Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Sunset Limited

I went into this one with absolutely no knowledge of what it was about other than the actors involved. Needless to say, I was absolutely not expecting the film it turned out to be.

It's not easy for a single scene film to achieve what this one does. It takes strong actors with heavy dialogue, which this film easily supplies.  It becomes more an instrument of theater than cinema in some ways.  I tried to think back to the last single scene film that I could recall. I dredged up a memory from maybe circa 2002 involving Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Yes, that would be Tape.
I found Tape to be quite successful in it's ambitions in that it had a much more surprising arc for the characters involved and that it got you to invest more and more emotionally as the film progressed.

The Sunset Limited, although a nice surprise and really just being a great treat to see these fine actors in this light, didn't quite achieve as much in my book.
For the first 45 minutes it definitely carried it's weight. But as the movie carried on, it starts to drone on and I found I actually became more divested. The writers draw too much attention to their clever dialogue for my taste. There are more than one instance in which Samuel L. Jackson says something clever or profound and Tommy Lee Jones repeats it, emphasizing it, after which Samuel L. Jackson says something like, "Yeah, you like that?". When Tommy delivers his vital lines, Samuel also espouses these with some nod of, "oh I like that!" or "That's well said!". It's kind of ridiculous how much the writers pat themselves on the back and definitely detracts from the scene.

Having said this, try not to let it detract too much. There is some really good dialogue here. It seems a goldmine for a philosophy student. If you like to think (whether it be about God, morals, ethics, the merits or redemption or life in general), then this is a very good watch. It will leave lingering thoughts and questions in your head for a while. I'm still trying to Follow Tommy out that door in understanding how he came to where he is.

What do we value in life? Brotherhood? Humanity? Or is it all just about cultural achievements which are as dust in the wind. If those achievements reflect what we are, or where we are going, is there any point in investment anymore?

It's all interesting food for thought and well played out. And though I think plot-wise it starts to unravel and push the viewer out towards the end, I'll still love it for those first 45 minutes in which I couldn't tear myself away.

The clash of a Nihilist against a Man of Faith played to a tee.  I wouldn't miss this one.

I Am Number Four

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this movie is that it's actually watchable. I had stayed away from it previously just because it had that B movie/straight to DVD feel from the trailers. But as one of my co-workers was saying last year, it can sometimes be a nice treat to indulge in those types of films that are so easily dismissed by the majority:

So I eventually indulged. After all, I love a good Sci-fi flick and can forgive some flaws for the sake of the genre.  As I said above, the movie was surprisingly watchable and despite some iffy special effects, I found that this movie did maintain a certain charm. I wasn't sure why, as there was a lot of potential pitfalls here, from the stereotypical high school scenes to the leads certain twilight-ish persona.

So why did I like it? At first I was attributing this to Timothy Olyphant, who delivered a fairly solid performance but it goes beyond that. In the end I decided that although the story was nothing spectacular, the movie held it's own through just mostly solid pacing and it's decent performances.

So, nothing stellar here but well worth a viewing if you enjoy Sci-fi and as I said, and easy watch to pass the time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movies I saw that came out in 2009

My three favorite films that came out this past year were children's films. That never happens. Usually I love Pixar and hate every other film aimed for children. (Except an occasional Peter Pan and Babe 2: Pig in the City.)

Best films I saw were Coraline, Where the Wild Things Are and The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Here are all the films from 2009 I saw this year.

Movies I loved unreservedly and would love to see again:

A Christmas Carol: The 3D was spectacular. Not sure if I'd like it in 2D

Coraline: Really unnerving children's movie.

Drag Me to Hell: I was so right about this one.

Fantastic Mr. Fox : So scared I'd hate it. Very relieved when I laughed all the way through.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: I don't like the Harry Potter movies, but I'm a sucker for camera shots from the viewpoint of malevolent witches going through the streets of London. I wish more movies had them. This is best Harry Potter movie yet.

Inglorious Basterds

Up - Pixar has only made two films that I don't care for. First ten minutes are the best things Pixar has done.

Where the Wild Things Are: My favorite movie of the year. The first fifteen minutes hit me hard. The soundtrack is great.

Movies I really, really, really liked but don't care if I see again:
Extract - Best acted movie of the year. Everyone knocked it out of the park.

Observe and Report - Boy this was dark and funny and touching.

Star Trek - I hate Star Trek but I really liked this.

Knowing - I don't care what anyone says. I thought it was good. I had it playing at the library and the last fifteen minutes everyone in the teen room stopped what they were doing and gathered around the TV. It was a nice moment.

Movies I loved mostly but had parts that I hated:
500 Days of Summers:
This feels unfair because I loved this movie, far more than I disliked it. I really only disliked the scene when they embarrass each other by shouting obscenities in the park. (So what? I'm a prude). The scene made me cringe and made me like the characters less. The rest of the movie was outstanding, but it took awhile for me to like the characters again.

Movies I feel nothing about:
The Hangover: So-so.

17 Again: It seems like I should have hated this more. I didn't find it funny but I was touched in parts.

Zombieland: It seems like I should have liked this movie more. I'm not sure why I didn't.

