Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Generation Why (2009)
A Valiant Effort that is Stunted by the Constraints of Budget Filmmaking
Generation Why is a well executed film, but with ambitions that unfortunately exceed its means. Though its meagre budget of $7000 goes an impressively long way, it doesn't do enough to remedy the symptoms of amateur filmmaking, which include amateurish performances, an often dull soundtrack, and a few tonal inconsistencies. Having said that, the dialogue is frequently witty, the editing is tight, and while not groundbreaking in any sense, the digital cinematography is at all times competent and mostly picturesque. However, when one assesses a budget film such as this, one isn't looking for technical perfection. Rather, they're looking for a unique premise, a well told story, and character. In these regards, Generation Why doesn't offer anything sensationally new or entirely absorbing, but it is refreshing to see a film this ambitious and relatable that doesn't rely on zombies, ghosts, or drugs to get it done.
Generation Why revolves around three friends who, to avoid getting "mired in futility," resolve to quit their jobs and educational ambitions, and instead focus solely on introspection. In doing so, they develop a pseudo-philosophy akin to modern-day bohemians, whereby they refuse to be a part of conventional systems, and become all the happier for it. They insist it's not a matter of rebellion or laziness per se, but rather a different approach to the traditional household brand of human betterment and progress. The director manages to capture the suffocating nature of being this age with adeptness, but not to the degree necessary in order to produce such drastic action on the part of the teens. Though an interesting, and strong premise, the film's thematic scope recedes when it should expand. While no doubt focused on the plight within the generation, there are missed opportunities in further exploring the system - both educational and business wise - that puts the dilemma in the hands of these young adults to begin with.
As far as character goes, the three leads speak as though they are the same person, and essentially carry the voice of the director. This makes sense when one considers that the sense of "why" is supposed to affect the entire generation, but as to whether or not this was intended is questionable, as they sound often just a little too similar in one scene, and then disagree with each other in the next scene. They're given a lot to say, and unfortunately a lot of good dialogue is wasted on the unbelievable delivery of the film's primary lead, John Delahunt. Though enthusiastic, and likely an amiable person, he is the film's weakest link. With that in mind, the crucial spirit of the everyday man is in there, and that authenticity shines through when it's most needed.
As the story progresses, it plods along predictably for the most part, when suddenly there's a surprising foray into the left field. However, as it heads off course, one predicts exactly where it's going to land, thus ending the surprise, but also catching the film before it hits the ground. At times it comes deliriously close to melodrama, and at two hours it's about thirty minutes longer than it needs to be. Still, points go to the premise and the originality of the film. While most filmmakers with no money rely on the inherent campiness of B-grade horror, Prost shoots for a Hughs-like tale of youth at a crossroads, which serves as a well needed breath of fresh air.
In closing, if one looks at the film as a spring board, Generation Why is in need of some tightening. Even with a higher budget, and access to better on-screen talent, the film wouldn't stand out as a "must-see," but it serves as an excellent warm up for a director who has definite potential to go on to greater things. What I'd like to see from Brendan Prost next is something that takes more risks; something that isn't as aesthetically safe, and something that's more concerned with being its own movie instead of being something that looks like the others.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
A Film With Lots to Offer.
I saw this film last night with a few friends after hearing some sparkling reviews. While I was expecting a positive experience, it wouldn't be fair to say that my expectations were as high as they were for a movie like "The Dark Knight" or last year's "There Will Be Blood." That said, my expectations were met, and I experienced what is probably one of the better films I've seen all year, but certainly not one of the best I've seen in recent years, let alone of all time.
What I must get out immediately is that the performances by the younger cast, the art direction, the cinematography, and the editing are all top notch. The characters are fully formed for the most part, and are given the necessary time to develop. The film also has a great soundtrack, which should be worth noting. Also positive is the emergence of Freida Pinto, an actress we should all probably be looking out for in the next few years.
Having sung all the praises, a few things need to be said about the film's flaws. The male lead, Dev Patel (as Jamal), seems only capable of one expression: intensity. And as the story progresses, and Jamal grows into adulthood, I felt that the character had stopped developing. What would have been a charmingly optimistic childhood fantasy carries over into adult life, something that seems an unlikely occurrence given the film's theme that the children are forced into growing up quickly.
