Remote Access

with George

Category: 2 Stars

The Bleeding House -2011- Last Night -2011-

I’m trying to fit all of my 2011 reviews in before the end of the year, so from now on, I’ll be doubling up on them. On the 30th, you can expect my reviews of Attack the Block and Hugo. Check back on the 5th to see my takes on Limitless and X-Men: First Class. And at the end of December/beginning of January, I’ll post my reviews of both Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films.

My review of The Bleeding House:

The girl brings the animal into the house.

Oh, the music. Why?

One word: cliche. Two words: bad acting.

You’ve seen this movie before. It tries to create tension where tension doesn’t exist. A woman spills red paint and (oh my goodness) it looks like blood. They keep teasing the secret until you don’t even care what it is. This movie does nothing new.

The Smiths are the talk of the town. Something happened. Oh, I wonder what it was. We meet the mysterious Nick, a man whose car broke down near their house, just as this family learns that the father didn’t get a job that would take them out-of-state and the teenage girl smooches a baby bird in her hand and the 19-year-old son decided to move out.

What Nick says is funny, but the accent he uses to say it is even funnier. He doesn’t give a bad performance, per se, but it’s not a good one by any stretch of the imagination.

This movie is so obvious in the clunky foreshadowing that it’s funny. You’ll see some quotes in the section below labeled “quotes.” I began hating The Bleeding House (instead of finding it hilariously bad) around the 24th minute. Five minutes later, the “film” takes its first victim.

(Without spoiling too much) Nick is a lot like the Michael Parks character in another horror movie I saw recently, Red State. If you make a mistake, this person will punish you. Only Parks (and the whole film of Red State) delivers, while The Bleeding House does not.

The Bleeding House could have been different. It had all these ideas and themes it could have explored, but it explored none of them. Why was this movie so bleak? Characters disagreeing on the right motive for murder? It had no purpose! It’s an outrage! Please, avoid it if you can.

Unintentionally funny quotes and other notes:

  • “It’s covered in dead things, Gloria.”
  • “You are not allowed to have any living thing in this house… ever!”
  • Nick’s whole family was murdered, so he has decided to go around ridding the world of impure people. The film doesn’t judge him, so I feel I have to: what he is doing is wrong.
  • “Has this couch been reupholstered?”
  • The cops are ridiculously stereotypical.
  • I didn’t understand the philosophical babble Nick was spewing while slitting Margaret’s throat. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.
  • I admire Nick’s suit. Great fashion decision, going retro like that!
  • Wow. What an ending.

And now my review of Last Night:

Joanna (Keira Knightley) is married to Michael (Sam Worthington). Michael works with Laura (Eva Mendes). Joanna used to be in a relationship with Alex (Guillaume Canet). The premise for the film is actually a decent one, one I’d like to see done better someday: Michael is away on a work trip with Laura and another person, Alex returned to the states from Paris and takes Joanna to dinner with some of his friends. This is a test to their relationship, especially after Joanna picked a fight with Michael over his flirting with Laura.

Last Night never reaches deep enough, though. Sam Worthington doesn’t help that at all, as he turns in a largely dispassionate performance. The movie dogged him by making him cheat first (oops… spoiler) and cheat “harder.” I really disliked Michael, his character, and I felt sorry for Joanna, who has a shot at what I’d call happiness with Alex. But Michael and Joanna lie to each other again and again, and I couldn’t sympathize with them too much because of that. By the end, I was rooting for Alex and Joanna to get together, if anything.

Alex and Joanna felt real and passionate. Knightley and Guillaume Canet give it their all. But the movie failed to make me care enough for the Joanna-Michael relationship. The characters don’t even care about it. They’re more often sad or mad than happy with each other. The scenes at the dinner that Joanna attends with Alex are fun and light, as are the scenes with the dog. But everything with Worthington and Mendes in it drags.

Last Night ends ambiguously. Does she tell him? Does she not tell him? Honestly, I didn’t care.

Funny quotes and other notes:

  • “You smell the same.” “So do you.”
  • I understand the appeal of a fancy free spirit like Alex, but I don’t see why Michael falls for Laura.

And now other notes regarding the two movies and my blog:

  • I give both ** out of 4, but I clearly preferred Last Night.
  • As of November 28, The Bleeding House is the worst movie (38th best) I’ve seen in 2011, and Last Night is the third worst (36th best).
  • If you see The Bleeding House and are left wanting more, please see Fargo and Pulp Fiction.
  • If you see Last Night and are left wanting more, please see Never Let Me Go and Kramer vs. Kramer.
  • Both of these movies are available now on Netflix Instant.
  • Coming soon: talk of sex in movies (I’ve been dangling that for awhile, but this time I promise to post it), more reviews, and the start of the awards!
  • Have you seen these movies? What do you think?

A Little Help (2011)

**

This was one long and expensive heart checkup PDA.

Jenna Fischer, the wonderful Pam from The Office, plays Laura, a woman in a dying marriage. Her husband is played by whoever and does whatever. It doesn’t matter because he dies of a heart attack rather soon after the film starts. (The circumstances, by the way, surrounding the death? Gimme a break.) Laura is left alone to deal with a son who tells lies (such as “my father died saving people during 9|11”) and a family which wants to control her life in every way. Laura’s family felt very real, each member having their own ticks and levels of harshness… except for Paul, her sister’s husband, who is played by Ron Benedict.

Paul, after noticing she’s been having difficulties lately because of a lawsuit her sister wants to pursue, drops a bombshell love secret admission on Laura. It was really bad. I didn’t buy Paul and Laura at all.

The movie tries to mix dramatic and comedic moments in the same scene, but it doesn’t work. Fart jokes and serious talk about death don’t go well together. Some of the dramatic dialogue is flat, and occasionally not even believable. The drama caused by the lawsuit wasn’t compelling at all. In addition, the movie tried to focus on too many family members, ultimately spreading itself too thin.

