The Movie Buffer

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uno Gets Played By Penny Arcade

Yeah, I know it's self-centered and idiotic, but I get played by Penny-arcade. Linkage

Monday, June 26, 2006

The double whammy: Nacho Libre and Click


Spoilers are my bread and butter


This is a double issue since I saw two films last week and was equally disappointed by both. Nacho Libre and Click both looked like niche market films and after viewing them my suspicions were correct. One was for Fans of Napoleon Dynamite and the other was for fans of non-threatening comedies.

Nacho Libre, the story of Ignacio/Nacho, the friar cook/luchador, could have been a light hearted comedy with a moral and some good characters but a few major annoyances render it impotent. The story is solid enough: Nacho, who has no skills as a cook(he blames the poor food), tries to earn some extra money to make better meals for the orphans under his care bye moonlighting as a masked wrestler. As he rises through the ranks of the wrestling world he takes on more and more colourful characters and is able to provide for his kids. In the end, Nacho helps his orphanage, meets a bunch of interesting friends and shows that you can do anything you put your mind to.

The annoyances come from the delivery of this film. Jared Hess, the man that brought us Napoleon Dynamite, brings his eclectic and almost stream-of-consciousness style of film making to this project. Though in Napoleon Dynamite, it helped package a day in the life of a nerd, in Nacho Libre it hurt the story’s development. It was quirky, it was kitsch and it was campy but too much so. The second is Jack Black’s poor performance as the leading man. Black has recently become an A-list comedic actor for a string of tepid roles in movies like King Kong and School of Rock. Though he is a great character actor as seen in High Fidelity and Mars Attacks!, he has not yet developed as a leading actor like Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy have. Furthermore, his Mexican accent was an idea that should have been pulled because this was asking for too much from the audience. He should have a Mexican accent but the writers, director and Black himself should have figured out a better way to demonstrate it. The last of the major offenses is the “love story” aspect of the film. The relationship between Nacho and Sister Encarnacion isn’t dynamic at all. There is a bit of tension between the two but it never comes to a head and the viewer already knows the resolution to this problem. Though disappointing the film does have a few moments and interesting shots – The Mexican state of Oaxaca is prominently shown, some of the fight scenes were funny and the cast of secondary characters was pretty good.

This is a movie for fans of Napoleon Dynamite and Jack Black. It has moments but they are few and far between, so I’m giving this film a 5/10 or 2 stars out of 5.

I wrote an article chastising the writer of Jumanji about his second attempt at the film, Zathura but at least he waited for 10 years and a new generation of viewers to grow up. The team of Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe waited a scant 3 years to redo their movie Bruce Almighty again in Click. Adam Sandler, Michael Newman, is an average guy, who by chance inherits a truly universal remote. He uses the remote to “fix” his life so he can be a better person: He ducks through traffic, he rewinds to important points of his life, he fast forwards through the dull/ “bad”/boring parts of life, and he pauses the world when someone needs to be smacked down. Like Bruce Almighty, things aren’t always as they seem and problems with the powers go on the fritz.

Sandler delivers a good performance, indulging in all the things that an average guy would do if he could control the universe – Smacking your boss around, putting bullies in their place, never forgetting any detail about your wife or children, and putting the world into to slow-mo to live out an episode of Baywatch – it’s good to be king. Kate Beckinsdale plays the hot wife perfectly and on occasion emotes! Sandler and Beckinsdale have great onscreen chemistry which really gets truly shows the relationship their characters have. Walken is the brightest star, as the mad scientist who delivers the universal remote. The rest of the secondary characters are portrayed by actors that do a decent job: The child actors, David Hasselhoff, Henry Winkler and Sean Astin.

Since this movie is clearly recycled, the actors do the best they can with the material and in the end produce a movie that isn’t offensive but it is not attractive. This movie takes no risks, makes no promises that it can’t deliver and is basically a plain movie. Like Nacho Libre, I was left disappointed with this film, it deserves a 5/10 or 2 star out of 5 rating because it’s easily forgettable with characters that you can’t love or hate and a resolution that can be telegraphed from the beginning.

Monday, June 19, 2006

DVDs on computer

One of my pet peeves about playing DVDs on my computer is the fact that so many of them require a proprietary player. I understand that the studios are just protecting their investment from piracy but does this actually keep people from copying the movies.

