Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Star Trek (2009)
Going Where No Trek Film Has Gone Before
Some TV shows become famous.
Some become legends.
And some are Star Trek.
This big-screen reboot of the most famous television show in history is a masterpiece, blending a reverence for its origins into a modern update of a classic franchise. The special effects were absolutely stunning, but more than anything, this movie is a glorious feast for Trekkies old and new alike. It is so identifiably Star Trek without being a pale imitation that I can easily understand why it's called the best Star Trek movie to date.
Michael Giacchino's score is a masterpiece. The thundering orchestra as the Enterprise is revealed for the first time is guaranteed to send shivers down anyone's spine, but the ending - the grand recapitulation of the original series' main theme in glorious stereo - brings tears to the eyes.
It is, however, the actors who make the show. Cho, Yelchin and Saldana are divine. Karl Urban as the country doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy brings a rough, raw sex appeal to DeForest Kelley's 'piss-and-vinegar' grumbles. Urban was a Trekkie growing up and it shows, as he nails the character every scene. His chemistry with Pine, as well, is off the charts, to the point where many fans indulge the same speculation about new-Kirk and new-McCoy that the original Trekkies carried on about Kirk and Spock so many decades ago.
But the high points, as in the original series, are Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine as the immortal, dynamic duo Spock and Kirk.
Quinto spent hours discussing Spock with Leonard Nimoy. His Spock is utterly believable, and Quinto perfectly embodies Spock's struggle between emotion and reason, humanity and Vulcan teachings. As he walks onto the bridge to offer himself as First Officer, anyone familiar with the original series can see the echo - and the beginning - of Leonard Nimoy's immortal character - a little rough, perhaps, with more emotion still than he would like, but he is so utterly, recognizably Spock it sent chills down my spine. And Quinto's chemistry with Pine makes it unbelievably easy to believe that this is just the beginning of "a friendship that will define them both." Which leads me in to Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk. Pine watched some Star Trek to prepare for the role, but stopped because he didn't want to copy Shatner's performance. He was so right - no one could ever have done what Shatner did with the role. But it doesn't matter, because everything Kirk is glows out of his eyes, his face, his voice, his gestures. That derring-do, devil-may-care attitude we all know and love is tempered with the fierce, undying loyalty that made Kirk the best Starfleet captain the Trekiverse has ever seen, and Pine manages to convey both no matter what the situation. He becomes Kirk, different perhaps thanks to a different childhood but still utterly, heartbreakingly recognizable.
In the end, for new fans, the movie is sure to draw them into the franchise. For old-time Trekkies, it is an achingly beautiful homage to the very best of Star Trek, the spirit that made it famous and its lead characters into archetypes themselves - and I believe that Urban, Quinto, and Pine, with their talent and their chemistry, can carry those archetypes to a new generation.
I can't wait for the sequel.
Julie's is better, but a lovely remake
As a girl who first discovered the magic of R&H's "Cinderella" when the Julie Andrews version was released on DVD, I am, naturally, attached to that version as the best. However, one snow day I turned on the television and found this lush, wonderful remake.
Whitney Houston equals the lovely Edie Adams as the fairy godmother, and her powerful pipes lend grace and distinction to lovely R&H melodies.
Paolo Montalban, as the Prince, is perhaps the best recast in this entire version. His singing voice is positively lovely, and he immerses himself in the character. While I was immediately won over by Jon Cypher's shy, reserved demeanor and lovely voice (and his chemistry with Andrews), I think Montalban does an excellent job with the role.
Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber take the King and Queen in a totally different direction from the original. Broadway royalty Howard Lindsay and Dorothy Stickney (married for decades when the original was filmed) play the roles effortlessly and are tender, lovely, and slightly goofy, but Garber and Goldberg play up the comedic end of the roles and, while it would have jarred in the original, it works extremely well in this production.
The Stepfamily, too, are more comedic and less goofy, but once again, it works. Bernadette Peters, in particular, is delightful.
I had only one slight disappointment, and that was Brandy in the title role. While her acting was equal to the task, and she had lovely chemistry with Montalban, I do not feel that her singing was up to the task. Of course, I am standing this in comparison to Julie Andrews, but still, I think that dubbing might have been the best choice for her.
