Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekend reviews

Oh my what a weekend! The family pulled off a secret wedding shower for Josh and Christi on Saturday... and getting the thing to happen without any screw ups was a challenge (i.e. Jed needs to stop napping before pivotal steps in the secret shower process!!). But pull it off we did... and the weekend was shrouded with good times.

So of course, I will be mainly talking about all of the films I watched!

Friday night brought ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.

I have enjoyed the Harry Potter series and often times with certain films, have found it truly engaging... though never reaching the beauty and thrill of the LORD OF THE RINGS series. The fifth film stays within my pre-conceived notions of what to expect from a Potter film - while also bumping up the creepiness a tad.

Things get cracking early with a uber cool dementors attack - then stall until the end (and to be honest, I enjoyed the stalling) when the action exploded! Radcliff has taken his acting up a few steps - the direction is clean and exciting - and I found the whole film fun to watch.

Few agreed - I don't know what to tell you. No one seems to agree with me anymore.


THE FOUNTAIN came out last fall and blipped through theaters and critics and everything. Deemed a failure in every aspect - I saved the film for home viewing.

Things start out tough - Aronofsky definitely does not ease the audience into the picture... he has such an abstract brain for direction that he rarely engages anyone with his characters... yet as the film progressed, I completely fell for it's drive. The repeated images... Jackman's tragic roles... Weisz's death covered face... the movie slowly dragged me in.

Yet - I can see why everyone was annoyed. Even the French thought it was over-wrought! I am a sucker though for strong visuals and a dark dramatic tale.

Cara didn't buy it - she was bored - and she made a great point; "Why did they need all of the other stuff - why couldn't it just tell the simple tale of the husband with a sick wife?" It could have... but then it would be a Lifetime movie of the week! "YEAH! We never watch those!"



It was a lazy Sunday and I threw in SHORTBUS to pass the time. I new going in what the catch was - the director of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH made a new flick with real people having real sex and figuring out complex relationships. HEDWIG was pretty damn good - so I was expecting quite a bit.

The film definitely failed for me - characters never once became anything but ideas on a page. The direction tried to be exciting and intriguing... but mostly it faked it. The real sex was... well, it definitely was not sexy... but I suppose it was not supposed to be. I guess it just showed me how I really did not need to see explicit scenes in order to believe in these people... I needed a well handled scene with real dialog to do that!




Kern said...

I saw The Fountain in the theatre and I have to say I must have been one of five people who was actually enthralled.

It's been a long time since I've seen it, but I remember going to the CHUD boards for the film discussion afterwards and I was really impressed with a lot of the people who offered interpretation and opinion on it. I'll have to see it again, but I personally did feel like I engaged with the characters from what I remember, so much so in fact, I think I cried in the theatre. Er, I mean got dust in my eye. Yeah, that was it.

Jed-If I see this again soon, I'd love to have a discussion with you about what you thought worked and didn't work. It's just such an anomaly in a sense as far as studio films go. I kind of have this feeling that in twenty years people are going to look back on it and maybe have some revisionist thoughts on how it was treated by present critics. That's just me, I guess.

Damfino said...

It took me a while to realize the bald Jackman was the same human as Dr. Jackman - and Conquistador Jackman was a story.

Once that cleared in my mind - I was able to open up to the sad dramatic drive of the film.

Visuals rocked - editing formula worked by the end - music was AMAZING!!!!!

I loved how Aronosky did the continual return to the moment when Weisz asked Jackman to walk with her... planting the tree was cool (since I thought the tree heading towards the Shebulba was the tree of life - it was her tree!!)... everything clicked by the end.

Just a tough ride to get into.


Kern said...

While I was initially daunted by the density of the narrative, and the stern unwillingness of Aronofsky to help the viewer along, in the end I think I felt all the more rewarded for my patience.

Also, I love the tree thing too, but I'd like to take it a step further and offer that the tree was not just hers, it was her. My take on it was that since the biggest theme here is the transcendence of death, as her body broke down and became part of the earth, that seed needed the soil she became a part of for its nourishment, essentially absorbing her in a sense. Therefore as he does eat pieces from the tree, I saw it as almost a form of transsubstantiation(spell check?), only instead of being the communion where something is representative of the body of Christ, he is eating parts of what she has become, and in that way she is both literally and figuratively inside of her.

