Wednesday, February 6, 2013

MOVIE REVIEWS #55: "TED", "THE DEEP BLUE SEA", "THE TURIN HORSE", "JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI", "THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN", "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE--GHOST PROTOCOL", "OCTOBER BABY" and MORE!


I apologize for being a little light on my reviews this week, at least in terms of quantity, if not quality. I haven't gotten to as many films as I had hoped to but another reason for this is  because I've chosen to not review one of the movies I saw. That movie is "The Assault", or "L'Assaut", the French title, which is a retelling of that Christmas day hijacking of a flight intended to go from Algiers to Paris. The reason I'm not gonna review it, is because of the version I watched, which was on Netflix Watch Instantly (And yes, there's some Netflix complaining tonight), and for some reason, they only showed, the English-dubbed version, of this French language film, and it was poorly dubbed at that, btw. I don't think I would've recommended it had I seen it in French, and normally, while I try to watch films in their natural speaking most of the time, I don't have a big problem with dubbing, and in some cases when it's done well, and usually by the same actors in the movie, take the English-dubbed version of "Life is Beautiful" for instance, or when it doesn't really make a difference like with Animation, where the film has to be dubbed in, to begin with, so redubbing isn't an issue, but when it's dubbed badly, like in this case, or the way a lot of Hong Kong martial arts movie are traditionally badly dubbed, which has been nicknamed, the chop suey-dubbing, not only does it take you out of the movie, but- the reason I prefer to hear a film in it's original spoken language, is to get the original emotion of the actor. So, since I can't be sure of the emotions of the performances, I can't honestly write a complete review of that movie this week, so I'm one film shorter than I planned on. I also had other problems with Netflix this week. One disc came to me broken, and another French film, I was trying to watch on Netflix, was in French, but it had no subtitles, strangely enough, so I've had some weird issues this week, so I apologize for that.

Also, for all those pro wrestling and/or MMA fans out there, I wanted to say a few nice words about "Wrestling Roundtable", which is an internet show, website, radio show, etc., it's a whole major undertaking in of itself, but basically it's an intelligent roundtable discussion mostly pro wrestling and MMA,  created by people who are fans and/or people who work in the business. You can find most of their shows, on youtube, which is where I watch them primarily, or their website, and blogtalkradio, gofightlive.com as well, few other places probably. I wanted to give them a recommendation here, 'cause not only is it a good show for even, the casual fans of pro wrestling like me, 'cause they were very nice to me. Here's the link to their latest broadcast below, which is on Ring of Honor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCNR_V56LFs

Near the beginning of this clip, they talk about having gotten requests to do this show, on ROH wrestling (They discuss different topics on every show), and one of those very recent requests, was from me. I'm just now getting into ROH through, Sinclair Broadcasting, which own ROH the company and owns a couple local independent TV stations, and it's the first time I've seen this particular company, and wanted to know a little more about ROH, so I posted on "Wrestling Roundtable"'s facebook page, recommending that they'd do a show on ROH, for people like me, and sure enough, they did the show. It wasn't just me that requested it, but they didn't have to; they had other plans for the show, and the host Eric Santamaria, responded to my post informing me about their next show and all, so they went, way beyond the call of action, so I'm giving them a nice plug here. So, even if you're not a pro wrestling fan, they talk a lot about MMA as well, and they bring up, older wrestling a lot too, so you don't even have to be a current fan to watch and enjoy it. They're knowledgeable and thoughtful on the topic, they're not just a bunch of fans, with a camera. They're very professional, and I thought I'd say a few nice things about them, so if you're interested in that at all, they're worth checking, I follow them on youtube all the time, couldn't recommend them more highly.

That's all the news for now here. Now, onto this week's RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS!

