Archive | January 2014

August: Osage County


Image

Over the top County

John Wells’ August: Osage County is adapted from a stage play, which explains why every character obscenely overreacts to every minor event that happens, but does not explain why anyone thought it was a good idea to adapt the exhausting story onto the flat screen. A lot of good actors are involved here, prominently Academy Award darling Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, but no matter how much they scream and flail, they can’t stop the story from being boring to the point of suffocation. The film provides no evidence as to why we in the audience should devote a calorie of energy to caring about these characters.

Streep’s character Violet Weston has mouth cancer, and takes out her aggression on her three daughters and their spouses, and especially her husband Beverly (Sam Shephard), who promptly commits suicide. Her daughters Barbara, Ivy, and Karen (Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, and Juliette Lewis) arrive in the unnaturally hot Osage County for the funeral with their dysfunctional significant others in tow. At one fateful dinner, Violet goes around the table insulting her descendants’ life choices one by one in a scene that must take up a quarter of the entire movie, and after that, everyone hates each other.

Read More…

Advertisements

Her


Image

I believe her

Spike Jonze’s Her, more frequently referred to as that weird computer-dating movie that’s winning a bunch of awards, is immediately made distinct by its premise, forward-thinking and not entirely outside the realm of eventual reality. Following through on its promise, Her presents a fascinating love story between human and human imitation, made all the more powerful with its effortless acting and dreamlike cinematography. Jonze creates a world where dating an Operating System seems to be generally accepted, and implies the possibility that this future isn’t so far off.

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) writes lovely poetic letters for people who can’t express their feelings to others. He is postponing signing his divorce papers with Catharine (Rooney Mara) and has fallen into an introverted depression, preferring to spend his time playing lifelike video games. He buys a self-evolving, artificial intelligence operating system, something that in real life would be a massive technological breakthrough, in the movie marketed like an average Apple device. Theodore’s operating system selects the name Samantha, and immediately begins to develop a personality based on her observations, her discoveries voiced brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson.

Read More…

The Wolf of Wall Street


Image

More movie than we know what to do with

For making a movie about the wrongdoings of overindulging and excessiveness, Martin Scorsese certainly didn’t take his own advice. Running just one minute short of three hours, there’s a lot of good movie here – excellent at parts, even. But there’s also a lot of sluggish middle part to slosh through. Scorsese is world-renowned for his direction, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio certainly resulted in yet another strong performance from the actor – though, probably not strong enough to break his dry spell at the Oscars. Wolf won’t be the wolf everyone expected it to be during awards season, though that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of greatness here.

Those expecting a delightful tale of an animated wolf lost in the big city like me will be sorely disappointed. Kind of but not really based on the story of conman Jordan Belfort, portrayed by DiCaprio, the story follows his entrance onto Wall Street, in which Matthew McConaughey makes more of a cameo than an actual acting appearance as his stock broker mentor. He teaches Belfort about the primal world of stocks, which mainly consists of convincing people to invest more than they should, and surviving that stressful job with drugs and hookers. But just like that, in the only thing about the movie that can be described as ‘brief,’ the company crashes, and Belfort is out of a job.

Read More…

Frozen


Image

Warmin Up

Written by guest writer Queen Bee

Frozen, the new animated movie produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios is claimed to be the best Disney animated musical movie in years. The idea of the movie Frozen was originally conceived back when Walt Disney was alive, around the same time when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937. It was loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. I learned this when I went to Disney where I actually drew the snowman Olaf in Disney’s Animation Studios in Hollywood Studios. Also, the characters in the movie were never hand drawn; they were automatically made animated by a computer.

The story line of the movie I thought was great. It is about two sisters, one normal and one with icy powers. Elsa, the one with the powers, accidently struck her sister Princess Anna in the head with her powers when they were younger, so their parents take Anna to trolls for help. The trolls say the only way to fix her is to erase her memory of her sister’s power. After the incident, the King and Queen decide to lock themselves away in their castle and Elsa spends most of the time in her room and never comes out because she is afraid she might hurt someone since she doesn’t know how to control her powers yet. 

Read More…

Saving Mr. Banks


Image

Super-califragilistic

Movies about making other movies. What could easily be mistaken as a dead end in the movie-making labyrinth is actually a fantastic concept if the result is films like Saving Mr. Banks. The dramedy breaks away from typical Disney films and gets dangerously close to becoming a deep psychological study of Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers, but sprinkles enough Disney magic and humor to keep the author’s light-hearted and fun. I haven’t watched Mary Poppins for as long as my memory can account for, but this movie is as compelling an argument as any to crack out the old VHS.

Based on true events, though undoubtedly dramatized just a tad, Travers (Emma Thompson) is a grumpy, seemingly English lady who flies out to Los Angeles (the place where even the rain is supposed to be happy) to negotiate Mary Poppins film adaption rights with Walt Disney himself (Tom Hanks). Travers is unwilling to easily sign away the rights, as she is familiar with Disney’s tendency to make everything jolly and animated, and wishes for her character Ms. Poppins to remain as dark as she is on the page. After rampaging her hotel room filled with oversized stuffed animal Mickey Mouses and Goofys, Travers gives Disney a shot, though it’s immediately clear their creative differences will be a problem.

Read More…