Archive for August, 2007

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Stardust

August 17, 2007

I rarely watch newer releases so it occurs to me that I should warn about potential spoilers, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet. I know paid reviewers can write a long review of a movie without revealing plot points, however when I like to pick at a movie it’s quite hard to do so without detailing specific parts.

Some of the comments my husband made about the movie as we left was that if it was like The Princess Bride, Tristan (Tristran?) would have ended up with Victoria instead. After all, The Princess Bride started out the same way. A poor boy in love with a beautiful girl above his station, so he sets out to get a fortune that would unite them in marriage. And Buttercup was an absolute bitch to him for most of the movie as well. Maybe the lesson was, Love doesn’t come easy, it takes a lot of work. He also mentioned that comic book stories Neil Gaiman writes don’t seem to translate to movies very well. It happened to Mirrormask too. The problem seems to be with the pacing. In the airship montage, it seems like months go by as the captain teaches them fencing, dancing, how to play piano, ect. But in reality the entire movie is just a week, and the montage ruins the whole timeline.

There was quite a bit of comedy throughout the movie, even in such tense scenes as the final showdown between Tristan and the evil witch. Again, it seemed a throwback to the fantasy style of The Princess Bride, except with fewer witty quotes. I think they might have gone a bit too far with it though, distracting from the escapism of a fantasy film.

I’m not quite sure if the plot points along the way were supposed to be a surprise or not. I figured out from the beginning that Tristan was the son of the lost princess, and in fairy-tale style he would become the next king. It kind of ruined it for me, to be so formulaic. I didn’t have to worry about the characters so much because I knew everything would turn out ok. It probably would have been better had Tristan’s mom not told his dad right away she was a princess, then it could have been a little bit more of a surprise.

Despite it’s various shortcomings and the difficulty the movie will have in getting out of the shadow of The Princess Bride, it’s definitely better than anything else out there right now. Harry Potter would be a much more enjoyable series to watch if it had the “magic” that Stardust had. I hope that further Neil Gaiman movie translations will continue to improve from here.

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Freeway

August 9, 2007

From the Netflix description Freeway sounded like some sort of psychological thriller, and I really expected a cat-and-mouse game along the wilderness of I-5.  After about 10 minutes in I started to suspect something was amiss, and about the time the movie seemed to end less than halfway through, I started to think maybe this movie was not about what I thought it was about.  No, it’s not a psychological thriller.  It’s not really a thriller of any sort, since I spent more time laughing than on the edge of my seat.  It’s not a comedy either though really.  It’s just… different.  Not like any movie I’ve seen lately, and that in itself is a good thing.

The best way to describe this movie is a modern-day take of Little Red Riding Hood, with a white trash teen as the protagonist.   Reese Witherspoon was great at making her character sympathetic, despite being so very very trashy.  Brittany Murphy also was playing a much different role than usual, so much so I barely recognized her.  I can’t say Keifer Sutherland or Brooke Shields really stretched far for their roles though.  Sutherland played basically the same character as all his “bad guy” roles, and Shields just put on her normal “crazy bitch” face.

I just loved how wonderfully fucked up the entire movie was.  Random violence, necrophilia,  and some really wonderful insults.   “That’s not all I did to grandma.”  It’s like a John Waters film with more mainstream actors and a bigger budget, but also included the social commentary you’d expect from something Oliver Stone touched.

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Heavenly Creatures

August 8, 2007

All I had seen of Peter Jackson’s pre-Lord of the Rings work was Meet The Feebles, so I went into Heavenly Creatures thinking it would be some sort of sick, bloody, gorefest.  Well, I supposed it was a bit sick, but in a way I can relate to.

The movie chronicles  a friendship between two girls in the 50s.  Because of repressive upbringings, neglect or simply strange personality traits, they are both prone to rich fantasy lives that begin to interfere with “real life”.   I was much the same way as a child, and sometimes I wonder if I still am.  Though I can pay bills and buy groceries and keep the house fairly clean, I’m still not grounded in a sense of how to really plan for the future, especially career-wise.  Maybe I’d be better off as a fantasy writer.

The girls develop an unhealthy obsession for each other.   I wonder if Pauline ever liked the tenor before she met Juliet, or if she just latched on to whatever Juliet was into.  It seemed the case with the clay models and the idea that Orson Welles was hideously ugly as well.  According to Anne Perry, the RL Juliet, they didn’t have a sexual relationship at all.  I think Peter Jackson took some liberty with his movie that was unnecessary, and  he seemed to throw that in just for shock value, or perhaps to make it more controversial.  But with teenage girls murdering ones mother, did he really need to?  I don’t think so, and I think it was a cheap trick.

