Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some Movies I've Seen Recently

I feel like it's been forever since I've posted something on here. College has proven to be quite the irritant for me, taking up basically all of my free time. Though I have been writing articles for the school paper (movie reviews and previews), I still feel like I have abandoned my past life as a "movie maniac". I would very much like to get back to that persona. I enjoyed it very much. So just to get the ball rolling again (hopefully), here are some movies I have seen recently, with some very brief thoughts about them.

In the Loop (2008) - a biting satire about both American and British politics, this was a movie had a lot of coarse language but many funny moments. The highlight would probably be Peter Capaldi, as foul mouthed, high ranking British offical Malcom Tucker. Hilarious performance.

Layer Cake (2004) - Very fun gangster film in the vein of Snatch. A good balance of humor and action with an intriguing story. The title is referring to a metaphor one of the character's uses to describe the social hierarchy people can find themselves in. This film has nothing to do with cake.

Miller's Crossing (1990) - I really cannot help but love the Coen Brothers. This film was beautiful. You want to learn about cinematography? Watch a Coen Brothers movie. Honestly, the story to this film didn't drag me in right away, but after a while I cared enough to appreciate it.

Paranormal Activity (2009) - Cheap horror movie. Kinda creepy. Won't be remembered. Better than a lot of the crappy horror films Hollywood churns out nowadays. That doesn't say much, but it's worth saying.

Unfortunately, these are pretty much all of the movies I have seen recently. Perhaps if I had a car on campus I'd be able to drive to a movie theater once in a while. Hopefully I'll be able to get back here really soon and post an actual movie review with some substance to it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

Has the best horror film of the decade been discovered? Audiences and critics alike have heaped praise on Paranormal Activity as being one of the scariest movies they’ve ever seen. Steven Spielberg even claims that while watching the film in his home, the door to his room inexplicably locked from the inside, and he had to call a locksmith to set himself free. The film’s producers set up a viral campaign asking for one million signatures if people wanted the film to get a wide release. In less than a week, the million signature mark was achieved. But is this a case of bandwagon hype, or has something special truly been found in Paranormal Activity?
Paranormal Activity is a lower than low budget film that was conceived by video game designer Oren Peli. The story follows couple Micah and Katie, who have been experiencing some strange occurrences in their new home. Shot from the point of view of the camera that Micah bought to document the disturbances, we are placed directly in the house that is supposedly being haunted by a demon that has followed Katie since she was eight years old. After consulting a psychic who claims to be unable to help them, the couple must do what they can to flush the demon out, or at least just survive.
Expecting a let-down after all the hype, I was pleasantly surprised by Paranormal Activity. Though the all out “scares” were hard to come by, Peli does a great job of creeping out the audience using clich├ęs such as “stuff moving by itself” and “loud noises coming from the other room”. He even finds a way to make the worn out handi-cam gimmick seem new again, just by placing the camera on a tri-pod once in a while. Despite a rather dull first 20 minutes, once the paranormal activity in question starts, it is very hard to look away. Rookie actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat (I wonder where their characters got their names from) do a well enough job to keep the eerie tone of the film alive. Their dedication to the roles was definitely essential to keeping Paranormal Activity watchable.
However, the claims of Paranormal Activity being something special are a bit of an over-statement. Though it was an effectively creepy film, I would not say it was unnerving enough to keep me up at night. Shortly after leaving the theater, the effects of the film wear off and you can go about your day undisturbed.
Overall, Paranormal Activity is good enough for an unsettling movie-going experience, and is certainly much better than most of the so-called “horror” films being released today. You also may be interested in knowing that there is an alternate ending to the film online, which is said to be Peli’s original ending before the studio made him change it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

"We ain't in the prisoner-takin business. We in the kiliin Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin". This line, spoken by Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine, should just about sum up Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The "We" in question: eight Jewish-American soldiers (accompanied by German defect Hugo Stiglitz, played by Til Schweiger) that have vowed to deliver 100 Nazi scalps each to their leader, the aforementioned Raine. Their group's name: the Inglourious Basterds. Don't ask about the spelling. It's never explained. These men have made quite the impression on the Third Reich, angering Hitler himself and landing on the radar of "the Jew hunter" Colonel Hans Landa (superbly played by Christoph Waltz). Showing no fear for possible death, the Basterds join a mission called Operation Kino. The mission, being carried out with the help of German actress Bridget Von Hammersmark (a traitor to her own country, clearly), involves suicide bombing a movie theater that happens to be inhabited by the four major heads of power in the Third Reich, including Hitler. Little do the Basterds know that while they carry out their plan, the owner of the movie theater, Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) has her own scheme in the works. When Dreyfus was a teenager, her family was murdered by Hans Landa, and she considers this to be the perfect time for revenge. Will either parties succeed in their mission? History says no, but Quentin Tarantino didn't set out to make a historically accurate film.

THE REST OF THIS REVIEW IS LOCATED AT http://www.7tavern.com/4/28/1264

Monday, July 6, 2009

Public Enemies

From the first scene of Michael Mann's Public Enemies, I knew the ride would be bumpy. As John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is led through the front gates of a prison, the camera jostles up and down in motion with the characters walking, but with extreme exaggeration. After a few lines of mumbled dialogue the cameraman evidently has a seizure while Dillinger and his jailhouse friends stage a breakout. As Dillinger and his buddies, including John "Red" Hamilton (Jason Clarke) and Homer Van Meter (Stephen Dorff), exit with guns blazing, not a moment of it is comprehensible through the frenetic cinematography and abrasively loud gunfire. This is just the beginning of the numerous complaints I have about Public Enemies.

In the year 1933, suave criminal John Dillinger is running wild in Chicago. Robbing banks in "a minute and 40 seconds. Flat." has made him public enemy number 1 for J. Edgar Hoover's (Billy Crudup) FBI. With Dillinger gaining popularity in the public eye for his easy-going demeanor, Hoover is desperate to get the criminal to the electric chair. So he hires Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), the man who hunted down and killed Pretty Boy Floyd, to spearhead the manhunt for Dillinger and his associates, including notorious Fed killer Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham). But the bulk of the story follows Dillinger in his troubled life, trying to balance his "work" with the love of his life, Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard).

The number one reason Public Enemies fails is it's writer/director Michael Mann. As I described in my opening paragraph, Mann's choice of cinematography was a poor one. Choosing to use an HD handheld video camera, Mann probably wanted the viewer to feel as though he was standing next to John Dillinger. Instead, I felt like I was watching a cheap re-enactment put together for the History Channel. By placing the camera directly into the actor's faces, a sense of claustrophobia sets in, and it makes sitting still very difficult. If that were not bad enough, during the gunfights, understanding what is being shown to you is near impossible. The camera moved so fast and so unsteadily that I would think one character was being shot, and then later in the scene he'd appear again perfectly fine. After just a few seconds of this home video-esque style, my head began to hurt and I started to feel woozy. Throw in the fact that Mann made the gunshots as loud as a sonic boom each, and I couldn't listen to the film either. During a scene showing the famous battle of Little Bohemia, after 20 seconds I had my head buried in my chest, eyes shut, with my hands over my ears, because I was becoming so uncomfortable. My sight and sound, the two senses one needs to enjoy a film, were actually rejecting Public Enemies.

If that weren't enough, Mann's writing skills were lacking greatly as well. (Though he shares billing with 2 other people, it's easier to just write his name). Though full of slick conversation, Public Enemies just doesn't make sense at some points. For example (nothing I'm about to say is a spoiler): the first 40 minutes of the film, the FBI is looking everywhere for Dillinger, and they frequently say they have no leads. Then in the next scene, while Dillinger is in a hotel room with Frechette, the FBI busts down the door and arrests him. That's quite the magic trick Mr. Mann, but how is it done? How could it be that the FBI can go from clueless to busting down his door in a matter of one scene? Well he doesn't explain it, so keep dreaming. For all I know, they did discuss it briefly, but who knows through the mumbled voices of almost every actor in the film. Anybody who has seen a film with Christian Bale knows that he has mastered an American accent. However, the chore of speaking in a southern accent proved too great the task for him. In one of his worst performances, Bale can't quite speak clearly enough to help out the audience. As a friend of mine affectionately put it, "it was like he borrowed his accent from Foghorn Leghorn, and he forgot to use it sometimes". Couldn't have said it better myself. The starpower of Johnny Depp, who tries very hard to save this sinking ship by giving a good but forgettable performance, can't distract us from the fact this film's screenplay is awful. It is painfully slow during most scenes, and then frantically hurried in scenes where valuable information is being thrown around. No medium was ever found in the script, and so the transfer to the screen was just as bad.

Since Mann chose to "put us in the action" rather than tell us an actual story, Public Enemies was an all out failure. Even if I were to forgive the flaws of the screenplay and most of the acting, I'd still give this film a scathing review because of it's direction. It just goes to show that a cast list alone cannot make a film good. You know what I would like to see? A film based on Baby Face Nelson, played by Stephen Graham again. I felt Graham gave the best performance of the film, and I'd like to see him again in the role. That movie might be good. Public Enemies, not so much. My rating (2/10)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Film Class

What a bittersweet moment it is to write about the end of this fantastic chapter of my life. Actually, it's not sweet at all. Just bitter. First hearing about a film class elective made me giddy, and actually getting in made me ecstatic. I had never had Mr. Bennett before, and was intent on making a good impression. The first week of the class I tried my hardest to whip out every bit of knowledge I had about film in a pathetic attempt to look good. After we got into the class a little further, however, I realized that my knowledge of film was bottom of the barrel, and that I had much to learn. So for the rest of the year, I pretty much kept my mouth shut in class, and left it all to the blog. Humility: my first lesson of the film class.

Naivety is a hell of a thing. I've been writing movie reviews since February 2008 (and I promise, I will be getting back to that as soon as school ends), and I always assumed I had all the information I needed to do so. Though my estimations on acting were correct, my idea of what good direction and screenwriting were was seriously flawed. There are so much more to both aspects of film, and without this class I would have gone to my college film class just as simple-minded. I now have the ability to determine if a line is significant or an object on screen means something. I still haven't mastered this ability, but I'm on the track.

But a film class is pointless without good, nay, great films to watch. Of all the movies we watched, I had only seen two previously (there were even a few I'd never heard of). Although some films were leagues better than others, there was never a movie that I out and out despised. I was even enjoying Top Hat. The film I liked the least was A Simple Plan, which was a bit slow for my taste without enough stuff in between to keep me interested. But even this film had it's perks in Sam Raimi's direction and Billy Bob Thornton's performance. Though we already did it in class, I'll post what I believe to be the award winning films of the class. So put your hands together for the 1st ever Mayoral Choice Awards!

Best Cinematography - Runners Up - Unforgiven, Citizen Kane - Winner - THE SEVENTH SEAL

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) - Runners Up - Dark City, Fargo, Memento - Winner - UNFORGIVEN

Best Supporting Actress - Sorry ladies, not much in this department.

Best Supporting Actor - Runners Up - Sterling Hayden (Dr Strangelove), Eric Roberts (Runaway Train), Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy) - Winner - GENE HACKMAN (UNFORGIVEN)

Best Leading Actress - Winner - FRANCES MCDORMAND (FARGO) (ALBEIT, BY DEFAULT)

Best Leading Actor - Runners Up - Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), Guy Pearce (Memento) - Winner - PETER SELLERS (DR STRANGELOVE)

Best Director - This was by far the hardest category to decide - Runners Up - Christopher Nolan (Memento), Stanley Kubrick (Dr Strangelove), Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) - Winner - ORSON WELLES (CITIZEN KANE)

Best Picture - Runners Up - Dr Strangelove, Unforgiven, Fargo, Memento (this remains my second favorite film of all time and is probably my favorite film shown in the class, but I wanted to give this award to one of the new films in my life and so...) - Winner - THE SEVENTH SEAL

I hope most of you find these picks satisfactory.

But these films were all nothing without our terrific teacher, Mr Bennett. The enthusiasm with which he spoke was infectious, and it made sitting in his class not a chore, but a privilege. I hardly considered us to be a "class" because I think that title is a bit insulting to it. Though learning took place, it was not the stuffy environment of an English class or the brain paralyzing environment of a Math class. We were just a group of people who loved movies. That's all we really needed to be. I loved how after the very first day of class, everyone seemed to have an immediate respect for Mr Bennett. I remember on that day, he explained to us the concept of labeling a movie as "pretentious". After that, "pretentious" was the word of the month. We all started saying it. It's died down since then, but the fact that it happened was telling. When Mr Bennett told us he'd probably be leaving Tech after this year, I was shocked. I wondered how much it would suck to be a Senior next year without being able to take Bennett's film class. It's a shame. I was looking forward to coming back next year to discover who the new Mayor would be. Though I guess it is much more presitigous to be the final Mayor to grace the classroom.

To wrap things up, I'll never forget this amazing class. It felt great talking about movies with people who actually cared. It gave my girlfriend a nice break from having me talk her ear off about something she is inept in. Thank you to everybody who made the class great.

Oh yea, I saw The Maltese Falcon yesterday. Would it be relevant to say this class was "the stuff dreams are made of"?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Exactly Did Johnny Do?

Today in class I made mention of the song Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye when Mr Bennett asked about the songs used in Dr Strangelove. He said that the song in the movie was actually When Johnny Comes Marching Home. I was going to leave this alone, but something in me (Stubborness? Need for attention? Kicks and giggles? All of the above?) won't allow it. Part of me knew that at least I was half right. In sophomore (?) year, I had Mr Murray, who on St Patricks Day sang us a few songs. One of them was Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye. It had the exact same melody as the song in Strangelove, so I naturally assumed it was the same. Upon research, I have found the answer that I was looking for.

IMDb.com - Trivia Section for Dr Strangelove: The score for the B-52 scenes is mostly made up of the melody of "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye", a traditional Irish anti-war song, which also provides the melody for the somewhat better-known (at least in the United States) American Civil War song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again". While the former tells the story of a soldier coming back from a war heavily mutilated and broken, with the last lines being "They're rolling out the guns again, but they'll never take my sons again", the latter describes the celebrations that will take place when the soldiers return from war: "The men will cheer and the boys will shout / The ladies they will all turn out / And we'll all feel gay / When Johnny comes marching home."So the song is in fact When Johnny Comes Marching Home, but my mistaking it for Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye is justified. (Self Esteem WIN!!!)

For those of you who want a side by side comparison of the songs, I would like to give you one, but the only version of Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye I could find was the Dropkick Murphy's version, which changed around some lyrics and added some, uh, loudness haha, but it kept the basic melody. I'll post it anyway, for fun. If you can see past the loudness of the second one, you can detect the similarites of melody.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3k8H_9SjoM&feature=related

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye (Awesome Version): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEUmJR3-Um8

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Donnie Darko

Reminder to Mr Bennett: Please bring in that book.

Thanks to the kindness of Yuriy, I was able to watch the movie Donnie Darko today. I've been hearing great things about this movie for years. It's starring Jake Gyllenhaal, so naturally I was skeptical. I never really read the plot synopsis, so I was pretty clueless going in. Coming out, I'm just as clueless. I've got no idea what I just watched. Donnie Darko was an interesting movie. I don't know if it was a good, interesting movie, but it certainly was interesting.

I'm going to be honest and say half of this movies screenplay went in one ear and out the other. I tried my hardest to follow the film closely, but I must not have filled up on enough carbs beforehand. I was exhausted. Time travel, demon rabbits that may or may not exist, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks like a Puerto Rican, I've got no idea what this movie was doing. There were random slow motion sequences and frequent shots of people jumping on trampolines. Were these significant? I haven't the slightest idea. Were they annoying? Without a doubt.

The ending of this movie blew my mind. And not in the sense that, "Wow, that was AMAZING!". It was more in the sense of, "trying to put this puzzle together is destroying my will to continue. Function overload". I'm pretty sure that now that time has passed, I've got it. But don't ask me to explain it to you.

But will I watch it again? Yea, I think I will. The very fact that I can't piece this film together is telling me that there is something there. There HAS to be. If there isn't, I'm going to punch Jake Gyllenhaal in the ear.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chewing Gum

OK. I've spoken to Mr. Bennett twice about this, and he probably thinks I've gone off the deep end because of how silly it sounds, but hear me out. Chewing gum seems to have a big part in Dr. Strangelove. General Buck Turgidson is frequently shown stuffing his mouth with it. In the airplane when Kong is reading off the list of supplies, he says that there are 9 packs of chewing gum. In a brief scene that shows Mandrake locked in the office with Ripper, Mandrake is sitting on the couch with something in his hand. Look sharply at it. It looks an awful lot like a stick of gum.

So yes, it is possible I am looking for mysteries that don't exist, but you cannot say my reasoning is flawed. There is a lot of chewing gum in this film. But what could it possibly mean? Does it have something to do with being nervous? Certainly that is why Turgidson is chewing so much, and that could be why Mandrake is seen stroking a stick of gum. And if your plane goes down and you land in Russia and you happen to be alive, you may be a little scared and want to pop some gum in your mouth. Or is this just a case where "the cigar is just a cigar"? I really want to hear some feedback, but please try to avoid calling me crazy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fargo

This movie is fantastic. It is so beautifully constructed, which is ironic given the awful tone of the film. I have a lot of good things to say about this film, but I'd rather take this time to address some of the negatives I have heard about it.

The acting is top notch, regardless of whether people could stand the accents or not. Just because you don't like somebody's accent, doesn't mean you shouldn't like the entire movie. I'm not a big fan of mayonaisse, but I don't let that ruin my potato salad. I love potato salad. I'll eat that every day.

Today in class Billy mentioned that the business with the character Mike Yanagita (the crazy Chinese-American guy) was completely unnecessary. Mr Bennett then followed with the point that I was going to make, which was promptly accepted by Billy but he also added, "if they wanted to further the theme, they should have made it more relevant to the plot. This just felt like a waste of 5 minutes". This, I could understand. The original argument that it was pointless bothered me, but the conclusion we reached did not.

Ok, now here is the thing that has really gotten on my nerves since day one. Mr Bennett mentioned on the first day that Fargo is a black comedy, which is 100% true. I am not arguing that. But I think people have forgotten what exactly a black comedy is, because the major argument I hear against this film is, "it's just not funny". It's not supposed to be laugh out loud hilarious! A dark comedy is something that takes a terrible situation and adds elements of humor to lighten the mood. Yes, black comedies can have truly funny moments, but in Fargo, you should not be worried about whether or not Steve Buscemi made you laugh! You should be focusing on the terrific story, the outstanding direction, and the stellar acting. The humor is simply a side note that should not be looked upon as a major factor of the film. That would be like watching Ace Ventura and saying it was horrible because you didn't feel a connection between Jim Carrey and Courtney Cox. If you want to judge Fargo, do not look at me and say you didn't like it because it wasn't funny. Give me sound reasons. I know Benny doesn't like it because it is slow. OK, I will give him that. In most of the Coen Brothers films, there are moments that can be considered slow. I can see that. I don't feel the same way, but I understand what he means. I believe I had a conversation with Benny once where he said "if any other director films, like, a tumbleweed blowing across the desert, it's boring. But if the Coen Brothers do it, for some reason it's genius!" I get what he means, I just don't agree with it. They are, in fact, geniuses.

