Monday, September 04, 2006

Four Random Movie Reviews

I hope everyone had a nice Labor Day weekend. It is quite dreary here in Chicago today, so I thought I would write a low-key post about 4 movies I've seen recently. As always, I will not give away anything just in case you should want to see any of these.

Green Street Hooligans

We WILL beat you up for no apparent reason!This one we got on Netflix because it came out a while ago. I'm not even sure it was actually ever released in theaters in the U.S., because I don't really think too many people would "get it" here. The reason we put it in our queue in the first place was that we had seen it advertised all over the place last fall in London, but also (and more importantly) because it has Frodo (Elijah Wood) in it.

To sum it up, I would NOT recommend this movie. I literally spent about 70% of the time with my hands over my face because it was so violent. It is about "football hooliganism" in the U.K. (translation for Americans: Soccer Fans Gone Wild), and there is plenty of violence and blood to go around. I think the reason I just couldn't get into it is that I think it's totally stupid for anyone who does not actually PLAY on a sports team to get so upset about a game that they would feel compelled to nearly kill fans of rival teams. Come on people, get a life!?! If you had any real skills you would be ON A TEAM.

The Green Street Elite after a so-called victory.Anyway, these crazy fans organize themselves into "firms" and basically have all these face-off fights. It seems a lot like a British version of the Mob or something. But make no mistake, this isn't just a made-up thing for a movie. This is a very real problem all across the world, prompting the BBC to film a three-part undercover series on the topic.

The only way you would like this movie is if you yourself are a hooligan, are REALLY REALLY into soccer and understand this phenomenon, or are an even bigger fan of Elijah Wood than I am. Because the only positive thing about this movie is that he looked really good in it. Actually, if you HATE Elijah Wood, then you may actually like this movie, because he (and everyone else in it) gets the living crap beat out of him on several occasions. And there ain't no Samwise Gamgee around this time to save him.

Ringers: Lord of the Fans

Hey, aren't you supposed to be stranded on an island in the South Pacific?Enough of this violence! Let us go back to where Sam and Frodo REALLY belong, The Shire. This next movie I also got from Netflix, and it's about the Lord of the Rings fans throughout the years. That's what I liked about it - it didn't just focus on the movies or the more recent hoopla - it went back and gave some history about the books, the themes in the trilogy, the fans throughout the years (I did NOT know the books were associated with the whole "hippie movement"), and then of course did spend time at the end discussing the movies and the effect they had on more recent fans (aka: Ringers). Now I may be into these books and movies, but I am not as crazy as the woman who sold her house to be able to fly to New Zealand for the premiere of Return of the King?!?!!? Anyway, despite the fact that this documentary was fairly low budget and VERY cheesy in parts (there were "re-enactments" of fans over the years that should've been left out of the final cut), they actually got a lot of big names to comment in the film. Overall I liked it and would recommend it to any other BIG fan of the books or the movies.

Little Miss Sunshine

The cast of characters from Little Miss Sunshine.I did not have high hopes for this movie when I went to see it about three weeks ago. I had read mixed reviews, and also had heard that it was too formulaic - each character was so ridiculous that it just seemed like they were following some "typical indie movie set-up" that ended up feeling forced.

While I do agree that the characters were all a little too out there to be believable, I will state once again that I go to movies to be entertained. So I did end up liking this movie, though whoever said it was a "dark comedy" was off the mark. Heathers was a dark comedy. The Royal Tenenbaums was a dark comedy. I don't really know how I would classify Little Miss Sunshine, but it was part comedy, part "lite" drama. Sure, a few technically "bad" things happen, but never for a second did I feel sad or disturbed while watching this movie, and that is how I tell if something is a dark comedy.

Every single person I know who has seen this movie has liked it, which surprised me. The negatives are that it's a little slow-moving and not as funny as you probably think it will be going in... the positives are that I found Steve Carell strangely attractive, and I did laugh out loud a few times, which is always a good thing.

I take Scruffy Steve over Plastic Head Steve any day.

An Inconvenient Truth

The ultimate Scary MovieOK, so I don't ALWAYS go to movies to be entertained. I am actually a big fan of documentaries, which sometimes can be entertaining (March of the Penguins), or can be entertaining while also being scary (Super Size Me), or can be just damn scary.

That is the category An Inconvenient Truth fell into, which I figured it would beforehand. I waited until the last day it was showing near me to go see it - unsure of if I really wanted to be depressed and freaked out afterward for days or months on end. However, that is actually one of the main points of the movie... these bad things are happening to our environment and if we all keep looking the other way, they're not going to just go away.

For those not wanting to see it out of fear that it may be too political, I would estimate that only about 10% of the movie even touches on politics. So by all means, do not let that be a reason you don't see this movie.

Maybe penguins will get someone's attention!?!If you are worried, as I was, about feeling helpless and hopeless afterward, I will not lie to you and say that this is an uplifting movie. I actually cried in the theater (I saw it by myself, too). And to make it worse, it's not even like major problems that will result from high pollution are hundreds of years off - some of the scariest effects covered could take place in as little as 10 years.

Since I like animals more than most humans, I was especially distressed to hear about polar bears dying off because all the ice caps are melting and they drown while trying to swim to some solid surface. Before-and-After (decades ago vs. present time) pictures of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and several other once-icy surfaces are shocking. The statistics covered are also alarming, to the point where it's actually offensive to me now if anyone tries to claim that humans are not responsible for global warming. I mean, please. It doesn't really matter what your political beliefs are - this is not about that - this is about one of the few things everyone actually has in common - the planet.

For those who say that regulations enforcing lower emissions would destroy much of the American economy, I think the movie does a good job pointing out that the countries with the highest emissions standards are also the ones with some of the most successful industries and companies. It's called innovation, folks. Usually innovation brings jobs and other good ideas with it - I dare say that's why this country grew to a Superpower in the first place, no?

But I will let you hear the argument to be made for the environment on your own. And I will also say that the end of the movie does provide hope, much to my surprise. Basically, the technology exists right now to turn back carbon dioxide (the main culprit) levels back to where they were in the 1970s. However, it is definitely up to the United States to lead the way, as we are responsible for about 1/3rd of the world's pollution even though we only represent about 5% of the Earth's population. The site for the movie provides detailed suggestions on what you can do to help - and they are EASY! Like unplugging things when you are not using them (a huge source of energy waste, which I didn't realize...), and changing the kind of light bulbs you use. And I never thought I would say this, because I admit I was ashamed for this country when he was elected, but KUDOS to The Terminator for attempting to lead the way on the emissions issue. What is sad is that even if he gets his way, we will still be way behind the rest of the world even ten years from now. SHAMEFUL!

Last I checked, I think the Japanese were doing a lot better than the US auto companies... yet look at their emissions standards.
Here are two more sites I found with ideas of how you can help... one is actually a kid's site (but hey, it lays it out for you), and the other looks like a homegrown site of ideas people submitted.

I will end this by saying that there are very few movies that I would highly recommend to a mass audience, but this movie is definitely one of them. If it is no longer playing by you, make a note to rent it when it comes out! If you are reading this blog, then obviously you are one of the smartest people out there, so the very least you can do is learn how to help out ol' Mother Earth and get others to do the same, right?

- e


Nick said...

An Inconvenient Truth comes out in less than a month on DVD - Oct. 3rd, for those interested.

I thought Green Street Hooligans was decent. I can see why it was never released in theaters here, though. And after seeing it, you will have "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" in your head for a week.

Anonymous said...

another good documentary is "when the levees broke" the spike lee documentary on hbo.

hard to watch...but at the same time people should watch it.