Posts Tagged ‘review’

“Cassandra’s Dream”

February 5, 2008

Cassandra’s Dream

It’s been a week since I’ve seen Woody Allen’s new effort Cassandra’s Dream and I still remember the two main character’s names, Terry (Colin Farrell) and Ian (Ewan McGregor). Not because these brothers are really that memorable, it’s because they say each other’s names so many times there’s no possible way you could forget. It’s “Terry this”, “Terry that”, “What are you doing Terry?”, “Terry you’re not thinking Terry.” And a lot of this comes in one conversation. 

Obviously a little exaggerated, but at a certain point it starts to feel unnatural. You begin to feel that these aren’t two human beings you’re watching, but constructs. A way for Allen to deal with the things he finds to be most interesting; goddless world, murder, death, sex, obsession, ambition, love…and how all of these things can corrupt or at least become rationalizations for corruption. And there’s some decent rationalizing done. 

There’s a lot of repetition used as filler. We get certain things that we’re still hearing about two scenes later.  Then sudddenly you’re cuaght up in what’s happening. It’s back and forth, in and out. Unrewarding then thrilling. And I have a feeling that Allen knows this. There are pieces of dialogue that point directly to him knowing this. It’s fine that he wants to be clever about it, but that doesn’t mean it works entirely. So much of it comes down to, how much do we like these characters?

(more…)

“Rambo”; There’s a Little Bit of Him in Everyone

February 2, 2008
Rambo
When I told my friend I thought Rambo was blissfully unaware he shot back that it was consciously oblivious. They are both accurate. Sylvester Stallone’s new chapter in the “let’s revisit everything that made me famous part of my life” has brought him back to his second most visited character John Rambo. And he’s surlier than ever. Unhappy at work (must not have great health care options for snake catchers in Thailand) he’s given the opportunity to boat a bunch of so single minded it hurts missionaries into Burma so they can help the innocent people who are being slaughtered.
“Do you have guns?” Rambo asks. When Sarah (Julie Benz) the missionary who won’t give up on Rambo says no, Rambo replies “Then you’re not helping anyone.” Why can’t people just leave this man alone!? Eventually she talks him into it. The missionaries get trapped in Burma and Rambo has to come to the rescue, but not alone this time. He has to play second to a group of rowdy mercenaries for a bit. That’s the story.
(more…)

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”: Effective…but Great?

January 22, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

***There are minor spoilers throughout as this turned out to be more of a critique than a review.***

I’ve come to a conclusion over my limited years of movie viewing that there can be a difference, albeit a very abstract one, between a great movie and an effective movie. Both categories share similar qualities which makes it difficult to tell them apart sometimes. They share the skillful touch of a true craftsman, an absorbing musical score, lush visuals and fine performances, but in the end sometimes even the greatest movies lack in their effectiveness and vice versa effective movies aren’t always great ones.

For a great movie to be ineffective, the third act sometimes fizzles away, or it could simply be that certain elements don’t gel so the emotional connection is lost. A great movie might play more to the intellectual side of the viewer, relying on the audience to fill in the banks, consider this years Charlie Wilson’s War or perhaps There Will Be Blood (great movies, but effective only to a point.) On the other hand an effective movie will through the use of certain creative techniques force you to feel what the main character is going through. Sometimes the method used can be tedious, other times overwhelming and many times exhausting, but when done well can envelope you into the mindset of it’s protagonist. Of course when these two elements are combined you have an Oscar winning film…(right?) I would say Zodiac and No Country for Old Men fit into this category.

Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is an incredibly effective film, but I would argue against its true greatness. It follows the life of former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) between the moment he wakes up from a coma to find that the only part of his body he can move is his left eye (called lock-in syndrome) to the publication of his book which the movie is based on.

