I always try to blog about books more than I do about movies, mostly because I believe books just so often affect my thinking day to day than movies. Rarely a movie will jump out and bite me and I'll write about it. Most recently it was I [Heart] Huckabyes, and before that the list is fairly slim (mostly Charlie Kaufman sci-fi comedy tragedies). Last week while recovering I spent most of my time supine on the couch (for obvious reasons) watching random NCAA coverage, Comedy Central, and collection of four films. Individually each movie really didn't quite make it to my "that was a great movie, it really made me think" list, but collectively they all had their strong points and worked together to keep my mind somewhat active.
The Incredibles was a film I had been wanting to watch since it first came out, but I generally wait for a "kiddie" film like this to hit the discount theaters first if I'm to see it alone and my family never decided it was worth a gathering for. Due to its power with audiences this film made it to DVD at just about the same time it finally settled into a berth at the local discount screens, which worked out nicely for me and the timing of my surgery. It was a beautiful movie, but I was expecting just a little bit more from it. It wasn't because it was Pixar film, it was because I really liked The Iron Giant, particularly its pulp era style. Where The Iron Giant was largely a "serious" telling of an old fashioned pulp comic, The Incredibles was merely a charicature of a silver age comic. That isn't to say a "mere charicature" was bad, it was in fact quite entertaining and did yield the movie plenty of style, even if it wasn't "retro-style", but a charicature lacks depth. This was most evident on the second disk, which itself was a lot of fun and I enjoyed everything on it, where the movie's superhero backgrounds are presented. Albeit filled with some tidbits of political intrique and some hints of depth (and plenty of humor), the backgrounds just aren't "real" enough. It's hard to explain that disappoint much beyond that I was hoping for something closer to what the Freedom Force series has done in treating silver age comics. I guess I'm also somewhat jaded from recently reading Watchmen as well. All in all, it was a great, but not exceptional, film.
Ray was a good emotional film. Ray Charles' music has been an interesting thread in my life. My dad had one of his albums and I remember hearing it quite a bit as a very young kid. I also remember at least once we went and watched Ray Charles perform at the old Cardinal Stadium during the State Fair. (I want to say the exact number is twice, but I don't trust my memory.) Jamie Foxx really did do an extraordinary job in his characterization of the musician and the movie almost had the feeling of watching that Blues series PBS showed which had late life interviews with Ray Charles. I guess the only problem with it last week for me is that it was too emotional and dramatic, and that's never really been my cup of tea, particularly when I'm looking for mental distractions.
Code 46 was an interesting watch. I loved the multi-cultural style of the film. The English dialogue was sprinkled somewhat liberally with words and phrases from Spanish and French. Not enough to disturb the meaning of the dialogue (nor enough to really give it much meat), but enough to give it a texture. It really added to sense of near-future for me, as cultural diffusion does tend to do that (particularly with this bastard English language). The locations were all real places shot during real world hopping, with the main location being Shanghai. The film was even a "great" sci-fi film in that it does what all good sci-fi (book, movie, whatever) does in that it used technology to ask very human questions. In this case it was a near-future retelling of the greek myth of Odysseus cast against genetic technology and cloning, with sub-threads tying insurance and society into genetics and asking what human consequences that has. The flaws of the movie were subtle... mostly, it was too long and artistic. I can appreciate art, and did appreciate it while I watched the film, but I felt that it did more to dull the emotions than to enhance them (but, then, I was recovering from surgery, so I could be wrong). Beyond that was simply the slight nagging deja vu from the fact that almost all of it I have now dealt with in several books, the lack of surprise from the fact that the movie is more of an "autopsy" of the issues, having paged ahead the mystery, and that the movie really suffers from Minority Report deja vu. The later is mostly due to the short-haired, soft-spoken Samantha Morton who played a lead female role in both films. There are a few similar sequences and a point where you almost expect her to repeat the "I'm sorry John, but you are going to have to RUN!" line, but which gets stolen by Tim Robbins' character and at least this time doesn't involve predilection of future events. I would also argue that Tim Robbins is the better actor than Tom Cruise (insofaras raw talent), but in retrospect I would almost be wont to claim that Minority Report's Tom Cruise was channelling Code 46's Tim Robbins. Perhaps Hollywood really does have clairvoyants?
Silver City was a sometimes funny piece about a dumbshit guy running for Governor of Colorado and the smart guys controlling him. It is a fun journalistic "mystery" novel in which the main character unravels some of the consequences of the decisions being made. The biggest problem with it is the same reason it just wasn't funny enough: it is hard to be satirical when you are being serious. It is the same reason that Primary Colors wasn't really funny, because it was too close to the truth to be funny. The parallels between "Dicky Pillager" and our current Asshole-In-Chief are too obvious to spot, and too easy to realize are happening. The movie just added to my sense of misery about current politics. Both in the film, as in life, you wonder how people can actually conscientiously vote for such a miserable bozo. Probably should have just went ahead and double-featured it with Bush's Brain, which I've still yet to see, but I'm not sure I could have took that.