Because he directed one of the most horrific murder scenes ever shown on film I suppose I can forgive him.  Not since Dancer In The Dark have I been so disturbed by watching someone die on film.  I wanted to turn it off and look away, but I made myself watch.  It was horrible.  And to know that it’s real, that it really did happen, doesn’t help with the “it’s just a movie” mantra to console yourself.

The really sad part is the fantasy ship that sails without Pauline.  She realizes as she’s killing her mother that the authorities are never going to believe it was an accident, they’re going to be caught, and they’ll never be able to see each other again.  But yet she can’t stop the murder because they’re already in too deep, and they just want her screams to stop.  It’s chilling even typing about it now.  And so incredibly sad… when the titles came up that said they never did see each other again, I nearly cried.  It’s a great loss in the world when love is denied, especially one of friendship.

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A Shot In The Dark

August 8, 2007

I think I had seen this movie as a child but wasn’t able to get the innuendos at all.   Now that I’m older, I understand the verbal humor but the physical comedy seems so foreign.  It seems like forever ago that TV and movies used gags like ripping pants and getting hit in the face with a door.  Another thing that really surprised me about the movie was right from the opening credits: It’s funny when people die!  Getting shot is hilarious!  And later on in the movie, it followed the same pattern.  When the assassin kept missing Peter Sellers, the people he hit would die in such amusing ways.  For some reason it bothered me.  Perhaps I’m becoming more prudish in my older years, or perhaps worrying about my son all the time has made me more sensitive about such things.  Just yesterday there was a story in the news about a police man shooting at a snake and accidentally shooting a 5-year-old boy in the head instead.  I don’t think I would have thought so much about it before, but having a son makes it all the more real for me.

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Charade (1963)

August 5, 2007

I love this movie from the opening sequence.  It’s so 60s!  I love the colors, the music, the style, and then…. AUDREY HEPBURN!  I would totally go through pregnancy again to have her babies.

The one thing that distracted me was how similar it seemed to “Wait Until Dark”.  Again, Audrey Hepburn is alone against a gang of men trying to get at something her husband had, each playing roles and telling lies.  However, this one is a lot less claustrophobic, since it’s set throughout Paris instead of a single apartment building.  This one also kept me more on edge, since there were many surprises revealed throughout the film.

This movie was very funny too, for a drama/suspense.  So many one-liners were thrown in that didn’t seem at all out of place, but were really clever and amusing.  My favorite was “Of course, you won’t be able to lie on your back for a while, but then you can lie from any position, can’t you?”  Since my husband is a really good (or bad, depending upon your point of view) liar I found a lot of this movie to be close to home.

Still, it does seem people fell in love pretty quick back in those movies.  I also have to wonder why no one else noticed the stamps were from 3 different countries.  You’d think just being non-French stamps would be a huge clue.  But, still a charming film.

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Mostly Martha

August 2, 2007

I really liked this movie.  I thought the main character was very sympathetic, but I am probably one of the few that didn’t mind her “precision”.  I do have a bit of OCD myself and can’t stand other people in my kitchen.  I also think that some of the feelings she went through when dealing with her niece are feelings people can have whether the new child is a baby or older, biological or not.  Having a child in your life is a huge deal, and a constant reminder of how your life was and will never be again.  And it’s incredibly tough.  I don’t know what I’m going to do the first time my son is somewhere and I don’t know where, or the first time he gets called into the principle’s office for something, or if I found out he’s in a police station or something.  It’s all really scary stuff.

The ending might have been a bit “too” happy though.  I’m not sure if I can really believe that she would leave everything she and move down to Italy with a man she just met a few months ago to be near a niece she just started to get along with.  And being able to get a house and new restaurant right away?  I don’t know, it didn’t seem like she made any sacrifices at all.

Some of the other story points just sort of ran out.  Why was she really seeing a therapist, anger issues?  Or did she have an eating disorder of some sort?  She never did eat on screen.  Sam was kind of a loose end as well.  Why even include him in the movie?  Who’s children was he watching?  Did Martha ever make him a meal?

But, I can forgive these things because the movie was still an enjoyable experience for me.