Archive for July, 2007

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Ingmar Bergman died today

July 30, 2007

I feel rather ignorant having seen only 3 of his films.  But I do understand that his passing is a sad day for film lovers and film makers.  He was an influential director, and I think I will make an effort to see more of his films.  I do remember finding The Seventh Seal to be remarkable in its cinematography and pacing, even if I found the idea of a humanized “death” to be a bit silly.  Thanks to that film I was more readily accepting of the humanized death in “Meet Joe Black”, which was a flawed yet touching film.

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Excalibur

July 30, 2007

It seems the 80s was a good time for fantasy films. There are too many to name, but good examples are The Last Unicorn, Labyrinth, Legend, The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi (yeah I said it, it’s a fantasy movie, nothing wrong with that), Willow, The Neverending Story, the Conan films, Ladyhawke, and The Princess Bride. I wonder if maybe watching all these movies as a child made me, or maybe even my entire generation, believe that anything could be possible.

I never saw Excalibur as a child, but it fits right in with the fantasy genre so popular in the 80s. It won’t make you think a lot, it won’t move you deeply, but it’s nice for some good fantasy escapism. Some parts were really corny, and some of the dialogue really made me laugh, but sometimes it’s just good to be able to have a good time while watching a movie.

One of the things that really blew my mind is how similar the scenes in Excalibur and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were. At first I was sure that Monty Python just spoofed Excalibur, but upon looking them up on IMDB I found that Excalibur came 6 years later! Why on earth they would borrow from a spoof is beyond me, but the similarities are uncanny.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

July 30, 2007

I think I read a Harry Potter book once, though I can’t remember which one it is. However I think it’s better that I not read the book first, because it allows the movies to stand on their own merit. And it seems in every Harry Potter movie, I end up thinking how silly the names are, and how they try to jam way too many characters into a 2 hour movie. I’ve also noticed that in every movie Hogwarts looks considerably different, and the casting crew is really having a tough time keeping the main characters looking their age ranges. I imagine by the time the last movie comes out, Harry will look like a college graduate.

I can’t even really explain the plotline. It seemed as if every character was pre-programmed to do one thing, like a bunch of wind up dolls put on the set at different times. Especially annoying is the beginning segment they use at the start of every single movie, with Harry’s foster parents. I thought Sirius was going to take him in the last movie? I get so confused by each progressing movie. I still don’t understand why Draco’s father is running around free when he’s clearly one of Voldemort’s guys.

Having just seen “‘Nobody Knows” it’s hard not to compare the acting of the children.  Of course, “Nobody Knows” was far superior, but I was pleasantly surprised by the girl who played Luna.  Her character was played so charmingly despite being an odd little outcast, and I’m just so happy she didn’t go all emo with it.  Kinda makes me want to dye my hair light again, too.

I’m wondering if a good solution to the pacing and story of the Harry Potter films would have been to make each movie longer, so as to give proper character and plot development, or to even divide up the movies further into say, 14 movies per 7 books.  I’m sure that probably wouldn’t have gone over very well though, and would have been monstrously more complicated and expensive.   Perhaps the task of doing the books justice in movie form was just an unobtainable goal then, but I suppose there was money to be made, so they did it anyway.

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Nobody Knows (Dare mo shiranai)

July 30, 2007

I was really impressed how the story was told through visual imagery instead of mostly just dialogue.  It really makes it easier to “translate” across language and culture when we see recognizable situations that paint a picture of the children’s lives.

However, it’s hard to watch this movie and not think of “Grave of the Fireflies”.   I kept thinking how caring the children were to each other in that film, and how when the boy’s little sister died, I actually cried.  When Yuki died in “Nobody Knows”, I didn’t cry.  I suppose I cared a bit, and it was sad, but even the girl’s own siblings didn’t seem to mourn her death.  To me, if a little girl dies in a movie and it’s not heartbreaking, then the director is doing something wrong.  Plus I just couldn’t believe the kids didn’t get the girl a doctor when she fell off the chair.  If they don’t even care about her, why should I care about the movie anymore?

The title is also a bit misleading.  “Nobody Knows”?  Well, Saki knew, the convenience store workers knew, Akira’s “friends” knew, 2 of the “fathers” knew,  and I’m sure the landlord had a good idea what was going on.  It’s not that no one knew, they just didn’t want to get involved.  And I don’t know what Saki’s excuse was, besides the fact that Akira had pushed her away.  Perhaps her personal feelings got in the way of what she knew would have been the right thing to do.

One really good thing about this movie was the acting.  The children they had for these roles were really fantastic, and I thought they brought a lot of realism to the movie.

