Posted by: Sally Ingraham | July 26, 2010

Movie Mayhem: June

Still a month behind with this blog feature, but since up until this past weekend I had only watched 2 (TWO!!) movies in July, that reality is not as overwhelming as it could be. 🙂 Let’s see…

Quicksand (John Mackenzie-USA-2002) was a rather bad thriller which pretty much only proved once again that I can’t stand Michael Keaton, and that even Michael Caine can’t do much with a mediocre script. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams-USA-2009) was just as good the…er…9th time (?) as it was the first. The Chronicles of Riddick (David Twohy-USA-2004) was somewhat more ho-hum than I had expected (and I hadn’t expected much…).

dragon tattooThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev-Swedish-2009) was the first really good movie I saw in June. An incredibly well made thriller, with a mystery that kept me guessing the entire time (no, I haven’t read the book…), and an astonishingly good performance from Noomi Rapace. Dealing with subject matters that gave me the chills, but always coming from a direction that I hadn’t expected, this movie left me shaken but totally stoked. The performances, delivery, pacing, use of color and angle, music – everything came together to present great, if uncomfortable, movie making. The Swedish title of this movie is “Men Who Hate Women” and that hints pretty powerfully at some of the more gruesome aspects of the story – if you can take it, then I highly recommend this.

I saw Pirate Radio (Richard Curtis-UK-2009) when it came out last December with some friends. We were three of only five people in the theater, so we were not shy about letting loose some belly laughs! Based on the true story of a ship that floated of the coast of England in international waters so that they could broadcast rock music in the 60s, it boasts a cast of brilliant actors, and of course a great soundtrack. Easily one of my favorite rolls for Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the American DJ dubbed “The Count”. It’s a good times movie – nothing too serious, even a little silly, but the perfect mix of wicked and witty.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog-USA-2009) has got to be one of the odder films I’ve seen all year. I haven’t seen the 1992 Bad Lieutenant so I have no point of reference in that regard. Taken completely on its own, this story is about a corrupt cop, or at least a cop with his own set of twisted rules, who is slowly spinning out of control. Nicholas Cage is at his best when he is a touch nuts, and this could be my favorite example of that. Herzog has his own brand of crazy, and it works to great effect here. Another rather uncomfortable movie, but creative storytelling and a memorably whacked character make for an interesting experience.

persian catsEveryone should see No One Knows About Persian Cats (Bahman Ghobadi-Iran-2009). It’s an amazingly sad/hopefully look at the underground musical culture in Iran. Following a few 20-somethings for a month or two as they write and record and practice and perform their music, all the time in secret, all the time risking arrest or worse, this movie is a collection of story bits and music videos – fiction based on real life, interspersed with musical performances and footage of Tehran. I loved the music so much that I bought the soundtrack almost immediately. The story itself is heartbreaking, shocking, frustrating, but somehow still hopeful. I highly recommend this one.

I’ve been searching for The Killer (John Woo-Hong Kong-1989) for almost 5 years – ever since I met my boyfriend, who had fond memories of its awesomeness. It’s been out of print in the US for a long time. Recently Dragon Dynasty released a cut of it, but to all reports it was inferior quality and even missing sections. I finally broke down and bought a rather expensive used copy of the Criterion edition as a birthday present for my boyfriend, and thus finally got to watch it. It was…pretty good. I always like Chow Yun Fat, and this case was no different. He plays the skilled assassin with a moral code and a soft heart perfectly. The story was nonstop action, with a final showdown that pinned me to my seat. But overall, it wasn’t nearly as awesome as I had built it up to be. Definitely a worthwhile flic, but I am sorry to say that I was slightly underwhelmed by it… Oh well! 🙂

prince of persiaPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Mike Newell-USA-2010) was tons of fun. Something about mellow Jake Gyllenhaal going all kick-ass totally worked for me. I snicker as I say that, and recall him half naked in the desert battling off…whatever was attacking him at the time…mmm. Anyway, it was also funny to see Gemma Arterton again, so soon after playing a similar (but less snarky) role in the recent Clash of the Titans. I really like her, but I hope she returns soon to the type of roles she played in things like St. Trinian’s and (even though it was hardly more than a scene) RocknRolla. Incidentally, RocknRolla‘s actual rock ‘n roller Toby Kebbell is also in The Prince of Persia as one of Dastan’s (Gyllenhaal) brothers. And his other brother is played by Richard Coyle, who was one of my favorite characters on the British TV show Coupling. I could continue to play this game, but suffice it to say that this is a fun movie in quite a lot of ways!

The Book of Eli (Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes-USA-2010) is not a fun movie. In fact I disliked it intensely. Even though it was made before The Road, it seemed to have lifted the coloring and landscapes straight out of that movie. The post-apocalypse world it presented felt unoriginal, and the plot seemed totally unbelievable to me. Also unbelievable, but in the opposite sense of the word, was The Belles of St. Trinian’s (Frank Launder-UK-1954). In it the wild trickster schoolgirls strike for the first time, and their degree of crazy cleverness (and also NOISE) surpassed the mischief and mayhem of the 2007 version of themselves by a long shot. Alastair Sim, playing both Miss Millicent Fritton and her brother Clarence was brilliant – even more brilliant than Rupert Everett in the same role, I must admit. Not sure my brain can stand another barage of English schoolgirls any time soon, but I’m pleased to know there is more where this came from!

the shiningWith my viewing of The Shining (Stanley Kubrick-USA-1980) and Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick-USA-1999) I have seen all of Kubrick’s well known work, as well as some of his more obscure stuff. I watched these as a double feature, and wow, that was an experience! The Shining was SO freaky, and Eyes Wide Shut was SO bizzare. I liked them both, although compared to the excruciatingly nerve shredding spookiness of The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut was merely an interesting thriller. I’m terrified of Jack Nicholson on a regular basis, and he was amazingly scary in The Shining. What an atmosphere the genius of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick created! The images rip out of the screen. I didn’t even realize I was getting nervous until all of a sudden I noticed that I was crunched in my seat, wide eyed and barely breathing. Brilliant writing and movie making. Eyes Wide Shut had a lot going for it too, but I never really got into it. Maybe my emotional detachment was merely a coping mechanism after the intensity of The Shining. I may have to come back to that one some day.

