Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I've seen a few more movies since my last post and I thought I'd let you know how I felt about them. Also I take a look back at one of the movies I left off of my awards that I shouldn't have.

“Brick” is an independent film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt released in March of last year. Jonathan and I got the chance to go to a free screening of it in Hollywood a few weeks before it came out. “Brick” is a film noir set in High School, it’s got all the trappings of a classic film noir, the Femme Fatale, the unfortunate man pulled in by a woman into a situation which quickly gets out of hand. It has the fast paced dialogue of the movies from golden days of cinema, much of which you won’t understand until subsequent viewings (or by finding the dictionary on the official site online). Overall it’s a great mystery, with a wonderful cast of characters. Gordon-Levitt gives a magnificent performance and proves he’s an actor who can hold his own.

Here's the movies I've seen recently, 3 of which will likely be the best movies I see this next year: Apocalypto, Eragon, Déjà vu, Pan’s Labyrinth, Alpha Dog, Children of Men, and Babel.

(BTW this was written partially before the Oscar nominations and partially after so I don’t mention the awards for that reason)


What it’s about: Set during the time of the ancient Mayans, the story follows Jaguar Paw as he tries to get back to his pregnant wife and son after being kidnapped by a savage tribe.

What I Thought: The movie is, of course, the newest movie from Mel Gibson, say what you will about the man himself, but he can make a heck of a movie. This movie is basically just a long chase scene, but it’s one of the best chase scenes any recent years. Gibson and co-writer Farhad Safinia do a wonderful job of weaving a realistic tale of family and one man’s fight to get back home to save his family.

Many people have complained about the amount of blood and gore, but honestly it’s no worse than Braveheart.

The Bottom Line: All and all this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite sometime. Don’t let the violence or the subtitles turn you off, you won’t regret it.


What it’s about: Something about a kid who finds a dragon egg and involves some old tradition of dragon riders.

What I Thought: quite simply the most boring movie I’ve seen in a long time. To be honest I have to admit that I tried listening to the book on tape and got bored with it less than halfway through. So when it came time for the movie I decided that I’d give it a chance and hoped it was better than the book. Unfortunately it wasn’t so.

I checked my watch at least 5 times during the movie, which is not a good sign with me. Usually I might check my watch once during a movie, but with Eragon it seemed to be a constant thing.

Quite simply put the movie was just boring, the only good part was the fighting scenes which were few and far between, and sadly one of the worst things was Rachel Weisz, as the voice of the Dragon.

The Bottom Line: Overall it’s a movie trying to cash in on the Harry Potter, LOTR, Narnia trend, that just isn’t up to par. Unless you have Kids, who might enjoy the film, don’t waste your time.

Déjà Vu

What it’s about: After the corpse of a murdered woman shows up at the site of a terrorist attack, Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) joins a top secret new government program that has technology which allows them to look 4 days back in time. But in order to save the woman Carlin will have to do more than just watch.

What I Thought: An intriguing mystery, clues that all make since in the end, time travel, and James Caviezel. No, this isn’t a sequel to 2000’s Frequency, but it does have the same basic feel as that wonderful movie. (If you haven’t seen Frequency I beg you to go rent it tonight, you’ll love it or you’re money back, seriously just tell the video store I told them to give it back to you, I promise it will not work)

Maybe it’s because I love time travel movies, but this is the type of popcorn movie I can really get behind. Small things which don’t really seem to mean anything come together in the end in a way that will really make you think.

The Bottom Line: I Loved it!

El Laberinto del Fauno AKA Pan’s Labyrinth

What it’s about: The year is 1944 and the Spanish Civil War has just ended, Ofelia and her mother are going to live with her mother’s new husband, a Captain in the Military whose stationed in a rural area surrounded by rebellious forces. Ofelia escapes to a fantasy world, one that may or may not lie within her own mind, where she is the long missing princess of a long forgotten world. In order for Ofelia to reclaim her place next to her royal family she must complete three tasks given to her by the Faun.

What I Thought: I wrote a really beautiful review encompassing how I felt, but my computer shut down and erased it, so here’s my second try.

This is one of the most beautiful movies I have seen in a very long time. Director Guillermo del Toro artfully brings to life two completely separate worlds in completely different ways. Del Toro’s post-civil war era Spain is brought forth with muted colors to make the world seem dreary and isolating, which helps the viewer to sympathize with Ofelia and her own sense of loneliness.

But the real beauty and vision lies in the Fantasy world. Here del Toro uses brighter colors which makes the creatures found in it seem that much more surreal. While much of this world is dark and scary, the colors still seem to bleed through and almost make the fantasy world more welcoming.

