Category Archives: movies
I picked up True Grit from the local library DVD shelf yesterday. After a promising start (the cinematography is excellent) I realized that this otherwise great film is undermined by a silly dialogue. One reviewer called it “amusingly idiosyncratic” but I just found it stupid.
About half of the time all of the English language contractions that we normally use are absent. So instead of saying, for instance, “I don’t know if I want to ride with him” a character would say something like “I do not know if I would like to ride with that man.”
But after speaking fully and formally, in the very next line a character will use contractions just like we do today. And the dialogue goes back and forth from painfully formal to casually informal throughout the whole film.
Obviously done on purpose, this device, however, isn’t consistent, which for me detracted from the film.
Maybe the Coen brothers, or whoever was behind it, thought they were achieving a delicate or possibly humorous balance between the two narrative styles. But it just distanced me, making the film seem contrived and “a movie” instead of something immediate and compelling. And I think most people would agree. Nominated for several Academy Awards, True Grit received none. In other words… nice try but no cigar.
Having said that, the acting is, on the whole, good. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon are already two of my favorites. And the newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is nothing short of amazing. But again, the stilted and uneven dialogue takes away from their performances.
Bottom line: This film is worth watching. At times I felt like it was a glorified and gory Little House on the Prairie (because it’s mostly from the perspective of a smart young woman). But I’m glad it was a library flick. I might have been disappointed had I paid more than a buck or two for it.
Related web pages
- True Grit (2010) (mrmovietimes.com)
- 2011 Critics’ Choice Awards: Hailee Steinfeld (fabsugar.com)
- True Grit’s Hailee, Josh, and Jeff Make a Pre-Oscars Stop in Berlin (popsugar.com)
- 2011 OscarTM Nominees: the scores and the bores (mrmovietimes.com)
- 125th Post Battle Royale: True Grit 1969 vs. 2010 (mhmoviereviews.com)
- True Grit: The Inversion of a Coen Brothers Movie (gocomics.typepad.com)
- Young Hollywood Awards: Hailee Steinfeld, Miranda Cosgrove (celebs.gather.com)
- Spielberg Top Movies (ajbelljournalism.com)
Correction… some might have noticed that I pulled a mini-review of the cliche ridden Mission Impossible
Correction… some might have noticed that I pulled a mini-review of the cliche ridden Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol soon after posting it. That’s because the bad guy was Swedish, not Russian as I’d said. I guess by the time he’d entered the film I was already falling asleep.
I still think it was a borderline effort… more like a sponsored ad for face recognition technology than a serious film. The only saving grace was the supporting cast, which made it just interesting enough to watch to the end.
Otherwise, I can’t understand why this film did so well. Maybe I’m just an old dinosaur with different expectations than the newer generation of spy movie audiences, which generally give this film a positive rating.
- DVD Tuesday – Mission Impossible, Shame & Frozen Planet (fox2now.com)
- SHINee in Reebok’s Commercial (koreanvitamin.wordpress.com)
- Mission Impossible Squirrel [VIDEO] (sheehy1.com)
- Brad Bird Says He’s Unlikely to Return for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5; Talks About Changing GHOST PROTOCOL’s Ending During Filming (collider.com)
- Dee Karl: Isles Rebuild: Mission Impossible? (hockeybuzz.com)
- Impossibly Good-Looking Josh Holloway Accepts a New Mission (popsugar.com)
- Video: Mission Impossible 4 car chase (topgear.com)
- Movie Commentary: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (inserttitlethere.wordpress.com)
- Tom Cruise Shows Jeremy Renner The Mission Impossible Ropes (popsugar.com)
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (thegallant.com)
- Product placement in pictures: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (brandsandfilms.com)
- Crappy Movies Not to Netflix: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (smartassguy.wordpress.com)
- DVD Review: Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Best Film of the Year (?) and a Couple More (mortadofilth.wordpress.com)
- Paula Patton On ‘Mission Impossible’ Return; ‘It Would Be So Much Fun!’ [VIDEO] (socialitelife.com)
- Tom Cruise To Make ‘Top Gun 2′ Before ‘Mission: Impossible 5′ (screenrant.com)
- #19 – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (mymoviechallenge2012.wordpress.com)
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (dolphinandwhale.wordpress.com)
had to pause the dvd a couple of times but definitely worth watching… characters are utterly convincing until, perhaps, the very end.
Yes, I saw it. And although I’m glad I did, Super 8 turned out to be a bit boring and disappointing.
The young actors were good, sometimes great (except for one who really didn’t cut it). And come to think of it, most of the adult lead actors were above average too. But oh, what cinematic cliches and obvious lead-ins to the many impending disasters.
