ENJOY THE SHOW
This is the season when realism gets thrown out the window in favor of extended metaphor. In the case of Rob Reiner's The Bucket List, that metaphor is about living life to the fullest, no matter what's coming down the pike.
What was Paul Thomas Anderson thinking? In his new movie, There Will Be Blood, the auteur filmmaker is taking a lesser known novel by Upton Sinclair, Oil!, and turning it into a long, boring rumination on... well, that's part of the problem, He never really gets around to making a point. Instead, he chooses to spend almost three hours giving us the life of a disagreeable wildcatter named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) without ever scratching below the obvious.
Maybe it's just me, but Woody Allen has been slightly obsessed with death recently. Specifically, death with accents. Like his last two films, his newest effort, Cassandra's Dream, concerns the moral and ethical choices we all face at some point in our lives. Namely, how far would you go to get what you want. And it takes place in London.
Why? Why is it that because we get Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, the proverbial Hollywood Prom King and Queen, in a true story written for the screen by Tinseltown's chess club president Aaron Sorkin, do we think it must be socially important and award worthy? Add in perennial literati favorites director Mike Nichols and Philip Seymour Hoffman and the pedigree for Charlie Wilson's War is impeccable. You might as well send the Oscars now.
It's a mistake to think that The Kite Runner, based on the best-selling book of the same name, is yet another entry in the current trend of setting films in the middle-east in order to give then some sort of social importance. As directed by Marc Forster, The Kite Runner is instead a rumination on friendship, loyalty and redemption which uses the background of Afghanistan to illustrate rather than define those attributes.
Look, I'm not going to sugar coat this. I hated Margot at the Wedding. From the opening, jittery, out-of-focus, poorly lit scenes which scream "I'm an independent movie" to the ending, which is so abrupt the audience is left sitting slack-jawed in their chairs long after the credits have started, this film just does not work. Now, I have nothing against indie films. I don't mind relationship driven dramas or Nicole Kidman and I think Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of the finest actresses of her generation, but the script for this film gives them nothing to work with.
The problem with I Am Legend is that it has no idea what kind of a film it wants to be. This isn't to say it's not enjoyable, just that it's not nearly as good as it could be which is a shame because the source material, a novel by Richard Matheson and 1971's Omega Man, are both well thought out pieces of speculative fiction. Here, though, the film never settles down into a rhythm and ends up leaving the audience unfulfilled.
The cool kids in high school are never as cool in retrospect. When you think back on it, from an adult perspective, they were the odd-balls, the ones who did whatever they wanted, who didn't conform to societal norms. Such is the case with Juno, the title character in the new film directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and written by Diablo Cody. She's cool because she isn't a cheerleader or a bitch. She's just this odd little girl, named after the queen of the Roman gods, with a step-mom and a half-sister and house phone that looks like a hamburger. In short, she's cool simply because she isn't.
In what seems to be a growing trend, Enchanted is the latest entry into what should soon be called "The Great Fairy Tale Revolution of 07." Like August Rush before it, Enchanted makes no bones about its pretensions. Unlike other tales, though, this one takes its heritage directly from the source, deconstructing the Disney classic paradigm so well that if Disney hadn't put it out, they would have to sue.
Movies based on Stephen King stories are like rivers in the old west. You never know how deep they are or what's waiting just below the surface. Often, they're not very deep, choosing instead to try and slavishly adhere to the printed word. The results range from good (Kubrick's The Shining) to bad (King's version of The Shining). And then there are the Stephen King stories adapted by Frank Darabont. These are in a whole different class and they are very, very good. The Mist, the latest collaboration between these two, easily joins its siblings, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, as a film which out shines its source material.
Once upon a time, in a horribly depressing place called Manchester, England, there was a boy named Ian Curtis. He had a few problems but decided to channel them into his music by singing in a band he dubbed Joy Division. That wasn't enough to keep away his demons, though, and in the end, he hung himself. The end.
Yeah, that's the plot of Control, the new biopic of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis. And yes, it's as depressing as it sounds. As a first time feature by music video director Anton Corbijn, the film sacrifices in-depth character study in exchange for faux performance footage and a focus on the music instead of the man.
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a rare thing in this day and age. It's a G-rated family film which doesn't pander to its market. It's the kind of film Disney should be making. As conceived by writer/director Zach Helm, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is a modern take on how to keep alive the wonder and magic available to each and every one of us. And while it may not be original, it is fun.
August Rush couldn't be more of a fairy tale if it started with "once upon a time" and ended with "happily ever after." And it will leave you feeling just as good as all those fairy tales you remember from your youth.
The plot is simple: Eleven-year-old orphan Even (Freddie Highmore) knows his parents are out there somewhere because he can "hear" them. He is weird and bullied and determined. Meanwhile, we get the back story on his parents, a pair of star-crossed musicians, a classically trained concert cellist (Keri Russell) and the singer of an Irish bar band (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who meet under a full, New York moon and spend one wonderful evening together, falling hopelessly, irrevocably in love. Yes, this is the kind of world where people can fall instantly in love and it will last an eternity... even if that night is the only one they have.
Okay, I admit, I had some preconceived notions before heading in to see P2. I didn't think it would be good. And I must say, this film exceeded my expectations in how bad it actually was. I'm gonna be fair here, too, and spread the blame around evenly.
› Posted November 9 in Movie Reviews |