Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Hamlet 2: The Christ of Art

September 11, 2008
What art is made of.

What would you do for your art?

Dana Marschz is pronounced Marsch-z (the “z” an additional emphasis beyond the “sch”) and is one of a number of things that makes the main character of Hamlet 2 that much more awkward and potentially tragic. As he even whines, “My life is a parody of a tragedy”. In fact the position Dana finds himself in is a pretty common tale for those that come to Los Angeles looking to become an actor. Their pride is stripped from them completely and they become emotionally erratic and completely insecure individuals…sometimes they never regain that composure because they don’t know how to refocus their creative and scarred sides into something healthy.

And so we follow Dana on his personal odyssey as he seeks to regain his inner strength and voice by creating an original work for a group of high school students. And quite an odyssey it is. Pam Brady (a South Park writer alum and Team America: World Police scribe) along with Andrew Fleming (the director of a nice little gem Dick and other lesser films) have created a concoction and character that’s so awkward that it’s hilarious, but then it stops being funny and becomes so very, incredibly awkward that it becomes honest. It’s like staring at a freshly opened wound.

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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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“The Incredible Hulk”: Fights the Good Fight

June 23, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk is savage, wildly so. Roaring at thunder and launching a rock into the sky, he’s ready to take on the elements! But he knows just when to pull back, as does the director and screenwriter.

Humanity remains in the title character, that big green monster that would rather smash than talk things through. And like many comic book characters from years gone by there are lessons we can learn from our hero’s dilemmas. What in Bruce Banner, Hulk’s alter ego’s, plight can we learn from? What relates to us as people? It’s a far more difficult question to answer than you think. How many of us are so angry that we have emotional breakdowns? Not many.

But on a smaller scale how many of us scream at a car that just cut us off, or want to punch the person who just cut in front of us in line or how many of us become angry at things we see in the news – unable to do anything about what we’re watching? or how many of us witness out children unable to take the bullies picking on them anymore unleash a torrent of anger, sometimes with fists…these days too often with guns. When I was in middle school a girl brought a razor blade to school to fight another girl! How many fights are started over petty things like this? The Hulk has a lot it can teach us and our children.

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