The Disney cartoon sans narrative was quite vanguard in the 40s, but… MoreThe Disney cartoon sans narrative was quite vanguard in the 40s, but for an ostensible kids movie, the filmmakers didn't play to its audience. Stravinksy's "Rite of Spring" seems longer than the Jurassic Period, and the animation of the Big Bang is surprisingly violent. The prologue explaining the movie is also bone dry and humorless.
As a more mature foray into art and music fantasy, Disney further missed its mark with careless racist and sexist references (as it often does) in Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony" with the specifically colored horses and in "Dance of the Hours" with the offensive and alarming gender roles. In the 21st century, "Fantasia"'s dated quality really shows.
My high school band had intimate relationships with several of the… MoreMy high school band had intimate relationships with several of the songs in this second incarnation of Disney's art and music fantasy. The slow yet strident "Pines of Rome" ended many an unconventional marching band show; the ubiquitous "Rhapsody in Blue" featured our prodigies in clarinet and piano; the bombastic and rhythm-mad "Firebird Suite" capped off my senior year concert; and "Pomp and Circumstance" (more widely known as "The Graduation Song") was played in its entirety by the junior band during commencement ceremonies.
"Fantasia 2000" is indeed a full movie-going experience with beautifully animated vignettes, classic but recognizable music, and entertaining if cheap celebrity appearances (instead of the plodding prologue of its predecessor). Watching it again recently though did provoke some criticism in me: the combination of sound and visual is sometimes too on-the-nose. The story is too clear; each audio beat is visually punctuated. There is very little room for abstract interpretation.
Having enjoyed the space cowboy bravado of the prematurely cancelled… MoreHaving enjoyed the space cowboy bravado of the prematurely cancelled "Firefly" television series, I went into "Serenity" with low expectations, figuring that the movie capper would answer some questions but leave more unanswered. I wasn't wrong though it was still nice to get reacquainted.
The addition of quietly dangerous Chiwetel Ejiofor as an Alliance Operative provides a menacing new story arc. River's programmed badassery is brought to fruition but still mindfucky, and a couple characters receive heartbreaking yet honorable discharges. Jewel Staite as the plucky Kaylee and Adam Baldwin as the mercenary Jayne seem the weak links in this reunion - somewhat phoning in their once naive and sociopathic charm, respectively.
Iron Man can't lose. He's like America (fuck yeah): arrogant with… MoreIron Man can't lose. He's like America (fuck yeah): arrogant with first world problems that are miraculously solved despite glaring plot holes (where were all those other suits before? how does he heal Pepper so quickly?) He has nothing to really fight for in this installation except Pepper who is as flat as GOOP's enviable abs. She gets a few badass moments, but there's still nothing remarkable about her character or their relationship that make the story anything more than a stale "saved by the love of a good woman" story.
The movie's saving grace comes in Tony Stark's soul-searching journey with the kid. Despite most of the movie being out of the suit, the man himself in all his panic attack glory makes the superhero a bit more human.
The Mediocre Gatsby. I'm not a fan of the book anyway. The symbolism… MoreThe Mediocre Gatsby. I'm not a fan of the book anyway. The symbolism is heavy-handed and vaguely nonsensical: the green light, the blue car, the optometrist ad watching over the Valley of Ashes. We get it...but we don't. The awkward love plot is also full of "Really?" moments: Jay Gatsby moves to West Egg and hosts lavish parties that all of Manhattan's upper crust attend, yet Daisy, a veritable partygirl, never hears of him? Really? The self-made millionaire goes through several needless channels of matchmaking (Jordan and Nick) just to arrange a meeting with Daisy? Really? As friend, Molly Brost, notes, "For a book with adultery, murder, and lavish parties, the story is quite boring. I can't even remember who dies at the end."
Fitzgerald fans may be satisfied though. Style auteur Baz Luhrmann's glitzy rendition does stick incredibly true to the book in terms of story and theme: the love plot is awkward, and the symbolism is heavy-handed. Barring some odd, hopefully out-of-context comments about how Lurhrmann wishes the movie will spark several Gatsby-themed parties this summer, the movie is visually sumptuous (if a bit Moulin-Rouge-formulaic) but also effectively condemns our obsession with wealth and the American Dream. The parties are indeed lavish, the anachronistic soundtrack is intriguing, the frame story of Nick in a sanitarium is unnecessary but pays kind tribute to FSF's prose, which we rarely see in film adaptations of literary classics.
I don't like the faces or voices or acting styles of Leonardo DiCaprio nor Tobey Maguire, so Carey Mulligan's sleek bob, narrow shoulders, and high breathy voice claimed most of my attention. However, more could have been done to show Daisy's vapidity and shallowness but also her fear of monetary instability.
