Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
10/19/2010 review I came across a review of this film with the title "Saint Clint" and the article refers to the "heavy handedness" of this and possibly to some of his other directorial work. I would agree with that assessment if Clint Eastwood were not such a masterful storyteller and sure handed director with such a distinctive style and naturalistic approach to filmmaking (Is it fair to knock a legend because he is old-fashioned and in his 80s? Does every journalistic piece have to be politically slanted? Do the majority of movie critics even like movies?) Yes there are political undertones in the film, but down in its bare bones this is a nicely told story that is both literate and yes, moving. It tells the story of a medium and several people dealing with different stages of grief. It is leisurely paced, subtitled at parts, and I would not recommend it to the Jackass demographic. It is nicely written by the talented Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) and again wonderfully handled by Clint (while watching his films, I catch myself thinking, "in any other hands.") It also must be said of Matt Damon that he has grown as an actor, and if the trailers for True Grit are not misleading, I bet that this is the year he walks home with a Golden Statue (for acting).
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
For someone who doesn't know a Buick from a Benz, I was expected to be totally bored with Cars, a film that definitely holds a high appeal for auto enthusiasts. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised with the movie, which really shouldn't be all that surprising since it is the product of the Pixar animated studio. Cars tells the story of Lightning McQueen, a brash and cocky rookie racecar who is on his way to super stardom and has little use for the help or camaraderie of anyone else. After being a part of a three way tie for the prestigious Piston Cup, McQueen makes his way to California for the tie breaking race where he plans on being lauded with gifts, praise, and women. On the way however, he makes an accidental detour in a small and forgotten town. As circumstances continuously prevent him from leaving, he gradually begins to warm to the residents of the town and the idea of friendship. I wouldn't argue that Cars is among the finest of the Pixar films, yet still it is an affable little film which contains great and inventive visuals. The film also represents the last film of Paul Newman, whose great presence is even felt here with voice work. It is fitting that Newman's last role is that of an old auto racing car, as Newman raced cars himself, even up until the final years of his life. Here, even in a lesser movie for his company, John Lasseter and his crew have fashioned another animated film which sets the bar for the genre and refuses to reduce itself to a childlike level.
This is the short that played before the theatrical release of Cars, and is also available on the DVD. It is another nice little short that Pixar studios do so well and tells the story of two street musicians vying for the coin of a little girl
Mater and the Ghostlight
This is another short made for the DVD release that tells the story of the lovable tow truck from the feature and how he becomes wrapped in a myth about the eerie Ghostlight.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
In 1957 small town Maine, a mischievous and lonely boy is playing in the restaurant where his single mother works. He overhears the town cook being mocked for claiming he saw a metal giant fall out of the sky. Later that night the boy chances to meet the 50 foot creature, and the two begin to bond as the boy discovers the giant is capable of learning and showing emotion. The boy soon realizes that keeping his new friend hidden from the fearful townspeople will be a problem, but he soon befriends a beatnik junkyard dealer who reluctantly allows the boy to store his pal there. A bigger problem looms though in the form of a incompetent yet dogged government agent who has caught wind of the giant's presence and will stop at nothing until he is caught and destroyed. The Iron Giant is an animated science-fiction that also functions as a satire of 1950s atomic age America. The film wonderfully recreates the times and tells a greatly involving story as well. Brought to the screen by Brad Bird, who would later join the Pixar team and direct the fine films The Incredibles and Ratatouille, this is a wonderful and warm film made in the same vein as E.T. The creation of the giant is truly remarkable, and the responses and emotions he emits are touching. Here, Bird proves that animation need not only be for children, but, by being intelligent and involving, can also hold an appeal for adults as well.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Errol Morris has made a career out of documenting eccentrics, and it all began with this little film in 1978. Here Morris interviews people who are involved with pet cemeteries in Napa, California. We meet such people like Floyd McClure who was so stricken when his collie died, that he decided to devote his life to creating a respectable place to bury their beloved pets. We also meet the local manager of the rendering plant or "the glue factory" as McClure refers to it with great contempt, although the manager is a realist and presents a reasonable argument for his business while also offering a slight criticism of Americans regarding their pet priorities. Others show up including people who have their pets buried there, who describe their shock when McClure lost the land due to poor foresight and decided to move all of the interred pets to another plot! We also meet the proprietors of another similar burial ground, as well as their sons who didn't plan on a life doing what their doing. Gates of Heaven was hailed by many as a bonafide masterpiece by some, while I like to view it as a great start for a master filmmaker who was just beginning to hone his craft. It doesn't quite have the immediacy of his latter films, which are aided by his Interrotron and their Philip Glass scores. I also didn't understand why so much of this short film was devoted to the two sons, one constantly babbling on about business models while surrounding himself with pointless trophies. Still, this is an intriguing film by a director who immediately had an eye for the odd.