Lights, camera, action!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Blah blah

You know, having thought about what I'm going to say for my review of Elizabethtown, I've decided I need to see it again. Sometimes that happens with a film; you need to see it more than once. So I will. Luckily I didn't send the DVD back yet. Anyway, keep checking back and I'll do a review of it soon. Promise.

Oh yeah, also, I was going to review Brokeback Mountain (which I finally saw, yay!) but I don't think I can. Not sure why, but I just can't. If anyone particularly wants me to review it (cause I'm just so great at it) them tell me. If not, read some of the hundreds of reviews at IMDb. Here you go: http://imdb.com/title/tt0388795/usercomments. Go nuts.

Casanova

Next on to...

Casanova (2005)
Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons

I read the screenplay of this several months ago and after reading it I really wanted to see it but didn't get the chance while it was in cinemas. After seeing it now, it was pretty much what I had expected.

Right, plot: Famous lover Giacomo Casanova meets Francesca Bruni, a beautiful young woman who is a philospher/writer, trying to stand up for women in Venice. He falls in love although she thinks he is someone wlse, and she lready has a fiance, albeit one she's never met. It's pretty complicated with lots of mistaken identities, basically all ending up with Casanova finding the true meaning of love. Altogether now, aww.

I really liked the script and story actually. The whole mistaken identities thing, although a bit much, and hard to keep track of if you're not giving it your full attention, is a lot of fun, and is quite Shakespearean in its style. The production design, costumes, cinematography, etc. are wonderful. The whole movie was shot in Venice and it really adds authenticity and life to it.

The cast were all good. But even through the story, design and acting, something was not right, though I can't put my finger on what is was. Something just didn't work, and I know this is going to be a useless review, but I don't know what it was. I would say the direction, but Lasse Hallstrom is a very good director (The Cider House Rules was amazing). Actually, having said that, I felt the same with his film Chocolat: something didn't work, despite being well-made.

Well, I don't know. I think everyone who reads this is going to have to see it and then I can discuss it with you. I need other people's opinions.

Sorry for the crap review.

B+

Talliestar

Despite the final product of the film being not amazing, the screenplay has lots of lines I really like. So instead of just having one quote, I'm going to have three.

Pucci: I think we could say if everything went according to plan we could return your reputation and your virginity to you.
Victoria: You could do that?
Pucci: Oh, yes. We are the Catholic Church. We can do anything.
----------
Pucci: [seeing a hot air balloon rise into the sky] Witchcraft!
Pucci's servant: Actually, sir, it's because hot air rises, counteracting the gravitational forces of [Pucci gives him a look]
Pucci's servant: ... witchcraft.
----------
Dalfonso: You are charged with heresy. To wit: fornicating with a novice!
Casanova: She was hardly a novice.

The Break-Up

Wow, I have a lot of reviews to get through tonight. I'll do them in the order I saw them, so let's start with:

The Break-Up (2006)
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn.

The Break-Up was advertised as a romantic comedy, with two big Hollywood stars (who, it is now common knowledge, are a couple) about a couple who break up but both refuse to move out of the condo they own, so they share it, but being hostile towards each other.

In actual fact, it is a lot more of a drama than a comedy. Sure, there are funny lines (a lot of them are found in the trailer) but there is a much more serious tone than there is in most romcoms. And I know what I'm talking about here. I may not have seen many action, horror or sci-fi movies, but I've seen a hell of a lot of romantic comedies.

The thing that stuck out most about the movie to me is how realistic it is. You really believe in the characters and can empathize with both of them (but mostly with Brooke, played by Jennifer Aniston, because she's the woman and has much better reason to be upset than he does). Their relationship is so real, you can believe they're together in real life (although for most of the movie Gary and Brooke aren't together).

The two leads are excellent. I haven't really seen Vince Vaughn in anything else but he's very good. Jennifer Aniston proves she is a wonderful dramatic actress as well as a comedic one. Is there any wonder why everyone loves her so much?