(more…)

Review of “Cloverfield”: It’s Not Donkey Kong Destroying the City

January 19, 2008

Cloverfield

In a movie like Cloverfield it doesn’t matter what’s attacking the city, though it certainly helps if its larger than life and terrifying. In the end it could be anything. What matters is whether or not you give a damn about the characters. On Christmas Day Aliens vs. Predator opened and I didn’t give a stitch about a single person in that film. It ruins the magic, destroys the imagination if we’re not dealing with believable characters. One never feels afraid.

Cloverfield spends some time smartly developing the characters up front and this time is wisely spent because we feel the ripples throughout the rest of the film allowing each situation they find themselves in to be much more involving. They aren’t the usual B-Grade characters you find in movies like this. They’re grounded in a reality most people can relate to.

These young adults are generally smart, have a sense of humor and are affected by decisions they have made or will make. Sex actually has real emotional consequences between two of the characters. And the actors are affable, lending each character a likability that helps later on when the tension is rising.

Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David, who gives a particularly good performance) is leaving for Japan for a new job and his brother’s girlfriend Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas) has gathered a large group of people together to send him on his way: Rob’s brother Jason Hawkins (Mike Vogel) and Rob’s best friend Hud Platt (T.J. Miller) who ends up carrying the camera most of the film giving it the cinema verite look that drew people to the awful Blair Witch Project. Thankfully Cloverfield is more than just a gimmick.

Also along for the ride is Marlena Diamond (Lizzy Caplan also giving a performance that sticks long after the movie is over) who doesn’t look like she even wants to be at the party and probably ends up wishing she hadn’t, since she along with several of the other characters go on a mission to save Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman) a girl who has made Rob’s life very complicated in recent weeks and will continue to make it even more so. But the mission is noble and you want them to succeed.

(more…)

“Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem”

December 25, 2007

 Requiem

I can take pretty much all levels of violence in cinema. Everything but one, pregnant women being brutally murdered by Aliens. If a movie has to stoop so low to push the envelope and get our attention then something else is obviously lacking. For Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem a lot of things are lacking.

I was never a big fan of the Predator. He’s sort of one note. It’s my belief if it hadn’t been for the popular run of comic books released by Dark Horse, Predator would have disappeared after the debacle of Predator 2. But I’m a giant fan of the Alien creature. It’s one of my favorite movie monsters of all time. And the first three and a half films are excellent movies dealing with pure carnal fear. Facing the unknown. The first 7 or 8 minutes of this new incarnation of the combined two franchises gives you hope for an interesting time. The directors, with a spoonful of geek pretension are calling themselves The Brothers Strause, but when they aren’t setting themselves up for a huge fall by making comparisons in name structure to the Brothers Grimm are separately known as Colin and Greg, and they immediately show us that they aren’t afraid to break some rules. They have a handsome visual flair and the special effects up front are pretty slick. The blacks in the film are bold, and the Predator looks pretty cool. Then we’re introduced to Generic Human Charater #1, then Generic Human Character #2 and they have a conversation and you realize that the first 7 or 8 minutes was just a trick to keep you from leaving, hoping that there might be another good 7 or 8 minutes worth sticking around for…and there really isn’t.

Just to give you an idea of who some of these Generic characters are. The first is someone stepping off a bus in Generic Rural Town, North America. His name is Dallas and he’s a felon getting out of prison who likes to spend his time in diners and bars, but isn’t against helping his brother make the right choice and saving the day if necessary (What say you ladies? Huh?) G#2 is the Sheriff, Dallas’s best friend from days gone past. Dallas has a younger brother who has to deliver a pizza to the hot, popular high school girl who has an a-hole boyfriend. Of course Younger Brother and Hot High School girl look like they’re actually 25 or 26, but I guess they’re supposed to be 18. And needless to say it’s obvious this film was written by fanboys for fanboys because he ends up with her at the high school swimming pool late one night kissing her in bra and undies. She’s way hot and we’re momentarily distracted from the badness of the film, but when the a-hole boyfriend and his flunkies make a grand entrance you really start hoping for the next 7 or 8 minutes to start.

(more…)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.