While nothing can match the original, in which the cast gelled like never before, this is a charming remake for a younger generation and also instills a message of acceptance with a multiracial cast. While I would choose Julie's version over this one any day, I was delighted by what I saw and heartily recommend viewing this along with the original.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Come What May, I Will Love This Until My Dying Day
There are a few films that take movie-making to the pinnacle of artistic expression. Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, From Here to Eternity... all have rendered themselves immortal. I have a gut feeling Moulin Rouge will soon join them.
This film is not a depiction of realism. It is a depiction of love, a lush visual feast, and a treasure trove of two of the greatest acting performances of all time. Nicole Kidman gives all she has as Satine, the disillusioned courtesan who learns to love and wants only to be 'a real actress' and Ewan MacGregor is Oscar-worthy as her love, Christian the writer, who writes a musical using their story. His sobbing scene at the end alone should have won him an Academy Award. Their duets are heart-throbbing, their chemistry makes the atomic bomb look like a sparkler, and the secret glances they share have us all rooting for them. Their love is a story for all the ages.
This movie is not, nor does it set out to be, an accurate depiction of history. You want that, find documentaries, not a Hollywood movie. This movie was created to teach us a lesson. And, with stunning sets, lavish costumes, and the voices of angels, it does exactly that. This movie really does depict love as it should be... and as it can be. This is passion, fire, souls mating, single-minded, eternal love - and nothing is better than that.
I cannot find the words to express what this movie is. It is not in any way conventional, nor is it in any way original. But this is a fantastical blending of tales old as time and gorgeous 80's music to create the ultimate lesson: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
High School Musical (2006)
Campy, Corny Fun
I am disappointed to see that so many people are knocking this movie on the basis of its unbelievability. Is it clichéd? Yes. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it unbelievably corny? Yes. Is it an awesome way to kick back, relax, and find some relief from life's pressures? Absolutely. To those who say that it's unrealistic, of course it is. To those who say that people never randomly break out into song and dance, well, you've never seen a bunch of theatre kids together. But this movie is an all-around good time with awesome songs that make you want to get up and dance and a story that leaves you feeling happy and less stressed than you were when it started. And not only that, but it also contains important lessons. Everyone has a secret passion that doesn't fit their 'image', everyone wants to break out and try something new, and no matter how clichéd or 'roled' you are, there is always something more.
Vanessa Anne Hudgens and Zac Efron were delightful, and Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel provided wonderful comic relief. No, this film is not among the ranks of GONE WITH THE WIND, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, A PLACE IN THE SUN, THE KING AND I, or THE SOUND OF MUSIC. It is simply a joyful romp through high school, and a chance to suspend disbelief and really believe that 'we're all in this together'.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Errol Flynn at his swashbuckling best
Some criticize this movie for historical inaccuracy. I could absolutely rip this movie apart with the discrepancies. But I flat-out refuse to. Why? Because this isn't supposed to be a documentary film. This is supposed to be an adventure story, a story of idealism, winning fights and fair maidens to boot. And it contains an absolutely marvelous smörgåsbord of actors in their prime and on top of their game.
Errol Flynn plays the title role with an aplomb rarely seen today. He is at once witty and tender, and yet manages to convey that he really does believe in what he's fighting for. This is justifiably called the performance of his career. The swashbuckling, athletic action is a joy to watch, the score is magnificent, and the chemistry between him and oft-time leading lady Olivia de Havilland is a joy to watch.
De Havilland, playing the fair Maid Marian, portrays her not as a meek and mild mouse, but as a spitfire, determined, and surprisingly very twenty-first century personality with a definite mind of her own. I cannot say enough about her performance. She is utterly believable in this role, and the chemistry between her and Flynn is unforgettable.