It has all the features of a normal romcom (quirky relatives, eccentric employers, the 'best friend', etc.) but with much more depth to it, and at times it's downright sad. If I were in a certain mood, I might cry watching it. Turns out I wasn't, so I didn't. But it was sad!

Nothing more to say really. Basically, if you're a romcom gal like me, see it, because it ticks all the right boxes, and even if you're not a romcom person, you may like it more than you think.

A
(Is it just me, or am I giving like every single film an A?)

Talliestar

Gary: Richard did not kick my ass, what Richard did was attack me while I was half asleep.
Brooke: Really? Is that how you see it?
Gary: There's a really big gap between getting your ass kicked, and having a dancing, singing sprite fool you with trickery, and then strike your throat before you know that you're even in the fight. But I wouldnt expect someone like you to understand that, because all you do is make moves from up in your ivory tower.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stormbreaker

Stormbreaker (2006)
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Alicia Silverstone, Bill Nighy, Sophie Okonedo

Wow, Alex Pettyfer is hot. He really is. He used to go to my friend's school as well - there's my (albeit weak) link to him!

Anyway, the movie. I hadn't read any of the books, by the way, so I didn't know the story. It had gotten pretty good reviews though.

Stormbreaker is about a 14-year-old boy called Alex Rider who lives with his uncle (played by Ewan MacGregor) who is a away a lot, and their housekeeper Jack (Alicia Silverstone, who should really be getting more parts as she is a very good actress). His uncle, Ian, gets killed while away on a trip and Alex discovers that he was a secret agent. He now has to take over his uncle's role and try to stop a baddie from unleashing a virus on the schoolchildren of Britain through a revolutionary new computer called Stormbreaker. Cue lots of gadgets, action and famous British actors.

Alex Pettyfer is very well cast as Alex Rider (and hey, they have the same first name!) and is very nice to look at, as mentioned previously. Bill Nighy is hilarious as the boss of MI6, although I'm not sure the character was actually meant to be like that. I don't know, I'd have to read the books. Sophie Okonedo (now what else has she done? Hmm.) is nice and serious as Mrs Jones. Alicia Silverstone (I love her name!) is very good as I said before, and Mickey Rourke is nice and gruff and evil as the villain, Darrius Sayle. The love interest, Sabina Pleasure (what kind of a name is that? Is she meant to be a younger Pussy Galore or something?) is played by Sarah Bolger, who was very good in In America a few years ago but here seems to be trying to hide her Irish accent and sounds really weird. So I didn't like her much, although her role is not very big and she didn't actually have many lines.

The story was typical James-Bond-for-kiddies fare, with some cool action sequences and gadgets along the way. I loved how their version of 'Q', played by Stephen Fry, worked in Hamley's toy shop and that's where you get the gadgets from. Overall, the story was nothing special, but enjoyable. The production design and photography were very good - it was set in a very modern, kind of stylised Britain with nice shots of London and Cornwall and stuff.

It was very short for a movie of this kind - only 93 minutes. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Superman Returns were about 150 minutes, for crying out loud. That was it's problem - it needed more flesh. It was a bit flat. I don't know if they cut lots out of the book or whatever, but it just wasn't strong enough. The climax wasn't really a climax - it kind of seemed like what he'd been doing the whole time. And when it ended, it was kind of like 'Oh. Is that the end? Hm.' There just needed to be more there. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.

So basically, the performances and the filming were all very good, but the script and the story were too flat. Surprising, seeing how the screenplay was written by the books' author, Anthony Horowitz. I'd recommend seeing it, and I'll probably see it again when it's out on DVD because it's quite a cool movie, plus Alex Pettyfer is hot, but it didn't really do anything for me. You know how soem films just linger in your mind for hours (or days) after you see it and some don't? Well, this one didn't. Nothing against the movie, it just didn't.

