Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Lovely Bones

This movie leaves you numb.

I was spellbound waiting in anticipation of what I knew was to come.
It's rare to know how something is going to turn out and yet still be caught up in the drama as it unfolds for us. For this slight of hand I have to take my hat off to Peter Jackson. Just when you thought he was perhaps a slave to the special effect he reminds you that he is foremost an excellent filmmaker with a unique and special gift for telling a story.

'Lovely' is the way this film draws you into the story with kid gloves. Even the most squimish can share in the difficult and painful subject of loss. 'Lovely' is the performance of the newcomer Saoirse Ronan. Her narration is haunting, natural and drenched in innocence. Her on screen performance is just as good. Although dead for a large portion of the story Alice is alive in her own perfect surreal world where the dead speak to us in the tiny nuances of shared memories. Some of those who read the book may take objection to how Peter Jackson conceptualized this world onto the screen. My answer to them is 'come on' cut the guy a break, it looked fine to me and who out there really knows what it should look like anyways.

The film is a lesson on looking back at loss. It shows us how the families left behind are stuck looking back on what might have been. The story gives us a behind closed doors look at how a premature death destroys a family. We see two obesessions in this film. One family member is driven to hold onto hope while another expeiences a unrelenting need to let go. This opposition can often tear at the seams of a family. As a grief counsellor will tell you, everyone has to experience the grief in their own way and this movie shows us how opposing coping skills can affect a family.

The camera is uncharacteristically neutral when it peers into the killer's life played hauntingly by Stanly Tucci. It chronicals how he progreses from emptiness, to feeling safe, to obsessed, to confidence and finally to the emptiness that he started with when he has finally accomplished his destruction.

Mark Walburg is developping into a very good dramatic and comedic actor. He was great here as the obsessed father.

In the end (without giving anything away here) I think the story teller is trying to suggest that the living can not let the dead go until the dead can let them go. And the dead cannot let them go until they are finished with what they have left undone in the real world. Kind of a nice way to explain the possible existance of ghosts.

Love, its good and its bad has not been so profoundly displayed on film for a long time. I suggest you see this movie.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010)

One doesn't exactly get you what you pay for here, rather you get what you expect. I wasn't expecting to be blown away or inspired to be a better person when I shelled out my $10.50. What I wanted was for an effective adaptation or upgrade on a childhood classic. Now I'm not suggesting that the original is a classic just that it holds a special place in my movie viewing history.
The acting was acceptable and the action scenes where impressive at times. Avatar's Sam Worthington once again plays the reluctant hero, or in this case demi-god. Anyone could have pulled off this role as the script didn't demand much. It was fun too see some of my favourites like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes was more of a standout, as the villain's role often proves.
So if you have some tolerance for goofiness and can enjoy well crafted action on its own, you should find some pleasure with this remake.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Not much to say here. This is a passable bit of family entertainment. Everyone can probably associate with some part of this movie and one of the dilemmas that the main character or his friend finds themselves in. As a result both kids 8+ and adults should enjoy this. There is a valuable lesson in here as well. I'll let you figure it out on your own. If you need to get out with the kids see this or How to Train Your Dragon, otherwise you can wait for this on DVD as its not necessarily a must for the big screen.

How To Train Your Dragon

It wasn't that long ago (pre Pixar) when the animated genre couldn't catch a break. No matter how entertaining the movie the animated picture historically drew lackluster critical acclaim. Now it seems that the genre enjoys critical acclaim even when the movie fails to live up to our wishes or the expectations set by critics themselves. DreamWorks does earn its metacritic score of 74. A movie like Up sports an 88. Now for entertainment value these two are on par. What sets them apart is that Up and many of the other Pixar pictures like Wall-E embody something more. That special something is a message or lesson to be learned from its characters. Wall-E spoke of the drone affect of dependence on technology, while Up showed us that we are never too old to have dreams. This is what great movies are made of.

There is a bit of a message about the value of being different and that through your own dreams you can often fulfill your dreams or gain the admiration of others. These are admirable but not exactly something that will stick with you. The main character Hiccup is likable and faces the challenge of acceptance and finding a place in his tribe. These are familiar and identifiable barriers facing every generations adolescents.

This is one to see on the big screen especially the great airborne sequences where the 3D technology really breathes.
Many kids movies can be skipped in favour of the DVD release. This one needs to be seen at the cinemas.


Reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange this bit of true life is both eerie and amusing at the same time. Bronson is the story of Michael Peterson a UK teen who originally was sentenced to 7 years for armed robbery and has since spent 34 years in prison (30 of which in solitary confinement). His infamous need to be bad ass, celebrity and own the label as the county's most dangerous inmate is what is keeping him behind bars. Warning, you may not like this movie. There are many seemingly senseless beatings, and strange theatre dream sequences you will have to endure to absorb the film maker's full desired affect. In the journey however is one overpowering redeeming quality to this movie and that is the brilliance of Tom Hardy's performance. To pull this role off he could only do one thing. Become Michael Peterson and his alter ego Bronson. There are two central themes here, violence and rock star celebrity. The later being the only possible motivating factor for Michael Peterson's behaviour. Perhaps the film maker or Peterson himself want to draw attention to how the media can incite stardom to those that are not deserving, bringing to light the criticism that by continually printing the details of tragedy the media fuels the ego of the criminal. The only part of that theory that does not make sense is that for Peterson to bask in light of fame he would need to spend more time out of solitary confinement. Perhaps fame can live alone in one's thoughts, even for 30 years.
If you can stand it, watch this movie.