Monthly Archives: April 2011

75. Four Weddings and a Funeral

At first I thought that I had never actually seen all of Four Weddings and a Funeral. I’m not sure if I was right on that or if I had just never seen the whole thing at once. Regardless, I’ve seen it now.

I’m a fan of the UK. I love the comedies that come out of there especially. I’ve always liked Richard Curtis’s work and part of it has to do with the people he brings to his projects. Hugh Grant is the noticeable one, but these films have amazing depth with the cast and it is a reoccurring thing. The humor is always top notch in my opinion as well and those odd characters are my favorites.

So this particular film was very well received I believe and rightfully so. It isn’t my favorite of his, though. Hugh Grant is great as are the rest of the cast. I really like Hugh Grant in most of his movies. Regardless of how much an ass he might be in the real world, he is a good actor. I understand complaints about him being a one trick pony kinda thing, but I don’t see how that is a complaint. He does his role extremely well, so why do something else? Plenty of people get typecast anyways. I didn’t really care much about Andie MacDowell and don’t really know why. I actually kept thinking Julia Roberts, or someone like her, should be in that role. Then I realized Julia Roberts is actually in Notting Hill.

Anyways this is a great comedy in my opinion. The romance stuff is never anything I try to go through great pains to analyze. I feel like there is only so much you can do with romance plots, so as long as the film doesn’t go way out there or doesn’t try at all, I’m content.

Also this was for yesterday. As per my usual, I’m generally posting a day late on the weekends.


Don’t is Vulgar

Pre: PS: This is my ‘official’ post for class. I saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland this past weekend so I’ll be writing about that after this.

I have to reiterate how pleasing it is to be reading a book that allows me to constantly find something new to write about. It seems like this story is open to so many various interpretations and that each of them seem to have at least some merit. For example the idea of Alice in Wonderland being a drug ladled story. That pretty much does not seem to be the actual case. However I can see where we can draw those parallels now, especially after the 60’s and 70’s. This land is filled with mushrooms that make you grow and shrink. I mean the phrase “Let’s get small” seems to fit well enough as a drug reference.

So more to the point of the assignment, Auerbach brought up some interesting points, some of which I’ve just started to think about. In one of my other classes I just finished reading some Freud and it suddenly clicked on the whole idea of oral fixation that occurs throughout the novel. Personally I don’t like how people want to psychoanalyze everything, mainly because it seems to easy. However there defiantly is something to the constant oral references. I felt like Dreamchild may have intentionally or unintentionally picked up on that to a bit. The puppets themselves were one such place where the idea of an oral fixation came to place, mostly if I’m remembering the film correctly. Apart from the fact that I remember their being quite a bit of focus on the puppets whenever they occurred, the shots focused mostly on their faces and were very tight shots. Again part of this is due to the fact that they are indeed puppets and lack much else to show, but their always was an emphasis on the puppets mouths when they spoke.

Nothing much really, but going off some of the other ideas that Auebrach mentions such as the fixation with food, also crops up in the film. There seem to be quite a few scenes where food is an issue. Whether it’s in the non-Wonderland dreams where they are out picnicking or going for a picnic or back in New York where they make a big deal about the eating at the dinner to the fact that Americans make wretched tea.

Both have only a small part in the article and Auerbrach dismisses the psychoanalysis with the oral fixation and I have to agree mostly, however it’s interesting that there seems to be some merit and I guess I wonder whether it has something more to do with our culture and what we choose to fixate on rather than what Carroll necessarily chose to put in his book. In film at least there seem to be plenty of ways where the mouth is heavily involved. Close ups of someone’s lips speaking are used quite often and in different ways. Smoking is another lovely example. Food even comes up at times and the bigger one to me is kissing. Since so many films seem to have some form of sex (and this includes torture porn as seen in many horror films) kissing is something that happens rather routinely and is always emphasized with a close up and a shot that lingers on that moment.

74. The Client

I don’t know why I’ve never seen The Client. I love John Grisham and have read most of his books and seen most of the film adaptations. For some reason I never saw this.

It was amazing, though maybe I’m biased. I love his books and the movies, whether they follow the books well or not, immediately have a great premise to run with. They always end up getting great actors as well.

Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Surandon are excellent actors and I don’t know if I’ve ever not liked them. This movie however doesn’t come close to questioning their acting chops. I wish Surandon was my mom after seeing this. Brad Renfro is fucking great as the kid as well. He did an excellent job as a kid actor, which is something to treasure. Will Patton does his small part amazingly well. Again, I feel biased because I love him. He’s a great actor. So is Bradley Whitford, who has an even less glamorous role.

No reason not to see this. Grisham’s stories are great and all of the a adaptations are good as well.

I’ve seen Father of the Bride. Both of them I think actually. It’s been ages and I don’t really remember any of it.

Steve Martin is amazing. I love him. I love his stand-up and wish I could have seen him live. I despise my parents for that kind of thing, especially my dad. They both grew up when all of these great bands were in their prime and touring all of the time, and my dad actually saw a lot of great comedians. He actually has a stack of records of bands and comedians that I love playing.

Anyways, Steve Martin is automatically going to get me to watch one of his movies. He’s always great, even if the movie isn’t. He’s worth watching, even if the movie is horrible. Can’t think of any films like that off the top of my head though.

I loved the movie, though maybe part of it has to do with the emotional chords it happened to hit with me. I feel like a lot of the content is going to hit home more for an older audience. I’m weird though. I’m nowhere near being married (that I know of) and far from having a daughter to give away, but I can empathize. I’ve been to weddings. My dad is getting closer to that point (possibly). I would like to be in both the child’s position and the father’s some day. And while a lot of it is exaggerated to various degrees, the basic elements ring true.

Watch it to see some great comedic performances. Steve Martin and Martin Short are great and the rest of the cast is pretty good as well, some more than others.

73. Bunny and the Bull

The reason I watched Bunny and the Bull was because the link it has to The Mighty Boosh. I’m a big fan of the Boosh so I kinda hopped this would be epic.

Not so much. I enjoyed it more than I would if I didn’t know of the Boosh or those actors. They are all great, but the whole story, not so much.

They have a very distinct style that works wonderfully most of the time, but here it just kind of fell flat to me. Things just seemed to move to slow in some respects. It wasn’t that it wasn’t funny, the story just seemed blugh.

Most people probably wont like this as most people probably wont like The Mighty Boosh. Americans at least. I feel like my fellow Americans don’t quite get odd comedy. Maria Bamford just appeared at the college and a number of people I know didn’t like her because they thought she was weird.


The magnificent Sir Ian Holm on set for Lord of the Rings.

Obviously Sir Ian Holm’s is amazing. Apart from the fact that he’s a Sir (ie: Knighted) and was in Lord of the Rings as Bilbo Bagins, he is actually an amazing actor and I believe Dreamchild proves this. Apart from Jim Henson’s creatures/puppets (which I’ll get to) Sir Ian Holm was the best bit of the film. To me the film seemed to try and portray Doddgerson/Caroll slightly as pedophiliac. They seemed to skirt around it, but it felt like it was one of the underlying things going on in the film. Even if you run with that idea Sir Holm made me feel sympathy for him. Here’s a guy who is shy/reclusive, stutters a quite a bit around most people, and is made fun of by colleagues and acquaintances and even Alice at times. He really is this sort of pathetic character but apart from being a bit reclusive and shy doesn’t seem to deserve any ill feelings. And of all the people he seems to connect to is Alice and her sisters, which I don’t get why Alice. Personally I despise Alice with a passion. For some reason I can’t bring myself to really feel sorry for her. She’s just a bitch, especially in this movie. However that’s a topic for another time. Back to Holm’s acting. He doesn’t stutter when talk to them (except at the end) and acts quite different. Heres an aged man who seems only to be able to relate/associate with children. Even if he does have sexual feelings for Alice he seems to repress them mostly throughout the film or at least appears to be trying very hard to hold them back. The film easily could have portrayed him in a much less favorable way and I believe part of it has to do with Holms acting. He really stole the picture.

And now to those damned puppets. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop made amazing puppets and here’s proof.