Yea, so, if you want to dislike Fargo, I hope it is for actual intelligent reasons, rather than the ones I've listed above. I happen to love this movie. It's just so damn funny. (<--Sarcastic remark)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Simple Plan


My thoughts of this film were mostly shared in class already so I'll try not to be redundant (although I probably will be).

A Simple Plan simply didn't do it for me. There were several aspects of the film that I found enjoyable, but the cons outweighed the pros in my opinion. One major problem I had with this film was the main character Hank. Although he is a relatable character because he is a family man who is just trying to do what is best for his newborn baby, he was a doormat that didn't stick to his convictions and a weakling. At the start of the film when the money was first found, Hank came off as self-righteous and reasonable when compared to the two dullards he was with. However as the movie progressed, we find that Jacob is really the only member of the group who has any brains at all. He knows what is happening is wrong and he is having trouble living with that. Hank, on the other hand, digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole and doesn't know when to say when. Worst of all, he lets his friggin wife boss him around, which is just all topsy-turvy and nauseating. I know we were not necessarily supposed to like Hank, but I found myself just being disgusted with his actions and it completely took me out of the movie. Also, I want to punch Bill Paxton in the head. There is something about this man's face or his voice or something that makes me angry with him. In my opinion, he wasn't exactly a strong actor in this film. I found him to be easily replaceable.


Don't you just want to hit him? I do.



My second issue with this film was the fact that it was so damn depressing. I've seen and enjoyed plenty of movies in the past that hold a bleak outlook on life, but this one was a bit too much for me. All the murders and cover-ups and schemes were just like getting beaten over the head with a stick. In the end, you hope Hank learns a lesson from all the crap that just happened and he goes and turns himself in, but instead he shoots his brother in the back thus continuing the cover-ups and lies? Ugh. I feel like I need to take a shower to wash the horrible feeling off of me. Jacob was the only source of reason in this film, and he gets murdered by his own brother. Yea it's symbolic, but it's depressing as all hell, and I don't like it. The fact that Hank just brought a new baby into the world doesn't do much to brighten the mood either. Much like in Fargo with Frances McDormand's character being pregnant, you get that feeling that these kids are just entering a pointless existence and a corrupt world to enjoy it in. While I'm on the subject, Fargo was 100x better than this film. It shares a lot of those noir-ish qualities that Mr Bennett pointed out (actually Sam Raimi, the director of Simple Plan, spoke to the Coen Brothers about shooting in snow, since they made their film 2 years earlier.) It too shows a horrible outlook on the world, but I never felt it get so morose as this film.

The parts I did enjoy of A Simple Plan few, but I'll mention them. The first being Sam Raimi's direction. He showed a great aptitude towards drama, and it makes me wonder why he didn't pursue more films like this rather than his famous Evil Dead trilogy, the Spiderman trilogy, and the upcoming movie Drag Me To Hell. I didn't think his direction was perfect but it showed a lot of potential. If he tried a few more times at drama, he may even find himself on the Oscar ballot. The second thing I liked about this film was Billy Bob Thornton. Simply a great performance. I love when actors immerse themselves in roles. Mr Bennett today mentioned that if you met Billy Bob Thornton you wouldn't really know what to expect. I like that. That takes such an outstanding committment to you work that you can't help but respect it. I don't care if a person is a nut, just as long as it gets results, and in this case it did.


Director Sam Raimi ^


These are not all of my opinions, but I've dragged a bit. I don't have much else to say other than I would like our class to watch Fargo so that we could see all the qualities of A Simple Plan, but in a better film. If we don't watch it in class, I suggest to everyone that you seek it out and watch it independently.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is a Chronologically Correct Memento a Good Memento?

The answer is no. Today I opened up my 2-Disc Collector's Edition of Memento and found the Easter Egg that brought me to the entire film in chronological order. So basically, all the black and white scenes were played in order, followed by all the color scenes played in order. Many people who find the original film confusing will be able to understand it better, but they will lose a vital part of the Memento experience. The scene jumping is the perfect technique to make us feel like Leonard, seeing something for 5 minutes and then being shown something else completely different for the next 5 minutes. That is how his entire life is. He lives 5 minutes, and then another 5 that to him are completely unrelated to the last thing he remembers. By watching the film in chronological order, you lose this genius method, along with all the mystery, suspense, and surprises.

So to answer Mr Bennett's question about whether or not this "scene jumping" is a gimmick or organic, I would say it is very much organic. It would have been simple to just tell us the story of this unfortunate man, but it is another thing to make us feel exactly like him. The fact that it takes most people multiple views to finally understand this film is a testament to how confusing it is. But in this case, confusing is a good thing, because it just furthers the mystery, much like Lenny is furthering his mystery by editing his memories.

Memento - The Little Things

This was my umpteenth viewing of Memento, so I have a pretty good understanding of what exactly happened. I'm still not perfect, but with a movie like this, it is very hard to be. These are just some little things, clues, I guess, that a virgin viewer may not have caught but a frequent viewer like me could see.

In the scene where Burt shows Leonard his room and explains how he rented him a second one, Leonard calls him, Burt. This may not seem strange, but Burt's name is never spoken in that scene. The easy assumption would be to say this was a blooper. I think, however, that this was a subtle clue that leads to the ultimate realization that Leonard's condition is psychological and not physical. This conclusion is backed up by the ending where we learn about how Lenny has probably purposely forgotten things about his past to create this mystery for himself.

This one was pretty obvious: In a brief scene showing Sammy Jankis in an institution, for about one frame he changes to Leonard. I think everybody saw this though. Wasn't exactly hidden well.

In the very beginning of the scene where Lenny beats up Natalie, she walks into her house and starts collecting the pens from around the room. I didn't catch this my first time watching it, and didn't realize what she was doing until after the scene ended.

Teddy frequently shows interest in getting Lenny's car away from him. In the very beginning he tries to trick Lenny into taking a different car but then Lenny shows him the picture of the Jag and says "In a playful mood are we?". Later when they are escorting Dodd out of the hotel Teddy keeps saying they should steal his car to teach him a lesson. Lenny asks Teddy what is wrong with his car and he replies "nothing, wanna trade?". There may be a few more I'm forgetting.

This is my favorite part, but not really a clue or anything, just something that may have been glanced over. At the end of the film, when Lenny imagines himself lying in bed with his wife, she is seen rubbing the part of his chest that was bare throughout the film. In the scene with Natalie he says "Maybe it's for when I kill him". In the flashback with his wife, the spot is not bare. It reads "I've Done It".

Something that I always wondered about was the final scene of the film (which is where the black and white and color scenes combine). That scene lasts about 15 minutes, and Leonard is able to remember everything that happens during it. From the moment he kills Jimmy to when he pulls up in front of the tattoo parlor is a very long time, maybe too long for somebody with Anterograde Amnesia. This could be another clue to the fact that his condition is psychological and that since this situation was rather important and he wanted to be able to get back at Teddy, he was in fact able to keep it in mind longer than usual until he was able to move on. Or I could be looking too much into it. I'd like to hear some feedback about this one.

This movie is awesome. It gets me in the gut every single time I watch it. It's just so damn good. You know how much I like this movie? My brother owned a copy of this film already, but when Circuit City was going out of business, I went out and picked up the 2-Disc Collectors Edition for myself, even though my brother said I could have just had his. I didn't want his. I wanted my own so I can keep it and have it and appreciate it forever.

Monday, May 11, 2009

MEMENTO!!!!!

I freaking love this movie. In my opinion, Memento is story-telling at its absolute best. Christopher Nolan took an already interesting concept (man with short-term memory loss searching for his wife's killer) and made it even more brilliant. The way in which the story is told is in fact a gimmick, but not at all gimmicky (a word which I have always thought of as negative). Every scene is paced perfectly to make you feel just as our friend Leonard is probably feeling as he lives his life. What is it that he says? "It's like waking". Since we are shown the later scenes earlier, we become intrigued as to how a certain thing came about (the scratches on Leonard's face, the bruises on Natalie, the broken car window) so even as the black and white scenes interject, we are thrilled when the colored scenes return. I have seen this movie dozens of times and I still love every moment of it.

I do have one criticism however, and it is not of the movie. I don't usually do this, but I was upset by Mr Bennett's comments while we were watching it. In one particular comment, he gave away a specific piece of information that in my opinion ruins the "surprise" of the film. I hope everyone reading this has no idea what I am talking about, because that means that information was lost on them, and the ending will still make an impact on them.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A little something

Given Mr. Bennetts comment about Keanu Reeves in class the other day, I thought this would be funny.









Monday, May 4, 2009

First Impressions of Dark City

WHAT THE CRAP IS GOING ON!?

I'm still enjoying it though.

That's it.

