Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A history lesson
This is a movie that makes Americans proud of their heritage. They need it after the shame of Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. It is about the politics of passing the 13th Amendment, the abolishment of slavery. Ironically it would not have happened had the south not seceded. It was sold to a rather bigoted country of the time as a tactic to win the war. To get people to do the right thing, Lincoln's people had to bribe and cajole in ways that sound familiar today in the corrupt game of politics.
The movie would probably sail over the heads of most children or bore them. It's about dirty politics.
The are so many familiar faces, disguised under makeup and wigs, all having a wonderful time hamming it up. The movie reminds me a bit of the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston saying his lines as if every word would be recorded for all eternity with a background of soaring strings. It is not that corny, but it has that taking-itself-too-seriously feel.
There are hundreds of congressmen and onlookers all in costume debating in the house. It must have cost a mint to film. Everyone is doing something so incredibly full of energy. It felt somewhat phony to me, sort of metaphoric Kodachrome.
Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln as quite believable, with his squeaky voice and penchant for telling meandering stories to make a point rather than bluntly disagreeing. He hams it up much less than the other actors.
The movie leaves out most of the war, Lincoln's depression, Mary Todd Lincoln's mental troubles, the death of his son, and even to a large extent, the assassination.
I would like it if every adult American saw this movie. It might put a clearer perspective on today's equality issues, women, gays, transgender, immigrants...
Promised Land (2012)
tug of war
The movie is filmed in heartbreakingly beautiful rural Pennsylvania. A charming salesman Steve Butler/Matt Damon tries to convince the people sign over the natural gas fracking rights to their properties. It is like a tug of war, where each side in the conflict gains a temporary small advantage. Each side gets to pitch their side with conviction. There almost no hard information about fracking, but there is lots of emotion for both sides. It is "fuck you" greed vs nostalgia for an inevitably dying rural lifestyle. The movie never takes the environmental case seriously, but it turns out there is a reason you can forgive them that. The case for preservation is made mostly visually where the camera does time lapse or panning shots over the amazing landscapes. The rest is sentimental hokum.
You watch Steve gradually become more and more disillusioned with what he has been doing. The movie builds to the climax when Steve tells all to a big audience.
The main thing that did not work for me is the immaculate giant white homes with manicured lawns even single people live in, yet they are all supposed be on the edge of bankruptcy. The other is the witty small town bar banter. In reality, it would be much much more dumbed down.
special effects / disaster movie
I expected the movie to be about the psychological tensions of being a female captain in a traditionally male-dominated world. Nope that was not it at all. Sandra Bullock is the only character alive for most of the movie. She has to carry the entire movie. It is a special effects/disaster flick. She moves from one space station to another, escaping by the skin of her teeth, as they are blown to bits by space debris.
The special effects are quite believable. I don't know how they were done. People and objects float rotating serenely. There are no crude wires to get in the way of the action.
The space stations are incredibly cramped. I can imagine the locker room smell. They look completely plausible. I had waves of claustrophobia just looking an them on the TV screen.
The movie ended too soon. I was far from convinced she was home free. I wanted to see something of what happened to her character, Ryan Stone, after she made it back to earth.
Some things did not make sense. What was this somewhat clueless woman doing on a space station? Why could she walk immediately after months in space? Why is there so much noise in space especially when dialogue makes the point there isn't? Why is there no way to make radio contact with earth from any of the space stations?
For me it was too repetitive. Too much action and not enough psychology. It is a boy flick masquerading as a chick flick.
Across the Universe (2007)
I really enjoyed this movie. It is an unabashed musical packed with more Beatles tunes than I remembered even existed. The singers are brilliant. The boy who plays Jude, Jim Sturgess, is spectacular. He is better than the Beatles. He gives the songs depth, meaning and emotion that they did not have in the bouncy originals. The movie is essentially an opera, with bits of dialogue to tie together the musical numbers into a clever strangely uncontrived story. Each song usually begins with a minute or two a capella, perfectly sung. There are usually about ten people in the background dancing, or doing something or just looking colourful. It is like a non-stop visual torrent washing over your eyes. The choreography is original avoiding repetition.
