Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Morvern Callar (2002)

Morvern Callar was a character study. I've mentioned before how much I adore Samantha Morton and her performance as the title character in this film was indeed fantastic. But it's not a movie for everyone. The film stays extremely close to our protagonist, following her for just a short amount of time after a traumatic event in her life.

If you read a synopsis, it will say something along the lines of, "After her boyfriend commits suicide, Morvern Callar decides to present his novel to a publisher, claiming it as her own and stealing the money and credit." That's all I had read about this film before seeing it. FYI - that synopsis is crap. That happens, yes, but it is in no way what the movie is about. I would estimate that plot point takes up about fifteen minutes, five scenes max. The film is about her and how she copes (or doesn't cope) with loosing her boyfriend. It's a slow moving, languid film that lets you see what's happening without telling you what it means. A great deal is done to make Morvern seem like a real person and it's very interesting. This isn't a movie I enjoyed, per-se, but I think it is a well made, well acted film. If you enjoy Samantha Morton as much as I do, check this one out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It was big, it was flashy, it was funny, and it moved a mile a minute. I read in some review that this is a movie for the ADD generation. No kidding. We're in and out of scenes at breakneck speed and there's always something new to look at.

When I was 19, my friends and I took a road trip to Toronto because *ahem* the legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. And we had to find "vacationy" things to do. So we went to Casa Loma which is this huge castle that some rich guy built a long time ago that is now mostly used for movies. Anywho - there is a scene in Scott Pilgrim that takes place outside Casa Loma and it's the first time I've seen Casa Loma be used as Casa Loma. It was cool. My friends endured me saying "I've been there!" about a dozen times.

But back to the movie. I posit that you have to like Michael Cera to like this movie. He is Michael Cera-ing it up beginning to end. He's good - in that way that he's good - and I kept thinking how lucky this kid is that he has some comedic talent because otherwise, he would probably never get laid.

The uber-expansive supporting cast was also very good. Especially Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, and Mae Whitman (who I love anyway). The fight scenes were a tad long - especially the final one - but it wasn't much to worry. This movie entertained and made me laugh. That's exactly what I was hoping it would do. Score.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rent (2005)

On August 8th, as my B-day gift, my awesome friend and roommate, Nikki, got me a ticket to see Rent at the Hollywood Bowl directed by Neil Patrick Harris and starring Wayne Brady, Vanessa Hudgens, Nicole Scherzinger and I think those were all the famous people. WE wanted to see it because Roger was being played by Aaron Tveit - a super hot Broadway boy who rocked our socks as an original cast member in Next to Normal and was painfully overlooked come Tony time, and Mark was played by Skylar Astin - a original cast Spring Awakening alum with a great voice who we hadn't really seen since Hamlet 2. As expected, both dudes were phenomenal (at least I think they were - they were really really far away). Some of the famos were better than I expected them to be - especially Nicole Scherzinger. For the record, Vanessa Hudgens BLEW. Like hard core. Bad singing. No acting. I won't rip her to specific shreds, but she should stay in her element.

Anyway...that was one long setup to say that when we got home, we felt inspired to watch the movie version of Rent. Which, thankfully, I own. I'm going to defend my ownership of said movie with two points. 1. I have long admitted that I will forgive a musical movie many faults just because musicals are one of my preferred genres. 2. The numbers in the movie version of Rent are good. Well danced, well sung, fun and full of energy.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of in-between-musical-numbers and it is far far less good.

We got to talking about why the movie, dare I say it, sucks. My position is - and will remain - it's as good as it can be and still be Rent. Rent does not have a movie structure. There isn't one solid protagonist, there aren't three acts, they don't all arc and I think, at its core, it's too sprawled out for a movie. To be a great movie, half the numbers would need to go and Roger would need to be the star. And you can't nix Mark and still call it Rent. Conundrum!

Little issues like Roger's hair being the wrong length - yes. Those could have been fixed. But - those aren't the reasons why my friends in Michigan (who couldn't pick Roger out of a lineup of two) didn't like this movie.

And - in the show, the following things happen after 9:00pm on Christmas Eve. Collins gets mugged, gets helped, hangs with Angel, Benny threatens Mark and Roger, Mark goes to fix Maureen's equipment, Roger meets Mimi, Mark returns home, Collins appears with Angel, they go to a Life Support meeting, Mimi visits Roger (at "close to midnight" presumably), Roger kicks her out, Roger goes out with the gang, Roger finds Mimi, Maureen actually has her protest (what - scheduled for 4:00am?) there's a riot and then they go to dinner at which point Roger and Mimi act like they've known each other longer than a few hours. It's absurd. We can ignore that on stage. I don't think we could have or would have in a film.

Anyway - that's a post on Rent. Rent's amazing. The movie's not as amazing and if you never got to see it on stage - see the recorded Broadway version. It's good. MUCH better than the movie.

Oh - and if you happen to get your hands on the feature version - the best bit is the documentary on the special features disc. Makes me weep every time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Before Night Falls (2000)

I didn't really enjoy this movie. Yes, Javier Bardem is a fantastic actor and the story, at its core, is interesting. But this film felt like a project made by a director who is so in love with his own abilities he just spews random visuals all over the place to demonstrate his magnificence. I preferred The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by a mile. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly required some directorial trickery but this movie did not. The filmic blah blah blah of trees and waves and hot air balloons was pretentious dribble and a snooze to boot.

One other complaint was the inclusion of Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. Both are actors I love, but neither needed to be in this film. They're distracting. Throughout Sean Penn's scene, I missed every bit of dialogue because I was too busy thinking "Is that Sean Penn. Yes. That's definitely him. No, that's not him. Why would that be him? But I'm pretty sure that's him."

On the bright side, Diego Luna was in this for about two minutes. So that was a nice surprise.

Overall - not my fave.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fear (1996)

What a silly little nothing of a movie. I had never seen Fear - I don't know how I missed it back in 1996 - but it felt like an extra good lifetime movie. The appeal these days is the time capsule this movie has become. Marky Mark with his modelesque torso, Reese Witherspoon looking like she's twelve, and Gil Grissom (I had to look that up, FYI. I've never actually watched an episode of CSI) displaying the acting chops of an oak tree. And the nineties fashion! Could their skirts be any shorter? Could they wear any more plaid? Could they cut Mark Wahlberg's sweatshirt any higher? It was all worth a laugh.

The plotting is absurd. Happily, it was absurd enough to be funny. My favorite bits? Mark Whalberg turning into insane-o boyfriend five minutes after Reese gives it up. It was just like Angel becoming Angelus. Except less realistic. And Mr. Pussy-Pants Garry getting his neck broken after a happy little jaunt home through the darkened woods. And the dog's head through the doggy door! In a better movie, that might actually have been creepy. And the note on daddy's car after the windshield has been busted out! I'll let you check out the movie yourself for that little gem. And the title. What a stupid name for a movie.

This movie was funny. I enjoyed it. There was bad 90s music, bad 90s clothes, Marky Mark, Alyssa Milano, and poor writing. What else does anyone need to construct a movie so bad that its good?