Reviews written by registered user
|18 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I feel like the kid in the Emperor's New Clothes, but I just saw "Ted"
and it's one of the worst films I have seen in many years. I was SO
disappointed. It has been getting many great reviews while also
garnering a few poor ones. I really wanted to like it. Before I saw it,
I was thinking that at the worst, I would think it was a stupidly dumb,
but pretty funny or even mildly funny raunchy comedy. Unfortunately, it
wasn't even that. Yes, it was raunchy, but it really wasn't all that
funny. So many jokes landed with a thud. On top of that, the film was
so poorly paced. I got maybe 5 or 10 laughs out of it. A reknown local
reviewer mentioned that one of the local actors got off, perhaps, the
best line in the film. I waited for that line, and after it happened, I
thought to myself, "THAT is the best line in the film?!?!???".
It started out promising, actually, a bit of a tongue-in-cheek poke at Christmas movies, but that smartness wasn't sustained. To me, a great high/low brow movie comedy like "There's Something About Mary" is a model for other movies, being smart and lowbrow at the same time. Even "Animal House" has writing which is SO much better than "Ted". Again, the pace at times was slow, which is pretty deadly for a movie like this, where the jokes should keep coming, fast and furious.
And then it turned into maudlin, with typical boy loses girl, gets girl back type plot points. I won't give it away, but it was not good.
Too bad. See it at your own risk. Hey, I might be in the minority.
Lars Von Triers always presents interesting, often compelling twisted
dramas. There are usually little comic moments scattered about as well.
So if you're willing to give yourself over to his vision for a couple
of hours, it is quite rewarding, even if those couple of hours leave
you a bit disturbed. But hey, that's part of what makes great
movie-going, isn't it?
This film's title, and I'm giving nothing away as it has been part of every interview, is both the mental state the lead characters are going through in this film, as well as the name of a planet which may or may not be hurdling toward the earth the night of Justine's wedding, Kirsten Dunst's character. It is also a part of the mental state of the Director of the film. His last two films (Anti-Christ the one previous to this), in particular, have been ones which have been outward expressions of that state.
In any event, while Melancholia is available currently (as I write this) On Demand on cable TV, see this in the theater if you can. The visuals are marvelous and a large screen experience allows you to be enveloped in these larger than life images.
Regarding the performances, while it's an all-star cast, including velvet voice himself, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Udo Kier (of the Warhol/Morrisey films), many are rather throwaway roles for them. Here, it is really Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sutherland's film.
Kirsten Dunst's performance is the celebrated one, as she won Best Actress at Cannes. While she gives an extremely raw and brave performance, and she does show off a range and complexity of emotions, Gainsbourg gives a quieter but more well-conceived performance. Dunst, for me, doesn't pull it all-together in as coherent a way. She doesn't give the character an arc I can believe in the way the best acting performances do. There is no doubt that this film shows Dunst to be an actress who is willing to bare her body and soul for the sake of a film (and there is little of her body that is not bared here), but her acting seems, at times,more of an acting exercise in emotions. So I liked her performance, but didn't love it. In the end, Gainsbourg's was the more interesting performance. It had more nuance and I believed her arc much more. And while Dunst has a natural beauty about her which is stunning, Gainsbourg has a understated beauty it may take a few more looks to appreciate. On the surface, she is certainly a plain Jane next to Dunst, but she has the ability to pull you quietly into her character.
Sutherland was all right, nothing special. I think he was put in there for box office purposes rather than being the best actor possible for the role. I really didn't buy his performance that much. Vocally, he has a rather limited range. Emotionally, his range is limited as well. He's like a volume knob than only stops at 1, 5, or 10. He still sounds like his character on 24.
Melancholia is both enthralling and a bit frustrating. Worth seeing, but not always totally satisfying. Fascinating at times, not quite believable at others (There are a couple of plot point holes I won't go into here.). Is is a very unusual 2 plus hours in the theater. Overall, if you're a Von Triers fan, see it!
This is a fairly straight forward telling of the story by the Coen Brothers. And that's what makes it a bit on the disappointing side. There was certainly the Coen humor present and a few interesting visual twists, but for the most part, this lacked the Coen Brothers typical M.O. of taking material and twisting it inside out, whether it be their own or not (No Country For Old Men). In the past, there have always been cinematic and story-telling surprises around every corner. Not here. For much of the movie, this could have been done by any decent story-teller of a director. I expect more from the Coens. It was almost coasting for them. My wife, in agreement, said that it seemed as though they were fulfilling a contractual commitment to a studio.
All I can say is that Tarentino clearly has such fun making movies that
it's hard not to love his wit, passion and love for movie history.
