Archive for August, 2007
Director Paul Greengrass returns for a second shot at a Bourne movie, having directed the second film in the series as well. Returning with Greengrass are the hand-held camera shots and tight framing of the second film. While this approach does tend to pull the viewer into the scene, during the frenetic, up-close, action sequences it can be a little dizzying—often leaving you wondering exactly what you just saw. Previous Bourne films have garnered a reputation for fantastic car chase scenes, and The Bourne Ultimatum doesn’t deviate from this formula, serving up an exciting chase between Bourne and another assassin that culminates in a wreck as violent as any I’ve ever seen on film. There’s plenty of action on tap throughout the movie, pretty much from beginning to end.
A “What If” That Satisfies
Becoming Jane is an absolute delight in which to get lost for a few hours. Adoration is written all over this film, whether for the beauty of the woods and exteriors of manor houses or the soft morning light filtering through a window to catch the bowed head of young Jane as she writes while the rest of the household sleeps. Director Julian Jarrold frames his shots for maximum impact but also gently pulls away to give the overall context its due, creating seamless transitions and a delightful and honest portrayal of the time period in all aspects. Another ace for this movie is the quality of its cast. The chemistry between Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy is absolute magic—pure, clear, believable, and stunning
Just Beasts, No Beauties
Interview is an odd bird—a remake and rewrite of an art film by assassinated Dutch artist Theo van Gogh which presented a fictionalized interview with real-life Dutch soap opera star Katja Schuurman. If this all sound like too much pop culture nonsense for you to bear, you’re probably right. It’s like peeling back the cover off a hotdog factory and finding out what goes into the crap you consume—only here, the crap we’re talking about is the stuff that tends to pass for “entertainment news.” On the other hand… the film works pretty brilliantly as satire. The script, the direction, and the performances are observant and witty enough to capture all the right nuances of the worst tendencies of both star and journalist.
A Comedy Stunt Sneak-Attack
Let me be straight up with you: for the first thirty minutes or so of Hot Rod I sat there, scratching my head, wondering what in the world I was watching. I was pretty sure this was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. A funny thing happened, though. Using some sort of dark ninja arts, this film managed to sneak up on my funny bone and by the end I was practically rolling in the aisle, wiping tears from my eyes I was laughing so hard. I won’t guarantee that everyone will react this way, but if you like quirky, offbeat, humor then you stand at least a chance.
Delivering “Happily Ever After”
The movie is filmed artfully with sweeping shots of the Swiss countryside contrasted with the stark modernism found in the city. The story, though a bit long, does an excellent job of portraying the situation through the eyes of a child, and it succeeds in developing each storyline it begins. The hopes, dreams, and wants of each character are apparent throughout and leave the viewer with a coherent understanding of what went wrong and what went right. The story takes a Disneyesque twist toward the end, which could have and should have been avoided. But for those who can’t be satisfied without “happily ever after,” this movie delivers.
Never Fear: A Movie for Kids is Here
Undoubtedly, the best thing about Underdog is the theme song, and I’m glad to see the motion picture version wasted no time in reintroducing it. Proving it’s just as catchy as always, I found myself whistling it as I walked out of the theater. Other elements of the original cartoon don’t stand up as well in a feature-length film. Somewhat expectedly, Underdog is an uninspired, dull cartoon adaptation. It is certainly worth pointing out, however, that I am not this film’s target audience. Whereas this summer’s other cartoon adaptation Transformers was aimed more towards older audiences, Underdog is definitely aimed towards kids.
Just Whose Story is This?
El Cantante is described in the film’s production notes as a “labor of love” for its stars Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Its purpose is to re-introduce the world to the music of Hector Lavoe. Marc Anthony’s role is to portray the namesake, and he does so very well. But Lopez’s JLo-loving production shamelessly features her in almost every scene. When she is not being featured, she is upstaging someone else in the background. JLo is artfully displayed, even in domestic fights, and never looks bad. In short, she portrays the best-preserved and least-affected life-long cocaine addict in the world.
A Narrow Demographic Hit Very Narrowly
In general, I can ease into the land of make believe for such characters in animation. But I have to draw the line at live-action films based on fashionista dolls. A cartoon would at least make sense, but turning poorly-proportioned, “BFF” Barbies-of-the-new-century into (nominally) human characters just crosses the line for me. And Bratz is as shallow and aimless as it sounds. Creating a feature-length film based on four dolls (whose heads were as disproportionate to their bodies as Barbie’s breasts were to hers) may seem like a great summer-break film concept for kids, but the vapidity and predictability with which Bratz assaults the intelligence of the audience is more irritating than entertaining.
Dirty Chuckle-headed Filmmaking
If it is so hard for a movie to get the go-ahead in Hollywood, how do pointless, ugly disasters like The Ten ever get to the big screen? One thing The Ten does have going for it is that you can never tell where it is going to go next. The film also has some good laughs in it; but for the most part my laughter arose more out of the embarrassment I felt for having watched what I just saw. There are some disturbing images and situations in this film that I could have certainly lived without. It’s all done in good fun and for a laugh, but I’d rather get my chuckles without feeling so dirty.
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