Wait, the world didn't end? Huh. How about that?
I have nothing but praise to offer for Monsters, Inc. It's one of my favorite animated films and full of laughs, chills and a brilliant story. That a new generation gets to experience it on the big screen, in 3D, fills me with joy.
It's so rare we see great family-friendly films; we should celebrate them with our patronage.
I can't make it to every movie, a sad reality. On Friday of last week when Warner Bros. screened The Hobbit, I was stuck in a studio covering for a coworker who was on vacation. But, fortunately, I found a friend whose opinion I respect to go see it for me. The screening was at 10am at the Marcus Majestic in Brookfield.
At 10:05 I received a text message from my stringer. "Went to the wrong theater. Sorry."
It happens, I suppose.
So that is why there is no review of The Hobbit. But what I've been able to glean from other reviews--I've been extremely excited about this picture myself--is that it is overlong and stretched too thin. While it was a challenge stuffing the massive Lord of the Rings series into three movies, The Hobbit is a simple children's book and there really isn't all that much involved. Apparently Peter Jackson and crew are going to flesh out the story with some additional material written by author J.R.R. Tolkien but if this film is any indication, we're in for a long ride. Splitting the book in half would have likely been a better move.
The other thing people are talking about with this movie is the new technology, High Frame Rate 3D. Without getting too pedantic, movies project at 24 frames per second, the minimum at which the human eye perceives motion. That was the standard going back decades when film was an expensive commodity. We have trained our eyes to expect that look when we're watching a film and when something doesn't fit, we're off. Having recently had lasik, I can attest to just how sensitive we are to changes in perception.
HFR digital projection moves forward at 48 frames per second, twice as fast as tradtional film. So when people move, there isn't a lag or blur, we see things much more as they are in life.
The problem with The Hobbit is that this is a fantasy tale and seeing this as "real" is a difficult proposition. A jarring transition, if you will.
That said, I'm going to go see this in IMAX. There is a Man of Steel trailer that looks amazing and they're promising to preview the first 9 minutes of the new Star Trek movie. And while I liked the Lord of the Rings series, I have significantly lowered my expectations for director Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth. I suggest you do the same.
Alfred Hitchcock is, without question, the cinematic master of suspense. His films, ranging from espionage thrillers like North by Northwest to genre-bending horror flicks like The Birds, were entertaining without ever pandering to the audience and their expectations. He was a fixture for years in the American household with his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television program that was a macabre twist on The Twilight Zone. Innumerable biographies have been written about him and plenty more about his work. Little is unknown about the influential filmmaker but his story has never itself been translated to the screen. That, then, is the goal of director Sacha Gervasi: Illuminate the character of the man during his transition from a good storyteller to a great artist. What he has crafted is a darkly-comedic homage—well made, sure, but a great original movie would have been a better way to honor Hitchcock.
Anthony Hopkins stars as the titular Hitchcock as he plans his next project, Psycho, based loosely on the story of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. While he doesn’t do an impersonation of the larger-than-life figure Hopkins channels the spirit of a man whose appetites threaten to control him. Food and drink, yes, but a lust for women also hurts the control freak Hitchcock.
The real news of this film is not the well-worn story of the making of Psycho. Instead the reveal is the impact Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) on his life and work. Herself a screenwriter, Alma shied away from the spotlight (or was forced out by a press hungry for her husband) but her impact was felt in most all of Hitchcock’s films.
Hitchcock is a frustrating film. Little more than a 90-minute cocktail party anecdote, it features great performances from the lead actors and few memorable moments from the supporting cast. Just when the filmmakers begin to break into something interesting, like Hitchcock’s voyeurism, they cut to something pedestrian. Still, it’s the kind of masturbatory, self-referential picture Hollywood loves so it’ll probably receive some Oscar attention.
Hitchcock isn’t a bad movie; it’s just scattered and inconsistent. Part character study and part period drama, all Hitchcock did for me was remind me that there are much better movies I could spend time watching. The master himself probably would have enjoyed the flick but it’s not particularly memorable.
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Looking for a brainless romantic comedy that doesn't do anything unexpected? You've found the best option! Playing for Keeps is about a beautiful-but-immature father who doesn't realize that he had everything he ever wanted in front of him until he's about to lose it all. He reforms his ways and his ex reveals that she's love him the whole time.
I wrote that strictly from the poster, then watched the trailer which confirmed everything.
We're in an odd situation: There are two movies coming out this week that I have not seen. And, at the same time, I've been sent screening copies of movies that aren't coming out for another month, including Les Mis and This Is 40. This is awards season, and being a member of the BFCA has its perks.
That's about it, actually. Early copies of movies.
Still, a pretty cool gig and I can't wait to tell you about these flicks.
Anyway, coming out this week:
Brad Pitt stars in this crime drama about a hitman tracking down the guys who knocked over a mob-run poker game. Because that's a bad idea.
Pitt again gets raves--I'd watch him read the phone book--and most of this flick looks like it works with an indie feel. Solid supporting cast, too. It's probably not going to pull down awards but will have its fans. Can't wait to see it.
An odd time for a horror release, but a good movie will pull in people no matter when it's released.
That said, this is a continuation of the story in The Collector but expands the world without being a direct sequel. Early reviews say the torture horror film has some good characters and chills without relying on gimmicky, gory deaths.
Jennifer Lawrence comes of age (and boy, it’s going to be hard to watch her play a teenager in the next Hunger Games movie) and Bradley Cooper gives the kind of all-in performance that proves he’s more than just a pretty face in Silver Linings Playbook, a twist on the boy-meets-girl romantic comedy. Excepting a few lulls and contrived plot points, SLP is a fascinating look at an extremely damaged pair.
Cooper plays Pat, a Philly native whose anger issues exploded when he walked in on his wife and her lover. After some time spent in an institution, Pat decides he’s going to win back his wife by getting into shape and his life in order. The biggest impediment, however, is a pesky restraining order that prevents him from having any contact with his wife.
Lawrence plays Tiffany, an equally-damaged (though in a different way) widow of a cop who acted out sexually with anyone and everyone who showed her the least bit of attention. She is at once needy and repulsed by attention, a mental state that drives away anyone who tries to get close. I’ve been a fan of Lawrence’s since her star turn in Winter’s Bone but she completes her transition from child star to actress.
The queer flirtation/relationship that develops between Tiffany and Pat is part The Graduate, part Garden State and big helping of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But what starts original and jarring settles quickly into predictable routine—like most romance—so that by the third act we’re not surprised to see a contrived plot point drive the movie toward a predictable conclusion that, ultimately, tells us that love can overcome any mental illness.
This movie is more than the budding romance between two individuals, it’s also an exploration of the family conditions that exacerbate fragile mental conditions. Pat’s father (Robert De Niro in his best performance since 2006’s The Good Shepherd) is himself an OCD gambler who refuses to recognize the extent of his problems. I’m a sucker for the story of a father and son finding common ground.
The dialogue and dynamics between the talented actors that populate Silver Linings Playbook help it elevate beyond a simple romantic comedy. Lawrence and Cooper both disappear into their characters.
Director David O. Russell (The Fighter) treats mental illness seriously, using it more than a plot contrivance or convenient character point, though drops the ball about its long term implications. An above-average romance that defaults into comedy, Silver Linings Playbook is a fascinating little film.
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