Sunday, April 07, 2013

four capsule reviews*

life of pi [2012]

ang lee is a gifted filmmaker.  but he chooses boring stories to shoot.  this is one of those stories.  nothing wrong with the narrative about an indian boy who embraces faiths of all kinds and whose life is uprooted and changed forever when his family decides to emigrate to canada and take their zoo with them.  visually dazzling and edited within an inch of its life for gravitas this is a hollywood movie par excellence.  a large movie with bold emotion proudly worn on its sleeve.  yet that is the difficulty for me.  lee creates a world of large gestures and even larger signs.  but little in nuance.  lee and his very talented crew paints large pictures but forgets the pungency of small details.  i didn't say i did not enjoy this flick but i wanted something less in its ambitions.  i wanted to know why the boy believes the way he does.  why this story -- in the words of the journalist who interviews the adult pi -- will make me believe in god.

super 8 [2011]

you'd think i'd be raving mad over this movie because it takes place in the late 1970s, shares some of my obsessions [horror movies, terrific rock&roll of its era], and monsters but i am not.  the movie is too wonky for my taste.  the kids' characters are not developed.  the writing is so-so.  the special fx are again too hollywood bombast for me to give much of a shit.  i have reviewed this movie when it was first released i think.  nick loves it and we watched it again over the weekend.  not sure what to say about director j.j. abrams except that he shouldn't ape the style of spielberg like he does in this flick.  move on and do something interesting.

war of the worlds [2005]

ah spielberg you vex me.  most of your films are bombast and sentimentyet you can make even those things beautiful.  thus it is for this remake.  good movie it is not but it is an addictively watchable film.  spielberg you have crafted an apocalyptic movie with genuine tension and terror in parts.  i watch your remake for those parts like when cruise is getting his kids into the car at the beginning of the alien attack.  or when cruise and kids is in that car and is surrounded by terrified townfolk.  those are excellent pieces, spielberg, and i wish you kept that torque thru whole run-time.  instead you give me a mushiness contained within the reels of this movie that jeopardizes my own willingness to suspend disbelief.  yet i continue to watch your movie and i hate myself for it.

monsters [2010]

like the previous two film i have written about this one before.  it is a magnificent film.  it may not be everyone's cup of tea but i love this movie.  the pace is slow yet riveting.  its leads are as real people are, flawed, comic, serious and goofy.  the filmmaker gareth edwards stretches his budget for maximum effect.  this is an indie low-budget horror film that leaves the horror on the side and instead concentrates the story to the lives of its protagonists.  each frame is packed with detail.  the soundtrack is like the pace slow but riveting.  edwards has created a miracle of filmmaking, small in funds but large in vision and execution.  i found myself rewinding scenes either for its writing or the details placed in both the background and foreground.  this is a movie to savor and to love.

*links will take you to the movie trailers


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