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Having been requested to view and review this work by the film maker, I jumped at the chance. Hesitant, as similar requests are often disappointing, I gave it a fair view. I was pleasantly surprised, and taken aback by the profound vision of this young film maker.
Poetic, as another reviewer mentioned, yes. However this is much more than that. It is surreal. It is profound. It is simple. It is heartfelt. The subtle nuances in the characters brought out by the director and the actors are the entire film. Forget the meaningful lighting by the cinematographer who enhances the vision with precise yet artistic lighting choices. Forget the visual effects and makeup which are done slightly and not abruptly. Forget the Oscar associated crew. Forget the editor who was able to capture specific looks and expressions in a specific order to tell a meaningful story. The controlled performances, subtle expressions, looks, reaches, movement specific to every moment of this story were brilliantly brought out by the director and realized by the actors.
Pacing and tempo of this film were key to truly understanding and appreciating this film. The score helped create that tempo, and the pacing of the film and the cuts enhanced it. If I were to add any criticism of this work it would be that there were perhaps too many cuts. The pacing did not need to be sped up, as is the tendency in recent years. The shots had enough to captivate and as such could be held longer, but that is less a criticism of this film and more a criticism of film in general since the dawn of the video era which relies on quick cuts and fast action.
Every part of this film shows a vision beyond that of many experienced film makers. It is a breath of fresh air to see a young director following his passion, his art, and his own voice and not giving in to formulaic crap pumped out by the studio system.
Away from Her (2006)
Some of the best acting ever put on film
Julie Christie's performance should have won her the Oscar, despite the strong competition at the Academy Awards that year. She was vulnerable, she was understated when need be, and she was relate-able. Gordon Pinsent was equally strong and we felt for both of their characters and were on their sides. Sarah Polley had depth beyond her years, and an understanding of a topic that should have been taken on by an older more experienced director (I am the same age as Polley). Had that happened, we wouldn't have had the strong performances, brought on by Polley's direction, nor would the film been as touching and realistic. Cudo's to the producers for believing in her vision and allowing her to take the helm. This could have been a Bergman film, it works on so many levels and really stays with the viewer.
Inland Empire (2006)
Inland Empire cannot be described as anything other than a ride or a trip. You cannot spoil this film, as it becomes a personal experience for every viewer. I enjoyed the journey and felt utterly hopeless to tag along.
Lynch has made no secret of his passion for Fellini and you can see the influence throughout this film. I found it to be a collaborative homage to many of the great filmmakers of the past. Strong references to Fellini, Bergman, Kieslowski, Bunuel are evident throughout, however his homages are kept solely to style and are not met with any obvious "salutes" to specific films. Kudos. It has been a while since I have seen a film successfully combine film history with the present in an enjoyable movie experience.
This is not the type of film to go to if you want to unwind, however no Lynch film is. THis is a thinking person's film, and although you may not likely ever fully understand what Lynch is trying to portray, you will be able to derive your own meaning and interpretation of it (which to me is the true moviegoers' experience anyway)
It's Complicated (2009)
Entertaining. Characters hit and miss.
I laughed pretty much from beginning to end. Our group were late 20's and early 30's and were the youngest in the theatre, but age shouldn't discourage you from seeing this film.
A mature look at divorce and sex, this film doesn't hold back. It's main characters (played by Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin) are well fleshed out and dynamic. Secondary characters are poorly written and directed. The children (with the exception of the son-in-law - who if not realistic is entertaining and believable) are not fleshed out at all, nor are they are realistic portrayal of children in their 20s. Steve Martin's character is better written than the other secondary characters, however it is easy to tell that Nancy Meyers' passion lied in the characters acted by Meryl and Alec.
I still thoroughly enjoyed this film and would highly recommend it for anyone in the mood for a laugh. You laugh because it is funny and oh, so true!
Pineapple Express (2008)
I enjoyed 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up and thought Superbad was super great.
I decided to give Pineapple Express a try. What was great about the previous three was the realism. Pineapple Express was a far fetched tale without any insight or interest. I laughed once during the film (near the end) and thought the acting was atrocious.
Pot based films can be phenomenal (Half Baked, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, etc...) but this was one of the worst films I have seen. The plot was uninteresting (which I could have lived with if it were funny), the characters were flat (which I could have lived with if it were funny), the jokes were tasteless (which I could have lived with if it were funny) - Do you see a trend here? I wouldn't recommend this film to a fart. The only way one could enjoy this film is if they were so stoned that they were hallucinating their own plot storyline.
