A little too much singing. And a little over the top drama. But "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself" has at its core, a heart that steadily beats and keeps you watching. It certainly didn't inspire me to write much about it, but that's the beauty of a blog. I can write as little or as much as I want. Fin.
Hmm. After finishing up "9", I must admit I felt like I'd seen it all before. Was that...the strange doll-headed mechanical spider creature from "Toy Story"? Splitting souls? Is this "Harry Potter"? Post-apocalyptic animation..."Wall-E"? What I hadn't seen was animation quite like this so that was a positive. But other than that, the story wasn't all that engaging and I was far from riveted. I wanted to like this film in fact I was really hoping to catch it while it was still in theaters. But in the end, I was left a bit empty.
The trailer is here.
Directed by Jane Campion ("The Piano"), "Bright Star" chronicles the love affair between real life poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. It took about 30 minutes for me to engage in this one (which I think is far too long). However once I did I found the two protagonists to be sweet and genuine in addition to their flair for the dramatic. The color palate was gorgeous and rich and was perfectly woven together through the costume design. The music I found fairly distracting which was frustrating. If I worked on a 5 star system (which generally, I don't)...I would likely give it 3 stars. Worth renting, likely on a grey, rainy evening.
Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the Broadway musical "Nine" leaves much to be desired. Well, I suppose there's actually plenty to desire - but it's missing a lot of key elements that would make for a great film. The most important one is, frankly - good music. Sure, the idea of it seems brilliant - a musical based on famous neo-realist Italian director Federico Fellini's "8 1/2"? Why not make a movie out of it? I'll tell you why not...because the trailer for this film was the best part about it (very good by the way if you haven't seen it - it features the only good song in the movie and it's wonderfully edited. You can see it here.).
Here's where I'm confused. The musical won 5 Tony awards. Really? For the music? Yes. It won for best score (which apparently includes both music and lyrics). Wow.
One of the standout efforts of this film adaptation is certainly the use of fantasy which emerged from Fellini's neo-realist period. The cast is the best money can buy: Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, and yes...Fergie. This makes me wonder...if a cast like this can't make a movie truly sing, it must not have been that great to begin with.
Sorry about this review being rather boring. I was rather uninspired and disappointed while viewing it.
Posted by D at Tuesday, January 12, 2010
"The Fall" seems to almost be a global mash-up of sorts - a dreamy tribute reflecting a true passion for films. Its storytelling convention reads as an homage to "The Wizard of Oz". Its visual artistry has roots in Chinese films like "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" as well as "Pan's Labyrinth" from Mexico and hints of "Amelie" from France. Its sound design is almost magical akin to Akira Kurosawa's "Dreams". And its pacing and performance seems as though Spanish director Pedro Almodovar was in fact conducting at times. The director is from India - Tarsem Singh - the visionary behind another eye-popping film "The Cell". His career began in music videos and has now covered commercials and films as well. His work can be seen here. His artistic sensibility is very well-defined and his work is clearly artfully crafted. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his vision in cinema.
For every brushstroke of Tarsem's there was an equally talented co-pilot in director of photography Colin Watkinson. It's shocking that outside of commercial work his credits as the DP only include one other film and the TV show "Entourage". This man needs to be hired for more films - my goodness. The film looks like a fine art photographer wrapped it up in his arms and kissed it with light. It's simply beautiful to look at. The opening title sequence alone is positively stunning.
I will say the one thing that was lacking was a powerful and utterly engaging story. The art direction far surpassed the level of the narrative and it would have been a home run with a more intricately involved script. Hopefully that will be developed further in Tarsem's later work.
The trailer can be seen here.