Added to this are a few directorial decisions by the film's director, Danny Boyle, which I felt didn't belong in the decidedly more realistic tone of the movie (I'm not talking about the Bollywood dance, which I thought was a fantastic choice). Perhaps this is a matter of taste, but I felt that the more intense scenes were not as intense or suspenseful as I would have liked, nor was there as much humor as there was in a similar film, "Angela's Ashes" (I know the subject matter is serious, but there were more laughs in "No Country for Old Men"). Add to that a few on-screen metaphors, and one over-the-top "what could have been" moment, and I felt taken out of the experience just momentarily.
As for how the film stacks up to winning an Oscar this 2009, I can tell you now that I haven't seen "Frost/Nixon", "The Reader" (along with everyone else on the planet), or "Milk", but what I can also tell you is that "Slumdog" is a better film than "Benjamin Button." Of the films that came out this year, I can tell you that I felt "The Dark Knight" and "WALL-E" were both better movies that I feel should have filled some of these Oscar spots. If "Slumdog" had come out in the year of "Babel" (a similar film which is FAR more affecting and leaves a much greater impact, and had they both been released in the same year would have left "Slumdog" out of Oscar contention), "The Departed", "No Country for Old Men", or "There Will Be Blood" it would not stand a chance at the Oscars whatsoever. Judging by other award ceremonies and its current competition, however, it will most likely win, and probably deserves to.
Overly sentimental, yet frightfully creepy.
A teacher of mine, who is aware of my affinity for short films, gave me a DVD of nine shorts from the Yukon. Of the nine, one was entitled "Smallfilm".
The film begins with a hand groping a pillow, and the sound of sobbing. The film then abruptly cuts to an old man waking up in the middle of the night, and looking through some old film reels. It soon becomes apparent that the man is suffering from some neurological disability, for which he is taking medication.
He's managed to wake his equally elderly wife, who comes to investigate what he's up to. The ensuing conversation reveals that both characters have their ailments, both physical, and mental. What I believe the filmmaker was trying to portray was frailty, and sadness. However, the grim lighting, the claustrophobic camera angles, and the hostility of the husband make for an eerily creepy feel.
The husband is emotionally absent, often ignoring his wife, and becomes increasingly obsessive over his old home movies. Tension boils until he forcefully pushes her away. The film cuts between past and present, film and reality, but does so abruptly and confusingly.
After this, the wife shows to be in considerable pain, and begs her husband to end her life. He then decides to perform euthanasia on her by smothering her with a pillow. The image is devastating; who wants to see an old woman get suffocated to death? Rather than feeling sympathetic, it was comparable to watching Anton Chigurh strangling the police officer to death in "No Country for Old Men". Any sympathy, or sentimentality the audience may have had is lost in this scene.
The next shot has the old man crying with his head on a pillow. It is revealed that this whole thing has been a delusion the old man has been having; he's in some sort of mental asylum. The last thing this film needed was a Twilight Zone/M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. What this movie suffers from is an identity crisis. It doesn't know what it wants to be, and substitutes style for substance. The cinematography, and the lighting are both good quality, but they belong in a different film.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Biggest disappointment this summer.
You have the A list cast back, you have a great premise, you have a budget of any high caliber summer blockbuster, you have great original material to work from, and you have one of the most anticipated movies of 2006. How was it that X3 fell short? I would argue it was the director whose vision strayed way too far from what fans would expect from the franchise.
By no means am I a huge X-men enthusiast, but I'm one who respects the original material of the great minds who started a franchise. To kill off Cyclops and professor X in the first half hour in underwhelming fashion is flatly wrong. Neither of the parties are committing self sacrifice, nor are they in any way contributing to the good of mankind, they were very simply killed.
The new characters are given little depth and the familiar characters are stripped of theirs. As a result, it feels as though the flow of the movie fluctuates just a little too much and a little too radically. Would this film hit the mark when it comes to the casual viewer looking for action and special effects? The short answer is yes; however, this movie will not sit well with fans of the franchise, nor will it satisfy those who were expecting more than cheap thrills.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The best works of both Howard and Crowe.