Unless that's what you meant by her tree, in which case I feel kind of silly for typing all of that out.

Kern said...

Oops, I meant "literally and figuratively inside of HIM"

Haven't had caffeine yet.

Damfino said...

Great read - it is what I meant (duh - I am that smart!). The matching images of Jackman whispering to her neck hair and then whispering to the tree hairs (when they stand with energy... whoa - I loved that image!!).

One challenge to you and the film is the end of the conquistador tale - relating to the concept that he wrote it and that she wanted him to. I like that she wanted him to understand that death is a natural step into sharing yourself with others... yet how did that relate to the Queen's drive to send the conquistador to the tree of life? Was his death a necessity to protect her?

Damfino said...

BTW - my "duh" statement was sarcasm. My sarcasm never reads well.

Damfino said...

Also my comment should have read "The matching images of Jackman whispering to her neck hair and then whispering to the tree hairs (when they stand with energy... whoa - I loved that image!!) - represents that exact notion!"

Kern said...

I think you're possibly right about the Queen, but it's been a while so I'm going off of what I remember from last November.

Hmm...wasn't he overtaken by flowers, or became a field of flowers? Perhaps it's meant to be a sort of inversion of the "real" story in which Izzie eventually becomes a tree. I totally have to see this again to make any real calls on it.

i also loved his tattoos were like tree rings telling how many years had passed. Awesome.

Damfino said...

What killed me was Cara - after the film, she read the netflix cover and it said "the story of an astronaut - a doctor - and a conquistador, searching for the fountain of youth!"

Jeez - it must kill filmmakers when they see stuff like that!

Rings on arms like tree - very good, missed that - I only associated with lost ring.

Oh yeah - and this is just from a simple viewer reaction... my brain spent waaaay to much time thinking about where his wedding ring ran off to.

Kern said...

Had a wild ridiculous thought that needs a lot of work, but in certain respects, perhaps that inversion is more than just becoming the fauna. In certain respects Izzie heroically fights the disease only to eventually become part of the larger world, just as the conquistador Tomas fights to reach the tree of life in hopes of eternal life. Interestingly enough, eternal life was had, but not in the traditional Western sense of mortality, but more in the transcendent become part of the earth way. In both the case of Tomas and Izzie, they both became part of the earth and in Izzie's case, part of the larger universe during the Xibalba explosion. Perhaps then, the Queen is Tom's analogue; hoping for the promise of eternal life, but not getting it in a way that was immediately recognizable or comprhendable to him. As the conquistador Tomas would never return to the Queen in corporeal form, neither would Izzie return to Tom that way, though both were still connected through the earth.

That's kind of out there. Total stretch, but kind of fun to postulate.

Damfino said...

I don't think that is a stretch at all - I would say that is exactly the read that the film delivers!

I love films that actually get you talking about ideas and question what you have seen and what it means... yet also satisfy you in a cinematic way.

I questioned if the film was going to do that at the start... but by the end... when all goes black except for one pixel of white... then the explosion of life!!!

AWESOME!! Then the final planting of the tree.

The only reasons this is not an A film is the problematic open and also some issues with Aronosky's shooting and editing. In moments like when Tom loses his ring - he keeps cutting back to a corner camera shooting wide... totally looked bad and felt like shoddy editing.

He over edited the whole film - I heard he spent almost a year cutting it!

Kern said...

Wow, that's a long time cutting! I do wonder though, if they'd allowed him to have the original budget which was twice the money he ended up with. I think they made that movie for 35 mil or so. I think considering the budget constraints, he did a pretty great job. I think some of the more technical things slipped past me as I'm not too educated in the language of editing(plus I was too caught up in the story).

I have to say this movie was really cool on the big screen and I'm totally glad I saw it in the theatre. I think this might have the potential to become a real cult classic in 20 years. Heck, if critics can reevaluate Heaven's Gate several years later and decide that it was a misunderstood masterpiece(at the original running time), then I guess anything is possible.

Sheriff Officer Greg the Bunny said...

I like cheese.


Damfino said...

Quit using my cheese line Sheriff and watch that clip above.

It is worthy.