Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movies + Mail = Magic

I've mentioned before that I'm married to a major technophile and that we share a mania for movies. Well, those two obsessions have found the perfect marriage in Netflix and its PS3 Watch Instantly feature. Though we have discussed a Netflix subscription before, we've never joined. Steve (in true Steve form) wanted to wait until Netflix opened up their Watch Instantly site to the PS3 Network, and (as usual) he was right to wait. It's amazing! While we receive Blu-Rays in the mail as fast as we can watch them, there is, of course, a two-day lag as we wait for the next flick. With the Watch Instantly feature there are tons of movies that we can watch right on our tv without paying any more money! Do I sound like a commercial? Yes. Do I care? Not so much. As Steve likes to say, "It's a good time to be alive." No more trips to the video store. What's next - flying cars?

So here's the rundown on some of our Netflix viewing (both Blu-Rays and Instants). I won't do extensive reviews, but I'll tell what was a winner and why.

Bottle Rocket - Yay for finally getting to see Wes Anderson's first film! I must admit I'm a little obsessed with Wes Anderson and his movies (I've probably seen Royal Tenenbaums a couple hundred times.) So my opinion of this film may be a bit biased. Suffice it to say that if you didn't enjoy any of his other films, you probably won't like this one either. I, on the other hand, thought Owen Wilson was his usual brilliant self in the movie that he helped Anderson write. The set and costumes had the same not-quite-real look and feel of Anderson's other films, and the plot meandered deliciously from one offbeat scene to another. And last but certainly not least, the soundtrack was pitch perfect. While this isn't my favorite Anderson film, I didn't feel a bit cheated by my first Netflix rental, and I will be adding this Criterion Collection Blu-Ray to my Christmas Wish List.

Away We Go - This film stars Maya Rudolph and John Krazinski (The Office) and follows two lost souls as they tour the country looking for the perfect place to raise their unborn child. The movie was directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and, as I found out in the Blu-Ray featurettes, was a "green" film where environmental impact was considered throughout every aspect of the filmmaking process. This movie featured some of my favorite comic actors, such as Catherine O'Hara and Allison Janney, and they didn't disappoint with fresh performances that kept me laughing and cringing (in a good way.) Rudolph and Krazinksi were both charming as the world's most unprepared parents, and I was left feeling entertained despite a few brief forays into sappiness. Overall, there was a indie feel without the depressing indie ending.

Star Trek - Yes, I caved. I wasn't sure I wanted to see this movie since I simply didn't trust J.J. Abrams (of Lost fame) to reimagine my precious Star Trek characters, so needless to say, I went into this rental with very low expectations. Perhaps I should make this my new policy when watching movies since I was so pleasantly surprised by this film. Yes, it was more of an action flick than anything Gene Roddenberry ever created, and yes, changes were made. Any inconsistencies in plot, however, were explained away with a clever twist that allowed Abrams far more latitude than I would have imagined. The relative unknowns who played the iconic Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Checkov, Scotty, and Bones all did admirable jobs of following in their predecessors' footsteps. The "new" Kirk did drop the William Shatner halting over-the-top delivery, but he stayed true to the spirit of Kirk, which was more important to me. Nobody can be Shatner, and it would have been pointless to try. Like Lucas' Star Wars prequels, the film did suffer from the whole better-technology-when-the-prequels-get-made malady making it hard to believe that the Enterprise was actually less advanced than in the tv show, but the rest of the movie was good enough that I forgave Abrams this small sin.

Funny People - This movie was hyped so much on The Tonight Show (I swear Conan interviewed every single cast member at some point during the film's theater run) that I had fairly high expectations for it, and it didn't disappoint. That is not to say, however, that this movie was what I expected. I went into to it expecting the usual Apatow fare (that's not a bad thing, by the way), but what I got was a much darker film with a bit of an indie feel. Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen were hilarious together - especially the scenes where they are writing stand-up material. I was also happy to see one of my favorites, Jason Swartzman, and he was funny (and weird) as ever. Jonah Hill was entertaining, though nothing about his performance was particularly new or different. I hate to declare the man to be a one-trick pony, but alas, I think I may hear the glue factory calling.

As for Instants, we've been watching everything from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the first and second seasons of Dexter. Steve's also been loading up on all his guilty favorites, cult classics from his childhood, some of which I have watched and some I skipped. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen? Not bad. I mean, how bad could a film be that features cast members from Monty Python and Robin Williams playing a disembodied head? I managed to skip Krull (saved by a Sunday afternoon nap.) I've added a few Instants of my own to the queue, and I'm hoping to watch some of them this week while Steve's at work and I'm taking a break from schoolwork. After all, I don't think I can convince Steve to watch Monsoon Wedding or Smart People. The poor guy is already having to put up with a crazy pregnant lady, and every man has his limit.

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