Funny People: I liked what it was doing and I liked the acting and the story. I don't know. I liked it without feeling strongly about it.

Movies I mildly didn't like:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs : Why do animated films think I want to see a joke every 4 seconds? I don't. I want a story thrillingly told. The Life of the Party is always a bore. Don't try to be the life of the party anymore animated films. (I blame Robin Williams in Aladin.) No more joke a minute cartoons, please.

Bruno: I loved this film when I saw it. I laughed a lot and thought it had important things to say. But the review in The New Yorker was such a good take down of the movie, that it flipped me from enjoying to mildly not liking. (Does that make me easily swayed or is the reviewer in The New Yorker that good a writer. Probably both.) The best paragraph in the review is :

Brüno” ends appallingly, with a musical montage of Sting, Bono, Elton John, and other well-meaners assisting mein Host in a sing-along. Here’s the deal, apparently: if celebrities aren’t famous enough for your liking (Ron Paul, Paula Abdul), or seem insufficiently schooled in irony, you make vicious sport of them, but if they’re A-listers, insanely keen to be in on the joke, they can join your congregation. Would Baron Cohen dare to adopt a fresh disguise and trap Sting in some outlandish folly, or is he now too close a friend? To scour the world for little people you can taunt, and then pal up with the hip and rich: that is not an advisable path for any comic to pursue, let alone one as sharp and mercurial as Baron Cohen.

Here is the complete review
Monsters vs. Aliens: See comment about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Movies I didn't like:

Friday the 13th: It gave me a headache. Forgot I'd seen it till I made this list.

Paper Heart: I would have loved it when I was 23. I can understand why others would love it.

Movies I wanted to like but found disappointing:

Jennifer's Body - A horror film by the writer of Juno? I was so excited.

The Invention of Lying: Biggest disappointment of the year. I love Ricky Gervais. Love, love, love him. But this movie just did not work. At all. Except for one hilarious scene where Gervais makes up 10 commandments. I wasn't offended by the religion bashing. That was the funniest stuff in the movie. Everything else was bleh.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


What a film. I hadn't heard much talk about this one, and I was feeling poor, so I put off seeing it until now (I think I saw almost every other pixar movie opening weekend). But don't you make that mistake. If you haven't seen it yet, head on over to the Wynnsong and check out the best film of the year (so far). I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over. So charming, laugh out loud funny, stunning visuals (I love the texture on his ties and uphostery), and I got all teared up on three separate occaisions.

This was also the first film I've seen in 3D. I was sceptical at first (I purposefully chose the non-3D version of Coraline), but now I'm a convert. At least for this film is added a lot. All those balloon shots, the clouds, the buildings and mountains.

So chalk one up to Pete Doctor and the pixar masterpiece factory. It's wierd, but now I've got to say that John Lassetter is probably my least favorite of the pixar directors. The Toy Story movies rock, but Cars was a little weak. Actually, I think the only problem with it was the music. Lassetter just has lame taste in music. And like that "when somebody loves you" song in Toy Story 2. Please, no. Thankfully, UP doesn't have anyone singing in it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Comic Performances

5. Rick Moranis - GhostBusters
4. Jack Black - School of Rock
3. John Candy - Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
2. Owen Wilson - Bottlerocket
1. Val Kilmer - Real Genius

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Man On Wire

90% of Man On Wire was recreated with actors and sets. They’re not meant to be the real thing but rather represent the real thing and yet the documentary plays like a thriller. The first twenty minutes are cut and narrated as if a conspiracy of murder is about to take place. However it is soon revealed that the event in question is really just an elaborate prank not meant to hurt or embarrass but to awe and inspire.

Petit Phillippe is a high wire walker who believes that in 1974, the world trade center towers were being created for him to walk between. He watches as they are constructed and eagerly awaits his chance to fulfill his dream. It’s interesting to see how, for Petit, the world revolves around him but not in an egotistical way. It’s obvious that Petit does his high wire acts for other people to enjoy but he also sees the world as a sort of playground for him to do what he wants.

I saw this film at Sundance in 08 and it’s no wonder why it won the audience choice award. Phillippe tells much of his own story in a close up interview and he tells it as if he still has not come down off the high of it (pun intended). A Documentary's success is heavily based the director's vision or the editor's skills. Man On Wire is somewhat cinematic but I think it's Petit's storytelling that makes it great.

The film challenges you to be original, daring, and enjoy life. To most of us, Petit’s hobby is silly and ridiculous but to him it is serious and by the end of this film, he will convince you that nothing is silly and ridiculous.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Son

I was reminded of this film by Drew's post about Baghead. I haven't seen baghead, and the duplass brothers seem like they would annoy me. But maybe not. Anyway, this is definitely a film worth checking out. It's an unconventional mystery/revenge thriller. Shot like a documentary, handheld, with only a 50mm lens (i.e. no telephoto or wide angle shots), and with no coverage. The only editing is between scenes or locations or gaps in time. Something about the way this is done, and how our view is limited is so intense and unpredictable. I would love to try making a film like this. But you'd have to have some seriously good actors to pull it off.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mermaid Tails

1. Weta, who did the special effects for Lord of the Rings, is a great company. Pixar great. This is a quick read but absolutely worth it.