Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Cloverfield

Cloverfield has an indecipherable title, no-name actors, and a no-name director. About the only person of note involved was JJ Abrams, and since I don’t watch Lost, that’s not exactly the strongest pedigree. The premise is one that’s been done dozens of times before, and the shaky-cam thing has a history of not working.

So the genius of Cloverfield isn’t in the cast or crew, or the plot -it’s in the execution. And it is a monster movie executed brilliantly, though not perfectly. It’s short, clocking at around an hour and a half, and I wished it had been longer, but it’s tight, and doesn’t drag at all. The cameraman - the one supposedly shooting the footage - is hilarious in a gallows humor kind of way.

Spoilers after the jump, because this is sort of movie that’s a lot better when you go in blind.

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I Am Legend

Two-thirds of this movie is awesome. The end falls apart a bit, and it has very little in common with the novel, but it’s still worth seeing. It really does a great job with the isolated, lonely, paranoia that’s the bread and butter of these “Last Man on Earth” type movies. The only other complaint I can mention without spoiling anything is that the monster special effects are pretty bad. For a movie that cost $90 million and had such great ruined cityscapes, the monsters looked surprisingly bad.

Still, a lot of it is legitimately creepy, and there’s no good reason not to see it.

Spoilers, as usual, after the jump. Pretty big ones, too.

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30 Days of Night

A dude gets his brain punched out.

Five stars.

Helvetica

Postin dis from work. Lunch break, technically, so if the boss is reading this, please don’t fire me.

Becki and I went up to New York City this past weekend, mostly because it was our two-year-iversary but also because we’ve never actually gone on a vacation together. There’s more to post, which I’ll be doing later, but just a quick note for now, so I can get back to work on time.

It just so happened that the IFC Film Center was hosting a showing of Helvetica, a documentary about the font, that weekend. I’ve been forgetting to buy tickets to this since before it was released, so I jumped at the chance. It was a pretty interesting film, and the two main things I took away from it were a) people use Helvetica an awful lot in signage and branding, and b) design folks and typographers get really worked up about that, often in hilarious ways. Seriously, it’s far more interesting than you might think. I’ll probably pick up the DVD when that’s out, I think in November.

There was supposed to be a Q&A with the director, Gary Hustwit, after the movie, but apparently he had to run off to Moscow for the Russian premiere,  so the Q&A was replaced with a brief monologue and asking trivia questions in exchange for prizes.

The first question was what the original name of Helvetica was.  I had some idea, so I raise my hand and answer “something-something grotesk”. Not good enough, apparently. Someone else, who was probably a graphic artist, and thus paid to care about such things, nailed it, with Neue-Haas Grotesk.

What’s funny about this, at least to me, is that the second and final question Hustwit asked was  “I baked something this morning. What was it?”.  This, to me, was the perfect set up for a pretty weak burn. Namely, to use the same answer from before - “something-something grotesque” - to describe his baking.

Unsurprisingly, he looked right at my smirking face, and proceeded to call on just about everyone else in the room, until someone got it. Probably better that way, but it seemed like a pretty good burn at the time. If it matters, if the Q&A had happened, I was planning to ask him if he’d considered a sequel to Helvetica, about another incredible font that everyone loves. Namely, Comic Sans MS. Again, probably better that that didn’t happen.

More on New York later.

Live Free or Die Hard

I want you to watch this, and then tell me with a straight face that it doesn’t get you totally pumped for Die Hard 4. Seriously, try it. I dare you.

I also want to point out that the movie is currently rated 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t even care that it’s PG-13, because a) Bruce Willis himself said that it’s the best Die Hard since the first one, and b) according to initial reviews, McClane still gets to drop in “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” at some point.

Oh god, I’m embarrassingly excited for this. I’ve kind of already decided that it’s going to be awesome, before even seeing it.

EDIT: OK, it’s down to 75% now, but check this out:

Like every movie where they blow stuff up, just with some nostalgia thrown in, and so over the top and silly the movie borders on campy. Then, it blows right through the campy border with an 18-wheel semi truck.

That’s one of the negative reviews, and it still makes this sound awesome.