28 Days Later. It doesn’t hurt to have seen it before … it’s still excruciatingly tense. While I tend to be suspicious of style-over-substance movies, when they put me through this much of a wringer, I forgive a lot. And Naomie Harris has great abs. The one thing that was disappointing was the quality of the Blu-ray. I bought this some time ago, in the early days of our having a big screen … it was an impulse buy at Costco, and I should have known better. Danny Boyle’s excellent decision to shoot most of the film in DV worked great in a theater, and probably works great on a regular TV as well. But high-def is known for bringing out not only the best but the worst … just ask any actor whose imperfections are shown in unfortunate detail in HD. 28 Days Later looks just awful on Blu-ray, which is no surprise … Boyle went for a low-fi look and got it, but on Blu-ray, low-fi becomes crap-fi. Once the movie gets rolling, though, it barely matters. 8/10.
Pink: Funhouse Tour: Live in Australia. Watching this, I realized something unusual, for me at least. In April, I saw Bruce Springsteen for the 33rd time since our first Bruce show in ‘75. It was a fine show, not the best, not the worst. But I saw a better show later in the year, by an artist who wasn’t even born in 1975. This disc documents that tour … I waited an extra month-and-a-half until the Blu-ray version came out. It’s all that I expected. 10/10.
Julie & Julia. There is nothing really surprising here … if you’ve heard a one-line summary of the plot, you know what to expect, Meryl Streep does her usual good job (in the mode I much prefer from her, where her character experiences joy). Nothing I can add to that, so I’ll just mention a couple of things that struck me. Meryl Streep is lauded for her ability to immerse herself in a variety of roles, with her facility with accents being especially commented on. She has been nominated for 15 Oscars, and that will likely be 16 when Julie & Julia is considered. So why does Eddie Murphy only have 1 Oscar nomination? His movies often suck, but then, Meryl Streep was in Falling in Love … it’s not like every movie she ever made was a classic. Murphy is an excellent mimic, able to play multiple roles in the same film, and showed in his one Oscar-nominated performance that he’s a fine dramatic actor as well. I’m not saying he’s in the same league as Streep, but he’s pretty much ignored when the talk moves to great acting. One other thing … Julie & Julia is said to be the first major motion picture to be based on a blog, and it gets blogging down pretty accurately. The Julie of the title is obsessive, self-absorbed, neurotic, just like many people I know who have personal blogs (yes, I mean me). 7/10.
Bottle Rocket. Just the kind of full-of-itself movie I hate. Owen Wilson has the Vince Vaughn role as the insufferable prick we’re supposed to love. I didn’t. There is very little point to the movie, which ambles along in an amiable fashion which might even be charming if it wasn’t so self-congratulatory, and if Wilson’s character wasn’t so relentless annoying. 4/10. The disc includes the original short that led to the feature being made … Wilson turns down the energy quite a bit, which is a relief, as is the short length. It’s a nice little movie about a couple of guys goofing around town. You can see why it got some attention … it’s a better movie than the feature. 6/10.