Showing posts from May, 2011

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Yeech. For pity's sake, DON'T see this film colorized! I'm convinced that colorization is/was the bane of cinematography (especially when they got the woman's dress wrong from The Secret life of Walter Mitty).

Well, even if it's colorized DO see this film. It's a brilliant blend of humanistic realism and emotional surreality. Even says it's worth it. They gave the film a completely earned 97% on the tomatometer.

Do you want to know what surprised me about silent films? I'm always surprised by the quality of the images. I have been used to watching things in snowy, fuzzy screens from bad cable connections, or degraded VHS. I always thought that the older the films were, the more degraded the images would be. I have so often been proven wrong, especially after groups like Criterion, who restore these old films and put them on DVD. I watch these movies and think, "they look like real people!" instead of vague, humanoid, painte…

In Old Arizona

It's Black & White, folks. 1928. It's a Best Actor winner (Warner Baxter), but not extremely deep, as films go. As one critic on noticed, the actors talk in twenties slang, although the film is supposedly set in the old west (1830s? pre-gold-rush, I believe). It actually made the whole thing that much more funny.

The main character is supposedly Portuguese, although his accent (completely fake, and really thick) seems more Italian. All the Portuguese Americans I know sound more French. Maybe they're from a different part of Portugal? At least anyone speaking Spanish spoke real Spanish, although some of the Spanish/Mexican accents were a little ridiculous.

The final, twist ending isn't really all that twisty. You pretty much see it coming from a mile away, which is fine, since that's what you want to happen anyway. Like I said, the movie's not all that deep. The acting wasn't brilliant, either (which makes me totally surprised that it won, but …

Last Holiday

Way fun, if a little naive. Sometimes we just like naive.

The Green Hornet

Although I fully appreciated how well the film avoided superhero cliches, Seth Rogen's character was much too over-the-top offensive for me to truly have any fun. I kept wincing. It falls into the same category as The Office (US) and Fawlty Towers - the "too painful to watch" category.

Kato was pretty fun to watch, though. I liked the effects during his fight scenes. I wouldn't at all have minded seeing him hook up with Cameron Diaz (although that was probably the obvious they were trying to avoid).

Maybe the movie was trying to avoid all its cartoonish predecessors of the nineties (The Shadow, The Phantom). In that case, it absolutely succeeded. Unfortunately, I liked its cartoonish predecessors (something of which I know I should be ashamed, but I'm unrepentantly NOT).

The characterizations seemed remarkably realistic, though. I enjoyed watching a superhero bungle his way into well-deserved infamy. Unfortunately, they pretty much nailed the "tortured past…

The Other Guys

The critics may disagree, but I found this film just slightly more than a little frustrating. Mark Wahlberg's character was obviously trying to pull away from being Farrell's straight man, but I didn't quite understand the senseless anger thing. Were they mocking cop dramas? Are guys in cop dramas senselessly angry all the time? I'm sorry, I just don't get it. Eva Mendez was hilarious, though. All three of them set up some really great gags.

The movie made me laugh, but I really don't think I'd give it four stars.


This film had all the elements of a classic cold-war spy thriller in much the same way State of Play reprised journalism drama. Both Liev Schreiber and Angelina Jolie played very well, especially off each-other, and although this film must essentially showcase stunts and physical effects, the plot and ending work quite well too, without becoming too belabored or falling into too many cliche traps.

Salt is ultimately exciting and fun, but don't try to wrangle a classic out of it.

State of Play

It's very important to give yourself time to process a film before writing about it. As you look back at the dwindling memory of the experience of watching a movie, that Hollywood glow slowly fades into a more two-dimensional image that is much easier to criticize. Which is why I'm writing about this movie RIGHT NOW.

Effing brilliant. I loved every moment of this film that I didn't fast-forward (I get really anxious during moments of high tension, so I fast-forward them. I don't miss any dialogue, and I still get a fairly thorough idea of the images). Everything about this film amazed me. The cast were perfect, and I'm not even a very big Russell Crowe fan (well, I wasn't).

The story may not contain anything ground-breakingly unheard-of, but the whole thing plays with (almost as a masterpiece) the intrigue drama. I was constantly amazed how such a classic story became fresh through this production. I never felt deja vu, or had flashbacks to other films. I simp…

The Wyvern Mystery

The plot of this miniseries follows that of Jane Eyre significantly, at least in generalities. A young woman of humble origins is raised in a wealthy household. She marries a young man of fortune, but must hide from her benefactor, who she is told would take his revenge for casting him off. There's a madwoman in the attic, somebody dies. . . Anyway, it's all pretty mundane. It doesn't shine, as a story. Even the ending pulls you down in to the dumps. It's way too Thomas Hardy for my personal taste.