And finally, the last movie I saw in June was Beverly Hills Cop III (John Landis-USA-1994), which is always a goofy time. You really can’t surpass that catchy theme music, or the winning smile of Eddy Murphy – although in all three of these movies it is the adorable Judge Reinhold that I root for.

Not a bad month overall, with some really great stuff in the mix. Sorry I failed to actually describe the plots of most of these movies! IMDb is a click away, as always, for the curious ones. Thanks for letting me indulge myself once again with these little notes, and seriously – watch No One Knows About Persian Cats if you can! 🙂


  1. Aww, Persian Cats was just playing at the theater down the street, but I missed it! Guess I’ll have to wait until it’s out on video, but definitely sounds like it’s worth a look.

    I feel like I’m one of the only people I know who didn’t like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie – just felt like it was too long for the level of complexity, the rape-revenge plotline rubbed me the wrong way (not that I can’t relate, but it felt too emotionally simplistic to me) and the Nazism element felt tacked-on. But it probably didn’t help that when we saw it we were sitting next to two middle-aged drunk ladies who kept stage-whispering stuff like “NOW SHE’S REALLY GOING TO SHOW HIM!” and “OH WAIT, THIS IS PART COMING BACK TO ME – WATCH HER NECKLACE.” Thank you, dudes! That is so helpful of you. 😛

    • Wow, what an unfortunate viewing experience! I can definitely agree with the things you disliked about it – I had a few problems myself, although I liked it overall. I can’t decide if I want to read the book… Have you read it?

      • I haven’t, but I’ve heard it’s (predictably, since you hear this about every story) better than the movie. Also have heard that the seeming randomness of the rape plot ties into the second & third parts of the story, so maybe I shouldn’t write them off yet. 🙂

  2. My, Jake Gylenhaal! He was perfect for the role. We enjoyed it too. My husband’s played the first three Prince of Persia games and the children and I were always present cheering him on, so it was a treat seeing the movie.

    I enjoyed watching The Book of Eli, but it also bothered me, like you, because of the similarities to The Road. We haven’t seen The Road movie but I was harassing my husband to, haha, and then we see this and I keep blabbing how the world feels ripped off from the book. (Although I imagine The Road more atmospheric and The Book of Eli more Water World-ly.)

    By the way, I forget if you’ve reviewed The Legion or not, but if you haven’t seen it, please don’t. It’s awful. Waste of money and time.

    • I meant Legion, not The Legion.

      • I haven’t seen Legion – I believe that it looked too scary for me! 🙂 A friend of mine heard me complaining about the similarity in coloring between The Book of Eli and The Road, and said that he was pretty sure production companies have a stock “post-apocalypse color scheme”. Seems plausible! 🙂 I’ll be curious to see what you think of the movie The Road, if you ever watch it.

  3. It looks like No One Knows About Persian Cats isn’t available on DVD yet, but I’ve put it on my Netflix Saved list – sounds really great.

    I really liked The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well, but, yes, it is a bit brutal – as is the book. The next two movies in the series are (again, like the books) part of the same story-arch, so when/if you see film #2, you may feel a little cheated until film #3 comes along and wraps the story up. Just a heads-up since I’ve talked to people who are a little unhappy with film #2.

    • I read somewhere that the next two films aren’t done by the same director, which is disappointing. I can’t decide if I want to read the books. Might just stick to the movies, but I feel a certain sense of guilt over that…! 🙂

      • You’re right, the other two are directed by Daniel Alfredson (brother of Tomas Alfredson who directed Let The Right One In). And, yes, the style and pacing is quite different.

        I’ve mostly given up on the whole I-Must-Read-The-Book idea since there are SOOO many books I want to read that I’m almost relieved when someone makes a movie out of one of them…. 🙂

  4. I just found out that David Fincher is making his own version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, staring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist – other actors still to be decided. Shockingly, I still haven’t seen any of his movies beside Benjamin Button. Fight Club, Se7en, and Zodiac among others are still floating around on my TBW list…! To all reports though, he seems like a fine director to tackle the weirdness of this story. Even though my initial rection was one of “there’s already a perfectly decent movie based on this book, so WHY?” I realize that, for example, there are about 15 movie versions of Oliver Twist! So I guess it’s okay. 🙂

  5. I had no idea Richard Coyle was in Prince of Persia! I’m a HUGE Coupling fan, and now must see this movie immediately. Hahaha….the giggle loop! *sigh* But right this moment, now must go watch Coupling:)

    • Bwahahaha….! I had totally forgotten the giggle loop! Gosh, now I have to go watch Coupling again. I really need to own it – it’s one of those TV shows that I could actually watch again and again. 🙂

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