Archive for the ‘Movies & TV’ Category

Spider-Man 3

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Spider-Man, in his black suit, looks a the viewer through the rain.

We saw Spider-Man 3 on Friday, as we’re big fans of the first and second installments. The second is one of the best comic superhero films out there, so the expectations were very high. It was a lot of fun, and they packed tons into the film. It’s a very entertaining and thrilling flick, but it loses track (a little bit) of what made the Spider-Man franchise work, falling prey to the Bigger Is Better philosophy that drained the original Batman movie franchise of all its worth. Fortunately, everyone involved still delivered thrills and laughs to make up for the wafer-thin helpings of everything but action.

Minor Spoilers: Most of what I describe is in the trailers, but if you don’t know anything, you might have some plot points spoiled.

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300, the Film

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

The title logotype for 300, done in a strong, red, splattered brush lettering.

Frank Miller’s 300, the comic, is a gorgeous fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. It is a hyper-epic, in the way that Sin City is a hyper-noir. The battles are visual essays on unrelenting force, the grace and power of a body forged to fight with weapons deriving their energy from human motion, and the waves of absolute oppression crashing against the rocks of self-determination. It is a stylized homage not to the specific ideologies of the Spartans, but to their truly staggering will and strength, obtained through a cultural dynamic of constant, brutal testing of the self. To read 300 is to marvel at the possibilities contained within humanity, to witness the raw harshness of human existence forge societies and soldiers of unparalleled might. 300 is an ode the magnificence of human spectacle, as manifested by the players on the stage of the Battle of Thermopylae. The forces at work on both sides of the battle are both horrifying and magnificent. 300 the film builds upon this base, pushing all of these aspect further and amplifying them beyond reality. Miller never shies from hyperbole to convey his message, and the film gladly obliges.

Spoiler warning: While I don’t give away much of the film, or its ending (which is a matter of history, by the way), I show a lot of content, which may give you an inkling of how things go. All images are from the trailers.

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This is How It Should Work

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

I just heard on NPR about scientists questioning Gore’s documentary An Incovenient Truth that says, basically:

…after the talk, a couple of [the scientists] came up to me and said, you know, “He didn’t exactly get the science right.”

And this is exactly what should happen in a scientifically-oriented, scientifically-conscious society.

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Casino Royale

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Shown in black and white, James Bond's pale face stands out from the darkness of a low-lit office.

I’m a bit late in posting this, as we rushed out to see it on opening night, but here it is now for posterity: Casino Royale is the best Bond film and is one of the coolest action movies I’ve ever seen. No more crazy supervillains who want to carve their names on the moon or use giant ice lasers to freeze the Bahamas if they don’t get $1 billion or whatever. It’s Bond becoming 007, pushing himself to the limits to find and stop the enemy, because he will never stop. It’s James Bond at his rawest and most driven, and Daniel Craig does a brilliant job giving Bond a perfect blend of cool, arrogance, wit, steel, and poise. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better re-imagining of the Bond character and series than what was delivered in Casino Royale.

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Children of Men

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

A monitor in a coffee shop displays the BBC News headline 'Baby Diego Murdered', with a picture of the 18 year-old Deigo and the years of his life 2009–2027.

The film opens with the death of the world’s youngest child, a boy saddled with celebrity and the focused emotions of millions, if not billions. His death is the result of an enraged autograph seeker. The opening of the film is a slap in the face to the fame-obsessed, drawing clear parallels to the death of Princess Diana, a victim of celebrity obsession. This film makes it very clear from the opening moments that this world is a bleak one.

Alisa and I saw Children of Men last night. I’d heard someone describe it as the Blade Runner of our generation. When I heard it, I was skeptical of this statement, but now I understand.

What makes Children of Men so powerful is not just <a href=”http://imdb.com/name/nm0190859/” target= _blank”>Alfonso Cuarón‘s excellent directing, but the entire production. Every element is perfectly honed towards creating a bizarre but entirely believeable scenario. A world that’s only a half-step from our own, but full of the same seeds. The world is rich and full of characters who act with a strangeness that communicates verisimilitude. Extreme circumstances push the people populating this fictional Britain away from homogeny and into their states of coping: denial, survival, brutality, commitment, extremism, and blends of all these traits. Little explanation is given for anything beyond the main thrust of the story, and the world of the film thrives on this frigthening confusion. It feels a lot like the chaos of real life.

