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Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

A lot of today’s pop culture cinema leaves me cold. Superheroes. Vampires. Zombies. Especially zombies.

What is it with zombies? I don’t watch The Walking Dead. I don’t get all fidgety waiting for the next zombie apocalypse video game. And I certainly don’t queue up to see the latest action-packed, gore-spattered, plucky regular-guys facing walls of crazed, offal-eating zombies.

Usually.

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Pont Alexandre III and Tour EiffelWriters…we often cast ourselves in the lead of our own internal dramas, but rarely does one of our number actually make it to the big screen in a leading role. A couple of examples I’ve seen in recent years are The Words and Wonder Boys, in which Bradley Cooper and Michael Douglas were cast as the “writer.” (Ever notice how writers on-screen look a hell of a lot better than writers in real life?)

This weekend, I added another to my list.

Paris When it Sizzles is a 1964 rom-com starring William Holden as the writer and Audrey Hepburn as his amanuensis. It is a thoroughly ’60s thing, this movie, but it is also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen from that era.

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Last night, after watching Amour (2012), I was positively knackered.

I’d just spent two hours reeling from the blows inflicted by this unflinching story of an elderly couple dealing with the inevitable. I’d wept sharp, stinging tears of grief and had the air punched from my lungs. It left me weakened by a powerful catharsis, spent of all emotional reserves. I was a raw, flayed thing.

And I was exceedingly glad of it all.

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Clock TowerSome people (you know who you are…Ari) feel that Kenneth Branagh’s cinematic version of Much Ado About Nothing is the gold standard. I admit, though Ken’s version is one of my favorites, I cannot find it within me to apply that label to anything with Keanu Reeves in it. Sorry. Ain’t gonna happen.

Then there is Joss Whedon’s Much Ado, filmed on a shoestring at his home in Malibu, but for all that it’s made by Joss (squee!), it still takes about 20 minutes of film-time to get its feet under itself, and that’s too long.

There’s also the Brandon Arnold version, a high-school production that might best be re-titled “Much Ado 90210.” Just…don’t.

Beyond that, you have to go back to the ’80s or the ’70s to find a decent version so, still and all, Branagh’s version is one of the best…

…but…

…it’s a movie.

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I wish my brain had an OFF switch.

There are times when it just gets in the way. I mean it’s thinking. All. The. Time. Thinking thinking thinking. Every damned minute it’s filled with thoughts, memories, comparisons, evaluations, judgments, decisions.

And there are times when it’s a real pain in the ass.

One situation in which it really gets in the way is when I’m watching actors do something I know in great detail. You know what I mean. It’s that part of the movie where the star sits down to a keyboard and supposedly starts typing in code/prose like a savant, but you know–from the position of their hands or the regular stadium-wave pattern of their fingers–that they’re just frobnicating, mindlessly tippy-tapping the keys while they utter their lines.

I have the same problem with actors who “dance” ballet or “play” a musical instrument. Few actors can fake it well enough to fool me. Hell, few can fake it well enough for me to suspend my disbelief. Especially painful (for me) is when actors pretend to play a violin, viola, or cello. My decades as a concert violist and my knowledge of the instruments make the tiniest misstep a glaring error, and it just pops me right out of the story (like when a character in a story set in Victorian England says “Okay.” Arg!)

And so, it was with great trepidation that I queued up A Late Quartet, the story of which centers on the members of a world-famous string quartet. (more…)

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We picked up two “buddy” films this weekend. One was a buddy/fish-out-of-water mashup, and the other was a classic buddy/caper film.

Both were a lot of fun. (more…)

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I’m worried about South Korea. No, not in that global, realpolitik way. I’m worried about South Koreans. I don’t think they’re happy.

Okay, it’s not fair to judge an entire society based on two movies, but I can’t help but see similarities between the last South Korean movie I reviewed (“My Scary Girl“), and yesterday’s movie, “Castaway on the Moon.” I recommend “Castaway…”. I thought it was an excellent movie, but it just makes me wonder.

Both movies are listed as comedies, which at their essence, they are. Both have moments—many, in fact—of humor and laughter, and even though “My Scary Girl” has a body count close to a Shakespearean tragedy, it’s undeniably funny. But the humor in that film is born of surprise and twists, where in “Castaway…”, the humor is more revelatory, as the two main characters unveil themselves to us and to each other. (more…)

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