Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In Monsters, half of Mexico has been taken over by alien creatures. This area is called the infected zone. In the film, Andrew and Samantha find themselves trapped in Mexico at the start of “the season”, when the creatures are the most active. Unable to find passage by ferry around the zone, they must travel through on foot in order to return to America. Now this may sound like a typical science fiction thriller, but it's not. The film was made for a remarkably small budget, with only two professional actors and no special equipment. That being said, Monsters is a remarkable film.
In this day of multi-million dollar blockbusters with hundreds of members of crew, it is usually bad form to refer to one person as being the author(or auteur) of a film. However with Monsters, it is safe to credit its success to one man, Gareth Edwards. Edwards wrote and directed the film, as well as acted as the director of cinematography, the production designer and the sole member of its visual effects crew. This is his film from start to finish, and as this is his first major film, he deserves to be applauded.
The two actors in the film, Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy, also deserve some credit. They both turn in excellent, understated performances that are perfect for this film. The feel and look of the film are wonderfully created. This is not a grand spectacle alien flick, there is real human drama at the heart of the movie, the aliens feel almost secondary. The focus is on the characters and their interactions with each other. When the creatures do come in though, the tension is excellently created and held and in this area I think the low budget worked to the film's advantage. Not seeing the creatures for most of the film gives a nice tense feeling to it.
If this film has a failing, it would be in the writing. Occasionally some of the lines would come out just a little stilted and unbelievable, but I don't think it's a major enough issue to keep someone from seeing this movie. It's a different take on the alien genre that I think would appeal even to those who don't normally watch science fiction films.
10. Shutter Island
Director: Martin Scorcese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio
"You'll never leave this island."
9. How to Train Your Dragon
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler
" This is Berk. It snows nine months out of the year, and hails the other three. What little food grows here is tough and tasteless. The people that grow here, even more so. The only upsides are the pets. While other places have ponies, or parrots... we have dragons."
8. The Kids are All Right
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore
"Sometimes, you know, you're together for so long, that you just... You stop seeing the other person."
7. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Director: Edgar Wright
Stars: Michael Cera
"The only thing separating me from her is the two minutes it's gonna take to kick your ass."
6. Kick Ass
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Chloe Mortez
"Like most people my age, I just existed."
5. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One
Director: David Yates
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
"If we are the ones to hand Potter to the Dark Lord, everything will be as it was, you understand?"
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page
"The seed that we planted in this man's mind may change everything."
3. Toy Story 3
Director: Lee Unkrich
Stars: Tim Allen, Tom Hanks
"Sunnyside is a place of ruin and despair, ruled by an evil bear who smells of strawberries!"
2. True Grit
Director: The Coen Brothers
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
"You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God."
1. Black Swan
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis
"I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl and she kills herself."
Every year hundreds of commedies come out all across the world. Most suck. Usually, the acting sucks, the story sucks, and the humor sucks. However, every once in awhile the rare comedy comes along that is actually funny. Hot Tub Time Machine is the funny comedy of 2010. Starring John Cusack as the unhappy, divorced middle aged man who longs to recapture his youth, Hot Tub Time Machine tells the story of four men who take a vacation to an abandoned old town that used to be the hot place for teenagers to hang out. Once there the enter a hot tub that transports that back to the eighties. Not only is the story unique and fun, but it's actually funny. Seeing three older men relive the 80's and one young man experience the eighties for the first time is just hilarious. And on top of that, the pop cultural references abound and are genius. The movie showcases the bright, mismatched fashion of the time as well as the slang and obsessions of teens of the time.
The acting is also incredibly funny. Craig Robinson is hilarious in his role as the whipped middle-aged man who takes his wifes last name and Clark Duke holds the movie together with his role as the tech-savvy nerd who needs to get out and get a life.
The reason I think I liked this movie so much was because it's main purposes was to be fun. It was not serious and even the drama was fun to watch. Hot Tub Time Machine may not be appropriate for the whole family because of the language and sexual content, but it is still a very entertaining and funny movie.
Monday, January 10, 2011
I'm a very big fan of comic book/superhero movies and I'm also a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro so I thought that I would be a huge fan of this movie. However, I must admit that I was a little disappointed.
Hellboy is a superhero movie about a demon that is summoned by a group of Nazis. The demon is just a little baby and is adopted by a paranormal advisor to the American government. As Hellboy ages he begins to fight crime, particularly crimes involving other demons and paranormal entities. The action begins when the same group of Nazis come to America to finish what they started so many years earlier. Like many superhero movies, the action and special effects are top notch but the story is a bit scattered.
To me, it felt that Guillermo del Toro had too much that he wanted to show in too little time. The movie was packed with a bunch of action sequences that did not all mesh together. I also found that I was having trouble following the storyline. Usually I don't like when a movie spells out exactly what is going on, but Hellboy didn't explain anything that was happening. I felt quite confused during several sequences, not about what was happening, but about why it was happening. I also found it difficult to keep track of all of the characters.