B+

Talliestar

(IMDb, which usually never fails me, has a measly selection of memorable quotes from Stormbreaker. And I can't remember any myself, so I'll have to go with a sub-par one, which I don't really like to do, but whatever.)

Alex: What is this place? Hogwarts?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

(Yup, the pictures still aren't working. Goddamnit.)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood

I remember when my dad and brother saw this when it came out. I saw something else at the same time, but I can't remember what. Anyway, they said it was very confusing, and so it didn't really appeal to me much, until recently. Funnily enough, my brother also said Harry Potter was confusing the first time he read it, when he was like nine and I was about six. I then decided I wouldn't read it. Ha. First impressions can be decieving.

Anyways, due to the whole mum-Bafta thing we have had Eternal Sunshine in our DVD collection for quite sometime, but I never got round to seeing it. After talking to a couple of friends who had seen it and loved it, I watched it with my cousin and her boyfriend who were staying with us.

I think, because I had heard it was so confusing, I was really prepared and I was completely alert to try and understand it. It wasn't as confusing as I had expected actually. Oh, first I should do the plot thing. That's going to be tricky.

OK, well, two people undergo a memory wiping procedure to erase each other from their memories, but, to quote IMDb, 'is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with'. That's pretty much all I can say. The movie skips around a lot, between the people performing the procedure and Joel's memories with Clementine.

The performances are all amazing. Jim Carrey should stop doing Jim Carrey-like roles and start doing more stuff like this. He's very talented. Kate Winslet (with a brilliant American accent) is also amazing. Basically, all the cast were perfect. Well done to Kirsten Dunst for doing a supporting role like this. It would be easy for someone of her fame to just do leads in fluffy romcoms, and this was a clever choice, I think.

What the script for this film must have been like to read, I have no idea. And it would have been so hard to edit! The creators really did a good job.

Oh God, I know this is a really crap review and I'm sorry. It's a difficult film to write about. You just have to see it. It is VERY weird at times and is quite complicated, but it's an amazing piece of work. So I'm going to let the film speak for itself and I will shut up now.

A

Talliestar

[Clementine and Joel have broken into an empty house on the Montauk beach]
Joel: I think we should go.
Clementine: No, it's our house! Just tonight... [she looks at an envelope on the counter] ...we're David and Ruth Laskin. Which one do you want to be? I'd like to be Ruth, but I can be flexible.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Superman Returns

(the damn picture thing doesn't seem to be working. I'll keep trying. In the meantime, if you really want to see a poster, go here: http://www.times-online.com/content/articles/2006/07/05/news/04superman.jpg.)

Superman Returns (2006)
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey

You know, I don't think I've actually seen any of the other Superman movies/TV shows. Oh, except for Smallville. And I have seen Supergirl several times, but that doesn't count. I haven't seen any of the famous Christopher Reeve ones, you know? Still, having seen Smallville and both Spiderman movies, I kind of knew what to expect. I am pleased to say it exceeded my expectations.

OK, here's the plot: Superman returns to Earth (I'm not quite sure how, that part was slightly confusing. If anyone knows, please enlighten me) and returns to his old job at The Daily Planet, only to find Lois Lane still working there, but now with a fiance and five-year-old kid (who looks like he could well be related to Macaulay Culkin. But he's not). Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has discovered the crystal thingies in that big ice palace and has found out that they will create land mass, or shut off power, or something along those lines. I'm not quite sure about that part either. Why do I always find big action movies so confusing? Interesting indie movies I'm fine with. But big blockbusters? Can't understand them. Anyway, as I was saying, Lex decides to create a huge island off the east coast of America by using these crystals, and at the same time using Kryptonite so Superman can't do anything to stop him. That's basically the plot, difficult as it was to get into my tiny brain.

