|So, yeah, this is where I am.|
So, many of you might be wondering just where I've been since expressing my deepest disappointment in David O. Russell's nowhere-near-masterpiece (and never-shoulda-been Oscar contender) this past New Year's. I admit, it was a very steep drop off of the map, after all. Well, the short answer is that I haven't really been seeing many movies lately, and certainly not at the three-or-four-a-week I was pulling off at my peak. Well, that's no excuse, you might be thinking, just get out there and see more! But it's not quite that easy. And that's where the long answer comes in.
As a number of you know, I left my wage-earning retail job back in mid-October, and after a brief time living off of my savings, I started looking for something new to fuel my movie cravings (and you know, basic daily needs). Unfortunately, nothing really panned out, and as a result I recently (somewhat last minute and without telling anyone) jetted off with all my belongings to Florida to stay with my family until I can get back on my feet. I'm happy to report that progress is being made; I'll be (if everything works as it should) attending classes starting this summer, and I'm already taking on odd jobs to save up some currency. I'm even getting my driver's license while I'm down here (in Boston, that was never a necessity), so it's safe to say I'll be a totally transformed individual when I finally get back to my home city and old life. In the meantime, however, that means I won't be seeing nearly as many new movies as I'd prefer, and it will be a while before I can get around to seeing things I've been awaiting for months or even years (sad face). But while I might be renting movies from the library from now on, I thought I'd take this time to catch you up on the few I HAVE seen, in the meantime. If nothing else, these blurbs will give you some insight on some films you may not have gotten around to as of yet. Besides, all the REALLY good stuff isn't expected for a short while anyway.
American Hustle's undeserved Best Picture nomination, because there were some films on that list that genuinely EARNED their place without the subsequent buzz, and Philomena was one of them. Based on the true story of Philomena Lee (here played by Judi Dench), it followed her and journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) as they journeyed around the world in search of Philomena's son, who had been sold into adoption by Irish nuns while she was their indentured servant in the 1950's.
The film, directed by The Queen's Stephen Frears, generally focuses on the developing relationship between its two protagonists. And on the surface, that might appear to be a problem. After all, they're polar opposites, with Philomena the pious, naive, kindhearted soul, and Sixsmith portrayed as atheistic, overly-intellectual, and cynical. But under threat of cliches and "odd couple" tropes, Philomena manages to overcome these weaknesses, thanks largely to the strength of its leads. Dench is once again a marvel, a commanding presence on screen and largely Philomena's heart. And it's both interesting and rewarding to see Coogan excel in a serious role - after all, he rose to prominence largely as a comedic performer - as he not only plays the straight man in the relationship but also the narrative force behind the movie itself. Both actors go all out, and thanks to wry, witty dialogue their pairing is one of the best on screen in recent years.
|Lovely, but I wouldn't want their winter.|
And the winner of the "Reminded me of Legion (and not in a good way) Award" goes to I, Frankenstein, the graphic novel-based, sci-fi epic from Aussie screenwriter-turned-director Stuart Beattie. Starring The Dark Knight's Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein's monster, the film follows him as he survives to the modern day as an outcast caught in a supernatural war between warrior Angels and Demons. Oh yeah, Frankenstein also borrows heavily from the Underworld franchise, both in tone and - in some cases - casting. Try to keep that in mind.
The sad part is that this movie actually has some elements going for it. The conflict between the Angels and Demons is pretty fun and compelling, and most of the actors (including Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto) are actually quite good, thought they're not allowed to stretch past their limited roles and must be content with chewing as much scenery as possible. The special effects are also amazing, each explosion and disintegration beautiful to behold and belonging on the big screen. There are only a few moments where the CGI becomes obvious, and even those are gone quickly and replaced by either real-life actors or more impressive visuals.
|No, he's not ugly, but he sure can act!|
|You should really have your landlord take a look at that...|
As the Pythons used to say, "And now for something completely different." I mean, there was no way I WASN'T going to see The Lego Movie. It comes from directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also penned the screenplay...you know, since they proved with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street that they could actually create good movies. It's also another animated flick NOT from the three-headed monster known as PixaDisneWorks, which makes it interesting in that just three years ago ONE of those studios would have snapped this project up. It's another example of more studios getting interested in producing animated products, and while I still expect the "Big Three" to dominate that particular scene, it's nice to see other companies (in this case Village Roadshow) taking a break from their serious dramas, adult thrillers or uncouth comedies to produce genuine family features.
In what is essentially a rip-off of The Matrix or any similar stories, The Lego Movie focuses on a normal Lego guy named Emmett (Chris Pratt), who is recruited by a band of legends known as the "Master Builders" to fulfill a prophecy as "The Chosen One", who would save the world as they knew it from the machinations of the dread Lord Business (Will Ferrell). Yeah, it sounds dumb. And in ways, it IS dumb... in a good way!
|Way better than Christopher Nolan's last movie...|
|See, this is what happens when you don't wear your seat belt!|
The last movie I'll look at today is the RoboCop reboot, and I think I speak for everyone who has seen it when I say... It's better than I thought it would be.
Naturally, when it was announced that MGM was remaking Paul Verhoeven's 1987 sci-fi classic, there were more than a few dissenting voices. As one who is anti-remakes in general, reimagining a film like this - one that I had just looked at in 2011, and still holds up just fine when you consider the current, bankrupt state of the city of Detroit - seems more than a tad unnecessary. But just because you don't like the idea of something being made doesn't mean that the final product cannot be good, or at least different enough to justify it's own existence. And that's where the English language-debut by Jose Padilha comes in and slowly but surely blows away any of your niggling concerns.
|And THIS is why you don't perform double blind tests with everything.|
|I'd love the smell of napalm in the morning... if I had olfactory senses.|
Well, I think that's enough for now. I've seen more in the past couple of weeks, but I'll tackle those in my next entry, after I spend some time in the pleasant, 70+ temps we've been enjoying down here. I hope you are all are well, and can't wait to bring you more movie talk in the near future!
... when I'm not in school or saving up money.