Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Don Jon Posted on Web Wombat


Don Jon - 90min - R

I took a look at this film for Web Wombat see it here, It's on Netflix for the time being, A stroke of genius. Mr. JGL does it all, writes, directs and stars in, and he beats it off. No I mean pulls it  out, OFF, pulls it off. 

This just goes to  show you he does know jack about film. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Birdman





Birdman - 119min - R


This movie has me in conflict on how to review it. My film student brain loves the way it was filmed and appreciates the artistry of the scenes and the performances. The regular viewer brain finds it hard to connect with the characters. If I can draw from an automotive analogy, this is a really nice car that has a dark and depressing destination. The fight in my head--very much like the one in Michael Keaton's head--makes me land on a solid yellow light.

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) starred in the series Birdman twenty years ago. He hasnt done much with his life so he tries to jumpstart his career by directing and starring in a Broadway play. His daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), is a production assistant who is just out of rehab. His girlfriend, Laura (Andrea Riseboriugh), and Broadway newcomer Lesley (Naomi Watts) need a stand in for a recently vacated role. Lesley gets her friend Mike (EdwardNorton) to fill in but he causes problems as he is hard to get along with though he is brilliant on stage. The story focuses on the stress Riggan is under because he has poured everything into this production.

Not everyone will appreciate the labor that went into filming this picture. The film was shot to make it look like we are flying through the picture in one long take. There are obvious cut points in the film but they blend them together masterfully. The difficulty with filming in this fashion is the actors need to be spot on. If you have a six min take and one of the performers misses a cue or flubs a line, the crew has to set up from square one, especially if its a moving scene across the set and through another room. That is an incredibly challenging feat of filmmaking. The best part is they pulled it off. It was something the film geeks will Sqeeee over but its done subtly enough to not make it a distraction.  

The performances were really good but I didn't make a connection with any of them. I realize that the whole point of the film was to take a closer look at people in a rough time and place in their lives and how they are all struggling to keep afloat but it was hard to watch the level of anxiety portrayed. I walked out of the theater in a funk. As I think about it maybe it did connect with me emotionally, I was feeling their desperation and it made me depressed.

As a viewer I wasn't entertained and that is the bottom line. There were choices with the end that made me question what I was watching. I have stated before that the quickest way to lose me is to not play by the rules you set up for me. If you set the rules I will follow your story to the other end of the galaxy and different dimensions. The end made me shrug and say "Huh" and walked out.


To sum up I appreciate the film but didn't care for the ride. The best part of the journey is the going but the destination also needs to be worth the trip. What films have impacted you in such a way as to make you blue? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fury





Fury - 134min - R
 
War movies are made to remind us how horrible war is. Another reason to make a war film is to highlight the real life events of a heroic individual or group of individuals. This film was painstakingly dedicated to the accuracy of the setting of the end of World War II in the heart of Germany. Being a Bradley gunner myself and a member of a crew in the Army, I have to say that the tone of the film captures what you feel in combat. This movie gets a yellow light in the final total for not providing anything to walk away with.

Toward the end of World War II a tank crew lead by Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt) is working in the final push into Germany. His crew of four include Boyd 'Bible' Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Trini 'Gordo' Garcia (Michael Pena), Grady 'Coon-Ass' Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). They are sent up against impossible odds as they try and hold a crossroad to protect the Allied lines of support.

One particularly interesting point was the transition we see in the character of Norman. He enters this battle as a fresh recruit who hasn't seen battle. The first opportunity he has to kill someone he doesn't and it cost them four lives. Wardaddy brings him to an unarmed German and forces him to kill him. This is Norman's baptism in blood. The second time targets are presented to him, they are suffering from phosphorous burns and are burning alive. Norman sees their suffering and performs a mercy killing. He is now used to killing as demonstrated by his final choice to kill which is in wrath.

I was a gunner like Bible. His war experience was different than mine but we are still performing the same job. Like him, I am marked by the experiences in the Gulf War. If nothing else this film does capture the way war changes a person forever. Shia LeBeouf's antics may have been a problem on set, but on screen he did a great job of bringing that character to life. You can see the darkness that marks his soul.

Bible says in the film "Wait till you see it... what a man can do to another man." The horrors of war are not entertaining. This film feels like a project that was created to play in the setting of World War II.

I went with @wydeopen and he asked me where this film fits in with other war movies. I would have to place this somewhere on the bottom of the list. There is nothing it teaches us and it gives us nothing of historical significance. I walked out feeling empty.

The Director (David Ayer) has mastered the ability to capture settings that are dark and gritty. I think his talents will be well used in his upcoming project, Suicide Squad. As a storyteller, he does a good job of presenting a dark feel to his films. He has a good eye for action and tension in scenes. 

Looking at this review I haven't written with my usual humorous flare, I think its a reflection of how I felt about the movie.  Were there any movies that made you feel like that?   

Friday, December 5, 2014

House of Cards Posted on Web Wombat




I was introduced to binge watching with this netflix original series. Take a look at my review of the first two seasons  here. Season 3 is open for binge watching starting on February 27th 2015.  You have some time to catch up before it airs.

Maybe they should have started it November 2nd to coincide with Election Day.