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Miss Representation (2011)
Important food for thought
This documentary doesn't break new ground for people already interested in the issues discussed, but I think that it gives a good perspective on why the representation of women in media is so important in our society, and why the way women are often portrayed is damaging - to media consumers of all genders (ie. all of us).
I especially liked the focus on how female stereotypes in media affect young girls' self-esteem and ultimately their chances of growing up to be leaders. Obviously the documentary was US- centric, but these problems exist pretty much all over the Western world, where girls see very few really good role-models in mainstream media and where the few that exist are always heavily scrutinized and criticized.
Since media has changed so much in the past 20 years, I agree with what was also said in the movie: That media literacy, the ability to understand media as products (created by humans with their own biases and agendas), has become almost as important as the ability to read. After all, these days it's pretty much impossible to shield children from harmful media messages, so it's vital that they have the tools to deal with those messages. This is true not just for girls, but also for boys.
One word: so-so
I must admit, maybe I entered the theater with my hopes up a bit too high, hoping for some laughing-out-loud entertainment similar to 'The Full Monty'. However, all I got was some mild giggles, too many of them of the embarrassed kind, at least for my taste.
The story is simple, by no means original anymore, the characters remain cardboard cut-outs, lacking the depth that makes an audience live with them through their efforts to create a male escort service. Too many of the comic scenes feel forced, not natural (like the 'faking a male orgasm in the gym' scene). The ending as well feels forced, with everything suddenly turning out honky-dory for everyone involved, from one moment to the next.
I liked the movie best when it wasn't trying so hard, in the small, quieter moments, when they weren't trying too hard to find the balance between comedy and character development. All in all an okay but by no means exceptional way to while away two hours...
Clapham Junction (2007)
Well-done but rather one-sided
This movie gets another mixed review from me.
I didn't mind the negative portrayals so much (unsympathetic people exist, after all, among straights and gays alike, as does hatred and hypocrisy, and the performances were mostly really good), but I didn't like that that's all we get in this film. I've read that the writer didn't intend to portray the full range of gay life, but I guess that was what I expected from an anniversary-type movie. All the depression, the violence, the negativity left me feeling rather bleak and unsatisfied, thinking "But that's not all there is!"
And, on a rather superficial note, as a big fan of 'Maurice' I did wish for more interaction between Wilby and Graves. :)
2 Days in Paris (2007)
A really good laugh
The culture-clash story might have been done before, but this is still a very refreshing and most of the time utterly hilarious movie. Myself and the rest of the theater burst out laughing every couple of minutes, which makes me forgive the few scenes that made me uncomfortable. Definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended!
The characters might seem over the top at times, but they're still likable and real (as witnessed by the fact that the artwork in the gallery was actually made by Julie Delpy's father). I thought that Julie Delpy's parents stole the show whenever they were on screen, although Delpy and Goldberg both do a very good job.
All in all, it feels like a very personal look at French (or rather, Parisian bohemian) life, and very much worth a viewing. Or even two.
Better than I expected
I'd only heard bad things about this movie in advance and I hadn't been too impressed with the trailer - I thought the actor playing Grenouille was too pretty, giving his behavior an almost sensual feel, which it definitely shouldn't have. However, when I had the chance to see a press showing of it, I knew I had to see it because Süskind's book was one of the highlights of my school career. I was pleasantly surprised - the movie is well done, beautifully filmed (I especially enjoyed the period details that always felt very down-to-earth and alive), and the main character was never attractive and actually quite creepy (although in my mind, Grenouille will probably always more resemble a Gollum-like creature).
Putting scent into images, however, is even more difficult than putting them into words, in my opinion, and this is where the movie lacked. It just did not grip me the way the book had, did not pull me into this world of smells, and after 2 hours I started getting impatient for the story to finally move on and wrap up. All in all I think the movie could have been better, but it was definitely better than I'd feared and is well worth a look.
The perfect Christmas movie
To sum things up: I loved this movie.
I had been waiting for it ever since it was announced, so of course I couldn't pass up the chance to see a press preview this morning. And, while there were some definite weaknesses (mostly in the quality of the animations), overall I was completely convinced. Naturally it did not coincide 100% with my own vision of Narnia visually, but emotionally it rang absolutely true, choking me up several times and really touching me. I walked out of the theatre with a warm, contented feeling - just like I feel every time I read C.S. Lewis' book!
The stand-out performance was definitely Tilda Swinton's as the White Witch, but I liked all actors/voices, from cute little Lucy (newcomer Georgie Henley) to majestic Aslan (Liam Neeson). I thought the children did a great job, considering their relative inexperience and the amount of blue screen work involved.
Tip: Stay seated through the actor credits - afterwards there's another small scene.
Batman Begins (2005)
A truly impressive comic hero come to life
Just returned from my very first press screening (thanks to my movie-geek brother having a football tournament today *g*) - and I've got to say, there's something to be said for seeing a movie without commercials and noisy teenagers
Especially when it's as atmospheric as Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan's vision of how the Dark Knight came into being.
I must admit right away that I'm not a real Batman fan - I've seen the Burton/Keaton movies and remember enjoying the old TV show, but that's pretty much it. But I was definitely impressed by this movie and enjoyed every minute of it. Christian Bale makes a beautifully tortured Bruce Wayne and his journey towards becoming Batman rang true. Most of the other characters were also perfectly cast especially Michael Caine as Alfred brings humanity (and humour) to an otherwise pretty dark movie.
The only things that can be criticized, in my opinion, are the moments when the movie takes itself too seriously and falls for some clichés, which admittedly are hard to avoid with a well-known topic like this. Also, I wasn't too impressed by Katie Holmes as the obligatory (and way too young-looking) childhood sweetheart/damsel in distress. But that might just be me and shouldn't stop anyone from watching this.
Batman Begins sheds some interesting perspectives on Batman's past, especially by introducing some of the familiar faces and names in a manner that didn't feel contrived but improved the story (other than in a certain space saga, one might be tempted to say). Awesome popcorn cinema, with a realistic and yet fantastic feel that draws the viewer right into the dark alleys of Gotham City
I watched the first screening of TTT in Basel yesterday - and wow, was I impressed!
True, there are things to be criticized and things I personally would have loved to see - but that doesn't change the fact that to me, TTT is an incredibly intense movie! I was captivated right from the start and forgot all about sitting in second row, craning my neck... I loved how each character has at least one moment to shine and that there were a lot of touching and true interactions between them.
If there's one thing to criticize it's that the movie wasn't long enough - I'd have loved to see more of Merry, Pippin and the Ents as well as of Frodo and Sam (there specially more about Faramir). I'm hoping the Extended DVD will remedy some of that... But although I'm really not a fan of big action sequences and therefore didn't expect to enjoy the long long battle scenes, I found myself loving every minute of them, also thanks to Gimli acting as comic relief (admittedly somewhat overdone at times, but that doesn't change the fact that I for one needed those breathers).
Oh, and one more negative thing - how the hell am I supposed to wait another year for ROTK? :)