Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews 2006’ Category

“Catch a Fire” releases catharsis

November 21, 2006

It’s difficult to remember sometimes while living in the drudgery of Hollywood and trying to create a career in the industry and art form you love the most, why exactly it is that you love it. It’s even more difficult to remember why you love movies in the first place when so many fail to meet expectations, even when failing means that the film was still entertaining enough. Several movies this year I’ve already stepped out of slightly disappointed at the filmmakers because it seemed they were more interested in being clever than in creating a story that was true to the human nature of the characters, and as I said these were movies I enjoyed: “The Illusionist”, “The Prestige”, “The Departed” … all films crafted well, acted well, and thoroughly enjoyable, but somehow disappointing in their final moments of execution – either flashing back to reveal too much, or enjoying a little too much story for their own good.

I’ve experienced one of those weeks (personally) in which nothing it seems like comes to fruition, and that you wonder how things ever could (another symptom created by the world of Los Angeles). You sit, or pace, or wander around in your car wondering if all the hard work you’re putting into every aspect of your life will ever produce something of worth to yourself and others. Hope disappears completely, replaced by large chunks of doubt, worse even acceptance of the fact that you may never get anywhere… what a horrible thing to even consider accepting!

And this is where the two ideas tie together —


The Illusionist, a mesmerizing sleight of hand

August 20, 2006

“The Illusionist”



Starring: Paul Giamatti, Ed Norton, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell

The two things that I truly remember from “The Illusionist” starring Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti is the haunting element of the film, and Paul Giamatti. In this tall tale we see the story of Eisenheim, played by Norton, through the eyes of Giamatti’s Police Official (the official name alludes me and I don’t notepad and pen like reviewers do) who is under the command of the tyrannical Rufus Sewell’s Crowned Prince who wants Eisenheim stopped because they want the same woman, a Duchess, played by Jessica Biel. Four main characters that are drawn into the world of illusion and magic tricks that far exceed the normal pick a card any card tricks. As audience members, we’re not fooled, these are all CGI created manipulations, but because the film is so skillfully directed, and Ed Norton so wonderfully charismatic, we buy into almost anything he does, even when we are given no explanation – only because – well, it’s magic. Why should the audience be given knowledge that none of the other characters have except for the magician. (It’s like not wanting to watch the behind the scenes clips on DVDs now days, leave some of it to the imagination, thank you.) Though at a certain point you have to believe that Eisenheim has more power than any simple mortal would have.

And that’s where the film draws it’s power from, you don’t know what Eisenheim is capable of. This is a slick and smart thriller/drama. Giamatti’s decisions as an actor continue to absolutely impress me. I’m astounded by his work, and range. The same with Sewell who I respected from the first time I saw “Dark City”. He has a way of making royalty respectable while remaining an absolute creep.

I honestly don’t like giving away too much about a movie like this, because it would spoil the experience. I wish other reviewers felt the same. So I will leave you with this. When “The Illusionist” opens in your area, go see it. Then rent another great film about a magician told through the eyes of a Jewish strong man before WWII, called “Invincible” directed by Werner Herzog and starring the other great character actor Tim Roth. Then take the time to see the other magician film out soon enough starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale directed by Chris Nolan (Batman Begins). It should be just as impressive, but in other ways as the two “I” magic movies listed above.

Snakes on a Plane Reviewed: The Descent Experienced

August 19, 2006

*This blog includes the original end to “The Descent”.

I did a double feature today.

Here’s how it went.

First let me speak a little about “Snakes on a Plane”. I will say that I didn’t see it at the right time. I went to a 5:10 showing, before the masses that really wanted to see this film would show up. In some ways it was a mistake, because this film is about the communal experience; the joy of sharing, and laughing at parts in which you shouldn’t. But now my thoughts are unaffected by the adrenaline of a large crowd and hopefully my response more honest.

It was pure pleasure waiting for this film to open. The curiosity of what they would do with it, then the bits and pieces released here and there, and I don’t believe I ever saw a full length trailer. My friend did however say that on television they played the now (in)famous line quoted by Mr. Jackson himself, something about the mother’s of snakes getting off the plane. Even though I knew it was coming, I’m glad I didn’t see it without the build of the rest of the film. Did I say build? Yes, there is a build to the film. Slow, then really fast. (more…)