Thursday, October 16, 2008

Original plots, eh movies

I'm no movie buff. The last "new" movie I saw was Kung Fu Panda and that was on the plane home from Europe. In fact, the only two movies I saw in an actual theater this summer were Sex and the City (loved it) and Indiana Jones (absolutely hated it.) The only movie I regret not seeing was Pineapple Express, and the only movie I'm looking forward to seeing is Quantum of Solace. Like I said, I'm not a movie buff. But I still think I reserve the right to comment on a few films that I hold near and dear to my heart.... films that had pretty original plots, but could've been a lot better:

(1) Sliding Doors. British movie starring Gwenyth Paltrow. Your typical romantic comedy and mediocre acting, but done in a creative way. Parallel stories show what could've happened if Helen had caught the train home on the day she got fired (leading her to catch her boyfriend in bed with another woman, move out, start her own PR business, meet a great guy, but eventually die) or had missed the train (causing her to NOT catch her boyfriend in bed with the American whore, take a crappy job as a waitress, get pregnant, and get hit by a car. But in this version, she lives and ends up meeting the guy she fell in love with in the first version.) It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but I thought the whole parallel-story plot was pretty creative.

(2) Face/Off. "I want to take his" Come on, how much better does an action movie get? John Travolta and Nicholas Cage face off (ha!) and literally turn into each other. Show me another movie where they do that.

(3) Disturbia. OK, so it's not the most original plot. It's sort of like Rear Window, in the sense that someone confined to their home watches what goes on in the neighborhood and thinks the dude across the street is killing chicks. But this has a modern spin to it, and is actually pretty funny at times. My favorite thing about the movie is the integration of technology: from the ankle bracelet Shia Labeouf has to wear, to the long distance zoom video cameras, to all the gadgets they use in the movie, it's like James Bond meets Scream, but with far less gore.

(4) Rumor Has It. Not an awful movie, but also not one I'd encourage people to add to their Netflix queue. Jennifer Aniston plays the granddaughter of Mrs. Robinson, THE Mrs. Robinson. After flying to Pasadena for her sister's wedding, the main character learns that her dead mother had an affair with the man who wrote The Graduate right before she married her father, and that the author could in fact be her real father. So she sets out to find him, and then learns that the book (and later the movie) was actually based on a true story--her family's story. Typical awkward Jennifer Aniston humor, which is probably why I somewhat enjoyed the movie. What bothered me the most is that while the movie was released in 2005, it was set in 1996. I understand why they had to do it (because The Graduate came out in 1967 and they couldn't have let 40 years pass since then) but I'm sorry--there's something odd about a movie being set 10 years prior to its release. Nonetheless, I thought it was an original story.

(5) Congo. I actually happen to like this movie a lot and don't think it's bad at all. A group of people find themselves in the Congo for a number of different reasons, and all hell breaks loose. The story involves a talking gorilla, a lost city full of diamonds, an Eastern European hieroglyphics expert obsessed with finding said lost city, African civil unrest, machine guns, and (my favorite part) vicious human-attacking apes that protect the lost city. The scene where the dude walks up to his friend with his own liver in his hand--friggin AWESOME.

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