The illustration and the final outcome. Personally the illustrations seemed a bit dark. Defiantly not something I’d put in a children’s book, but that’s just me. That being said the puppets turned out wonderfully and were the tied with Sir Holms as the best thing in the film. Apart from the fact that they were a bit gruesome looking they actually had quite an important role in the film. They reenacted some bits from the book, but added to it by counseling the older Alice in the same manner they did when she was younger. The difference here I felt was that their appearance played perfectly into their acting. They were menacing. The one spot where the Hatter just lurches forward and goes nose to nose with Alice telling her that she’s a dumb old hag was wonderful. They also use an upward shot to make the puppets look even larger and more menacing/powerful which was a lovely add-on.

Incidentally I have not seen TIm Burton’s film, though I intended to if for no other reason than for me to listen to Alan Rickman’s sexy voice as the Caterpillar. On that note however I felt like Mr. Burton would have enjoyed Henson’s design for the puppets as they seemed to fit his darker style in his films, though lacking in the extra flair Burton gives everything.

PS: Leonard MAltin gave this film Two and a Half Men Stars out of Four. The only praise he gave was to Coral Browne (Old Alice), Henson’s, Puppets, and the “fascinating material”. I have to agree with his dislike for the odd set for New York and the Lucy/Peter Gallagher’s character’s romance sub plot.

72. Easy A

Seen it, but wanted to watch it again, because Easy A is a great movie!

I feel like the story is done extremely well considering the genre it is in. I think what helps is that it kinda pokes at the other teen movies that have been successful and unsuccessful. In some instances they blatantly do this. It also helps that pretty much every scene is funny in some way.

As good as the story is though, it’s the cast that makes this all possible. I mean Emma Stone is great and really shines here. I, like Ralph Garmon, have a crush on her, though not as creepy as his. She is a a great comedic actress though. Thomas Haden Church is fucking great and his character is awesome as well. I wish I had more teachers like that. Of course everyone will remember Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, who I love, as Emma’s parents in the film. They are horrible parents and they make sure to comment on this quite often. As cool as they seem in the flick, they would be the bane of every teenager’s existence. You can only appreciate them at an older age or if you were of advance maturity like Emma Stone’s character. The entire cast really is made up of faces you’ve seen an even if it’s just a small role for two seconds, they do a great job. It really is why the movie rocks.

Actually I think had a realization. A lot of the characters are so well defined that you could make spin off films of each of them. A movie just on the parents would be amazing, partially because of the actors, but also because they are well developed and great characters.

Defiantly a film that needs to be watched if you haven’t seen it already.

Due to the mention of John Cussack films in Easy A I had an urge to watch One Crazy Summer, the only of Cussack’s teen films I haven’t seen I believe.

I love John Cussack, especially Grosse Pointe Blank. I watch that movie all of the time. It helps that they play The Clash a couple of times in it as well.

I was disappointed in One Crazy Summer though. Maybe I was expecting something else or Easy A took to much of my attention, but I wasn’t gushing over the film. That disturbs me to an extent. I love comedies from the 80s. I love how they get incredibly weird and over the top, which this movie does in excess, but that didn’t bother me.

I’ll have to re-watch it because I want to like it more. By the end of the film I was getting into it more, so maybe the beginning was just really off putting.

The cast in this movie is insane! Demi Moore wasn’t really impressive. Bobcat Goldthwait was Bobcat, but he is great. Jeremey Piven had a disappointing appearance, but you can see how he started to get typecast. Curtis Armstrong is pretty much the same as usual, although he’s a much more well rounded character here. My favorite though was William Hickley. I love that man! I want to be as cool as him when I grow older. Unfortunately I haven’t seen him in anything with a big role, though I’m trying to fix that.

It’s a good movie, but maybe the hype ruined it or maybe the beginning is that disappoint. I defiantly was into the movie the further it got along though. I think actually that they went a bit to goofy and out there right off that bat.

71. The Comedians of Comedy

Well I’ve seen this before, but Maria Bamford was performing at my college this evening so I felt obliged to re-watch this. I’m still not quite sure how we managed to pull off getting her to perform here, but I’m glad she did. And of course she was amazing! It was a great set for college students as well. It’s also proof that I can accomplish something with my English degree.

I enjoy all of the comics in The Comedians of Comedy and is pretty much why you should watch it. If you don’t like their stand up, chances are you won’t like the documentary.