If there ever was a Ron Howard movie to justify the director's critical acclaim, it is this movie. "A Beautiful Mind" works on every level. The movie combines strong acting, screen writing, and direction to make not only an entertaining experience, but a very involving one.
Russel Crowe is amazing in a roll which, in my opinion, eclipses his Oscar winning roll in "Gladiator". John Nash is given so much depth, and the character is developed so well that by the time all is revealed, even you want to believe what he believes. The beautiful Jennifer Connelly is also worth a mention in this Oscar winning performance.
Also worth noting is the strong supporting cast, which includes the terribly underused and underrated Ed Harris, as well as the rising Paul Bettany.
Although this movie has a lot to offer, it does suffer from a few inconsistencies in that it's not always sure what it wants to be. This movie could at first be perceived as a character study, but at times it wants to be a thriller, and at other times a suspense drama. If you can look past these drawbacks (if you can really go as far as to call them that), there is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy this movie.
Overall, this is a movie absolutely worth seeing, and it would rank highly on a list of my favourite movies.
Four Kings (2006)
It's a shame this show was canceled.
Although the laughs were somewhat scarce, and the scripts a little under-developed, the chemistry within the cast was undeniable. I have to admit, that while this was not a "Seinfeld" or "The Office", for the first season of a new comedy, this was a showpiece that NBC hadn't had for a long time. This show actually showed promise. Unlike "The War at Home", which for some reason is still running, this was a tasteful, relatively smart comedy. For whatever reason, the only TV success Seth Green has had, is "Family Guy", which miraculously made its return only a short while ago. Everyone was cast well in their parts, and they were all believable as friends. Frankly, this show had some potential, and I can't recommend you watch it, because there's absolutely no point. However, I wish this show had stuck around a little longer, because it deserved to.
Likely the worst of the entire anthology.
This was not only the worst of the books, but is so far the worst of the movies, and because no one can do a worse job than Chris Columbus, it is likely the worst of the seven part anthology. Despite the obvious aging and cracking voices of Ron and Harry, the acting has not improved the slightest bit. Neither has anything really, which is quite pathetic because the point of a sequel is to improve. I just didn't but any of it. The CGI car was the dumbest thing to do, even when it was still the car didn't look real. The adult performances are uninspired and ripoffs of past performances in children's movies. The plot suffers because it does not really move us any farther in the story, instead when we're finished we're pretty much back where we started, Ginnie is back to normal, no one really seems to think anything of the fact that she was the heir of Slytherin, and Harry fights a "copy" of Voldemort. I can't really see why Harry returned after his last ordeal in the first one, and the fact that he's returning the third year proves his I.Q. and shoe size are the same. Has he not caught on by now that every year he goes there, someone tries to kill him? And later on in the series people actually die! Lucius Malfoy ran at Mr. Potter with a drawn sword and a house elf managed to stop him?!?! Can anyone explain the logic behind this? Malfoy was a death eater, do you mean to tell me any one of these guys can be put on their backs by an insecure, masochist little elf? Not to mention I think Harry would tell someone that Luscious Malfoy just attempted to murder him. Don't waste your money on this movie, read the book if you insist on knowing what happens in Harry Potter, but as I said before the plot doesn't do anything to move you forward so you may as well skip it altogether. Don't see the first two movies, if you HAVE to see ONE, see the third, which still isn't very good, but it's better than this.
Hollywood's greatest shame.
