Archive for the ‘drama’ Category
This film is as poignant and emotionally stirring as it is formulaic. We’re all familiar with Randy “The Ram” Robinson’s story. He’s an aging professional wrestler: his failing health inhibiting him from living the only life he has really known. He tries to repair, or rather establish, a relationship with his estranged daughter to save himself from solitude in his retirement. He’s a broken man with nothing to lose, and we watch as Randy learns that life outside the ring is even more painful than getting a window smashed into your face.
The Wrestler is a testament to formula film origins. Though the formula is often overused and ripped apart into cliches, it has the potential to churn your stomach into emotional butter. Besides the basic overall plot, each scene is a story of its own. Take the scene where Randy begins his full-time employ at a deli counter. Though first nervous and restrained, he warms into a hard-working, positive, flirtatious employee. He’s this lug of a guy with a heart of gold and every interaction with customers is genuine and always with a toothy smile (not to mention ad-libbed).
Marisa Tomei plays Cassidy, Randy’s regular entertainment. Rourke may be the root and heart of the movie, but Tomei cannot be ignored in this deep, conflicted performance as a lap dancer. She acts with her eyes, which never agree with her suggestive body movements. Oftentimes we learn more about Randy through her eyes, as customer turns to friend. She gives him confidence, she gives him purpose.
It’s also a very interesting insight into the life of a pro-wrestler. I have never once enjoyed watching wrestling, let’s just say that it attracted a crowd that I didn’t really run with. However, being a martial artist myself, their life fascinates me. I’d still rather watch boxing, because the theatrics of wrestling never appealed to me. We’re placed under the illusion that they’re never really hurt… but they’re still hurt. Many scenes portray the detailed planning that goes into each “show” and all the little tricks that these dudes pull to please their audience. The tanning, the steroids, the hidden razor blades, the waxing, the massaging. You can’t help but wonder how someone could put so much effort into something fake?
Randy’s daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) is adamantly against Randy’s desire to reconnect. This introduces another emotional arc that is also familiar to the audience. When she finally agrees to go out with him for a day, another poignant, individual scene ensues. For those ten minutes, as voyeur, I escaped even further from reality, and from the world of wrestling. Their timing and emotional play off each other’s acting is without flaw. Ad-libbed to boot, that short scene is so different from the rest of the movie, yet also a complementary capstone to Randy’s character development.
This movie is full of those little scenes. That’s what makes this movie different. Sure, it’s a cookie-cutter sports story. But it’s more about the man than the wrestler. It is sad. The end, though I won’t give away any details, is heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. I never thought I’d see the day where I would shed a tear over the steroid-infested sport.
Coming from the man who gave us Requiem for a Dream, and later haunted the world with the Academy Award winning Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky can do no wrong. He’s the master behind the work. But this film is nothing without Mickey Rourke and Randy Robinson – the broken man with a heart. 9/10
Post-apocalyptic 2029. The world looks pretty dark and gray. The only thing stopping artificially intelligent beings from completely exterminating the human race is a handful of rebels led by John Connor. Robots plan of action will execute itself on the battlefield of 1984, where a Cyborg Terminator (Arnold Schwartgenegger) is sent on a deadly mission to eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the future’s rebel-leader. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent from the rebel’s side to detail Sarah and keep her safe.
I finally saw James Cameron’s sci-fi magnum opus, and Schwartzenegger’s defining performance as an actor before he became, you know, governor and stuff. I always thought that Terminator would be one of those movies that gets its awesomeness because it’s nostalgic.. not because it’s actually good. Well, this movie bears zero nostalgia for me and I absolutely loved it. So I guess Cameron DID do a few things pre-Titanic. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my nerdy fixation with sci-fi and dystopian societies. Actually, that probably is it, but I still think that Terminator is a good movie.