Anyhoo, firstly: the casting. How the hell did they find Brandon Routh? I mean he's perfect! He looks so much like Christopher Reeve, and is actually probably better looking. It's like he was born for the part. Like, he's really good-looking, but he's too squeaky clean to be a real heart-throb, you know? It's weird how 'bad boys' are found more attractive than super-good, dazzling-white-smile guys like this. Hmm. God, I keep getting really off-topic with this review, aren't I? Sorry. Back to the casting. I also really liked Kevin Spacey as Lex, but I have nothing special to say about him. Kate Bosworth was very good as Lois, I thought, although she seemed a bit young for the part. Also, she had one brown eye and one blue eye. Was that intentional? Did she wear contacts (or a contact, to be more precise)? Is this a characteristic of Lois Lane, that I have missed from not watching the other movies? Is it just something Kate Bosworth has? Are her eyes actually perfectly fine and I'm going colour blind? Who knows.

The kid was cute. Not amazing, but good enough. Also, looks strangely familiar. Oh well, could just be that Macaulay Culkin thing. Oh yeah, and just as a shameless plug, Frank Langella, who plays the Daily Planet editor, he narrated one of my dad's films. Hehe.

The effects were amazing. Or at least I thought so. Seeing as I'm not really an action movie type of gal and I don't usually watch movies crammed with effects (Harry Potter being an exception, I suppose), I'm probably not the best person to judge, but I thought they were brilliant. The acting and script were all fine, not incredible, but fine. Basically the best bits were the special effects and the casting of Mr Routh. Oh, and I really loved Lois's house. You'll have to see the movie to know what I mean.

Overall, Superman Returns is an enjoyable film. It won't change your life, but it's a really fun way to spend a couple of hours. Go see it. You know you want to.

By the way, and just because I'm fussy about these things, Clark grew up in Smallville, yes? In Kansas? And Smallville is fairly close to Metropolis, yes? I know this from watching Smallville, where it is most definitely set in Kansas and you can definitely drive between the two towns within a reasonably short space of time. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but Kansas is pretty much as far from the sea as you can get in America, yes? OK so WHY IS METROPOLIS BY THE SEA??? I don't get it. Please explain, someone. Please!

A-

Talliestar

Superman: [after saving Lois Lane and other members of the media from a plane crash] I hope this hasn't put you off of flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Everyone Says I Love You

(poster coming soon)

Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Directed by: Woody Allen
Starring: Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Woody Allen, Julia Roberts

I had seen this film a couple of years ago but it wasn't that vivid in my memory so now I've seen it again I've decided to review it. 'Everyone Says I Love You' is a musical comedy about a large and slightly dysfunctional family living in a wealthy part of Manhattan. The mother, Steffi (Goldie Hawn), has a daughter (D.J., played by Natasha Lyonne) from her first marriage to Joe (Woody Allen) then married Bob (Alan Alda), who had two kids of his own (Schuyler, Drew Barrymore and Scott, Lukas Haas), and then they had two kids together (Lane and Laura, Gaby Hoffman and Natalie Portman). Makes a pretty large family in all. Joe, the ex-husband, is still friends with Bob and Steffi, which makes for some interesting family relationships. Basically the movie is about a year in their lives, as D.J. helps her father win over the beautiful Von (Julia Roberts), Schuyler prepares for her engagement to Holden (Edward Norton), etc. etc.

The first thing to note about this film is the songs. The characters all sing, some better than others, and there are dance numbers too. It is all slightly weird. The main thing is, you can't take it seriously. At all. You have to look at it in a light-hearted way and it's really very good. As a dramatic piece, no way. I mean, at the end, Goldie Hawn flies! Yes, she flies! It's fantastic!

The cast are great, and Woody Allen certainly got some big names to star in it. It's interesting to see a young Natalie Portman as a ditzy teenager, and Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts are great in roles different to what they usally play.

This is a very unusual film but it's Woody Allen (who I'm not usually a fan of) at his best. Take it all with a pinch of salt and it's a very enjoyable experience.