All My Sons (1948)
A Literature Favourite
Arthur Miller has always been my favourite playwright and All My Sons my favourite of all of his plays. The film version really impressed me as they were able to make the film come alive in an interesting, new and exciting way. The shots were meaningful, but not pretentious. The acting work of Edward G. Robinson as the tragic Joe Keller was inspired. The subtle ways his character would speak volumes without saying a word. Mady Christians (Kate Keller) had few lines but we rarely wondered what was going on in her head. All the performances were well done...but...
There were two things that bothered me about the film.
The first was noticeable, however forgivable. I found that the delivery by Burt Lancaster (who played Chris) sounded like he was trying to act on stage. He spoke the lines with pronounced enunciation and flair. He did not overact in any way, but the way he delivered his lines felt forced, felt like I was watching the performance rather than watching life unfold.
The next was a disappointment for me. However, if you have not read the play you wouldn't notice it at all. The end of the play is quite emotional and whenever I read it (about once a year) I find that I weep uncontrollably. The film did not have the same emotional affect, however, and although it was still tragic it somehow came across with less impact than the words on the page.
I am a filmmaker myself and it has always been my dream to remake All My Sons once I have garnered enough experience to do it right. I hope one day to do it justice.
The Slender Thread (1965)
Bancroft gives An Amazing Performance! KUDOS POLLACK!!!
There are so many things right with this film. Sidney Pollack's debut is my favourite of his films. The shot selection and direction of actors is held to the highest standard I have seen from him. Sidney Poitier is bang on as the Help Line Volunteer, but Anne Bancroft is what really makes this great, entertaining film a masterpiece.
Anne Bancroft had a great career. Even in the mediocre and poor films she was in, she always shined. This is among her top three roles (along with The Graduate and Great Expectations) in no particular order.
This film is very entertaining and contains quite a bit of subtext in each shot. It touches on themes of racism, suicide, sexism, mental instability, death, isolation and abandonment, infidelity and heroism. You get the feeling that Newell (Newly Well) empathizes with Dyson (Die-soon) more than he lets on, and it is kept brilliantly under the surface. GREAT JOB POLLACK!
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Brilliant (not romantic) Comedy
I think many people either go into this film forgetting that the Coen Brothers directed it and expect a Hollywood-friendly romantic comedy OR expect it to be darker, as many of Coen's comedies are. This is slightly dark, but more of a fun satire.
It is not your typical Hollywood comedy, nor is it that romantic. Don't watch this film as a romantic date movie or anything like that. It is a satire, and is quite good at what it is. This is among my favourite comedies.
It is laugh out loud funny. I could not stop laughing. I am a Coen's fan, and I loved this film, it is among my favs...
Have an open mind and no expectations and this film won't disappoint.
Breakfast of Champions (1999)
I don't understand why this movie is so misunderstood. It is a dark comedy, but very dark. I think most viewers were either looking for:
A- A comedy, but this film is more absurdist and tragic than out and out comedy...
B- A regurgitation of the novel.
Now I have not read the novel, nor have I read any of the author's book - yet...I will now, based on Breakfast of Champions. No movie will ever include enough of a book to satisfy the viewer, for the simple fact of time...A 30 page short story usually translates into a 90 minute film, so a full novel will be missing many elements (see Davinci's Code...the film was horrible and made little sense unless you read the book) I thought this film (BofC) was brilliant as a stand alone piece. Why? It was a thought provoking tragedy, which focused on the darkly comedic side of tragedy...
Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Farrell Disappoints, But Woody Delivers
The tragedy part of the story was brilliantly executed, but the comedy had something lacking. The comedy. It was a subtle comedy, but could have been funnier with better delivery. Don't get me wrong, Will Farrell was good in the part, but fell short of the brilliance that he exuded in "Stranger Than Fiction". Woody wrote a part that is typical Allen...and despite the age difference, I would have liked to see Woody in the part. He would have pulled off the comedy better. It was HIS shtick. I have enjoyed all of Woody's films...comedy or drama, with or without Woody, and they always work...but this one needed Woody Allen.
I feel I have to rate these separately.
The tragedy part of the film deserves a 9/10 but the comedy aspect only scored a 7/10. The premise deserves a 10/10 and the execution of the idea earned an 8.5/10..giving it an 8/10 rating IMHO.
Don't go see this if you expect a Woody Allen comedy, but if you expect a great Woody Allen drama, it won't disappoint. (not your typical Allen)