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 ♥ hated it . ♥♥ 'sok . ♥♥♥ liked it . ♥♥♥♥ loved it . ♥♥♥♥♥ will force you to watch it

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Entries in 2011 (8)

Tuesday
May172011

Hesher

♥♥♥

I'm rooting for this movie, I really am. Despite its broad stroke direction and heavy handed edits, the not terribly well constructed characters or the pretty average script. I want it to do well. So you know what, stop reading, and go see it. It's on at the Angelika, I'll still be here when you come back.

~~~Musical Interlude~~~

Subtlety is not this film's strong suit. Especially concerning the title character Hesher. From his punctuated introduction to the metaphoric anecdotes he doles out. Pretty much everything he does is the film trying to convey to you who this character is, in the end, not actually offering you a real person. And apart from Hesher, every other character is just, pretty sad. They use some very decent actors in this. "Use" is probably not the right word, they weren't really used to their full effect. With so little to work with, no matter how touching the performances, it all just fell short of the kind of emotional impact you know they were going for.

It was enjoyable enough, there were some funny moments, some oh-shit-fuck! moments, one poignant moment, and only once did I think I was getting a little bored (this happens more often than you'd think). Moment to moment I did like this. You know what I think it is? Looking at the last 3 heart film I reviewed (Water for Elephants), even though I thought it was just kind of alright, the whole production was so slick and seamless, you were in safe hands. It follows the formula of minor conflict every 3 pages, major conflict rearing its head in every act, everything culminating at the climax, etc etc. It was like the conveyor belt of Hollywood Narratives. When you veer away from that formula, a lot of other things needs to work together just to keep the audience interested. In most successful indie films, this means either some superb acting jobs, or careful observation, or ideally both. In the case of Hesher, it just wanted to yell the story at you. I think I just never want to feel like I'm being told the story, but rather I'm discovering it along with the eye of the camera.

The themes of this movie is loss, grief, and juvenile aggression. I feel like there are plenty of films out there that deals with just this, in a more elegant way, but somehow I can't think of any just at the top of my head. So hey, what do I know?

Monday
May162011

Water For Elephants

♥♥♥

It's been a while since I saw this so I don't have that much to say about it anymore. It's that kind of entertaining.

Lush, beautiful sets, costumes, people in the costumes, animals. I love stories involving circuses during the dustbowl era. Did you guys ever watch Carnivale? You should, and this totally reminded me that I need to watch that again.

As predicted, Christof Waltz stole the whole shebang. He was well and truly fantastic in every aspect, in every scene; terrifying and pitiful in equal measures. Reese kept up decently, she was charming and delightful and her chin wasn't too much of a distraction, which is always amazing. Rob Pattinson held his own well enough. He was a bit impassive and monotoned, but it kind of worked for the character (barely). I feel like he has good instincts, but is just not going for them yet, or doesn't know how to let it out somehow. I'll tell you one thing though, during a pretty pivotal scene involving Rob and Reese, the fact that neither of them have been formally trained became glaringly apparent. They were like two bobbleheads, shaking their head at every single word. But maybe it's one of those things that only annoys other actors, I'm not sure other people even noticed.

It all came to a happy, but bittersweet present day ending. Kind of striking at that Notebook chord but missing a few notes because, well the book didn't have that much drama in the present day I guess.

Oh, oh the elephant, how could I forget the elephant. That elephant was amazing. If that was a real act, I'd pay the couple pennies it cost to see that.

If you want some lush epic romance, and is the kind of person who would sometimes want to watch a fluffy lush epic romances, this is probably exactly the kind of thing you're looking for.

Tuesday
Mar152011

Biutiful

♥♥♥♥♥

I do not like Alejandro González Iñárritu, I've intensely disliked every film he has made, I even have a 2007 review I wrote about Babel documenting this intense dislike. I had written him off as one of those world hating, pretentious, impossible directors, until now.

This also marks one of the first time I have to disagree with the AV club film commentary. (Those guys seem to hate Iñárritu for the exact same reasons I did, if only I had known this 4 years ago when it was me against every single person I knew) They feel that this was much in the same vein as his previous releases, and very much just depressing events heaped on each other.

