January 2010 posts
THE SHINING (1980/ Stanley Kubrick), as everyone knows, was written by Stephen King in one of his Colorado visits, inspired by The Stanley….an elegant hotel which began construction in 1907 and opened in 1909. It was funded entirely by Freelan O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame who brought his guests to the hotel on one of his Steamers (which sits in the lobby now). Worth a visit today…..or anytime. The movie was NOT filmed here, but at the Timberline Lodge near Mt. Hood in Oregon. BTW: The Stanley Hotel shows the uncut R-rated version of Kubrick’s The Shining on a continuous loop on Channel 42 on guest room televisions.
LARGER THAN LIFE (1996/DVD) This Bill Murray vehicle—basically Man inherits a circus elephant (from Circus Clown Dad, long thought dead) and a huge bill for damages done by said elephant, Man finds Zoo across the country that will pay for the elephant and said damages, if only Man can get the elephant there within a week, when the Zoo is flying several elephants to Sri Lanka for a breeding study—is an enjoyable ride, for the most part. There’s plenty of funny here for Murray fans as he plays a flawed motivational speaker trying to manage this cross country trek while still retaining his speaker gigs. Sure, it’s C-Grade Murray, and I definitely don’t want oversell this modest flick, but as long as you’re able to withstand straight-faced delivery of lines like “You know, they say an elephant never forgets. But what they don’t tell you is that you never forget an elephant,” then for you there may be a few meager treasures to be plundered therin. Read more »
THE HURT LOCKER (2008/DVD) Let me start by saying that I don’t like war movies. World wars, Civil wars, Vietnam, no thank you. I see enough of that on the news. What drew me to The Hurt Locker was its director. Much has been made about this tough movie being directed by a woman, and it is notable that there isn’t a single second of this movie that could be described as feminine. I already assumed that Kathryn Bigelow must be pretty damn ballsy (and possibly have some judgement issues?) because she was married for a time to Oscar competition and noted flaming A-hole James Cameron. (She also directed guiltiest of guilty pleasures, Point Break, which forever secures her a slot on my All Awesome team.) And in a year where I keep hearing about how Nancy Meyers makes “movies for women” it is extremely satisfying to watch Bigelow do basically the exact opposite. Read more »
Are you on team Edward or team Jacob? This has been the most frequently asked question by teenage girls worldwide since Stephany Meyer’s New Moon was translated onto the big screen. It seems that most Honduran girls are voting for Jacob. While New Moon is worth seeing (for women at least), it is more for the male eye-candy and not for the character development.
If you’re on the Edward team, you will be sorely disappointed by this chapter of the Twilight saga. The movie has almost no Edward screen time. At the beginning of the movie, he decides to be the better vampire and leave his love, Bella Swan, in order to keep her safe. He does not truly appear until the end of the movie for some overtop, Italian scenes, which are incredibly entertaining and worth the wait. Even in Italy, we do not get a feel for the real Edward beneath the pale, cold skin, but enjoy looking at him none-the-less.
New Moon has little to do with Edward and less to do with the development of Bella Swan, or lack there of. It seems to focus on Jacob’s coming of age story. Not only does he come into himself as he realizes he is not just a rebellious 16 year-old boy, but a werewolf; he also comes into his physical appearance: from his dorky, not-so-flattering long hair, to stripping his shirt off to save Bella and revealing the best scenery in Forks, to graduating to a hip style and ditching the shirt completely for the entire remainder of the movie. While the depth of his character is never revealed, Jacob-lovers are in for a fun treat with the amount of half-nude screen time.
While Jacob grows on the audience as the movie continues, Bella’s character leaves much to be desired. Any feminist over the age of 18 should be enraged by the helpless teenager who’s obsessed with going “over the hill” (I can imagine that dating vampires would give one a complex). What seemed like hours of close-up shots of Kristen Stewart feeling depressed in her bedroom would bore even the biggest Bella fanatic.
In fact, the whole movie leaves something to be desired, if you were looking for meaningful dialogue and character development. That said, if you’re looking for the same addictive reaction Buffy gave us in the late 90′s, I could not recommend New Moon more.