One thing that was nice about this was that they balanced the stand up material out pretty well. You got to see just enough so that it didn’t feel like a stand up special with a few minutes of behind the scenes stuff. As good as they are as comics, I loved the behind the scenes part, which isn’t a surprise since I listen to podcasts like Doug Loves Movies and the Nerdist or even watching Craig Ferguson. Most comics and other celebrities of various kinds are actually really interesting when they are in relaxed setting. You get to see their thought process and see how smart they are. It’s just lovely to see/hear and this film catches that with these three (or four) comics.

Zach Galifianakis does appear in here, however he wasn’t there for the entire tour/movie. As much as I like his stand up, I always wonder about him. He always seems to be performing and there are times in this movie where I thought he may actually have been genuine, but I’m not sure. Either way he is another example of someone who is extremely talented and smart, as is Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn, and Patton Oswalt.

The documentary could have excluded all of the stand up material and I would have been happy. Keeping it was just a bonus.

I also watched the Live at the El Rey bonus thingy from the tour. It was just a taping of their performance there, which is good. It is not a documentary like the previous film. Just a creatively shot stand up special essentially. So if you want to see their performances watch it. Not their best, but not their worst. Still they’re great anyways.

The Cut Out

Note this post is rather long. I apologize.

Whether you like Roman Polanski as a person or not, he does have a tendency to make excellent films and this film is no exception.

Cinematically the film is beautiful. We all watched Wright’s version of Pride and Prejudice and noticed how visually appealing the film was. Polanski seemingly similar techniques, however Polanski adjusts the lighting, color, and filters to fit the ‘mood’ at varying times in the film. The scenes with the workhouse are all dull and grey, yet there is something more to it than that. It’s artfully drab, mostly due to the careful selection in the shades of grey being used in scenery and costumes. The lighting also complements how drab things are in the workhouse by throwing out realism to a degree and upping the saturation so that it the lighting is harsher than need be.

The rest of the film however focuses on creating vivid contrast in the lighting and colors. The countryside is beautifully light, similar to Wright, as well as London itself. Even when in dark places, the lighting is realistic in keeping the room poorly light, but casts an extremely strong golden glow that brings out the colors in the costumes and set.

The score is nice, partly because it’s simple. It consists primarily of strings playing lightly in the backgrounds playing off the mood of the film constantly.

The acting by Kingsley as Fagin and Mark Strong as Crackitt is simply amazing. While Strong has few scenes, he steals everyone and Kinglsey is just epic. Their costumes were also done rather well as they help make both actors and characters stand out, something that the costumes/casting does throughout the film. Key characters stick out while others have a tendency to blend in more.

There is plenty to go on about with the film cinematically, but I’ll move on to the larger picture. In my opinion the film itself is good. Comparing to Oliver Twist, not necessarily so. It really feels like the writers read SparkNotes or Cliff Notes and used that as a guide for the script. Content wise the major spots are hit on, but there are plenty of things cut out, such as Oliver’s family history, which I incidentally believe was a good thing to cut out mainly because of time and it would detract to much if crunched in and be to confusing if left in at length.

One difference that I wonder about is Fagin. Fagin in this film can garner more sympathy, mainly from a surface look at him. Fagin is still the same Fagin. He is controlling and manipulative, but it isn’t quite so glaringly obvious, partly because of cuts, but more because it’s not emphasized. Polanski relies heavily in very short close ups of Kingsley that perfectly capture Fagin from he book. Kingsley gives wonderfully real quick looks that capture the whirring gears in Fagin’s head. I feel that since Fagin is physically less menacing it detracts from making him glaringly evil. Fagin is not blatantly Jewish in this film. I think there might’ve been one instance where Sykes calls him a Jew, but otherwise it’s removed. Personally I feel that it has quite a bit to do with Polanski personally. His heritage is Jewish. He identifies his heritage in his films, the most notable one to a wide audience is the Pianist. I think on a personal level Polanski would want that removed. There’s also the fact that most people today are more likely to notice hints of anti-Semitism and take offense to it. Regardless the removal of Fagin being Jewish really doesn’t take anything away form the story itself.

The film failed to capture the over arching themes in a blatant way. I think is some respects the film can be looked at as a comedy and almost mocks the harsh realism from the novel. Personally I felt that the film does the opposite. I feel like the social commentary of Dicken’s is still in the film, but on different levels.

