Friday, June 18, 2010

Always show up early enough to see the trailers.



It's a "she's out of my league", will they or won't they "do it" romcom but for the kiddies?  Hungry Like the Wolf is icing on the cake of oddness....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lost and disillusioned? No worries, a wide eyed, sincere member of the Fanning family will lead the way



First trailer, I believe, for Sofia Coppola's "Somewere" releasing in December. This actually looks very promising with the same vibe that made "Lost in Translation" so charming.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

At least I got to see trailers for Tron and The Last Airbender...

First off, thanks to Staceybon from Twitter for helping me come up with a one word description for "Prince of Persia". You see, I thought I would be clever and asked for suggestions about what to call a movie where you ultimately enjoy the trailers more than the movie. She cut right to the chase with a concise and easy to remember answer - "crap!" Does "Prince of Persia" deserve to be called crap? I think to do so will at least nod toward the fact that some of these big blockbuster type movies are trending toward being unforgettable and unsatisfying. Don't worry "Iron Man II" I'm not talking about you but yes "Clash of the Titans" I am talking about you.  I guess now I need to justify such a lukewarm response to Prince of Persia...

I was never any good at video games although I did have a good run at Frogger one time. My characters are klutzes who bump into things and die in embarrassing and shameful ways. Based on all of the jumping, leaping and wall climbing involved in "Prince of Persia", I am sure I would have sucked at the video game the movie is based on.  This story is set in the sprawling empire of Persia and is about Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) who was adopted by the King and rescued from the life of a street urchin. This happens because like most movie orphans Dastan practically glows with spunk and virtue that the King may see missing in his own over privileged family. The downside of this situation is that eventually somebody is going to try to discredit and/or kill you. When the King is killed, Dastan is framed and finds himself on the run with the most beautiful princess in all of Persia (Gemma Arterton as Tamina). She is no ordinary bare belly Persian princess though because she is the sacred protector of a dagger that contains the "sands of time" which can turn back time. While on the run we get all of the expected video game like action, effects like Dastan using the dagger and snarky flirting between Dastan and Tamina. It's the type of flirting that really begs "get a room" or in this case a tent but never rises to the level of passion implied later in the movie.

The plot really fails when there is exposition about what to do with the dagger. There is a source for the sand but putting the dagger there will lead to very, very bad things, It can be returned to the stone from which it was made or ( and this is where I checked out) there is a secret fortress where it can always be kept safe. Ok, why not keep it at the fortress to begin with? Also we only see one other person besides Dastan use the dagger and why not? Couldn't said brave princess use the dagger's power to keep it from being capture to begin with? Oh well, we end up with a huge finale full of sand, fire and death that leads to......wait for it.... a big fat reset  button that renders all we have seen moot.

Good points? The scenes of vast deserts and Persian palaces are done well. Alfred Molina and Ben Kingsley can go to the head of the class because they play their one note characters well. Molina is used for quite a few laughs and Kingsley arches his eyebrows in just the right deceptively evil way throughout the movie. I've read that Jake Gyllenhaal's nicely buffed up body might be a reason to pay up and see this movie. I prefer leaner Brokeback Jake but when you can find pictures like the one above on the Internet for free, I don't think the abs factor even makes this movie worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One safe bet and one risky movie..



I've written a review of Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland" before but watched it again on DVD this past weekend.  No startling revelations to add as it was a safe bet already knowing it to be an enjoyable movie. Burton has taken the loose knit original stories and given us a more complete narrative with touches of female empowerment and Narnia like fantasy. Visually, the movie is stunning and as my friend Ben described it, "a bowl of Skittles for the eyes".  The set up is that Alice like so many female characters of her time and place finds herself in quite a dilemma. She has a mind of her own, is misunderstood and in constant danger of being married off to the worst match possible. After a tumble down the rabbit hole, Alice manages to get her "muchness" back and in a quick wrap up ending she handles her problems as easy as 1.2,3....  She even finds a career strangely enough as probably England's first young, blond, perky Imperialist (off to economically dominate China).

The second movie of the weekend was one that I had never heard of, and I made one of those quick decisions in order to exit the video store as quickly as possible. "Amreeka" is a first time directorial debut by Cherien Dabis and stars a mostly unfamiliar cast ( for me at least). It does star Hiam Abbass who has been showing up in some of my favorite indie movies lately - 2007's "The Visitor which I highly recommend and 2008's "Lemon Tree". The story here is very straight forward, understated and sweet. A mother and her teenage son immigrate to the United States from Palestine in the turbulent days following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Along with all of the problems of starting a new life, there is the added omni-present reaction of normal Americans to anyone of Arab descent following 9/11.  The worst behavior is experienced by the teenage Fandi who has to navigate the social nightmare of American high school with students who don't hold back muttering "terrorist" in his presence. I like movies that are small and don't overreach in making a point. "Amreeka" does this well. There is no inspirational speeches or worse yet a "shocking" act of violence that puts everything into perspective. The movie ends in a real world way with the main characters happy and hopeful even though no major problems have bee solved.

Friday, June 4, 2010

IFC Showing "out" movies during June - This is one of my favorites...

Watching this last night, I could not help but think about how Hugo Weaving's career has exploded since 1994. His IMDB list includes movies that are now ingrained in pop culture  - The Matrix movies, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, V for Vendetta and coming up (someday, hopefully) The Hobbit movies.
 
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