Scarface (the Pacino one)

I'll keep this one kinda short.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Scarface is about Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant that rises through the ranks of Miami's cocaine cartel. You've assuredly seen spoofs of the famous "say hello to my little friend" scene, as it still pops up in movies today. Before I watched this film, that scene was all I knew about it. I think maybe I should've kept it that way.

Some parts of Scarface I enjoyed, such as Brian De Palma's frequent references to false paradise in his direction. Montana and his friend came to America to live what they considered to be the good life, filled with money, power, and women. Yet even as Tony gains all of these things, De Palma would show a completely contradictory image. As Tony sits in a giant bubble bath surrounded by luxury, the camera pulls out to make him seem lonely and still completely devoid of what he is looking for. There is one scene where we are shown a beautiful tropical paradise: sand, sun, palm trees, the works. Then, the camera begins to move and we discover it was a billboard we were looking at, and we are now being shown Tony and his friend in a cramped kitchen at a dirty food stand. Another case of this false paradise is a scene where Tony kills a certain character (I won't say who because I don't want to spoil anything) in that character's office. As the character begs for his life, he walks over to Tony and gets on his hands and knees in front of Tony. Right behind the two characters is a wallpaper that once again shows that tropical getaway, this time at sunset. This sunset could also mean that the character being killed is losing his own paradise, but I believe the entire thing is applying to Tony's fake one.

I was also very down the middle with Al Pacino's performance. There were moments when I thought Pacino was spot on, but there were many other moments when I was cringing at his over-acting. I could see why his performance has been iconic because it certainly is memorable. I just don't know if I am going to remember it for the right reasons. I mostly just recall him shouting and cursing in a thick accent that was pretty hard to decipher sometimes. I'm just not seeing the "icon" in him.

So overall I'd give Scarface a "meh" rating. I don't feel worse having seen it, but I also don't feel better. It's almost like it never happened.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unforgiven so far

This is gonna be one of them "stream of consciousness" posts. I'm just gonna blurt stuff out and hope it makes sense.

So far Unforgiven is really, really good.

I love how unpredictable it has been so far. For instance the scene with Little Bill, Beauchamp, and English Bob, was so brilliant to me because I had no idea how it was going to turn out. This is what I expected: Bob takes the gun from Beauchamp after all and fires at Bill but misses because he's still hurt from being kicked in, and then Bill draws another gun and plants a bullet between Bob's eyes. Then again, this would have been against the film's "realistic Western" idea. That sort of stuff doesn't really happen, and so the scene turned out differently, and much better than what I had expected.

Another thing I didn't expect was the Schofield Kid actually shooting the guy in the john. Just before the scene unfolded I leaned over to my buddy Benny and both of us expressed the same idea: the kid is gonna wuss out, get shot, and then Clint Eastwood is gonna come in and shoot down the guy and all his comrades. Instead, the kid gets the job done, and the two get away without Eastwood even pulling his trigger.

Morgan Freeman's character better not be dead! I want more of him and Eastwood on screen together. I've been enjoying that pair very much. I'm hoping that since this film is a discussion on storytelling like Mr Bennett said, that the woman that told Eastwood had only heard that Freeman had died through the grapevine (an exaggerated grapevine) and he is really just in the jail getting whipped some more.

Is it me, or does Gene Hackman never age? In 1971 he was in The French Connection, and he looks exactly as he does in this film which was 1992, and then he looked exactly the same again in The Birdcage in 1996, and then in his final film Welcome to Mooseport in 2004. He has not changed at all. So far I think he's been fantastic in Unforgiven. He won an Oscar for his role in this film I think. Well deserved so far.

Another thing I have enjoyed was the fact that other than Eastwood, Freeman, and Hackman, I don't recognize any of the supporting actors. It made it all the more simple to become convinced that these people are who they are supposed to be.

I'm also trying to figure out who exactly is "unforgiven". So far I have only been able to connect Eastwood's character with this moniker. He maybe feels unforgiven for all of the things he had done in his past. By helping kill these two men, he may be undoing all the contrition he may have paid in the years before, thus making him unforgiven. Once the movie is totally over, I will go through each character and see if they are also in some way, unforgiven.

That's it. Bye

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Milk (2008)

"My name is Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you!" This quote may not mean anything to most of us today, but when spoken by Harvey Milk himself in 1970s San Francisco, this was a battle cry that meant hope for homosexuals everywhere. To this day, the issue of homosexuality has been prevalent in our society. Great strides have been made to settle the dispute, but none have birthed a final conclusion. Intolerance of homosexuals became a past time for some Americans, and Harvey Milk was the man looking to find those people another hobby.

Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), the first openly gay man elected to a public office. Forced out of New York because of his inability to live his lifestyle freely, Harvey took to the road with his lover Scott Smith (James Franco) in search of a haven for homosexuals. The two arrived in San Francisco only to discover just as much prejudice crawling through the city as anywhere else. Determined to help the world realize that all men are created equal, Harvey runs for office multiple times but comes out on the losing end. Despite losing Scott because of the chaos of politics, he kept pursuing office and eventually won a seat as City Supervisor in 1977. Contending with the views of fellow Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), Harvey now had to face a huge threat that endangered the jobs of millions of homosexuals: Proposition 6. Led by State Senator John Briggs, Proposition 6 called for all homosexual teachers at public schools to be fired in order to prevent them from teaching their students to be gay. This absolutely absurd claim sparked huge uproar in the gay community, specifically from Harvey Milk. Chronicling his life from his move to San Francisco to his murder (not a spoiler, as both his death and murderer are revealed about 4 minutes into the film), Milk is a fantastic film that teaches us about the life and teachings of this pioneer in history.

It is almost impossible to determine where one should begin to discuss Milk. With such flawless execution in every aspect of the film, it seems unfair to start one without talking about the other. Writer Dustin Lance Black, who received an Academy Award for his Best Original Screenplay, did a terrific job of not simply stating facts about Harvey Milk's life but telling a story that dug emotions from the deepest trench of my soul. To admit something about myself for a moment, I am not exactly what you would consider a "sympathizer" of the homosexual lifestyle. However, Black's perfect blend of realistic drama and occasional humor (Dan White: Can two men reproduce? Harvey Milk: No, but God knows we keep trying!) made me connect with each and every character and start to think of things in a new light. Director Gus Van Sant complimented Black's writing beautifully with an eloquent style that was not in the least bit showy. Subtle and simple camerawork did not fancify the story but simply enabled it to be told in a direct matter for the purpose of entertainment and enlightenment. Van Sant, whose films have been hit and miss (a shot for shot remake of Psycho counts as not just a miss, but a complete and utter misfire that made Alfred Hitchcock weep in his grave), is at his creative best here by being as least creative as possible.

The piece de resistance of Milk is the one who not only brought the words, but the man, to life. I am referring to Sean Penn, who won his second Academy Award for Best Leading Actor for this role. My initial reaction to Penn winning this award was one of disbelief and anger, because although I had not seen the film yet, I had heavy doubts that he could have been much better than Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Having seen Milk, I can say both men were equally worthy of winning the award, and the reason it was granted to Penn was probably due to the fact that Hollywood is a liberal place. This does not take merit away from Penn's performance, which was nothing short of outstanding. His contribution mixed with Van Sant and Black brought the era to life and put me right in the center of the action. What is perhaps most surprising about Milk is that there were a number of supporting performances that were just as praise-worthy as Penn's. Josh Brolin delivered a very powerful performance as Harvey Milk's executioner Dan White, earning him an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor. White, a man bent on protecting the sancitity of traditional family life, perhaps even confused about his own sexuality according to Milk, feels his world begin to unfurl as he starts losing support and he watches Milk start to gain some. His morals and ethics are shook to the core, and Brolin displays them easily for us to see. But to just give Brolin a nomination for Supporting Actor seems unfair to Emile Hirsch and James Franco, who both gave exceptional performances. As Harvey Milk's close political advisor and fellow gay activist Cleve Jones, Hirsch encapsulates the role and helps keep the movie afloat in scenes that in other hands would have sunk. The most unexpected performance of Milk was that of James Franco, whom I have never seen in a good dramatic role. I was shocked to find that while watching the film I had completely forgotten it was Franco and I just felt like I was watching Harvey Milk and Scott Smith. Perhaps there is a future for him in serious films after all.

Admittedly, my general views on homosexuality have not changed much since watching Milk, but I have gained a better understanding of the situation. The very idea that this film resonated with me at all should give you an idea of how powerful it's message was. One can only wonder that if this film was released a few weeks earlier, would the recent Proposition 8 have passed in California? Something tells me that if everybody watched this film, whether the ideas stuck or not, the immediate reaction would have been to vote "No". This is all a relative thought, however. If you are a strict, God-fearing person, this movie will not affect you at all probably. But if you are like me and your feelings about homosexuality come from your own mind rather than a book, you may be more inclinded to succumb to the bias of Milk.

Clocking in at just over 2 hours, I was never bored with Milk and felt that I could have watched it again immediately afterward. To those of you who are concerned about watching men kissing other men, I assure you that at no point does the film become uncomfortable to watch, as long as you have a mature mind about you. Whether you watch Milk as a historical text or a vessel of entertainment, you are guaranteed a terrific experience from a truly brilliant movie. My rating (10/10)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

You may get a kick out of this.

