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Jun 24, 2010

The State of the Cabins (6/24/10)

I took yesterday off, from work and from this segment.

Movies watched for the first time (non-theatrically) since last week:
* Equilibrium - Been a few days and I still can't tell you for sure how much I liked this one. I know it was a disappointment based on what I'd heard about it going in. It certainly featured some interesting action (not great, but different enough to stand out - the "gun swordfight" had me bursting laughing out loud, though) and many a thought-provoking idea...only each and every one of them felt ultra-recycled. Much like the recent Prince of Persia, Equilibrium should probably be sub-titled An Amalgamation of Every Movie Ever Made. Though a movie that reminds me of Demolition Man can't be all bad, right? And it was nice to see Taye Diggs in a larger role; too bad said role was flat as a pancake.

However, it committed a major faux pas
in my book of Future Films' Rules. I can't seem to track down what year the film is actually set in, but let's undershoot it and just say it's 2050. Why are the big shits of the land driving Cadillac Eldorados from the 90s? The good news is that they differentiated them by giving them a super-sleek interior, devoid of nearly every instrument panel, or at least made them unnoticeable by painting the entire interior stark white. But the fact remains that I lose respect for the film every time a "modern" car is unironically featured as a car of the future. It's not as though there was a cavalry of cars that were needed, thereby being a potential budget buster - I can't imagine that more than two of those Caddys were used for filming. Lame.

* Monsters, Inc. - I'd seen about half of this a couple years ago at my sister's house, but it was late and I fell asleep and just never got around to finishing it. But with my recent acquisition of an Instant Streaming via Wii disc from Netflix, it was an easy choice to watch quickly.

All in all, I'd say that I enjoyed it, but having seen all of Pixar's flicks save for A Bug's Life now, I'd place this one at the bottom, just above Cars. It's way too "kiddie" compared to their recent works, but more importantly, I found that it lacked the detail that makes Pixar's flicks so great - the characters were flat, their world was ill-defined, the story too sitcom-ish. Even worse, it seemed to lack the visual impact others have had - where was all the "stuff" going on in the background for our amusement? At one point, I saw a clown fish that made me think "Hey, a nod to Nemo!" Unfortunately, Monsters was released two years before Nemo - that might have been an in-joke for the creators, but it certainly wasn't for the audience.

Kind of fun, but far from a classic, despite the excellent voice work by the two leads.

Music I'm currently obsessed with:
Every few months, I remind myself to listen to all of my Brazilian Girls albums (usually in a row). God damn they're good, and though it's only been two years, I'm getting impatient for something new from them. Apparently they're writing new music now - sweet. If you're not familiar with them, I suggest starting with their self-titled debut. I have no idea how I'd describe their sound, but here's what Wiki has to say: "Brazilian Girls is a band from New York City known for their eclectic blend of electronic dance music with musical styles as diverse as tango, chanson, house, reggae and lounge." So...whatever that means to you.

Book I'm currently reading:
Sadly, none. The good news is that I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The bad news is also the same. With each book, I started off reading them at a normal pace, but at about the halfway point of each, the action really picks up, and with it, my reading speed (or rather, time spent reading). I burned through the last half of Hornet's in no time flat, and now I'm sad because I have no more books with those characters. I'm also sad because the ending, while it had its moments, was sub-par. Vast pages of this edition were spent developing certain characters and themes, only to essentially drop them come the last 100 pages. I felt betrayed for them, and I feel as though they didn't get a proper send-off. I'll refrain from saying anything more so as not to spoil the book(s).

And next? I have no idea. I'd kind of like to start reading some Elmore Leonard, but I really, really don't like reading a book after I've seen a movie, and I've seen so many of his adaptations that I don't know where I'd start. I've read recently about a book called The Imperfectionists, about an English journalist or something in Rome, and considering the dose of journalism and Europe I've had with the Larsson books, I actually think that sounds like a good segue. We'll see...


16 people have chosen wisely: on "The State of the Cabins (6/24/10)"

Alex said...

Good points about Equilibrium- with its premise it could have been interesting if it had been made better, but as it stands it's just "eh".

And yeah Monster's Inc is on the lower end of Pixar films for me too. I'm a big fan of A Bug's Life though (of course watching it endlessly on vhs as a kid may have helped), and it has my favorite short! I hope you like it when you do get around to seeing it.