Gotta love high-functioning sociopaths like HIMYM's Barney Stinson and… MoreGotta love high-functioning sociopaths like HIMYM's Barney Stinson and Campbell Scott's titular Roger in this dark, delicious gem. Roger's tried-and-true tricks aren't just cheesy pick-ups, but carefully honed skills that show off the Darwinningest male. Jesse Eisenberg, in his first film role, is sweet and endearing with a hint of rebellion, and the brief roles of 80s-90s dream queens, Elizabeth Berkley and Jennifer Beals, make for a bittersweet sex education. It was so bittersweet that I wished something would happen for Nick and Sophie at the end - not necessarily sex but just SOMETHING instead of Uncle Dad once again aiding and abetting a lame flirtation with high school queen bee whom the audience hasn't gotten the chance to know and fall in love with yet.
MAN! MAN! I didn't LOVE this movie, but I can certainly understand… MoreMAN! MAN! I didn't LOVE this movie, but I can certainly understand its cult status as the bitterest of the sweet, chocolate-shitting, daisy-vomiting doomed romances. I'm guessing it spawned other rich boy-poor girl-DEATH stories such as "A Walk to Remember," which is also schlocky but irresistible.
The screenplay boasts some nice zingers (the couple's catty meet-cute and the bad-dad-retort, "I won't give you the time of day!" "Father, you don't HAVE the time of day!"), formulaic but emotionally effective flashback structure ("She loved Mozart, Bach, Beatles, and me"), and clever match-cut storytelling (tense dinner with parents told over car ride home). Francis Lai's haunting score and the impromptu snowmance sequence are lovely wordless portraits.
One gripe I have is with Ali MacGraw. I find her portrayal of Jenny completely overdone. Many of her snarky lines would've been better deadpan or flippant. Instead, every sarcastic quip is bolded, underlined, and italicized. Jenny is a quirky character that I'm sure many young men of the 70s fell in love with, but she could have used a subtler actress. I read on IMDb that the director considered Ryan O'Neal a reactor, not an actor, and that is certainly true. All of MacGraw's overacting is tempered by O'Neal's natural movements, boyishly floppy hair, and teary baby blues that exemplify how every woman should be looked at by her man.
My other gripe, of course, is with the famously contentious line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," and its implication in the movie's unsatisfying dissolution. Firstly, semantics: does the line mean one should never do anything so hurtful that it warrants an apology? Or does the line mean one shouldn't have to apologize because your partner already knows you're sorry and will forgive you? I personally like the second interpretation, and it would have made a better ending. Oliver's father is clearly sorry for cutting Oliver off for marrying beneath him. He gives Oliver money no questions asked and calls around to find out it was for Jenny's treatment. He has taken steps toward reconciliation and should be forgiven. I expected Oliver to say the line, then hug his father - indicating that he understands and accepts his father's repentance.
Aubrey Plaza is a snark-a-chino priestess, with that ever-present… MoreAubrey Plaza is a snark-a-chino priestess, with that ever-present sideways glower and so-hard-she-shits-nails deadpan.
Quarter-life ennui meets time travel. The former is charming and bittersweet (with Jeff's reformed playboy and subsequent revenge-relapse at the expense of and to the benefit of the nebbish Arnau), but the latter lacks both psychological and scientific explanation. *Spoilers* Kenneth IS revealed to be delusional if not paranoid, so I'm guessing his real reason for going back wasn't to bring back his assumed-dead sweetie but to keep himself from driving her away. Is he aware of this somewhat alarming coping mechanism? If he's falling in love with Darius throughout, why doesn't he just tell her the real reason? Was it an act, or is he still legit kerazy? It doesn't take much for Darius to trust him again. Then if they're going back to save Darius' mom, shouldn't they consider the butterfly effect consequences trumpeted in nearly every time travel movie?
You know a movie isn't great when the best part is Nicolas Cage. "The… MoreYou know a movie isn't great when the best part is Nicolas Cage. "The Croods" is...surprisingly crude - in terms of even minimal historical accuracy and in terms of strong female character development (which I'm not sure they were going for, but if you get Emma Stone, our Big Red It Girl of the moment to voice your heroine, you ought to deliver something for her to work with besides grunty ogling of neanderthal beefcake).
The Crood family's hunting and problem solving tactics are really too cartoony, yet still not funnier or cleverer than the X's and O's of football strategery. I guess I was expecting an element of realism. The movie doesn't really start until Eep meets Guy who miraculously has AAALLLL the answers to prehistoric civilization: fire, shoes, critical thinking skills, musical instruments, slithey pets that act as belts, need I repeat: fire?? shoes??? critical thinking skills???? Where the hell did he come from?!
Rachael Leigh Cook is hot, mm'kay? In trying to uglify herself… MoreRachael Leigh Cook is hot, mm'kay? In trying to uglify herself though, she contracts an unfortunate case of Vapid Face Syndrome.
To slake a hankering for classic 90s teen movie, I gave "She's All That" a re-gander and found that it hasn't held up like "10 Things I Hate About You" or "Clueless" or even the first two "American Pies." This "Pygmalion"-lite is deserving of its "Not Another Teen Movie" treatment with its easily recognizable stereotypes and suspension of disbelief. Ducky-esque Jesse is blustery and useless, and even the group dance to Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank" (of which I never knew the title) seems lame and dated.