Archive | January, 2014

Her features Great Performances and Provokes with Challenging Questions

24 Jan

Image

Alright, alright, alright (if you read that in Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice you’re doing the right thing) it’s time for a new blog post! This week’s movie is called Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams, directed  by Spike Jonze. Joaquin plays Theodore, a man lonely after separating from his wife. The story takes place in a futuristic L.A. where computers and artificial intelligence are interwoven into our daily lives. Theodore buys an A.I. system which has the ability to grow, learn and adapt, and has its own personality; it is called Samantha ( voiced by Johansson). 

So starts a story which aims to explore the nature of human relationships, and does so admirably. Theodore is a lonely man, a bit socially awkward, but very sweet, sensitive and romantic. Samantha is highly intelligent and knows everything there is to know in theory, but she has a spirit of child like wonder about the world in its reality. Frankly experiencing the world without a body isn’t really experiencing the world very well at all but Theodore tries valiantly to communicate the human experience to her.

I love how this movie paints such a beautiful picture of the value of human connection, the excitement of new relationships, the pain of old relationships burdened with all the wounds that holding someone dear brings, and the general tenuousness of human connection. One of my favorite things that director Spike Jonze has done is to create a fascinating juxtaposition between the bleak loneliness inside Theodore and the bright pastels, the cheerful colours and the general light which composes the film’s landscape. Usually futuristic movies go for a style which is about sleek surfaces, hard angles and metallic colours so it was so refreshing to see this bright and fresh colour palette in this kind of film. 

This movie raises many questions about the concept of a human having an intimate relationship with a machine, whether connection of the mind and spirit can overcome the obstacle of a lack of physical presence, and how people will form an attachment with anything that gives us a sense shared experience, and lessens that feeling of loneliness.

I am sure you will find this film sweet, funny but mainly thought provoking, as I believe that is the central purpose in its design. Though I commend this film on its many strengths, I did find that the plot fell apart a bit in the third act with the inevitable separation of Theodore and Samantha.  However, I think you will find, as I did, that the questions are more important than the answers in this film. 

Next week, in my quest to see all the best picture nominees, I will be reviewing Dallas Buyer’s Club. I have yet to see Philomena and Nebraska. If you are interested, my favorite picture of the year is 12 Years A Slave, which remains one of the most moving films I have ever seen. I couldn’t say whether it will win Best Picture this year though I hope it will. 

Advertisements

Welp, Good Bye 2013

17 Jan

Image

I haven’t posted on here in a while because no one reads this piece of shit blog anyway but I keep having this nagging feeling to update. I can’t stop something once I’ve started it, apparently. No matter how bad it sucks or how much I half-ass it. I’m going to do another condensed post because I’ve seen so many movies. Are you impressed? I bet you’re not, you smug little shit. Sorry. Read on.   

American Hustle 

Very quirky, eccentric movie from David O Russell starring Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawerence. The first David O Russell film I saw was The Fighter which I really liked, but didn’t find so unpredictable like I have the rest of his films. Basically this movie is about a con-couple Bale and Adams, and how they get mixed up with the feds and some other dangerous characters. It’s truly a strange movie but very funny and entertaining. 

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug

I was so excited to get swept up in the mania of this film, even though I’m not a die hard LOTR fan myself. This film is a lovely special effects extravaganza packed with action and adventure. I really love Martin Freeman obviously, but the reason I went is because Benedict Cumberbatch did the voice and motion capture for Smaug the dragon. I loved the scene between Bilbo and Smaug, and Smaug is by far one of the best CGI creations I’ve ever seen. 

The Wolf of Wall Street

What a strange, hilarious, entertaining and challenging movie. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a self made millionaire with a major substance abuse problem. This movie is the longest of the holiday season, clocking in at a whooping three hours. I will confess I did not make it through without having to pop off to the bathroom after my massive Cineplex soda. I didn’t particularly note the 18A rating before going in so I was just a little (pleasantly) surprised at the amount of nudity and drugs/drug use in this film. It is a highly entertaining movie, with many scenes so outrageous and hysterical you’ll be clutching your sides and covering your mouth in horror simultaneously. Ultimately you may feel a little empty but it’s a wild ride. 

Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Lovely little film I saw with my pal Amanda who liked it as well. This movie stars Ben Stiller as a man trying to break free of his ordinary, boring, passive life and finally finds the courage to do so when he goes to the far reaches of the planet to track down a photograph. Visually, this film is stunning. However, it lacks the emotional punch that a more fleshed out script could have provided. There is one poignant scene though between Stiller and love interest Kristen Wiig as she appears to him in a vision where he rallies his courage and takes a huge leap into danger and adventure. Again, the cinematography is beautiful, but the story really hangs together by threads because I was asking myself one too many times “c’mon, how could this really happen?” when I should have been invested in the character to the point where I didn’t need distractions like that. 

August: Osage County

This is definitely my favorite film of the holiday season and certainly the most challenging. Meryl Streep stars as Violet Weston, malicious matriarch of the Weston family, mother to three daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts) Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis). The family gathers when a tragic event forces them into close quarters and emotional fireworks (and excellent acting) ensue. I loved this film because it encourages you to look at your own family life, your own personal choices and evaluate how you treat people and why that matters. Osage County has a strong message about trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of generations past, while still highlighting the bonds that make families inseparable. Great performances, wonderfully honest story and Ben’s in it and sings a song, so yeah. I obviously saw it twice. 

Frozen

Lovely little animated treat about two sisters, and the power of love in both family and romance. Great songs, especially Let It Go, and stunning animation. If you don’t like Elsa is awesome, I don’t even know what to say to you. Great movie for adults and kids. 

Saving Mr Banks

Incredibly touching true story about the struggle between Mary Poppins author and Walt Disney to bring her story to the silver screen. Amazing performances from Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, both nailing their characters and winning the audience over in their own ways. Thompson’s P.L Travers is a hard woman to love, but going back through her childhood it’s easy to see how she became that way. This movie is paced perfectly, interspersing the childhood flashbacks with the older Travers struggling to reach a compromise with Mr Disney on how to bring Poppins to the screen. Very emotionally poignant moments, such as when we hear the song Let’s Go Fly A Kite that are guaranteed to melt your cold, wintery heart. I found it particularly touching because I’m very close with my dad and it was so painful to see how the young girl idolized her father. 

Anchor Man 2: The Legend Continues

Ron Burgandy is back, nine years after the cult hit of Anchorman. If you don’t like Will Ferrell, this movie isn’t going to change your mind. But if you like nonsensical jokes, ridiculous characters, and overall just insane humour you’re going to love this. Obviously I loved it and I believe my movie going companion Libby appreciated it as well. Look for all the cameos that you would expect from Ferrell’s friends, as well as another lovely song, a la Afternoon Delight. 

I will be compiling a top ten list for 2013 but it becomes a little difficult on where to draw the line for some movies; for instance August:Osage County technically came out December 25th, but wasn’t in wide release until January. I’ll have to give some thought to what will go where. I’ll also soon be updating with my thoughts on Thursday’s Oscar nominations announcement, and I will, as always, make every effort to see each Best Picture nominee ( of those I haven’t seen already.) Welp, I don’t think anyone is actually reading this so it’s becoming more of a way to just keep track of how many movies I’ve seen, and what I thought of them. Although, I don’t actually ever forget. Anyways, stay cool.