AVATAR (2009/IN THEATERS)
From: Rebecca Lenzini
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:17 AM
To: McClelland, Brian
Saw Avatar last night and my friend and I enjoyed it for sure, but on the way home, we decided the movie and especially the plot was like a mash-up on steroids! Our suggestions: FernGully meets Jurassic Park meets The Matrix meets Dances with Wolves meets Return of the Jedi (ewok/stormtrooper battle scene) meets Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers meets Terminator meets Predator meets Alien meets Pocohontas.
Here in Denver on a Wednesday night, the IMAX show was sold out and the 3D show was packed. Fabulous box office…people applauded at the end…
From: McClelland, Brian
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 10:54 AM
To: Rebecca Lenzini
I can’t believe that Avatar is still packing ‘em like that! Wow. I really liked it, and I’m thinking I might check it out again while it’s still playing, but it surprises me how many people are calling this their fave movie ever and seeing it a dozen times, like with Titanic. I understood people feeling a deeper connection with Titanic, cuz as hokey and hammy as that film was (and BOY, was it), Cameron masterfully packed so many different scenes with so heavy an emotional wallop—the one that always gets me is the mom in steerage putting her babies to bed as the ship sinks—viewers were left wrecked and feeling they had gone through this traumatic experience with the rest of the ship’s survivors. Avatar, on the other hand—despite an emotionally effective performance from Zoe Saldana—strives for deepness only to find itself securely wearing water wings in the shallow end.
I have noticed that the people that have told me they didn’t like Avatar all had one factor in common—they didn’t see it in 3D. My reaction to that is, what’s the point? This film’s leap forward in movie technology, like with Jurassic Park & Star Wars & Terminator 2 & Titanic, is a big part of what makes the film exceptional. If you’re not choosing to see it in 3D you might as well watch it on VHS on a black & white TV. And it’s TOTALLY weird to me that this film—which is SUCH a lightweight sci-fi flick, no deeper (or better, really) than the Star Trek reboot—is the big oscar contender for best pic this year! I understand that The Hollywood likes to reward for such big box office, but still.
I am a high school English teacher in Honduras, Central America. In my eleventh and twelfth-grade classes, we’ve begun a section on how to write “Persuasive Evaluations” of film. The last assigment was to write a movie review about BBC’s Planet Earth. The reviews came out marvelously. Here are a couple excerpts on the chapters entitled “Caves” and “Ocean Deep”:
“The content of the movie “Caves” is really good because we can learn a lot just by watching the movie. What makes this movie a good movie is that there is no exaggeration in this movie, not like in the case of the movie “2012″ where they overexaggerate about every single detail of that movie. If you are planning to go and see “2012″ you better go and watch the BBC’s “Planet Earth: Caves”.
-Julio Sarmiento, 12th
“Eventhough “Caves” is not a movie and it is a documental, it can be compared to a horror movie because it attracts the audience’s attention, and eventhough you can consider it gross when the cucarache [cockroaches] eat the bats, it is scary to see how animals eat each other. This scene can be compared for example in horror movies when the monster eat the humans.”
-Ramon Montes, 12th
“I don’t believe filming underwater is easy. Getting some of the shots they got for “Deep Ocean” was pretty nice. They got some cool close-up shots of a white-tip shark. Good job for that, my respects.
But I was a little dissapointed of the filming they did on the blue whales. To be honest, I’ve seen closer underwater filming of blue whales that this one.
Besides that, the documentary is well done. Cool information, cool shots, cool animals, cool documentary.”
-Leo Andino, 11th
Here’s a suspenseful clip: Planet Earth: Caves: Borneo and Bat Droppings
USED CARS (1980/DVD) Robert Zemeckis’ follow-up to his nostalgic Beatlemaniacal directorial debut,1978’s I Want To Hold Your Hand, was a reactionary experiment—after the squeaky clean former failed to win big box office, the latter was meant to be 180 degrees in the opposite direction, resulting somewhat successfully in the director’s only R-rated film, a crude, lewd, and (just a little) dark-tinged 13-year-old-boy-friendly romp. Too bad the box office still stunk—partly the result of a nearly nonexistent ad campaign and a premature limited screens release launched a week after the opening of one of the biggest and most repeat-viewed comedies of the ‘80s, Airplane!—because Used Cars is a fun, scrappy, and fairly dirty ride through the sleazy American west of the late 1970s. (Don’t feel too bad for Zemeckis, though—he eventually made a few bucks on a little trilogy of squeaky clean films starring a time-traveling Michael J. Fox, not to mention Romancing the Stone, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away, before turning to surprisingly dark and occasionally awesome computer animated family films in the ‘00s with The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol.)
