Friday, February 03, 2006

Mini Reviews - Murderball, Shaun of the Dead, Dark Water

Review time and I actually have some movies to talk about this week! Still not many, though. The hubby and I have started dancing a bit more again over the last couple of weeks. That, coupled with the fact that he's been coming home later (busy work time,) means we've had less time for movies. We still don't have light-blocking curtains so that I can watch movies during the day (the downside of having a projector instead of a TV) so I pretty much have to wait for evening and the possibility that we aren't doing something else tonight. And tonight, we're doing something else. As are we tomorrow night. Ugh, I miss my movie time. Still, I managed to watch three movies this week (even if one of them I had already seen) and they are: Murderball, Shaun of the Dead, and Dark Water.

Murderball, (Rubin, 2005)
Following the lives of various quadriplegics involved professionally in the tough sport of wheelchair rugby. And guess what? Quadriplegics can be assholes too!
I am generally skeptical of movies that I know I am supposed to like. This is one of those movies. And it didn't really overcome my skepticism; not completely. This movie tries very hard to depict these men as tough. And to a large degree it is successful. We are shown how rough the game can be, how vulgar the guys are, how much they yell and scream and cavort, and how normal they are (i.e. how they still have active sex lives.) They are put on equal footing (pardon the pun) with the "able-bodied" world through use of low-angle shots giving them lots of strength and presence. We are shown their tattoos and booze and we are treated to lots of angry metal music to emphasize their badass-ness. They even have a villainous traitor among their numbers who (having previously been an integral member of the US team) goes to coach for Canada. Good. They aren't reduced to pathetic sob stories as they ordinarily would be. But I just can't love a movie where I am constantly aware of how hard it is trying. Plus, I am not sure that simply following the US team and Canadian coach from one world championship to the paralympics two years later is compelling enough to be the entire plot of a doc. Apparently the filmmakers didn't think so either and so the treachery is played up, perhaps a bit too much. Yep, the wheels are grinding.

Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
Shaun is one of the working drones of the world surrounded by countless other drones who walk unconsciously through the monotony of daily life. Nothing exciting really happens till one day the groaning drones turn into moaning zombies.
This is one of my favorite movies of recent years. If you can handle seeing a bit of gore, and that gore doesn't prevent you from laughing, please see this movie. It's fabulous. Hysterical. And it is so British. When faced with zombies moaning and pounding at their window, Shaun's roommate asks him what to do. Shaun suggests having "a bit of a sit down?" When Shaun calls his mother to ask if she is doing all right, the absent-minded mother says some "men tried to get in the house" and, not wanting to make too much drama of it, describes them as being "a bit bitey." That doesn't mean that the typically British, stiff-upper-lip stoicism doesn't give way to heroism, albeit misguided heroism. It does, and does it with big laughs, and some real drama too. Great fun.

Dark Water (Salles, 2005)
A newly divorced mom has to move to dreary Roosevelt Island in New York City to make ends meet. Turns out her building has a paranormal presence. And WHAT does she HAVE to DO to get those ANNOYING ghosts upstairs to STOP leaving the water running all the time?
There is enough suspense in this one to make you feel like you have seen a movie of the scary film genre. But it's not in the upper echelon of the genre. Not by a long shot. I mean, first I want to hear from people who really know Roosevelt Island, particularly people who have lived there. Is it really as bad as the movie makes it? And why, with all the buildings on the island, would you ever pick an apartment in an obviously run down building with bad lighting and water everywhere? I don't care how much my little girl wants me to pick the place, my gut tells me that this building ought be condemned, I am not moving in! And this movie just doesn't offer me something I haven't seen or thought before. It might be interesting though to compare Dark Water to other scary movies of the last few years. You can tell a lot about an era based on contemporary horror movies. Apparently these days, being a bad parent really scares us. See Dark Water, The Ring, The Forgotten, etc..

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