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Into the Wild (2007)
Although I appreciated the cinematography and characterization of my home state, I found very little to appreciate in the story itself. Let's see...protagonist is born to well-off parents, protagonist discovers he was born a bastard (but not raised a bastard), protagonist gets a good education without having to worry about student loans. Because protagonist decides his parents are monsters and the cause of his so-very-hard life, he chucks his education and family away in favor of communing with nature in Alaska. With so many people having been raised by parents who molest them or beat the crap out of them or grow up in abject poverty or all of the above, I find that I have no sympathy for protagonist and his "problems." There were a lot of people in the world who would have gladly traded parents with protagonist and appreciated what they got instead of whining about the little they didn't get.
Not bad, but not good, either...
I know I'm in the minority here, but I wasn't jumping up and down about this movie. I loved the book as a child and loved the original film with Gene Wilder for its own original contributions...perhaps I'm biased. Still, I have always admired Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's work, and had been looking forward to this new interpretation of Roald Dahl's book.
This film was, indeed, more true to the book than the 1971 version...the squirrel room, the jungle scene, the children leaving the factory, perhaps a little "wiser for the wear." However, the character development of the 1971 version was MUCH better than here...you were actually given an opportunity to like or dislike each character, including Willy Wonka. I did think that Johnny Depp's portrayal of Wonka was more true to the book than Gene Wilder's...Willy Wonka is supposed to be quite childish and eccentric. However, I thought that this film's preoccupation with being true to the book caused it to overlook what is more important, which is to establish the intentions of each character. At least in the 1971 version, it's pretty clear what each character's intentions are...even if establishing some of these intentions requires a conspiracy involving "Slugworth." And though I haven't read the book in a very long time, I do NOT remember any details being given as to Willy Wonka's childhood...I thought these were unnecessary, distracting, and a waste of time. This energy could have been better spent on the children's' character development, in my opinion. This is, after all, supposed to be a story for and about children.
The oompa loompas. It's true that they are physically portrayed accurately here more so than in the 1971 version, i.e. very small people and not midgets with orange skin and green hair. However, though the songs they sing here are true to the book, they are less charismatic than those of the 1971 film and sometimes seem over the top. Also, I didn't like that they were all clones of each other...I think that was a poor choice.
Finally, I was appalled with the ending...this ties in with my previous comments re: Willy Wonka's childhood. It changed the whole idea behind the story itself, which is supposed to be (from my perspective) that people can overcome their hardships to have a happy and prosperous ending, as long as they're honest, selfless, and generous. This movie changes the whole theme of the story to one that emphasizes the importance of family over any kind of material wealth or prosperity. Both are perfectly good and legitimate themes, but my reading of the book left me with an impression that Roald Dahl was more concerned with the former theme than the latter. Accordingly then, this movie did not do the book justice in the most important and fundamental way, whereas the 1971 film was able to do so despite its shortcomings.
Panic Room (2002)
This movie was a great fun. There is one specific moment where suspension of disbelief is necessary (or not, considering that it's New York City where I've heard most anything can and does happen), but the rest of the movie is credible and deliciously tense. Great acting all around, nice shots, nice flow. Of course, it ain't Shakespeare, but it ain't crap, either. There's worse things to be doing on a Saturday night and only a few better.
I don't see how anybody who grew up in the 80s could dislike this movie...the acting is great, the direction is better and the screenplay is excellent! This is one that I watch over and over...not just because it's a generally great movie, but also because I notice something new every time. I highly recommend this movie to anyone! 10/10
My Fair Lady (1964)
Not horrible...could have been better!
Although this movie makes it into my top ten musicals, it isn't because of Audrey Hepburn or her acting or her lip-synching or her very bad accent. I'm not one to bemoan what could have been, but, as mentioned previously, Julie Andrews would have made this film into a thing of perfection instead of something that almost was. Rex Harrison wanted Andrews cast instead of Hepburn, leaving me to wonder if the chemistry between he and Andrews would have been more intense and thus more credible. Further, also as mentioned previously, the original London cast recordings demonstrate the enthusiasm and creativity that motivated "My Fair Lady" in the early days...enthusiasm and creativity that seemed to wane a bit by the time the movie rolled around (possibly a result of the mis-cast leading lady).
I will say that the movie, while not a perfect thing, is a perfectly good thing. Rex Harrison carries the film very well, and is well-balanced by strong supporting actors. Further, the set design is flawless and the costumes are exquisite. Finally, Audrey Hepburn doesn't ruin the movie, and is actually, to be honest, sometimes quite charming in Julie Andrew's shadow.
After watching this movie, it is clear that Gene Kelly is a bit of an egomaniac. His voice sucks, he had no idea what his motivation was in "Almost Like Being in Love" (of his character, I had to ask, "How would you know what it is to be in love?"), his long dance sequences made it necessary for two IMPORTANT songs to be cut, most of the accents suck, and the directing style is "Oklahoma" gone awry (although "Oklahoma" was produced a year later). Cyd, while certainly attractive and a competent dancer, needed to work a little harder on her character development and less on her dancing. The bottom line: musicals should be MUSIC first, then dancing...otherwise, they'd be called "Dancicals." My advice: skip this and spend your money on "Oklahoma."
Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
A bit cheesy...
If you liked "Hello, Dolly!", then you'll probably love this flick. There were good things about it, but I pretty much spent the majority of the movie cringing in embarrassment from it. I consider myself to be an aficionado of movie musicals in general, but this one took things a bit too far, in my opinion.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
A great movie based on a great book...
What more could be said of this movie outside of the facts that it was well-constructed, well-acted, and well-designed? I'm given to speculate, however, why does Johnathan Demme have a few of the same actors in all of his movies? I've seen three or four of them in "Silence," "Philadelphia," and now "Beloved." Are these members of the Demme family, or just evidence of director devotion to his actors? Does anyone know?