Paper Clips – Review

I’ve been reviewing way too many popular movies, so I needed something obscure. I can’t remember where I first heard about Paper Clips. It’s been in my queue for awhile now and I was finally in the mood to watch it this weekend (Netflix users, it’s a “Watch it Now” movie).

Paper Clips is a documentary about a small school in SE Tennessee who started a small project on the Holocaust. As they were talking about the six million Jews who were killed, one of the students asked what six million looked like. After some discussion and research, the students decided to collect paper clips. It turns out that was a very interesting choice because of its strange Norwegian origins and symbolism in Nazi Germany.

This multi-year story is simply amazing. Obviously, when a movie deals with the Holocaust, it’ll bring up all kinds of emotions. Paper Clips is no exception and covers territories I wasn’t expecting it to. The Weinsteins produced it, so the production quality and storytelling are above your average documentary. Expect scenes specifically designed to crack that cold, dead heart of yours. For those of you blessed with a soft heart, keep the tissues close….lots of ’em.

Obviously, I’m rating this pretty high, but should you see it? Absolutely, but I’d recommend that you wait until you’re in the mood. Like if you’re ever thinking to yourself, “What movie could I do a double feature with Schindler’s List?” I would recommend you lay off the black eyeliner and nail polish. For the rest of you, put this in your “See before the end of the year” list.

Grade: A

The Condemned – Review

You remember that short story you had to read in High School? The one about 10 homeless guys taken to an island to be hunted. They made a few different movies about it over the years and going into The Condemned, I thought it would fall within the quality range of those movies. Instead of hunting the homeless, The Condemned are all death row convicts and have to kill each other. Last man standing walks free. And it’s all televised on the internets.

Warning: If you know anything about how the internet works, this movie will cause you bodily harm.

For the most part, it actually met my expectations. It stars Stone Cold Steve Austin for cryin out loud. The man went to the Steven Segal School of Acting. You also know who is going to last to the end because they’re the only two people you recognize as having an ounce of fame.

But at around the 30 minute mark, something shifted. It became a great movie. No, Bruce Campbell did not make a cameo. Instead, the director portrayed the violence in such a way that I actually felt uncomfortable watching it. It wasn’t any more graphic than other movies. In fact, they cut out parts that other movies have gladly shown. But the way the murder and rape was presented fit perfectly into the message the director was aiming at.

And that’s where things fell completely apart. Instead of sticking with a great premise, (and I hope I’m not spoiling anything here), the director goes on to point out that violence in media only exists because people watch it. That’s a valid point. However, this is a violent movie (intended to make money) starring Stone Cold Steve Austin (of WWE fame) telling you that you’re to blame for violent movies. That’s like some guy at McDonald’s telling you it’s unhealthy as he slams a fistful of fries down his throat. Or it’s like Stone Cold Steve Austin kicking your ass because you’re to blame for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

OK, that’s a valid point. But I swear I did my part to avoid smellin what that guy was cookin.

Anyway, if you set aside the pretentiousness and hyprocisy of the movie, it’s not that bad. I mean it’s a mindless action flick with an out of place message, starring a pro-wrestler who can’t act (Stone Cold Steve Austin… Seriously. His name is like Beatlejuice). But if you’re bored on a Friday night with a few beers in the fridge, there are worse ways to spend an evening.

Grade: B-

Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Review

Oh man. This Indiana Jones movie had the kind of excitement usually reserved for a new Christina Aguilera album. What? They both like whips.

But as intense as that excitement was, there was some significant hesitation around one name. George Lucas. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought a fedora-wearing Jar-jar might make a cameo.

There was also some hesitation about moving Indiana Jones into the 1950s. Indy and Nazis went together like Tom & Jerry (or Ben & Jerry, for that matter) and changing that formula was something I didn’t trust in the hands of Lucas. But with Harrison Ford looking like Henry Ford these days, Nazis just didn’t make sense.

And you know what? I liked the transition. It felt like an older Indiana Jones set in the 1950s. I’ve heard from others that they hated it. But this is my review, so we’ll ignore them.

While the Crystal Skulls are weird and I did sorta miss the Nazis, I thought the Communists made a decent replacement. I also thought the music and the technology changes suited an older Indiana Jones. Things just felt right. In other words, this isn’t Indiana Jones and the Crystal Menace.

Yet another worry I had was Shia LaBeouf. Do you like Shia? Do you? Then watch this.

There are rumors that Indy 5 will star Shia with Harrison playing the father role like Sean Connery. I can only say, “No. N-n-no. No-no!!” to that.

Grade: B+

Predator – Review

Yeah, I know. Another classic movie I’ve never seen. The only thing I knew about Predator was that when Alien vs. Predator came out (the sequel should be arriving soon!!), the Predator fanboys freaked out. To be fair, so did the Alien fanboys, but they weren’t as loud in that Geek West Side Story rumble.

So what did I think about Predator? It’s a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. How can you not love it? His screams of “Get to the chopp-aaah!!” stand equal with the best of Brando’s famous lines.

But do you know who else is in this movie? Governor Jessie Ventura. Whaddya think of that? Predator should be played at every Republican convention from now on. It’s political roots simply cannot be ignored.

Now the reason I caught this movie last weekend was because it just came out on Blu-Ray. Since film is a higher resolution than Blu-Ray, these older movies tend to look fantastic (assuming they clean up the film before mastering it). Predator is no exception. You can see individual sweat glands on Arnold’s bulging bicep. Yes, this is what high def has to offer. Drink from it as if it were offered by Jim Jones himself.

So once again, I can hold my head high. No more hiding in shame. But I will confess one last thing. I still don’t think Alien vs Predator was that bad.

Grade: A-