Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Celluloid #120

In Theaters

Super 8 (2011) Abrams - I was really excited to see this film - JJ Abrams doing an homage to ET and Close Encounters + Coach Taylor! For the first 2/3, I was so down. The kids were compelling and actually pretty decent actors, and I liked all of the nostalgic qualities. I easily got sucked into the kids' interpersonal dynamics and their individual family dramas and the film they work on together. Things begin to fall apart for me when the kids have to evacuate town. The plot that ensues goes beyond my ability to suspend disbelief (and I am not referring to anything monster-related, more with discovering and comprehending some secretive research that even the military police couldn't find..). Towards the end, I guess we are supposed to feel sympathetic for this creature and the connection between it and the protagonist kid...I didn't buy it. My heartstrings were untouched for the ending, because I really feel like the film never earns that kind of emotional attachment. Abrams may be channeling Spielberg, but he could have tapped that emotional vein in a much more effective way. 3.5/5 [decent]

X-Men: First Class (2011) Vaughn - I really only saw this film because I was visiting my parents. Not something that I would normally seek out, but I got a little sucked in by the overwhelmingly positive reviews. This movie is fine for summer fare. I always enjoy Michael Fassbender, and without a doubt, he is the most compelling reason to watch this film. There's nothing wrong with this film, but it's just difficult for me to get excited by mutants and their superpowers...even if it is couched in civil rights era rhetoric. 3.5/5 [decent]

In Home

Gran Torino (2008) Eastwood - I really don't know why we are supposed to find an old cranky man's racism charming or sympathetic. I'm not opposed to the basic premise of this film: a man is recently widowed and angry at the world. He begrudgingly befriends a Hmong teenage boy who lives next door. He imparts wisdom to the neighbor through the benefit of his years, and in turn learns from the boy due to his foreign culture. The problem is that the dialogue is bad, and the acting is perhaps even worse...not something that normally bothers me in a film until it it is so egregious that it becomes distracting. 2/5 [bad]

the New World (2005) Malick - After watching Tree of Life last week, I was jumping at the chance to watch the remaining Malick film unseen by me. I'm sure that I originally overlooked this film because of the presence of Colin Farrell, but rest assured, he is far from annoying and Malick is clearly running this slow-paced show. This is the lyrical story of the romance of Pocahontas and John Smith. A glimpse at "wild america" and the tension between the old and new cultures. The young woman who plays Pocahontas is stunning and has such an interesting face. Tree of Life seems like a natural next step after this movie (moving from early history and American myth, to even more personal American myths expanded to the mysteries God and the universe). 4/5 [good]

Zombie (1979) Fulci - The special effects are bad, but sorta charming in their badness. This will hit the spot if you want a zombie film, and even features some elements not normally seen in the genre: voodoo, tropical settings, and most notably - a fight between a zombie and a shark. 3/5 [medium+]

No comments: