04 July 2013

4 July - "A toast to the end of the world"

Independence Day (1996)
dir. Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 1996)

Will Smith (I Am Legend, 2007)
Jeff Goldblum (The Big Chill, 1983)
Bill Pullman (Sleepless in Seattle, 1993)
Randy Quaid (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)
Robert Loggia (Big, 1988)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko, 2001)
Vivica A. Fox (Batman & Robin, 1997)
Margaret Colin (The Devil's Own, 1997)
James Rebhorn (Cold Mountain, 2003)
Harvey Fierstein (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)
Adam Baldwin (Serenity, 2005)
James Duval (The Doom Generation, 1995)
Lisa Jakub (The Beautician and the Beast, 1997)
Giuseppe Andrews (American History X, 1998)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man, 2008)
Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 2010)
Harry Connick Jr.  (New in Town, 2009)

Independence Day is not my favorite fourth of July movie (that would be this one) but it is still a pretty good one. I think we can all agree that the best scene is when the dog leaps out of the way of the explosion, and that it is very inspiring when Bill Pullman tells us that the fourth of the July will no longer be an American holiday, but a day when the whole world will celebrate it's Independence Day (that's the eponymous moment).

02 July 2013

2 July - "Why don't you like my spots?"

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

dir. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, 2012)

Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, 1998)
Isabelle Huppert (Time of the Wolf, 2003)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook, 1991)
Lily Tomlin (Krippendorf's Tribe, 1998)
Jude Law (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, 1997)
Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights, 1997)
Naomi Watts (Eastern Promises, 2007)
Kevin Dunn (Almost Heroes, 1998)
Tippi Hendren (The Birds, 1963)
Said Taghmaoui (Hidalgo, 2004)
Jean Smart (Youth in Revolt, 2009)
Jonah Hill (Megamind (voice), 2010)
Isla Fisher (Rango, 2011)
John Rothman (The Devil's Advocate, 1997)
Talia Shire (Rocky, 1976)
Bob Gunton (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, 1997)
Saige Ryan Campbell (All I Want for Christmas, 2007)

I Heart Huckabees is one of those comedies that finds its humor in the absurdity of situations rather than jokes or physical comedy. The protagonist, played by Jason Schwartzman, hires a duo of existential detectives to discover meaning behind His coincidental encounter with the small Sudanese man three times in one day. As is the way with existential crises, however, the investigation rapidly spills into other aspects of his life, mainly the collaborative project between the protagonist's environmental organization and Wal-Mart-esk Huckabees superstore to preserve a patch of wetlands from development. Brad, the Huckabees representative for the wetlands project, sees this as a good PR move, but soon he and others around our protagonist are drawn into existential dilemmas of our own. The characters address the big questions, what am I? And why am I here? with the humor stemming from the absurdity of these personal dilemmas manifesting very tangibly and publicly in day to day life. 

I've seen I Heart Huckabees several times now. I find it to be more accessible than many other indie comedies, which are often so dark that they hardly merit being called comedies (as in Sunshine Cleaning). This is the exception, the tone consistently remains light even as the subject matter becomes heady. Great cast, too.

01 July 2013

2 July - "I'm the thief you tried to cheat"

The Saint (1997)
dir. Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, 1994)

Val Kilmer (Batman Forever, 1995)
Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, 1995)
Rade Serbedzija (X-Men: First Class, 2011)
Henry Goodman (Notting Hill, 1999)
Alun Armstrong (Braveheart, 1995)
Evgeniy Lazarev (Iron Man 2, 2010)
Tommy Flanagan (Braveheart, 1995)
Pat Laffan (War Horse, 2011)
Malcolm Tierney (Braveheart, 1995)
Tony Armatrading (Eragon (voice), 2006)
David Schneider (28 Days Later..., 2002)
Emily Mortimer (Transiberian, 2008)
Velibor Topic (Robin Hood, 2010)
Barbara Jefford (The Ninth Gate, 1999)
Julian Rhind-Tutt (Stardust, 2007)
William Hope (Sherlock Holmes, 2009)
Roger Moore (voice) (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
Richard Cubison (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007)
Michael Byrne (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, 2010)

If you like terrible action movies, as I do, The Saint is not one to miss. Notable mainly for Val Kilmer infinitely amusing disguises and accents. The romance is ridiculous, although Elizabeth Shue's character is charming, in her own way. If you discovered that the poetic South African who seduced you was actually an international thief, would you be delighted to see him again? And if the  woman you seduced and then thieved surprised you at the airport, would you exclaim with a smile, "You found me!"?

I think it's the earnestness of the lead actors that makes one bad action movie delightful and another just boring. If I feel like the actors aren't having fun, aren't even trying, then I don't see any point in trying to get into the story either. The Saint is a ridiculous mess, but it's is a sincere mess.