Monday, July 28, 2008
MUST-SEE: (John Madden) No truer to romantic comedy form, Shakespeare in Love is emotion and entertainment topped with laughter at its best. From laughing to crying through a deep from the gut of love stories, and love and quarrel among friends and foe of fighting playhouses and sneaky writers, this film hones in on every dynamic detail of not simply a romantic comedy, but a great film. And does so to the nth degree, splurging creative humor while keeping reality at bay. This film delves into the intimate thoughts of a young William Shakespeare fighting to start his career against competitors in a dreadful society. Shakespeare in Love takes us through his journey of turning out Romeo and Juliet, which we learn actually began as Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, act by act, each inspired by his muse, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who claims making love to him is "better than poetry." Humor reigns throughout the film, bringing the wit of Shakespeare to the tongues of riots Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson and Joseph Fiennes. Not to mention Simon Callow and Judy Dench play small, yet remarkable, roles that bring this cast together as one hilarious and credible bunch portraying the beautiful tragedy of infamous star-crossed lovers. I have never been so satisfied by a storyline, one that gives so much due to Mr. Shakespeare himself, one that portrays his historic novelties as modernistic dreamers, and one that reveals moral and life through a genuine and hearty story. Men and women alike can appreciate this film, as the flowery language is thanks to William and the gushing lovesick lines are played from the heart of a true emotion. If you didn't get to see this one back in 1998, believe me, it hasn't lost its cred and still stands up to its Oscar nods and notable reputation. You'll finish it feeling brushed up on your sonnets, refreshed in romanticism and completely entertained by wit, comedy and characters that stand classic for a lifetime.
Monday, July 14, 2008
ALMOST: (Kar Wai Wong) A touching and tender movie dotted with potential controversy, My Blueberry Nights disappoints overall as a bland, predictable and pretty much boring film. The story is sweet, but stereotypical: A broken-hearted girl treks across the country trying to find herself amongst misfits in low places. Director takes us through three story lines, each with a character that helps reinstall Norah Jones's Elizabeth's self respect and dignity. The brightest spots consist of the small roles by Nathalie Portman as a gambling addict out for innocent money, Rachel Weisz and David Straitharn as separated and drunken lovers who quarrel to the death, and a dreamy cafe owner, played by Jude Law, who falls for her blueberry lovin' lips and thoughtful postcards from afar. Jones falls short as an actress, but does deliver sultry smokin' tunes to make a killer soundtrack. The brief appearances by the other stars are strangled by a weak script, a deeper story seeming just below the surface. This is a key note for recognizing great performances, made obvious by Jones's empty attempt to make the surface seem fallible. Unfortunately, with boring script and flat performance gives this film an overall "seen it" and "it hasn't changed" tone. Sad, because the aforementioned stars put forth their best, they just had nothing to work with. The title also leaves you hanging... does it refer to the blueberry pie being what she associates home with? Is it because she is in love with the guy who makes them? Or is it because when she ate blueberry pie those few nights, that was what made her pick up and leave. I wouldn't stress over getting this movie in your player... Watch it if you're curious, but don't expect a smash. It won't make you cry, you probably won't laugh, and most of all, you might keep checking your watch.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
WORTH-IT: (Timur Bekmambetov) Wow, what a film. Based on a graphic novel, you know to expect extreme visual stimulation, but Wanted goes beyond those expectations, providing a seamless storyline, effortless suspense and nonstop action, all made pretty by the Matrix-infused cinematography. From playing on trains to curving bullets, Angelina Jolie and Common train nobody, James McAvoy to become the newest member of the Fraternity, a group of highly skilled do-good assassins who get their targets from a Minority Report-like fate dispenser, in this case a code hidden in the threading of fabric at a textile mill. They capture him in a dead-end job and self-depravity to introduce him into a world where he is at the least, "The man." Their goal is to kill the man out to ruin the Fraternity, and McAvoy, whose character stems from Fraternity bloodline, is apparently the one to do it. He learns to kill, accepts the codes, and finds himself comfortable in a new life where significance is apt and violence is everywhere. I found nothing wrong with this film, the rules were believable and the story realistic for those rules. I loved the graphic novel narration take, which delivers a swift kick in the stomach humor every time McAvoy addresses you the viewer. Expect lots of (beautifully displayed) blood and explosion. Leave your sensitivity and conservativeness at home, but come with an open mind and readiness to laugh. The humor is subtle and delightful, the seriousness a perfect balance, and the story is just plain awesome. Although crediting itself with intellect throughout, it's a guy's movie for sure; but be honest, even girls think Angelina is hot. See this one. No disappointments.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
WORTH-IT: (Ben Affleck) Take a story that combines south Boston culture with modern-day tragedy and you get Gone Baby Gone, the tale of a four-year-old girl that goes missing in a neighborhood where kidnapping is on the rise and ignorance is close behind. Characters with strong feelings and quick judgement make this a long and delicately intertwined mystery. Private detectives played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan are hired to work with the police in hopes of uncovering who took Amanda McCready and where she is now, and if she is even alive. Morgan Freeman plays the good cop veteran, "dedicated to never letting another child go missing." Ed Harris plays Freeman's main man in these cases, with a cold heart for anyone out to hurt a child. Oscar-nominated Amy Ryan plays the coked up mother, constantly with alterior motives. The characters clash with differences of opinion, emotion and what is actually the "right" thing to do, but inevitably all fit together to unveil an unlikely culprit. The script does a good job of coaxing you into believing the neglect and boredom that eventually surfaces with unsolved crimes, but also reveals in a tender and tragic fashion the everlasting emotions that come with it. For a long twoish hours, Gone Baby Gone takes you on an unpredictable chase for the solution to the crime. You'll find yourself on the edge of your seat, but also racking your brain for the resolution within your own morals. Ben Affleck, with his screenplay adapted from the novel by Dennis LeHane, does a fantastic job of setting us up in a realistic world and keeping us guessing until the end. Good guys and bad guys mix and confuse you until an unexpected end that I won't spoil. The story is ultimately heartbreaking in the greatest degree. Sad people and tragic situations illustrate a broken city fighting for credibility. Expect utter disgust for the way the world works here, but accept their way of life and be ready for a story that satisfies in its ability to completely encapsulate your heart's sympathetic nature.