My problem with proprietary players is the fact that most of them are just play and stop buttons. The floating control display that cannot be minimized or moved off screen is annoying. Some even try to stretch my nice widescreen DVDs to fit my non-widescreen monitor. Arg!

Some of you are probably wondering why I’m watching DVDs on my computer rather than my television. I watch the movie for the first time on my TV and re-watch the key scenes at my computer. The benefit of watching the movies via computer is the ease of writing up the review and watching the film in tandem.

So I end up having a bunch of crappy players installed on my computer, none of which I use more than once or twice. I’d like to see some standardization on the part of the distribution companies, at least. Come on, guys, get your gear squared away!

Quick Update!

So, it’s my B-day. Hooray for me! Hey, Death, get a life! I made another year!

Combine that with my sketchy work schedule and my parents’ Wedding anniversary, I haven’t been able to get to the theatres lately. But fear not, I’m going to make up for some lost time this week – Nacho Libre on Tuesday and probably Click or Cars on Friday. Yeah, three questionable movies but they as I see them, they all have potential.

What’s coming up, Superman! Which I have read, on, doesn’t live up to some critics expectations. But from the trailers and the previews available via , it looks great.

On the DVD front, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party was releases in an excellent unrated version which all fans should see immediately.

And as for more content other than this small post, I’m going to upload a new article tonight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Banlieue 13 (District B13)


Cette revue contient des indices de l’histoire et peut gâcher votre expérience cinématographique. (Small spoilers within)

edit: to the french readers sorry for the mistakes!

This movie is in French and it has subtitles! The theatres are doing everything they can to tell viewers that this movie is in French short of raising a French flag and playing the national anthem of France.


District B13, also known as, District 13 and The 13th District, is a movie that was poorly advertised and thus not very recognizable when heading to the theatre. Though you have probably haven’t heard much about this film it would be a shame if you missed out on this great foreign action film. The movie was made in France, by first time director Pierre Morel, and Luc Besson, the producer of The Transporter films and Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior.

In an action film the key to the directing is keeping the story's pace matched with the up-tempo action scenes. Where some directors flounder, Morel deftly progresses the story, develops his characters and builds some reality into his film (all with only a small amount of time available). There was a clear secondary design in this movie to highlight the extreme sport of parkour, which is a time-based obstacle course running in an urban setting, not to be mistaken for free running which emphasizes style and artistic flourishes, like The Fast and the Furious did for the world of street racing. This movie revolves around two characters, Leito, a resident of district B13, who is trying to reform his crime hardened neighborhood into a respectable part of the city, and Damien, a by the book cop that is trying to recover a bomb that was hijacked from it’s convoy through the district. In order to infiltrate the crime syndicate’s headquarters in B13, Damien recruits Leito as a partner and then action begins. Both of these men are superb traceurs, participants in parkour, and they narrowly escape capture several times using their skills. Out of the 103 minutes of this film I would estimate that only about 20 minutes of the movie was non-action dialogue, otherwise the two heroes were jumping from rooftop to roof top, sneaking through underground tunnels and fighting the gangsters with a mix of Capoeira and Muy Thai.

Since there was little time for character development and dialogue the actors do the best they can, with lots of intense facial expressions with close ups and acrobatics to highlight their real skills as traceurs. This film is of the same school as Ong-Bak, no wires and minimal special effects, so everything looks clean and real. Cyril Raffaelli, Damien, and David Belle, Leito, both play their characters well and you really root for themby the end of the movie. The pretty face in this film is Dany Verissimo, who plays Leito’s little sister Lola, and she does a great job. Not only is she very cute, she’s got some sass and she knows how to deal with Mexican standoff situations.

With all action films, the story does suffer with no time to develop or come to a conclusion without the use of a few flights of fancy. There are several clichés that build up over the course of the film and a foreshadowed ending leaves the story resolved but not explained. There are a few continuity errors but not obvious enough to mention save the computer panel swap at the end of the movie.

This movie was a fun ride through a story that’s been done before but had enough fresh perspective to keep it interesting. District B13 gets a 7/10 or 3 out of 5 stars because it was great to watch, there wasn’t a dull moment, and even though the movie was French the comedy translated very well. Though there were a few mistakes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable action movie.