Friday, June 25, 2010

Post Apocalyptic Movie Marathon Part 3: The Mist

So this isn't really post-apocalyptic in the same sense as The Book of Eli or The Road, but since the movie's main conflict arises from a fear of the end of the world (and, you know, giant Cthulhu monsters) I think it qualifies.

I watched this mostly because I was interested to see how the director, Frank Darabont, handles a horror piece.  Given how well directed this movie is, I'm pretty eager to see how his television version of The Walking Dead turns out.

Anyway, The Mist pretty much Stephen King by the numbers.  The acting and directing make the film engaging and adds some tension to the plot, but its all material that has been done before.  The focus on fear (in this case fearing of an impending biblical apocalypse) adds an interesting layer of drama to the story, but the writing isn't strong enough to support it and it ultimately peters out by the end.  Had the writing been better (and really, endings have always been Stephen King's weakness) this film could have been something really interesting.  With that said, the direction and acting in the film is good enough to make it worth seeing.

The film is becoming increasingly famous for its final scene.  While I think it was a bold artistic choice, I'm not sure how well it fit with the tone of the rest of the film.  I don't want to spoil anything, but it seems to me that ending the film like that leaves the major conflict of the film unsatisfied.  I'm perfectly happy with ambiguous endings, but when you have a film like this end in the manner that this film does, it ends up completely overriding everything that came before.  So, while I think it was an interesting way to end the movie, I'm not so sure it was the right way.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scott Pilgrim

So this summer hasn't been so great for movies.  Besides Chris Nolan's weird fiction science noir epic  Inception, the only movie I'm looking forward to is Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.

Its based on a series of indie comics that I actually haven't read.  However, the fact that its directed by Edgar Wright (of Spaced/Sean of the Dead/Hot Fuzz fame) and looks to have special effects created on a Nintendo is enough to make me want to see it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Disaster in Albany

I've mentioned the financial problems at Stony Brook here in the past.  One thing I might not have mentioned is that our problems are directly tied to problems in Albany.  Basically, the state of New York is in the middle of a ridiculous fiscal crisis and they are dealing with it partially by simultaneously drawing money from and cutting funding to to state universities.

The latest This American Life podcast details the crisis.  It doesn't touch on the university problems, but it is very much worth a listen.  Stream it here (or download it here).  Its almost comical how ludicrous the whole situation is.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Post Apocalyptic Movie Marathon Part 2: The Road

I actually ended up watching this the same night as The Book of Eli.  Though you'd think two films set in post apocalyptic futures featuring raving bands of thieves and cannibals would be similar, the two are drastically different in tone.  This is mostly because, while The Book of Eli had a significant amount of dark moments, The Road is completely morally nihilistic and uncompromising in its grimness.

Just to be clear, the trailer above is much more action packed and conventional than the actual film.  While other films portend to be about the end of the Word, The Road is about the complete and utter decimation of civilization.  When the plot is centered around the conceit that somewhere, anywhere there must be something resembling goodness in the world, you know you are in for a rough couple of hours.

The Road is very much worth seeing, you just might not want to watch it in a double feature with Grave of the Fireflies.

Speaking of Post-Apocalyptic Settings

Trying to drive on route 25 through Centereach during a torrential rainstorm might be the most ridiculous thing ever.  The water plus the innumerable potholes and insane drivers makes the whole experience a bit like The Road Warrior (if it wasn't set in a desert).

I should add that this is only a bit more chaotic than driving on 25 normally.