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More movies

When I am at my mom and stepdad's place, I sometimes end up seeing movies I would never watch otherwise. Recent titles have included Codename: The Cleaner and A Night at the Museum, both of which were better than I would have thought, though the leads played to my expectations. Cedric the Entertainer is still hilarious, and Ben Stiller is still better suited to serious acting than comedy.

While baking some banana bread, I also ended up seeing about half of Shut Up and Sing, the documentary about the Dixie Chicks pissing off all their patriotic country fans and dealing with the fallout. Getting past the terribly uninteresting music, the film was pretty interesting and well made. The Chicks and their manager can be genuinely entertaining as people, and watching the business side of things is fascinating. It's also disturbing to see just how dumb some of their former fans are.

On my own, I've recently watched:

Miike Takashi's 2007 flick, Crows Zero, is a stupid, but enjoyable romp through an all boys high-school where teachers are powerless (and often absent) and the kids are just there to fight eachother. Students break into groups and attempt to conquer the school, a feat no one has ever accomplished. It is based on a comic, a manga, and is more interested in school boy comaradery, silly music, and feats of toughness than in giving any real motivation to its characters. The drama that it attempts to add, about one of the young thugs' getting possibly life saving (but also life threatening) surgery, feels forced. There are bits that show off its low budget, such as some of the shoddy sound editing, but its (nearly) unrelenting sense of fun makes up for that.

1975's Death Race 2000, stars David Keradine with Sylvester Stalone as drivers involved in a race from New York to (New) LA, where time and the number of people run over decide who wins. While not frenzied, it is too fast paced to get mired in the human drama of its dystopian vision, which would have ruined it. Keradine's character, Frankenstein, is like a proto-Vader, running down pedestrians, fans, and race officials. Highly recommended for fans of schlock. Nominally the basis for the recent Jason Statham action flick, Death Race, the two are generally held to be different beasts.

Mr. Brooks was good, except for its last 30 seconds or so, which are a bit of a cop out. The photography has some nice moments, and Kevin Costner shows more flexibility in acting than I've seen from him in a while. Plus, it's a movie about a serial killer with an imaginary friend.

Not everything I watch by myself is pulpish and violent, but there's definitely a contrast here.

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