Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tristan + Isolde

Tristan and Isolde (Widescreen Edition) Okay, so I tried to watch this movie. I know - an epic tale. I have to admit, it's definitely better than Romeo & Juliet, which I truly despise. I got about fifty minutes into it, and realized where the story arc was headed. I hate tragedy. Tragedy mixed with dramatic irony just ties my stomach into horrible knots. I gave up, and now I'm watching Eloise at the Plaza. More about that later.

What I did see of the film struck me in a couple of ways. Firstly - COLOR!!! The thing was certainly shot well enough for the blood to look warm enough, and yet it had no color. I know that those camera things are sort of en vogue at the moment, but it really didn't work for me here. They're in the British Isles (or are supposed to be), and the trees weren't green, the soil wasn't brown, and the people weren't circulating blood. It looked like Hershey's syrup.

I love Sophia Myles, and whatshisname - the guy - is just fine, thanks (although I always think his cheekbones make him either sinister or sarcastic). Rufus Sewell has always been a favorite of mine. Yay. So I'm rooting for them, is my point. They did very well.

Anyway, I give anyone full permission to adore this movie, and watch it every night with a box of kleenex and a tub of ice cream. It's just not my cup of tea. If I wanted to watch inevitable misery, I'd pay more attention to my graduate applications.

The Moon is Blue

The Moon Is Blue Maggie McNamara plays a very amusing character here, who surprisingly holds her own against the dynamic duo of David Niven and William Holden. It's not much of a love triangle, as Holden clearly has all the advantages (Niven is cast as a father, which mitigates his oodles of sex appeal), but that kind of tension doesn't really have the pull it must in current rom coms. The draw, the suspense, in this film isn't really about who loves whom, but rather, what they'll do to make it work. The film is more about conflicting personal philosophies than romantic tension.

When the film first came out, it was quite shocking, but not for any real content. The reason this film so much appalled was the frank and casual way the characters (well, Ms. McNamara's character) talked about sex. Spoiler: as far as I can tell, they get married first. It's all quite innocent, ultimately.

Paris When it Sizzles

Paris When it Sizzles Apparently William Holden spend most of this production drunk, which works out just fine, because so was his character.

The appeal of this film is its only marginally controlled lambaste (is that a word? probably just the wrong part of speech) of Hollywood back in the era in which the film was made. I'm not sure how pertinent it would be for Hollywood today, but it's certainly amusing to those of us who study old films.

It's not just amusing, it's very, very funny. The jokes come quickly, but they exhibit such a wry and pointed sense of humor, that you definitely giggle. Tony Curtis's role was probably my favorite, as the main love story, much like the medieval rom coms it mocked, made very little sense, ultimately.

This film's a must for classic movie lovers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blood of Beasts

Blood of Beasts Although ultimately a little silly (a tragic fact even big-budget fantasy like Lord of the Rings can't avoid), I found this film oddly honest. The ending reminded me just a little of Beau Geste, and the acting stood up fairly well, for the most part, under admittedly casual scrutiny.

I loved the crude sets. I think somebody had a little too much fun with the "dead and dying" motif. A few anachronisms, or at least, culture-crossing was visible. I'm not sure what kind of devil Norse mythology contains, but I'm sure it isn't anything like the one mentioned in the script, which brings me to this film's ultimate flaw: the writing.

The lines written here, though earnestly delivered, were complete and utter rubbish. The film didn't even gesture towards the poetic, leaving all that up to camera work and directing. If they had gestured toward the poetic I'm sure I'd just have laughed, but as it is, the writing I just heard mucked about at "banal" and barely raised itself to its elbows in time to gasp out another inanity and then die, choking on vacuousness.

Anyway, the film has too much blood for a sensitive audience, too much cheese for a discriminating one, and too much error for the culture nerd. I'm not sure who comprised their target audience, but I think they painted the little red circles just a little too small. Maybe they're just standing too far away. Anyway, I'm pretty sure they missed, but I'm not near that target audience either, so maybe it's not as bad as I think.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Departures

Departures This amazing film moved slowly for what we're used to, but each moment seemed full of thoughts and ideas and meditation. I not only enjoyed the images here, but the whole experience of watching. It's a rather long film, so take your time.