First of all, while I’m not a huge Arnold fan in general, he is pretty boss as the ruthless killing machine. His lines are few, but weighty. “I’ll be back.” He’s got some serious presence. Annnnnd, he’ll probably be nothing but The Terminator. The limited speaking fits the limited acting talent. No offense. The others are pretty good too – Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn in particular. They didn’t shine necessarily, but they still were fine in a movie where the acting REALLY doesn’t matter that much. Their interactions with each other? Mehh. Whatever. Indifferent.
I guess what it boils down to is some serious surpassing of expectations. Coming into this for the first time (finally, I might add) I was expecting some action-packed explosive kinda movie. Lots of shooting… lots of blowing up… things like that. Of course, there was definitely some of that junk. I guess what I didn’t expect was the intrigue and mystique behind all the action. The jumping back and forth through time and the detailed machines. The dark thrill, the fear. A computerized killing machine, programmed to do nothing but. Man this crap is awesome. It makes me proud to be a sci-fi nerd.
A word that keeps coming to mind is convincing. I feel like the movie believes its own tale. It believes in this world that we are so unfamiliar with it we hardly know to be scared out of our pants. It convinces us that this could happen, it sucks us into this land of incredulity. We’ve got Kyle to explain us the ups and downs (man I love those scenes where someone unfolds every detail for the audience).
And I could rave for days about the music. Er, the main title anyway. It’s such a quintessentially deep science fiction feeling. I… adore it. There’s nothing quite so captivating as a good score, and this nails that aspect. The credits are rolling and I’m sitting there wide-eyed and drooling from my open mouth I feel so much from the music. Yeah, I’m going crazy. The main theme’s just really cool, okay?
What I found fascinating was how truly apprehensive I felt at the climax. I am not one to jump or scream, but I was near holding my breath as our heros ran from the killing machine. His seemingly human appearance is slowly unveiled and with that, the wall between comfort and terror. His arm inching towards Sarah with such slow tension. Yeah, I was kinda scared. That rarely happens – and for it to occur in a freaking action movie with Arny was, well, remarkable. The camerawork and special effects are also fantastic, as well as James Cameron’s craftsmanship behind the scenes. I’m AMAZED at the low budget, it’s really top-notch even with the lack of funding.
The Terminator was ahead of its time. Though one could still recognize it by some rather obvious 80’s labels, it does manage to achieve a level of timelessness still. It will always be iconic, and it will always be parodied. It will always be freaking awesome. 8/10
David Norris (see what I mean? oh, and Matt Damon), with the charming smile in one pocket and a sketchy past in the other, rises from his grungy upbringing to run for Senator of New York. Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) is a professional ballet dancer, spunky and sassy. After Norris is slaughtered in the election, he stumbles upon Elise in the men’s room (oh, it’s cool, she’s just hiding from security after crashing a wedding). Their chemistry is fizzling instantly, and their spontaneous kiss is magical. Her fire and spirit inspire David to give the best speech of his career – catapulting him to a lead in the next election.
The next day, after failing to spill his coffee according to some agenda that a fairly attractive, skinny black man in a hat (Anthony Mackle) is in charge of, he runs into Elise again. But that wasn’t supposed to happen. He was never supposed to see her again. He was never supposed to arrive at work when he did.
More men in hats confront David. They explain some religious hoo-dah about “men upstairs,” “the chairman,” life-plans that keep the universe in check, human-beings can’t make decisions… stuff like that. They swear David to secrecy about their existence, otherwise he gets some serious “reset” lobotomy, oh, and he can never have Elise.
Even three years later when chance takes over and he bumps into her again. It’s not according to plan. But then this Thompson dude (Terence Stamp) ups the ante. If they get together, David will never be president, and Elise will never have the dance career that she would have had. And he decides to show his omnipotence by forcing a sprained ankle on Elise. David is faced with following his heart vs. following destiny.
