164. Ong Bak 2: The Beginning [D+]
165. A Clockwork Orange [A]
166. O Lucky Malcolm! [C+]
167. Inception [B+]
168. The Dark Knight [B+]
169. Metropolis [A]
170. George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead [D+]
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning: The rumor is that Tony Jaa went crazy during the making of this film. Like most film-related rumors, it's probably greatly exaggerated, but it's not hard to believe given the final product. Slow, with far too many sequences that try hard to be arty, the movie seems to forget that Jaa's movies only work when they have wall-to-wall martial arts in them. Here, the fighting scenes are few and far between, and never as exciting as in previous films with Jaa.
A Clockwork Orange: The HD transfer could be better, but the film is pretty close to being perfect. McDowell's performance is spot on, and I could talk about Kubrick's mastery of composition or the way the film effortlessly incorporates the Nadsat language all day. Still brutal enough that it's hard to watch, though.
O Lucky Malcolm!: A feature-length documentary profiling Malcolm McDowell and a few of his feature roles, I can't help but feel that I've barely caught a glimpse into the man at the end of it. The actor mentions being in a slew of bad films, but he doesn't go into great detail about them, which is too bad. He's an actor who has had great highs and great lows--and 100 minutes isn't long enough to do any of them justice.
Inception: I'm still taking this film in--I may just have to see it twice. I liked it, but I wasn't blown away by it. I'm particularly struck by how shallow most of the characters were. In my short review in the movie-dedicated thread, I called them chess pieces, and they still seem that way to me. At times, the movie can be visually terrific (the variable gravity scenes) and at times it's a little to plain for a movie that has license to do just about anything (these are dreams, after all). My grade might go up or down upon second viewing--we'll see.
The Dark Knight: I didn't intend to watch this again, but it was on, and I couldn't help but be drawn into it. Heath Ledger's performance is still terrific (given a little time, I might even like his performance a bit more), which is good, because the schemes the Joker gets away with are preposterous. I'm not sure how he got those explosives on the ferries, or how he convinced Harvey not to kill him, or how he managed to escape in the crowd after attempting to kill the Mayor...but his performance is so magnetic that it doesn't really matter. The Oscars, like all Hollywood award shows, are nonsense, but Heath Ledger deserved his award. It's just a shame that he couldn't be there to collect.
Metropolis: I saw this for the first time earlier this year, but this was a theatrical screening of the newly restored version which returns about 30 minutes of footage to the movie. To be honest, I don't know how the movie was coherent at all the last time I saw it, so much material (both entire scenes and many individual shots) having been removed from it. A few shots are still missing here, and the new footage, taken from an aging 16mm print, isn't nearly as good as the old footage (though it, newly restored, looks terrific), but it's still a worthwhile experience and I was lucky to catch it in a theatrical screening. I look forward to the Blu-Ray.
George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead: I had high hopes for this. Unlike most people (or so it seems) I actually liked Romero's last film in the series (Diary of the Dead
), and the idea of promoting the minor character played by Alan Van Sprang (a villainous National Guard/Mercenary) in that movie seemed promising. Alas, the film is a complete mess. Acting is usually hit or miss in a Romero film, but it's particularly bad here. Even Van Sprang isn't very good, especially when he's trying to be emotional (which the script articulates by having him shout and shoot random things). A twist relating to a twin sister late in the film had the small audience I saw it with laughing pretty hard. Given the final shot, and Romero's mostly good track record, I wonder (for a moment) if the humor wasn't unintentional, but I'm probably giving the film too much credit. I never thought I'd see Mike Hammer from the Red Green Show get eaten by a zombie, though. And the final shot is preposterous and hilarious. There are isolated moments that work, but not enough to warrant a grade higher than a D+. Easily Romero's worst zombie film (it's probably worse than the original version of The Crazies
, a sort of zombie film).