Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Hunger Games - Even after all the hype and the mostly positive reviews, I just couldn't get excited about this film.  I pictured it to be Twilight-esque and I hate all things Twilight.  I was wrong.  It's good.  Really good.  I thought the whole film was just a bunch of kids running around the woods hunting each other, which is what the last hour was, but the first hour leading up to the big "game" was really engaging and tense.  The last hour, the "game", suffered a bit from convenient storytelling (Katniss and Peeta's survival was based mostly out of convenient timing), which was frustrating.  The ending felt a bit rushed, but overall I was completely entertained and captivated. Having never read the books, I am clueless as to how the story continues but the movie left off at a pretty interesting moment in time.  I am intrigued by the relationship between Katniss and Peeta.  Surely, they will have a life-lasting bond after suffering such trauma, but is that enough to sustain a relationship?  I am now a fan of Jennifer Lawrence; she did an outstanding job.  It is a shame, though, that as much as I enjoyed the film, I still have no interest in reading the books. 

2. John Carter - I actually had a somewhat positive attitude towards this film, before watching it.  I knew that it was a box office disaster and that it had generally bad reviews, but it also had some surprisingly positive ones as well.  It also sat at the top of my Netflix queue with a "very long wait" message for over 2 months, so there is obviously interest in it.  After about 20 minutes in, I realized that it is, in fact, a terrible movie.  There were some decent scenes and the general story is interesting.  I think it just got lost in its own epic-ness that the narrative became confusing (at least it wasn't boring, though).  I thought, at the very least, that the effects would be really cool, but that was probably what I hated most about the film; everything looked extremely fake.  The acting wasn't horrible, but I can't look at Taylor Kitsch and not think of Tim Riggins.  I really like Lynn Collins, ever since I saw her in Uncertainty.  She is stunning (although I could do without the fake tan).  I don't think either of them can be blamed for the failure of this film.  I would blame everyone else. 

3. Margaret - I watched the 2 1/2 hour studio version, not the 3 hour director's cut.  It was still way too fucking long, but with such a powerful character study, I hardly noticed.  I didn't really know what the film was about, so I was a little taken back by the tragedy that sets the story in motion.  It's a wonderfully complicated story about the choices one makes in life and how those choices effect other people.  The film revolves around Margaret, played by Anna Paquin, but has a shitload of supporting characters that fill the screen at different points in the plot. At one point in the film, someone says to Margaret "we're not the supporting characters in your fascinating life", which is ironic, because that is exactly what they are. Some were really strong and necessary characters but some could have been cut out completely without notice (like Matthew Broderick's character).  I really, really, really don't like Anna Paquin as an actress - she seems like she struggles to get the words to leave her mouth and she has these weird facial twitches that drive me insane.  If she wasn't a successful child actress, I can't see her getting a job in the present day.  However, I will hesitantly admit that her annoying traits worked for this film.  Personally, I think the film would have had more impact with a stronger actress, but that's just me being overly critical. 

4. Being Flynn - This film was incredibly depressing to watch but I can't say that it had any resonating impact.  It deals with several heavy issues like depression, abandonment, homelessness, addiction etc., but never really digs in enough to become unsettling.  The acting is solid, with Paul Dano holding his own against Robert De Niro.  It's almost impossible to make me feel sympathy for someone who abandoned their child (even more so if that person is also racist, homophobic, narcissistic and arrogant), but De Niro almost did it. I can't help but think that many of the scenes with Lili Taylor were cut out of the film because she seemed like a glorified extra (I'm too lazy to look into it).  Overall, I think the film is worth watching, if only to gain insight into the fragile mind of a writer. 

5. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - The first one was fun, but terribly unmemorable.  This one is less fun and even less memorable.  As in the first one, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law seem to be have more fun making the film than the audience has watching it.  Their chemistry and banter is the only thing that keeps the film afloat.  I like Guy Ritchie (for the most part), but he seems to be stuck on a repetitive loop.  I'm all for a director sticking to a signature style, but they need to mix it up a bit to keep it interesting.  There was one cool scene - the forest scene, but it was still typical Richie style (slow-motion bullet's abound).  Noomi Rapace was a miscast - I don't buy her as a damsel in distress for one second. 

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