Friday, April 18, 2014
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If ever there was a movie made for IT nerds this is it and if you have to ask what IT is, like I had to, this is not a movie for you. Did I follow the movie? To a certain degree. Is it an easy movie to follow? Not the technical aspects but it being sci-fi you know there will be barren cities and a lot of special effects.
"Gravity" was special because of the new special effects the director brought to the screen but Wally Pfister, in his first movie as a director, doesn't bring anything new in that sense. Johnny Depp is basically reduced to a talking head on a computer screen. Near the beginning of the film he is a top dying computer genius who has been experimenting with an afterlife of making a digital life with the personality, brain and emotions of a human being. He uses his dying to prove the theories that he and his wife, Evelyn, played by Rebecca Hall, have been working on for years.
I won't go any more into the story as it involves many people who have been shot, knifed or in one or another dying who are not only put back together whole but show Marvel comic book hero strength and powers but the latter is not really a major part of the story or the sci-fi. There are twists and turns that really are meaningless.
Paul Bittany, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Kate Mara, along with the rest of cast, do a professional job with only Rebecca Hall having a chance to act. Johnny Depp, pardon the pun, calls his performance in. There is no drama, a lame ending with, if you are paying attention, the beginning of the film giving it away.
Instead of seeing "Transcendence" spend your two hour movie time with seeing "Draft Day" a film without special effects, excellent acting and a plot that will pull you in and pays off.
Friday, April 11, 2014
WOW! I love being surprised in the movies! I am neither a Kevin Costner or a football fan and only went to see this movie because of the 3 new films opening today this was the closest and most convenient. I now like Kevin Costner who plays the underdog , the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver, Jr., and though I still don’t like football I did learn what “Draft Day” is and some of how it works.
This is an excellent film about what goes on in the backroom of a big business and there are so many things to talk about the positives so in no particular order, and Costner’s performance a given and hoping he is remembered at awards time here we go.
The director, Ivan Reitman, and his director of photography Eric Steelberg, use a split screen technique that is used to a great advantage, in ways I haven’t seen before, and not overused. The screenplay, written by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, is sharp with many funny lines especially one by Jennifer Garner about football players and teams all desiring a piece of jewelry.
The acting from Garner, as Ali, Costner’s pregnant girlfriend who is one of the team’s financial executives, have two scenes in a storeroom that are very effective. With all the good acting by Ellen Burstyn as his mother, Frank Langella as his boss, Dennis Leary as the coach of the team, along with Josh Callahan, Chadwick, Tom Welling and Arian Foster as football players and pawns in the draft along with real life sports announcers, commissioners and former players add to the believable story and has you think ‘it is based on true story, but it isn’t.
One outstanding actor, among all these veterans, deserves his own paragraph is Griffin Newman as Rick the new intern for Ali. The writers gave him great lines and the director did a good job but Newman has an innate talent to put these lines over to bring smiles to your face.
Along with a moving love story, relationships stories and the football behind the scenes drama there is also the sparkling shots of the 7 or so cities and their football stadiums, a very neat and clean locker room, that gives a shine to what you know is a ‘dirty’ business.
Do yourself a favor and go see “Draft Day” that is an excellent film with very few ‘special effects’ to move it along.
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut along with starring in and producing, “Bad Words”. He plays Guy Trilby, a 40 years old man, who never finished the 8th grade which makes him eligible to compete with 10 year olds in a spelling bee eventually winding up in the national finals.
“Bad Words” is a comedy that makes fun of kids such as a 40 year old man giving a 10 year contestant the finger or taking the kid Chaitanya, played by Rohan Chand, to a prostitute so she could show him her boobs. How about eliminating a contestant by making her think she is ‘becoming a woman‘ then and there where she has to get up in front of a crowd to spell a word? And then how could he not help pick on a fat kid before the boy’s turn in the spelling bee?
Bateman gets a certain sympathy in any film because of his persona but here it is the screenplay by Andrew Dodge who gives the actor sharp lines that will make you laugh even when you know it is wrong. The interplay between Guy and the reporter, Jenny Widgeon, played by Kathryn Hahn, looking to find out what is behind the story, is also funny though at times in a cruel way.
Dr. Deagan, played by Allison Janney, as the director of the spelling bee, has nothing but disdain for Guy and makes it quite clear by giving him a supply closet for his hotel room. The Golden Quill’s spelling bee founder, played by Philip Baker Hall, attempts to keep everything on an even keel turns comedy to drama on a dime.
Anyone who has been going to the movies knows where the story is heading but Bateman handles the actors, and himself, with a lightness that makes what is said and shown on film almost funny. The relationship between Guy and Chaitanya is the meat of the story and if the kid can forgive the adult so can we.
Friday, April 04, 2014
For many years I have said, "The only time I made a mistake is when I thought I made a mistake, " well today I made another one. I had intended to go see "Bad Words" that has been out for two weeks and I have heard good things about but a new film opened called "Le Week-End" at the Gateway Theatre and decided to see that instead. It was such a bad decision on so many levels though I always try (eliminate try from a sentence and it becomes a positive sentence!) to find something positive in every movie I see.
Knowing the film takes place in Paris we were sort of wondering if there would be sub-titles but, sadly, it wasn't because we may have understood the movie better. It is basically about a couple celebrating their 30th anniversary coming from Birmingham (England? Or Alabama? Doesn't matter.) It sort of seems to explain why there are so many divorces among married people but I feel it was really about the various feelings long term relationships go through.
Jim Broadbent, as Nick, is a professor who has been asked to retire early due to something he said to a black girl in one of his classes regarding her hair while Lindsay Duncan, as Meg, is a schoolteacher who is looking for romance, in her marriage or not, yet refuses to have sex with her husband. Their ambivalent feelings toward each other comes and goes.
The catalyst that makes them move is caused by Morgan, played by Jeff Goldblum, a former student of Nick, who sees his old professor as the man who motivated him to become a successful writer and after bumping into each other walking in the street, with Morgan, seeing the husband an wife in a passionate kiss, invites them to dinner. At the dinner Meg is invited to have a drink at a corner bar which she accepts.
The film doesn't seem to have an ending that doesn't end though it does have a cute dance scene in restaurant bar.
One of the major faults of the movie is that Lindsay Duncan is quiet spoken but to a point that you almost don't hear her though as an actress you can follow her story.
Some audience members laughed a lot when Broadbent dshare a joint with Morgan's son but this scene has been played in so many films we couldn't understand the laughter.
I really don't know what the director, Roger Michell, and writer, Hanif Kurelshi, was trying to say in this film but I came away with that passion disappears in long relationships and that very low speaking lead actresses do not help a fan. I did speak to Ray on the way out and tell them that should raise the sound just a bit to make Duncan audible and not make the other actors seem to be shouting.
By the way I may go to see "Bad Words" today!!!
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