Archive for January, 2009

Movie review: Gran Torino

Posted by seoulfully on January 26th, 2009

Let’s start with the growl. Only because he’s older is it even, however slightly, passable. As opposed to, say, Christian Bale’s Batman voice.

Is it bad that I’m saddest for the dog?

This movie is terrible. The only slightly okay performance is the guy who plays the young priest.

It was a fairly obvious ending, but I loved the angry/disappointed look on the family’s faces when the kid got the car.

I REALLY need more Clint Eastwood singing. Umm, yeah, I’m very much kidding.

The dialog was bad, the acting was bad. I don’t understand what’s good about this movie. I can make arguments to forgive a lot of things (like why does the gang want the cousin to join the gang so badly or why the neighborhood will testify against the gang when the priest said they didn’t talk), but why bother? Only worth excusing good movies. And this was not it. I really feel like I wasted time watching this.

I don’t even know where to go with this movie. I mean it’s really bad. So bad that my normally unorganized thoughts/review is even more so this time around.

Musical Picture

Posted by seoulfully on January 26th, 2009

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Musical Picture 1, originally uploaded by seoulfully.

Just an idea (likely not very original) for a photo series. Music and pictures. No slideshow, no Ken Burns. Just a pic and a song. Perhaps some day I’ll do 2-3 pics, but I guess I’ll just see if it ever happens.

Movie review: Revolutionary Road

Posted by seoulfully on January 18th, 2009

Wow. I think tour de force performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

I think anyone in a long-term relationship could relate to some of this movie. And anyone who feels trapped in the life he or she leads, in any way, could relate to this movie. There wasn’t a lot of character development in this movie, but the characters were very deep. And this movie was about the cracks that begin to show after a period of time.

So the characters didn’t change much from the actual start of the movie until the end, but the journey they took from the beginning to the end was fairly authentic. Even the snippets of the past were effective. Usually I think more is necessary. You can’t just show me time A and expect me to take it that it’s come to time B. It’s the problem The Break-Up [DVD] faced, though I didn’t think it did that bad a job trying. It just didn’t give me enough of the good stuff to care that the characters broke up. Perhaps because the characters in Revolutionary Road were so deep that I just bought into it more. Or perhaps because you saw the relationship breaking apart, but you also so a few nice times, you saw how it could break apart underneath the veneer of normalcy and perfection.

I’m just glad for a change there wasn’t some sort of crazy turn in the third act. Unlike so many movies I’ve seen lately, the third act wasn’t a betrayal of the first two acts. You’ll likely read a lot about how this might not be a great movie, but the performances are excellent. Or perhaps that there’s no reason to revisit this movie, but I’m not sure about either. I really enjoyed this movie and I think with repeat viewings I’d appreciate more the performances and the story.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed this movie much more than Slumdog Millionaire or The Wrestler. I’m not saying this movie wasn’t without its fair share of cliche, but the cliches really took me out of the movie in Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, but not so much in Revolutionary Road. A few things came close, but not too bad, except maybe the very last scene of the movie.

A lot of people don’t enjoy the crazy son’s character. The guys at Slashfilmcast didn’t particularly like the character. Why have a character spell out for the audience what’s on the screen, they asked. I’m not sure. I think it was a matter of a person not in this world being able to see through the facade. The son hadn’t bought into the world like the other characters had. He didn’t have any worth wrapped up in that life. So he could see the smoke and mirrors the others so willingly ignored. The part about him being crazy to allow him to disregard social rules was one of those aforementioned cliches that almost pulled me out of the movie.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

Movie review: Burn After Reading

Posted by seoulfully on January 18th, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD]

Okay, I’ll start by saying I’m not supremely familiar with the Coen brothers work. I’ve seen my fair share of their movies, but I couldn’t give you the full rundown of each and what the plots were without consulting IMDB. But my initial impression is just “So the Coen brothers made their Oceans movie.” I admit it’s not a perfect analog as the Coens tend to use their cast of characters and this is not everyone in a single plot but kind of tangential connections of fate. That being said it really seemed like Burn After Reading was a move made by the cast and Coens just to have some fun and hang out.

