Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Running with Scissors," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Catch a Fire," "Tideland," "Fast Food Nation"

Sorry everyone. As expected, I've been totally inconsistent with this blog. Work and school have gotten the better of me, and each night when I get home at 2am I just crash. Tonight I have some energy though. Seen a nice amount of movies in the last week or so but don't really have the time or incentive to delve much but I'll give very quick takes:

"Running with Scissors"

I'm a fan of the book, but the movie's pretty dreadful to sit through. I don't know if the material just doesn't translate well to film, or if Ryan Murphy wasn't the man to do it. I'm thinking a little from column A, little from column B. Jill Clayburgh is pretty fantastic here despite getting no attention from the press, and I seem to be the only one who didn't like Annette Bening's performance in the least. Very "Acting!," very Oscar bait, and I don't think it'll pay off for her. None of the humor really works-- Murphy seems to be tone deaf-- and there's far too much melodrama. In the book everything was delivered with a snarky tone undercutting the tragedy, but watching everything depicted in front of your eyes, it just comes off as a horror show you feel too bad about to laugh at. C-

"Pan's Labyrinth"

I hate to jump on the critical bandwagon with this one, but I just fell in love with it, and I think a lot of people are going to as well. There wasn't as much "fantasy" elements as I was expecting (maybe about 30% of the movie), but it worked and blended perfectly. Completely and utterly beautiful, grotesque, haunting, touching, frightening; I couldn't believe how much this exceeded my expectations. I haven't been able to get it out of my head and I plan on watching it a few more times in the coming weeks. At least in my top 2 or 3 of the year at this point (and I haven't got much left to see) A+

"Catch a Fire"

Not a bad film at all, just didn't have the impact I was hoping it would. Like "Flags of Our Fathers," its head and heart are in the right place, it just didn't completely work for me-- though don't get me wrong, this a far more entertaining film than the endlessly meandering "Flags." I was never bored, but I was never fully compelled. Solidly directed by Philip Noyce and he keeps you relatively interested and entertained, but I never fully jibed with what he was trying to do here-- Derek Luke's (great here by the way) character was painted as a bit too heroic for my liking. The guy's acting as a terrorist for god's sake, you think they'd present him with a little more ambiguity. Also, with it's dominating (and admirable) anti-apartheid themes, it feels like a movie that should've been made 10 years ago. Sorry to come off as too negative, I actually sort of liked this movie, it just didn't carry as much power/weight as I think it could've. B-


Terry Gilliam's latest has been getting trashed like no other and it's totally easy to see why. This an incredibly ugly, deeply unpleasant mishmash of a film... but that's exactly what it's going for. There's just so much interesting stuff to chew on here, and so many cool ideas and filmmaking techniques-- no matter how repulsed I got, I was never less than completely engrossed. With the most twisted innards of any movie this year, and with an ending I couldn't stop thinking about, I'd urge anyone to see this just so I have SOMEONE to talk about it with. Granted, this is a movie that will probably appeal to about 5 people on the planet (maybe less), but hey, what can I say, I was one of them. B

"Fast Food Nation"

Try as it might, Linklater's adaptation of Eric Schlosser's book just doesn't work. There's certainly plenty to like here-- the doc footage from 'the kill floor,' Bruce Willis's monologue in the best scene in the movie, Greg Kinnear's performance-- but there's just so much that doesn't seem to accomplish what it sets out to do, and the proceedings feel like such a missed opportunity. I was able to put up with the movie being heavy-handed and didactic since it was being heavy-handed with messages I agree with, but I don't even think it did a good job or saying what it wanted to see. And so many characters/subplots seem to serve no purpose in the least, nor carry any entertainment factor, that I'm convinced Linklater's friends just showed up on the set so he wrote scenes for them (Ethan Hawke's scene reeks of this). One of the biggest offenders is Avril Lavigne, who can't even deliver the few lines she's given convincingly. I love Linklater (I'll be interviewing him next week), but one can't help but get the feeling this is one of his lesser works, and one that could've-- with the right focus-- been one of his better ones. C+

That's all for the 1st timers-- but on the end of the multiple-time reactions:

"Little Children"-- 2nd time-- finally let go of my love for the book, and was able to dig the movie a lot more. I can't believe I had such a complete turnaround, and I'm so ashamed of it, but this time around, I was able to see it as a really solid piece of work, if still not quite great.

"Borat"--3rd time-- if anything, I loved this even more this time. Whether it lives up to the hype, or is a box office disappointment, it's becoming clearer and clearer to me what an innovative, ground-breaking comedy this is. Each time I watch it there's the sense of excitement of watching something completely different. Even if the grosses disappoint, the word-of-mouth on this is going to be dynamite from every demo-- smarties and stupids alike.

"The Fountain"--2nd time-- loved it again, things were much clearer this time around, and hit me on a more emotional level than when I saw it the first time. Following the screening had an interview with writer/director Aronofsky and being able to sit down with him and have a back and forth on the meanings of the movie and him explaining things and asking my opinions about the ending, the marketing, etc is one of the highlights of my journalistic career thus far-- fucking awesome dude. But I digress-- the movie-- honestly, out of anything coming out this fall, I can't wait to see how people respond to this. Hope to see this one a few more times to fully take everything in.

That's all for now children. In the coming days I'll be seeing "A Good Year," "Death of a President," "Saw III," "Shut Up and Sing" and "For Your Consideration." Take care.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

That's a real shame to hear about Linklater's flick ... From watching the trailer, I expected him to have turned in a good one with this .. oh well .. Pan's Labyrinth is definitely on the top of my list of movies I must see before the end of this year

3:30 PM  
Blogger adam k. said...

re: Little Children...

I loved the novel, too. Can't wait for the film. I would say that the reaction of complete and utter disappointment with a film adaptation (even one that is actually quite a good movie) is common with adaptations of novels one loves. Happened to me with The Hours in a big way. Couldn't believe how disappointed I was the first time I saw it (the novel sort of changed my life), but then I eventually rented it, saw it again, and realized it was a pretty good movie after all. Ah well. I'll take this into account when I see Little Children.

re: The Fountain...

Love it. Didn't realize until a while after I saw it, but I'm pretty sure I love it. Seeing it again soon.

re: Borat...

This was really funny and all, but I thought it was a bit over the top at times (did the naked wrestling and running have to last THAT long? Jesus...), and all in all, I thought it was only "pretty good." But in fairness, I didn't understand exactly what it was all about (how most people didn't know what was up, and how most wasn't staged) until later, and now I respect it a good bit more.

And you got to interview Darren Aronofsky? I'm so jealous...

12:56 AM  

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