Supporting actors provide a wonderful background, making this a must-have movie for romantics and action addicts alike.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Too wise to woo peaceably, indeed
There is no other actor/director today who can match Kenneth Branagh's talent with Shakespeare. Even though this was at the beginning of his career, he sparkles as the witty lord of Padua who vows never to wed but changes his mind when he meets the one woman in all Italy who can match him epithet for epithet. Beatrice, played by Branagh's then-wife and actress in her own right Emma Thompson, is a sparkling counterpoint to Branagh. Their chemistry is utterly believable and Kenneth's look when he turns around and sees Beatrice coming onto the balcony makes me swoon every time. Their dialogue is at once hilarious, tender, and romantic, and their kisses absolutely sizzle, most particularly their kiss in the chapel as they dance around each other but finally realize that they love 'nothing in the world so well' as each other. They are quantifiably the true lovers in this story... they sizzle with suppressed passion all the way through. They are so mad about each other and clearly want to snog each other senseless but can't find the courage to do it, so they engage in a witty repartee to disguise this truest of loves. They are absolutely perfect for each other in every way. Benedick plays the witty man who cannot abide love, but he is also a man of honor, of kindness, and of fondness. Beatrice too covers herself up as a witty, lighthearted lady, but she loves her cousin deeply and is more than eager to revenge her cousin's honor. Thompson and Branagh take the meeting of soul mates to the ultimate level, far and away giving the best performances in the entire film. The archaic speech rolls easily off their tongues, conversational and impromptu, without any stiffness or uncertainty whatsoever.
But others deserve mention as well. Denzel Washington is a quietly dignified Don Pedro, Keanu Reeves is a satisfyingly evil villain, Robert Sean Leonard has the ladies swooning as Claudio, and Kate Beckinsale makes a wide-eyed, innocent, and drop-dead gorgeous Hero. This is a movie you can watch and fall in love with again and again. Claudio and Hero exhibit typical Elizabethan-style love, while, as noted above, Beatrice and Benedick are altogether more sophisticated and deep in their relationship.
Kenneth Branagh made this film a sparkling gem of a film, taking Shakespeare, as he has before and would again, to the height of art.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
A Love Story to Remember
Nothing I can say here will do the movie justice. It is something you have to experience to understand. But I can try, here, to put my feelings for this movie down on paper.
Deborah Kerr is a breathtaking Terry McKay, playing the role with both the comedy and the drama the film requires. Her light 'fencing' scenes with Grant at the beginning disappear after their outing in Villefrance, replaced by a desperate (and failed) attempt to suppress her feelings for Nicolo Ferrante, who she begins calling 'Nickie' almost as soon as they reach the 'turning point'. The comedy virtually disappears, replaced by touching and tender moments, beginning with the glances they share as she sings the French version of 'An Affair to Remember' accompanied by Cathleen Nesbitt as Janou... the only role an actress could ever match in a remake (Katharine Hepburn prevented the 1994 'Love Affair' from being complete and utter trash, giving a remarkable depth to the role and easily outclassing every other actor in the production by a thousand miles). The looks and tender moments continue, with a little comedy interspersed (the outside stairs and the stairs down to the dining room). As 'Auld Lang Syne' begins to play, and she and Grant begin to talk about a future, you can feel the love in the air. And the absolute urgency in her voice when she says 'You name the place and I'll obey'... and their last stolen, fervent, forbidden, and desperate kiss as they plan to meet... She is an absolute goddess in this film.
Grant is no less stunning, providing a remarkable counterpart to Deborah's talent and showing his own signature moments... most famous is the look on his face when he finally realizes the devastating truth about why exactly Terry didn't meet him. Without being melodramatic he touches all our hearts. And the chemistry between him and Kerr is remarkable... they seem to start wildfires every time they so much as look at each other.
This film is far and away the superior of the three versions of this story... the original 'Love Affair' holds its own, thanks to Irene Dunne, but the 1994 version is prevented from being tossed into the trash only by the wonderful performance of Katharine Hepburn. These two actors, however, convey a classic and passionate romance that will stand the test of time. If you want a story of passion, true and unending love, and overcoming all obstacles for the sake of each other, you have found that movie. Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant will never die so long as this film lives on.
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Unquestioned Champion
This is without a doubt the best movie ever made (second is 'From Here to Eternity'). Julie Andrews lights up the screen as Maria, the freewheeling nun from Nonnberg Abbey who is hired as a governess to look after Captain von Trapp's seven children. After winning the hearts of the children through song and freedom from the oppressive life their autocratic widower father (Christopher Plummer) has made them lead, she proceeds to win the heart of the Captain himself. The love story in this masterpiece is probably one of the best in cinematic history~ there are several moments when you feel that ripping each other's clothes off would be less romantic than the raw sexual tension that charges the air, particularly during their fight right after the Captain comes home and the incredibly romantic Laendler. All I can say is that if you haven't seen this movie, you must have been living under a rock for the past fifty years.