Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

The Last Airbender: Bending a career

July 2, 2010

The movie isn't as cool as this picture.

Every time I see M. Knight Shyamalan’s name on a movie poster, hope wells up inside of me. Hope that I’ll see something that was as beautiful and human and brilliant as Unbreakable. There have been moments in his last few films. In The Village when he takes her hand and pulls her safely inside or when the knife slowly slides out of him only to be sunk in again and again like a warm spoon into ice cream. Lady in the Water has even fewer of these moments, and in turn has more of M. Knight on screen. In his newest film The Last Airbender you see him only briefly and he’s in full costume, but you know its him. Why? Because he’s worse than a horrible actor. He has anti screen presence. Even the brief moment he’s on screen it’s almost like a black hole is created. Hitchcock was smart and never gave himself lines.

(I’ve concluded that the more times you see Shyamalan’s name in the credits, the worse the film will be.) (more…)

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Intoxicating Lush Hopeless

September 12, 2008
Beautiful imagery permeates this film and plays with stark contrast to the interior emotional sates of the characters.

Beautiful imagery permeates this film and plays in contrast to the interior emotional sates of the characters.

Woody Allen… In Vicky Cristina Barcelona he writes some of the best dialogue he’s written in years. His words roll from the mouths of these beautiful and talented actors and you wonder perhaps, maybe this was improvised, but it wasn’t.

Allen’s dabblings into commitment-phobes, people whose desires and passions are more their worst enemies than inspiration for greatness, has truly been sparked by the passion and romance he may have found in Spain. Unlike his usual still camera work, the camera here wanders in and out of focus and sways gently back and forth sometimes catching the actors’ faces just on the edge of the screen. Watching this film is like having a perpetual buzz from a delicious wine.

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“Hancock”

July 13, 2008
What did you say about Smith's new movie?

What did you say about Smith's new movie?

Hancock is Will Smith’s newest film that attempts a needed twist on the superhero genre. A twist that works pretty well and Smith, unlike other contemporary stars like Tom Hanks, realizes that he can hold onto the dark side of his character without driving off audiences. Smith has figured out how to physically hold onto his characters, in his shoulders, his facial expressions, while maintaining all of the reasons why we like to watch him on screen. He’s not only a damn good actor, but he’s a smart one, unafraid to try new things and to fully commit to what’s happening on screen. Would Mr. Hanks throw out the F-bomb so casually to a crowd of people and still remain the most likable person on screen!?

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“Wall E”

July 12, 2008
Wall-E

There's something out there alright...a great flipping movie!

Wall E the newest film from Pixar comes about as close to movie euphoria as any film I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the first film that’s allowed me feel the vastness of space and the imagination since E.T. There have been a lot of other parallels drawn to Spielberg films, and while there are similarities between what director Andrew Stanton has done with this animated masterpiece and things of a Spielbergian nature, i.e. the epically vast spaces, love of films referenced, joy of history, fascination with things we don’t understand, longing for human connection, Andrew Stanton does something here that Spielberg seems to have a hard time grasping.

He handles themes and ideas with such a subtle use of visual storytelling that they don’t need to be talked about by the characters and explained to us through exposition. The ideas are lived and breathed by the characters. They are presented on the screen in a way that when kids now go back to watch it in 20 years, they won’t hate themselves for loving this movie.

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“I Live in Fear” of “The Happening”: The Art of Boldness, Kurosawa, and Shyamalan

June 23, 2008

I Live in Fear

It would be easy to point out Akira Kurosawa’s great films like Rashomon or Seven Samurai as examples of his work, but there’s something to be said about his lesser known films – films that speak volumes and contain moments that are difficult to find anywhere else. He makes as a director and storyteller and he has his actors make very bold decisions. More often than not these choices will make an otherwise mediocre or common melodramatic film quite remarkable and incredibly memorable.

Take for instance Kurosawa’s I Live in Fear starring Toshiro Mifune. Mifune plays Kiichi Nakajima the elderly owner of a foundry. Wanting to preserve his family’s lives he wishes to move them all, lovers and bastard children included, to South America so as to avoid a Nuclear holocaust in Japan. Needless to say this story takes place post World War II. But his children will have none of it and take him to court, so that they can prove their father incapable of handling the family’s fortune.

It’s an interesting enough idea for a film. Kurosawa introduces us to Nakajima’s family through one of the Domestic Court Counselor’s put on the case, Dr. Harada, a dentist played by another Kurosawa mainstay, Takashi Shimura. We follow Harada as he leaves his family dentist business and goes to the court. Next we’re introduced to the squabbling family members, who seem more concerned about how they’ll continue making money for themselves than they are about the wishes of their Father. They are quick to apologize for belittling Harada before knowing who he is. But you still don’t get a sense of who’s film this is. Harada is shot from behind, a silent observer…very meek, humble.

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“You Don’t Mess With the Zohan”

June 23, 2008

You Don\'t Mess With the Zohan

You Don’t Mess With the Zohan for all of its sexual absurdity and racial mockery is a movie that plays it safe when it doesn’t always need to. It’s a satire in need of something a little more scathing. It needs cahones of a Monty Python sketch and the willingness to offend some people to make it’s point, ala South Park or even The Simpsons, in its better years.

This flaw that makes the movie less of a masterpiece and more like the run of the mill comedies Sandler has become known for the last few years. That aside it also includes Adam Sandler’s funniest comedy creation since Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore and combines the lovability of his Wedding Singer character. Zohan is absurdity and cool mixed into a nice gleaming coated marketable package. There are moments of sheer inspired hilarity that makes you think its good to see that Sandler hasn’t forgotten his roots as other comedians turned serious actors have, like Tom Hanks or Jim Carrey. Sandler’s comic timing makes this movie tic.

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