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Ghost World

July 25, 2007

This movie is an takes an interesting perspective of an event we have almost all gone through- high school graduation.  I suppose for those that transition from high school to college, the event is not quite as dramatic, but for those who go straight from high school to “real life”, the problems of finding a job and an apartment can be a very big deal.  I guess in college I never really took my jobs or locations seriously because I knew it was all transient, and after college was when “real” decisions started being made about careers and “home”.  But for me, that’s one of the reasons I could never make a final decision, and I’ll be holding down those same kind of transient jobs til I die.

I signed up to take a Mensa test to find out if I am still a genius or not.  I think if I would have taken the test fresh out of high school, I probably would have scored very well.  But if I fail miserably now, or even end up with some sort of mediocre 130 IQ then I won’t feel so bad about having done nothing with my life.  But if I come up with something 145 or higher I don’t know what I’d do… maybe it will inspire me to go back to college and get a real degree in some field I can make a difference in.  Or maybe I’ll just feel more depressed about the whole thing.

Anyhow, back to the movie.  Being a “weird” person, I can kind of relate to the girls at the beginning, but their sarcastic attitude about “normal” people grated on me.  I suppose when I was younger I might have been the same way, and I do recall wondering how people work 9-5 jobs every day and go to bars and go home and sleep, and that is their life. I wondered if they ever wondered about the universe, the hypotheticals of time travel and the afterlife, or if they blindly followed like sheep the things that were read to them.  But really, it’s not so bad to be normal.  They have thoughts, they have desires, they can be good people or bad people.  And even if you never conquered a continent or wrote an epic novel, your achievements will be completely obliterated in the next big crush the same way that all of Da Vinci’s will.  We all matter equally and infinitely naught.

I love watching characters develop and change through movies.  And seeing friends drift apart is a painful thing, horribly painful for every one of us who has lived it.  And you know some moments come where you say “Call me”, but you really don’t expect that person to call you and you know you’ll never see each other again, but there is really nothing else to say.  It hurts though, because for one person to share a part of your life you will never live again is a bond that never gets broken in your mind, but yet you know in your current life you wouldn’t have anything in common.

The one part of this movie I couldn’t bear to watch was Steve Buscemi having sex with Thora Birch.  I thank the filmmakers that it wasn’t a very graphic scene, but still, I don’t want to picture them having sex in my mind either.  I really respect Steve Buscemi as an actor, but I don’t want him having sex in any more movies.

The end was open to interpretation I guess, because it’s not possible for a real bus to have picked up Enid at that stop.  Kind of confusing, since it didn’t seem that the rest of the movie used many metaphors like that.  I suppose it could have meant she was committing suicide, since through have the movie my living room was filled with shouts of “EMO!  SLASHWRISTS!”  Or it could have been some sort of symbolic journey into adulthood.  Or maybe she really did just go someplace and never look back.

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By Dawn’s Early Light

July 25, 2007

For a made for TV movie, this film is excellent.  The cast is some of the best film and TV stars from the 70’s and 80’s, and the story was really well done.  While watching it I was strangely reminded of “Night of the Living Dead”, because it aroused the same thoughts of “Wow, what if that really happened?”

Rebecca De Mornay was really great in this movie, and I wish I could still see her in more recent films.   But I wonder about the character she was playing, a career military woman with a pacifist conscience?  I can understand how some younger kids in the military, maybe just there for college money, would refuse to follow orders in a war situation.  But it just didn’t seem right to me that someone who commits their life to the military would suddenly question what’s right and wrong when put in the position they’ve trained their entire life for.  But I probably have just no clue at all what being in the military is really like, and I don’t think any movie could make me more aware of the situation.  I just know I could never submit myself.

James Earl Jones is another actor I wish I saw more of.  I suppose he’s getting on in years now, and there aren’t a whole lot of roles for older people in movies.  But still, he has a presence like is rarely seen.  I bet if he ran for president, he would win.

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Big Night

July 19, 2007

I really love food movies. Tampopo is one of my favorites, Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate are both great, and even Woman on Top was really fun to watch, just for all the food prep scenes. I was thinking I would love Big Night as well, but unfortunately the only really interesting food scene was making that Timpano, which lasted about 2 minutes. The rest of the movie was a tedious character study of 2 brothers who are trying to revive their restaurant with one very important dinner.

One of my biggest problems was the cinematography. The scene where Secondo and Pasquale are talking with a lamp between them was probably supposed to symbolize something, but 99% of moviegoers want to just watch the movie without having to think about why the filmmaker does things like that. Besides, it just drives home the fact that it is a movie and not real life, because we don’t need to sit around thinking what lamps symbolize every time we see one.

Minnie Driver must have seen herself in the mirror sometime during the movie because she threw up in a shrubbery.  (Ouch, that was mean!  Why am I such a horrible bitch?)

I think I may have liked this movie more if I was an Italian growing up on the east coast during the 50s. But I’m not so I didn’t.