Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mid-Year Movie Season

I wanted to write a whole "summer wrapup" and here it is late October and I've barely started. Sigh.

But, I'm going to do a recap of some movie "season"... we'll call it the "Mid-Year Season":

I think it's been a weird year for movies. The summer was smattered with fun films like Superman, X-Men, and Pirates. But somehow, even though the effects get bigger and bigger, I don't have the joie de cinema that I used to have. Could be my age... right?

Or could it be that summer movies aren't that good this year? I think I'll go with that one.

X-Men was actually fun... and good. And the whole concept of mutants gives them license to use special effects all over the place. They killed off a lot of characters ... so I'm guessing it really was the last stand. I give them kudos for completely restructuring the original story (to shorten the entire history of "The Phoenix") without destroying it. Excellent rewrite... but you'd have to be a long-time fan to appreciate it.

Superman got rave reviews but to tell the truth I missed it in the theater! Gasp.
Stay tuned for a really late review of that one.

Dead Man's Chestwas great because I love Johnny Depp. But I walked out of the theater with Back to the Future deja vu (is that redundant?). I love Jack Sparrow (which is the same thing Gianna kept telling me during the movie. She loves Captain Jack too!) I just wish they'd spent less money on the boats and more on the plot. I think it's gotten quite convoluted. The fight scenes are predictable instead of being fresh and fun.

In the first movie, I was completely taken in when Johnny and Orlando had their fight scene. You don't know if either of them are any good and it's a fun scene... the donkey, the tipsy cart... and the sword fight at the end is brilliant when you find out that Jack is "dead" too. Wonderful twists to the sword play.

But, this year I just wasn't impressed... the rolling water wheel was gimmicky (and way to hard to follow... I just got tired of the round-n-round! I sure hope the next one has some freshness to it!

Hollywoodland was wonderful. To quote my movie-mate, "It was a nice, adult film." I love Adrian Brody, and I've never said that before. The sets and costumes were wonderful. I found myself enthralled with the look of 40s Hollywood. The shine on the cars, the glint on the seedy motel sign... the wonderfully retro-look. Turns out it was filmed outside the US ... ironically... I think in Toronto, because there is nothing left of retro-Hollywood in LA.

Aside: the retro-look and nod to the 50s and 60s is what I loved about Disney's Cars this summer too. But the kids I went with were totally bored during the nostalgia stuff.

I loved how they played out the possible scenarios, so you can envision them... can enjoy each one... and then they just leave it "unsolved." I read criticisms of the movie that poked at the film for not telling them how George died. But, of course, we'll never know more than the movies tells us. And I think it's a strength of the film, not a gap.

The Illusionist was just okay and the high point for me was that I discovered that Ed Norton is a babe. He was absolutely adorable. My movie-mate summed it up: "It was a silly little film." Jessica looked good. Paul Giamatti was excellent. But, I wasn't fooled by the plot machinations ... so the illusion didn't work on me. The costumes were really cool, but I think that about every period movie.

You'd think I'd have more movie info, what with all my free time, but alas...

I have to see The Prestige (Peggy... are we picking a date?)
I've got The Departed on my list, and
I can't wait for Stranger Than Fiction.

I just hope the end of the year is better than this Mid-Season.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have not given up on the movie blog!!!

It's been several months since any of us have written anything on this blog. I can attribute that to the following:
  1. Complete disinterest in films starring Jessica Simpson and her peers
  2. All of my energy I've expended for popular culture has been used up by Project Runway, and the return of the fall TV season (my first with a DVR, which is nice).
  3. A bunch of other crap that leaves me too tired to think about movies.

But, it's now October, and time to start watching Ebert and Roeper again. There are a lot of movies coming our way this fall into winter that I am particularly psyched out of my mind about. To wit:

  1. I'm not the biggest fan of the "intense relationshippy drama about infidelity" genre, but if the movie is half as good as this incredible trailer for Little Children, I think you can count me placing the film on my "must see" list this movie season. I'm not kidding when I say I think this is the BEST. TRAILER. EVER. Seriously, like the trailer should get an oscar for its fantastic traileriness.
  2. I quote the film Elf on a nearly daily basis (and once so far in this post). Will Farrell is already my hero, but I've had grave concerns for his career after that bad kid soccer movie. After seeing the trailer for Stranger Than Fiction, I am confident that he's firmly back on track (and co-staring with Emma Thompson at that, good on ya, Frank the Tank!).
  3. I've only watched a few of Da Ali G show, count me in as intriqued by all of the good press Borat has been getting from its debut in Toronto. I may not make it to see this in the theatres, but it's already on my netflix queue.
  4. On pedigree alone, I will be seeing this movie (Nicholson! Scorcese! Damon! DiCaprio! Baldwin! This is a sausage fest, but you have to admit, it's good sausage). Based on the fact that I have crushes on Leo and Matt Damon, I will be seeing this movie. Most importantly, the reviews sound great. I want to see The Departed.
  5. Finally, Richard Linklater's latest. I feel like I've grown up with Richard Linklater. When I as a senior in high school, he made Dazed and Confused. We just wanted to party and beat up freshmen. Then when I was in college, our world opened up to wanting to make out with hot foreign people and hear ourselves talk in Before Sunrise. 10 years later, we still wanted to hear ourselves talk, but we had to own up to our responsibilities in Before Sunset. His latest project represents further maturity in realizing how absolutely complicated and messed up the world is: Fast Food Nation. I'm psyched about this movie for so many reasons. First of all, it has Greg Kinear in it. So, there's that. Also, I thought it was such a brave and smart choice to fictionalize the incendiary non-fiction book upon which this movie is based. It can emotionalize this very disturbing subject of the non-food that is in our food without resulting to the Michael Moore school of disturbing subject documentaries. I am hoping that the end result will be just as mobilizing, but not as polarizing. We'll see. ALSO, the movie has launched a totally kick-heinie website, which includes retorts from and blogs written by McDonalds, safe food advocacy and activist website links, etc. It's pretty cool.

Anyway, I'm back on board for another movie season. I hope all of the hype is worth it!