08 August 2012

Dragons, Aliens, and Con Men

1.  Aliens: Sci-fi action sequel.  Pretty predictable, but not tedious.  Commandos accompany Ripley and a stock capitalist to check out a colony on the moon where the original Alien began, and things get messy. (3)

2.  The Artist: Overrated.  Compared to the silent greats this is kind of poorly done.  And the self-consciously silent business is past its day.  If a film with this concept had been made in the 30s/40s it would have been classic.  Now it's just an anachronism. (3)

3.  Stalker:  Brilliant tour through a UFO quarantine zone / industrial wasteland with a guide, a writer, and a physicist.  Questions about the purpose of life, fundamental desires, and faith.  Another profound film by Andrei Tarkovsky. (4)

4.  How to Train Your Dragon:  Enjoyable.  Protagonist's voice is whiny and irritating.  Animation at times weak.  With a little more depth it could have been a very good story, but it does what it does well enough to be worth the time.  Themes: inter-generational conflict, identity development, alienation, reversal of cultural norms.  (3)

5.  Alien: Very well-executed low-key horror flick.  The photography is very well-done and the pacing is good.  It has the tasteful, realistic feel of 2001, but with more of a plot.  And the cast (Ian Holm, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt) is amazing.  Lots of weird Freudian stuff if you go looking for it, but it doesn't get in the way, really. (4)

6.  Catch me if you can: A real delight.  High school student goes on a cheque-forging rampage living as a doctor, lawyer, and airline pilot.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, with Spielberg's usual catchy storytelling and a good soundtrack too.  (4)

7.  Winter Light:  Original title: "The Communicants".  One Sunday afternoon spent with a widowed Lutheran pastor and his half-dozen congregants.  Captures perfectly that moment when you're called on to profess what you believe and find yourself incapable because you no longer really believe it.  Gives a compelling presentation of an atheist world-view. (5)

8.  The Apartment: Young insurance man tries to work his way up the ladder by lending out his apartment to his superiors on weeknights.  Complications ensue.  Really nice movie.  It could almost be an episode of Mad Men, except that it's marginally more humane. (3)