Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Hangover

When I watched the preview for The Hangover months ago, I thought: “Well here’s another stupid comedy I won’t need to waste my time on.” I was, however, forced to reconsider this opinion when the film opened to overwhelming critical acclaim (including from Roger) and huge box office success. So I finally went to see it. Just to show how wrong my initial assessment based on a preview can be, I can now say: “Why did I waste my time and money on another stupid comedy?” (Sorry about the sarcasm)

Okay, maybe there are even stupider comedies out there. I wouldn’t know because I tend to avoid anything that looks like a stupid comedy. But what on earth do people see in The Hangover? I didn’t think it was funny at all (and neither did Janelle). There was some interesting character development involving the “slow” character in the film, and, as Janelle said, at least it had a somewhat coherent plot, but that’s not enough to make a film worthwhile, especially for a comedy.

It was all just stupid nonsense, like so many of the comedies made in the past decade or two. I can’t waste any more time writing about it and encourage you not to waste your time seeing it. **+ (for the coherent plot) - my mug is down.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Public Enemies

I loved Heat and The Insider and thought Collateral and Manhunter were both superior thrillers, so I expect a lot from Michael Mann, especially when he has Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard to work with. Well, the actors just mentioned did not disappoint (Cotillard is surely one of the best actresses in the world today), but Mann did.

Public Enemies is a would-be gangster epic. With the acting, it could have been a great film. And it had things going for it besides the acting, like the kind of intelligence lacking in other films this summer. But it lacked heart instead and consistently failed to grab me. Being an intelligent honest film, I did not expect it to have a sympathetic John Dillinger (Depp) and felt the character was probably played right. But just because you have a cold bank robber, and a cold FBI man (Bale) chasing him, doesn’t mean the film can’t have some emotion. Instead, it just left me as cold as Depp and Bale.

Still, it felt like a well-made film and I would have been tempted to give it ***+ even if it didn’t grab me, were it not for the cinematography. You know the drill by now. Keep me away from jerky hand-held camera work, especially the kind that’s supposed to feel super-real (like an amateur is filming it live, which is exactly what it feels like to me), like the camera work in parts of Children of Men (which I would have liked so much more without that camera work). Public Enemies intermittently employs precisely the same style throughout the last hour of the film, distracting me during key moments. No doubt some critics will particularly applaud this camera work and style, but I do not like it at all. So Public Enemies gets only *** from me. My mug is up but the stuff inside is pretty bland.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Music Within

Okay, people are starting to wonder if I ever watch movies anymore. The sad answer is - not enough. And it's summer. Not to be too negative, but part of the reason is that on a couple of occasions when we had the opportunity to go to a theatre, I couldn't find anything playing that I wanted to see.

It's also easier to reflect on a movie that was either great or lousy, and the dvd's I've been watching have usually been neither. So here are a few thoughts on one of those in-between kind of movies. Music Within is an interesting movie and the viewers and reviewers seem to have been relatively kind to it. It's a true story about a man, Richard Pimental, deafened by the war who becomes an important advocate of disability rights. It's a good story worth knowing.

For the most part, however, the movie doesn't do anything to be more than ok. The one exception is the relationship between Richard and a man with CP he becomes friends with at college, which is a highlight. Otherwise it oversimplifies the story and falls into some predictable traps. One of those is focusing on a couple of jerky reactions to disabled individuals - both undoubtedly true stories - but they hardly seem to be representative reactions even in those days. The scene in the restaurant is one example, but if you're listening closely you realise later that they had eaten in this restaurant on many occasions in the past, apparently without incident. This is misleading for a true story in a way that I do not grant license for effect. Another complaint is that when you watch the special features and listen to the real Richard Pimental tell his story (which is worth doing), you see that he is way funnier than in the movie. Why not use that?

So I'll give it *** just to signify that it's worth watching, but it was something of a disappointment.