Bad Boys for Life
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I'm giving this one 3.5 stars, but really, it's completely unrateable - as I said over and over again when I first watched it, it's either the best movie I've ever seen or the worst.
DO NOT watch this if you don't like musicals or think you're too smart to enjoy a silly movie. Also, don't watch this if you're looking for any sort of story or coherence, or you're expecting to pick a movie apart. That will just spoil it.
That being said, <i>Mamma Mia! </i> is a sunny, sotted mess of a movie that can't help but make you laugh, whether for the right or the wrong reasons. It's absolutely atrociously choreographed and a completely ridiculous movie that doesn't even try to be remotely realistic - Meryl Streep as the mother of a 20-year-old conceived in the Summer of Flower Power, all while talking about the Internets, anyone? - but it IS gosh-darn entertaining. A review I read somewhere described this as a screechy hen night, while another said it was like being very, very drunk. I agree with both of those, especially when you get to the scenes where Donna (Streep) and her Dynamos prance and pose in turquoise boas, psychedelic jumpsuits and cowboy boots (oh those boots!)
The best thing about this movie is that it doesn't try whatsoever to take itself seriously; I mean, the ridiculousness of the chorus popping up and facing the camera each time someone starts singing, or Meryl Streep drunkenly asking the audience if they want an encore in the closing credits, is rather charming in the way your man-eating grandma is charming after a few drinks - it's funny, although it can get a bit embarrassing too. I felt especially uncomfortable to see a skeletal Christine Baranski, so wonderful in <i>Chicago</i> and "Cybill," hamming it up as a cougar in a plunging dress who charms a rather girly, short bartender dude in "Does Your Mother Know?" but at least she's having fun, I suppose...?
Indeed, everyone's having a gay old time here (sometimes literally!), and it's rather refreshing to see the usually stiff-upper-lip Brits Julie Walters and Colin Firth don their dancing shoes and act mad for a bit. Walters, especially, is hysterically awesome in her spiky-haired, spunky role, although she doesn't get to sing much.
Then there's Streep, of course; I wouldn't say this is a fantastic role for her, but it is a bit of a treat to see her do the splits in mid-air and have a bit of fun, although she gets a bit maudlin in "The Winner Takes It All," and I was a little scared of her when she popped on screen with full Tammy Faye Bakker-style makeup. Still, she's entertaining to watch, and I can't complain about her.
I can, however, complain about poor Pierce Brosnan, who although is still yummy after all these years ruined the effect every time he opened his mouth. It would have been alright if he'd ended up singing a bunch of silly songs, but unfortunately he got stuck with the earnest torch songs that really suffered from his weak, old-man singing voice. Absolutely awful. He seems out of place in a cast full of silly hippies behaving badly, but I suppose somebody's got to do it?
On the other side of the spectrum is the delightful Amanda Seyfried, whose voice is just a pleasure to listen to. Her role is a bit thankless because really, the focus isn't on her despite the fact that she's on the poster, but she's pleasant to watch and she has a good amount of energy onscreen. Quite a different role from her ditzy weather-forecasting Karen in <i>Mean Girls</i>.
I'd probably be able to watch this many, many times, but it's definitely not for everyone. A lot of fun!
This is a really, really weird movie, with schizophrenic twists and a message that seems really confused.
I really don't know what the filmmakers were trying to say here - <i>Hancock</i> is a mess of a movie that first appears to be trying to elicit sympathy for the main character's loneliness, and then seems to somewhat discard the value of relationships towards the end. I guess it's kind of an interesting story, what with this guy's rise to grace and his relationship with Jason Bateman's Ray, but it's confusing especially towards the end of the movie.
Charlize Theron's Mary, in particular, is especially schizophrenic, (SPOILER ALERT!) between being angry at Hancock and hating him, and loving him in that hospital scene. It's really freaking odd.
The movie is pretty funny in places, I guess, but even its humour becomes repetitive and trite, especially with the whole a**hole thing. OK, I get it, being called that makes you mad and want to beat people up, especially if they call you that three times, but seriously? Do you need to beat it into my head?
I also don't get the ending. (SPOILER ALERT!) I mean, what's up with Ray getting back to being all lovey-dovey with Mary again after obviously seeing that she isn't over her ex, with whom she has a very very long, tumultuous and passionate relationship with? It's not explained at all.
