The Matrix

The Wachowski Brothers were geniuses.  Not only did they manage to make floor length black trenchcoats cool again, but 10 years after the original release, The Matrix is still mindblowingly awesome.  In fact, The Matrix is so cool that even if they devoted the rest of their live to making movies like Aeon Flux, Catwoman and Elektra, their awesomeness would still rank well in positive numbers.
I’m not going to bother going into the plot here because if you’re reading this after seeing The Matrix I needn’t bother, and if you’ve got this far without seeing it, you need to go directly to your favourite dvd retailer, buy it, and come back after watching it.  You may find you need to watch it a couple of times before you can drag yourself away from it though.
While some of the acting is pretty good, (not Keanu Reeves’ performance, but he just had to look pretty), it’s not the acting that makes the movie, it’s the special effects.  The invention of “Bullet Time”, without which Max Payne would have just been another completely ordinary FPS, was a stroke of true genius, and allowed them to create gunfights that gave John Woo wet dreams.

The Matrix is one of those movies which causes me to feel great sadness that the dodginess and rewatchability scales only go up to 5.  It just jumps from scenes that make you go “Wow” to ones that cause you to exclaim “Oh My God, that was sooooooo awesome!!1!1!!1!oneone”  In case you hadn’t figured it out already, The Matrix scores a 5 on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man index.  Choosing the dodgiest moment in this movie feels like having to choose between puppies in a pet store.  They’re all so good it doesn’t matter which one you choose you’ll still feel bad that you had to leave some behind.  In the end, I had to look for the least dodgy moment, which is Mr Anderson getting into trouble for being late to work again.  At this stage, you could still almost believe that this was going to be just another office-drone-cuts-loose movie.

The Matrix scores a 5 on the rewatchability rating, but really deserves more, pesky limited rating system.  Normally, movies like this have a couple of scenes that make you want to rewatch the movie.  The Matrix is not like this.  The whole film makes you want to rewatch the movie.  Even the scenes that progress the story rather than devolve into action orgasms are necessary as they allow you a chance to recover before another wave of toe-curling cinematography explodes on the screen in front of you.

You’re always tempted to go with the more common main stream quotations like “There is no spoon,” or “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?” when looking to quote a movie like the matrix. However, this would cause you to miss what is undoubtedly the best line in the film, “Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

Just remember, you can’t watch The Matrix, you have to experience it.

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Tank Girl

I’m always a little nervous when people suggest movies to review. I never know whether they think they are asking me to review a cool dodgy film, or whether I’ve pissed them off and they are inflicting another Shoot ‘Em Up on me.  Fortunately, I’d already seen Tank Girl, so I did have some idea of what I was getting into.

Now, the last time I saw Tank Girl I was young and foolish.  Now, I’m just as foolish, but it has been a number of years since I watched Tank Girl, and age dims memories.  I remembered the kangaroos, I remembered the comic book interludes, I even remembered the awesome broadway style hooker dance sequence to “Let’s Do It”.  What I didn’t remember was the proliferation of Australian accents.  Now, some accents are lyrical, sexy and gentle on the ears.  The Aussie twang is none of these.  There are worse sounds, like a vulture that arrived last at the animal carcass, but those aren’t present in Tank Girl.

Despite this, Tank Girl is watchable, especially because it includes Jet Girl, the subject of boyhood fantasies everywhere.  But, even cooler (depending on your definition of cool) is the sentient tank.  Since watching this I often imagine sitting in an armchair on the roof of my car while it blows up the people who piss me off in traffic.

It’s hard to find a moment in Tank Girl that isn’t dodgy.  From the mutant mangaroos to the kick-ass weapon that sucks the fluid from a body and turns it into potable water.  And yet, the dodginess tried to tread the line between completely over the top and genuine superhero/comic-book movie.  This should always have gone for over the top and the bits that weren’t dragged it down a little yielding a score of 4 on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Index.  The dodgiest moment in Tank Girl was relatively easy to pick.  it had to go to the choreographed hookers dancing to “Let’s do it”  The  movie is worth owning just for this scene.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are a number of Australian accents which detract from the viewing experience.  however, if you can get past this the film presents an enjoyable, if disjointed, show.  And while it’s not going to be the first choice on most peoples list, it is worth a watch.  Tank Girl scores a respectable 3 Mutant Smileys.

On we go to the part that occasionally I really dread.  Picking a memorable quote in some movies is almost like finding a virgin at Mardi Gras.  There are plenty of lines that look like they might be suitable, but on closer examination you find that you’ve been duped.  Fortunately, Tank Girl has a line that perfectly sums up my feelings about poetry, especially that taught at school. “Look, if you want to torture me, spank me, lick me, do it. But if this poetry shit continues, shoot me now, please.”

Tank Girl is a pleasant diversion if you are a fan of mindles violence, skimpy outfits and can put up with the Australian twang.  Otherwise, you may want to skip it.

(<—-  Buy it here if you want to watch it, because no self-respecting video store would have a copy on it’s shelves.  I’ve got a copy, but then self respect doesn’t really have any part to play in my DVD collection)

Friday’s Cool Shit – March 26

It’s Friday, and everyone wants to goof off, even me. So instead of your traditional Dodgy Movie Review, I’m just sticking some links of cool shit I’ve found recently.

Things to watch
This is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. How it should have ended, Startrek. From there you can get to the other cool endings, like the matrix and Lord Of the Rings. Good to waste at least an hour, and then another hour laughing around the water cooler.

Things vaguely movie related
This will only really appeal to lovers of dodgy movies and AD&D players. Fortunately, the Venn Diagram of those two groups has quite a large intersection. The Big Lebowski Alignment Chart

Things to Covet
I want this. I want this so much I’ve signed up as an affiliate so that if enough people buy through this link, I can use the fund to purchase it. Periodic Table of Science Fiction

That should pretty much take care of any productive feelings you might have on a Friday afternoon. Regular programming will resume shortly.

