Hidden Leaves

“It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a Dream. When you have
something like a Nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself it
was only a dream. It is said the world we live in is not a bit
different from this.” – Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Fido (2007)

When it starts off extremely promising and then begins to let down slightly, I got that “Oh no not again” sinking feeling I’ve gotten so many times before with movies that have great “ideas” but after introducing them, fail to execute them in any really interesting fashion.

However, although nothing in the rest of the movie fully lives up to the intro set-up, it’s moderately entertaining throughout.

The 50’s/60’s conformist nostalgia angle is extremely well done, the movie is amusing if not really “funny”, and it pulls off the best understatedly twisted take on death (look for the magazine) this side of ‘Fallout’.

Inspirational Quote: “You crazy, wonderful zombie!”

Grade: B

Contagion (2011)

Cliche and dull.  It would be preferable (more time-consuming and just as boring, but more informative) to read a full-length CDC evaluation of potential pandemic risks and responses.

Nothing that isn’t shown somewhere else with slightly more excitement/flair…that is to say, any at all.

If you’re waiting for the ending to save it, well…it’s certainly a surprise.

Eric Idle character from MPFC on a film of similar interest level: “Go on, protest, do something about it, assault the manager, demand your money back.” (SATIRE…SATIRE…SATIRE…)

Grade: F

Advice I should have taken

If someone tells you that in the past, for years, they were knowingly and intentionally a horrible person…that they used people like toys for their own amusement and then tossed them aside when they ceased to be “amusing” to them, were vicious, cruel, knowingly and willingly sadistic, and that they pretended to be a “normal” person and acted as such in order to fool people into trusting their intentions as a “nice” person so as to gain their confidence so that they could play with their heads and then laugh about it…

BUT says they’re “much better now”…

Be just a BIT cautious concerning them.

-Puppy >.< Grrr…

Three… Extremes: Box (2004)

A thinking person’s horror film.

Containing actual ideas beyond gore and Shock-O-Rama, this fairly intelligent and comparatively brilliant entry by Takashi Miike makes one want to hum “One of these things is not like the others…” after watching the first two.  Intriguing, it’s also by far the least bloody of the three films and by far the best.

Grade: C+

5/7/14: “Comparatively” is the key word.  Grade: C

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

It’s only Pulp Fiction-esque in that it’s really weird and it’s about crime.

It’s not told in anywhere near the same way, it’s not nearly as quirky and it’s much more based on actions than on symbolism and interestingly meaningless dialogue.

It’s also not laughably over-rated as a landmark of American cinema, which is appropriate.

I’d take this over Pulp.  At least I don’t have to watch Travolta dancing again.

Grade: B+

6/3/12: Ok, I wouldn’t take it over Pulp.  But Tarantino should be reviled for revitalizing Travolta’s career.  He should have picked Andy Garcia…he shows here why he’s more worthy.  Grade: B

He Said I Could

“Nothing is original.
Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your
imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”” – Jim Jarmusch

From ‘Meditations’

In the end, what would you gain from everlasting remembrance?
Absolutely nothing. So what is left worth living for? This alone:
justice in thought, goodness in action, speech that cannot deceive,
and a disposition glad of whatever comes, welcoming it as necessary, as
familiar, as flowing from the same source and fountain as yourself.

– Marcus Aurelius

10/16/16: Tiny spacing alteration, kept the font cuz it’s cool. (housekeeping)

Swimming With Sharks (1994)

Buddy Ackerman is over-played a bit.

Unless he really IS based on an actual human being, in which case it just seems (a bit) overplayed.

Either way, despite going just a LITTLE too far in the how-unlikeable-can-I-render-this-character department, Kevin Spacey does a brilliant and (a bit too, perhaps) convincing job of portraying a ruthless, merciless, cold-blooded and yet socially accepted psychopath…the kind that survives (even flourishes) because its weapon of choice is abuse, ridicule, and intimidation.

Frank Whaley (who?) is just as convincing as Guy, the prototypical good guy whose goodness becomes the focal point of the movie as it is tested repeatedly by Buddy’s blatant abuse until something has to give…and something does.

Saying more would sort of ruin it…worth a watch if you want to see how to appear menacing while discussing artificial sweeteners.

Inspirational Quote: “What do you REALLY want?”

Grade: A

Avatar (2009)

One of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights I have ever seen (including reality), the visuals are truly stunning and beyond complaint.  As I mentioned while watching it, “There could be no dialogue at all and I’d still want to watch the entire movie”.

Unfortunately, the visual display isn’t supported by dialogue that’s anything more than average, and the heavy-handedness of the rather obvious moral preaching (If you can’t spot the metaphors to reality, distant past and recent past, you need to read more American History) gets a bit tiresome after a while.  Not that I don’t AGREE with it…but you don’t need to slam people over the head with the obvious parallels to reality. 

Think of it sort of as a more ambitious but not as far-reaching sci-fi version of ‘Dances With Wolves’.

Grade: B

7/25/12: If you don’t mind obvious, this is as beautiful as it gets.  Grade: B+

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Good old Jack at his devilish best, as well as a very good supporting cast displaying a wide array of emotions very convincingly.

The movie is more comedic drama with a bit of intense tragedy thrown in, whereas the book (from what I understand) is much more dark and intellectual.

R.P. McMurphy is an a$$hole, but at least he’s a GENUINE one…and a genuine anything, of course, is very hard to find.

Perhaps slightly over-rated by those who hail it as a masterpiece of American cinema (usually in retrospect after having written middling reviews when it first came out), it nonetheless is a truly great film and a Puppy must-watch, if not own.

Inspirational Quote: “I’m a Godd@mn marvel of modern science”

Grade: A

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

It starts out surprisingly interesting before slowly descending into mediocrity and then quickly from there into downright absurdity.  A horror movie isn’t supposed to be FUNNY.

Grade: D-

7/24/12: So, watch the first 20-25 minutes, then turn it off and IMAGINE.  You couldn’t do much worse.  Grade: D

True Grit (2010)

I generally find westerns boring, not because of the setting but because they invariably are stupid, macho, and corny.  I’ve found a few exceptions, most notably ‘Unforgiven’, so I thought I’d give this remake a shot, as it had the advantage of not featuring John Wayne, at least.

It’s not stupid, macho, or corny…but it is boring.

The problem is that the believable characters are unlikeable and the likeable characters are unbelievable.  Jeff Bridges conveys about as much charm as Billy Bob Thornton in ‘Sling Blade’, but his character’s excuse (stupidity/alcoholism) isn’t near as valid as Thornton’s character (severe mental illness).  And Thornton’s character at least has quirks…and interesting dialogue.

Vastly overrated.

Grade: D

Carver (2008)

And the award for Most Dumbass Pathetic White Trash Serial Killer goes to –

The big fat guy in this movie.

I’m not being desensitized to the atrocious, horrible things done in this movie and in “horror” films like it, I’m just amazed at how many of these works of horsesh1t actually make it to film…they’re all the same – Dull, Meaningless, Stupid, Gratuitous…I mean, when you make ‘Friday the 13th’ look inventive by comparison, that’s sad. 

They say Truth is stranger than Fiction.  In this case, it’s just as dull.

“Based On Actual Events”, so I guess there’s a big dumb fat guy in jail somewhere getting a royalty check from this.

Worthless tripe…everything ‘Land of the Dead’ is not and what ignorant morons would prefer it to be.

Grade: F-

The Book Of Eli (2010)

It could use a bit more humor, as the few (refreshing) humorous moments make abundantly clear.  It could also use better supporting actors outside the “main” ones.  But the idea is ingenious, it’s well-written, well-made, Denzel Washington is great (as usual), Gary Oldman is delightfully weird (as usual), and Mila *bleepin* Kunis is the huge surprise…I didn’t expect much beyond (maybe) competence after seeing her accurately play a total ditz on ‘That 70’s Show’, but her character is intelligent, suitably emotional, and very believable.

To complain more, there are periods where it lags…but there are also some extremely interesting scenes and a few surpriiiiiiiiises.

Inspirational Quote: “Put that hand on me again you won’t get it back”

Evil IQ: “You don’t HAVE to understand…*I* understand…”

Grade: A-

8/30/14: It didn’t move me this time the way it has, but I think the above is still very accurate. And I wanted to quote one more time:

Inspirational Exchange:
“…I forgot to, live by what I learned from it.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“Just…do for others, more than you do for yourself. That’s what I got from it anyway.”

Grade: A-