Rental Roundup: The Heat; Stoker; Computer Chess


Here’s some more 2013 films I’ve caught up on recently that I missed on their theatrical runs, and are now available for rent on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox, etc…



The Heat suffers from a common problem with comedy films nowadays: it’s too long and it doesn’t seem to have an editor and/or quality filter.  This happened to be one of the worst cases of a movie trying to put in *EVERY* single joke they shot, regardless of the toll it takes on pacing and duration.  Ya know, a lot of deleted scenes on comedy DVDs are hilarious, but they don’t make it into the movie because there’s just no place for them.  It’s a shame this happens, but comedy is about timing, and when the director just throws in every single joke they chuckled at in the edit room, you’re inevitably going to have a problem with the final product.  What resulted with The Heat’s case of this is a two-hour long comedy, that should have been 90 minutes, full of extended attempts to insert unnecessary jokes.  Watching Sandra Bullock attempt (and fail) to do physical comedy bits about having a bad leg and trying to maneuver a wheelchair was painful to watch.  And they felt like they were inserted in the film as some sort of obligatory promise to her because they took the time to shoot it.  That, and countless other jokes, had no place in the final cut of the film.

That being said, The Heat has plenty of jokes I did laugh at, and a bunch of funny cameos, etc, etc, etc.  At this point, a movie like The Heat is redundant.  It’s not trying to create any new magic in comedy, simply replicate the formulas that have already been laid out.  I don’t think there’s anything original in The Heat, but ya know, whatever…  It’s funny or whatnot?  I don’t even know anymore.  It’s a good mindless comedy, I guess.  It benefited from a R-rating.  I liked the paintings of Jesus playing sports.  [stares at keyboard for three minutes trying to think of anything else of value to say about The Heat…  nothing]

6.5 out of 10




I don’t know what the hell this was supposed to be?  Stoker is the latest film from the director of (the original) Oldboy, which was a movie I didn’t really care for, and I don’t ever really plan on watching Spike Lee’s remake because people are saying it’s a worse adaptation of a movie I already don’t like.  Stoker stars a girl named India, whose dad dies, and then her uncle moves in, and he’s creepy and kills a bunch of people and I’m not sure any of it made any sense?  I just watched this movie the other day, and I don’t think I could tell you a point for point recap of the plot to save my life.  There’s lots of wooden acting, though!  Lots!  But it’s intentional, I think? So it’s just art.  [slow clap]

Perhaps the only saving grace for the film is the cinematography and the editing.  The whole movie *looks* fantastic.  I have to give it an A+ grade in effort for at least trying not to be like every other movie out there.  But still, hyper-focusing the sound design on little things like egg shells cracking on a table for seemingly NO reason other than “C’MON IT’S ART!” makes me want to hold back compliments overall for the stylistic choices.  It’s essentially a feature-length experimental film.  I’ve seen a lot of Asian movies, and the story structure and plot points sometimes don’t make any sense to me, but I usually don’t complain and think “Well, it’s from a different culture, maybe I just don’t understand?”  But when you adapt all those weird techniques to an American film, it just comes across as a bizarre mess.  I’m happy I didn’t pay any money to see this one.

3.5 out of 10




Computer Chess is a dramatization of a 1983 chess tournament at a hotel, where a bunch of smart dudes were pitting their computer chess programs against each other to see who had the best programming.  It’s shot in black and white, and with a 4×3 aspect ratio.  I get the potential appeal of this film, it’s an interesting concept, but it just could have been executed better.  For the first hour, it really wants to be a Christopher Guest mockumentary, but it just doesn’t have same caliber of humor.  And then when it comes to a logical conclusion, I pressed the “display” button on my remote, and I realized there were still thirty minutes left…  Then the director tried to turn Computer Chess into a David Lynch film.  And I have no idea why.  It was a very weird third act, but not in an enjoyable, Eraserhead kind of way.  More like a boring, trying-too-hard, now-I-feel-bad-for-the-movie kind of way.

I would also like to nominate this film for all of the *worst* acting awards.  For every great moment of making me immerse myself in the illusion that this is a lost film from 1983, I get violently yanked out of it by some dude barely being able to read off a cue card or remember his lines.  I mean, wow.  If you’re gonna go all out and try to make a movie like this, you might as well spend a little extra money and hire some better actors.  There was one scene with a kid trying to explain something at a restaurant table that should be used in acting schools on how to *not* read lines.  I hope he’s just the director’s nephew.

If you’re really interested in seeing a movie about 1980’s computers and the nerds who run them, maybe you’ll get something out of Computer Chess.  But I’ve warned you of the failed attempt the film makes to be an existential mind warp of a trainwreck at the end.  Nice try though, fellas.

5 out of 10

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