Thank You For Smoking

Thank you for Smoking is directed by Jason Reitman, Ivan Reitman’s son. Now, coming from such a dodgy pedigree, you’d think aliens, ghosts and giant marshmallow men would be a standard fixture. There’s none of this, not even a lone ca-caw. There are, however, a lot of people talking. Normally, this would result in a snooze fest and not even register on the domodar ™. However, the great script coupled with some fantastic acting by Aaron Eckhart and William H Macy make it a shining beacon of dodginess in the low budget quagmire that it would otherwise be relegated to.

There isn’t really a plot in the standard guy has to save the world from evil kind of way. If anything, this is a guy having to inflict evil on the world and save it from the hands of the do-gooders. Nick Naylor is a smug bastard and in any other film he would be the bad guy, and quite a detestable one at that. Aaron Eckhart manages to make Nick a likeable character, to the extent that you feel for him when he gets screwed, in all senses of the word, by the journalist (Katie Holmes).

There’s a point where if the film stopped it would have really sucked. The protagonist (calling him a good guy would be a bit of a stretch) would have lost, and would have resulted in the film having a serious moral as opposed to promoting satire. Fortunately, Nick gets a chance to make things right, or at least inflict some kharmic retribution.

There are no big budget special effects, and yet, surprisingly, this one still rates a 4 on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scale. There are five moments that compete for the venerable title of dodgiest moment; 2 instructional type safety videos, 2 television talk shows and Bobby J Bliss walking through a metal detector. And the winner would have to be the opening sequence, featuring “Cancer Boy” (a sucky superhero name if ever there was one). This really sets up the film, and while the moments coming after are possibly more dodgy, they don’t have the same shock impact.

This has got to be the most light-hearted intense film I’ve ever watched. If you’re looking for something that makes you think, it’ll fit the bill. If you’re just looking for a few laughs, it will provide that too. The only thing it won’t be suitable for is if you’re looking for something that allows your brain to switch off while your eyes go “ooooh, pretty!”, you’ll have to watch an Ivan Reitman film for that.  As a result, Thank You For Smoking gets 4 Stay Puft Marshmallow Men of dodginess.

A film which consists almost entirely of people talking is always going to have a number of great quotations, especially when it has superb source material. It was incredibly difficult to pick the best lines out of the sheer number in the film, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to three, all of which tie for first place. “After watching footage of the Kent State shootings, Bobby Jay, then 17 signed up for the national guard so that he too could shoot college students, but, the national guard recruiter was out to lunch so Bobby J ended up shooting Panamanians instead.” This gives you all the knowledge you need to understand Bobby Jay’s motivations in life. The second one describes the way we all feel about politicians “I’d like him to feel immeasurable pain and humiliation.” “That’ll be tough, he’s already a senator.” Finally, and this one just made me laugh “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”

This gem of a film almost slipped under the radar with it’s lack of publicity and short time on the circuit. Fortunately for you, I caught it before it descended into obscurity. This one is a real thinking person’s dodgy film, but despite that, most of you should enjoy it.

(<— By through my affiliate link and help me fulfill my dream of no longer working with idiots.  It’ll help you weed out the stupid people in your life too)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mr. & Mrs. Smith is really a chick flick masquerading as gun porn. The plot is your standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, although in the true spirit of gun porn, it reads more along the lines of boy meets girl, boy and girl try to kill each other, boy and girl makeup and kill everyone else, using a selection of guns, knives and a minivan.

The action sequences in Mr. & Mrs. Smith are fairly standard fair, and wouldn’t really qualify as gun porn if it wasn’t for Angelina Jolie’s double handed technique.  It get’s used lovingly on a sniper rifle, with pent-up aggression on a shotgun and, my personal favourite, while she’s on her knees.

Even so, Mr. & Mrs. Smith would have been a forgettable punctuation mark in both careers, if it wasn’t for the rumours of Brad Pitt trying out Anglina’s double handed technique himself.  Given the subsequent breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, I think it would be safe to say that he liked it.

As I’ve said before, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is standard action fair and scores a 3 on the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scale. As far as dodgiest moment goes, well, where to start. I could talk about the 2 armouries in the house, one in the oven and one below the garden shed. I could mention the “Strip Search Tango” or the awesome gunbattle/fight scene between Mr and Mrs Smith that destroys their house (the scene that includes Mrs. Smith sliding around on her knees with both hands on a shotgun). The moment when they first realise that they are competing agents, or the final battle in the department store also qualify. And while all of these compete adequately for the title, not one of them could compare to the winner of this coveted award.  Brad Pitt dumping the prettiest Friends girl to hook up with the Hollywood Doorknob gets the award for the dodgiest moment, clearly he was impressed with the way she handled his gun.

Mr and Mrs Smith, is a chick flick. But, that doesn’t stop it from being eminently entertaining and rewatchable, achieving a 3 on the rewatchability index. The best part about watching it again is that on DVD, you can skip all the annoying slow plot building moments and go straight to the double handed gun porn that is the real reason you’re watching it.

There are a number of comments about marriage in this film which, I am not allowed to like as I quite enjoy being married, although I can see how they would appeal. However the best one is probably the most cynical line from the film too. “Happy endings are just stories that haven’t finished yet.”

We all know that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a chick flick, but, you’re going to have to burn off some brownie points to watch it. But it’s worth the small amount that it will require, and who knows, at the end of it you may even get some of them back.

(<— Normally there would be an affiliate link here, but, you either already own this one, or have no intention of buying it, so putting an affiliate link in would just be a colossal waste of everyone’s time)

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