I think I could re-write this much, much better. As a matter of fact, I think I will.

Besides the writing, this film is beautifully acted. All of the players convince me completely. The images are characteristically Gothic, but the camera seems a little too close-in sometimes. I suppose it's a technique for causing anxiety as part of its frightening appeal, but I more often felt blind. It's probably just a personal quirk.

The Happiest Millionaire

Wow, the sixties were really swinging! This children's movie has a large, happy scene which takes place in a bar, and alcohol and tobacco feature heavily. I wasn't necessarily bothered, as I'm not a mother, but I suspect serious reasons that this film has never achieved real prominence (well, in addition to the mediocre music). It's not exactly Mary Poppins, despite what the cover says.

In addition to the inexplicably lax attitude toward controlled substances, the film also stretches for interminable lengths. The plot isn't anything to write home about, and large chunks of it are put on hold while we listen to the tedious show-music. I fast-forwarded the Entr'acte.

Pluses include Tommy Steele who always makes me smile, Greer Garson (but without the wig), and Lesley Ann Warren (though I'm not sure if Clue made me completely forgive her for Cinderella). Also, the alligators did a wonderfully random job.

Sadly, I've never been a fan of Ken, so the story&#…

Who Am I This Time

This obviously low-budget adaptation of a Kurt Vonnegut story actually rings a bell with me. I remember seeing it when I was younger, and thinking how unsatisfying I found the ending, but now I think I have grown into an ability to interpret contemporary film (ha ha ha). I get it. I like it. I leave the piece with a huge glow, and a feeling of contentment.

Unfortunately, I've read about too many method actors who simply can't find anyone to put up with their off-screen shenanigans indefinitely. It's great when you can feed your husband community theater for the rest of your life, but what happens when a big producer hires him to play a serial killer, or an abuser? It sounds a little too wild for me, although for the right guy I imagine you could put up with a lot. Or if you're the right woman, perhaps.

Anyway, it's less than an hour long, and it's great to watch and recognize the lines especially if you've ever worked in drama or a theater (or literature).…

Jane Eyre

It's in the theaters, folks, not on disc yet. I've seen about six versions of this book. I have my favorite (Timothy Dalton's, though I've yet to see the Ciaran Hinds version - I think he'd be perfect), . . . and then I start thinking about Pride and Prejudice.

As film adaptations of classical literature go. . . And there I shall stop. Just go see it. You don't really care what I think anyway.

Knight and Day

I understand that "Roy" was birth-named Matthew Knight. It made sense. But Day? I have no idea where that comes from. Perhaps I simply wasn't paying enough attention, which is likely enough, because within just a few moments I knew this wasn't exactly a thinker.

This summer movie is just plain silly. Silly, silly, silly. I couldn't take it seriously for a moment. Although I enjoyed a few things, the stunts were all way over the top, the acting was good enough without being deep, and the plot itself moved quickly and relatively logically, the piece as a whole simply didn't have the capacity to hold anything more than the shallowest of entertainment.

For what it was, it was well-done, but I can't help wishing it were at least one thing of the many things it wasn't.

Doctor Who: The Movie

The 52% tomato-meter reading can be explained only in one way: the only reason anyone would watch this film is that he or she is already a fan of Doctor Who, and as such, cannot help but promote anything Whovian, no matter how campy. Tragically, I fall into this precarious category.

As a dedicated Whovian, I have become accustomed to the Who Camp. Mind; it's a different kind of camp than your usual cult classics. Who Camp involves slimy villains, (usually) badly-written lines, overacting to the point of melodrama, and general adult silliness, which in itself, does not diverge from normal camp. Who Camp, though, also has a sweeping sense of optimism and universality which many productions completely lack. The Doctor, as a character, embodies something more/less than our need for a superhero, and yet carries us away in an imaginary place where the earth is protected (although, like most superhero stories, his also invents the villains from whom the earth must be protected), and we&…

Broadway Melody

Hated it. This film rested squarely on an outdated obsession with the melodrama of the stage. It doesn't age well.

Blase. Dull. Unmemorable music upstaged by mediocre camera and filming. It's proof that the Oscars don't weather time.