At first I liked the Harry Potter series, it was imaginative, it was original, it was funny, and it had promise. Then the second one came out, "oh WOW this is heaven, it can't get better than this", then the third came out, "I was wrong about the second, because this is awesome". Then in between finishing the third and the release of the fourth I read the Lord of the Rings. And shortly after, the movies for both came out. I realized the huge difference, I was psyched out when I heard they were making a Harry Potter movie, but there they go and ruin it. Did you know Spielberg was originally supposed to direct, until Miss Rowling insisted it HAD to be an all British cast, in walks in Chris Columbus, a guy who directed Robin Williams in becoming a woman in "Mrs. Doubtfire", and a guy who's obviously willing to give in to any demand thrown at him by the author as long as he makes money. Well Mr. Columbus seemed to direct Ron into acting like a woman as well. You throw in a B list of child actors and a list of acclaimed adult actors who are far past their prime and who only opted to make these films because their grandchildren begged them to, and you have the first Harry Potter movie. There has never been a more horrific performance than that of Rupert Grint, who now dominates the worst performances of all time, kicking Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace out of the way. Daniel Radcliffe doesn't really possess much talent either, I highly doubt he has any future after this film, as far as acting goes anyways. As for Emma Watson, who thinks she's the best in the world, and if you think I'm talking about her performance as Hermione, you're dead wrong, have you listened to her in interviews? The room can barely fit the three of them; her, the interviewer, and her ego. Her performance is also astonishingly bad. I forgot to mention the horrible special effects, I have seen better on TV watching "Power Rangers". I mentioned the Lord of the Rings earlier to make reference to the obvious ripoffs of Miss Rowling. Firstly there are the dementors, cloaked ghostlike figures whose faces you never see (cough, RINGWRAITHS!). The whomping willow seems to ring a bell (ENTZ). The Giant Spider named Aragog (SHELOB). The trolls also seem to resemble something I've seen before... OH YEAH, the trolls in Lord of the Rings! Hopefully Warner Bros. choice of hiring different directors for the rest of the films will pay off. But this is the perfect example of a book that could have made an Oscar worthy classical movie, but fell short because instead of making it what it was intended to be they chose to skimp on the effects to make more money on little kids who think it's great because they're too young to watch real special effects in Star Wars or LotR. It really makes me sad, because in the months prior to the first movie I was marveling at the promise of it all. Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, they got John Williams to do the score, and like that, it was ruined. Although it does seem that my opinion differs from the rest of the world as Miss Rowling is just raking it in and so are the filmmakers, making even more money by skimping on the special effects that will no doubt succeed in dazzling children who aren't yet potty trained. Here's one buck the woman won't get her hands on.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Brutal yet somehow beautiful.
I don't know how Mel Gibson did it, but somehow in this two hour gore fest one can find beauty in this film. Everyone is cast perfectly, and you believe every moment, you feel every lash. This is one of the most powerful, boldest movies ever made. The suffering Christ went through was nothing light, as portrayed in other movies about Jesus, and from the title of the movie you should have guessed exactly what it's supposed to be about. If it is indeed about suffering and pain, well then it better look real, it better be violent. The cinematography is excellent, acting is excellent, direction, sets, costumes, makeup, all of them were top of the line. The only thing about this movie is due to its graphic nature, it will never become a classic, but everyone will remember the controversy surrounding it if the movie is mentioned. Anyone who buys the DVD is sick, this isn't something you want to watch more than once.
Batman Begins (2005)
Chris Nolan's gonna get a lot of work after this.
This is the best Batman movie ever made. Christopher Nolan has managed to blend the perfect mix of action, drama, and horror. Christian Bale is the second best batman next to Michael Keaton. The performances are well done and the cast is A list. Though I preferred the Tim Burton style set direction to this one, the eyes are still treated to a dark Gotham. The chase scene is exhilarating and the toys and bat mobile unique. This one is the first to dive deep into the background of batman not only through flashbacks, but taking us through his training, and inner demons. The theme and the enemy chosen was a triumph to pull the franchise out of the deep hole Joel Schumacher put it in.
Cilian Murphy's portrayal of the scarecrow is creepy but not over the top like so many other comic book villains. The script is strong and definitely more complete than the last three, with compelling dialogue. The score was not quite as well done as Danny Elfman's original, but it is satisfying enough. Cinematography is for the most part very nice, but sometimes a shifty camera get's in the ways of the fight sequences, however giving you the sense of swift brutality delivered in every one of the bat's blows. This is the first batman to really have a twist in it, and this one still leaves the story at a cliffhanger, for instance the last scene when it is revealed that the likely next villain is the joker. There is also a great amount of detail in this movie, and it stays truer to the graphic comics. Lieutenant Gordon has yet to become a Commissioner.
All in all a movie done as well as it could be, perfect cast, perfect director, perfect theme.