Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grab Bag Movies that Start with 'The' Edition: The Sci-Fi Boys, The Twilight Samurai, The Baxter

I've been watching a ton of movies lately. Already 20 in July alone! It's because I'm moving in August and I won't have nearly as much time to watch movies once I get there. Anyway, here's another Grab Bag of mini reviews. Stay tuned for even more!

The Sci-Fi Boys, by Paul Davids, 2006

This is a look back at the early days of special effects and science fiction movies, and how a generation of young fans revolutionized the industry. It has interviews with lots of important figures, such as John Landis, Roger Corman, Forrest J. Ackerman, Peter Jackson, Dennis Muren, Ray Harryhausen, and Rick Baker. Lots of neat moments, including footage from old home movies by these creators as young fans.

The Sci-Fi Boys is a very loving and nostalgic look back at the old days of science fiction, B-Movies, and special effects. I liked it, but it's a subject I'm already interested in. It could have been livelier. There are actually some documentaries on B-movies that I liked much better than this. Check out Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed by Mark Hartley.

The Twilight Samurai (Tasogari Seibei) by Yoji Yamada, 2002
This movie is sooooo moving! The Twilight Samurai is the story of Seibei Iguchi, a low-ranking samurai with no ambitions to rise in the ranks. His only priority is taking care of his two young daughters (they lost their mother to consumption) and his senile mother, who doesn't even remember him. When his master assigns him with the dangerous task of killing an exiled samurai who refused to commit ritual suicide, Iguchi must obey or face a similar situation for himself.

The Twilight Samurai is a really beautiful movie. It won best picture in Japan and was nominated for the best foreign film Oscar here in America the year it came out. It's a vivid and realistic portrayal of what life must have been like at the end of the age of the samurai. Everybody should watch this movie. Be warned, though: It just might make you cry.

The Baxter, by Michael Showalter, 2005
Wet Hot American Summer is one of my favorite comedies, and I like to check out any and everything by the guys behind it. I had heard mixed things about Michael Showalter's The Baxter, so I've been avoiding it in fear that I might not like it. Well, those fears were unfounded, because it was a decent little movie, with a lot of little laughs.

Showalter plays Elliott Sherman, a nice guy who lives to be what he called a "Baxter", the guy who women settle for when they can't get the guy they really love. He finds himself in that very situation when he meets Caroline (Elizabeth Banks), and gets himself stuck in a romantic entanglement with her, her perfect high school boyfriend (Justin Theroux), and the temp that he falls for (Michelle Williams). It's kind of a deconstruction of the tropes of the Romantic Comedy genre, and it's kind of just being silly.

The Baxter isn't a great movie, it's really just OK, but it has a very good cast, including the above mentioned people, and smaller roles by Paul Rudd, David Wain, Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, and Peter Dinklage. Showalter is one of those comic actors who can make me laugh just by making a face or delivering a line a certain way, and he got me a lot in this. If you like Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter might be worth your time, especially since pretty close to everybody involved in that turns up in this too.


That will be all for today. Twilight Samurai is my recommendation this time. Thanks for reading!

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