Make no mistake, practically every single terrible thing that could happen, happened in this movie. But for the first time, I didn't see just the commentary and instead saw a human story. The heartbreak translates from screen to seats, and all the terrible things that happened didn't feel forced or manipulative, but rather a natural progression of a shitty world spiraling into more shit. Miserable, yes, but also believable.

The overarching theme this deals with, instead of the myriad of issues it is involved in, is actually fatherhood. Perhaps this is what gave this film something real, an actual relationship for once, held together by the absolutely astounding performance by Javier Bardem. I can't begin to tell you. There is this one scene that still breaks my heart when I think about it. I looked at it, and in a Ron Burrus way, I said to myself "That is what remorse looks like." (Apologies to anyone who is not Adler, and therefore have no idea what I'm talking about)

The direction is masterful. My blazing hatred for Iñárritu always got in the way of me noticing that, ever. But finally, what I felt about the contents stepped out of the way and I saw all the beautiful things he was doing. There would be this fantastic extreme close-up shot of these ants on a window, then it would cut to the woman looking at them idly while talking to Javier, only making one off hand mention of them at the end that ties the whole speech together. It was beautifully constructed, and little things like that permeate throughout.

My point is, even if you don't like Iñárritu, watch this.

Tuesday
Mar152011

The King's Speech

♥♥♥1/3

Aaaaaah, the Oscar Winner. I saw this the night before the ceremonies, on my own, and after I came home from it, I listened to the creative screenwriting podcast episode on it with the writer. I'm going to try to give my opinions of the film separate from my sentimental inclinations in rooting for this.

The screenplay is unfaultable. It's a classic double hander, and feels exactly like what it is, an American writer writing a perfect BBC film. All the excellent things about it (that won it awards), the writing, the direction, the acting, they all took a step back for the story, and that is where it succeeds, but also, makes it slightly less remarkable for me.

Is it just me? Haven't we SEEN this kind of BBC film before? Far less polished, but more or less, just this? Maybe I'm just a tired old grumpy pants (It is 5:35am right now, I should probably go to bed). But I distinctly feel like I've seen so many really good british films that are pretty much just like this.

Despite that though, it is very very well done. Like I said, you can't really fault it in any aspect. My love affair with Geoffery Rush is boundless. (He once asked me for meat pies, I brought him pies, and he said to me "I love you forever". Damn straight). Even when I saw him in the preview session of Exit The King at Malthouse when lines were being dropped, I adored him. Pit all of that love for what he does with this performance, and it becomse slightly less than what its touted to be. He played a well written character, with a lot of character. Colin Firth on the other hand did achieve a career high. I was so happy when he thanked Tom Ford during his acceptance speech, because that was exactly when I stopped to take notice of him, finally. His understated, ebbing emotions in A Single Man was really beautiful. Please know that before that film, I had outwardly expressed my distaste in the guy. Coming from Australia, a land which rivals England for it's obsession with Pride and Preje, and the BBC mini-series of that crap, and Mr. Darcy, and THAT FOUNTAIN SCENE with Mr. Darcy, it was very easy for me to hate him. I didn't think he was a very good actor. He was weak in the portrayal of men who were outwardly masculine (in that britishy gentlemen way). But now, he's in full stride.

Helena Bonham Carter can do no wrong in my eyes. The more insane her outfits, the more I love her. Everything she says is utterly charming. She didn't have much of a part in this, and even so, she made her memorable.

I highly recommend the podcast that I mentioned earlier, the whole series itself (which has now ended, but Jeff Goldsmith has moved on and will be starting another podcast soon) and this episode in particular.

Now it's almost 6am, and I need to get my ass to bed. I will finish the last review tomorrow.

Tuesday
Mar152011

The Illusioniste

♥♥♥♥1/4

Not to be confused with the Ed Norton/Jessica Biel fodder. This film accomplishes the near impossible of capturing the humour and pathos of a Jacques Tati film with the lush animated visuals that's more like a Miyazaki. (while searching of images for this post, from the thumbnails, some of the backdrop pictures I came across I actually thought were from Laputa: Castle in the Sky)

This FEELS like a Tati film. The character of the illusionist could definitely be Mr. Houlot as a magician. It's warm, ironic, bittersweet. Not enough outpouring of love I could possibly heap upon this film would reciprocate what it poured into me. The director, Sylvain Chomet also gave us The Triplets of Belleville, which comes from the same spot in the heart, with its similar sepia toned nostalgia.

It understands history, and it understands humanity. And for Tati fans, it's especially special.