Sunday, April 08, 2007

Now in theaters...

I've been meaning to post about some excellent movies, but between work, gym visits, and running off to see and yet, more movies, I haven't had the time to sit and write. But before these leave the theaters, I wanted to say something.



The Lookout

"Whoever has the money has the power"

Joseph Gorden-Levitt is hot and his last few staring roles have insured that I'll be paying attention anytime I see that he is involved in a project. From Mysterious Skin where he portrayed a young, emotionally scared hustler to Brick which he remained grounded in a high school film noir where he uttered dialog like "The ape blows or I clam" while sounding totally believable as a high school student involved in a murder plot. So it didn't take much to get my interest in seeing The Lookout besides knowing that Joseph Gorden-Levitt is in the lead. Often I wait for reviews to come out or at least see who is directing (Scott Frank), but there was no need. I would be buying a ticket for this flick.

Chris Pratt (Gorden-Levitt) was the high school star athlete until a car accident that killed two of his best friends and left him with permanently disabled. He once was expected to do great things, but now just being able to make a meal for himself seems unlikely. He has trouble with his memory, he gets angry easily, and he has to carry a note pad with him to remember just the simplest of things. He is living with Lewis (Jeff Daniels), a blind man, as he re-learns basic life skills and pays the bills working as a night janitor at a bank.

So it doesn't occur to him to question his new found luck in life of suddenly finding himself with friends and a girl after a brief encounter with Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) in a local bar. He doesn't consider that he is being played. Until he finds himself as a lookout for a robbery.

The Lookout has unfairly been compared to Memento, another film with a memory impaired protagonist, but the films have little else in common. Unlike Memento, The Lookout is much less interested in the crime being committed and much more interested in Chris Pratt. This is a film about a young man who had everything going for him who becomes disabled and thus, written off by society. That is really what makes this film worth the time and energy to see. It really hit me how few images we have in popular culture of disabled people and their lives which I believe adds the problem of lack of understanding about folks with disabilities. I found that while I really cannot consider myself disabled, I did identify with Chris Pratt and his need to carry a notebook to remember.

Another movie in theaters right now that I was able to see thanks to a SIFF preview screening a couple of weeks ago is First Snow with Guy Pearce. Guy Pearce is insuring that he will never be confused with Brad Pitt, despite the chisel-led cheekbones, his body building tendencies and lovely six-pack. After The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (still one of my all time faves), he has dieted away the muscular physique and played roles that make is very hard to find the sexy in Guy Pearce. But it can be done, it is just a bit more difficult under all of the cowboy grime of The Proposition and the greasy smarminess of Jimmy Starks in his new film First Snow, but I can't be fooled.

Okay, back to First Snow. This is a thriller from first time director Mark Fergus, who is noteworthy for being credited as a writer for the excellent, Children of Men. This is an impressive debut and an unusual film. Jimmy Starks (Pearce) is a salesman and when broken down in the middle of nowhere, he has his fortune read. During this reading, he is told that he is safe until the first snow. Believing that he knows a swindle when he sees one, he doesn't take much heed, until parts of his reading come to fruition. Then the troubling events start to escalate; he receives creepy and slightly unsettling phone calls, a target appears in him mailbox, an old friend is released from prison who has very real reasons for a serious grudge. And news of an early winter makes it seem as if Jimmy really may not live through the first snow. This is a gripping film that does seem to ask whether fate can be changed or even with warning, whether all paths lead down the same road for Jimmy Starks.

The whole reason I had to sit down to write about the must see movies in theaters right now is Grindhouse, the newest project by my two favorite filmmakers, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Shocking that I didn't get out to see it until Saturday afternoon, but this release date snuck up on me and thus, I missed the Thursday midnight premiere. Can't let this happen again! If for some reason, you are reading this and haven't yet seen Grindhouse, get to a theater! And if there for some reason is any hesitation about seeing this movie, read on.



Tarantino and Rodriguez have teamed up before, but unlike From Dusk Til Dawn, they each have created their own feature and packed them together as a grindhouse double feature complete with fake previews for coming attractions, damaged film and even a few missing reels to make the experience feel all the more authentic, if you can manage to over look the multiplex setting, that is.

And this is the best of their collaborations to date. Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror is a zombie splatter picture that is a lot of fun to watch. The cast is fun and sexy at every turn with Rose McGowan as the stripper, Cherry, Freddy Rodriguez, Michael Biehn, Naveen Andrews, and Marley Shelton as Dr. Dakota Block who keeps her syringes strapped to her thigh. There are also appearances by Michael Parks, Bruce Willis and Quentin.

As with the majority of Rodriguez's work, Planet Terror is loud, flashy, has plenty of style and great action sequences. Robert Rodriguez is great at making guns very sexy. This is a fun movie that is reminiscent of 70s horror with a dash of Russ Meyer. And the coming attraction trailer that proceeds it for Machete is great... and according to info at IMDB.com, Machete is in production. Coolness. I really dig Danny Trejo.

Tarantino's Death Proof is just as authentic to the genre, but is more skillfully crafted and executed. I will not talk about the plot, for fear of spoilers since they have been careful with the trailers and stills give no hint to what Death Proof is and where it is headed. And I like it that way. I never saw it coming and it was a fantastic and surprise and thus the whole second feature was a nail-biting ride.

But I will give one thing away, Zoe Bell. While I don't share Quentin's foot fetish, I do apparently share his taste in ladies. Wow are the women of Death Proof HAWT. Really. They are not super thin starlets, but seem much more like real women and best of all, they are smart, talk with some great Tarantino dialog and they can take care of themselves. These are women who are not only worthy of lustful feelings, but are equally worthy of admiration. They live in a world full of bad men and misogyny, but they aren't afraid of it and crush the perpetrators when they can.

Death Proof kicks ass.