brilliant guy. I can relate. I just don’t think a movie about Facebook can really win the Best Picture. If so, Facebook has officially taken over the world. Congrats. 9.5 bugs (out of 10).

Review of Who Is Cletis Tout?

This is definitely another very mini-cult classic.

Who is Cletis Tout?Once again, just like The Life of David Gale, this is a movie I love which was torn up by critics. Apparently some people found it clichéd and endlessly self-referential. I am not one of those people. And neither is Mike Conover for what it’s worth.

Much like Zero Effect, another classic in the VHS collection, this is a modern day film noir-ish movie. But this one is told primarily in flashback to achieve narrative exposition rather than the memoir technique that Zero Effect used. Christian Slater is caught early on by Tim Allen and held at gunpoint, forced to tell Tim his story before Tim gets the call back to finish the hit. The backstory involves a jewel heist, a love story, a prison break and a case of mistaken identity.

It’s a whole lot of fun if you can get passed the movie references that Tim Allen’s character makes. The hook is that Tim is a hit man who loves movies and if Slater’s story is interesting enough, he may let him go. The movie mostly follows the one timeline, but occasionally jumps back and forth to real time and into other flashbacks, but not so much that the layman can’t follow.

There is a scene in the middle with dialogue so torturous, I wish I could edit it myself. But other than that, it’s a lot of fun, with a bit of a surprise ending. Also, Tim says to Slater “Did anybody ever tell you you sound like Jack Nicholson?” I guess that was the self-referential part. 9.5 bugs (out of 10).

Review of The Gift

The VHS hits continue.

The GiftThis was a movie I was super impressed by and was all set to write on the Quote of the Day e-mail list back in 2001 about how much I liked it. And then I came home and watched Frequency, which is still my favorite movie. So it’s easy to see how this would have gotten forgotten. Until now, where it will be read by an average of 1.1 people, one of them being me.

Cate Blanchet is a medium in the town the song Fancy references. She sees Katie Holmes naked and murdered in a vision. And yes, I said naked. Keanu Reeves is the obvious lead suspect, but there are a handful of others it may be. And how can they convict him based on evidence uncovered by a vision? But there is a second storyline with Giovanni Ribisi that is equally haunting, if not more so.

In the end, it’s a tad contrived and writing about mediums seems easy as far as information that the movie needs to share with the audience because sometimes they can see things, sometimes they can’t. But the story and characters still grabbed my attention. 8.5 bugs (out of 10).

Review of Zero Effect

Recently, our A/C went out and we had to live in the basement for about 4 nights with access to no other entertainment than my old VCR. It was the greatest 4 nights of my life.

Zero EffectThis is a cult classic if Mike Conover and I constitute a cult. And I have come to terms with the fact that we don’t. But it is still a modern day Film Noir that is paced and scored and acted accordingly. This is how a murder mystery is supposed to unfold in a movie. And the characters are superbly different. Bill Pullman and Kim Dickens have this intentionally awkward, non-sexual but still fascinating chemistry. I wish more movies had the balls to try what this movie tried.

Bill Pullman plays an eccentric Private Investigator who never meets his clients. Instead, he sends his associate (Ben Stiller) to meet them and run errands and convey information to the point where he flies him across the country only to talk to him on the phone in the airport. “You can never be too careful.” He is chronicling his method in a memoir as the movie goes on, which adds for some narrative exposition, aka Burn Notice. He explains his method of the two “obs,” objectivity and observation. These are the keys to the Zero Effect. Oh, his name is Darryl Zero. And there’s some fun stuff in there about a poem.

This is my hidden gem. If I am ever forced at gunpoint to name a movie that the perp probably hasn’t seen but would probably like, I’m going with this one. Odds are against that happening, but you can never be too prepared. You should all watch this movie. I have it on VHS if you need it. 10 bugs (out of 10).