(I’m keeping it general to avoid a spoiler).
I loved the TV show Alias. And the new Star Trek film wasn’t that bad either. But super-producer J. J. Abrams, IMHO, didn’t really come up with anything too memorable here.
The 70s scenes were unbelievable. Not good unbelievable. Just unbelievable. Sure they got the cars, clothes and hairstyles right. And that old electronic football game — I had one — looked and sounded just like the real thing. But the lingo was almost all 2011. (Also, Willow Tree figures were in the film, which weren’t around back then).
If you think I’m just being picky, well maybe I am. Or maybe this film is for the younger gen. To its credit, Super 8‘s special effects were impressive. And its treatment of young love was, well, adequate. But I found a complete lack of credibility in the plot line. I wasn’t expecting a comic book story. Had I known beforehand that all reasonable attempts to make this a convincing movie would be lacking, I might have enjoyed it more.
2½ stars outta 5.
- Bruce Greenwood’s Super-Secret ‘Super 8′ Role (moviefone.com)
- Super 8 | Spielberg & Abrams (annemariedietz.wordpress.com)
- Ruminations on Super 8 (marieloughin.com)
- #Super8Secret CENTRAL – Read the Super 8 Review! Watch Clips! Dig on Interviews! (dreadcentral.com)
- Super 8 (27thstreet.wordpress.com)
- Motion Picture Purgatory: Super 8 (dreadcentral.com)
- Super 8 is Probably Not What You Expected. Is That a Good Thing? (thebrowntweedsociety.com)
- “Super 8″ (hoganreviews.wordpress.com)
- Review: Super 8 (brittanydarby.wordpress.com)
- Review of “Super 8″ Movie “فيلم “سوبر ٨ (buzfairy.com)
- Super 8 (2011) (splatteronfilm.wordpress.com)
- Super 8′s Weekend: Should J.J. Abrams Have Made Star Trek 2 First? (eonline.com)
- Greg Grunberg appears in pal JJ Abrams’ ‘Super 8′ (pbpulse.com)
Production Company: Knight Productions
Secrets is all about relationships, ambiguity and the loss of innocence.
Something like Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill (1983), the film kicks off with a tight-knit group of buddies getting together to celebrate the passing of a close friend.
Except for the subplot of substance abuse, however, any similarity to that film pretty much ends here.
After confessing their innermost secrets to one another while camping at the waters edge and carousing in various indoor locations, the group’s unrestrained boozing and, especially, drug habits lead to an unfortunate unraveling.
The turning point occurs over a bad drug deal. Suddenly the innocent, soul searching found earlier in the film moves to something darker.
From the DVD liner notes we learn that Secrets was shot in 7 days with an improvised script. This gives the film freshness and spontaneity. And for me, anyhow, its laissez-faire production style confronted some of the cultural tropes that – God forbid – have burned deep neural pathways in my brain by virtue of my proximity to North American culture.
True, Canadians get a fair amount of European, Asian and other international TV and film. But the American Dream still lights up our CRT and Flat Screen TVs, working its way into our subconscious desires more than, perhaps, we wish to admit.
Like something out of a George Orwell novel, I see that elusive, ephemeral Dream flickering away every night as I take my evening walk. You don’t have to be a peeping Tom to see it. TVs just keep getting bigger and bigger, making it all so much easier to see the 21st-century Screen through so many Toronto living room windows.
So I had to pull back and readjust my expectations while watching this film. Not that I’m a stranger to international cinema. I’m not. I can handle subtitles just as well as anyone else. And I like taking imaginal trips without having to worry about the inherent dangers of flying.
By the same token, the overseas films that make it big here usually follow, to some degree, a commercially proven formula. And why not? After all, most people want to hit the jackpot–even if they claim otherwise with a false humility ironically mingled with an air of artistic superiority. In Western movie halls and DVD sales, making it big often means drawing on, to some extent, the Hollywood legacy (I know next to nothing about Chinese films, except for Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan…).
Sure, artistic styles have always been evolving, interpenetrating and expanding, and no doubt will continue to. As Heraclitus once put it, you can’t stand in the same river twice. But, having said that, there’s still a river to think about.
Ha. Okay. Now you get it.
Well, actually, maybe you don’t. Because the most powerful and surprising secret about Secrets is that it subtly undermines quite a few contemporary conventions.
Secrets is almost like a watercolor in motion. It’s got focus; but different approaches and ideas flow into one another, offering complexity and a touch of chaos without sacrificing overall coherence.