Go see Children of Men. It will not let you off easily for one moment, but that weight you leave with is the understanding that the choice to change is your own.

MPAA Review: Strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity. Ad Exec Review: “No children. No future. No hope.”, “The future’s a thing of the past”, “The last one to die please turn out the light”, “The last days of human race”, “No child has been born for 18 years”, “He must protect our only hope”

Little Miss Sunshine

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine: A Family on the Verge of a Breakdown, with the family chasing their yellow VW bus

LIttle Miss Sunshine is a great film. The dialogue, characters, acting, all of it is dead-on and effortlessly poignant, and often hilarious. Go see it now, it’s absolutely worth it.

MPAA Review: Language, some sex and drug content. Ad Exec Reviews: “Where’s Olive?”, “A family on the verge of a breakdown”, “Everyone just pretend to be normal”, “Welcome to Hell”

Path to What?

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

After, for a few days, hearing vague inklings about a furor over an ABC/Disney fictional drama called The Path to 9/11, then seeing it get mentions on some of my favorite sites, I decided to find out what the hubbub was all about.

Y’know what ABC and Disney? Nobody needs a fictionalized version of the attacks and the events leading up to them, especially when you’re making changes to what actual people did in actual situations that occurred only 5 years ago. And as for the assertion that the film isn’t final, and therefore we can’t comment? Riiiight. I’m sure those scenes were filmed that way for fun so the editors could scramble to change them. Tell me, why is it that Americans can’t comment on your use of their national tragedy to sell advertising slots on its anniversary? I’m curious.

The Illusionist

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

Eisenheim's chair sits empty, facing the audience, in the fire-lit theatre as the curtains open.

Eisenheim the Illusionist’s angular Jugendstil chair sitting on a bare stage is emblematic of this film’s style and is a potent set piece in establishing Eisenheim’s own approach on illusion.

Alisa and I had been looking forward to seeing The Illusionist for some time, so we made our way downtown to check it out yesterday afternoon. It’s a great rainy-day movie, as it’s based loosely on a short story (Steven Millhauser’s ’Eisenheim the Illusionist’) which contributes to its focused and well-crafted telling. And, like most short stories I read and enjoy, it trims off the fat by creating clear characters and strong tensions to set up the delivery of the closing impact. Unfortunately, I found the closing impact to be lacking in the face of such a well-delivered and intriguing setup (about 98% of the film).

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Superman Returns

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

The new shiny, 3-D Superman emblem on blue fabric, cropped at the top and bottom

We’ve seen Superman Returns twice in four days now, and I can definitively say that it is not only a great Superman movie, but a fun, solid film. (I should note that I saw the film twice more out of circumstance than a strong desire to re-watch it, but I did go back for the second viewing by choice.) Bryan Singer is a very skillful director, and the talent he brought to the X-Men movies is present in full force but in a very different way. Singer gives us the old heart-warming, do-gooding, best-parts-of-all-of-us Superman in a darker, more aggressive fantasy world, which strives to keep close enough to our own so as not to ring hollow. He succeeds in not only bringing Superman forward, but also in not losing the newcomer and not betraying what makes the Superman mythos unique.

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Dun dun dun, dun DUN DUN, dun DUN DUN

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Vader's helmet seen up close, all shiny and black.

Straight from the official site:

This September: Original Unaltered Trilogy on DVD In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you’ll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983. This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release. International sound and subtitling vary by territory.

BAM. I am all over that. I feel bad for the poor shmoes who bought the lesser versions on DVD with Lucas’s tinkering and crap-ifying. They will make so much money from this, it’s ridiculous. Some say it’s because of the success of the Indiana Jones box set, others say it was Lucas’s plan all along to swear he’d never do it, then double his profits. I don’t really care. Han shot first, and now we’ll all have the proof on digital video discs.

UPDATE: It’s being reported that Lucas is being an asshat about the whole thing and the originals are being anamorphically ripped from an old Laserdisc copy, instead of being done properly. Well, OK then, George. Also they’re packaging the new versions with the old ones. The theory is that they can’t have the old version outselling the new. I won’t comment, as I don’t know if that’s true. Personally, I just want to be able to watch the originals on my DVD player, and someday show the old versions to my children. I think someone knows this and is just working this thing like a money lever. The whole situation sucks, but Lucas, apparently, does not understand why he’s rich and famous and is making many moves to become unappreciated and hermitic. That’s my theory.