Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Reviews

Where the Wild Things Are - I think the best appraisal I've read of Where the Wild Things Are was by Jonathan Durbin in Interview Magazine. About the movie, he said the "warped but tenable sense of reality allows Where the Wild Things Are to play less like a movie for kids and more like a film about what it's like to be a kid". That subtle distinction is where the film has ran into problems with some parents.

Art is about truth, not pandering, though. It's the job of parents, not the filmmaker to decide what is and is not appropriate for children of different ages. Personally, I choose to trust the intelligence of our children. I'd much rather they explored the complex feelings of a movie like this than crap like G.I. Joe.

I think this movie does a great job of making tangible and visual those difficult emotions that kids have. We see kids and how cute and precious they are, but what they feel is not always "cute and precious". Spike Jonze, the director, understands that.

The kid, played by Max Records, and his mom, played by the fantastic Catherine Keener, are pitch perfect. All the voice talent for the monsters are great too. This is one of the best movies I've seen this year and I would be surprised if it is not in my year-end top 10. Grade: A

Amelia - Directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake), starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, and Ewan McGregor, one would expect Amelia to be fantastic. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It looks great. I think all the actors do fine jobs. But the writing is cliched and has just too much of the hopeful Hollywood sheen to it.

There are classic movies that are hopeful yet not maudlin. Say, for example, The Shawshank Redemption. But Shawshank takes the time to earn its hopefulness. In Amelia, the lack of depth in the characterization never allows you to invest in the characters. By the time Amelia and her navigator take a header into the ocean at the end of the movie, I was like, "meh". I wasn't really actively hostile towards the movie, so much as completely apathetic.

If you want to see truly sublime Hilary Swank, check out Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby, but skip Amelia. Grade: C-

The Men Who Stare at Goats - Just saw this one tonight. It has not had the best reviews, so I went in with lowered expectations. But with George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey, I was inclined to give it a shot. From IMDb:

A reporter, trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end war as we know it. The founder of the unit has gone missing and the trail leads to another psychic soldier who has distorted the mission to serve his own ends.

McGregor plays the reporter, Clooney the special forces agent. They are the main focus of the movie. The past of the military unit is told through flashbacks with narration by McGregor's character.  The movie is based on a true story told in the book of the same name by author Jon Ronson.

The banter between McGregor and Clooney is funny. The dubious claims of the various soldiers are initially met with skepticism by McGregor but he is slowly drawn in. That's the basic narrative. Not a complex plot but more a vehicle to allow the great actors to interact.

I liked it. Not great, but good. Grade: B-

In the case of the following films, I was either highly medicated when I chose to attend or my son made me see them. In either event, I can't be blamed. I'm going to use the Twitterature method to review them as they are not worth wasting over 140 characters on:

Fourth Kind: Aliens? Is it a documentary? Is it fiction? Who cares? Insipid. Close Encounters of the 4th kind ... waste of my time of the 1st kind.

Whiteout: Kate Beckinsale ... gratuitous butt shot. Bad treasure & murder mystery plot set in the cold of Antarctica. Should have stayed there.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Megan Fox ... gratuitious. Forgiving conceit of talking robots, plot is unnecessarily complex and idiotic. Someone get Michael Bay a decaf.


Scott said...

Oh man, I saw Fourth Kind. Soooooo bad. So bad. Wow. So bad.

CyberKitten said...

Had not intention of seeing 'Amelia', 'The 4th kind' (which I thought had *avoid* written all over it) or 'Whiteout' despite lusting after Kate Beckinsale.

Mad the mistake of seeing the 2nd Transformers film - no idea why after hating the first one.

Though 'Men who stare at goats' had its moments and its laughs but didn't get anywhere near floating my boat.

Looking forward to 'Wild Things' - though I suspect I might be seeing that on my own [grin]

wunelle said...

Interested in Goats and Amelia, so good to read your takes on those. I've heard elsewhere too that Amelia just lacks weight. Too bad, though maybe I'm predisposed to pull for aviation-themed movies (and I think, based on photos alone, I could have a crush on Ms. Earhart). The trailers for Goats make it look very Coen-like. It sounds like that's not really its tenor.

Sadie Lou said...

Okay, if you're movie was not intended for kids, then don't market your previews to kids. I hate this movie because of it's insincere marketing ploy to get parents to take their kids to it. I stupidly got suckered in and poor children suffered for it.
My poor 4 year old! I felt like I was being subjected to some twisted literature class' book report on child psychology. Ew.

dbackdad said...

" ... subjected to some twisted literature class' book report on child psychology. Ew." -- lol. That's why I love you Sadie.

Sadie Lou said...

...thanks, friend! I forgot how much fun bagging on movies is around this place!

Watch Tv said...

Great man ! I saw the fourth kind..too bad movie..On the other side, Transformers was too good one. action was brilliant. i love to see this movie once again.