Superb premise. Once things got cooking in the bathroom I was hooked. Men with hats observing from above, stalking a potential presidential candidate. The whole thing with the coffee spilling at 7:05 or the world keels over is pretty awesome. My first question (of many): are we all observed? The entire bureau seems to focus all efforts on these TWO people. I mean, that’s cool, that’s a movie, but they barely put forth the effort to make it look like they observed anyone else at all. The “big reveal” or whatever missed the opportunity to make this look like a universal organization, encompassing every human being who missteps. Oh well.
Free agency vs. pre-determined destiny. Being religious myself, these underlying themes are fascinating. While many believe “the chairman” to be God as we know him, I think of this chairman dude as being a lot more like the devil. Obviously this isn’t the real world, and in this real world I do choose to believe that God is watching over upstairs. But he doesn’t intervene in our affairs like those in The Adjustment Bureau do, he gave us choice. Satan, or whatever, wouldn’t give us that choice. And that makes us slaves to him. This is a dystopian society, and things AREN’T supposed to be like that.
Which is where my main problem comes from. (Sorry for the religious rant in there, bee-tee-dubs. I couldn’t help it). Spoilers. After all their cat and dog antics, David determines his decision. He wants to be with Elise no matter the cost. His decision is made and no “chairman” is going to tell him what to do. So, in an escapade of brilliance, he and Elise depart hand in hand to confront the man who writes the plans, since no one else seems to know why they can’t be together.
Call me a realist, but I wanted there to be a face to the responsibility. I’m so pleased that this dude came to his humane side and changed the plan just for them to be together. He’s a real sweetheart. But, as anticlimactic as it is, I wanted some kind of confrontation between the good guys and the messed-in-the-heads. Some big speech about letting us choose our destiny, no one can force us to do anything blabbity blah. But instead, we get some immediate resolution between Elise and David’s story… and nothing for the bigger picture. What happens to the next person who unknowingly never meets the person of their dreams? The future remains sadly unaffected and I guess I had a problem with that.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are a fantastic duo, and I knew that would be so two years ago when I first HEARD about this movie. I’m not even going to attempt to deny my girl-crush on Emily Blunt, she’s a terribly versatile actress and I’ll bank on any film of hers nowadays. And, well, who doesn’t love everybody’s man Matt Damon.
The theme and mood of the film is a perfect balance between drama and adventurous excitement. The music is a wonderful accompaniment to the mood, Thomas Newman is a stud. The pace too was captivating the entire way (though perhaps with one too many jumps to the future), and I was intrigued until the end with its outcome. It’s a thinker, and everyone knows that I dig that kind thing.
And again, the plot itself was original and fantastically enthralling. Walking through doors, super hats, men in suits nonchalantly controlling everything. Though it perhaps didn’t achieve its potential, it is still worth the watch and an exciting ride. 7/10
George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) lands a job at his rich uncle’s factory, perks excluded. His humble beginnings spark a relationship with his fellow packaging buddy, Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters) in his “eff this” mindset against the taboo no-relationships-in-the-workplace policy. Alice, or “Al”, is fixated with George, dazzled with his dashing good looks and personality (who wouldn’t be?) Things get crazy when George meets the enchanting Angela (Elizabeth Taylor), a high-society beauty with rich friends and influence to boot. Alice is all-but thrown out the window once the chemistry between George and Angela starts fizzling. But Alice isn’t done with George. Not even close. She’s determined to win him back, and she’s got a pretty convincing argument after she ends up pregnant. But George has other plans. [don don don…]
This was not was I was expecting. I expected some sweeping romance between Clift and Taylor, with lots of passionate kissing and emotional music and beautiful scenery. While this isn’t entirely untrue, haunting romanticism and tragedy encompass the plot. When Elizabeth Taylor died just a few months ago, this was the first movie I wanted to watch since I had never seen it before (and it’s another one I can check off the AFI top 100 list…) Go even further back to when I discovered Montgomery Clift, my mom told me that I needed to see A Place in the Sun if I wanted to see one of the most beautiful on-screen couples ever. Boy was she right. Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, two beautiful people with beautiful faces and beautiful bone structure, were meant to be together on screen. I’d argue that this is one of Taylor’s most beautiful films. She’s classy, refined, and elegant. And Clift is, well, movie-star dreamy. Don’t judge. I am a girl, you know. I won’t tell you whether or not I drooled at his on-screen presence. I’ll leave that up to you to figure out. All handsomeness aside, he’s fantastic in this role. Just sayin.