I was also pretty annoyed with the handheld camerawork, which is fine for a TV show like The Office or Arrested Development but really gets old fast when it's used in a movie. It's a minor annoyance, but it sure didn't help me enjoy this movie more.
I don't know, I think this was a pretty bad movie. I agree that it has a fairly interesting premise, and Hancock's aloneness poses a thought-provoking question about human relationships, but it isn't explained well, especially when all is suddenly fine at the end when we see that he is meant to be alone anyway.
<i>WALL-E</i> is possibly the best animated feature I have ever seen.
Just a few weeks ago I was bemoaning the loss of 2D animation, and I was definitely not interested in seeing this movie. But I'm glad I did, as this movie, while deceptively simple in its story and premise, contains a wealth of poignancy and complexity in the interactions of WALL-E and his EVE.
You all know the story - humans destroy the planet with their compulsive materialism - but I don't think that's the important message in this movie. It's odd that a non-speaking little garbage compacting robot is more human than all the people in this movie, and the first half of the film is touching in its portrayal of WALL-E as the last man standing in a forgotten, dusty planet, even though he's a robot. The little touches are astounding, from WALL-E hanging up his tracks before turning off for the night, to his admonishment and worry over his cockroach pal, to his glowing "eyes" as he watches the <i>Hello, Dolly</i> video over and over again. WALL-E is the ultimate pack rat, something I can relate to, especially as the little robot treasures the old things of a forgotten age, you feel nostalgic for a time that's still here.
Because of the lack of dialogue, the first half of WALL-E is all the more stunning in its lonely portrayal of a defiantly happy little robot - this, I believe, is what <i>I Am Legend</i> could have been, although admittedly the latter movie had a grimmer tone to it. You see the end of the world in a starker way here, especially when WALL-E is painstakingly building his massive towers of garbage, and when he desperately tries to find love with EVE even as she's in hibernate mode or whatever.
Despite this dystopian view, <i>WALL-E</i> is still incredibly optimistic for the future of humanity. I love the closing credits where WALL-E and his gang of robots are shown in hieroglyphics to be teaching the world to live again. And even apart from the message, <i>WALL-E</i> is a lovely movie, with the balletic space dance between WALL-E and EVE and EVE's whirling through the air following her first appearance on earth coming to mind as spectacular examples of this movie's beauty.
I haven't even gotten to EVE yet! What a wonderfully thought out character; I'd read somewhere that EVE had no emotions, unlike WALL-E, but I would hotly disagree with that assessment - EVE is possibly even more human than WALL-E, with her angry kicking things around after failing to find what she's looking for on Earth, the evident frustration in her "voice" as WALL-E does something silly again, and (SPOILER ALERT!) her frantic rebuilding of a broken WALL-E, whom she's obviously come to care about.
EVE's interactions with WALL-E are really touching, and it's a pas de deux that may rival some of the greatest love stories out there.
You also have to love the minor characters like that cleaning robot and the crazy hyper robot who beats up all of the security guard robots, all of whom add humour to a movie, which while having a dark message, is still light and entertaining and often hilarious.
I couldn't really find any flaws with this movie; even the human parts fit wonderfully with the robot stories, and you're rooting for the captain all the way even though he's been shown to be somewhat of a simpleton throughout the movie.
As well, you can't go wrong with a Thomas Newman score. Man, I love that guy! The music for this movie is sometimes otherworldly, sometimes cute and tinkly, but always appropriate, adding to an already well-crafted atmosphere.
Fantastic movie, and well worth watching again.
Ugly, messy, brutal - it says something about a film when you can describe it in these negative terms and still say it was a fantastic film. Despite there not being any crazy twists built into this movie, <i>Before the Devil Knows You're Dead</i> is gutwrenchingly suspenseful, helped along by a plot that examines a story from every angle, forcing you to revisit motives, allegiances, relationships. The ending can barely be called shocking despite its somewhat unexpected nature, simply because it's a movie where anything goes, where relationships mean nothing more than the gratification they can get you.
You know, the more I see of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the more I'm convinced he must be a real scumbag - that's not me casting aspersions on his off-screen character, but simply lauding the brutality he brings to each role. I must say that I do harbour a sort of "fat guy = nice guy" stereotype in my head, but Hoffman easily sheds that perception with his nasty, brutish performance (to misquote Hobbes). Perhaps the only flaw I would ascribe to him here is his lack of redemptive qualities, as his character is utterly despicable. The movie throws in a weak "You always loved my brother better than me" play into the works, but it's hardly effective. However, his interactions with his drug dealer are revealing enough and help to slightly humanize an otherwise awful character.
