Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Movie and Television Reviews for May
Looks like I didn’t watch much at all but I’m immersed in watching more television series than anything else. For better or worse, instead of spending a couple of hours watching a movie, I watch a couple of episodes of some canceled program.
The Far Pavilions
I read this novel during one of my trips and I didn’t find it very memorable. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t think it was a brilliant novel. The movie manages to take a lackluster novel and makes it as seemingly endless and dull as the book itself was. It didn’t help that Ben Cross and Amy Irving, actors for whom I typically have respect, both seemed to just observer their way through their scenes and whatever passion was supposed to between the two never translated to the screen. The novel at least made it seem like there was some reason that these two would risk everything for one another but to allow the characters to be as fully realized as the almost were on the page, the movie would have had to be even longer and more dull than it already was. Pretty costumes were not enough to save this one. And I am not sure why disk one ended where it did when the movie, itself, is divided into three parts. Either put parts one and two on one disk or two and three on one disk but don’t cut part two in half. That’s just weird.
Astonishing X-Men: Gifted
I was not aware of these “animated” comics until I came across this. Okay. You really have to be a hard core comic book geek to consider this anything special. And I’m old-school, preferring the aesthetic of paper to screen for the most part. The effects created with computer graphics and all is creative enough and the story was, unsurprisingly, interesting. Or it was to me anyway. I wouldn’t spend money on this or any other pseudo-animated comics that might be available. But I enjoyed it for what it was, a mindless escape. Yes, surprisingly enough I occasionally escape into mindless fluff.
My Kid Could Paint That
This is a provocative documentary. You get a real sense that the film crew, including the director, approached the subject with an open mind and happened to be at the right place at the right time. Did Marla Olmstead paint these canvases that ultimately sold for thousands of dollars? To be honest, I really would rather not discuss this documentary at all. If she did paint them then she is a remarkably gifted child whose ability to trust her choices is probably going to be shattered over time by the accusations that she didn’t. If she did not, she has already been exploited enough by the art gallery dealer and her father. And thanks to the internet, it isn’t like she can ever escape this scandal. Years from now when her name is googled, or whatever is the preferred search engine of the time, her name and her story will come up. Some vicious peers in her school will throw it in her face or some well-meaning but honestly cruel person will pop the dvd into the nearest player and say “Did you know about this?” From where I’m sitting, she’s gone through enough already and the only good thing about this dvd is that it doesn’t try to give a definite answer.
I don’t know why it is but I forget how much I love Susan Sarandon. Perhaps it’s because my first few exposures to her were not so stellar. And she is the one thing about this movie I like. Now when I ask myself, “Why does Rob always say I watch depressing movies?” I really only have myself to blame. The premise is simple: a couple coping with the murder of their daughter take in her fiancé. But the fiancé has some secrets of his own and the family gradually begins healing. Dustin Hoffman plays the usual mensch and Jake Gyllenhaal moves through his role observing with is big doe-like eyes. In my mind, it’s really Sarandon’s character that is the most interesting. Perhaps because I recognize qualities in myself in how she copes. But I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t say more. I liked this movie. I suppose it’s meant to be one of those dramas that turn into a feel-good movie. I felt good enough afterwards that I liked it.
Sid and Nancy
Yeah. So about Rob accusing me of always picking dark movies . . . Here we go again. I mean, seriously. A movie about Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, how they met, became drug addicts, and eventually die. How’s that for an upbeat, feel good movie choice? What? You don’t think I made a good choice? I am inclined to agree with you. This is an ugly story. Case closed. It is well filmed and even has some peculiarly pretty moments. I mean, if you can consider a strung out man and woman kissing in an alley next to a garbage dumpster as more garbage descends upon and around them from above pretty . . . then it does have some pretty moments. There is the necessary ambiguity surrounding Spungen’s death is retained because this was never fully solved in the court system. Vicious’ own death is merely an after note to the film. I suppose that makes sense. The movie is called Sid & Nancy after all and once she’s gone from the story, the titular story is over.
The Killing Fields
Are you seeing any pattern here at all? I avoided watching this movie for a long time because there are certain times in our nation’s history with which I struggle and I know that my anger will be stirred up. I figured this movie would poke the bear the way such films as The Deerhunter (still one of my favorites) and Casualties of War (emotionally scarring) did. And a long list of other Vietnam/Cambodia based films. It didn’t make me angry as much as it made me sad. It is a powerful story of survival but the emphasis is overly Western and could have been told with more force if done so through the eyes of Dith Pran. Yes, some of the story is told with a focus on his experience but it felt (dare I say?) colonized.
Yay! Animated movie. Made for adults. Oops. Not a cute little fluffy animal story. Not by a long shot. A bleak tale about a man who lives an atypical yet typical life. I mean, shit happens. A lot of it to him. But he survives and his life isn’t completely horrible. Geoffrey Rush narrates the story and I just love his voice. I also am falling in love with Adam Elliot because his Max and Mary is a similarly bittersweet story about quirky people who experience some less than lovely things in their lives and yet . . . well, they muddle through the way we all do. Sometimes laughing, often sighing, and occasionally crying. It’s life. A very short film, I really liked it. I’d have to say that it was the thing I enjoyed watching most of all the things I watched.