My second point, the totally false marketing campaign. The trailers really made it out to be some sort of hijinks filled comedy. But it really wasn’t. There were a few funny moments to be sure, but nothing you didn’t see in the trailers for the most part.

It’s not really worth going into the plot, suffice to say people are greedy, people want things, people betray other people, shit happens. I thought all the characters were pretty much caricatures rather than real characters with any kind of depth. I didn’t think the actors played anything other than the most obvious bits of some of their previous works.

All in all a fairly boring film.

Movie review: Sunshine

Posted by seoulfully on January 17th, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD]

I feel like I should call it “Danny Boyle’s Sunshine” as I keep hearing reading. I don’t know what it is, but a ton of movies for me lately fall apart in the third act. This movie was no different. I really could’ve done without the monster guy. I think the movie would’ve been more interesting as a character study of a team dedicated to a mission coming to grips with their pending, certain mortality. Hell they could’ve even made one of the guys really go crazy and have the mentality of the monster guy.

The movie looks amazing. Danny Boyle’s moviemaking is certainly slick. The audio of this movie is excellent as well. Great use of score versus silence.

I was really surprised by the performances in this movie. I really enjoyed Chris Evans work in London [DVD | Video on Demand], but let’s be honest, he’s the guy from Fantastic Four [Blu-ray | DVD]. But I thought he was really effective in this role. Cillian Murphy was okay. Rose Byrne was basically wasted. Michelle Yeoh had a nice moment. The white guy from Barbershop [DVD], Troy Garity, was surprisingly good and his moment turning from someone dedicated to the mission to someone facing his own mortality was very effective. My favorite performance was Hiroyuki Sanada as Kaneda. I’d have to say most people probably know him from The Last Samurai [Blu-ray | DVD]. He definitely presented kind of the calming authoritative captain of the Icarus II, the spaceship.

So the first two-thirds of the movie was very good, but the final act battling the monster was just crap. It totally went from a character study to a basic thriller/slasher movie. And for what? For nothing! It was just crap at the end. Honestly, at the risk of sounding like I’m ripping off the Slashfilmcast guys, Solaris [DVD] did a much better job of this kind of movie. I find Solaris is kind of an old school sci-fi movie that deals with characters using space as a backdrop. But most current sci-fi movies, Sunshine included, are basically monster movies and only tangentially use the vastness of space or other themes that sci-fi was made for. Sunshine was on track to really be that kind of movie, but then just derailed into monster territory. Still a very good movie.

Movie review: Eagle Eye

Posted by seoulfully on January 16th, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD | DVD (2 disc SE)]

Good lord what a stupid movie. This movie is just ridiculous. Off a semi-competent concept, it’s just idiotic. Why is the computer so stylized? This movie was better when the computer was the NSA and Shia LaBeouf was Will Smith and this movie was called Enemy of the State [Blu-ray | DVD | DVD (SE)].

Let me first note, the sound design on this blu-ray is crazy. I mean I suppose it’s good for cinematic viewing or something. But parts are WAY too loud. And you turn it down and other parts are too quiet. This movie is like an ad for that old smart volume feature on TVs.

A movie hasn’t relied on so many PERFECT circumstances since The Game. This movie was also better when Shia was Will Smith in I, Robot [Blu-ray | DVD | DVD (2 disc CE)]. So HAL from 2001 [Blu-ray | DVD], the robot from War Games [DVD | Video on Demand], and the Axiom computer from Wall-E [Blu-ray (3 disc) | Blu-ray (2 disc) | DVD (3 disc) | DVD] all got together to kill the President and needed not one but TWO Shia’s to get that shit done. Yeah. Okay. And simple brute force to derail this computer that can get to and control anything networked.