The real hero here, however, is George Stevens (won an Oscar). Somehow he manages to paint the movie on screen. The cinematography (also won an Oscar) is magnificent and breath taking. Every camera angle contributes to Stevens’ ideals and overall feel of the story line. I also feel like Stevens has a remarkably sensitive approach to the subject which, by the end of the film, is pretty grim. He allows us to connect with the characters and feel the angst and pain. But he also reminds us of what it’s like to be in love, and that confused hormones aren’t just reserved for teenagers.
This is a remake of the 1931 film An American Tragedy. Though I have not seen the original, it intrigued me that Stevens’ version features a different title. A Place in the Sun. After I finished, the title seemed to take on an entirely new meaning. It was poetic. Sunshine and warmth in the midst of tragedy. Finding solace in the heat of a new and exciting relationship and forgetting about the pressing problems of life. On such a high, one wouldn’t believe how fast it could come crashing down. But oh it does.
One must not forget Shelley Winters – she’s not easy to overlook with her plain features and feisty, whiny mannerisms. You can relate to her insecurity concerning the L-Taylor and her bubbling hope that things will work out with George. Her performance, though not as widely recognized for her lack of star-power, is a highlight and earned her an Oscar nom.
Haunting and tragic, A Place in the Sun is a beautiful film, albeit kind of difficult to watch by the end. 8/10
A favorite book is not shamed. Ever since I overcame my Harry Potter movie phobia, I don’t walk into those films with a constant fear of disappointment. But just the same, it’s been a while since I watched a movie adaptation of a dearly loved book with that edge of fear that your treasure would be thrashed. I’m pleased to report that Jane Eyre not only didn’t disappoint, but it brought a smile to my face.
In case you are sadly unfamiliar with this classic tale, here’s what’s going down. This adaptation opens with a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) frantically traipsing some beautiful countryside. She’s alone, she’s wet, her face looks sad and hurt. Her hair looks like it was once beautiful before being torn apart by the downpour. She is taken in my a man and his sisters, a man who’s got muffin chops like nobody’s business (Jamie Bell). Everything’s spinning, it’s very disorienting. Who are these people? Who’s the girl? As they begin to question her, we are jumped backwards to a memory that obviously belongs to the woman. She’s now a young girl, eight-years-old probably.
Pause. As previously mentioned, I love Jane Eyre. I’ve seen basically every other movie/mini-series ever made. I read the book twice, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I know the story back to front. This was a bit of a different take. I was trying to figure where in the story we were, where Rochester man was, and why it seemed like we completely skipped over the climax. With this being only a two-hour version of a long and detailed book, this was a smart move and helped with us dive into the story without it seeming like a biography. Which I guess it kind of is, but it doesn’t have that same feel starting in the middle.
Anyways, Jane Eyre had it rough growing up. Hated by her aunt who took care of her, hated at her sadist boarding school where she lost her one and only childhood friend. Then she lands a governess job at Thornfield Hall with the young French girl Adele. Mrs. Danvers (Judi Dench) runs the coop but has a kind heart and accepts Jane. Later, after Jane is nearly trampled by the mysterious, rude man on a horse, we find out that the mysterious man on the horse is Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester (Michael Fassbender). She is intrigued by the master of the house, and she becomes a pet of sorts. Their relationship develops, and so do the mysteries surrounding him.
