Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
I attended the DGA screening over the weekend, followed by a Q&A moderated by James Cameron. Cameron's first words (after correctly referring to Scorsese as "maestro"), were "I thought we'd just geek out over 3D for a half hour, but having seen the movie... it's a masterpiece." I brought my ten year old daughter, who sat -- if anything -- even more transfixed than I did. Every single image is arresting, the use of 3D is perfection itself, the story is engaging and thrilling and heartbreaking and uplifting and I never wanted it to end. If only it'd be three hours! All the performances are excellent, including the kids. Great British actors appear in roles with only a line or two, but it helps lift the movie into the realm of Instant Classic, and Sacha Baron Cohen brings nuance and heart to his humorous role as the Station Inspector. On the way to the car my daughter asked if we could get the blu-ray when it's available, and I had the same feeling as well.
Once stuff stops blowing up, the movie has plenty of time (way too much
time) to reveal how mindless and cliché-ridden it is. Frankly, the last
half-hour or so of picture actually plays like a parody, with not one
but two ticking clock countdowns.
Why on earth would you make a movie like this two and a half hours long? What could be thinking? Why give the audience so much "down" time to ponder all the various idiocies and atrocious dialogue herein? This movie truly gets worse as it goes along, which you don't see every day. So... I guess that's something.
The film is beautiful, visually stunning, and exciting, and the cast is
remarkable, especially Penelope Cruz (no surprise there), Marion
Cotillard (her singing is wonderful), and the gal who blows the doors
off -- an unrecognizable (to me, anyhow) Fergie! I was watching the
credits to see who the hell played Saraghina, and was stunned to learn
it was Stacy Ferguson. Go Fergie! Judi Dench is a smash as well. Nicole
Kidman doesn't reveal anything we haven't seen before, but she does
bring the large dollop of Movie Star shine for which her role calls.
Even Kate Hudson pleases; her 60's go-go dance will inevitably bring
comparisons to her mother's "Laugh In" heyday.
Having said all that, I honestly don't know who is the audience for this film. "Nine" was hardly the Broadway smash that "Dreamgirls", or "Chicago" was, and the score is entirely obscure. Additionally, do most people really care about the trials and tribulations of a self-involved, duplicitous 1960's-era Italian filmmaker? Does it matter? Do you have to actually like the protagonist to learn something from his experiences? Box-office-wise, this picture is going to live or die on the reviews, and people's interest in seeing these actresses shine. (I read here that Renee Zellwegger was under consideration for a role in this film... What a disaster that would have been!) And, of course, those who like seeing Daniel Day Lewis stretch new muscles (he chain smokes! He sings!) I enjoyed it very, very much... and now I'm very curious to see what the world thinks of it.
I attended an early screening with my 8 year old daughter; we're both big fans of Sendak in general and this book in particular, and I quite like Spike Jonze as well. But this did not prepare us for the moody, almost downbeat atmosphere through most of the film, nor the sense of immediacy and almost hyper-realism combined with astoundingly fanciful imagery. It is such an odd movie! And yet, when it was over, we turned to each other smiling a melancholy smile and said, "I loved it." The expansion of the tiny story into a feature-length film is so subtle that you barely sense it happening. There isn't an artificial new plot laid over the bones of the original -- it's simply expanded at every turn and very gently stretched out to feature length. The voice performances are wonderful, and the costumes are magnificent, as is the one major visual addition to the material (which I won't give away). Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very good movie, but not the classic it wants to be. It's
funny and tragic, although not too informative if you've read a
newspaper with any regularity over the last eight years. In short,
there are no surprises.
Josh Brolin gives an excellent performance as W., and the supporting cast is generally superb, although Jeffrey Wright, Richard Dreyfuss, and James Cromwell particularly stand out. Thandie Newton is hysterically funny as Condie Rice, but it's an SNL-type parody, not an emotionally honest performance.
The film is obviously meticulously researched and carefully considered, which is why the sequences that are clearly either utter conjecture or merely political finger-pointing stand out by a mile.
Bush -- whom I personally despise for his offensive combination of idiocy and self-righteousness -- is treated with fairness and sensitivity. The effort here is obviously to fashion him as a tragic hero; a man who genuinely wants to do good but simply doesn't grasp how hard that is, especially when surrounded by the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney (who is, very specifically, the villain of the piece, as he is in life). And it generally works. I found myself feeling bad for the poor guy.
However, while trying to make W. a sympathetic character, Stone pushes his theme -- "It Was All To Prove Himself To Daddy" way too far. He overplays his hand, including a mood-breaking dream sequence near the end. There simply has to be more to George W. Bush than that..... doesn't there? The film ultimately plays much, much better when Stone relies on actual transcripts and information gathered by experienced reporters, and those sequences, whether they are cabinet meetings, press conferences, or more personal moments, snap and zing.
This is exactly why there are indie films... for smaller, dramatic stories that don't fit neatly into one specific genre. But this is an involving, emotional movie full of extraordinarily strong acting from its ensemble cast. It's especially rewarding to see Michael Pare do such a great job, and to see Broadway star Donna Murphy in a motion picture. And I especially loved the score, by UK pop star Midge Ure. I also like seeing Amanda Plummer, Ernie Hudson, and Colm Meaney cast against type, but Tate Donovan delivers the majority of the comic relief in the film, as one might expect from his exemplary sitcom work. Not a theatrical gem, but a classic rental. Too bad there are no extras on the DVD.
"Dummy" is that rare indie... not only is it touching, sweet, and smart (sure, that covers lots of indies) it's actually laugh-out-loud funny. And Adrien Brody's performance is remarkable if only for the fact that he became a genuine ventriloquist for the role! As good as he is, though, it's Jovovich who is transcendent, delivering a performance the likes of which we've never seen from her.