What’s Joe been watching?

Here are some brief thoughts on four films I checked out this week…

Batman Returns

Holy moley, could this be the best DVD transfer of all time? I haven’t seen this film since its original theatrical release, and I don’t remember the colors being so bright and vibrant. Tim Burton’s second (and final) Batman film pits a brooding Michael Keaton up against a sexified Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Danny DeVito’s scenery (and fish)-chewing interpretation of The Penguin. Just as stylish as the 1990 original, but a tad more gruesome and disturbing. I liked this movie more than I expected, especially Christopher Walken’s amusing supporting role as the corrupt businessman Max Shreck (a homage to the horror classic Nosferatu). And dig the sly jab at David Lynch’s Elephant Man (“I am not a human being! I am an animal!”).

For Your Consideration

A fun satire of the film industry that’s not quite as smart as it thinks it is. A no-budget movie crew comes down with delusions of grandeur after learning that two of the cast members are attracting Oscar buzz. Immediately they begin making changes to the film in order to make it more appealing to Oscar voters… and in so doing, they lose the essence of what made the movie good in the first place. The concept is sheer genius, and the cast members are having a grand time, but Christopher Guest’s teeth aren’t quite as sharp here as I’ve come to expect. Worth seeing, but it’s not The Player or Swimming with Sharks.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

A classic film that I somehow never managed to see until just now. Humphrey Bogart stars as a paranoid treasure hunter, sure that every member of his party is out to steal his share of the gold. Part epic adventure and part exploration of madness, the film is 126 minutes of riveting drama. You may not need no stinkin’ badges, but you do need to see the film if you haven’t had the pleasure. The black and white cinematography is positively gorgeous.

and finally…

Zodiac

David Fincher’s expose of the California serial killer is a perfect blend of visual style and narrative efficiency. The first half of the movie ranks among the absolute scariest things I’ve ever seen, and although the running time (almost three hours!) may tax a viewer’s bladder, the story is always gripping. And let’s please stop bashing Jake Gyllenhaal, who does fine work as the obsessed cartoonist turned investigator… even if he looks slightly too young for the part.

-CSJ

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One response to “What’s Joe been watching?

  1. I agree Batman Returns looked great but DeVito’s penguin just took the wind out of the film’s sails every time he appeared. It seemed to me at the time (and I still believe) Burton should have just concentrated on the Bat/Cat story line. THAT would have been a great Batman film. Instead we get a great big mess of a movie with Batman making the occasional appearance. A real disappointment.

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