Monday, December 31, 2007
End of the Year Movie Marathon
The Golden Compass--Movie's demon is overworked accountant.
Juno--Knocked Up with mature wit.
The Savages--Indie comedy pretends it's realistic.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead--Most singularly depressing movie, ever.
I Am Legend--Will Smith can't shoot shit.
Let's start with the good one, Juno, which is about a girl in trouble, as they used to say in the 50s, who does the right thing and gives up her illegitimate baby for adoption. Not the most daring of plot lines (although there are several movies where an inconvenient pregnancy is terminated--Play It as It Lays, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The End of the Road, Love with the Proper Stranger (almost terminated); and Vera Drake and The Cider House Rules featured abortionists). It is classified as a pro-life movie, but I doubt the writer (Diablo Cody (really)) or the director, Jason Reitman (Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman's son), who also did Thank You for Smoking, would be happy with that label.
What makes this movie is the possibly extraordinarily talented Ellen Page, who was so good in Hard Candy, as the title character here. (I say 'possibly', because so far all I've seen her be is the same character, a precocious, wise cracking misfit who can flat out get things done; but I'm hoping for more in the future as she really plays that character extremely well). Jason Bateman, from TV's Arrested Development and older Valerie, Silver Spoons and Little House on the Prarie, comes across as well as he did in Dodgeball (but saner), and was the glue that held the adoption sub-plot together. Everyone else was good on a less intense level. Well paced, believable, interesting--I can't imagine how this movie could have been better.
From the sublime...
There are so many plot holes in I Am Legend (which really is a pretty good, short book by Richard Matheson, although it can't be well filmed apparently despite at least three tries) that its film stock must look like lace. Starting next year, 90% of the World's population has died from a mutating enhanced anti-cancer virus created by Emma Thompson, 1% of humanity had natural immunity but they have all been killed by the 9% whom the virus turned into rabid vampires. Virologist Will Smith is the only non vampire survivor on Manhattan. He locks up at night and then goes to the video store, looting, or hunting in the daytime. He may be the worst hunter since hunting was invented. For one, he uses too small a round (5.64 mm NATO); he has a dog, but he doesn't really use it except to chase the deer ahead of him (I'm not kidding), and when he is mere feet from the deer, he fails to take the shot, again and again and again. He doesn't do much better with the vampires. OK, I can believe the lions escaped, somehow, from the Central Park Zoo, but where has this immense herd of deer come from? (Oh, and note to film makers, computer generated images are not sufficiently good yet and do not look good as surrogate human faces or animal skins--in fact, none of the CGI looked any good in this film).
Smith is still working on a cure and when a compound works on rabid vampire rats, he has to catch a human vampire and test it on it. He sets a snare, powered by a vehicle falling from a height. He then tells us that the vampires have lost all semblance of humanity. So who sets the snare for him?
The Air Force blew up all the bridges around Manhattan in a vain attempt to stop the virus, and the tunnels are realistically full of water, so how actually does Sonia Braga's niece get her girlie SUV, decked out with anti-vampire UV spot lights, onto the island to save Smith's ass?
Grenades have a relatively small explosion and under very few circumstances create a fireball. They almost never create a huge fireball.
When Smith goes into the dark to get his bitch back, that is a very suspenseful scene and it is artfully done with exquisite timing and subtlety. That's about it, though. Director Francis Lawrence, who only really did Constantine and music videos before this, may not be the new Stanley Kubrick.
OK, moving on. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in both Savages and Devil Knows and he looks exactly the same but he is believably not the same guy--not even close. He is rapidly replacing Paul Giametti as my favorite ugly actor. Laura Linney (the new indie 'it' girl ,replacing Parker Posey as a required fixture in each non-Hollywood film made in America) is almost as good, but usually plays a slightly different version of herself. Writer/Director Tamara Jenkins, who also did The Slums of Beverly Hills almost a decade ago, was fortunate to get these two for her movie as they play flawed brother and sister flawlessly, and with such ease.
The only good thing about Devil Knows is the gratuitous sex scenes with Marisa Tomei, who looks absolutely fantastic. Her tits aren't perfect but they are nice if somewhat oddly shaped. I have no complaints about the rest of her. The movie has plot holes too. Why doesn't the mother lock the door behind her? Why doesn't Ethan Hawke (looking bad and playing a very weak person convincingly) recognize his mom or dad or at least his dad's car?
The part time robber uses a .38 revolver of unknown make. Mom has a Beretta 92F; Dad a Smith & Wesson probably in .357 (which he never uses) and Hoffman picks up a Walther PPK in .380 with which he does his mayhem. It's not just kinda depressing, it's really, really depressing, losing your religion, no faith in your fellow man left sort of depressing, and I think The Grey Zone is uplifting. Just the sort of holiday cheer we all look forward to.
I've run out of steam. Sorry. Compass looked good (CGI is good for buildings and some animals after all, I guess) but it wasn't very good despite a valiant effort by a newcomer young girl named Dakota. I doubt it will make enough money above its budget to justify a sequel (even though there are two more books in this purposefully anti-Narnia trilogy). Just as well.
Labels: Movie reviews
How did the SUV get to the island?
I suspect she took the Staten Island Ferry.
Happy New Year.
Unless there are ny predators besides the lions that escaped from the Bronx Zoo, which would of course limit them to the Bronx whereas I am pretty sure deer can and do swim, I am pretty sure lions limit there exposure to water to drinking it, the deer population would explode.
If you check out the northeastern states--rural and suburban areas--the deer population is out of control b/c deer have no natural predators except automobiles. In post virus Manhattan, there wouldn't even be automobiles.
I am pretty sure that bucks have harems, so it would only take a few years.
I have no doubt that the Will Smith version is even less believable, but the original story wasn't as good as I had remembered, either.
in the film and rabid vampires. At most deer have two fawns a year so the three year old herd would have had to have started at about 40 or so. I don't believe 40 would swim over in a herd. I'm not sure any would swim over.
David, call me at work (303) 830-2522. I want to get a killer trivia team together.