Monday, January 11, 2010

Movie Reviews

A Single Man is about a gay professor (Clin Firth) in 1962 grieving about the death of his partner. Given the time frame virtually no one knows about their 11 year relationship, he can only talk with his boozy divorced friend (Julianne Moore) but that doesn't always go so well. There's oscar buzz about the two performance, particularly Firth's and it's certainly well deserved. There is also a fair amount of criticism for first time directors Tom Ford's work. There are a bunch of arty shots and fade to whites, but it mostly worked for me. He's trying to involve all the senses using color, texture, sound and descriptions about smell and at times almost taste. It's an intimate story getting into the head of a character that's very guarded and isolated and emotional. I was also proud of myself for recognizing Jon Hamm's (uncredited) voice and the poster for Psycho by just a small part of it. And I'm not sure but I think I recognized the rocks where Kirk fought the Gorn.

Sherlock Holmes - The reviews weren't very strong, but the people I knew who saw it all liked it. It was better than I expected and I found a lot of the criticism to be off. It is more of an action film than a mystery but there are a number of times where you see Holmes use deductive skills that no one possesses. The end explained everything except how during the climatic chase they went from the sewers of Parliament to the top of Tower Bridge by just climbing a couple of ladders. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law had good chemistry together and as usually I liked Rachel McAdams and didn't think her role was too small. I also liked the look of 1890s London. I did find it dragged a little about two-thirds through. They were mentioning a number of characters by name and I wasn't sure who was who. I'd give it a 3.5/5

I finally caught Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince having missed it in the theaters. I thought it was a perfectly good continuation of the series. I liked following all the characters and the story. I thought the filming was a bit dark, but it seems everything was continuously cloudy deliberately. I hadn't read the book so I don't know how much they left out, but I'm looking forward to next two films.

FIve Graves to Cairo is a Billy Wilder film from 1943 set during WWII. It opens with a great scene of a tank rolling through the dessert that I won't describe further. Franchot Tone plays British Corporal John Bramble who's separated from his men and finds himself in a bombed out hotel run by Farid and his maid Mouche (Anne Baxter). German troops show up and take over the hotel. Bramble disguises himself as the waiter Davos who was killed in the bombing. Then Field Marshal Rommel shows up played by Erich von Stroheim and Bramble tries gathering intelligence without getting caught. It's a Billy Wilder film so there is a lot of good dialogue and some fun twists. I'm a big Wilder fan and really enjoyed this. It's not on DVD but will be shown on again TCM on Feb 22 and April 24.

What Women Want is a 2000 film written and directed by Nancy Meyers who also wrote and directed It's Complicated which is in theaters now. I hope it's better because I found What Women Want to be pretty weak and condescending. Mel Gibson's Nick was described as a guy's guy but he only had one friend and was an ass and a horrible father. Fine he's supposed to grow but Helen Hunt's Darcy was completely underwritten. If you've missed this so far, there's no need to see it now.

Bell Book and Candle is a 1958 romantic comedy based on the play. James Stewart is a publisher in New York and Kim Novak is his neighbor and happens to be a witch. I'm assuming this was the inspiration for Betwitched. Jack Lemmon is her warlock brother and while it's not great, it's pretty fun.

The trailer for The Soloist had oscar bait written all over it but it came and went from the theaters very quickly, now I know why. Robert Downey Jr. plays Steve Lopez, an LA Times journalist who comes across nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill homeless man played by Jamie Foxx. Ayers is making beautiful music on a violin with just two strings. it turns out he went to Julliard and was a prodigy. Lopez writes some articles about him and tries to help him and finds that to be difficult. It's based on a true story and the performances are quite good, but the movie meanders around and never gets the drama right. It's probably because it's keeping to the truth but that didn't work for me in this case.

I didn't read the book but I saw the movie Blindness and I'm sorry I did. It's not a metaphor for anything it's just a collapse of society Lord of the Flies type story. What a surprise, people behave terribly. This was almost as bad as The Happening, it had better acting, but it was also a half-hour longer so it might actually be worse.


The Dad said...

Unfortunately I can only comment on Harry Potter, having just finished reading the Septilogy to Natalie and also having just seen 1/2blood Prince. Yeah, the story continues to flow, but the movie left A TON out. There's a whole back story about how Riddle was born, getting revenge on his family, who his parents are, where the first horcrux came from....

Oddly enough there WAS one bit in the movie that was actually sort of a spoiler about book seven, that wasn't in the book itself. But I won't spoil it for you.

I hear book seven will be 2 movies.

Megs said...

You actually watched What Women Want? So sorry, wish I could've warned you on that!

And wasn't this the Harry Potter w/ all the romance between Hermione and the red-haired-kid and the girl who liked him? If so, that plot dragged on and nearly ruined the movie for me!