A-

Talliestar

Bob: Frieda, this pasta doesn't have any sauce
Frieda: It's Bavarian pasta, it doesn't need sauce. The Italians need sauce. The Italians were weak!

Alex & Emma




Alex & Emma (2003)
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Kate Hudson, Luke Wilson

Alex & Emma is the story of a novelist (Alex, played by Luke Wilson), who is told by some big, beefy Cuban mafia guys who he borrowed money from, that unless he finishes his novel in thirty days and gets paid for it (thus paying them back) they will kill him. Pleasant, huh? Oh yeah, he hasn't started the book yet and they destroy his laptop, so he hires a stenographer (Emma, played by Kate Hudson) to type the book out on some little stenography machine while he dictates it to her. Got it?

The film is mainly set in Alex's grungy Boston apartment (great piece of set), but as he is dictating the story to Emma there are fantasy pieces from the story he's writing. Or dictating. Whatever. These are set in the 1920's, and Alex and Emma play certain characters in it. Over time we see how the real world begins to echo the story, and the story begins to echo real life as well.

It's all very cleverly plotted, and extremely well-written. There were lots of very funny lines and I loved the whole story and plot. Wilson and Hudson, the two leads, were also very good indeed. They are both actually genuinely talented actors. Basically, what more can I say? I loved it. I might buy it, actually. It is a really nice, interesting romantic comedy. Sure, it's not going to win any Oscars but if you think about it, has a romantic comedy ever won an Oscar? Hmm. Anyway, just see it.

A

Talliestar

Emma: Alex? If you think you're having a heart attack and you're going to die, call me first, okay? No use wasting money on the bus if you're just gonna be dead when I get here.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pleasantville

OK, I feel slightly guilty about doing this, but whatever. I was looking up Pleasantville on IMDb, one of my favourite movies ever, and I came across this review by Edward J. Cunningham. I just really liked it and it sums up all my views on the film. So I decided to post it on here, even thought I DID NOT WRITE IT and DO NOT TAKE ANY CREDIT FOR IT. Got it?



Pleasantville (1998)
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels.

I knew what this film would be about before I rented it, but I'm stunned that it would be THIS good. Nothing against "Saving Private Ryan" or "Shakespeare in Love", but this film should have won Best Picture in 1998 and it was a shame that it wasn't nominated. It's an even bigger injustice that it did not get a nomination for best screenplay or cinematography.

In the hands of another writer, this movie could have been made as just a parody of 1950's sitcoms like "Leave It To Beaver" or "Ozzie and Harriet." But this film isn't about how clich├ęd those series look decades later. It's about the false nostalgia for a past that never existed. We survived the past and we know that everything turned out all right. Because of this, we selectively choose our memories and weed out the unpleasant ones. That's why the past is sometimes seen as "the good ol' days." Pleasantville does not represent how the 50's actually were but rather an idealization of what people THINK the 50's were---no one had sex, everyone got along swell, and life was fairly easy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are many film from that era which show how real people (even in suburbia) actually lived. This film argues that free will and choice is ESSENTIAL to life and that we should embrace freedom instead of fearing it. It isn't just about making out, but having the OPTION to make out.

Another reviewer claimed that this film was an attack on the 50's, but David and Jennifer could very easily have been dumped in the world of "The Brady Bunch", "Gilligan's Island" , or "Batman." But setting "Pleasantville" in a 1950's sitcom allows for the brilliant metaphor of black and white versus color. Black and white photography is a stylized depiction of the universe, but unless you're color blind it's not the way you actually see the universe. When we first see Pleasantville's citizens, all of them are cardboard cut-outs of stereotypes. As they begin to open up and become real people, color seeps into their world. The catalyst seems to be the willingness to experience new sensations and become vulnerable. Jennifer has slept with lot of guys when she was in the normal world, so sex does not change HER into a color character. On the other hand, when she actually finishes a book (without pictures) for the first time in her life, THEN she becomes colorized. Similarly, David does not bloom into color until he breaks out of his aloofness and defends his "mother." Compare the way he ignores his real mother at the beginning of the film to how he consoles and comforts her at the end to see how much David has changed.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are a lot of films out there that are very entertaining and/or very moving--like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Titanic." Movies like "Pleasantville" which challenge the audience and force them to think are very rare, and should be treasured by the discerning filmgoer.

