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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

1,600: MURDER at 1600

The movie post that wordpress doesn't want you to see!  Between eaten posts and laziness, it seems like the count got off somewhere as far as the site here is concerned.  In truth, I'm up to 1626 at the moment. -In Bruges - a better movie than a city, if the movie can be believed.  I appreciate movies that deliberately subvert movie cliches (Hard Candy pointed out 'why are you threatening me while you're still tied up?) - in this case, it's the fact that blanks are still dangerous. Additional points are awarded for a lean and economic script that uses every part of the buffalo.  I do think, however, that this movie may in fact be zany.

-Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One - An early sort of pseudo-documentary.  Kind of interesting historically - or it would be if anyone at all claimed influence by it - but as an early example of such a common genre now it's mainly remarkable for the line 'every since we've been married I've had abortion after abortion after abortion….'

-Quick Change - This was great, it starts as a cool take on a heist and the ensuing getaway is a solid 90s comedy.  There's something about the writing conventions that just feels great when they hit the right notes.  I hope that comes from a sense of storytelling and not nostalgia.

-The Spanish Prisoner - A twisty turny Mamet thing, plus Steve Martin.  Really great until the last five minutes.  I just don't think he could have possibly gotten there that fast.

-Battlestar Galactica: Razor - This was a waste of time.  When it was new, I bet fans were happy to see nominally new BSG to tide them over, but I'll bet they would have been even happier to have a new story instead of this rehash of previously discussed events.

-Paranoid Park - Like Soderbergh, Van Sant makes the movies for everyone and the movies just for him, and in his case I prefer the latter.  This movie features the most useless subtitles ever.

-The Number 23 - Sometimes you hear about how bad a movie is, and you just have to look.  Turns out, pretty bad.  And nobody had ever even mentioned the Sin City-lookin' sequences.

-Final Destination - This was pretty dumb too.  While there's something familiar and comforting about a script that hits the right beats (in an interesting way) there's something about formulaic editing that just sucks the life out of a movie.  Line.  Cut to character about to speak.  Wait 1 second.  Character says line.  Cut to character about to speak.  Wait 1 second.  Character speaks.  Audience falls asleep.  Maybe they didn't shoot any reactions or mediums.

-Home Movie - From the director of American Movie, a series of shorts sewn together, each about people who live in unusual dwellings.  I may have oversold the movie with that last sentence.

-Ong-Bak: Thai Warrior - See, now what I learned in Gladiator (no, not Gladiator, Gladiator, from the writer of Striking Distance / director of Road House) is that the top of the head is the hardest part of the body.  Don't know why, that's just one of those things that stuck with me.  But here's Tony Jaa, going out of his way to bash people right atop their noggins with accuracy and enthusiasm.  He does a terrific job of it, going after guys in a flurry of human elbows and knees.

-The Yes Men - So these guys pretend to be these other guys, and in character as those guys they pretend to be a third set of guys who pull these elaborate pranks on the World Trade Organization.  The movie shows us some of the pranks, and how the people being pranked fall for it.  I guess you pay a ton of money to attend a conference, you don't suspect lies.  Anyway, I'm glad I didn't buy this on DVD for thirty bucks a few years ago.

-John Oliver: Terrifying Times - I have a standing appreciation of John Oliver.  I even claim that weird indie band 'before they were cool' kind of fandom.  The Department, Political Animal, The Bugle, The Daily Show, and this standup special are all the places you can enjoy John Oliver. And often Andy Zaltzman.

-Anvil! The Story of Anvil - At times almost heartbreaking, at other times so absurd and inextricable from Spinal Tap that it seems like it couldn't be real.  (The drummer is named Robb Reiner, for pete's sake.)  But hey, I want to believe.

-The Station Agent - Sought out after learning about writer / director Thomas McCarthy's involvement with the real best picture of 2009, Up.  This was roundly terrific.  I feel like it could lead to some seriously boring discussions though.

-Ninja Assassin - This was a return to $5 Mondays at Cleveland Cinemas.  Also, this sucked.  It didn't look very good, but I was hopeful based on a) director of V for Vendetta James McTeigue and b) the title.  And besides, ninjas.  And then what do they do?  CGI ninjas.  Waste of everyone's time.  Bleh.

-Avatar - I enjoyed watching this movie.

-Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - I knew this was written by a couple of The State, but I guess I'd seen bad reviews or something.  It was mostly pretty good.  Some bits that didn't make sense to me were either explained in the first movie or didn't jibe with the first movie at all, depending on who I asked.

-X-Files: I Want to Believe - Often referred to as a 'monster of the week' movie in comparison to Fight the Future as a 'mythology' movie.  Morbidly amusing to note they killed off Mulder & Scully's child instead of having them lug him along to crime scenes or deal with babysitters or something.

-Unknown - I think I mixed this up with a Vincenzo Natali movie.  Maybe 'Nowhere.'  It was roughly Sci-Fi Original in quality.