Although I loved this movie I must admit that it is very violent and quite scary. Many of the creatures, most notably “The Pale Man” are almost nightmare inducing in their creation. But some of the scariest scenes may be in the “real world” setting. Ofelia’s new father comes across as an evil man who will do anything to cut down the rebel forces he faces. And two of the most gruesome, gut-wrenching scenes I have every seen in a film come not in the fantasy world, but in the Captain’s presence.

The Bottom Line: I truly believe that I have already seen the two best movies I’ll see this year and this was the first one. I can’t wait to see this movie again and hope it’s while it’s still in theaters. In all honesty I don’t have the words to tell you how much I loved this movie. Go see it while it’s in theaters, but know it’s not for the faint of heart.

Alpha Dog

What it’s about: The true story of Jesse James Hollywood(Emile Hirsch)(renamed Johnny Truelove for the movie) a drug dealer who became one of the youngest people to ever be on the FBI’s most wanted list. When rival, Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) breaks into his home, Johnny kidnaps his brother, Zack in retaliation. What follows is the story of what happened over the next weekend, while Johnny’s boys held Zack hostage.

What I Thought: I went in not knowing what to expect. I knew the basics of the movie, but I didn’t know how the story ended or what would happen in between. But I really did like the movie. Hirsch and Foster do a fantastic job playing to old friends who’ve come to hate one another. And the extended cast of Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Harry Dean Stanton, and others all do a great job. But two actors really blow you away with their talent. The first was Anton Yelchin as Zack Mazursky, Yelchin gives an amazing performance as a sweet vulnerable kid who everyone can’t help but love. But I think the person who blew me away the most with their performance was Justin Timberlake. Here as the wise-cracking, right hand man, Frankie Ballenbacher, Timberlake proves that he’s got what it takes to not only act but as a comedian.

The Bottom Line: An enthralling story that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Children of Men

What it’s about: The year is 2027 and every woman on Earth is infertile. The last person was born in 18 years before. Britain is one of the remaining countries of power and has started deporting everyone who is not a citizen. Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a former activist, is contacted to help smuggle a young woman out of the country, only Theo doesn’t know that the young woman is miraculously pregnant.

What I Thought: Two Words: Breathtakingly Amazing! I have to admit, after seeing the preview I had no interest to see this movie, but luckily my friend Jon told me to go see it, and I am so glad I did. This is another movie where I just don’t have the words to describe it.

The movie is set in a dreary, hopeless world, and Alfonso Cuaron does an amazing job of conveying that despair in the sets and the characters. But Cuaron’s real genius is shown in the filming of two scenes in the movie. Both scenes are seamlessly cut together so that they look like one long cut. I won’t ruin these scenes for anyone who hasn’t scene the movie, but I think you’ll know them when you see them.

The movie also does an amazing job of conveying the hope that one pregnant woman can bring to an infertile world.

My only word of advice is that the movie is fairly violent, so you’ve been warned.

The Bottom Line: The 2nd of what is likely the two best movies I’ll see this year. It’s another movie with lots of great story and content and is so amazingly shot, you won’t forget the movie any time soon.


What it’s about: Because I don’t know how to describe it From IMDB.Com:

This is a complex tale of four interlocking stories. A poor Morrocan family acquires a rifle to protect their goats. An American couple's bus tour holiday is shattered when she is accidentally shot. That couple's children, at home in the USA with their nanny/housekeeper, accompany her to Mexico to attend her son's wedding. A Japanese father, whose wife has committed suicide some time ago, is unable to communicate with his teenage daughter. A tragic tale for all concerned.

What I Thought: A film that’s done amazingly well, but something that I can honestly saw had I not heard it was such a great film, I’d never have wanted to see. The entire movie is sad, depressing, and as it says above tragic.

And don’t get me started on the copious amounts of nudity. Had I been warned about the nudity I wouldn’t have seen it.

Truthfully I saw a better “Everyone’s connected in strange ways” movie last year. It was called “Crash” and won the Best Picture Oscar, something it deserved, unlike this film. Also I’ve seen the “Everyone’s Connected in Strange Ways” movie several times in the past few years it’s been called “Magnolia,” “11:14,” and several other titles. It seems to be the new trend in Hollywood, and to tell the truth it’s gotten out of hand.

Everyone isn’t always connected in some way, so stop trying to make them all connected, it’s been done.

The Bottom Line: A good movie, shot well, but nothing I can recommend because it’s so depressing and sad. Honestly, nothing I want to own or watch again.


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