By Edward J. Cunningham

Jennifer: This place gives me the creeps! Did you know that the books are blank?
David: What?
Jennifer: Yeah, I was in the library and I looked, and they have covers and there's nothing inside of them.
David: What were you doing in a library?
Jennifer: I got lost.

Herbie: Fully Loaded



Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005)
Director: Angela Robinson
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Breckin Meyer

Herbie: Fully Loaded was made to bring the classic Volkswagen Beetle, star of many films in the 70s and 80s, to a new generation of movie-goers. And of course, to reel in the pre-teen audiences, they got Lindsay Lohan to star in it. OK, fair enough.


I've never seen any of the other Herbie films, and after seing this one I can't say I want to. They're probably better movies than this one, but I have one main problem with the whole concept - I don't like the idea of a car that is practically human. I just don't. Herbie can see (and we get several shots from his perspective as well), move on his own, do many tricks that ordinary cars can't do, smile, look angry, even fall in love (no, I'm not kidding). From the very beginning of the film we see what Herbie is capable of, which here involves hitting, pushing, and squirting oil at a scrapyard owner. For eight-year-old kids, this is no doubt hilarious. Once you hit puberty, the humour is that kind of thing wears off.

So that was my first problem. I think I don't like the idea of a 'human' car because it's live action, not animated. I mean, Disney Pixar's new film Cars is all about talking, thinking cars. That's fine, because it's animated. When it's live action it just feels wrong. Also, I'm just really not interested in cars and racing, at all, and since that's what the film was all about, it didn't really do anything for me.

The story is pretty predictable and the script is incredibly formulaic. Basically, Maggie Peyton, youngest in a long line of racing heroes, finds Herbie in a scrapyard, and ends up racing (and winning) in a street race against the one of the top racing car drivers there is, then goes on to race in a big NASCAR race. Oh, and on the way she gains Daddy's approval, gets a new boyfriend and learns lessons about friendship, teamwork, family, blah, blah, blah. Typical Disney schlock.

The acting is not bad, although the awful script doesn't give them much to work with. Lindsay Lohan, as spoilt Hollywood princessy as she is, can act. She can. And she does look nice in this film, which was made before she went all blonde and stick-thin.The bottom line is, the performances are acceptable but nothing special.

I laughed (and not really laughed, but chuckled mildly) three times during this movie. For a comedy, that's not very good. At all. But it's because all the jokes are aimed at moronic little kids.

Another reason I think this movie doesn't work (I'm being so positive, aren't I?) is the fact that mainly young girls are going to see this because of Lindsay Lohan (it's not exactly marketed towards boys, either), but the whole movie is about cars and racing and driving, which, in general, young girls aren't all that interested in. So it doesn't really work for anyone, unless you're a ten-year-old Lindsay Lohan fan who loves cars. You'd probably like it then. And I'm sorry, but that's going to be quite a small target audience.

Overall, if you really have nothing else to do and you enjoy bad Disney family movies, then see it. If not, avoid it. It actually reminded me of all those Mary Kate and Ashley movies, you know, the ones that went straight to video because they weren't good enough to be released in the cinemas? Replace Miss Lohan with the twins and bingo! It could be right up there with Holiday in the Sun and Passport to Paris.


C-


Talliestar


Charisma: Anyway, I thought I'd come back to start our road trip early.
Maggie: Slight problem. I promised I'd meet a friend out in the desert.
Charisma: Why? Are you burying a body?

(Note: this was one of the lines I laughed at. Also, what the hell is up with the name Charisma????)