Saturday, December 29, 2007

Legend Has It

Today we went for a visit to my parents home in Flamborough, with the ulterior motive of dropping off our daughter so we could go see a movie. There isn't too much out that I'm dying to see right now, and we settled on I Am Legend mainly because it was playing at the right time.
I had heard mixed reviews, but the lowered expectations paid off and I found it quite a passable time waster. The best parts of the film involve roving around the deserted remains of New York City as Smith hunts deer and dodges lions. The film was shot by Andrew Lesnie, who did Lord of the Rings, and it looks amazing. Just following Will Smith and his dog through an empty world is quite exhilarating, especially a few rows back from a giant screen. Eventually the plot kicks in, with raging zombies and a few requisite explosions, and the film becomes somewhat less interesting.
Will Smith does a great job carrying the movie almost singlehandedly on his meticulously sculpted shoulders. Watching an actor talk to himself for most of a movie is a dicey proposition, and Smith comes off much better than, say, Tom Hanks in Cast Away. (Mind you, I guess a dog is a better foil than a volleyball.)
I Am Legend ends with a vaguely pro-faith message that I could have done without, but overall it was a satisfying afternoon at the movies, if not much more.

A side note. There were about 100 people in the theatre and I swear each of them, with the exception of Irena and me, got up to visit the bathroom at least once. This was a 90 minute film. Sheesh!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dust Busted

Last night we watched Stardust. I quite liked the book by Neil Gaiman, so I had been looking forward to this one. It was passable entertainment, but a lacklustre musical score and a very out of place Robert DeNiro weigh the picture down. It has a lot of whimsical little touches, like a prince that literally bleeds blue, but it's quite a predictable ride. The best thing about the movie is Michelle Pfieffer as the bad witch. She digs into her role with relish, not to mention mustard and ketchup. Unfortunately, nobody else can keep up, and Claire Danes, DeNiro and whatever that kid's name who played Tristran all seem to sleepwalk through their respective roles by comparison.
The effects are passable, but nothing extraordinary. It's amazing how quickly we become blase to effects. 10 years ago this film would have looked amazing, now it's rather mere.
Unfortunately, there's only enough dust here to make about 2 and a half stars.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Once Upon a Rental

We rented the movie Once the other night and really enjoyed it. Irena suggested we should review it and start a new movie review blog, so here we go! For me, the main reason to do this is not so much for the sake of the readers. There are plenty of half baked opinions out there and adding ours is probably nothing more than an exercise in cosmic futility. Even so, I think getting in the habit of reviewing the movies we see will have value for ourselves, to help us focus our thoughts and to potentially inform our process as we take baby steps towards creating our next film.

In that vein, Once is a movie that really inspires me. It is very simple, shot on cheap digital equipment without movie stars or elaborate locations. It follows a guy in Dublin who meets a young woman while busking on the street. He befriends her and together they make a recording which becomes a catalyst for both of them finding the will to move forward with their lives. There is no sex, no violence and barely even a plot, just genuine characters and great music. It kind of reminds me of another film called Old Joy, which is another small character piece with a very sparse narrative. I liked Old Joy, but Once has much more to offer than that film. The way the lead character (who is never given a name) is powerfully inspired musically and yet mired in the mundane aspects of living one day at a time is a struggle I think most can relate to. We all want to make our mark, whether it is in music, film or urban planning, but "real life" so often takes up all of our time and energy. I found some inspiration in the journey of "the guy" in Once, and I plan to make some changes in 2008 and get out of various ruts. For that, I sincerely thank everyone who made this film and recommend it highly.