At first, I didn’t really connect with the characters in this film (although many of the same actors were quite absorbing in other Yildirim films). But after letting Secrets percolate for a while, the film simply wouldn’t let me go. Like other Yildirim productions, this one, too, got under my skin.
The phrase “thought-provoking” comes to mind. Along with “challenging.” Both are good things, as has been the lingering influence of Secrets.
- Review – Rose (DVD) (epages.wordpress.com)
- Review – Shades of a Killer (DVD) (epages.wordpress.com)
- Elisabeth Moss Joins Lawrence Kasdan And Kevin Kline’s Reunion (cinemablend.com)
- Q&A: Jackie Chan (guardian.co.uk)
- The Great Lawrence Kasdan Returns To Direct DARLING COMPANION!! (aintitcool.com)
- Mark Duplass, Dianne Wiest and Sam Shepard Cast in Lawrence Kasdan’s ‘Darling Companion’ (slashfilm.com)
- Kevin Kline And Diane Keaton Cast In Lawrence Kasdan’s Latest Film, ‘Darling Companion’ (moviesblog.mtv.com)
This review also appears at Earthpages.org
Genre: Crime, Drama
Production Company: Knight Productions
There’s something about a Kemal Yildirim film. Just what it is isn’t easy to put your finger on. But it’s certainly there. In spades.
His short film Rose is based on a true story and shot, in his own words, on a “miraculous” budget. This might contribute to the film feeling something like an early performance of Shakespeare, where the key actors apparently pulled together to get the most out of their modest resources.
Over the years, Shakespeare’s troupe got bigger budgets and more elaborate staging. And from watching Rose, one would expect a similar evolution with Yildirim’s work.
Also like a Shakespearean play, Rose’s direction gazes from an almost mystical, mind’s eye. That is, Yildirim’s films can deal with the harshest of topics with unruffled focus and calm compassion. This rare perspective arguably takes Rose to a spiritual plane, even though the film deals with some of the rough and disturbing aspects of contemporary society.
The film features Helen Clifford, a pretty 20-something actor who convincingly portrays the distressed character of Rose. Rose could be your little sister, daughter or niece. She’s a “nice girl” who’s made some very bad choices, finding herself tragically hooked on junk.
To make matters worse, Rose doesn’t have a lot of money to fuel her addiction. Her struggle for inner and outer peace is brought out by Clifford’s promising performance and by a solid supporting cast. Add to that the director’s unique way of getting to the point without lapsing into sheer vulgarity, and Rose comes out a winner.
Without giving away the details, suffice it to say that the opening and closing scenes involve light–first in darkness and last, shining through a cross.
Rose is a pleasant surprise, to be sure. And for a film that deals with such difficult subject matter, that’s quite an achievement.
Extras include some extensive behind the scenes footage, a five minute promo, a photo gallery, along with trailers for additional Knight Productions.
This review also appears at Earthpages.org
The other day I happened to notice Sunshine in the video section of the local library. I’d never heard of this film but being something of a sci-fi buff, was willing to give it a try.
Glad I did.
Blending the genres of action thriller and psychodrama, Sunshine boasts an international cast with recognizable influences from several sci-fi classics, such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris, and Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running, to name a few.
Without this being a spoiler, let’s just say that a group of astronauts are sent on a follow-up mission in a spaceship, Icarus II, to save the Earth from its dying sun. The first Icarus mission failed. And the second team’s job is to seed the failing sun – our sun – with an atomic bomb that hopefully will jump start a new star within it.
Not being a physicist, I wondered about the math behind this. But that didn’t really matter. What makes this film well worth watching is its solid cast, whose characters are a bit different from the usual sci-fi template, but not too different.
In addition, Sunshine’s special effects are certainly up to scratch. No jerky starfields, overdone spacecraft shadows, or obvious cutouts here.
The paradoxical closeness and distance of Sunshine to so many other sci-fi films and TV shows makes it a bit elusive—but in a good way. Maybe dreamlike would be a better word. The sets and action scenes are familiar, but not quite like anything else we’ve seen.
All in all, an engaging, enchanting film. Possibly not a timeless classic. But sci-fi fans should definitely take a look at this unique mix of action and introspection.
