Tim Lieder (marlowe1) wrote,

Movies. I went to the movies!

So I have pried myself away from the couch to go out and sit on other chairs, but that was the primary dream when I was working on many many papers that I didn't like. So on Sunday I saw -

The Quiet Ones - Starring the British guy who played Lane Pryce on Mad Men and a bunch of good looking actors all reacting to shit falling off the wall. It's one of those "we got film and we're filming the ghosts" movies and this is actually the first one I have seen in the movie theater (unless you count Blair Witch) and yeah, these movies are much more effective in a movie theater. I imagine I might have enjoyed the Paranormal Activity movies if I hadn't watched them on DVD where I could ignore them and be bored by what I was seeing. This one was much more visceral. Stupid as hell and they put up pictures of the "real" researchers on the credits which a quick google will reveal as relatives of the film crew in the same costumes. It was scary and utterly disposable.

The Grand Budapest Hotel - So after 30 minutes of previews, I finally think "Hey I should go get something completely unhealthy to eat" just as the movie was starting so I missed the preamble about this movie being from a book written by a dead writer and just got to story within the story that would lead to the story within the story within the story that was really the main story anyhow. The main point of the writer was that he was staying in the hotel in 1968 and it was an abandoned crumbling place that was neglected at every turn. Since the story takes place in a vague Eastern European country, the whole Communist despair sets in and then we're off to 1932 as the owner tells the story of Ralph Fiennes as the gigolo concierge who inherits a painting from one of his patrons/janes and how her family wants to frame him for murder. Mostly the movie reminded me of that SNL skit of Wes Anderson directing a horror movie since even as the movie is quirky it keeps reminding you that 1932 was not a good time to be rich and decadent and living in Europe - especially Eastern Europe. Even as the cartoonish villains (played with glee by William Dafoe and Adrian Brody who makes a bold choice by not completely sucking) kill people, the specter of WWII hangs over everything. Usually in Wes Anderson movies, the quirky rich Salinger-inspired characters are living in a weird bubble where they can carry out their angst. In this movie, there's an expiration date on all the quirkiness and once it leaves, it will never come back.

Spiderman 2 - I am going to say something that could be shocking. I liked this movie, in fact I liked this movie more than most of the superhero movies I've seen recently including the overrated Captain America: Winter Soldier. I actually feel as out of touch with prevailing superhero movie wisdom as I did back when the original Raimi Spiderman came out around the same time as Ang Lee's The Hulk. Reviewers put those two movies side-by-side and if you were really pretentious, you liked The Hulk more than Spiderman. But really, the Hulk was a solid movie and Raimi's Spiderman was a boring rehash of Amazing Fantasy 15. With an hour of Green Goblin thrown in for good measure.

And the main reason why I liked Spiderman 2 better than Captain America (or even Raimi's Spiderman 2 - although I may have to watch that one again to compare) is that it actually took the time to build relationships. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy together as a couple and their angsty teen drama was sweet. The scene where Peter assured Aunt May that he thought of her as his mother and he wasn't looking for his parents to replace her just got to me. Hell, even the Green Goblin story line was based on Peter's friendship with Harry Osborne and Osborne's desperation (Norman Osborne dies early in the movie - most likely). And this is the one time I've seen a movie use more than one villain without feeling like an overstuffed mess that was trying too hard - mostly because Electro was the main villain and his Mark David Chapman with superpowers vibe was actually recognizable as something that would be a motivation. Even though Green Goblin and Rhino are both in the movie they aren't intruding on the narrative so much as enhancing it (actually the Rhino is just at the end, although Paul Giamatti has some scene chewing fun at the beginning).

Of course, I'm impressed with this movie because I hate how superhero comics and movies tend to focus on the superpowers without building up the characters. The show Heroes was really great in the first season because it was about people - people with superpowers - but primarily about people coming together. And then all those people got spun in the "what's convenient for the character this week" wheel and it became about superpowers attached to characters who had absolutely no consistency whatsoever. And most superhero comics don't even try that much. There is a great deal of just fighting. Hell, I remember Peter David's Hulk comic that tackled abortion shooting with the cover saying that it will make you angry. It made me angry but only because it was 10 pages of "should I get an abortion" hand wringing by some sad waif who was just introduced and 12 pages of Hulk beating up some guy after that sad waif gets killed.

And the action scenes were quite lovely.
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