Jane Eyre is a combination of many genres. It is definitely a romance. It is also something of a spooky mystery – an element that is sometimes overshadowed by the romance, but the mystique is awesome. It is also a drama, and even a tragedy (though not really). What makes Jane Eyre special is, you know, Jane Eyre. The crossroads she reaches between integrity and happiness has always been moving, and it was not put to shame in this adaptation. You can feel her pain. Jane will always be one of the greatest literary heroines ever written and one of my greatest examples. I can only hope that my own daughters can be as strong as she.
Mia Wasikowska was great. I would have liked a little more fire in her personality, though she is still wonderful. She had a great year and this is definitely her best performance to date. I love that she could emulate the intelligence, independence, and integrity that I admire so much in Jane. Judi Dench, and Jamie Bell are also great secondary characters. Who steals the show, however, is Michael Fassbender as that sexy SoB. He so perfectly creates a character that you learn to love despite initial hatred. Mysterious and dark I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.
The film is also GORGEOUS. From the get-go I was swept back in time, transported to a new world. There are a lot of castles, fields, gardens, and woods to capture the eye. The landscape, combined with the music, help to create the perfect tone for this film.
I think my one complaint is that the two hours FEEL like two hours. I mean, I’ve seen four hour mini-series of this, and this felt just as long. I wasn’t complaining, I was loving every second of it. But it did seem at least a half an hour longer than it actually was. Which makes me think that they COULD have added more detail in that additional half hour that I ALREADY thought existed. IMHO. The constant back and forth in the first fifteen minutes was a little confusing as well.
I love that book, and I now love this movie. Girls, get yourself a new role model. Try Jane Eyre. 9/10
I really wanted to like this movie. It’s got two of my favorite things in it: dogs and travel. It also has a man who hardly cares for either. I gave an involuntary shiver at him searching for American cuisine in foreign countries – I mean eating Burger King in PARIS? Sinful. That hurt me just a little bit.
Anyway, William Hurt stars as Macon Leary (what kind of a name is that anyway?) and he dispassionately writes travel guides for people who hate traveling. A travesty, yet I guess someone’s gotta do it, so it should probably be Macon Leary. We meet him at the beginning of the movie in an ICU gazing over his son’s dead body. He and his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) take it hard, but they’re having difficulty coming together over it. So she leaves him. And leaves the dog. Macon falls down some stairs, screwing his mobility and goes to stay with his weird siblings. They play funny games. His editor, Julian (Bill Pullman) comes to see him sometimes. He likes his sister.
Then he meets Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis). She’s kind of awesome, but also kind of eccentric and definitely quirky. She’s talkative and forward, and knows a lot about dogs. He hires her to help him train his own dog. Then they fall in love, or whatever. Then everything comes to a big wha-bam in Paris, of course. The end.
Before you write me off completely, I emphasize that my low opinion has NOTHING to do with it being slow. On the contrary, I love slow, quiet films (84 Charing Cross Road for example). What I didn’t like had nothing to do with the story. It’s like I could see, even almost taste, the beauty and potential of an emotional connection but I was just never truly moved. The letdown was even more potent with that in mind.
I’ve always loved William Hurt, but the man disappointed me with this one. It didn’t feel like a story of a hurt man who needs a little attention and lovin’ to make his way to recovery. No, he was static, he was expressionless. How could the fiery Muriel even dream of falling in love with him? His personal journey seemed superficial at best. He doesn’t even like his own dog…
Geena Davis, on the other hand, was great. She manages to play the wacky woman with just enough umph yet still grounded in reality to make her likable and not overbearing. She’s a realistic mother, looking after her son with great care and love. She’s also realistic in her relationship with Macon.
I’ll admit, the writing is excellent. Kasdan and Frank Galati know how to run things, and on paper it portrays the beauty that could not be captured on screen. Something is missing. I found myself searching for emotion, something that only Davis gave to me. Okay scratch that, the other actors were also pretty solid (though I don’t care for Kathleen Turner too much), but I did love Macon’s crazy family surroundings and the family dynamic. As well as Bill Pullman.