-Sherlock Holmes - Really cool, really solid, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would, after all the hand wringing that preceded it.  There's kind of a problem that Holmes knows all the details of a murder he neither witnessed nor investigated in any way when he's recapping everything for the audience.  Deleted scenes, I hope.  I wonder what happened to the competing Judd Apatow version...

-Up in the Air - On the one hand, this was pretty good.  But on the other, it's pretty much the same 'slick misanthrope suddenly feels the need for deeper meaning and finds it in family' thing that the director's already made two of.

-It's Complicated - Great cast, but still kind of boring.  I recall the discussion afterward being about how shoddily made parts of it were.  Bears an odd resemblance to Modern Family.

-Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask - Raised more questions than it answered, unfortunately.  How DO you make a man impotent by hiding his hat?  I've hidden hats before.  I don't -think- that was a side effect.

-Book of Eli - As of January 18, this is my favorite movie of 2010.  Cool and fun and works pretty well as Fallout: The Movie.  I felt an odd connection to it when I saw that it was written by Gary 'Gaz' Whitta, former editor at PC Gamer.  Sure, I don't actually know him, but I've read and listened to his work for a while, and it's no surprise that there are some game-like elements in the movie (a good thing).  The fact that people aren't really talking about this one is a benefit to you, the viewer.

-Across the Universe - This was strongly recommended to me, but it's not so much a movie as a collection of videos for Beatles covers.  I'm pretty sure that the reason the non-music parts don't make any sense is to cram in as many additional Beatles references as possible, but I just don't know their catalog well enough to appreciate it.  I guess I've never been into boy bands....

-Assassins - Stallone is an assassin just days from retirement, Banderas is an assassin just coming up.  Moore is a hacker in the finest 1990s computer technology tradition.  The whole thing is worth it for this one entirely inappropriate exchange.

-Laura - A fun old murder mystery where nothing is as it seems!  Really!  It's great when a movie lives up to one of those review cliches.  They probably could have sorted the whole thing out a lot sooner, but not in a 'well why didn't he say that one sentence two hours ago' kind of way.

-Heart and Souls - Kind of reminds me of the original story that lead to Monsters Inc.  Fun premise, well done, just another more or less forgotten '90s flick.

-Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil -  Not at all what I expected.  I guess it gets grouped in my head with The Bridges of Madison County or a River Runs Through It, probably for no other reason than having leafy green poster art, since I haven't seen those either.  Anyway, for some reason, I was under the impression this was going to be a good movie.

-Day Watch - Didn't like Night Watch, didn't like Wanted, didn't really like this.

-Food, Inc. - This was the movie being used to demo my new movie watchin' monitor, so I made it the first movie I watched on said monitor.  Not great.  Doesn't really add anything new to similar programs that have been coming out for what seems like years now.

-Black Cobra and Warriors of the Wasteland - Two more courtesy of Doc Mock.  Black Cobra himself, Fred Williamson, actually appears in WotW too.

And now, even shorter reviews for short films:

-Balance - A: Awesome.  It's right here if you want to see for yourself.

-Bullethead - yuck.

-Un Chien Andalou - I thought the cloud on the moon was more effective than the actual eyeball shot.

-100 Years at the Movies, President McKinley and Escort Going to the Capitol, President McKinley Taking the Oath - kind of neat, but mainly just me working on my lists at icheckmovies.

-Validation, Signs - two sketch-like shorts of a very simple premise heightened over time.  Neither mind-blowing nor disappointing.

-Hangar #5 and I Love Sarah Jane - two shorts made as effects demos, the latter in conjunction with fxphd, and notably better acting  (Sarah Jane would become Tim Burton's Alice, I think.)

-The Adventures of Andre and Wally B - very early pixar work.  Not terrific, with its off-camera punchline.

-Dug's Special Mission - Very recent pixar work.  Much more terrific.  Looney Tunes in flavor.

-9 - Slightly less good looking than the feature that followed 4 years later, but containing just about as much story.

-Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade - Another short that was expanded into a feature.  Rather less CGI intensive though.

-Anna is Being Stalked, The Delicious - two by Scott Prendergast, whom I heard interviewed on TSOYA.  The former played at Sundance.  I would not be able to explain why.  There was nothing for me in these.

-The Cat Concerto - Inspiration for the Mouse Organ?  No, that's a Katzenklavier, this is an Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry cartoon.

-The Cat Piano - speaking of the Katzenklavier...didn't really dig this one.

-Skhizein - a little bit weird and unsatisfying, which probably effectively communicates the feeling of being displaced by 97 centimeters.  Terrific idea.

and finally...

-Murder at 1600 - You might be surprised to learn that this suspense featuring Wesley Snipes as a cop who plays by his own rules and builds meticulous scale models of entire cities who is called in by White House staffers going through the motions of pretending to be interested in solving a murder and insists on pushing through the lies, upholding the law, and bringing the murderer to justice was chosen only because of the number in its title and is not, in fact, especially good.

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