As for the others, Ethan Hawke is effective as the weakling brother who can't stand up to anyone, and Albert Finney is surprisingly three-dimensional as both loving husband and coldly cruel, relentless vigilante (if you can call him that). I mean, I love Finney, but I've always seen him as kind of a kindly, grandfatherly type. Again with the playing against type! Marisa Tomei is perhaps the only person who conforms to her usual fluffy, slightly dim cutie role, but it works effectively here as a weak ray of light penetrating through the darkest of shrouds, and it's a welcome distraction from all the bleakness. In fact, her scene where she attempts to leave Andy is great, with her helplessly trying to get her wheelie suitcase up the stairs and desperately trying to get some reaction out of her desensitized husband. I've always liked Tomei, and I think she's good here, and injects some humanity into this band of scoundrels.
The look of this movie helps to heighten the sense of paranoia, claustrophobia and darkness, and Lumet artfully uses angles, hallways and turned-off lights to convey hopelessness in a world where family means little but what its members can do for you. It's not a pretty movie by any stretch of the imagination, but where one would expect the starkness of its sets, right down to the minimalistic interiors of the drug dealer's apartment or Andy's office, and bare-bones composition to convey feelings of spaciousness or light, Lumet manages to tighten and portray emptiness of a black-hole kind, to squeeze the heart and stomach and create suspense. And there is a heck of a lot of suspense here, further added to by an equally sparse but effective recurring theme. It had kind of a <i>Law & Order</i> vibe to it, which I think is a good thing in this kind of film - you don't want crazy strings or huge drums to detract from what's going on on the screen.
Really, really good.
From the moment I saw the trailer for this, I knew it was going to be charming. I'm not usually one for documentaries, but what's not to love about old people singing rock songs, if you just think about the comedic possibilities?
I wasn't disappointed; from its opening minutes, showing an older lady wailing and speak-singing The Clash's ("The Crash?") "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?", <i>Young@Heart</i> is irresistible and irrepressibly optimistic, even through moments of mourning. I guess this is a spoiler, so don't read to the end of this passage if you're not prepared to, but what can you expect with a movie about very, very old people except that there's going to be death? I cried and cried and cried every time there was a reference to one of the two deaths in the movie, especially during the touching solo rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You," but this isn't a sad movie. Far from it.
There are moments of poignancy, and these aren't glossed over at all - rather, the camera lingers and gives the subjects some time to breathe rather than hurrying along to the next happy moment. I think especially of wonderful Joe Benoit, my favourite person in the whole doc, whose lovely smile barely wavers even as he sits alone in the frame with an IV in his arm.
Still, as I said, it's not a sad movie, just a sensitive one. There are so many moments of laughter, as you might expect from observing a bunch of 80-year-olds trying to scream like James Brown or strut about while singing "Stayin' Alive," and of course, when the doc takes time to let us see these people beyond their roles in the choir, as lovers, comedians, regular patrons at your local diner. You never get the sense that the filmmaker is trying to manipulate your emotions (even though you know this isn't all there is), but rather, you simply see a group of wonderful, funny people who get annoyed and tired and sick and sad and flirty even though by all norms, they're at the end of their roads.
There are a few weaknesses, of course: Bob Cilman, the choir's director, is given very little attention despite his screen time, as we learn very little about him and how he got involved in this, how he feels about these people. We get a glimpse of it when he talks to them on the phone, and you can tell that he's worried about these seniors, but still, we learn little about him. As well, the camerawork is not spectacular, and the grainy quality certainly doesn't add to the experience.
But oh, what a lovely movie this is, and it gives me hope that the end of life can be as joyful and beautiful as the beginning. These old people have such wondrous exuberance, and it's impossible to remain unmoved in the face of such scenes as Lenny zipping down the road in a rickety old car, or Eleanor flirting with the camera crew, or Dora dancing joyfully in the back of the chorus practice room. Or, on the flip side, watching Fred watch the Coldplay music video by himself in a darkened room, or looking at Joe's lovely smiling face in the Young@Heart poster being pinned up in a diner.
Wonderful and life-affirming.