Recently Jimmy put up a post about Forrest Gump and mentioned how it was similar to the recent film Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and that they were both written by the same guy. Well I found a video on Break.com entitled The Curious Case of Forrest Gump, and it really is astounding. Check it out.

http://www.break.com/usercontent/2009/1/The-Curious-Case-of-Forrest-Gump-649781.html

If that link doesn't work, you can also go to google video and type in The Curious Case of Forrest Gump.

Also, check out my list of favorite movie moustaches in my previous post. You may get a kick out of that too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Favorite Movie Moustaches

The other day I watched Gangs of New York and although I found the film itself to be entertaining, my favorite part of it was Daniel Day Lewis' moustache. As I sat down to write a review of the film, I found that I couldn't say anything without going back to the glorious moustache. So instead of writing that review I've decided to do something a little more entertaining (for me at least) and give a list of my favorite movie moustaches/facial hair combinations.

Bill Hader in Adventureland: Although the movie itself was TERRIBLE, Bill Hader's moustache was definitely one to behold.



Josh Brolin in No Country For Old Men: this is a moustache with attitude. I'm sure holding a gun helps too.



Will Ferrell in Anchorman: Some may say Paul Rudd's moustache is better, but Ferrell's leading moustache takes the cake.



John Hurt in Hellboy: A combination that boasts wisdom and awesomeness, this is top notch facial hair.



Terry Jones in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: I couldn't find a picture of this one, but for those of you who have seen this movie, I am talking about Sir Bedevere. Very long moustache.

Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona: Complete with the sideburns and mussed up hair, this is the ultimate easy-going look.



Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski: Another laid back look from a Coen Brothers film, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski sports a tremendous goatee.




And finally, I will leave you with a double dose of Daniel Day Lewis. One from Gangs of New York and one from There Will Be Blood.





Do you have any favorite movie moustaches?

(I'll bet that is the strangest question you have been asked this week)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apocalypse Now in 39 words.

Slow. Long. Boring. Well crafted in terms of direction and cinematography. Unimpressed with Brando. Long. Best performances were Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper. Very nice visuals. Ultimately unsatisfying. Slow. Overrated.

Did I mention slow and long?

In my opinion.

UPDATE: I'm also adding the word "forgettable", because it has not been more than an hour since the movie ended, and I can hardly remember a thing.

Double Indemnity (1944)

The perfect murder is so hard to come by. Although I've never tried it, (and hopefully, if everything goes right in my life, I never will) I have seen countless movies in which characters plot and plan and plot some more to commit "the perfect crime". In The Killing, everything almost went right for Sterling Hayden's character. He had just committed a great racetrack heist that left him and his girlfriend sitting on loads of dough. He was even at the airport with the money all set in his briefcase when he suddenly became exposed by an obnoxious poodle. In Fargo, William H. Macy's character hopes to set up the perfect kidnapping of his wife, but temperemental henchmen and stubborn fathers foil the plan. In Double Indemnity, which I caught late last night on TCM, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is tempted by depressed housewife Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) to kill her husband and walk away with a $100,000 insurance policy on his life. Neff, who has seen all the tricks in the world that people will pull to get a fake "accidental death" payout, devises what he believes to be the perfect plan to get away with it. But of course, nothing is ever that easy.

It was pretty late when I watched Double Indemnity, so I couldn't throw on my analytical goggles (not a metaphor, my goggles are blue with lightning bolts on the strap that goes aorund my head) and study the settings of the film. However, I was still awake enough to be engulfed in this film's suspense. What started off as a rather slow film that I was questioning if I should watch any further, ended up as a very engaging film that had me glued to my seat. Even though the film begins with Neff going into his boss' office and recording his confession, I was still eager to see how things would turn out. I kept getting fooled into thinking maybe they could get away with it. That is probably from the writing and directing of Billy Wilder, who I am told is a masterful film-maker. I have not been exposed to Wilder much, (and by much I mean this is the first film I have seen from him) but I would like to see more of his work now that I enjoyed Double Indemnity so much.

I really enjoyed the screenplay of this film, only because people don't talk that way anymore. I loved the wit that characters spoke with, because not many people anymore possess such a quality. I don't have nearly as much of it as I would like to. Here are just a few examples that I particularly enjoyed. You may not see what I see, but I would still like to share them. (I couldn't find all of them, so I posted some from memory)

Barton Keyes (Neff's boss)- "I picked you for the job, not because I think you're so darn smart, but because I thought you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit. Guess I was wrong. You're not smarter, Walter... you're just a little taller."

Edward S. Norton (Keyes' boss)- "The witness from the train, what was his name?"
Keyes- "His name was Jackson. Probably still is."

Neff- "Where would the living room be?"
Maid- "It's over there, but they always keep the liquor locked up."
Neff- "That's OK. I carry my own keys."

Phyllis- "I wonder if I know what you mean."
Neff- "I wonder if you wonder."

There were a few more but this'll do.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The End of the Best Three Months of My Life

Today was a very difficult day for me. I was forced to give up something I love, and something I had for far too short a time. I am talking, of course, about my Netflix account. For Christmas, I received a 3 month free gift subscription to this fine operation and used it every day of that time period. I got to see so many films that I would otherwise have missed for months, years, or maybe even my entire life. I credit Netflix with single-handedly making the past 3 months of my life the best ever (film class helped too, but Netflix was really number 1).

The shipping back of my final film (The Bedford Incident) was a very solemn occasion that I could have turned into a 2 hour ceremony. The three block walk to the mailbox down near Farrell was far too short, and did not give me enough time to gather my thoughts for a proper sending off speech. As I approached the dreaded blue box my tongue receeded to the depths of my throat and I felt a warmth ensconse my face. Speaking would be impossible. My fingers trembling, I reached for the blue handle to open up the mouth of the great beast, and as I gently placed that thin red envelope in, I cringed at the callous nature the box swallowed the poor thing. I stood just a moment longer before turning away and taking a much longer walk back to my home.

I would love to talk in great length about all of the films I saw due to the magic of Netflix, but I will instead give very brief explanations, for the sake of my readers patience. In order of shipment:

In Bruges - so good, I went out and bought it myself. If you want my full review of this film it is somewhere on this blog and on my other. I'll save you time and tell you it was amazing. A 10 out of 10.

Fight Club - very different from what I expected, but in a good way. Brad Pitt and Ed Norton had such a terrific screen presence I couldn't look away. The story was unique and mind-blowing.

The Machinist - great performance by Christian Bale and great direction by Brad Anderson. A little predictable but a good watch. Bale's emaciated figure is enough to see this film.

Pulp Fiction - the most disappointing film I rented, Pulp Fiction sure was the picture of originality. Sadly, I was not tricked into believing that ALL originality is GOOD originality. An hour and a half too long, I was upset with this rental.

Rescue Dawn - once again, great performance by Christian Bale and great direction by Werner Herzog. Not the best Bale film, but not the worst.

It Happened One Night - really, really, really, really good. Watched it with my parents, they loved it as well. "Do whatever you please, but shutup about it!" Haha, I wish I lived in the day when you can say that to a woman you didn't know and it was OK.

Fargo - Benny knows exactly how I feel about this one. Fantastic.

12 Angry Men - the absolute best film I rented, I was on the edge of my seat from the moment they entered the room to the moment they came up with a verdict. Sidney Lumet was robbed of an Oscar!

Grand Illusion - a recommendation from Mr Bennett, I liked it. I will have to watch it again when I am a little older, but for now it was good.

Schindler's List - Fabulous. Spectacular. Powerful. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes = wow.

3:10 to Yuma (original) - better than the remake

North By Northwest - extremely engaging, this was a great thriller from Hitchcock. Eva Marie Saint was friggin hot!

Barton Fink - Coen Brothers did it again

The Man Who Wasn't There - The Coen Brothers did it again...again.

Milk - Outstanding. Changed my vote for the Best Picture of 2008. Sorry Slumdog Millionaire.

Shadow of a Doubt - a bit disappointing, I failed to find the suspense here. I read the envelope after I watched the film and it used the word suspense like 4 times. I just didn't feel it. Oh well.

The Bedford Incident - the final film and a very high note to end with. Mr Bennett told me it was "edge of your seat stuff" and he was absolutely right. Though I wouldn't expect anything less from James B Harris, the man who discovered Stanley Kubrick.

I dragged a bit, but trust me, I could talk for hours about my experiences with Netflix. The moment I get a credit card, it is the first thing I will purchase. I have a feeling that as I lie on my death bed in my old age, as I hold a snow globe with a DVD inside, the final words to pass through my moustached lips will be, "Netflix".

Adventureland (2009)


In 2007, director Greg Mottola made a huge dent in the world of comedy with the hit Superbad. With the assistance of writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, he delivered one of the funniest films of the year and still kept it sincere underneath the loads of vulgar language. In 2009, Mottola went out on his own and wrote and directed the film Adventureland, a project probably very close to his heart because he worked at the real Adventureland long ago. For his sake, I hope this was not an account of his actual experiences there. Not only was this film about as funny as stubbing your toe on the refridgerator, it was overrun with whiny characters that pulled no sympathy from me.

