Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Perflix of the Day

I have one new addition today and some thoughts on Quentin Tarantino.  From here on out I'll be posting the cumulative list of Perflix on the bottom of each post.

Drum roll please......It's official folks I'm adding From Dusk Till Dawn as a Perflix.

 I saw this Robert Rodriquez/Quentin Tarantino collaboration when it first came out in '96 and only then by chance - I think it was the only thing playing when, with nothing better to do being a single guy on a weekend day, I wandered into a theater in Salem, Oregon.  I was blown away by this movie.  Stunned, and thrilled, to me it was groundbreaking. 

I really had no idea what it was about and then I soon realized it was a gangster movie....or not.  One minute you're following a couple of robbers (played by Clooney and Tarantino himself) with no apparent limits to their madness, the next you are thrust into a nest of Mexican vampires called The Titty Twister, whose doorman is none other than Cheech Marin.  The film shifted gears so suddenly and unexpectedly - with Salma Hayek turning, in an instant, from sexy table dancer (and I mean sexy she was in top form at the time) to flesh eater - that I'm pretty sure I audibly gasped.  Rodriquez' direction is superb, the dialogue hilarious and fun, the action non-stop (as in will make your head spin), and the acting impeccable with an all-star cast (also including Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Danny Trejo).  All in all I would characterize this film as delightful!

And I gotta say, I think this was Tarantino's best screenplay.  Not sure how much Rodriguez influenced the final result but I think he may have taken the edge off a little?  What resulted was a perfect movie that captured Tarantino's imagination but tempered his tendency, when directing, to devolve into over-the-top violence (the slugger in Inglourious Basterds comes to mind but there are many other examples...too many) that I feel detracted from his films, over-complicating things like putting too much chrome on a car - just feels like he's trying too hard.  But that is probably just a reflection of my personal taste not unlike my preference for simplicity - what can I say I like Volvo's over

Don't get me wrong, I think Tarantino is super talented and came close to Perflix with Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained - the latter two mostly on the strength of Christoph Waltz's acting in my opinion - but I always have a slight sense of dissatisfaction with his films.  Maybe it's just me.  I have not seen Grindhouse (probably won't) and am not a big fan of Kill Bill.  As you may guess I'm not a big fan of in-your-face violence and I find it hard to watch and it makes me feel bad.  But, I may give Tarantino another chance - need to set some time aside to go back through his work.

Next up: Perflix candidate American Beauty plus reviews of Moon (thumbs up) and Blue Jasmine (meh...).

The Official Perflix List:
  1. Alien
  2. Top Gun
  3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  4. The Road
  5. Warm Bodies
  6. The Shining
  7. School of Rock
  8. Say Anything
  9. High Fidelity
  10. Fight Club
  11. Risky Business
  12. Star Wars
  13. Brokeback Mountain
  14. Animal House
  15. Jerry McGuire
  16. Silver Linings Playbook
  17. Dallas Buyers Club
  18. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  19. No Country for Old Men
  20. Tangled
  21. Children of Men
  22. War Games
  23. 28 Days Later
  24. The Graduate
  25. From Dusk Till Dawn

Friday, February 7, 2014

Perflix of the Day

No new additions to the Perflix list today but there is something I've got to get off my chest.

Avoid Contagion (2011) like the plague.  Directed by Steve Soderbergh (Traffic, Out of Sight, Sex Lies and Videotape) it's a directionless meandering thing that left me scratching my head as to how it ever got made.  You look at the cast, which includes Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Jude Law, and you think you're in for a treat.  Well, I hate to disappoint you but this isn't even a good use of your time - I wish I could have that 106 minutes back. It was so bad I feel bad for the popcorn I wasted on it.

How in the world someone allowed all of that talent to be wasted is beyond me.  Kate Winslet was killed off with nary a whimper.  Bryan Cranston?  I don't even remember seeing him!  Jude Law's character (a blogger about the pharmaceutical industry I guess?) had to be one of the most annoying of all time.  And poor Matt Damon - all I can say is I hope it was worth it.

The panicky over-editing reminded me of World War Z.  I guess there is something intrinsically difficult about filming a movie about a pandemic?  Trying to do a global story well on a budget would be challenging.  I would think you'd have to go small (like one family dealing with it in small-town America perhaps) with something like this but I'm by no means an expert.

Not worth much more of my time to write about it; just wanted to warn you.  I really liked Traffic and Out of Sight.  Maybe for Soderbergh this was like one of those projects I have at work that I really don't want to work on but I hold my nose and do it anyway because I need the paycheck.

Next up for me:  American Beauty.  Haven't seen it since it came out in '99 so I kept it off the list but I think it's a contender.  I'm sure if anyone cared to comment they'd ask about The Godfather.  Same story...I'm getting to it.

We had a couple sick/snow days here so my 4 year old son just watched The Incredibles (twice) and really liked it.  I only saw bits and pieces of it as I was running around trying to keep him and his brother clean and fed while maintaing some sense of order in the house (which usually means following my 2 year old around and picking up his path of destruction).  The Incredibles looked really good and I'd recommend it sight unseen based on my son's enthusiasm.

That's it for now.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Perflix of the Day

Hi again.  I wish I had more time to write; I really enjoy it…even if no one is out there listening.

Ok, a couple things.  First off, I feel like an idiot for leaving The Graduate off of my original list.  This is my 3rd favorite movie of all time after Alien and Top Gun (yes, Top Gun and yes I love love love Tom Cruise! There I said it).  Let's just chalk it up as a transcription error.  If you haven't seen The Graduate, watch it.  It is funny and quirky and one of Dustin Hoffman's earliest and greatest performances.  Katherine Ross (The Stepford Wives) is lovely and talented; I'm not sure what happened with her career I will have to read up on it.  Also, this movie made me fall in love with Alfa Romeos as a young man.

Aside: The Graduate was directed by Mike Nichols (Catch-22, Silkwood, The Birdcage, Postcards From The Edge, and, more recently, Charlie Wilson's War - a very good film) who, I was interested to learn, fired Mandy Patinkin from Heartburn (1986) in favor of Jack Nicholson.  I happen to be a fan of Mandy Patinkin so I was sorry to read about this episode.  Nichols is married to Diane Sawyer.  I thought this interesting given that he's directed so many Meryl Streep movies and I've always thought there was a resemblance between Streep and Sawyer…I'm just sayin'.  Anyway, I'd have to say that Graduate is his finest work.  I will have to watch Catch-22 again…I imagine that was a hard one to direct and at the moment it's not striking me as all that memorable but I may be wrong.

Second, I did watch E.T.  Check that, I watched part of it.  I couldn't believe how slow developing it was.  And the mystery guy with the keys dangling off his belt-loop, ugh.  No wonder I'd only watched it once when I was a kid.  It's definitely not making the cut - not by a long shot.  Even my four year old thought it was unbearable.

Finally - as it's getting very late and with my wife away have the two boys to get off to school in the morning - I was reflecting that I don't have much in the way of comedies posted to my list.  There are definitely some candidates back in the dark recesses of my brain.  Maybe after some caffeine in the morning - and if I can skip out of some meetings at work - I will see what I can do to lure them out.

I will be posting a running listing of Perflix at some point just need to figure out the best way to do that.

Signing off for now.