The movie reminds me of Grease and Peter Fonda's early movie, The Trip. It also reminds of my youth. It is pretty realistic for how surreal it was.
The nostalgia was so thick it made me cry a few times. At one point Sadie did a Janice Joplin impersonation. Ouch!
It is not a particularly light entertainment. It is set against the brutality of the powers that be who brought you the Viet Nam War. The depiction of the violence is mostly surreal. Yet it got under my skin even more that blunt realism would. I have seen so much of that my hide is tough. There was one scene when you watch from a distance as two soldiers deliver notice the beloved son has died and the reaction of the mother and girlfriend. I have never seen that done so powerfully before.
The ending was so predictable and so saccharine I felt let down, quite unlike the rest of the movie, but at least they clipped it short.
Boardwalk Empire (2010)
The backgrounds, the music, the costumes, who needs actors?
The part of Boardwalk Empire I enjoyed most are the backgrounds. They recreate whole cities including skyline, boardwalk, city streets. I presume this must be green screen and models, but it is all completely convincing. Interiors remind be of the more Spartan existence I enjoyed as a child. Somebody took tremendous care to reproduce the fine details. The costumes look like real lived-in believable clothes.
The music is wonderful, zippy fun -- toe tapping brilliant rearrangements of old standards. It is almost a musical the music is so prominent and wonderful.
My problem was telling the characters apart. Nucky and Capone are distinct, but rest all look very much alike. They should have done something to make each one visually distinctive. He's the one with one kid, and he's the one with two is hardly the best way to tell characters apart.
Nucky wants people to like him and respect him. He is generous and kind hearted. He just extorts a little from darn near everyone to finance his Cadillac life style. It is a different sort of gangster movie, lighter on the violence.
License to Wed (2007)
Like 7Up left out overnight
Licence to Wed is billed as a romantic comedy. It follows the usual formula. There are difficulties that threaten the relationship which are finally overcome for a happy ending. The catch is the female lead played by Mandy Moore as Sadie Jones is the bride from hell. She is shallow, bitchy, obsessed by trivia, controlling, critical, immature, vain and half a dozen unprintable words. I hated her from the get go, and hoped the groom would escape her clutches, or she would have some sort of personality transformation. Neither happens. In the end, he marries this dreadful woman and everyone pretends it is a good idea.
The groom, Ben Murphy, played John Krasinki is athletic, goofy looking, with the personality of a puppy. He is no great catch but he does not deserve her. He seems utterly unable to notice his bride's faults.
Robin Williams, as Reverend Frank, coasts through the movie as if he were on 2 grams of lithium a day. He has a weird child sidekick who wears a suit and tie, who looks like a miniature Jay Leno. However, the movie does nothing funny with this character. I kept waiting for the scene that justified his existence in the movie. It never came.
Other than the groom, none of the other characters have any emotional appeal. It is hard to care about what happens to people you don't like.
The big joke is the movie is Reverend Frank gets Sadie to drive a car blindfolded while Ben guides her while they narrowly avoid accident after accident. The idea that anyone would consent to such a dangerous and silly experiment made me reject the scene outright. It was just too implausible. I saw the scene as a series of staged stunts rather actual events.
Grace Zabriski (Big Love) plays a minor role, but she always fun to watch.
Elysium came highly recommended. However I found it disappointing.
It is set in the future, but mirrors earth today. The "Republicans" live in a gated community, but in orbit. The rest of the population live in squalor similar to a Brazilian favella. The goal of every person on earth is to live in this golden community.
The people who live there have no compassion whatsoever. They remotely run the corporations on earth that have no regard for safety or working conditions, like Nike in Thailand. They use robocop like droids to keep the earthlings in check and drones like Obama. They happily kill any potential trespassers.
The Republican have astounding advanced technology for healing, but they won't share it with the earthlings, for much the same reason blacks were spat on.
There is not much subtlety in the parallels.
