"The Soloist" screams Fall release. Why it has been set loose on audiences late April is utterly beyond me. It's a sobering movie that demands respect from the viewer. Releasing it just prior to the summer VFX, blow 'em up, box office monsters seems odd and misplaced and will surely result in low low numbers. It's not an Oscar contender and it's certainly not a dud that you casually throw out in early Spring. It's simply: serious...and serious deserves a viable platform. Bad move studio moguls. Really bad move. You're going to lose money on two very bankable stars who are telling an incredible true-life story of struggle, difficult choices, and hope. These themes ring especially true during these times to be sure but it's just a shame that the film won't get the chance to gather steam.
"The Soloist" is brought to us by director Joe Wright whose only real claim to fame is directing last year's sweeping drama, "Atonement" (a film with has arguably one of the best first acts of any story I've ever seen). Wright nails the tone needed to convey the struggle of musician Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man haunted by Schizophrenia.
"State of Play" and "The Soloist" might end up being the only cinematic representations of the change in the tides we're currently in the midst of: the death of the newspaper. In subtle ways, "The Soloist" points out the importance of reporters to dig deeper and be involved. Homelessness & mental illness are at the forefront of this specific story but there are obviously so many other social issues that need caring people with investigative minds to bring to the public's attention. Who will carry that torch?
Posted by D at Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Dear Mr. Jim Carrey,
It has been a long time since I have seen one of your films. Sufficed to say when I was in high school I saw "Ace Ventura" 3 (count 'em 3) times in the theater. "Dumb and Dumber"? I was there. "Liar Liar"? There. "Truman Show"? Yup. I was even there for "The Mask", "Cable Guy", "Me, Myself, and Irene", and "Batman Forever" (you were the ONLY good thing about that film btw). I saw your turn as Andy Kaufman and I loved you in "Eternal Sunshine". The Grinch bored me a little but you were creepy in it, congrats. "Bruce Almighty" was surprisingly cute. And your performance as Count Olaf in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (what happened to those?) was stellar. Did I mention I even saw "Fun with Dick and Jane"? So why then...with all this history between us, did I have pretty much zero interest in "Yes Man"? Not enough marketing (cough cough "Horton Hears a Who!")? Zooey Deschanel, your love interest in the film? I adore her. She's awesome. Your compadre Bradley Cooper? Are you kidding? He's Will from ALIAS! He's great. Maybe it's your boss Rhys Darby? Not a chance in hell, he's Murray from my beloved Flight of the Chonchords. Crazy sidekick John Michael Higgins? He's HILARIOUS.
So what is it? What I'm getting at, poorly, is that you should choose more wisely. You're at a critical point in your career. It could be over or you could (gasp, not that word, don't say it) REINVENT yourself and smash audience expectation. Don't go the way of a slew of comedians before you who decide that they'd rather settle on sap for a paycheck rather than intelligent storytelling. On paper "Yes Man" should be funny, I would venture to say side-splittingly so...but it isn't. There are some memorable moments but overall it left me feeling like I had just watched a watered down holiday TV movie on the Family Channel. Ouch.
It hurts me Jim to talk to you this way. I wanted to be with you until the end. I'm just not sure I can go on like this anymore with you.
Posted by D at Sunday, April 19, 2009
Is it just me or do Woody Allen films get better as he's getting older? They're not as frenetic and hurried as his earlier work...in general I'd venture to say they are actually like good chocolate. You just want to savor the bites and not rush through them. Perhaps it has something to do with his muse, Scarlett Johansson. In the past few years they have made 3 films together. Surely, that says something.
Whatever it is, I like it. "Vicky Christina Barcelona" is a fun, sexy, and shockingly insightful film that takes us on a summer journey to Spain with dear friends Vicky and Christina. One gets the feeling that Allen actually knows people like these characters that he created - they're a little lost, but very self-aware of their neuroses and conflicting ideas of what love is or what relationships should be. It's a little bit of an emotional joyride that raises loads of theoretical questions on romantic happiness but does absolutely nothing to provide any answers. It's a little treat...a decadent one to be sure.
Oh my goodness! A dude actually walked from one of the World Trade Center towers to the other on a tightrope in the 70's. How did I not know about this until now? "Man on Wire" is this year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary and it is a strange thrill to watch. You keep wanting to close your eyes but for some reason they remain open as you watch French hire wire extraordinaire Philippe Petit in action. No stranger to thrills, this man has walked along a wire on top of Notre Dame in Paris and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to name a few. The film's focus is on the WTC feat in particular flashing back and forth to help give the proper set up and introduce all the players.
In a post 9/11 world the film takes on new significance as we are treated to stunning photography of the towers in the glory immediately following their construction. There was an inevitable emptiness that I felt in my stomach as some of the stills revealed the levels upon levels of narrow stairways. My brain flew instinctively to the stories of people fleeing down those very stairs decades later. It is difficult to separate that history from the unfolding narrative of Petit and his crew but if you are able to do so, this film is definitely worth a watch. It doesn't really judge or question as often documentaries do...it just gives the viewer a peek into a man's madness/dream (whatever you want to call it) and it reveals an incredible tale. I mean truly unreal. I still can't believe it actually happened.
If Meryl Streep weren't in this movie, it would pretty much be a big yawn. You know what? Never mind. It IS a big yawn. There is one notable scene (yes, best supporting actress nominee Viola Davis is in it) and that is just about it. Seriously, the screenwriting (how many times can the characters say the word "doubt"?), the pacing, the silly attempts to illustrate tension (dutch angled shots out of no where)...yuck. I have very little to say - just a big bore of a movie. Sorry. Not feeling it and uninspired to write anymore.