While the film drags just a bit toward the end in its pulse, there is
great film-making, film homages and great performances to make this one
of the great movies of 2009.
Christoph Waltz is justifiably awarded for his supporting role here, but there is another astonishing supporting performance by Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus, a teenager left orphaned by the Nazis. Her performance is both courageous and at times, heartbreaking. There was one moment of her's where my heart leaped up to my throat. I am an actor, myself, and know how skillful and honest that moment was to conjure.
I'm glad to see the great response from reviewers here. Frankly, I scratch my head at the somewhat tepid response it received, overall, from critics.
Well, given that Allen pulled out an old script from the '70s, this
latest film is a welcome back of sorts to the stomping grounds he
really knows best. The romanticized New York City from the mind of
Woody Allen is very distinct -- distinct as Martin Scorcese's darker
side of NYC from his earlier years.
The script for this film is smart and quite enjoyable. This script came before Annie Hall, but it shows Allen's first attempt to create a comedy that strikes a bit deeper than his purely comic works such as Sleeper. Here, you can see that there are aspects of Annie Hall as well as Husbands and Wives which were later more fully developed and more satisfyingly so in those masterpieces.
Still, this film has some joyous moments and it's great to see Allen return to the NewYork City of his of which we are so fond.
Larry David is very good in this as the VERY curmudgeonly protagonist. Evan Rachel Ward is charming and very funny. Patricia Clarkson is also very funny and very good.
This is not a film that will appeal to middle America, but for those who like Allen's urban intellectual wit, this film is quite good and FAR better than disappointments such as Shadows and Fog. Again, for those who are fans of Woody Allen, you can see the germ in this film for his deeper comic work. I give this a 7 out of 10 relative to Allen's best work. Relative to much of what Hollywood has to currently offer in terms of adult comedies, this rates certainly higher than that.
Well, if I could split the movie into two, I would say that the first
half is a superb Proposal and the second half is fairly traditional
Hollywood pablum. In the first half, the wonderful comedic timing and
chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds was terrific. The writing was
first-rate intellectual, snappy sparring, even throwing in some
literary references in the put-downs. Kudos to the Director, Anne
Fletcher, and the Screenwriter, Pete Chiarelli.
The completely different tone in the second half, I surmise, could only be attributed to the studios/producers stepping in and stating that the film must appeal to a wider audience. We, then, get lots of family characters thrown in, with a great reduction of Bullock and Reynolds mutual screen time. And when they do share time in the second half, it's more about slapstick/physical humor (cue studios/producers needing appeal to wider, a.k.a, younger audience). Maudlin music comes in on the soundtrack, letting us know that this part of the movie is supposed to tug on our heartstrings.
I don't buy the inevitable resolution either. I don't believe that it is supported well or justified by what came before it.
The 1st 45 minutes is WELL worth seeing. I wish the filmmakers could have pushed and maintained the pace and feel for the entire movie. Reynolds and Bullock are so good, they could be this generation's Tracy and Hepburn. I'd like to see them in another project that follows through all the way.
BTW, this film was actually shot in Boston and (the Alaska scenes) in Manchester by the Sea and Rockport on the North Shore with digital effects adding snow capped mountains. You might even recognize Motif No.1, a famous small building on a wharf in Rockport which has been the subject of many famous painters' and photographers' work. It was also fun seeing some of my local Boston area acting colleagues doing background work in the film.
This is a movie that is a serious case for a rewrite. Too many plot
points, yet jumping around too much made for a movie that just couldn't
settle into its mood. Imagine taking the original Godfather novel and
putting ALL of it into just one film. Part of what made the Godfather
movies so enjoyable was the easy pace that allowed wonderful character
The Wyvern Mystery screenwriter couldn't decide between editing out choices and what to leave in, resulting in both too much detail and too many plot points occupying the time, leaving out real character development. At the same time, instead of wise choices for plot points, too few at critical times were left out, resulting in leaving out situational development. For example, at the beginning of the film, you see very young Alice Fairchild and then abruptly, you see the adult Alice. This left out not only her growth, but the growth in relationship between her and her guardian, the Squire. A richer establishment of their relationship would have added texture and resonance to what follows in the film. Yet, this relationship was almost totally missing other than the superficial aspects of it.
The cast performances are fine. The music and some of the shots are over the top, coming from a Masterpiece Theatre feeling to suddenly horror, Friday the 13th style. They might have worked if the film's tensions had been established better, but as over the top (for a BBC film, that is) as those terror sequences are here, they are unsupported by the writing.
