The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dear Emmy...






...please nominate these people. When the time comes. Which isn't for a while, but still. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Secret of Kells (2009)

Mini review!!!

"Kells" was quite a mind blowing and refreshing little film. The animation was absolutely fantastic and the art was beautiful. There were times when it was so wonderful that my eyes were watering. I could go on and on about the impressive and beautiful sequences that made this movie absolutely wonderful. The music by Bruno Coulais was fantastic, as usual. And the story, while not particularly fantastic, was not as bad as people had been reporting! Anyway good for this movie for getting nominated at the Oscars, it really is a wonderful little gem. I really liked the movie, I suppose a 9 wouldn't be too high but I just don't think it was really substantial enough to merit it, unfortunately. I'm still working on my ratings! Haha. Anyway, if you get the chance to see this movie, DO IT!

8/10

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

"Mutiny on the Bounty" is a grandiose, Best-Picture-Winning epic from the golden age of cinema. It tells the (true!) story of the British ship The Bounty, which was on its way to Tahiti. On the ship is the dashing and confident Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable), the naive but charming Byam (Franchot Tone), their evil captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) and then a whole lot of swabbies. When Bligh gets out of hand in his soul-crushing discipline, it is up to Christian to lead a mutiny! Thus the title of the film.

The technical aspects of "Bounty" are quite brilliant. The epic shots of the boat rocking through the stormy weather, and the crew dealing with it, are unbelievable. There are also some extremely exciting and invigorating sequences, like right at the beginning of the movie when they're preparing to set sail. It's tightly edited and it's quite amazing, especially for 1935!

However, I had a really hard time truly enjoying this film. The three main characters, while perfectly likable, are irritatingly one-dimensional. Gable just has to be charming, and Laughton just has to be evil. They both do their jobs brilliantly, but the screenplay never gives them a chance to shine. I do feel like Tone transcended what he was given though and gave the most interesting performance of the three.

Also, once the Bounty gets to Tahiti...I don't know, I just wasn't feeling it! Tahiti was so shallow, all the islanders do is party all day, and then the Bounty guys lead on these lovely island women, who just totally fall head over heels for these random sailors who are just going to leave eventually anyway! I was absolutely not interested whatsoever in the unbearably long "romantic interlude". It was convincing, but a total waste of time and completely unrelated.

Oh and this is a petty comment, because it was obviously an audience/studio thing, but why did all the British people sound American? Haha.

But don't get me wrong, "Mutiny on the Bounty" is definitely not a bad film. I'm just being super harsh. Besides the ridiculous island scenes, it's actually pretty okay, and definitely worth seeing at least once in your life.

All in all, I really appreciated and enjoyed the technical aspects of this film, but the one-dimensional characters and unnecessarily emphasized romantic subplot made it hard to enjoy.

6/10

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Song of the Day - "Belleville Rendez-Vous"

In honor of number 11 on yesterday's list, here is the title song from "The Triplets of Belleville" - a song that perfectly embodies the kookiness of Sylvain Chomet's vision.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Top 15 Animated Films of the Decade

The past ten years have been absolutely chock full of ridiculously amazing animated films. Creating this list was impossibly hard for me, because I feel like I've seen almost every animated film released since I was born, and I'm in love with so many of them. However, below are what I consider to be the 15 best animated films of the past decade. Even with 15, I'm excluding a lot of great films! Anyway, here you go:

15. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Dir: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson

I was extremely skeptical before going in to see "Kung Fu Panda". It looked like just another quickly-churned-out family movie with some celebrity voices to get ticket sales. But little did I know how truly awesome it would be. "Kung Fu Panda" is a joyous and colorful little movie. The animation is slick and sharp and the scenery and score are absolutely lovely. Plus, it had a great and honest heart that truly set it above the rest.

14. Coraline (2009)
Dir: Henry Selick

"Coraline" is a feast for the senses. The music is brilliant, the story is exhilarating, and the visuals are absolutely fantastic. Not only that, but it seamlessly mixes in 3D, so that it does not distract, but instead adds artistically to the presentation of the movie. This film is mystifying for children, thought provoking for adults, and has better production design than most live-action films.

13. Finding Nemo (2003)
Dir: Andrew Stanton

The first of what will be a few Pixar films on this list, "Finding Nemo" became an instant family classic, and rightfully so. It's a wonderful tale that mixes adventure, humor, and sadness all perfectly, as Pixar films usually do. It has an amazing score and any of the underwater scenes are just...to di(v)e for. Oh, and Ellen DeGeneres is just awesome.

12. Corpse Bride (2005)
Dir: Tim Burton

Ah, I wish that Tim Burton would make another animated film. This is the medium where his truly eccentric visions shine. "Corpse Bride" is a mystifyingly macabre ode to love, life, and the inevitable death. Burton's mature and almost humorous view of death in this film make it something absolutely wonderful. Plus, as a musical it succeeds so well.

11. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Dir: Sylvain Chomet

"Triplets" is kooky, crazy, exaggerated, and awesome. It's such a success of animation - with basically no dialogue, it is able to tell a story (albeit a bizarre one) with only images and music. I mean, I love the soundtrack to this movie so much that it would probably make my top 10 of the decade itself. Every wacky visual is used perfectly - as a symbol, a caricature, or as a plot point. I can't wait for Sylvain Chomet's next film.

10. The Incredibles (2004)
Dir: Brad Bird

Action! Adventure! Family dynamics! For the longest time, "The Incredibles" was my favorite Pixar movie (until they released number 4 on this list). It's such an exciting and fun movie, one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen. I can't think of any other word to describe this movie other than...awesome.

9. Persepolis (2007)
Dir: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi

"Persepolis" is not for children. It's an intense, political cartoon based on the graphic novel memoirs of Marjane Satrapi. The unique animation brings the viewer in immediately and is a revolutionary way to tell the story. It's sad, beautiful, and hilarious all at once...just an amazing piece of filmmaking. I hope that Satrapi adapts one of her other books for the screen someday in the future...

8. Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005)
Dir: Steve Box and Nick Park

Wallace and Gromit's short film success translated beautifully to a feature film. I love witty comedies, and "Wallace and Gromit" is about as witty as it gets. I mean, I just can't imagine anyone not loving it! Plus, think about all the time it takes to move those little clay figures. Gosh.

7. Millennium Actress (2001)
Dir: Satoshi Kon

I'm not sure what it is about this movie that makes me love it so. It's just absolutely gorgeous - a captivating romance story that spans decades. This movie is slightly more obscure than the others on the list, so if you haven't seen it yet, please check it out. It's just a fantastic movie, one that is full of surprises. Oh, and did I mention that the visuals are unbelievable?

6. Up (2009)
Dir: Pete Docter

I'm a sucker for colorful movies, in case you haven't noticed (15, 13, 7) and of all the other movies on this list, this is probably the most vivid. But that's just face value. Get down to the heart-wrenching script, the beautiful score by Michael Giacchino, and...just everything else, and you've got one of the most irresistible movies ever.

5. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

Oh, Miyazaki. How is it possible that each of Miyazaki's movies can be so amazing? A lot of it, of course, relies on the masterful music by Joe Hisaishi. "Howl's Moving Castle" is just a stunning film. Detailed, awesome, and unbelievable. I think Miyazaki is one of the greatest directors of all time and this is certainly one of his best.

4. Ratatouille (2007)
Dir: Brad Bird

"Ratatouille" is a movie just meant for me to love, because it's about Paris and about cooking. I just love, love, love those sweeping shots of Paris, with that beautiful Parisian music playing...mmmm. Anyway, "Ratatouille", like its culinary namesake, is simply delicious. While most CGI animated movies take the easy route, the hard work shows in this one and it's amazing.

3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Dir: Mamoru Hosoda

This anime sci-fi romance mixes the best of all three genres flawlessly. This movie could have easily gotten so sappy so quickly, as it's about friendship and about teenagerhood, but...it never really does, which is probably why it's so great. To be able to balance the emotions of being a teenager (which I obviously can relate to) without getting sappy makes everything so effective and genuine.

2. Wall-E (2008)
Dir: Andrew Stanton

Wow, wow, wow. I'm sure you all saw this coming, but Wall-E is easily Pixar's best film and I doubt they'll ever be able to outdo it. Its very concept seems impossible, yet the movie is nearly perfect. I'll never forget that "dancing in space" scene (pictured above). It's a gorgeous, romantic, and wonderful scene in a gorgeous, romantic and wonderful movie that I'm sure will last forever.

1. Spirited Away (2001)
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

So here it is. My number 1 animated film of the decade...and, incidentally, my favorite film of all time. Everything about this movie is absolutely stunning, mind-blowing...use any positive superlative you want, it applies to this movie! The visuals are beautiful, the score is...ahhhh. And it instills in you (or at least in me) a sense of wonder that I rarely ever feel when going to see a movie. Ah, ah, ah...I just can't even do justice to this film in words. It's an absolute masterpiece.

So there you have it. What did I miss? What did I rank too high? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Life in Movies...

Thanks to Andrew at Encore Entertainment. Just a fun little game to pass the time...go ahead and fill it out too! All you have to do is answer with a movie title. Here are mine:

Gender: Man on Wire
Describe Yourself: Funny Games
How Do You Feel Right Now: The Incredibles
Where Do You Live: Mulholland Dr.
What's the Weather Like There: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Where Would You Like To Go Right Now: Paris, je t'aime
What's Your Biggest Fear: Aliens
Your Life Is A Film, Give It A Name: Psycho
What Will You Be Doing Today: Sleeping Beauty
Give Us A Piece of Advice: Please Don't Eat the Daisies

Hehehe.