- Traversing the Cosmos – With a Little Help from My Friends (Pt I) | Science Not Fiction (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- First trailer for Douglas Trumbull’s insanely detailed 2001: A Space Odyssey documentary [2001: Beyond The Infinite] (io9.com)
- “Trailer â€” â€œ2001: Behind the Infinite â€” The Making of a Masterpieceâ€” and related posts (shadowandact.com)
- Indie Trailer Sunday: Making Of ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ Doc (firstshowing.net)
- Movie Trailer: ‘Beyond the Infinite: The Making of A Masterpiece,’ Douglas Trumbull’s Documentary About the Making of ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ (slashfilm.com)
- Movie Review Friday: Silent Running (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- Must Watch Trailer for a new Documentary on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (geektyrant.com)
- Douglas Trumbull’s ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ Documentary Looks Awesome (screenrant.com)
- What’s the Big Deal?: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (seattlepi.com)
- Why You Shouldn’t Drop Acid and Go to the Movies [Freakouts] (gawker.com)
This review also appears at Earthpages.org
Robin Hood: The Truth Behind Hollywood’s Most Filmed Legend is a documentary by Philip Gardiner that opens with some great footage of contemporary actors playing Robin Hood and his band of noble rebels.
The film includes some wonderful scenes of Sherwood Forest, along with enchanting medieval ruins and artifacts.
With this authentic setting, Robin Hood delves into historical records, folkloric possibilities and mythological parallels centered around the legend of Robin Hood, the pervasive culture hero who “steals from the rich and gives to the poor.”
The film’s content is quite rich and informative and its atmosphere is convincing. While the actors portraying the outlaw community are quite obviously modern people, they seem to resonate nicely with the Robin Hood myth, probably because most are forestry workers who volunteered for the film.
Toward the second half of the DVD, Robin Hood begins to reveal its distinctly Gnostic approach and the film arguably begins to lose some of its former objectivity.
I use the word “objectivity,” however, with a grain of salt because it’s probably impossible for any human being or group to be entirely objective.
When you think about it, what independent, non-commissioned filmmaker doesn’t tend to present a unique outlook within his or her work?
Looking at this another way, one could say that the first half of Robin Hood covers the bases. Around the middle, the film shifts to emphasize the filmmaker’s Gnostic leanings, which closely resemble those of the Swiss psychiatrist, C. G. Jung.
I’ve never met Philip Gardiner and am assuming the Gnostic position accurately reflects his own beliefs. This seems a reasonable assumption as many of his films depict Gnosticism as a shining counterpoint to a tarnished old Christian Church.
As a believing Christian who sees the New Testament as a theological work containing elements of fact, myth and exaggeration, I admittedly stumbled a bit over Robin Hood’s claim that Jesus Christ and John the Baptist are equals.
Consider the following New Testament passage:
John replied to all of them, “I am baptizing you with water, but one is coming who is more powerful than I, and I’m not worthy to untie his sandal straps. It is he who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).
Despite what the New Testament story says here, Robin Hood suggests that the archetypal pair of Jesus and John is also manifest in the images of Robin Hood and Little John, the Graeco-Roman twins Castor and Pollux, and among many other mythic exemplars and cosmological models.
Carl Jung, who developed the modern notion of the archetype, also made liberal use of analogy among world religions and myths. Jung claimed that the basic truth underlying diverse archetypal imagery was discernible through the insights of analytical psychology–i.e. depth psychology.
Some scholars, however, have little sympathy for this approach, maintaining that the extensive use of analogy is usually too loose and not grounded in real historical and cultural contexts. Unrestrained analogizing, they say, yields specious arguments and ultimately detracts from the credibility of a given study.
Scholars of this persuasion say that aspects of contemporary scholarship are lamentably falling into a kind of black hole where any pseudo-historical truth claim is passed off as fact as long as it sells.
Meanwhile, many authors and researchers promote the liberal use of analogy, equating it with seeing “The Big Picture.”
One could also ask whether the abundant use of analogy really is the Big Picture approach, or whether it just appears to be for those who haven’t experienced and therefore don’t know of anything better.
Enter the Christian theologians, particularly the Catholics, who claim that the contemporary Church doesn’t mindlessly bash Gnostic and Pagan elements but ennobles their worthwhile aspects within the higher, more comprehensive vantage point of Christian belief.
That’s why, they’ll argue, we find various artworks depicting Pagan themes within the Vatican museums.
Not a few Protestants, of course, balk at this scenario. Some even pejoratively call the Catholic Church the “Whore of Babylon.”
But this isn’t the place to go too deeply into the complexities of religious rivalry.
To return to Robin Hood, from a purely educational standpoint this is a valuable film. It brings to life the timeless tale of a notorious sinner-saint who, like many before him, takes refuge in the woods while pursuing justice in the face of an ignoble ruler.
The DVD’s special features section includes more commentaries and Gnostic-Pagan pop music videos.
Indeed, there’s something for everyone here. Even the most discerning of scholars might learn from Robin Hood: The Truth Behind Hollywood’s Most Filmed Legend, lest they get lost in the minutiae and miss the forest for the trees.