Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boom! Goes...Everything

Let me say this from the start: you don't go see Transformers because you want to discuss the long sweeping shots, the intricate character performances, and the moving score. You go because it's summer and you want to see things get blown up. I am a self proclaimed film snob, but at the same time I don't always want to have to think when I see a film (see my thoughts on Pirates 4). Sometimes, you just want to have a fun movie experience. And that is exactly what Transformers: Dark of the Moon was-pure, robot fun.
The thing that makes it so much fun is the action.  I think the best word to use here would be "unrelenting" because once the robots start fighting, they do not stop. Did I think the last scene ran a bit too long? Maybe. But as my dad said, "guys can never get enough of robots beating each other up." Did I enjoy it though? You bet! What really added to the fight scenes was director Michael Bay's use of 3D technology. Many times during the previous two Transformer films I had trouble telling the good and bad robots apart, especially during the fight scenes and especially during the last scene of the second film. In this film, I felt that it was much easier to tell the robots apart while they twisted and spun through the air and buildings and city streets. (Speaking of cities, it was refreshing to see a city besides New York get destroyed for once). The 3D element added another dimension. It made for a cool visual experience, although I feel like comparing it to Avatar is a bit much. 
The story was not bad either. I am a sucker for historical tie-ins and I liked the use of old footage and sound clips combined with new ones. I found it interesting, though how believable it is I'll leave up to you. Although, the premise of the film in general is about giant robots transforming into cars and speaking to humans so plausibility kind of has to be left at the theater door... I for one can believe that the government would hide something of this proportion from us for so long and the fact that we are not the only ones out there. But that's just me.
 The acting performances are nothing to write home about. Shia LaBeouf screams too much and I felt was more unlikable than in the previous two films. The new girl, who's name I can't even be bothered to remember was unmemorable except for her freakishly large lips and remarkable ability to run from a robot invasion in five inch heels. I did appreciate all the digs they made at Megan Fox though. I also liked Leonard Nimroy as Sentinel Prime and all the Star Trek homages they threw in.
Overall, this film was perfect for the summer. Will it win any Oscars? No, probably not, unless it is for tech stuff, but not every film can. Then there would be no point in having an awards ceremony for the best films.
Rating: Needs Milk

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Think You Should Know Thursday

Since today is one of the first Thursdays in a long time that I remembered to do this, today is a double post day. Today's song I think you should know is "Soul Man" by French artist Ben L'Oncle Soul. My friend recommended this song to me (and translated it) and I love it. So groovy. Yes it is in another language. Become cultured and deal.
 If you don't want to listen to a song in another language, listen to his equally good cover of The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army"

This is the End, Beautiful Friend
I just watched the last new Harry Potter trailer I will ever see. Already as I type this my hands are shaking and the last remaining tears are streaming down my cheeks. This is it. The end. They have made an amazing final teaser to what is sure to be an outstanding finale to one of the best loved film franchises of all time. And as I sat there (during my second viewing) I thought to myself, "will I ever love a movie as much as I love this one?" Sure there have been many great films in my life. Films that have changed it, films that have made me watch them again and again. But nothing comes even remotely close to the way I feel about Harry Potter. I am crying at a trailer. I have an entire bulletin board in my room dedicated to reviews and articles from every single major New York paper since the second film. This movie and book series has been my entire childhood life. Now I am 20 and the last movie is coming out in less than a month. It feels like my birthday all those months ago meant nothing; July 15th is the real day my childhood comes to an end.
But enough nostalgia and thoughts on growing up. The trailer itself is magnificent. It has everything a trailer should, thrills and action and enough teasers to keep you wanting more. The part where I really lost it is the same scene that gets me in the book every time- Harry walking into the forest surrounded by his parents, Sirius, and Lupin. (I don't do spoiler alert warnings, if you haven't finished the book yet you deserve things to be spoiled for you!) The trailer opens in a way that gives you chills and never lets go. I love the incorporation of clips from the old movies and the words that sets the tone. The score is equal parts eerie and ethereal, it makes a great companion to the images. I also love the depiction of the old locations of the films and the cuts to them being destroyed. Warner Brothers really knows what they are doing. And having seen it four times it a row, it just keeps getting better.
28 days seems like a long time to wait, but at the same time I need it. I will savor these last days of my childhood in order to fully prepare myself for one of the biggest events of my (movie watching) lifetime.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gives a Whole New Meaning to "Good Cop, Bad Cop"

"No one gives it to you, you have to take it."-Frank Costello
"Holy fucking shit!" was my reaction to the end of The Departed (2006). Not the most eloquent statement I must admit, but now I understand why people have been telling me to see this film for years. I honestly did not expect to like the film as much as I did. Which is strange seeing as I loved The Town (2010) and the parts of The Godfather (1972) I have seen (I know, I know, I can't really be a film snob if I haven't seen the whole Godfather...). I generally have no problem with gritty, bloody, violent films. The war film genre is one of my favorites. But I honestly wasn't sure what to expect with this film. I knew a lot of my guy friends liked it, and that it took place in Boston and it was about the mob and the police, but that was about it.
I think the thing I liked so much about the film was how performance driven it was. The Town was great (I know I keep using it as a comparison, but it's the best I've got in terms of Boston mob films), but the cast could not measure up to the splendor that was The Departed. Each performance was better than the next. I kept trying to decide who I liked better, Leo or Matt Damon and it kept changing based on the scene. For awhile I was majorly impressed with Damon's acting, his composure and the way he seemed to be in complete control of his character and many elements of the plot. Then there was Leo, the complete other side of the coin; in no way composed, deteriorating in front of my very eyes, so vulnerable and yet so strong, impressing the hell out of me like he always does. I loved Marky-Mark too; I think he might have been better here than he was in The Fighter. I think he really held his own among the cast unlike the other film in which he was overshadowed by Christian Bale. James Badge Dale I recognized instantly from The Pacific and I was very excited to see him in another completely different role. But it was Jack Nicholson who obviously stole the show. I think I will forever have the image of him with his mouth full of blood, teeth bright red, smiling wide in my head. I don't even remember what scene that image was from, but he continues to create some of the most memorable characters of all time. He was just on another level in this film. Completely crazy? Yes. It worked though. All the acting worked and most importantly, they worked well together; they all fed so well off each other. And while I would have loved to see Leo finally win an award, I completely respect his decision to stand by his fellow cast members. He couldn't have done it without them.
I was also a really big fan of the score. I thought it added a great dimension to the film, especially the Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" (which I'm listening to as I type this). It was a really good mix of songs and I liked the old school feel they provided. It put the film back a bit, not so much in the past, but a time not our own (like the opening says).
Lastly, I really liked the way the narrative was structured, the way it skipped back and forth and yet was easy to follow. Scorsese did an amazing job using the camera work to aid in the ease of viewing and the flow of the story. He also made great use of cuts to add just the right amount of suspense.
Overall, I'm glad that I finally watched The Departed and mad at myself for taking so long!
Rating: No milk needed!