It's 1987 and James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) just graduated from college. Before attending Graduate school at Columbia, James wants to spend some time in Europe in hopes of losing his virginity to an easy foreign girl. But when the cost of his trip increases unexpectedly, James is forced to find himself a summer job to pay for the difference. Enter Adventureland, the local amusement park where James' friend Frigo (Matt Bush, the kid from the AT&T commercials, and the only funny part of this film) works. After a brief interview with park manager Bobby (Bill Hader) and his wife Paulette (Kristen Wiig), James begins his thrilling career as a game shack attendant. Life looks bleak for James until he is spotted by Em (Kristen Stewart), another game attendant. The two spark up a friendship that soon turns into romantic feelings for James. But Em's chaotic home life and an attractive musician mechanic named Connell (Ryan Reynolds) jeopardize James' chance of making this summer one he will remember forever, in a good way at least. Falsely advertised as a comedy, Adventureland is a drama chronicling the life of a post-graduate loser in Reagan era Long Island.

Adventureland did have one aspect going for it in it's favor. It was a realistic film in how people, specifically younger generations, interacted with each other in their awful job environment. The awkward and somewhat gloomy nature of these poor souls was a truthful account, so in that respect Mottola did a great job at writing. However, this brings up a serious problem in the film. Real life is not all that funny. In Superbad, the friendship between the two main characters was real, but events in the film were heavily exaggerated to accommodate the comedy of the film. In Adventureland, everything that happened was practical and thus much less funny. Mottola left little room for comedy and instead put heavy effort into developing his characters. In a dramatic film, character development is key. There needs to be a significant amount of it in order to draw an audience in. However, a comedy does not need nearly as much attention put in to the characters. In a good comedy, such as Superbad, the very beginning of the film introduces us to exactly who our main protagonists are. As the film progresses, subtle actions inside the comedy reveal more and more about the characters, but we are never force fed the material. Mottola takes this short 5 minutes of character introduction and stretches it into a full hour. Because of this, there is no light-hearted interlude between the moments we meet our friend James and the main issue of the film. It is drama through and through, and I was looking for a comedy.

Perhaps the biggest disease that Adventureland suffered from was the fact that it was a character driven film with boring characters and lackadaisical actors. Jesse Eisenberg plays the soft spoken intellectual James in a static way that is reminiscent of Michael Cera. Both emit an air of pathetic awkwardness, and neither ever really raise their voice beyond a certain level. The only difference is that Michael Cera is actually funny. Line after line Eisenberg delivers with the same "enthusiasm", and never once did he bring a smile to my face. Much like Paul Rudd's character in I Love You, Man was embarrassing to watch, Eisenberg overplays the quirkiness of his role and never shows the maturity that his character supposedly gained. The lone bright spot as far as performances go belongs to Kristen Stewart, who may have actually been too good for her role. The confusion and mayhem that was Em's life is brought forth with stunning strength though Stewart's performance. I say she may have been too good for this role because since everybody else was so awful and she was so spot on, the gap between was uncomfortably recognizable. However good of a job Stewart did though can be overlooked by the fact that she too, has not a single comedic line in Adventureland. So far, we have a comedy with two main characters. One is pathetically unfunny despite his best efforts, and the other is straight-laced and meant to amp up the drama. Forget good performances, somebody say something funny! It was here that the supporting cast contributed hugely to the film. Matt Bush as James' pestering friend was by far the funniest aspect of Adventureland, but was unfairly underutilized. I have seen Bush in a few TV commercials and I was glad to see that he transferred well onto a big screen. His future in the film industry will hopefully long, despite his upcoming project, Halloween 2. And of course, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig deliver as always but are, like Bush, rarely on screen. Martin Starr, as James' game shack mentor Joel, provides little to nothing to film, and may as well have been dropped from the script entirely.

It can be argued that Adventureland was not meant to be a comedy in the vein of Superbad but rather a touching coming of age story. This statement I can live with, but respectfully disagree. This film has been marketed vigorously as a hilarious follow-up to Superbad so that is exactly what I expected. Marketing this film as a comedy makes about as much sense as marketing Schindler's List as a great date movie. But judging Adventureland as a coming of age tale does not help it much. Because of the dismal acting and irritating characters, the journey into manhood didn't interest me in the slightest. The final resolution to the film is predictable and conjured not a single emotion from me. The characters themselves showed little emotion to any situation presented to them. They simply looked bored, and that made me bored with them.

Adventureland is a very long 107 minutes that is only good for a few chuckles and one solitary worth while performance. Greg Mottola has fallen victim to the sophomore slump, falling well short of the expectations brought about by Superbad. To those of you who may complain that I am being unfair by comparing this film to Superbad, let me say this. Adventureland as a lone film was boring, not funny, and a waste of $8. My rating (2/10)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's like death. It's like nothing.

7th period ended 15 minutes ago, but I can still feel the effects of a wasted period. Today Mr. Bennett was absent, and we started watching the movie Signs with a substitute. I understand perfectly why we are watching this film even though he is absent, and I was all up for the idea. However after watching 35-40 minutes or so of Signs, I've found that our little film class is nowhere near as engaging with the void of our teacher. It also didn't help that the lack of an authoritative figure (a substitute is about as frightening as a poodle with a mohawk) gave people the idea that they could talk and bother all those around them that actually cared about the film. The volume, although turned up all the way on both the computer and media player, was still rather low and made it difficult to hear what was going on, even as I sat in the very front of the room. Perhaps we should have asked the sub to put subtitles on? Why did I only just think of that as I was writing this? Dammit. Oh well.

So far, I am not very impressed with Signs. I had seen most of it in the past and never really formed a conclusion about it. We have not discussed the anti-existentialist themes of the film yet, but in general, Signs is pretty boring. Joaquin Phoenix has been pretty good in his role, but has not been utilized enough so far. I am very disappointed with Mel Gibson so far because I have not heard a single convincing line come from his mouth. "Isabelle, you're going to feel very silly when this all turns out to be make believe". Gibson delivers that line to a german shepard as he stands outside his home staring at the cornfield, and it made me cringe when he said it. A simple line that is probably meaningless, yet Gibson made it ugly to hear.

Rory Culkin is a creepy little boy.

I know that we have only seen the first 35-40 minutes of Signs so I shouldn't form my opinions yet, but to quote Mr. Bennett himself, "There have only been a handful of movies ever that have started off bad and gotten better". Let's see if this is in that handful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Seventh Seal

OK, it is official that black and white films are just as good if not better than films with color. The Seventh Seal was a beautiful film that would be destroyed by color. So many images have been imprinted on my mind, but I will save them for later in the post. The Seventh Seal is a thought provoking film that is sure to cause a discussion within its viewers. Hearing the plot alone is enough to evoke a myriad of emotions. A knight returning from the Holy Crusades questions the existence of God while playing chess with Death. It is these plot summaries that I miss reading on movies today! Watching the film, these emotions are stirred into a whirlwind as Ingmar Bergman presents us with so many questions left unanswered. One thing that I really enjoyed about Bergman's film-making was that although he is an aetheist, I did not get the feeling that he was trying to impose that belief onto me. I simply felt as though he was prodding me to answer these questions for myself. Two of the most prevelant questions are "What are we here for?" and "Is there really an afterlife that God has prepared for us?". To be honest, I've pondered these questions before, and to prevent a religious war, I am going to have to keep my conclusions to myself.

Some thing that I was surprised to discover was that this film was not nominated for any Academy Awards. I will allow the acting accolades to slide, but there is absolutely no reason that this film did not receive a nod for cinematography. This was by far one of the most beautiful films it has ever been my pleasure to view. I want to buy this film on DVD and simply watch it on mute, so I can take in all of the elegance that was painted on screen. I hate to sound like a broken record with the voice of Mr. Bennett, but there really were so many moments in the film that you could pause and find a stunning picture. One of my favorites was the wild strawberry scene (I believe it was this one, I may be confusing it with another). The image was of Joseph playing his lute, with the death mask just beyond his shoulder. I did not feel that Bergman was being too forward with this image, but was just reminding us that even in a happy situation, death is always near. My absolute favorite scene in the film was the very first reveal of Death. We see a vast ocean with an endless horizon, the water very active and full of life. The music in the background slowly begins to lower in volume, and then in the blink of an eye, Death stands on the rocks looking seemingly directly as us. To me this showed how some of us our disillusioned into thinking life is an endless path, but in reality death will always be there to catch us.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Runaway Train it is...for the time being

Well today was the last day to vote on the poll I had set up, and it seems that to this point (but before The Seventh Seal) Runaway Train has been the favorite of the class. However, only 13 people voted, and there are over 30 people in the class, so I don't know if this is an accurate conclusion. Nevertheless, when we conclude another 3 films, I will create an updated poll to determine the new favorite, and I will keep doing so until the end of the school year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Love You, Man -- Response to Jimmy

I was planning on sitting down and writing a full review of this film, but I am currently busy writing a review of Milk, so I'll do this for now. I'm also going to do this as a direct response to Jimmy's post about this same film.

Jimmy, in the past we have mostly agreed about films, but I am afraid we have a disparity about this one. Although I am a fan of Paul Rudd, I thought he was an uncomfortable mess in this movie. I am aware that his character was meant to be the awkward, social misfit that couldn't find any guy friends, but they overplayed it to an excessive amount. It was to the point where I was squirming in my chair, much like I did watching the god forsaken Sex and the City movie. As far as his character's relationship with Rashida Jones' character, I felt little affection between the two and was not convinced that these people were in love.

The first 20 minutes of the film, even with a dinner table scene with the hilarious Andy Samberg, were a debacle. Not a single laugh to be found, nor a single moment of interest. I actually contemplated walking out of the theater.