Polanski uses traditional comedic traits to play on this. There are scenes that in the novel and technically in the film should be depressing and dark, yet Polanski brightens the scene with lighting and the score, but he does it to an extent that make it absurd. It’s clearly not fun walking miles and miles without proper clothing, footwear or food, yet the film at face value makes Oliver’s journey to London something exciting and fun, yet it clearly isn’t. Polanski is aware this isn’t a fun journey and instead of just showing it as depressing he does the opposite and goes just shy of being over the top in making it seem fun. It’s a classic move in making something so absurd that the true meaning of what is going on becomes clear.

In going with making things absurd, Polanski makes the key key characters something akin to a filmic caricature. Crackit is one of the great examples of this. He stands out visually. I mean come on the frizzy red hair that sticks out. Mark Strong plays him over the top as well. He bounces about in the film. The beadle and other rulers of the workhouse are all overtly fat and it’s exaggerated. Mrs. Sowerberry is glaringly stern. The casting alone does this and the costuming only strengthens it. Polanski takes the cut out characters from Dicken’s novel and adds them to the film in a way which really hits on how he structures the entire film. It’s a cut out.

70. Life as a House

I didn’t know what to expect from Life as a House. I mean the description seemed cheesy as hell and it was described as a “tear-jerker” which does not bode well for me.In retrospect there are a number of things wrong with this movie, but they don’t matter.

I loved this movie despite all of its flaws. The acting is pretty superb, especially from Kevin Kline, who is pretty much great in everything, and Hayden Christensen. Despite the flack Christensen gets, he’s a pretty damn good actor for the most part. He defiantly has the teen angst bit nailed, which is probably what got him Star Wars and to be honest he did a good job there if you take into consideration how the character was being portrayed from all ends. Anakin is a pretty angst ridden in all of the prequels and Hayden does that well.

The story is good and bad. At its basic point it is a miserable Lifetime movie that everyone bashes on. The acting makes up for this, though the story isn’t horrible. There’s enough good that it moves along. Part of the issue with the story is how much crap is in it. Basically any emotional string that can be pulled has a plot and they even have their own subplots. Every topic is tried in this movie which is good and bad. Some of them work a lot of them are just underdeveloped and fail miserably and have no real bearing on the story at all and would have been best left out.

It’s still a moving film though, especially if you just enjoy it for the acting and some of the larger messages that are thrown in. Forget about how implausible all of it is and how predictable the outcome will be. Just go along for the ride and you will be moved. It really would have been a much better tv series than a movie now that I think about it. Maybe just a HBO four-part special kinda thing even. It would have made it easier to cover every topic, which really would have been nice since they were interesting enough.

I also saw The Pick-Up Artist. Didn’t like it.

I like Robert Downey Jr., but I didn’t give a shit about him. I’ve never been a huge Molly Ringwald fan either. I enjoyed seeing the few minutes of Harvey Keitel, Dennis Hopper, and Dany Aiello, and that wasn’t much screen time for all of them combined. The movie just seemed really flat to me and Downey’s character was kinda irritating and seemed all over the place. I may have had my hopes up to much since I usually really enjoy the comedies out of the 80’s.

69. Sin Nombre

Well I finished Do the Right Thing which I started last night. Pretty damn good film, though I’m sure it’s raised its own problems from people over analyzing it.

Not gonna go into it much, but its a great cast that has good acting all around. The story moves along and doesn’t really have a lull. Defiantly a film everyone should see.

I also watched Sin Nombre, which is a Foreign language film and the only thing I dislike about it. I don’t like foreign language films for that reason only. Subtitles. I don’t have an issue with reading while watching a  movie, but in some cases I feel like I’m missing out on the visual aspects of the movie, because I’m reading all of the subtitles. It’s little, but it is a significant enough drawback to upset me at times. Starting the movie is the worst, because it takes a  bit to adjust to the reading of the subtitles.

That’s my only complaint of this movie, because otherwise it is amazing and the subtitles are not a good enough deterrent. I thought the romance aspect was a bit cliché, but it wasn’t so overbearing that it destroyed the rest of the movie, though things got a bit heavy towards the end.

A very moving film and probably another one everyone should watch.

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