However, I must commend del Toro for making such a fun and action-packed movie. Many superhero films take themselves far too seriously and go for the dark, brooding characters and feel. Hellboy, however, keeps the atmosphere light and fun by adding comic relief, like a talking skeleton, to keep audiences entertained.
While I was not completely impressed with this film, I do plan on giving Hellboy 2: The Golden Army a chance. Hellboy, while a bit confusing at times, is a fun, entertaining, action-packed film that the whole family can enjoy.
Let me start this entry with a question: How many readers have ever seen a silent movie? What about a silent movie made in 2003? If you answered no to one or both of those questions then you may have trouble watching Guy Madden's silent film Cowards Bend the Knee. Reminiscent of David Lynch's film Eraserhead, Cowards Bend the Knee is a black and white film made in modern times. However, unlike Eraserhead the only sound in the film comes from an orchestral score and a few sound effects that occur few and far between. However, no meaning is lost from the absence of sound. The film is a powerful and somewhat terrifying film that highlights the sexual deviances of the main character as well as his love affair with a young woman who wants to avenge her father's death. While it is hard to critique the acting, mainly because of the lack of dialogue and the confusing nature of the filming, all actors seemed to immerse themselves in their roles. The young actresses especially portrayed their characters beautifully and with intensity and passion. However, the most commendable aspect of this film was by far the cinematography. Filming in black and white is always more difficult than filming in color because the cinematographer must painstakingly visualize what each scene will look like when seen by audiences in black and white. Making a silent film also adds difficulty to the project because the cinematographer and director must coach the actors and actresses on how to show what is happening in the film without relying on dialogue (which is a difficult task for many modern actors. Guy Maddin, the director and cinematographer, showed true dedication to the medium by filming a black and white and silent film in the modern, special-effects crazed film industry. However, taking a risk paid off in a major way. While the movie may not be a blockbuster hit it is well-received by many film critics and currently has a 95% on the film review site Rotten Tomatoes.
While Cowards Bend the Knee is an interesting experience, I would not recommend it to most people. It is not for the faint of heart and most people will find it hard to watch a modern silent film. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy such a surreal movie and the average movie viewer will most likely find themselves revolted, horrified, and very confused.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Can you say amazing? The seventh installment in the Harry Potter series may just be the best yet. Although the characters are all grown up and facing not only the evil Voldermort but also their feelings for each other, the movie works and feels like a more grown up version of the original Potter movies.
Daniel Radcliffe's portrayal of Harry Potter is at its best in the new film. He and Emma Watson have so much on screen chemistry (even though the two aren't supposed to have any chemistry) it's crazy. The play off of each other's emotions and their characters seem to be more in love with each other than they should be if they are truly only friends. Rupert Grint's portrayal of the emotional Ron also works well in the new film and shows Ron's angst at Harry and Hermione's steamy relationship. The actors finally allow for their characters to grow and develop into well-rounded adults.
The cinematography also surpasses that of the other films. David Yate's take on the seventh Harry Potter works completely. The film is darker than it's predecessor's but with good reason. The seventh book is much darker than the earlier books and the problems faced by the characters are darker and worse than ever before. However, I do feel that the film may have been too dark for children. But this doesn't concern me much considering it was not made to be a children's film. With a solid PG-13 rating if parents decide to take there kids to see this movie than they will just have to deal with the subsequent nightmares. Because there will be nightmares. From a scene where a woman's decaying body crumbles into a snake and viciously attacks Harry to an animated sequence where Death stalks three brothers and causes one to hang himself because of a broken heart, the movie is much more adult than the earlier films.
Deathly Hallows may not have been the best Potter book, but it was by far the best Potter movie. The adult themes, character development, and dark imagery all create a beautiful interpretation of Rowling's novel. Also, for those die hard Potter fans, the movie stays pretty close to the book with no noticeable changes.
Hope you all go see the movie and enjoy it!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Mr. Bean was a character created many years ago for a British television show. Played by Rowan Atkinson, Bean is a quiet, simple man who only speak in monosyllables. The original show was very funny, with well written skits. As much of the show was done without any dialog, it relied on sight gags and physical comedy. Some years afterward, a film, simply titled Bean was released that had some funny material, but still did not reach the heights that the television show reached. When Mr. Bean's Holiday was released, I hoped for a return to the simplicity and humor of the original material, but I was sadly disappointed.
Rowan Atkinson does his usual best effort. The actor excels at this type of comedy, relying on funny faces and humorous noises, but his stretchy face does him little good here. The material is dry and boring. The only good thing about this film is its mercifully short length of 86 minutes. Willem Dafoe shows up as a high art film director, making fun of the type of films that are shown at the Cannes Film Festival. I will acknowledge that those art films are the total opposite of what this is. Mr. Bean's Holiday is a shallow movie with no substance whatsoever. The fictional film that Willem Dafoe shows at the festival looks infinitely more interesting than the real film that we are watching. With all the excellent films Dafoe has acted in, I can almost see him asking himself which of his agents he should fire for signing him up for this movie. Rowan Atkinson shows no shame for showing up here. I think it is time for him to move on to something a little better.