Just as I was going to give up on the film, Jason Segel swept in and finally put I Love You, Man on a track. Complete with a truthful approach to life and a pug/beagle named Anwar Sedat, Segel's character is the only saving grace to this film, and makes it worth watching. A child of the Apatow gang, Segel is a comedic force that can turn any situation funny (unless it's on the show How I Met Your Mother. I hate that show).

So I guess in the end, Jimmy, I only disagree with you halfway. I too recommend this film, but I recommend walking in 20 minutes after it begins. I disagree with your opinion of Rudd's performance, but agree with your opinion of Segel's. The film was rather predictable, and I guess it was pretty well put together for a low-brow comedy (and that really is what it was). Another thing that you didn't mention but I would like to is the supporting cast. With the exception of Jon Favreau, not one supporting cast member added anything to this film. They were simply there to further the plot, and were not funny at all.

So yea, I liked it, but not that much.

Also if you haven't already done so, please read my review of the sex and the city movie. I have gotten alot of good responses from it and would love to share my pain, err, i mean experience with the world.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The First 30 Minutes of the Sex and the City Movie

I was just trying to be a good boyfriend. "Oh! The Sex and the City movie is on HBO! Can we please watch it!?", she said knowing very well that I could not say no to her. How bad could it be, I pondered. Sure I had seen an episode of the show and it destroyed my will to live, but maybe they made it better for the movie?

30 minutes later...

"I will never forgive you for making me watch that atrocity". She laughs, because my misery evidently amuses her. She's lucky I love her, and that I know she is the only person in the world who can put up with my inflated sense of pride. I will have to get back at her one day, however. Perhaps I will drag her to see Saw 6 when it comes out. She hates that stuff.

Talking seriously for a moment, the Sex and the City movie was a hauntingly awful display of filmmaking that made my insides churn. Ignoring the script and the direction, the characters and content alone were enough to make me weep tears of pain. The four lead characters, who I have aptly nicknamed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are nothing more than insufferable, prolix, ugly, detestable creatures that are in no way funny or ironic. The dialogue in the film, what I could decipher from the high pitched squealing and rapid mile-a-minute speech, was terribly written, and I didn't for a second believe that these four horsemen were the long time friends we were supposed to assume. The lead actresses were about as affectionate to each other as a shark is to meat. After 30 minutes, I feared that blood would soon begin pouring from my ears, so I told my girlfriend enough was enough and I shut it off. Now I am aware there is an unwritten code for movie critics that says you have to view a film in its entirety before you judge it. Well I'm not a movie critic yet, so that code be damned! I would rather have my fingers crushed in between the connecting parts of two railway cars than watch the rest of this film. I would rather get shot in the head whilst reaching for a butterfly than watch the rest of this film. I would rather sell my body on the streets of New York dressed as a cowboy, and then settle for receiving sexual pleasure from Bob Balaban than watch the rest of this film.

I would have asked my girlfriend for the last 30 minutes of my life back, but let's face it, I wouldn't have done anything with those 30 minutes anyway.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Poll

Hey everyone, I started a little poll that can be seen in the top right corner of the page. Cast your vote for your favorite film that we have watched so far! If you would like to give an explanation as to why you chose the movie you did, you may leave a comment on this post. Can't wait for some feedback!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Special


This was a movie I watched a while ago and it just popped back into my mind today. I discovered this film accidentally, and I am glad I did. I had my television on Reelz Channel and a show called Secret's Out with Leonard Maltin came on. I was about to change the channel when he began talking about this film. It intrigued me, so I looked it up. Since I haven't seen it in some time you will have to excuse my brief and vague discussion of it. This independent film is the touching story of bored meter maid Les, who is searching for something else in his life. In an attempt to perhaps make his existence a little less mundane, Les volunteers to take part in an experimental drug test. But soon after his first dose, Les discovers a shocking side effect to his medicine: super powers...sort of. Believing he was given these powers for a reason, Les goes around town dressed in all white walking through walls, reading minds, teleporting, and doing all the things that superheroes do. Even though his friends don't believe him, Les begins to feel that he has something he had never had before: a purpose. In a past post, I was warned by Mr. Bennett against using the word "inspirational" to describe a film and since then I have not done so. But with Special, there really is no other word that fits it better. This is an inspirational tale that is relatable to each and every one of us.

Main character Les is played beautifully by Michael Rappaport, who is mostly known for his work on television (you may know him as Donald Self from Prison Break, or the father on the short lived Fox series The War At Home). Rappaport portrays the everyman Les with ease and in turn delivers a deeply heart-felt, profound performance that truly resonated with me. This is the only leading role Rappaport ever had and he tackles the feat with the fluidity of a household name. It's just a shame that this film probably doesn't even exist in the mind's of 97% of Americans.

Sure the production value is low and I could have probably recreated the cinematography with a hand-held camera, but this was not a film to look at superficially. Who among us can say they have not felt utterly unnecessary in the grand scheme of the world? What are the chances that you can actually make a name for yourself and be known to even just a few people that you don't know yourself? There are people this fortunate, but it does not happen to everyone. It is this frightening thought that may act as a spark plug for many of us, causing us to do something that could make our future a little less predictable. Then again, some of us, actually most of us, may avoid the risk and simply accept the cards we have been dealt. Special shows the story of a man who represents the former, and after seeing it, you can decide for yourself if the decision was a wise one. Maybe Les' story will inspire you to try something new, and see where it leads you.

I implore you to seek out this film. I am not promising the greatest film you have ever seen, but just a simple film with a huge heart, which is something we all need to experience one day.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Se7en

THIS IS AN EXCERPT OF MY REVIEW OF THIS FILM. TO READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW, PLEASE VISIT http://www.nicksmovies.blogspot.com/


Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, and pride. These are the seven deadly sins as written by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, updating the work of Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th century. These cardinal vices are said to be the seven most objectionable sins a man can commit. However, for the 15 centuries this list has been around, mankind cannot seem to abide by the rules. Millions and millions of people everyday, including myself, indulge in these sins, and feel no immediate consequences (what awaits us in the afterlife, we can never be sure). Perhaps we should look upon this as a blessing, for if everyone in the world that committed one of these sins was chastised for them at once, there would not be much of a population left today. For this, we should thank our lucky stars that we do not live in the world of Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt). Mills has just transferred to a dark, ominous, unnamed city that oozes all things evil. For his first case Mills is paired up with Detective William Somerset, the very man he is replacing, to investigate the strange murder of a morbidly obese man found with his hands and feet bound and his face down in a plate of spaghetti. When another seemingly unrelated murder is discovered, the detectives start to suspect that they are dealing with a serial killer who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins. With five more murders to expect, Somerset and Mills have to piece the puzzle together before they, or someone they love, gets hurt. Although the story is unique, Se7en is executed ineffectively and leaves the viewer wanting more (not in the good way).

Friday, March 20, 2009

A bunch of movies

I've seen a lot of movies over the past week, and rather than make a post for each, I'll discuss them all right now briefly.



Runaway Train- First things first, this was the movie we just finished watching, and it was fantastic. Not only was it a gripping action and suspense thriller, it had Oscar worthy performances from both of it's lead actors. I was a little surprised to find that Eric Roberts was only nominated for a supporting role rather than sharing the lead acting category with Voigt. Although his character was more of a sidekick to Manny, he had just as much face time and was just as integral to the story. As a matter of fact, I found Roberts' performance to be even better than Voigt's, although both were superb. One of my favorite things about this film was that even though it was dressed up to look like a strictly action film, there is an amazing amount of character dynamics to study. Manny, a killer that is renowned as a hero to the delinquents at prison, turns out to be the hero we are all rooting for by the end of the film. Despite the fact that he was a dangerous escaped convict, I found myself wishing he could make his getaway. Warden Ranken, on the other hand, was viewed as the complete opposite. Being a prison warden, he is a man dedicated to keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, a praiseworthy profession. However, he takes on more villainous qualities than either Manny or Buck. He was trying to put bad men back in prison, and I was glad he died in the end. Maybe I'm strange, but I don't think I am. I was extremely entertained by this film and became annoyed whenever I would hear the bell announcing the end of the period. I liked it so much I am contemplating going out and buying it.

Taken- this was a recent movie starring Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent trying to rescue his daughter from kidnappers in Paris. It was filled with loose ends and was mostly unbelievable, but it was definitely a top of the line action flick. Not anywhere near as deep as Runaway Train, but an exciting ride nonetheless.

Barton Fink- I find that I grow to like the Coen Brothers more and more every time I see one of their films. It's not as much fun to simply write about this film as it would be to discuss it in person with somebody. Unfortunately, not many people have even heard of it. I know Jimmy has seen it, because it was his review of this film that pushed me to find it myself. The story follows writer Barton Fink, played by John Turturro, who has made his way to Hollywood to write a film for a fast talking executive. Staying in a dusty hotel room with peeling wallpaper, Barton befriends a salesman, played by John Goodman, who helps keep him sane in the topsy turvy world in which he has been thrust. The Coens create the perfect mix of social satire and offbeat supernatural to make this one of my favorite films of theirs.

