Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fiction (and Fictionalized Nonfiction) on Film: a Brief Review

The following are DVDs I've rented during vacation in an attempt to kick-start some creativity. Some movies I liked more than others, despite being told what I should like and what I should regard with a critic's disdain. Which is which, I shall not say. Read on for my honest -- and very brief -- opinion.

The Men Who Stare at Goats: loaded with great actors, funny, bizarre, hard to believe stuff like this really happened but truth is stranger, as they say. Despite the profanity, I highly recommend this flick. (Based on the nonfiction book by the same name, author Jon Ronson.)

The Informant!: again, good actors and some humor, but I knew early on there was something fishy. Still, it didn't take away from the almost giddy behavior of the main character as he narrates his walk through the office, all for the benefit of a concealed recorder. I liked it, but probably wouldn't watch it again. (Based on the nonfiction book, The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald.)

Kick-Ass: smart, funny, action-packed. The acting is excellent, the story is unexpected, and I totally identified with the desire to be a superhero and right the wrongs of the world. I really wanted to like this film. However, it was the third film in a row I'd watched that was heavy with profanity, the bloodletting was almost gleeful to the point of disturbing, and the teen sexuality -- though it does go on, as we are well aware -- seemed out of place. Still, one does laugh at Mark Strong's villain casually ordering movie popcorn and Twizzlers after doing his villain-y things. (Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.)

The Losers: the fourth rental, yet another based on a graphic novel, and the most enjoyable of the bunch. Great lines, just the right mix of action and humor, with violence that mostly happens off-screen; the explosion of a particular helicopter is a disturbing but necessary part of the plot, and sets the rest of the story into motion. This movie is in the running to become part of my library.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the last of the stack, is interesting to look at, has a different slant to its humor, but just didn't keep my attention. In truth, I didn't even finish watching it. I get that it's supposed to be a struggle between good and evil, God and the devil, Doctor Parnassus and Mr. Nick. Paintings of Christ are used as Hinduised/Bhuddaised portraits of Doctor Parnassus in his youth. Perhaps they're meant to be clever, hip, allegorical. Whatever. There's allegory and fantasy here, but it is disjointed, cluttered, occasionally funny. Other folks have said it's had a profound affect on them. Maybe it would have done the same for me. If I'd stayed awake.

Something in a similar vein -- that being the absurd, humorous, and sideways -- is the SyFy mini-series "Alice", a twisted and upside-down version of Alice in Wonderland, and one which I found more enjoyable than Imaginarium, despite flaws. Oddly enough, as of this date, the IMDb scores for the two films are almost identical: the miniseries at 7.0 out of 10, and the movie at 7.1.

No comments: