October 31, 2010

Catching Up On DVD

We're paying for the luxury of Netflix. DVDs sit on our TV for weeks and weeks, unwatched, while we rack up the monthly fees. I am not complaining, but it's very satisfying to check off some "we missed it in the theater" titles. We finally watched three DVDs in a week, and all three provoked strong feelings. This blog is dedicated to meticulously documenting every movie I see in the theater. I usually don't review movies I see at home, but this trio of features are worth a few comments.

(500) Days of Summer Summer the movie (and the woman) flouted all my expectations, and left me confused, angry, and bewildered by the end of the movie. The premise is simple, it's your standard romantic comedy... except Summer (Zooey Deschanel) approaches relationships the way men do with impunity, and her would-be boyfriend Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the overly romantic antagonist who lets himself get hurt by asking for more than Summer wants to give. I don't know if I was more upset as a man, or as a fan of romantic comedies! The way Summer treats Tom seems cruel, but men act exactly like her in rom-coms all the time. Fair's fair, I guess. I also have to credit the movie for it's clever structure. Plenty of films jump around in time, but (500) Days of Summer uses the 500 days as an odometer of the relationship, and each vignette is prefaced with the appropriate day value. A couple of notes about the music- I have been annoyed by the overly "we're too cool for ourselves" soundtracks on young-adult comedies lately (Juno and Adventureland spring to mind), but (500) does not have that problem- there's some drunken kareoke to "Here Comes Your Man", a nice Bruce Springsteen joke, and a joyous dream-dance sequence set to "You Make My Dreams" by the #1 rock duo of all time, Hall & Oates.

 Shutter Island This is the movie I most wanted to see in the theater, and never made it. Scorsese has made a 1960s style gothic thriller, but the explicit violence towards children, and the many many loose threads of the storytelling spoil any chance of satisfaction for me. I don't insist that mystery movies be solvable before the truth is revealed, but Shutter Island goes in 5 directions at once.

 Paranormal Activity I like scary movies, but I am not interested in explicit gore and torture, which is so popular among the "torture porn" of the Saw/Hostel crew. So when I heard that there was a new creepy horror movie in the mold of The Blair Witch Project, I was eager to check it out. I watched it by myself, alone in the house, with all the lights out. This movie scared the shit out of me. It's a haunted condo horror movie- the couple never leaves their 3BR two-level home for the entire movie. this may be my new standard for claustrophobia. Besides being totally fucking scary without one ounce of blood or one inch of ghosts, it's also a metaphor for bad relationships- Katie is haunted by a demon, and her douche boyfriend of three years Micah never takes her seriously. He actually makes things worse over and over- he felt like a very familiar character; the man whose juvenile ego doesn't know how to manage threats to his authority. When a psychic tells them that negative energy feeds the demon and makes things worse, all she would need to do to be free of the demon is kick her dickish boyfriend out. I have only two complaints; the scary bits are still haunting me, and I wish Katie had shown more confidence instead of pleading for help and resigning herself to her doom for the entire movie.

The next movie on the way from Netflix is sure not to anger or scare me: Hot Tub Time Machine. Let the healing begin!