Posted by D at Monday, January 11, 2010
Today, I'm breaking with tradition and have decided to write about a movie before I've seen it. Crazy. I know. There is a reason though, promise. I feel with a movie with this much anticipation and expectation on my end, it's imperative to set up where I'm coming from beforehand - lest my opinion be taken less seriously (who out there actually takes my opinion seriously?). Back when director Guy Ritchie hit the US scene he completely wowed us with "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch". Both films were fun, quick, clever and so...un-American and distinctly British. We loved the stories, the characters, the overall absurdity. Then...he made "Swept Away". Oh. My. God. What a travesty of a movie. Those of us who know what the man is capable of were pretty depressed about that. I mean really...what happened? There have been a couple drops in the pan since then but somewhere along the way, he got on board to direct "Sherlock Holmes" with the star power of Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Holmes' right hand man - Watson. Now, Holmes is a classic detective character from literature adored by many. Ritchie, please don't muck this up. Also - can Downey, Jr pull off a true Brit? I'm expecting action, comedy, and cleverness - all the usual tricks. Hopes are high. Bring it on!
Alright. That was fun. Really really really fun. It looked like a storybook illustration at times. It had subtle homages to Hitchcock's genius and Ritchie's own films. It delivered all the wit and quickness that I hoped it would. More than all of that, it was the natural progression of some of Ritchie's old bag of tricks: speed ramps/slo mo, whipping delivery of the lines, comradery, fantastic sound design, and most especially brilliant storytelling techniques - all taken to the next level. As in his early works, virtually everything is a puzzle, a mystery - just waiting to be discovered and unraveled - how appropriate for a film about a detective. Robert Downey, Jr is great as Holmes and together with Jude Law - it's double trouble. They make a great team.
Posted by D at Saturday, January 09, 2010
True story. I watched the movie "Extract" about 45 minutes after having 4 wisdom teeth removed (I heart irony). Thus, I slept through somewhere between 85-90% of this movie. I had high expectations - Mike Judge helmed...Jason Bateman starring...how could this be a snooze? Well, in the time I was awake - I think it fell a little flat.
Posted by D at Friday, January 08, 2010
Yes. Relationships are complicated. Divorces? So much more complicated. Deciding to have an affair with your ex? Oh my! What I love about director Nancy Meyers is that she doesn't shy away from mature romances (just like in "Something's Gotta Give", "What Women Want" and "The Parent Trap" remake) and she always manages to find comedy in things that we so often don't talk about (plastic surgery, divorce). No one else is telling these stories. No one else takes on the subject of age in such an honest and funny way. "It's Complicated" isn't the funniest film from 2009 (I would venture to give that honor to "The Hangover") but it's certainly going to make you laugh. With an all-star cast of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin you know you're going to get your money's worth. Here's the trailer.
Posted by D at Sunday, January 03, 2010
I should preface this review by saying I've always been a big fan of director Wes Anderson. With that in mind...I loved "Fantastic Mr. Fox". The movie is adapted from a 1970 children's book of the same name by Roald Dahl (you might be familiar with some of his other whimsical works, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach) . My viewing audience was a smidge too young to fully appreciate the nuances throughout the film but that's okay - the few adults in the theater did. Anderson's signature attention to detail is in full effect in this stop-action animated joy ride and as always the soundtrack is great. The quickly delivered lines and sharp sarcasm came so fast that I think it will take multiple viewings for me to get all the jokes. You can see the trailer here.
Posted by D at Saturday, January 02, 2010
First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to my first post of 2010! May this year bring wonderful things for you! I've been cleaning shop a little around here and hopefully, you'll like the changes. The biggest thing is that I hope you will comment! If you've seen any of these films and want to add your 2 cents, you are HIGHLY encouraged to do so!
With that out of the way, today's bit of cinematic fodder is "Taking Woodstock" brought to us by director Ang Lee. The film is based on a the memoir of Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte and centers on Elliot's community of Bethel, New York and the planning and implementation of the Woodstock Festival. Elliot Tiber is played by comedian, Demetri Martin and he is supported by a slew of first rate performers - most notably Imelda Staunton (as Elliot's forceful mother), Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber, and Emile Hirsch.
The split screen style that Lee utilizes frequently gets old pretty fast and honestly, a movie about Woodstock should have more music in it, but overall - it was pretty enjoyable. The performances are great and the story is incredibly fascinating. Imagine for a moment that Woodstock hadn't happened. Sure, things would be the same, but would they? The event was transformative for an entire generation. Also of note, it's billed as a comedy-drama but really it's about 15% comedy and 85% drama - just so your expectations are in check.
Worth a watch. The trailer is here.
Posted by D at Friday, January 01, 2010