Gosford Park (2001)

I almost feel wrong in reviewing "Gosford Park" after having seen it only once. In fact, as ashamed as I am to say this, it's the first film I've seen by Robert Altman...and after having seen it, I am blown away by it.

I can't really describe the plot, simply because there are so many little tiny stories all going on. Basically, the movie is a murder mystery at a country house- but the murder doesn't take place until almost 3/4 through the movie.

No, the big thing about "Gosford Park" is the intertwining of the stories that each of the innumerable characters has, and the struggle between class differences. And, in only 2:18, Altman is able to successfully tell each character's individual story fully and completely. Each character is developed brilliantly, each scene is perfectly needed, and every performance is brilliant.

I particularly loved Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren of course - the two Oscar nominees that came out of this movie. Smith is delightful and irresistible (think...Judi Dench in "Shakespeare in Love") and Mirren is so brilliantly subtle. But there are so many other noteworthy performances. Tom Hollander and Emily Watson particularly stood out to me, and the magnificent Kristen Scott Thomas proves her prowess once again.

Anyway, I unfortunately can't say much more about the movie - it's really a film that I feel I need to see again and, on top of that, that cannot really be described fully in a meager blog post. I will say that you must be prepared - it's slow moving, though oh so rewarding. I don't know if I absolutely adored this film with my heart, but from a film perspective, it's easily one of the most well made and intriguing movies I've seen in quite a while. I'm still amazed at how easily it put together all those characters.

9/10

Song of the Day - "Almost There"

My favorite Best Original Song nominee from last year's Oscars. I couldn't find the actual scene from the movie that would allow me to embed it, which is a shame because it's such a wonderful little scene. However, the song is still great by itself!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Linda Linda Linda (2005)

It was a totally random decision to watch the Japanese movie "Linda Linda Linda". I found out about it after watching "The Host", due to Bae Doona's presence in both films. Anyway, watching this obscure little movie was a decision I don't regret!

"Linda Linda Linda" follows a group of three girls that are putting together a band for their school festival after a couple of their members drop out. The remaining three girls (one cute, one bratty/popular, one kind of awkward) enlist the help of a Korean foreign-exchange student, Son (played by Bae Doona) to sing vocals, even though she barely speaks Japanese...and...there you have it! The title comes from one of the songs that the group covers in the movie, "Linda Linda" by The Blue Hearts (a Japanese pop band that influenced big groups, like the Ramones).

Obviously the premise of the film is extremely limited and...not a lot happens. However, "Linda" is irresistibly charming throughout. It's such a high-school girl movie, with lots of meager drama going on, and crushes!!! and stuff, but like, it's still entertaining and thankfully avoids crossing the teen drama line between "hehehehe" and "vomit".

Also, Bae Doona brings an absolutely fantastic performance to the film. She's a bit shy and confused at first, but then she opens up, showing her love for her newfound friends despite the language barrier. She's also wonderfully funny at times (that karaoke scene is great) and you just can't help but love her. Oh, and the movie has a fantastic concert scene to end it all, and how can you resist that?

Nevertheless, the movie could have definitely used some more editing. There are scenes that just go on for TOO long, it got ridiculous. And really, with such a simple premise, there's only so much you can do - this nearly two hour film could have easily been forty minutes shorter and we wouldn't have missed anything. Oh, and I got annoyed by the director's use of faraway shots when characters were interacting...I don't know why, I just wanted to see their faces more or something.

Anyway, "Linda Linda Linda" is a really cute and fun little rock film that shows the true power of friendship and all that jazz. An enjoyable watch for sure, with a great performance from Bae Doona and awesome music to boot.

7/10

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Song of the Day - "School of Rock"

I love it so, so much. My favorite line?

"Tonight's assignment...KICK SOME A$$!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Eat, Pray, Love" Trailer




Not like every movie blogger hasn't chimed in on this, but I figured that I might as well. It looks...interesting? The part of me that had an intense desire to see "Julie and Julia" last year is also wanting to see this really badly. Julia Roberts is just too sweet to resist!!! And Viola Davis - amazing in "Doubt", I'd be interested to see what she does with this.

On the other hand...it looks like a lot of random stuff is going to happen with no real purpose in the end. Will I see it? Perhaps...if nothing else better comes out that same weekend. It looks more like a DVD watch for me.

What do you think? Yes or no on "Eat Pray Love"?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The New Tenants

Vincent is super happy about "The New Tenants" Oscar win!!!