Too bad. I really wanted to like this more. This leaves me wanting to read the book. Apparently, Charlotte Bronte, who penned Jane Eyre, was inspired by the author of the novel upon which this movie is based.
I think this was a brilliantly done film. It may have its flaws (Not
necessarily crediting everyone properly where credit is due), but that
aside, it's a beautiful look in the auditioning process from both the
actors' and producers' sides, using a the audition process for the
revival of the groundbreaking musical about the auditioning process.
The structure of the film is wonderful. This is a documentary that works well, not just as a documentary, but as a film. I suppose that we may be a bit jaded by watching "American Idol" and similar shows which expose some of the auditioning process, this goes a bit deeper, looking at performers who operate at the highest level of work. Some of the audition clips show performances that are astonishing and thrilling. That American Equity Association, the union for Broadway actors, allowed the filmmakers to film the actor/dancer/singers to be filmed, it allowed us to see the audition process for performers such as Charlotte D'Amboise, already a star for her performance in Chicago.
That this film goes back to original interviews with Michael Bennett and some of the taping of dancers and actors who spend most of their time on the audition line and expose their inner selves when then perform, it helps us empathize with these performers who aspire to be part of one of the great acting pieces for musical theater performers.
The film never sinks to maudlin profiles of the performers, unlike American Idol and the like. That the filmmaker doesn't do this allows us to come to the film. Never did I feel that I was being hit over the head or were the emotions generated undeserved.
In addition to the clever device of the watching the audition process for a musical about the audition process, the film really gives you a sense that it's a challenging, grueling process for both sides. And it's incredible thinking about this "interview" process only results in a contract for 6 or 7 months. How would you like to spend 8 months preparing to interview for a job that only may give you 6 months of employment? Finally, the film keeps us in suspense, much the way watching an American Idol episode, so the film works on many, many levels. I'm glad that the producers are correcting some of the credits for the DVD release. Those omissions didn't keep me from being enthralled with this documentary. Anyone remotely interested in theater or musical theater ought to see this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, can I announce that there is music and dance in this film? Does
this constitute a spoiler? Just kidding.
Seriously, though, I was really disappointed with this film. I love almost all kinds of music and this music is now among those I like. Those with ears more trained to the distinctions between this Portuguese music and, say, Brazilian music can say more about it than I. However, there are certainly aspects to Fado that resemble Brazilian music.
Be that as it may, Fado, to my understanding, is not dance music, per se. On the other hand, the director, for who knows what reason, chose to greatly enhance the film experience with often cluttered visuals and dance that sometimes doesn't seem to fit the music. What I wanted to see was either a live concert film, like "Buena Vista Social Club", which showcases the musicians and also told about the musicians' stories, or a film like "Calle 54", a concert film simply done on a soundstage with no audience. Either way, those films focus on the musicians performing the music.
"Fado" is so visually busy, you get the sense that either the director didn't trust his audience to merely sit through a concert film so he enhanced it with visual pizazz, or he felt like doing an exercise in showing off visual style as a director (the way it sometimes feels Tarentino does). Other than a few exceptions, the musicians and the music are not the stars here (but they should be!). What we have are, instead, set pieces comprised of music and dancing and sets and colors and camera tricks. Hey, let's put on a SHOW!!! There was so much going on, with no microphones in sight, I thought I was watching singers lip synching.
The music is lovely, sometimes exciting and the performers seem to be passionate about what they're performing. Their efforts, however, are so often conflicting with the director's vision, or just drowned out.
Remember how tacky those musical numbers used to be at the Academy Awards years ago? You could have a singer like Shirley Bassey mesmerizing us with her vocal of "Diamonds Are Forever", but behind her would be busy Busby Berkeley choreography performed by 50 tuxedoed men and 100 scantily clad women, not really doing anything all that pointed regarding the lyric she was singing. Just complete idiotic distraction. Well, that's how a lot of this film felt to me. As Simon on American Idol would say, "Sorry." Could someone do a film of this music before a live audience and serve THAT up to us? I'll be anxiously awaiting.
Mickey Rourke is, indeed, as terrific as advertised and his performance is worth the price of admission. Aranovsky's films are very interesting and his style here is similar to the one evident in PI, his first major release. The film's first two-thirds is wonderful, and while watching it, I'm thinking that this film is going to be a major work to be remembered decades from now. The trouble is, the plot points that drive the latter third, divided between the relationship with his estranged daughter as well as the relationship with a stripper friend are handled so tritely that I can only figure that the writer didn't know what to do after he came up with the premise for the story. The result being that the ending is quite disappointing compared to the previous part of the film. Nevertheless, the first two-thirds of the film are mesmerizing shouldn't be missed.
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