Fletch said...

I'm sure I'll like A Bug's Life - Dave Foley's the main bug, right? He's great! Don't know why I've never caught it - I've seen Antz way too many times...

Nick said...

I love Equilibrium :P . I guess I'll just leave it at that.

Monsters, Inc. is alright. I'll watch it (or parts of it) every now and then if I see it on TV and I'm bored and have nothing else better to watch.

As for books... totally go for Battle Royale!

Though I'm currently reading a pretty funny book called "Divine Misfortune," which takes place in an alternate timeline where people can choose their deity online much like a dating website. I just bought it today and I've already devoured the first 50 pages. It's pretty fun.

Mike Lippert said...

Looks like you spent the week checking out some pretty minor flicks. I agree with Equilibrium, which is alright as a concept but otherwise totally forgettable and yeah, Monster's Inc. is on the lower end of the Pixar cannon but really, like Cars and A Bugs Life, they need to phone one in every once in a while. They're still good, just not masterpieces.

JacksSmirkingRevenge said...

I love, i mean LOVE Equilibrium. But movies set in the dystopian are pretty much my wheel house. Even if they suck I generally like them a little bit.

Alex said...

Yeah Dave Foley is the main character's voice, and he's one of my favorite people ever! Definitely one of the reasons I like the movie so much.

Castor said...

Equilibrium was solid popcorn entertainment. Problem is it was trying to be deeper and more substantial than that and it obviously completely failed at that. One of those movies that could have used a big budget as it was obviously a low-budget attempt.

Fletch said...

Nick - I've looked for Battle Royale in two (smaller) bookstores with no luck so far. I guess I'll have to get it from a larger chain or Amazon.

In the interim, I purchased yesterday and have started Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'd heard some good things about it some months back when people were talking about the upcoming film adaptation and it got me curious. I didn't care for the first few pages, but now am engaged. Pretty short book, too.

I like the sound of that Divine Misfortune, too...

Mike - indeed. Nothing terribly wrong with Monsters, Inc., but it's a far cry from ones like Wall*E and The Incredibles. It just feels minor while you're watching it.

JSR, Castor - I dig dystopian movies as well, but the Fahrenheit parallels bothered me early on, since the opening 15 minutes felt exactly like that story. It's still better than most action flicks and/or futuristic ones, but I don't think I'll ever love it, and The Matrix comparisons probably set me up for disappointment.

Nick said...

I've heard of Kazuo Ishiguro, but not the book. The one of his that I've heard of is "The Remains of the Day." Haven't read him, though.

Interestingly enough, Kazuo is the name of the main bad guy in Battle Royale.

bd79 said...

If you're looking for a non-movie adapted Leonard book, I'd recommend Tishomingo Blues. Very solid. I think Cheadle was attached to make an adaptation awhile back.

Rachel said...

Echo Castor 100% about Equilibrium. And Monster's Inc. is one of my higher rated Pixar films, though it does go on longer than necessary toward the end.

Reel Whore said...

Equilibrium was a rehash of a lot of other sci-fi flix, but I really dug it. Then again, I have a sweet spot for Christian Bale & Emily Watson.

Brazilian Girls? I haven't listened to them in a long time. Might be time to dust them off.

Fletch said...

BD79 - thanks for the recommendation. When I'm looking for Leonard next, that'll be in my head.

Rachel - Really? Monsters, Inc. on the high end of Pixar? Have you not seen a bunch of them? ;)

RW - I didn't care for Watson in Equilibrium, though that might be because I'd recently listened to Nick/Travis talk about Equilibrium vs. Wanted, and I couldn't help but think of the Jolie vs. Watson argument that was presented. I was left longing for 'Lina.

Reel Whore said...

I find myself longing for the young 'Lina quite a bit, but I don't think that's what you mean. Equilibrium vs Wanted seems an odd conversation, but I guess the gravity-defying gun action is the common connector?

Fletch said...

Beats me. They don't seem to share all that much in common besides both being action flicks from the 2000s starring white non-Americans with an black villain and a brunette love interest. Perhaps there's more to them than meets the eye...

Rachel said...

Yep, I've seen almost all of them except the Toy Story sequels and A Bug's Life. I don't get the love for Ratatouille or Up.