Jenna Fischer has some chops, but A Little Help offers her no help. It robs us of a good moment by having Fischer permit her son to tell people his father was a 9|11 hero via keyboard, a decision I don’t really understand. This film didn’t really make me interested in any of it, aside from Jenna Fischer’s character. It had potential, but failed to really hold me, despite a pretty good performance from Fischer.

The movie keeps beating up on Laura, and I didn’t enjoy watching that. It started with little things, like Laura’s sister calling her insane for wanting to drop the lawsuit. But then it grew. The whole “Ginger the dog” sequence of events was somewhat pathetic. It felt like the movie was giving up, just repeating old mantas and hoping that it would work. But it didn’t. Neither Laura nor her son, the two involved in the scene, went anywhere.

And the discriminating viewer will see the 9|11 lie sitcomy gas-station fiasco stuff coming from a mile away, and they will hope it ends tastefully. I’m sorry to have to inform you that it doesn’t.

I felt sorry for Laura Pehlke, but there was nothing I could do. The film was afraid if it gave her an inch, she would take the whole film. That would have been an improvement.

Notes:

  • “The ex wants to take them to Pakistan”
  • “Nothing with like… ropes…”
  • “As I told you before, I was a little intoxicated”
  • I really like where the title of the film came from: Paul hitting tennis balls near Laura in high school.
  • I wanted that kid to continue explaining the hidden ball trick in baseball.
  • While I thought it was a rather bad film, I would rather watch A Little Help 100 more times than see the soon-to-be-reviewed Bleeding House just once more.
  • A Little Help is available now on Netflix Instant.
  • If you see A Little Help and are left wanting more, I suggest An Education and World’s Greatest Dad.
  • As of November 12, A Little Help is the 25th best/3rd worst film of 2011, in my humble opinion.
  • Coming soon: Talk of food and a top 10 list.

Man with the Movie Camera -1929- Old Joy -2006-

Film is a universal language? Maybe. But I think storytelling is the language and film is the dialect.


Somebody on Flixster called Man with the Movie Camera “Communist propaganda.” I missed that part. I didn’t see any communism here. I just saw a day in the life of the streets in the Soviet Union.

I understand why this movie is important. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, because I did, but I could never love it. That’s because I love narrative, and this didn’t have enough of it. It shouldn’t have had more, though. I’m glad that someone did something this different.

It took awhile, but I warned up for this film. At first, I thought this would be a “one night stand” movie (top 10 list coming soon, I hope)… a film I only saw once. But now, I might see it again, and I’ll probably enjoy it even more the second time. (Still no love, though.)

I will never love Old Joy either, but that’s for another reason: it wasn’t a good film. Spoiler alert: nothing happens. The last five minutes is, for me, the only rewarding part. If I may hate on C-SPAN for just a moment, an hour of Old Joy is equal to an hour and a half in C-SPAN time.

Man with the Movie Camera: there are worse ways to spend an hour. ***

Old Joy: there are worse ways to spend an hour, but that doesn’t mean you should watch this movie. **

Notes:

  • How about that pre-Claymation in Camera?
  • Both of these films are available now on Netflix Instant, but Man with the Movie Camera will expire on November 1.
  • If you see and find beauty in Man with the Movie Camera, I suggest you see My Winnipeg.
  • Coming soon: October Recap and the final 70s poll.

Being John Malkovich (1999)

**

During certain scenes of Being John Malkovich, I didn’t know whether it was trying to be dramatic or comedic. But it doesn’t matter, since, after the first half-hour, the movie isn’t good at being either one. This mess of a movie begins with humor. To me, when a movie about a portal into John Malkovich’s mind starts of with humor, I don’t expect it to swerve onto the road of pain, sadness, and nonsense. Not only were the characters enduring the pain and sadness, but so was I.

The story follows a mopey puppeteer, Craig (John Cusack), who takes a job at a “filing company.” (One of the few genuinely funny scenes is the bit with the secretary.) There, he finds a very small door which happens to be a portal into John Malkovich’s life. Maxine (Catherine Keener), a sexy woman he works with, takes advantage of him in order to gain money from selling 15 minutes inside John Malkovich. Craig falls in love with Maxine, but (whoops!) so does his wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz). She impulsively demands to have a sex change. I can’t decide which character is flimsier, Maxine or Lotte. Or maybe it’s the dark horse, Dr. Lester (Orson Bean), an old pervert who has a trick up his sleeve.

This movie is neither funny nor believable. Especially when Craig slams his wife on the ground, forces her to call Maxine so Craig can go jump into John Malkovich’s body so that he can trick her and (?!?!) whatever, and then puts her in a cage with the most likable character in the movie, Elijah the Chimp. This isn’t the first time I’ve disagreed with popular opinion, and it won’t be the last, but this one truly puzzles me.

(Being John Malkovich is available now on Netflix Instant.)

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

**

This should have been better. It has a decent premise, but is squandered on a bad story and mean-spirited writing. It’s not awful, only the scum of average.

It stars four guys (John Cusack, Craig Robinson, and two other dudes) who go back in time (accidentally), and are confused about what they’re supposed to do from there, just like the movie as a whole is.

I won’t defend the acting. I won’t defend the jokes. In fact, I won’t even defend the characters, which might have been the best thing this movie had going for it. I didn’t buy any of it. I always knew that I was watching a 2010 comedy film, which is not a good thing in this case. The raunch added nothing to the experience, and the “heart felt moments” even less.

I really have nothing else to say about this movie. Go see The Hangover or something good.

Note: It would have been a little bit better had Chevy Chase attempted a Don Knotts impression.