A Cinematic Fade Out

April 11, 2011

I’m Truman trying to break out of Seahaven, long trapped and devoid of effort but renewed with a sign of what could be. I’m Jerry Maguire looking to be complete.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the film

March 28, 2011

When I watch a film now, it doesn’t wash over me like it used to — I am constantly engaged in the tricks, the structure and the details within. While that helps me in my classwork (not to mention film journalism), it also takes away from the very reason I study film in the first place.

Few objections to THE LINCOLN LAWYER

March 20, 2011

The exploration is an uncommon one and it’s fascinating to see Hollywood allow such a concept receive the reality and seriousness it deserves. The cast takes it just as seriously, as Marisa Tomei is characteristically delightful as Haller’s prosecutor ex-wife, and supporting characters played by William H. Macy and Laurence Mason are amiable additions who allow Haller to generate the sympathetic world he needs to convince us of his own validity.

Hollywood’s franchise frenzy

March 14, 2011

Film franchises now aren’t necessarily like franchises of decades past. Before, sequels were universally inferior to their originals, lost in trying to recreate an existing story but characterized by consistent failure. In a risk-averse, recession-minded film industry, sequels like “The Dark Knight,” “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Toy Story 3”are the goal. These films not only increase the size of their original films, but creatively pursue entirely different courses in plot and thematic focus. While sequels may still tend to disappoint, there is more hope for these films than Hollywood has ever seen.

Missing the mystery in THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

March 2, 2011

Without mystery, much of the premise seems almost silly, with men in hats walking robotically on rooftops and Matt Damon running around New York City and passing through doors. No matter how cool the theoretical story is, it isn’t translated well to the screen. In all of this is the film’s redeeming quality — the chemistry between David and Elise, the product of focused performances by Damon and Blunt.

Grace and Martin talk ’80s, growing up and TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT

February 27, 2011

Capturing the culture of the 1980s was integral to the production, from the music to the costume design, but aside from the simple elements, Grace also wanted to go beyond what previous retrospective films have done. “We really wanted to make it more the conventions of ’80s films, you know, like stealing a car, chasing a girl,” he said. “But then we wanted to subvert those conventions halfway through the film … we wanted it to be really of the ’80s, but then be its own creature too.”

How to handle the critics

February 11, 2011

The function of critics in our viewing choices isn’t unexpected or surprising. Hollywood is a machine, and much like movie marketing, critics direct viewers. To push against that is, to some extent, to lose touch with society’s view of the medium.

Feeling ambivalent about studio digital distribution

February 7, 2011

It’s likely that you have, in some form, experienced early — albeit already wide-scale — forays into digital distribution. It’s inevitable that these will become, probably very soon, more than a service for the tech-savvy, and expand to become main distributors of high-quality home video.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK and the social network

January 24, 2011

Saverin grabs Zuckerberg’s computer and smashes it to the floor, breaking through the digital wall Zuckerberg has set up for himself. No matter how Zuckerberg tries to talk his way out of this one, the unexpected look of pain as he loses his only friend is remarkably telling, a poignant lesson on the worst effects of seeing friendship as nothing but a digital connection.

Vaughn and James face a dull DILEMMA

January 17, 2011

All puns aside (Howard faces quite the “dilemma” with his latest project!), Howard faces quite the dilemma with his latest project. How do you create serious, interesting characters and place them in situations where comedy ensues? The chosen answer seems to be to cast tentpole comedic actors like Vince Vaughn (“Couples Retreat”) and Kevin James (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”) and let them create comedy through their onscreen personas. That actually somewhat works, but when it comes to comedy, somewhat working isn’t good enough and doesn’t make for a memorable film.

And the Oscars go to…

January 10, 2011

In many ways, the Academy Awards became like an election, wherein voters didn’t choose the the best film. Instead, the one that fit with the Academy’s image of the award was crowned the winner. Among true film fans, the Academy Awards, and specifically its Best Picture crown, is among the most flawed awards in the book — likely amplified by ceremony’s prominence in the industry as a potential red-herring sign of quality. That said, the Academy, like the community of filmgoers as a whole, is evolving.

Best films of 2010, INCEPTION & THE FIGHTER (#3,#8)

January 5, 2011

INCEPTION: The logistics of “Inception”‘s dream-stealer plot still elude, but figuring it out is half the experience. THE FIGHTER: Wahlberg’s endearing performance is among his best, but it’s the ensemble that steals the show.

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