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Showing posts from July, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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Uma Thurman as Medusa? Interesting choice! She's been a much more believable Aphrodite in Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Despite its brilliance and humanity, this film suffered from two major flaws. Firstly, when Percy begins to realize his destiny and heritage, the dialogue is a mish-mash of cliches and emotionless nonsense. Secondly, this film christianizes the underworld. The ancient greeks didn't believe in fire and misery in their afterlife (well, maybe some misery sometimes, but fire and brimstone seem to be the invention of Calvinists), but a place of coldness and stone: a place of sleep and death. Persephone hated the darkness because she was tied to the warm earth, and her mother Demeter, the goddess of the harvest.

Aside from these two awkward aspects, I enjoyed the film.

Warning: Impending Rant

Unfortunately, one of the great accuracies of this movie captured one of my biggest objections to greek mythology (and most current young adult lite…

Taken

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I remember this film being much more exciting, but to be fair, the first time I saw it, I actually watched, rather than glanced over every once in a while between rounds of spider solitaire.

Did this movie remind anyone of the first season of 24? That is to say, I'm sure it did, but did it you?

While glancing through other critics' comments, I noticed one who seemed to notice the same thing I did. Thematically, this story is about a man who will go to any lengths to rescue his mortally imperiled daughter. With time as a serious factor, he escalates his violence to an extreme.

Although there is no possible way we might sympathize with the antagonists (they're selling girls into sexual slavery), I still found the level of violence somewhat disproportionate. A contemporary audience needs that level of violence, yes? If we remove that as a factor, though, and assume that internally, that level of violence is the only way to save the helpless teen, can we still look the charac…

Walk the Line

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Everyone saw this movie when it came out, yes? I'm certain of it. This film needs no critique. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon undoubtedly channel their characters straight from the fifties and sixties.

I'm not a Johnny Cash fan. I'd never heard of June Carter until I saw this movie. (I'd never heard of Johnny Cash either, but it's not the sort of thing you start a paragraph with.) I'd been raised on The Kingston Trio and much more mellow stuff. An album cut in a maximum-security prison isn't the sort of thing we'd mix with our Andrew Lloyd Weber.

I liked it anyway. I like the music, and the story. I don't enjoy watching imminent train wrecks, but it's nice to know that the aftermath cleaned up nicely, at least on film. The broken homes and drug abuse stupidity made me cringe, but I pitied the characters, and developed an affection for them. I cared - which means that something in the film was working well.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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Like most Terry Gilliam films, this one verged on the incomprehensible. It came out like a succession of bizarre images pumped haphazardly into a plot. With this movie, though, I cannot be sure which were genius, and which necessity, as Heath Ledger's final performance was necessarily subsidized by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and finally, Colin Farrell.

I loved the movie, though. I loved the message, and Tom Waits as the devil, against Christopher Plummer as a very old man with a very rich ability to let people see their own dreams. Instead of neatly-ordered Hollywood gift-wrapping, this film embraced chaos. The acting seemed scattered and drunk, even. It worked, in a way. The characters all felt off guard, and haphazard. It made the movie, and life by extension, seem unsettled and uncertain.

The themes in the film were extremely dark. Nooses abounded. It didn't feel dark, though. It felt colorful and wild, until the end, when Colin Farrell took over the Tony character, and took him…

Hogfather

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Another British miniseries! Yay! I think I'm on a sort of bender with these things.
Terry Pratchett on film always turns into a mix'n'match of imagination and actors. It's a sort of game to see if the actors fit what you think they should have been, from when you read the books (see the discussion on Shelfari).

Hogfather is funny. It's not as funny as the book, obviously, but it has some really funny moments. Michelle Dockery played a beautiful and brilliantly deadpan Susan. There were moments when I wish she had put a little more bitter energy into the lines, but perhaps it would have seemed out of character.

I enjoyed David Warner's brief cameo. Ian Richardson as Death worked well enough. He has a great voice for the purpose.

There were moments when the low budget showed through, but I didn't mind them. Often enough, the set and costume were beautiful and creepy. The bent poker at the beginning seemed stupid. It could just as easily have been bent to be m…

Little Dorrit

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This miniseries (really LONG miniseries, thank-you Charles Dickens), amazes. It astounds. It appalls. Although I highly enjoy both the leading and title roles, the actor whose true talent shines here turns out to be Andy Serkis.

Yes, my dears, Gollum. How ridiculous to pin him down to such a role! His thespianic (did I just coin a really stupid word?) talents rival Johnny Depp. Let me explain.

So I was watching Little Dorrit for the second time quite late last night when I just happened to begin reading the back of the DVD case. I glanced through the cast list. I think I recognize Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen, a few others, and then I saw Andy Serkis. Just the name, and I thought, "isn't he that weasely fellow on 13 Going On 30?" I pondered for a moment. Yes, he certainly is. I remember. That guy played Gollum too, although I'm sure he had a ton of help from SE. That trilogy was pretty CGI intensive.

Then I thought, "I don't recall any weasely fellows in L…

Lost in Austen

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My co-worker warned me about Lost in Austen. She said it was cheesy, and from the few clips forced on me by a very fanatically-inclined little sister, I would have completely agreed. In context, though, I think it all sort of fit, although it's not exactly Emmy material.
I really liked what they did to this story, but my reasoning is a bit complex.
I have read Pride and Prejudice perhaps seven times. The only books I have read more often are Heart of Darkness (8) and The Book of Mormon (?). That doesn't mean that I like the work, just that my professors did. I admit, I liked the book very well the first three times. The romance was classic and endearing, and the language was fluid and fun. Then came Austenmania, and I jumped ship. Jane Austen wrote some enjoyable stories, but I wouldn't rank her any higher than Georgette Heyer (this coming from the same person who ranks Shakespeare with Steven Spielberg). And at this point, having seen every version of P&P ever filmed pr…

Astroboy

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Large portions of this brilliantly animated film resembled the grittier AI: Artificial Intelligence completed by Steven Spielberg. The ending, though, resulted in much more happiness, and much less endless endgame.

Although Rottentomatoes.com gave the film a sorry 48 (which isn't nearly as bad as it could be) the main objection seems to be the political agenda, which pretty much went over my head. That miss reveals more about me than the movie, though. I seem to have caught all, or most, of the literary allusions.

The film itself was enjoyable to watch, but not original enough for the grown-up audience. I expect it to have been a hit with kids, but only tolerated by the adults tending them.