Sunday, December 30, 2007

The System

Grades, stars, or other forms of rating systems for films are too broad and narrow-minded to accurately influence a viewer to see or not see a certain movie. As one who is passionate about all films, good or bad, and love any genre, I believe critiques are only opinions, and the best way to view a film is to be without pre-conceived expectations. But, because passion differs from preference, and for the benefit of my readers, I'll implement a make-shift rating system. I want all my readers to see as many movies as they can, but if you want an opinion (not a bottom-line) than take my rating with a grain of salt AS you watch, not as a reason TO (or not to) watch. Instead of stars, or grades, which are too general, I am going to use words.

Starting from the bottom, a movie that doesn't quite accomplish what it aimed to and probably has acting and a storyline to match, are the QUESTIONABLES. Next up are the films that have a lot of great qualities in them, like acting, or story, or music, etc, but they are either boring, extreme, or bland. We'll call them the ALMOSTS. In the middle is where most movies probably fall, as they are entertaining stories, solid roles with good acting, and a wide range of audiences will enjoy it. Appropriately, I believe, we'll call them WORTH IT. Moving to the higher end, I'll introduce the MUST-SEE category. These movies are everything of the 'worth it' films, but they have a sparkle, something extra, that makes them great. They carry deep stories, involve complex characters, and leave their mark. Lastly, are the PHENOMENALS. These movies deserve Oscars, they deserve acclaim, they accomplish what great movies should. They compel audiences, drive home transcendent themes, tell unique tales, exemplify star performance and use music, scenery, and costume as imperative tools in the execution of their masterpiece. ***Although I use the word phenomenal a lot to describe films I am passionate about, it does not mean it falls in this category.

Enjoy the system... but don't miss out on great flicks

Friday, December 14, 2007

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead

ALMOST: Up front, I'll admit that I was entertained by this movie. The action was non-stop, and the drama piled on. Performances by Seymour-Hoffman, Hawke, etc. make it candy for the eyes. The storyline is where my confusion begins and where I have a hard time recommending this one to anyone else. First of all, it's violent. Secondly it works backwards and sideways in the time sequence, making it harder to tie up loose ends. Finally, the end is where most of my dissatisfaction occurs. And it occurs because of those loose ends. The storyline, working in so many directions takes on equally as many subplots and minor characters that we only get a sampling of. Their significance is lost by the end and the audience is left to wonder why they were included at all. This point backs up that the movie could have been a half hour shorter, as I felt an ending coming in every scene during those last 30 minutes. You'll leave with a lot of whys and maybe even some hows as to what went on during the film. But, don't let the confusion discredit the acting, as this group performed at maximum talent despite a curvy script. Brace yourself for the violence, and a little sex, but be comforted that the meat of the film lies in the sequence, those graphic details, just coloring inside the lines.

August Rush

WORTH-IT: So worth it! August Rush is a family friendly happy ending movie made for those of us that need some life inspiration and reaffirmation of the good in life. Although masked by the most cheesy script I've ever heard, the storyline is unique. The heart of young Evan (August himself) tugs you along, giving the audience the same hope to find his parents through an uncanny musical genius he was born with thanks to a musically inclined Keri Russell and Johnathan Rhys-Meyers. Again, cheesy script will make you cringe at these two, especially after Russell instilled us with the utmost respect after Waitress. Nevertheless, the pair finds chemistry underneath the words, and the true heart is revealed in the music, the phenomenal music. So in conclusion, this film is worth its cheesiness to experience the happiness. The music and acting is supreme, and emotion is honest. Give it a chance, but don't expect to be blown away.

The Golden Compass

WORTH-IT: The Golden Compass stars two of today's Aussie stars (Kidman and Craig) alongside raging ice Bears, Western Sky Fliers (Sam Elliot), mischievous children, magical witches, and an authoritative Monastery. The bottom-line here is that there is probably even more going on in this movie, but that is all I can remember. It is the first installment of an infamous trilogy, based on the anti-religion novels of Phillip Pullman. At base-level, it is simple that, a first installment. The entire film is a build up for what we don't know is going to happen. It's two hours of introducing characters, proving character's strength, and loosely brushing over the suggestion that organized religion is going to take over our souls. The Golden Compass is worth going to see though, first and foremost because of the havoc Pullman's motive has caused, but ultimately, because this film's special effects and eye popping visual stimulation are phenomenal. Never has a bear spoke with such frightful sincerity. Never has a witch seemed more enchanting. The storyline, although incomplete, offers a substantial amount of entertainment... enough to make me say I enjoyed the movie. And, I will say in defense for screen writers, the film has the ability to stand apart from the religious antics the book doses. Without the knowledge of Pullman's works, or the inability to separate fictional entertainment from everyday politics, this film can simply be taken as entertaining eye candy. Enjoy. I'll see the next.