A slick looking movie, but so incredibly stupid. PQ was also mixed. I’m sad I lost time watching this movie.

Oh, Shia was alright, Michelle Monaghan was pretty nothing, Rosario’s good looking and about nothing else, Chiklis is meh, Embry looks thick, Billy Bob is more ridiculous than he was in Armageddon [DVD].

I’m sad I lost two hours or whatever on this movie.

Movie review: The Wrestler

Posted by seoulfully on January 15th, 2009

[No links because it’s not out yet.]

Everyone loves this movie. I think the critical praise of The Wrestler is rivaled only by the love for Slumdog Millionaire. And in a lot of ways these two movies are very much the same for me.

The Wrestler tells the tale of Robin “Randy the Ram” Robinson. He’s a former superstar wrestler that’s now on the outs and on his last legs. He goes through life wrestling on the most minor of circuits, trying to make ends meet. He has trials and tribulations of all kinds.

I thought Mickey Rourke is excellent in this movie. It really is the perfect comeback vehicle for him. He is so true in this role. It really his story just placed in the context of professional wrestling. Marisa Tomei is also excellent in this movie. She’s so hot too. But that’s neither here nor there.

My problems with this movie, and with Slumdog Millionaire, is that it’s not very original. There are so many cliche things: scenes, dialogue, etc. Do the performances earn the emotions so blatantly being courted in these cliches? Yes, but that doesn’t mean the cliches didn’t take me out of the movie a little. If this wasn’t an indie movie by Darren Aronofsky, I don’t think it’d get as much praise. It’s the same as Slumdog Millionaire, if that wasn’t a FOREIGN indie flick, I doubt people would love it as much. I know there are many cliches that appear in movies, all movies, and that’s that, but they really took me out of the movie. I don’t want to list all the cliches out because that’s just too much work.

I still think people should watch this movie. There really is a lot of good. And I liked it a lot. Just I think people are glossing over some of the problems with movie in the midst of the lovefest.

[I know these reviews are terrible. I want to do a little bit long form essay, but if I did that per movie, I’d never publish anything.]

Getting ready for the big game

Posted by seoulfully on January 13th, 2009

This is EXTREMELY premature. And I’m completely jinxing it. But I’m hedging my bets in other ways. If things pan out, I’ll do some other designs, colors, and whatnot.

But be prepared for the all PA Superbowl, with your very own SuPAbowl (or Su-PA-bowl) shirt!

Available at seoulfully’s get it now shop.

Movie review: Mongol

Posted by seoulfully on January 12th, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD | Video on Demand]

[Short review of this, might do more detailed one later.]

Mongol tells the tale of the rise of Genghis Khan. I thought this movie was excellent and made me want to watch the following installments (Mongol is the first of a planned trilogy chronicling the life of Genghis Khan).

The performances were all excellent. I thought a lot was portrayed with very little dialogue. The cinematography was gorgeous, even if the picture quality was mixed throughout. I had some problems with some of the time jumps. The movie did a decent job of establishing how the future Genghis got followers on a basic level, but jumps from him having 2-3 followers to a few years/months later having a whole army. I think no matter how fair a leader is, it takes a bit more to convince that many to follow him. I just wish it had shown more of that process.

Additionally, this movie, while telling the tale of Genghis’s childhood and rise to adulthood and khan, it definitely felt like the first part of a series. I think the movie stands on its own as a movie, but given the time cuts mentioned above, it just felt like it was lacking something. Knowing it’s part of a series explains that. I definitely want to see the next two movies.

Review: reviews

Posted by seoulfully on January 11th, 2009

I think my reviews aren’t so good so far. I’m really just typing out thoughts without any kind of structure. I don’t necessarily have a review format, but I’m not sure I want a format (e.g. review plot, characters, acting, etc. in order) versus something a little more free flowing. I’m still just back into this, so I’m playing it by ear and I’m hopeful that something will materialize at some point.