Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: The Informant, Nine and Extract

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:35 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw a bunch of movies in the past two weeks.

I know I see a lot of movies, but, until I got behind on my reviews, I didn’t realize just how many!
So, these will be three short, quick reviews to help me catch up, also they’re being written on the WordPress iPhone app, which encourages brevity. I’ll review them in the order I saw them.

First up is Extract, which is a Mike Judge film. He’s the guy who did Office Space and if you liked that you’ll like this one, too. This time, the “hardluck hero” isn’t a front-line worker, but management. In fact, he’s the owner of a small factory that creates extracts, like almond extract and other flavorings. Now, this might not seem like a funny setup, but, trust me, it is. Judge manages to find the hilarity in an over-worked, under-sexed small-business owner, trapped in an unhappy marriage and disenchanted with his own creation, played by Jason Bateman. He struggles with all the problems attendant to an entreprenuerial business, but manages well enough. Until, that is, there’s a freak accident in the factory that partially emasculates one of his star employees. That alone wouldn’t be a problem, actually, but it draws the attention of a sexy grifter played by Mila Kunis. She conivces the “victim” to sue, setting off a chain of events that are not only tragic and hilarious, but also so incredibly believable that you never question how outrageous they are or the reactions to them.
Trust me when I tell you this will be a cult hit just like Office Space was. I laughed out loud so often my sides hurt by the end of the movie. Oh, and Gene Simmons as the ambulance-chasing, shyster lawyer is too funny for words! Watch for his ad in the background because when he does it in Spanish you’ll have a hard time controlling you bladder. Very funny film and, if it’s not too late, a must see.

Last week Friday, I saw The Informant, starring Matt Damon. Now, you might not expect that an action star like him could do comedy, but he really pulls it off.
Now, this movie is an entirely different kind of funny than Extract. It’s still funny, but as much in that over-the-top sort of way. It’s a dryer sort of comedy, almost British in where it gets its laughs. I doubt it will do as well as other comedies this season for that reason, but I found it very funny. Also, this movie is based on a book which is in turn based on actual events. In. nutshell, Damon stars as an exec at ADM, a corn conglomerate, who gets into a tight spot and does some lying to get out of it. The only problem is, those lies bring in the FBI who need to be distracted. So, in an effort to save his own skin, he rats out the company on a huge price-fixing scheme and ends up being an FBI under cover informant for almost three years. Of course, during that time he also embezzeled more than 9 million dollars and never seemed to tell anyone the while truth, not even his wife, not even himself.
Damon is clever and likeable, in a kind of nerdy way, as the obviously not quite right Mark Whitmore, who still thinks he can steal from the company, become the next president after the old management team is out, and inform for the government at the same time. The really funny thing is that he manages to pull it off for three years before things really start to unravel. And, this movie is more than just laughs. You see a guy under incredible stress trying to maintain his sanity, world-view and family image while betraying those very same things. Near the end, Damon has some truly poignant moments where the frayed edges of his assorted lives and realities begin to show through. I really liked this film, but I doubt most people would. I honestly don’t see it doing well in the theaters or in rental, but I really enjoyed the surprsing subtlties in this movie. Damon turns in a fantastic performance that I suspect will go largely unnoticed by the public. If you’re a Matt Damon fan, definitely rent this one.

The last film I saw last weekend was Nine. Nine is a pretty adult animation film. The story follows Nine, a magically created living puppet in a post-apocalyptic world. He wakes not knowing who he is or why he was made and not even having a voice. Nine quickly explores his world, however, and meets more of his kind, one of whom helps him find a voice, literally. When that other “person” is taken by some malevolent machine, Nine tries to convice his newly found brethren that they need to go and rescue their missing member. Much of the film is spent in that sort of activity, either convincing older “people” who are afraid of losing thei power to change, or off fighting technology that has no soul.
And, that is one of the major themes of this movie; fighting the soul-less technological world. In a sense, this movie is all about heart, but it’s also an action film of sorts. And it was animated. Actually, it was animated very well, so that’s a point in its favor.
I’d recommend this film for anyone who’s either a sci-fi fan or an animation fan, but it’s not for the kids. Way more grown up than that. But, even though I liked it quite a bit, I don’t think it’s everyone’s cup of tea.

So, to sum up, go see Extract quickly, rent The Informant, and see Nine if you love sci-fi or animation or both, otherwise just rent this one, too. But, for the record, I enjoyed all three films.

Oh, and just so you know, this was meant to be posted yesterday morning and would have been the fifth consecutive post written primarily with the WordPress iPhone app beta. Outside of a problem uploading pictures, the beta app is working very well.
More movies this weekend, so, more reviews coming, though, they may not all be via the iPhone.


Review: Hancock

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw the movie Hancock today.

After the movie was given less than stellar reviews, I was very pleasantly surprised by just how good this movie was. It may not be the best movie I see all year long, but I do think it will be one of the best. Certainly, I liked it better than the Incredible Hulk or even Iron Man. Of course, it’s much more than the simple superhero movie that it’s been billed as. Granted, it is a superhero movie, but it’s an original story, not something that’s bogged down with the weight of an entire comic-book universe and history like the Marvel movies are.

So, if you’re not familiar with the movie at all, it stars Will Smith as Hancock, a “superhero” with a drinking problem. And, can you blame him? I mean, as he says himself in the movie, he’s the only one of his kind. Super strong, virtually invulnerable, and he can fly, but people expect him to be a hero and to act accordingly. That has got to get old. So, he drinks. A lot. A whole lot. And he passes out on park benches. And swears. A lot. And, he doesn’t like it when people call him names, because, well, they do, since he’s not really a nice guy. At all.

Except, really, he is. He’s just an alcoholic. With super powers. Not a combination that lends itself to being loved by the public. So, when he saves Jason Bateman’s character from getting run over by a train, he invites Hancock home for dinner. At dinner, Ray Embrey, Bateman’s character, a PR guy trying to change the world, offers to do some work on Hancock’s image for him. Oddly enough, Hancock takes Embrey up on his offer. Hilarity, and drama, ensue.

It’s a brilliant story, really, the redemption of a super hero turns out to be a truly compelling story! Watching his transformation from broken-down drunk to a caring man who finds his soul again is no less compelling for the fact that he’s a super hero and Will Smith really sells the idea. It’s pretty amazing. And, of course, the effects are brilliantly done as well. In fact, so much so that you don’t hardly notice them, which is just how effects should be done.
There are plenty of great lines, too. Bateman plays his role to perfection, always believing in Hancock, even when we begin to doubt him.

Naturally, there are a few twists in this heroic tale, with at least one being provided by Charlize Theron. I have to admit, her mere presence in this film was a surprise to me, so the fact that her role turns out to be pivotal was just icing on the cake.

In short, if you haven’t seen this movie, even if you’re not a fan of super hero films, you owe it to yourself to get out to a theater and see it. Trust me!

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