I love short films and I like to keep up with the Oscar Nominees/Winners. This past year's winner, "The New Tenants", was a very interesting and (though I haven't yet seen the other nominees) deserving winner.

The basic idea is that a couple of guys who just moved into their new apartment end up encountering some of the place's stranger residents. And crazy stuff happens.

The writers do a great job working from this "gimmick" of sorts and the script is extremely strong and well written. The movie is also very stylistically well done, and all of the acting is great.

The ending is a bit weird, but it's really...joyous? It's a great ending to this dark, strange, and oddly humorous piece of filmmaking.

I recommend it!

Song of the Day - "All is Love"

From "Where the Wild Things Are", the song that should have been nominated for an Oscar this past year. The music branch gets it wrong so much!!! Sigh. Anyway, enjoy!



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"I been workin' at the DQ..."

"I been workin' here at the D.Q. for about, um...eight months? Seven? I don't know, somethin' like that, it's fun. Just do the cones...make sundaes, make blizzards, and...put stuff on 'em, and...see a lot of people come in, a lot of people come to the D.Q...burgers, ice cream...anything, you know? Cokes...just drive in and get a coke, if you're thirsty."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Song of the Day - "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow"

"A Mighty Wind" is one of my favorite movies, and Catherine O'Hara is one of my favorite actresses. This is such a wonderful little song that not only works well on its own but is perfect for the plot it serves in the movie. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Host (2006)

This post is for the 1001 Movies Club. Go see what others had to say!

The inherently fantastic thing about the 2006 Korean film "The Host" is that it's a stunning return to the good old-fashioned monster movie. It's a lot like "Jaws" with a hint of "District 9" and a good dose of "Cloverfield" as well. In fact, it has so many elements of those movies that it's impossible not to wonder if the latter two were slightly influenced by it. Perhaps?

Anyway! "The Host" begins in the year 2002, showing us how the monster came to be (the classic - irresponsible disposal of dirty formaldehyde into the Han River). Then, four years later, we come upon Gang-Du, a seemingly irresponsible and ever-sleepy man who, along with his father and daughter, run a food stand on the shore of the Han River. Then...you guessed it...THE MONSTER ATTACKS!!! And steals Gang-Du's daughter.

Now, with the help of his brother (an unemployed college grad) and his sister (a famous archer) he must try to save her. Oh and there's this whole thing about a virus that Gang-Du may or may not have that the monster supposedly spreads and the irresponsibility of the Korean government and its failure to address the situation. In the meantime, we also see Hyun-Seo (Gang-Du's daughter) as she tries to survive in the large sewer that the monster has brought her to.

The movie does a pretty okay job in blending laughs and screams. At one minute you'll be laughing and then the next minute be on the edge of your seat in suspense. This mixture of two genres can be a bit confusing (are we supposed to pity or laugh at the Parks' mourning?) but it does create this kind of tongue in cheek attitude to the whole movie that I think is very effective.

There are also so, so many good "sequences" in this movie. For example, when Nam-Joo (Gang-Du's sister) is running through the bridge and into the sewer to attack the monster. It's such an exciting and exhilarating scene, and it's just one of many other exciting and exhilarating scenes that there were in the film. The suspense and tension were perfect - especially in the last thirty minutes of the film when everything starts to come together, in a huge climax. So exciting!

And artistically the movie is great as well - I absolutely LOVED the score and the cinematography was quite fantastic. Additionally, the monster was frightening and very well designed. Since we see it throughout the entire movie it is important that it always scares, and it did.

Where the movie fails is in its overly complicated screenplay. The timing is off a lot in the movie and some scenes drag on for far too long. Additionally, things can begin to get confusing and there are a lot of plot holes. I always have a problem with films (or TV shows) that try to do too much with the story and then fall underneath the weight of their own goals. It's not horribly written by any means, but the loss of focus really takes a bit of "umph" out of the film, which prevented me from really, really loving it.

However! "The Host" is still a really great monster movie, perhaps one of the best I've seen in the genre. Though the story's shortcomings keep it from getting the truly high quality it could have had (and my heart's affection), it has enough amazing and memorable sequences to keep it above the average level of American thriller-comedy-dramas, and it is a LOT of fun to watch. The score was absolutely fantastic and the acting was top-notch as well.

I didn't love it, but I'd watch it again! I bet it would be perfect to watch in a group, on a dark, rainy night...hehe

7/10

What did you think of "The Host"? Respond in comments!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Welcome!

First post!!!

Anyway, if you're here, that means I either directed you here from my last blog, What Happened Today, or you just stumbled upon this one randomly.

Either way, thanks for coming and I hope you enjoy reading! Keep commenting so I can keep improving. :)

-Robert