The Graduate- Recent college grad Benjamin Braddock has just returned home, forced to contemplate what it is he plans on doing with his life. If things weren't confusing enough for him, his father's business partner's wife Mrs. Robinson makes a rather blatant pass at Braddock, and the two begin an affair with each other. If THAT wasn't confusing enough for him, Braddock then falls for Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine, who Mrs. Robinson has forbidden him from seeing. I really enjoyed The Graduate because it was a film that I could relate to. No no no, I'm not having an affair with my friend's mother. That would be gross. Although the love affair is the main conflict in the film, it was Braddock's "growing up" dilemma that I was more interested in. Just coming out of college, Braddock has absolutely no idea what he is going to do with his life, and spends his time lounging around in his parents pool (when he's not with Mrs. Robinson). I am just about to graduate high school, and I have already begun worrying about what the hell I could possibly do with my life in the future. Much like Braddock, I've got no clue. Also like him, my parents aren't doing much to help me get my thoughts straight, rather than just telling me that I should be doing something. My favorite scene in the film was when Braddock is basically forced to jump into his pool with scuba gear on, and as he comes up to the surface, his parents reach down and push him back under several times. Such heavy symbolism doesn't need to be explained.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Do Parents Always Know?

I was watching Fargo the other day at a time that I knew my parents would be busy. I wasn't trying to hide from them, I just enjoy watching movies by myself. Less distractions I guess. (In class I blur out everybody around me and put tunnel vision on the smartboard). So anyway I'm watching the film, and a scene comes up with Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare having sex with a couple of hookers. It was an extremely brief scene, and there was no nudity shown. But of course, at that moment, my mother decided to take a break from cooking and come downstairs to check her facebook (that friggin facebook has been nothing but trouble). So she comes down and sees this scene, and inevitably says "I don't think you should be watching this". Ugh! A 98 minute movie, and she walks in on the only 30 seconds that involve sex. Of course I simply ignore her and try to move passed this embarrassing situation, but that is not the point. What I'm trying to say is that whenever I watch a film that has a hint of sex in it, my parents have a tendency to show up at the exact moment, and I do not understand how this is possible.

It's not always just nudity though. Sometimes my parents will enter the room just as a character decided to go on an expletive filled tirade that will almost always end up containing vulgar, sexual remarks. An example of this was when I was watching Superbad with my girlfriend. We were in the basement, cozied up and enjoying the movie, when not just my parents, but my entire family decided to stop in. What they were doing I don't know, but I do know that they happened to enter just as the foul mouthed Jonah Hill went on a rant about spermicidal lube. He was descriptive. Not only was I now forced to deal with the unapproving looks of my family, but my poor girlfriend had to suffer it as well. Once again it does not phase me that my parents will see me watching these movies, it's just mind boggling how they show up at exactly the right (or wrong, in my view) moment.

To prove this is not an isolated issue, here is a short list of films I have been "caught" watching, and the scene that was walked in on:
300- brief sex scene
The Big Lebowski- brief naked woman in a harness, plus countless obsceneties
A Clockwork Orange- Alex's test, where a naked woman is brought onstage, and the camera fixes on her breasts for a significant amount of time
The Departed- Leo Dicaprio and his shrink get a little intimate
The Machinist- brief naked woman in bed
The Shining- naked woman in shower
The Wrestler- strip club

That is a very brief list and you'll have to trust me when I say there were many more incidents. I don't really know what I am trying to prove with this, except maybe that our parents have a sixth sense for this type of thing. Has anybody else had this happen to them? If so, feel free to share the experience.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zombie Movies - They Just Aren't Very Good.

"We're gonna come eat you...just don't like, run away or anything. We probably wouldn't be able to catch up"

Zombie movies. The concept has been done to death, and yet each year, much like its' characters, it is ressurrected and put back into circulation. George Romero, the director that started the "dead rising" craze, has done nothing but release zombie movie after zombie movie, and has spawned a slew of knock-offs and homages. Horror fans call Romero a legend; I call him a one trick pony. How does he pitch his movies?

George: "OK, OK, I got a good one. How about, a group of people are on a vacation at a secluded island, and then zombies attack them!"

Executive:"Well, George, I feel like you've done that already. Maybe you've got something a little more fresh?"

G:"Alright well how about this?! A lovely newlywed couple check into their hotel on a secluded island, and then zombies attack, and they have to fend them off with other people at the hotel!"

E: "Well, again, that is basically the same movie that you just pitched me, and it is the same movie you have been making since 1968. Can you seriously not come up with a single original thought? What the hell has happened to film-makers?"

G:"Alright, alright, I've got one more that I know you are going to love. OK so a group of teens go to a concert, and about midway through the show, after we've shown some gratuitous nudity and drug usage, a pack of zombie wolves attack everybody! And then we use this to make some kind of random, farfetched allegory insulting the Bush Administration! Teens will love it!"

E:"George Bush isn't even in office anymore"

G:"I don't understand"

E:"If I tell you that you can make this film, will you get the hell out of my office?"

And that is basically how I feel these movies keep getting made.

Even though most of the movies released today are not original concepts, they at least try to cover it up and pretend they are new. Zombies are just the same thing over and over again. They are a boring villain that just isn't all that scary. They walk very slowly, and they can't have much muscle mass left so even if they grab you, getting away should be fairly simple. Do you know a really effective way to get away from zombies? Lock your friggin door. Head up to the second floor of your house. Go in the attic if you have to. Just don't stand in front of windows on the first floor! If you live in an apartment, even better! I don't think zombies are going to go to the elevators, push the button, wait for the elevator, get on the elevator, choose a floor, take the elevator up, and then knock on your door! Even if they figure out they can use the steps, just lock your door, because that is the only entry point into your home. The films 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later are good films, because they twisted the zombie genre into something entertaining. The zombies in the film were not really zombies, but just "rage infected people" who can pass the rage on by biting you. They can also run full speed, so they are actually difficult to get away from. Since they are not technically dead and therefore able to use brain function, they could open up doors and use elevators and such, so it makes them a much more frightening villain.

Something else I noticed about zombie films, is that you don't see many zombies wearing nice clothing. Think about this: when you bury somebody, do you dress them in their casual Saturday sweats? No, you put them in a suit. So when these dead people are rising from the ground, why the hell aren't they wearing suits and dresses? I know that they can turn people into zombies and so they would obviously be wearing casual dress, but even in the beginning of the films when the intial wave breaks, you don't see them dressed in fancy clothes. Also, why are there no really elderly zombies? If all goes right, a person won't die until they are very old, and that happens very often. So why is it that you never see a 82 year old zombie walking around with dentures? My theory is that they just walked back to the retirement home and are watching Murder She Wrote with the other old people.

Oh yea, Shaun of the Dead was a really good movie too. But that's because it was a comedy making fun of the genre. It did it rather well.

So yea, that's how I feel about zombie films. I don't know why I felt the need to share this, but hey I was bored. Comments?

Crank


THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM MY REVIEW OF THIS FILM. TO READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW, PLEASE GO TO http://www.nicksmovies.blogspot.com/

Do you ever feel like you just need a break from the world? Do you ever just want to leave and go to a place where things don't make sense, and nobody questions it? Do you want to see a man inject himself with an overdose of Epinephren and then go on an adrenaline fueled rampage through an entire city? If you answered yes to all of those questions, I have the perfect remedy to feed your need for senseless violence. Crank is a film so out of the realm of realism that your brain may freeze from all of the impossibilities. Jason Statham, a name synonymous with "awesome", stars as Chev Chelios, a professional hit man who has run into a problem. A rival killer has injected him with a mysterious poison that will kill him if he lets his adrenaline drop too low. Set on getting revenge before he dies, Chelios does whatever he can - driving through a mall, Epinephren shots, sex in public, the usual - to keep his heart racing. But don't worry about the plot. The plot is completely irrelevant. Crank is chock full of amateur camerawork, horrific writing, dismal acting, and overall inconceivabilities...but damn is it a good time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Midnight Cowboy -- Meh


We finished watching Midnight Cowboy a few days ago, and I purposely put off writing this post for a simple reason that I am not really ashamed to admit. I just didn't find too much to talk about in Midnight Cowboy. I feel like most of the topics have already been discussed, and frankly, I didn't care for the movie that much to delve deeper into it. That being said, I have some theories that I believe led to my dislike of this film.


1) Joe Buck- Although Jon Voigt's performance of the naive cowboy was pretty good and he really became the character, I just didn't much care for the character. I never felt any sort of sympathy to him and I was indifferent to how his story ended.


2) Amateur editing- Midnight Cowboy relied heavily on flashbacks and short fantasy sequences and images being flashed on screen for a second and all that junk. Executed properly, these things can be hardly noticeable and allow the movie to flow much easier. I just didn't think John Schlesinger did a very good job keeping these tricks smooth. It could have been that he was purposely making these things unsettling to watch because the point of the movie was to make you very uncomfortable. That could be a possibility based on all of the strange things we saw (that woman with the rat toy, the man lying face down on the sidewalk for an unexplained reason, the freak party). Whether he did it on purpose or not, I just didn't find it entertaining. It also gave me a lot of trouble remembering what had happened in the movie in between days. I'd come into class the next day and couldn't recall what actual events took place in the film, but instead just remembered the various flashbacks and images. This brings me to my final theory.


3) Start, stop, start again- My main concern when starting this film class was that I wouldn't be able to enjoy a movie watching it over several days instead of one sitting. With our first two films, I did not notice this starting and stopping, and your guess is as good as mine when it comes to why. But for Midnight Cowboy, this stop and go method really took me out of the film, and I just could not get back into it. Something tells me that if I were to watch this film by myself, in it's entirety, in one sitting, I will probably like it a lot more. For now though, I am sadly unimpressed and can't see how this film won Best Picture in 1969. It's a shame too, because I have always wanted to see this film.


I'm sure next time I watch it, I will like it more.