Saturday, February 23, 2008
There is a book by Upton Sinclair called Oil! that had a major impact on my teenage mind. It told the story of the conquest and development of a small Western American town by an 'oil man.' He's not just an oil man looking for a "sea of oil" below this Western town, no, Daniel Plainview was and is a symbol of the American spirit. But I'm not talking about the good sides of that spirit. I'm talking about the need for conquest, the need to compete, to win. This greed allows those who embrace it to do incredible things, but this greed is also a cancer and you will eventually rot with it dwelling inside you. I loved this book and this 2007 adaptation to the screen is just perfect. It captured the message and feel of the book as so few movies have done for books in the past. It's an old-style movie, with sweeping cinematography and a slow, tense pace. It felt more like Papillion or Once Upon a Time in the West, and less like movies from our present era. The direction creates balanced, well-chosen scenes. John Frisk's production design is amazing and the performances by all involved are simply out of this world good. I am a huge and lifelong fan of Daniel Day-Lewis and loved the last time he and Paul Dano got together in The Ballad of Jack and Rose, but this is truly his best work. To me it felt like Welles or Olivier at their prime. This didn't seem like the performance of modern actors. It's something to behold. This is not an uplifting movie, but it has a message that's more appropriate now than ever. Plus, well, it's just damn well made.
2007 animated film written by Jerry Seinfeld and directed by two guys that haven't directed much else (Prince of Egypt) but have been on the art team for tons of movies from the Little Mermaid to Shrek. The movie tells a few days in the life of Barry Benson, a young bee who's just graduated and is headed into his career. But not so fast. First Barry wants to see the world, to lean new things, to have a little adventure. And like in most kids movies these days he gets into some sticky situations, overcomes some big obstacles, learns life lessons and finds his destiny. While the story wasn't terribly original, the movie was still alot of fun. It was uplifting, funny, fantastic visually and totally enjoyable to watch. It's also totally harmless. So, I guess, long story short is, if you have kids this is one you definitely want to pick up. If not, it's alright and you'd probably enjoy it but it's not like you're going to love it.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
As the Oscar season arrives I feel it's only appropriate that I finally get around to Christopher Guest's 2006 parody of the whole Oscar thing. I love Christopher Guest and some of his movies have been my favorite comedies ever, but I don't think I laughed once. It wasn't touching, it wasn't funny, it wasn't much of anything. I don't even really get it. Are we supposed to be laughing at these people? They are actors, writers, directors and other producers who have been hoping for a break their whole careers and most of them have been around a long time doing crap. They finally have a chance at Oscar buzz and a renewed career and what, we're supposed to laugh at them for getting excited? Are we supposed to mock them? Pity them? I don't get it. I also don't like the fact that everyone in this movie is portrayed as shallow and naive. So let me get this straight, everyone who works in this multi-billion dollar industry in Los Angeles from the make-up artists to the studio heads are all idiots? If so, why aren't we all over there making that bank? There are idiots in Los Angeles, no doubt, but there are also many smart, accomplished people in this industry. This movie offers nothing new to the Hollywood satire genre. If you want to watch something good that pokes fun at Hollywood see Bob Roberts, see State and Main, see Hollywood Shuffle or Bamboozled, don't see For Your Consideration.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
2007 follow up to the first Alien vs Predator that came out a few years ago. This time it's being directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause who haven't directed much but have done TONS of visual effects work. They are big time visual effects supervisors having done everything from Titanic to the X Men movies. And that's alot of what this movie is, visual effects. This movie was just like so many b-action movies from the 80's and early 90's. What that means is that it's predictable, shallow in terms of plot and amateurish in terms of acting. But it also means that it's pretty fun. It's dumb and enjoyable. Lame and worth watching...if you're into the whole b-action movie thing. I don't think I'd run out and buy it, but if it were on tv, I'd pause there for a bit.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
2006 film by British director Roger Mitchell whose done several movies not worth mentioning and one, Notting Hill, that you've all heard of. This movie is about a man in the winter of his life who is grasping out at one last vestige of youth and vitality in the form of a girl who could not be any further from like him in terms of...well...everything. She is a gum chewing, tv watching, teenager from the countryside. He is an aged, eloquent, classically trained, Londonite actor. The story is fantastic. It seems so genuine and natural. The old act old and the young act young. This movie shows things as they naturally are and not some hollywood version of them. It's funny, it's sad, it's creepy, it's many many things. But what makes this movie so good is the performances. Everyone is great. The side characters as well as the very small roles. But Peter O'Toole is truly magnificent. I have been a fan of his since I first saw Becket as a kid and I really think this is his best performance in decades. One of his best ever. He embodies this character. It's worth the price of admission at the very least. This is a great flick that made me laugh and made me think. Totally worth picking up.