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Before Matt and Leo were moles playing cat and mouse games in dark movie theaters and abandoned rooftops in Boston, Andy Lau and Tony Leung played a similar game in Hong Kong in the 2002 film that was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese's The Departed entitled Infernal Affairs. The plots and turns of the two movies are nearly identical with Lau and Leung both being police recruits in the same class. While Leung is sent to infilitrate the local Triads, Lau is a mole for that gang. Soon the two are assigned with finding their respective counterpart, and soon ever increasing danger lies in their paths. This is a film that I regretted knowing what was going to happen, although the plot is so good and the film is so well made, I still found myself wondering what was going to happen during intense moments (particularly the two rooftop scenes). I would hate to take anything away from the original, but I do think The Departed is the superior film, with its fabulous dialogue from William Monahan distinguishing it. Still, this is a fine import, with the exception of an unnecessary flashback mechanism that mars the film, and a brilliantly conceived police thriller that inspired one of the crowning achievements of the previous decade in American cinema.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Bratenahl Lamplighter May Review Mike is a middle aged attorney in
Win Win is a reaffirming yet not overly sentimental film from writer/director Thomas McCarthy who specializes in these kind of films that revolve around closed off lead characters who begin to open up through the kindness of strangers. In The Station Agent, Peter Dinklage played a reclusive dwarf who came out of his shell with the aid of a local vendor and a divorced woman. In The Visitor, Richard Jenkins was a lonely professor who went to stay at his little used apartment in
to found illegal immigrants squatting there, who in turn help him find himself. Now, we have Paul Giammati playing a man who rediscovers his passion thanks to the help of a young teenager. These kinds of stories hold a general appeal, and McCarthy knows how to handle them. New York City
Paul Giammati doesn’t have the look of a movie star, but when audiences started taking notice of even about ten years ago in films like American Splendor and Sideways, I think it was exactly that everyman quality that people responded to. Since he has evolved into one of our treasured actors, bringing humanity and believability to his roles, and this film is no different. His Mike seems like someone we know or maybe even ourselves, and has us rooting for him. Amy Adams, who came to viewer’s attention in Gone Baby Gone as a virulent racist, has since endeared herself in subsequent roles and does her best here with an underwritten part as Mike’s wife. Bobby Cannavale (who was also great in The Station Agent) and Jeffrey Tambor provide hearty laughs as Mike’s assistant coaches.
On a personal level, coming from someone who also wrestled for a ragtag team, Win Win is a film that demonstrates its knowledge of the sport, and that helped me appreciate it more. The film did seem overlong and when the high dramatics start to fly in the latter stages, it started to lack effectiveness. Still, Win Win is warm and funny and did not always go where I expected it to go. By the time this review is published, this movie may be in limbo, caught between the theaters and DVD. Before you are able to rent it, I encourage you to check out McCarthy’s other films.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Right off the bat I think it should be said that this movie is a direct ripoff of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and I don't think it could have been anymore similar. It stars Robert Downey Jr. as an architect making his way back to
for the birth of his son. On the plane he has a scuffle with a wannabe actor (Zach Galifianakis), is thrown off the plane, placed on the No Fly List and forced to make his way by car with the slob who got him booted off the plane. This results in a disastrous road trip in which the two will ultimately bond. From Todd Phillips, the director of other successful comedies, crafts a funny film for the first half before resorting to gross out childlike antics that aren't funny. Robert Downey Jr. does his usual schtick which works and Galifianakis is pretty uproarious, growing on me again. Due Date is unoriginal fare with some good laughs that could have been better if the filmmakers kept the bar raised. L.A.
Woody Guthrie was an American Folk hero who fought for worker's rights and entertained thousands of down on their luck Americans during The Great Depression. His life is captured in this wonderful song filled biopic by director Hal Ashby. The film opens in 1936
Pampa, Texas where sign painter Guthrie sees his fellow dustbowl folk pack up and leave their barren land for (there is a magnificent scene of a dust storm engulfing the city). Woody decides to follow their lead and make his way out west. As he meets folk by way of hitchhiking or train (the train hopping segment is spectacular) he becomes aware of the plight of the poor while playing his upbeat tunes. In California he falls in with some union organizers, gets discovered, sends for his family, refuses to bow to authority, and continues to uplift the poor, all the while retaining his infectious optimism. Bound for Glory features a wonderful performance by David Carradine who embodies Guthrie and does all of his own strumming and singing. The cinematography by Haskell Wexler of the Los Angeles Texas dustbowl, boxcars, and work camps is extraordinary and this is one of the finest looking films I've seen. This is a loving portrait of a man who saw hope in a time of despair and was able to inspire a country and a whole generation of songwriters. California