The Accidental Tourist was a disappointment. I wouldn’t go so far as to give up on it forever, but it’d take a lot of will power to get myself to sit through Macon’s monotonous personality for an additional hour and a half. 4/10
Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf? Virginia Woolf… Virginia Woolf… Okay, who IS Virginia Woolf? She’s not really a part of the actual movie. She was a writer – that much I know from working in a bookstore. Upon learning a little more about her, she was known for her stream of consciousness style and psychological themes. To say “who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf” as though she was Disney’s big, bad wolf, is to suggest that you might be afraid of those things that you can’t accept.
Kind of wish I’d understood that before I watched the movie.
Martha and George (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), a couple with some serious tongue issues, have returned late from a dinner party at Martha’s father’s home – the president of some local New England college. George is a history professor. He speaks very well. Martha drinks a lot. She also thinks it’s cool to invite a young couple over for drinks at two am without informing the husband.
The good-looking Nick and his mousey wife Honey (George Segal and Sandy Dennis), a recently hired biology professor and a naïve blonde, aren’t sure how to react to the volatile atmosphere that is their host’s home. The rest of the film details the events of the evening. On the menu: Martha lewdly flirting with Nick, George testing Nick’s verbal skills, the whole party tip-toeing around conversing about Martha and George’s oddly absent son – whose birthday is the following day, Honey getting sick and super drunk, playing fun games such as Humiliate the Host followed by Get the Guests, and basically everybody getting more drunk and crying and shouting and stuff.
My honest reaction upon the revealing ending was, “huh, it’d probably be good to watch that again with a better vision of what went on there. … Actually, I think I’d rather never watch it again.” Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is certainly an incredible tale. But it’s a downer. Not that I’m judging anyone who does drink, I must admit I have never been more grateful that I don’t. I can’t say that I comprehend exactly the what’s up of, you know, intoxication, but I’ll admit that this situation is NOT my idea of fun. This is what AA is for guys. The entire film is mesmerizing, but not necessarily enjoyable.
The best thing here is the performances. Our four leads (so, the whole cast?) were all nominated for Oscars with the two ladies taking the cake. All four were deserving of the acclaim – Richard Burton was definitely my favorite performance, but I can’t argue with Paul Scofield winning that one for A Man for All Seasons. The writing is, of course, impeccable but Burton’s delivery is witty and even entertaining. Like any person with a gifted tongue would be able to, he hides his own torment and anguish through his insulting monologues.
Elizabeth Taylor can act, guys. She put on around 30 pounds for the role, and abandoned her famous beauty for this role of a slob. Her foul mouth and obnoxious mannerisms are fascinating. She embodies the monstrous character in such a way that gives her life – you can see the potential that Martha had to be tender and kind. George Segal and Sandy Dennis are also incredible, their ups and downs and insecurities are perfectly emulated.
Through those performances, we get to study the relationships between each couple and as an entire group. Why Martha and George were married in the first place, who knows. It’s nothing but put-downs, insults, humiliation, cussing, and zero mutual respect. Casting Burton and Taylor was genius – you’ve always got that notion in the back of your mind about their real-life relationship=fascination to a whole ‘nother level. Nick and Honey, seemingly in love at first aren’t quite so peachy-keen with each other it turns out. He married her because he thought she was pregnant, and for her money. I guess that’s cool, she’s pretty high-strung I’m not sure who would marry her out of love. No offense.
Mike Nichols directs this very well – his first film crazy enough. Again, the casting choices were awesome. The story, based off the Tony-award winning play, is well played out and greatly paced.
I must admit, there are very few things wrong with this movie, as you may have gathered with all this good stuff i’m talking about. But it’s so dark and awful, it’s hard to enjoy so much hate and without any real resolution to happiness. It’s certainly worth watching for the feat that it is, but it, by no means, will ever be a favorite of mine. “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” “I am.” 6/10