The subject is tough, and a few moments here and there are certainly inappropriate for younger people who may not understand, but for a mature audience, any shaky scenes simply add depth. This film was created with great respect both for the audience as well as the subject.

The music was very beautiful, if perhaps a little simple. I now love the cello.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Red

Red (Special Edition) A good, solid, action flick full of fun. It's everything I've always wanted in a movie; big explosions (lots of them) and a little romance. With movies about "old" people, I'm always afraid it'll end on one of those wistful notes, where they all go un-gently into that good night (sorry Dylan). This director kept it light, for which I was extremely grateful.

I loved seeing this side of Helen Mirren.

It won't win awards, but for a jolly good time, totally check this one out. It won't disappoint.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Brigham City

Brigham City This film touched me deeply. I've always felt some attraction to crime dramas. This one was certainly adequate in that respect (Dutcher plays the shell game with his suspects), but truly excelled at posing ethical questions, and setting up ethical dilemmas. Oddly, none of the characters seemed caught by the dilemma aspect - they simply went ahead and made their mistakes like real people do.

The only flubbed line was Dutcher's, and Matthew A. Brown did a brilliant job among a crowd of impressive character actors, including Carrie Morgan. Their lines seemed fairly well-written, although now and again something came across just a little amateurish (a housewife who starts a line with "well," for instance).

All the technical aspects seemed tight and professional, including sound and camera work; lucky in an indy film on a small budget. Well done. I MUST recommend this film, and not just because it made me sob. Unfortunately, I watched it on a Sunday evening, so I didn't get creeped out, but I suspect that it might actually have moments.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Letters to Juliet

Letters to JulietIt was so refreshing to watch a romantic movie in which the female is actually quite pleasant!   This film was straight romance, though, with no comedy to speak of. The original Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare's version, I mean, which was stolen from, I believe, an Italian folk-tale) actually appears very little. It's only vaguely referenced as something really romantic and having to do with Verona. The star-crossed lovers' tragedy makes absolutely no impact.

The idea itself, an old letter written to a literary figure which is answered by a group of dedicated and romantic women, actually makes some kind of sense.

Anyway, it was cute. Not especially deep or meaningful, but cute, and less annoying than most.

Dear Frankie

Dear Frankie This film captured some truly important and precious moments. The art shots of the seashore and harbor just amazed me. The way the sound cuts in and out, to show the little boy's perspective shows imagination and taste; it wasn't at all overdone, and it actually enhanced the film, rather than distracting from it.

The story finished with restraint and taste, and it made me cry. This is one of those inspiring movies about good people being nice to each-other. It's not a diatribe, americanized, or heavy-handed.

Plus, it was nice to see Sharon Small in an attractive and realistic role.

Even Rotten Tomatoes liked it. You have to see this movie.

One small drawback; it's set in Scotland, so they've all got accents. I've heard thicker, but we pitiful Americans might have some trouble understanding (I didn't, but someone might).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mary & Max

Mary and Max While this story had some obvious draws (it's very witty, and satisfyingly practical), I spotted one or two drawbacks as well. As animation for grown-ups, it's well-labeled, and thankfully so. I wasn't at all surprised by the mature subject matter, or some of the less pleasant images.

It's cute (in a crude kind of way). You might give it a try, especially while it's available online.

The Final Cut

The Final Cut This film deserves much better acclaim than it received, although I think I can see why. The acting, directing, filming, and plot development all amaze, but the ending leaves the audience thoughtful and yet unfulfilled: depressed, even. By the end, we have come to appreciate the main character (Robin Williams), and to pity his life, which turns on two major events (one is the death of his parents, but the first is shown in the opening scenes of the film), and yet those events set him on shaky ground.

Although the DVD jacket would make this film seem more like an heroic, action film, Williams's character is not a hero, although neither are his enemies (James Caviezel). But neither are they villains. The complexity and depth in this slightly futuristic glimpse truly amazed me, and I am sorry so many of my fellow reviewers cannot see it. The DVD jacket also may mislead about the turning of the plot itself. I originally thought that the story was about some cliched secret, but the secret itself is a McGuffin.

If this film lacked anything, it is humor. None exists in it at all. No comic relief whatsoever.
Still, it's definitely worth your time. Tell me what you think.