It isn’t hard to understand why 8-year-old Me loved this film so much when MY MOM took us kids to see its initial release. (Other inappropriate films of that era for which I loved MY MOM for taking me to: Brian DePalma’s Dressed To Kill and Blow Out!) For starters, it prominently featured my favorite thing ever at the time, besides Star Wars: Boobs. Add in funny bit parts for “Lenny” AND “Squiggy” from TV’s hit Laverne & Shirley, and the charming swagger of relative newcomer Kurt Russell (then known only for innocuous teen Disney films and his critically praised lead in John Carpenter’s hit ’79 TV miniseries, Elvis), who would soon win a permanent place in my weird lil’ heart for his leads in some of my fave ‘80s movies, all helmed by John Carpenter, duh: Escape From New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China, and you’ve officially scored a horny adolescent boy hat trick. Read more »
A SINGLE MAN (2009/IN THEATERS) Colin Firth won the Acting Award at the Venice Film Festival in September for his portrayal of the “single man” of the title—George, a 60s gay college professor who has lost his partner of 16 years– in this stunning first feature directed by Tom Ford, famous fashion designer known for his classic and clean lines. Not a film for everyone, A Single Man is Ford’s first film and focuses on one particular day in George’s life. According to numerous reports, Ford put his own money up and wrote the screenplay (with David Scearce) from the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. The film is sleek and beautiful—visually stunning—not unlike a gorgeous fashion ad that has come to life. The cinematography makes use of color to black and white as well as slow motion/ almost still frames giving the film a first person point of view—allowing us to see this day and related incidents through George’s eyes. Jullianne Moore is perfect as George’s boozy buddy. The sets are perfect as well with fabulous attention to detail; no surprise, the same team who create Mad Men’s sets are credited here. In fact, it’s Jon Hamm’s voice on the phone at the opening of the film—delivering some very bad news. This is the kind of film that was definitely buried, no matter its nominations, at yesterday’s Golden Globe celebration of big box office winners. No matter. It’s up for 3 Independent Spirit Awards: Best Male Lead, Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. Let’s hope something comes its way.
From: Brian McClelland
To: Kimberly Faulhaber
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2009
Subject: Transsiberian, or Never Ever Ever Go To Russia
Well, I finally saw Transsiberian, and you know what? It’s pretty scary. And by that I mean Russia!* For starters, their manky trains appear to pre-date The Great War, which is just unsafe, and are chock full of shady weirdos like the hot drug smuggler/rapist Spanish dude and his runaway American teenager girlfriend who share the sleeping cabin with our sorta happily married do-gooder American heroes played by Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer with creepy and altogether unfavorable results, like having gross sex right in front of you and then stashing their drugs in your bags and then trying the raping on you. Total dicks! Read more »
NINE (2009/IN THEATERS) The ads read “If you loved Chicago, you’ll love Nine.” But this is clearly not true, since audiences are staying away in droves and critics have largely panned Rob Marshall’s latest effort to bring Broadway to the screen in a highly cinematic fashion. My musical loving friend Be (SML contributor and editor) and I enjoyed the movie. We enjoyed the costumes and the dance sequences (by and large). We liked the B&W cuts to Fellini-esque scenes reminiscent of his “8½” which inspired the original Broadway show. But we found the music to be just plain no good. Leaving the theater, we couldn’t remember a single song, much less sing one of them. And it is true that Daniel Day Lewis, while delivering a wonderful job as an actor, lacks the “sizzle” that, say, Richard Gere brought to his role in Chicago. Perhaps DDL is just not sexy enough. Another friend called him “skinny and greasy.” Yikes. I have read that Javier Bardem was originally sought for the role of Guido. Sexier than DDL? Probably. The original Broadway production in the 80s starred Raul Julia as Guido and of course, Antonio Banderas was wildly popular (and nominated for a Tony) in the part during Nine’s return to Broadway in 2003. Does Banderas sizzle? Yes. Ebert called the casting of DDL “odd” and noted in his review that DDL is NOT “romantic, musical, a comic, or Italian in any way.” A bit harsh, I think. He provided a wonderful interpretation of Marcello Mastroianni and his Italian accent was pretty darned good. But he certainly can’t sing. Poor DDL and poorer Weinsteins, who had hoped for another Chicago. Nice try. But no cigar.