Saturday, July 31, 2010

Couldn't be any better.....

That about sums up this next film: 

 "Toy Story 3" 

If you haven't seen it yet - GO!  Even if you didn't see the first two films, this one will delight you, both visually and emotionally.  Of course, if you have seen the first two then it is imperative that you finish the series and GO SEE THIS BEFORE IT LEAVES THE THEATRE! 

From the first opening sequence, this film does what so many mainstream adult films do not - it captures you with a cohesive story with action scenes that make sense and move the story along.  The plot builds on itself until the final moments of the film when it comes to a satisfying conclusion.  The story is that Andy is now 17 and is about to leave for college.  While Andy is cleaning out his room (for some reason his mom is giving his room to his little sister - not nice) he divides his toys up into those he wants to give away and those he wants to keep.  Lucky Woody is elected to be the one toy that goes to college with him.  But the bags get confused and all the toys end up being donated to a preschool.  Mayhem develops as the toys realize they've been discarded and the preschool is not the wonderful place they thought it might be.  There are some wonderful new characters, and the heart of this movie franchise is never lost, especially when Woody manages to escape from Andy's car when he realizes that his pals are in jeopardy. 

The visuals are stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it in 3d, although I think it would be just as good in high quality HD.  This film made me laugh, cry, cheer, and it had me on the edge of my seat.  Not bad for a cartoon.  I'm continually amazed at how sophisticated and well-done these "kids" movies are.  I've said it before but I'm gonna say it again - mainstream Hollywood, please take note.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Dear me, Watson...."

Yes, I finally had the chance to watch one of the most anticipated films to come out at Christmas time last year:

 "Sherlock Holmes"

Starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, with Jude Law (Dr. Watson), Rachel McAdams (Irene Adler), and directed by Guy Ritchie.  Now, maybe it's just me but this film was a huge disappointment.  I knew going into it that it was more of an action film than the Sherlock Holmes stories should ever be considering it was directed by Mr. Ritchie ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", "Snatch" and the horrible "Swept Away") but it also turned out to be a mess of a story as well.  To tell you the truth, I can't really remember what the story was.  I got lost in the action scenes and the slow motion and the fact that Sherlock Holmes was being depicted as an emotional cripple who relied upon his intellect (said intellect being represented as a strange kind of mind-warp.)  Now, I do realize that Sherlock Holmes was an emotional cripple who relied upon his intellect, but he was not shallow or crass or simple as he was depicted here.  Robert Downey Jr. is always a kick to watch and he is very likable, but he did not give off the air of someone who was a genius.  Jude Law did a better job as the side-kick, but Rachel McAdams was totally miscast as the bad girl.  I didn't believe for a minute that she was conniving or devious.  She just seemed lost and a little bit of a brat.  

Why someone thought this screenplay would work is beyond me (and the fact that it took five people to write it ought to have given them a clue.)  It didn't work as a story, it didn't work as a film, the actors were all wrong and it was almost as if they were trying to make a comedy.  Maybe they should have gone all the way with that idea - it might have had a chance. 

A New Look and a New Start

I'm back!  With a new fresh look to the blog and a new resolve to write more about this thing that I love - movies!  So let's get going.

First up is a small film that I kept seeing wonderful reviews about called:
"Winter's Bone" 

This indie film is based on the novel of the same name written by Daniel Woodrell, and directed by Debra Granik, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Anne Rosellini.  It is set in the Ozark Mountains in a time period that I assume is the present but it gives me great pause about the state of our society if it is.  Ree Dolly (the heart-breaking and tough Jennifer Lawrence) is the oldest of three children whose father has disappeared, leaving Ree, her siblings, and her mother who won't speak, to fend for themselves.  Ree does everything for the family until she receives the news from the local Sheriff that her father put their home up for collateral for his bail and if he doesn't show for his court hearing, they will lose the house.  Ree goes on a quest to find her father to bring him to the hearing herself.  She must face some of the most vile people you can imagine on this quest as her father was involved in the making of meth in the backwoods of the Ozarks and these people do not offer up information lightly.  Her uncle, Teardrop (John Hawkes, who was so good in "Deadwood"), comes to tell her that he thinks her father has been murdered, which would negate the bail, letting Ree and her family keep their home.  The sheer force of this young girl as she encounters drug dealers and the women who support and defend them, is nothing short of astonishing.  The depiction of the society in these woods is reminiscent of "Deliverance" and it will haunt you, just as "Deliverance" did me as a young girl of 15.  Jennifer Lawrence is an actor of great depth and she presents Ree's predicament and turmoil over wanting to find her father, but also hoping he is dead at the same time, with a subtle nuance and she does most of her acting with just her expressions and the tone of her voice.  John Hawkes is always good in his roles and he does not disappoint here.  He is also playing a character who is torn between two things - his allegiance to the drug lords and his duty to his family.  It's not a happy story but it is one that will touch your heart, and you will want to take Ree and her family out of those woods to a safer place.  That is what a good movie does - takes you places you wouldn't ordinarily go and it makes you love the characters in those places.  This small film does just that.

Next up:  A blockbuster that was just a mess and another kid's film that surprised and delighted me.  Mainstream Hollywood should be listening!!