Matt Damon is hideous. They shaved off his hair, covered him in tattoos, a Borg suit (presumably to give him strength) burns and scars. I did not like seeing his beauty defiled that way.
Jodie Foster plays the icy leader of the Republicans. She plays the part perfectly, projecting complete composure and elegance.
However, most of the movie is watching mindless CGI of hovering vehicles, droids and explosions. It just goes on and on and on. It is boring!
There does not seem to be any point to most of the violence. The combatants have no motive. They just like fighting.
There are some extremely phony dramatic tension moments that just don't make any sense at all. The people don't interact much. Not even the villains have much interaction with their victims. On the other hand, that is the point of the movie. These people have no compassion for anyone.
Stuck on You (2003)
Light Sweet Comedy
Stuck on You is a light sweet comedy. It takes a while to get going. Usually comedies are based on people insulting each other or being cruel to each other. This one is about conjoined twins who are kind and considerate to each other and to everyone else. It is a wonderful movie to take your kids to. These two are great role models. I have never seen a movie about conjoined twins, so all the gags were fresh for me. There is so much novel comic potential. My jaw dropped a number of times at the acrobatic skill of Greg Kinnear and Matt Matt Damon. I can't see how they could have done it with stunt doubles. They do an eye popping burger making ballet reminiscent of Tom Cruise in Cocktail. They have a fight that would put the Chinese martial artist dance moves to shame. Cher plays herself and spoofs herself. Meryl Street plays herself and spoofs her Mama Mia appearance in a musical Bonnie and Clyde. It was a romp and so much fun. The main plot as based around one of the twins wanting to be an actor while the other finds the idea abhorrent. They find ways to accommodate. It is a beautiful movie because the brothers so enjoy each other and care for the other's welfare. Their good will tends to rub off on everyone they encounter, in unexpected ways.
Adams æbler (2005)
Strange Affairs of Unlikeable People
Adam's Apples is an unusual film in that you instantly dislike all the characters. The Pastor of a church without a congregation is sanctimonious. Life has handed him a long series of cruelties, a father who repeatedly raped him, a wife who committed suicide, a catatonic son, a terminal brain tumour, workers who beat him up. He deals with all this with exaggerated Christian denial. He insists his child runs around and does his homework. He insists nothing bad has ever happened. He lies to a women with a foetus likely to be disabled, using his own "happy" experience.
This denial drives his skinhead Nazi worker crazy. Another worker shoots people on whim. Another is grossly obese, a pervert, and a kleptomaniac.
Then the magic "glorious messenger" highly improbable happy ending made possible by divine intervention. The message is creepy and disgusting, that somehow god exists and despite everything, is perfect, despite his sadistic tinkering. The crazy pastor was right all along.
It contains scenes of crow and cat killing.
It is original and fascinating in a car wreck sort of way.
Eight Below (2006)
This purports to be a true story. It is thoroughly Disneyfied, though not quite as anthropomorphic as Homeward Bound.
Much of the story shows sled dogs barking and barking and barking. We are supposed to take this as meaningful communication and careful planning of the stunts we see next. The dogs are well trained to make it look as if they are much cleverer than they really are.
Did I mention the barking? It really gets on your nerves after a while.
There is lots of swelling music to tell you when to feel elation.
The humans are quite one dimensional. One has a monomania about rescuing the dogs that seems a bit kinky for a Disney movie.
The movie takes place in the worst (sunless) winter in Antarctic history. Yet, of course, for filming, you need clear skies and bright sunshine so this supposed danger does not seem too threatening. The dogs even after six months without being fed in the cold of an Antarctic winter are as fat and frisky as ever. "8 Below" is not that cold, even for Canada. I wondered if somebody made a mistake coming up with the title.
There is one scene when something leaps out at you. Elderly viewers could have a heart attack. It is completely unexpected. My adrenalin was racing for minutes afterwards. You only expect that kind of a jolt in a movie like Alien.
In summary, a little too corny. Perhaps it would work for younger viewers.