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

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Midnight in Paris" Trailer

Hm. Strangely, I was much more excited about this movie before watching this trailer (which is kind of the opposite of the point of a trailer, right?). It seems like Woody is rehashing the same old stuff he's been doing for the past few years and unfortunately the repetitiveness is starting to get tiresome. However, I'm still definitely willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, with the amazing cast that it boasts. The trailer does, at least, give us some insight to that aspect of the movie - Rachel McAdams looks like she's going to be a blast, Marion Cotillard is looking as stunning as ever, and hey there Mimi "my teeth are bleeding" Kennedy, good to see you!

Anyway, though I'm not as enthusiastic about the movie as I was about ten minutes ago, I'm still going to be seeing it for sure. How about you all? Thoughts or reactions on the trailer? Speak up below!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Waste Land (2010)

The most wonderful thing about this Oscar-nominated documentary is its unapologetic simplicity. Without a word of narration, a single fancy graphic, or any flashy editing techniques, Lucy Walker's "Waste Land" allows its fascinating subject (artist Vik Muniz's project to create recyclable materials into art in the world's largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho) to speak for itself, which it does with remarkable intensity and integrity. The "pickers" that are interviewed are all so unique and interesting, each one with a different personality and story. The editing is subtle but marvelous, giving just enough spotlight to the stark images of the landfill, but also juxtaposing the beauty of the people and of Muniz's art. Sure, most of why this film succeeds is Muniz's project itself, but the film's simplicity allows the amazing story to truly shine. It may not be as wildly engrossing as "Exit Through the Gift Shop" or as factually important as "Inside Job", but "Waste Land" is still a beautiful and moving piece of documentary filmmaking that is certainly worth seeing.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rango (2011)

With Pixar releasing the rather unpromising "Cars 2" later this year it seems necessary to keep an eye on the rest of the animated crop. Having not yet seen a new movie this year yet, I couldn't wait to start everything off with "Rango", which looked extremely promising and was being critically lauded. Unfortunately, though "Rango" had quite a lot going for it, it ended up being an overall disappointment.

The film tells the story of an unnamed pet chameleon (voiced, of course, by Johnny Depp) with a propensity for the theater, who becomes stranded in the desert after his owners nearly get into a car accident. The chameleon soon finds himself in the drought-ridden city of Dirt, where he meets the sassy lizard Beans (Isla Fisher), and the rest of the town's rodent and reptile inhabitants, all of whom are struggling due to the drought. Seizing an opportunity, the chameleon takes on the name of Rango and becomes the sheriff of the town, where he soon discovers that the town's mayor has an evil plot that is keeping the town dry.

Visually, "Rango" is really quite stunning. Besides the fact that the animation is realistic to a fault, the film's "cinematography" is really fantastic - the design of each shot is full of gorgeous lighting and coloring, while the camera's own movements are some of the most advanced and interesting out I've seen in a CGI animated film (and that does include "Avatar". heh). It comes as no surprise that Roger Deakins was the visual consultant - his cinematographic brilliance really shows. Soundwise the film succeeds as well. Johnny Depp's voice is pretty much perfect for the role and the score was great as well (for Hans Zimmer, anyway. heh heh).

Unfortunately, as seems to always be the case, the screenplay was unable to live up to the film's visual scheme - so much so that it detracted from the overall success of the film (which is not always the case. Sometimes an animated film can get by on looks alone). Though I admire the fact that the film was able to avoid tripping over the big religious and environmental issues it tackled, that was about the only thing it did right. So many of the film's "jokes", which it obviously thought were hysterical, failed miserably. And though the film's first scene is littered with sharp dialogue and laughs, the film loses its steam not shortly after, with incongruities that are impossible to overlook, even through the lens of what I like to call the "family film forgiveness factor".

"Rango" is almost a surefire nominee for Best Animated Film next year at the Oscars, and I imagine it'll be this year's animated critical favorite unless there's a foreign entry. And while its writing was rather disappointing, its visuals are certainly something to applaud. Not a bad start to 2011, by any means, but definitely not what I would have hoped for.

See it: If you're disappointed by the lameness of the rest of what's in theaters, and you don't mind forgoing good writing for unbelievable animated visuals.

Skip it: If you didn't get a good night of sleep the evening before, and if you feel like laughing a lot.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Inside Job (2010)

Any gripes I had with this film taking the Oscar away from "Exit Through the Gift Shop" dissipated shortly after I watched it. There's not much to really say about it besides the fact that it's so fascinating, so sharply written and so informative that it's impossible not to walk away feeling infuriated, and even a bit horrified. A testament to its greatness is that though I knew very little about the roots of the financial crisis going in, I now feel like I know everything there is to be known - the film's just that comprehensive. I'm not going to say I didn't get lost a couple of times, but overall the film does just what it sets out to do, allowing the facts to speak for themselves and intertwining interviews from all sides of the argument that simply strengthen the film's thesis. Finally, "Inside Job" should be considered the definitive example of documentary filmmaking's greatest technique - the "So-and-So declined to be interviewed for this film." I still like "Gift Shop" more as a film but it's obvious that "Inside Job" was the more important and relevant of the two and hopefully its winning raises awareness of the issues discussed in the film.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Black Narcissus (1947)

I've decided that now that Oscar season is over and 2011 has officially not yet given me a single movie that I want to see, it's time to catch up on some classics. So, if you have any suggestions, please mention in the comments and I'll almost surely watch what you suggest. "Black Narcissus" is a rather fascinating film that survives mainly because of its gorgeous cinematography. The colors are planned so well it's almost as if the movie is one hour and forty minute long painting, and some shots are just so breathtaking it's unbearable. The fact that the entire thing was filmed on a backlot in London is stunning when you see shots like the nuns ringing the bell on the cliff, or the panoramic looks at the "Himalayas". For the most part the acting is quite fantastic - Deborah Kerr's icy, yet vulnerable performance is absorbing and exhilarating to watch, and Kathleen Byron is a whirlwind in her final scenes. The story is paced somewhat strangely - the climax is fantastic but the lead up to said climax doesn't necessarily make sense. The script could have used more narrative focus though it's not bad enough to detract majorly from the rest of the amazing things happening in this film.