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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

#1,512: Hard Candy

-Take the Money and Run – Early Woody Allen.  Has its good parts.  We don’t get too many movies built out of fun jokes anymore, like we did from the folks that came out of the Your Show of Shows writers’ room.  Something to ponder… -How to Rob a Bank – The biggest mistake made by this first time writer/director who hasn’t done anything before or since, was having some kind of free screening for the cast, crew, and family.  Without those valuable dollars, the film was left leaning on fans of 90s rock band Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale to bring in the powerful $109 opening weekend en route to a powerful thousand dollars domestic take.  Also, the movie is terrible, not least because every character talks just the same.

-The Killing -  Early Kubrick.  Only 5 big Kubricks left for me.  I didn’t like this as much as I expected to, or as much as I think I’d like hearing someone else describe it.

-Bottle Rocket -I think I saw this on TV a couple years ago, but it didn’t make the list since I didn’t remember a thing about it.  It’s only been a couple of weeks since I saw it again.  Couldn’t really tell you anything that happened in it though.

-In the Realms of the Unreal – A doc that falls short of an amazing but unknowable subject: a gentleman in NYC who spent his life writing and illustrating tens of thousands of pages of a vaguely original fantasy story.

-Crank 2: High Voltage – On one hand, basically the same movie ast he first one.  On the other hand, I liked it a lot less.  Maybe a difference between theater viewing and DVD?  Not sure.  And I’m writing this too much later to remember specifics.

-Drag Me To Hell – A big crazy cartoon.  You have to suspend your disbelief about things like there being an ice cream shop next to that fortune teller on Olive.  Alison Lohman is always great, and the whole movie is worth it for the ending.

-The Caller - This was very….French.  Like a few items in the list, the setup and the puzzle are more fun than the solution.

-Creepozoids! and Endgame and Santa Claus and Poultrygeist – Courtesy of Doc Mock’s Movie Mausoleum.  Some girl from the Horror Convention Massacre made a big deal about being in Poultrygeist.  Didn’t even spot her.

-Seance on a Wet Afternoon - grabbed because it's on a bunch of lists.  I guess mainly to showcase Kim Stanley as the 'lady Brando.'  No acting really covers the convenient plot element of crazy that pokes through just enough to blurt incriminating evidence though.  The set up was kind of sharp though.

-Topkapi - Not a big fan of this one either, I guess because I was looking for a heist more than a heist parody.  Like Seance, the crime elements work pretty well.  In this case, the extra element is: Swingin' 1960s Italy!

-They Live - Might have napped through this the first time.  Made much more sense the second time.  Maybe just the longest fistfight you ever did see.  I always think the old John Carpenter movies must have been even more awesome in their day, since today they seem watered down by having been ripped off countless times.

-Astro Boy - The digital technology is pretty impressive, the way they auto-tuned an emotion into Nic Cage's voice at some point.  Also, they should have just made everything out of the same material as Toby's invincible hat.

-The Hot Rock - Now this was a great caper.  In fact, it's a bunch of great capers, since if everything went right it wouldn't be much of a movie.  The museum sequence is genuinely suspenseful and clever and terrific.

-The Friends of Eddie Coyle - Two in a row for director Peter Yates.  Also great, but dark and noir-y where the Hot Rock was lighter and more fun.  Watch this movie.

-The Final Countdown - Do not watch this movie.  There's no more gutless, toothless, bloodless and wimpy a production made from such a great premise.  The set up: what if a 1980s aircraft carrier traveled through time to Dec 6, 1941, with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen on board?  The answer:  the USS Nimitz will take a dog 40 years into the future, and a hell of a lot of stock footage of planes taking off and landing will be shown.  Boooo.

-Rififi - This is noir + caper + the director of Topkapi.  The crime is like half an hour of the movie, with no dialogue or non-diagetic sound. [edit to add:  and that's awesome, in case I wasn't clear]

-The Machinist - Christian Bale was pretty good in this, but I don't know if he was the machinist.  I'm not sure the pieces of the puzzle really add up correctly though, even though there's an awful lot of 'look how clever we are here' in this one.

-The Squid and the Whale - I thought this looked awful when it came out, and I liked it kind of a lot.  I even went and re-watched Kicking and Screaming again afterward.    I like Noah Baumbach's writing.  I liked how instead of kids who talk like adults because the script is clever, these kids talk like adults the way real kids do: through mindlessly parroting things they don't understand.

-Genuine Nerd - Not a good doc.  Exploitive and laughing at the subject more than with him…or..something.  Bleh.

-My Neighbor Totoro -Thought I'd go back and check out some older Miyazaki.  I couldn't tell you why this one makes so many lists though.  I just didn't get it.  Nothing actually happened.  By the time it seemed like the end of the first act, the movie was done.

Hard Candy - (Presuming you've seen this one...)

BEFORE:   That's an awesome poster.  I'll check it out.

AFTER:  That was…kind of disappointing?

I turned briefly to internets to see if I was experiencing a common problem.  No good.  The macguffin is child molestation, which a) creates a thick fog of useless rhetoric in which everyone feels the need to waste line after line decrying pedophiles, which is 1) noble and 2) necessary to ward off all the posts calling everyone discussing the movie a pedophile but not really relevant to the discussion, and b) gets me all off track with 'mole station' puns.  ("Mole Station Zebra!"  "That's no moon…." &c., &c.)

So…maybe the thing is that I'm not entirely clear on who the protagonist is.  Nobody's a hero, per se.  He's guilty, and she's some other kind of monster.  We're going to sympathize with him, because otherwise we're probably a little monstrous ourselves.  If we're going to watch him suffer for a couple hours, then movies teach us to hope to see the tormentor's comeuppance.

It feels a little bit like the Gothika problem.  That is, murdering someone who turns out to be a criminal doesn't excuse the murdering.  (Especially since in Gothika she had no idea.)  This story doesn't have the explicit moral relativism of say, Death Wish, but she does seem to get away with it.

So how is it really any different from your The Strangers or your Funny Games?  Jeff's imprisoned in his own home at the sadistic whim of some absurdly effective invader.  But, he's alone, and a criminal.  If anything, it's longer.  The in-house cat and mouse is kind of repetitive.  We could have probably skipped some of that and not missed it - the neighbor never does anything useful, for instance.

Perhaps it's just directorally weird.  The first feature from a music video director who went on to do the horrible 30 Days of Night and is on Twilight 3 now.  The physics-bending dolly move transitions, the completely weird and distracting mid-shot lighting and color changes, the vicious shaky cam to let the audience know when something exciting is going on…

…Or maybe this is just the most "torture-porn" flavored of the home invasion genre, with a big sensationalist gimmick, and a neat poster.  At least it got me to wonder about it.

Batting .333 on that batch, and there's another 30 I've already accumulated, plus maybe some year-end stuff I could do, fashionably late.