TED (2012) Director: Seth MacFarlane

4 1/2 STARS





Well,I certainly didn't need to see "Ted " to be convince of Seth MacFarlane's comedic genius. That had long been establish, by "Family Guy", and his other shows. Now comes his first feature film. Ted (MacFarlane) is a teddy bear, who magically came to life, after John (Mark Wahlberg) as a kid, wished that he'd come to life and be his best friend. The bear, became a brief celebrity for awhile, even showing up on Johnny Carson (I bet Carson never thought he'd have an afterlife cameo in a film like this). Since then, he's become a smart-alec pothead, who spends his days, smoking his bong and watching old TV reruns of old iconic shows of his youth like "Flash Gordon", and drinking and partying with hookers and drugs at night. John hasn't managed much in his life, and basically spends most of his time, getting high with Ted, while blowing off his job as a rental car clerk. He has however, managed to hold onto a wonderful, and unusually understanding girlfriend for four years in Lori (Mila Kunis), and John loves her, but knows that, as an adult, he spends way too much time with Ted, his lifelong thunder buddy. Yes, they're still both afraid of loud thunder, and can only be comfortable around each other, when they're together and sing the Thunder Buddy Song. The humor in "Ted," is raunchy, crude, and tasteless; it touches on subjects as wide-ranging as celebrity, drug use, prostitution, sex, unnecessary nudity involving Garfield, a teddy bear that grinds on a supermarket checkout counter, actual sex involving teddy bears, some of which that include popular singers, and drunk hookers defecating. That's what great about the film, but let's talk about a criticism I have, 'cause I'm actually quite close to ranking this as one of the years best films, but there was a subplot, that I'm still trying to wrap around, that I don't really think was needed. Most of the movie, involves John, trying to live his own life, away from Ted, and protecting Lori from her sexually-obsessed boss, Rex (Joel McHale, playing that character in a very interesting way, that I haven't seen played, exactly that way) and helping Ted, as he moves up the ranks at his new job at a local supermarket. There's a character, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi) who offers to buy Ted for his weirdo son Robert (Aedin Mincks), which of course, is outrageous and John won't do. Now, this subplot eventually leads to, the climax of the movie, when, (Sigh), I don't know if I'm giving anything away here, but they want Ted, they're determine to get him, and this leads to a chase scene, at a famous Boston landmark at the end, and a very emotional and cathartic climax. I have a couple issues, is that, this subplot, was so out-of-place and cruel, and since the rest of the movie, is so beyond funny, that it plays like, such a strong 180 from the rest of the movie, that it takes you out of it, really. Maybe if it was done better, I wouldn't have had, such an issue with it, but I don't think it was needed; I'm fairly certain that there was enough conflicting elements in the movie, that we didn't need to bring in these creepy characters, to get us, to the point that we needed to in the movie. It reminded of the cocaine subplot in "Three Men and a Baby", which also feels wrong in that movie, and leads to that climax in the parking garage at the end, or whatever it was, but that felt wrong in that movie, and I think it feels wrong, and unnecessary in "Ted". I'm focusing in on it, but I am being hypercritical, so don't misunderstand, this is still as good as a comedy, as I've seen all year. It's funny as hell, and Seth MacFarlane, is possibly the Mel Brooks of this generation and I really do like this film. MacFarlane, became the 2nd Oscar host in the last three years btw, to get an Oscar nomination, at the Award show he's hosting, for writing the lyrics to the song "Everybody Needs a Best Friend", deservingly so, I must add, and I really liked, how he used that song. It wasn't a one-offer like the end credits song or something; it's heard right from the beginning of the movie, and it keeps coming up, in refrains throughout the film, and it sets a wonderful tone for the film, along with the great voiceover narration by Patrick Stewart, of all people, and that's unbelievably funny. Really thoroughly enjoyed "Ted". I know I'm picky about the subplot, but when everything else in the movie, was just, so good, it's a little noticeable, when something is just, not as good, and that's a little disappointing, but it's still one of the most fun things I've watched all year, by a mile.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA (2012) Director: Terrence Davies

4 STARS

Rachel Weisz's name occasionally came up during some of the pre-Oscar Awards shows, as a possible Best Actress nominee, for her work, in the little seen,"The Deep Blue Sea". It's not an unworthy choice either, but it's definitely a film for a particular taste. Based on a play by Terrence Rattigan, he setting, is "About 1950" London, which is still hungover from the War, and is still in the midst of rebuilding after the firebombing. It takes place in one day, which begins with Hester Collyer (Weisz) having a failed suicide attempt. She wrote a letter to her lover, Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), but after she woke up, she hides it from him, and the suicide attempt itself. In flashback, we see how she got together with Freddie, falling in love with him, after being married to a judge, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) who, was unable to satisfy her. He becomes aware of the suicide attempt, and despite her leaving, about a year ago, he doesn't seem bitter, or anything. He's calm, caring, understanding even. Freddie, an air force pilot, had become a drunk after their, get-together (Can't quite legally call it a marriage, but it is), and many of the scenes take place in and around a tavern, where there's a lot of drinking, and a lot of singing, of, well, what are now, old standards of the day. "The Deep Blue Sea" is as much about the feel and mood of London, at this time, then it is about the plotpoint. Costumes, the fog, the city, still partially decrepit, and still partially rebuilt. Reminders of the war are everywhere, something that a former RAF pilot like Freddie, that makes him seem more useless. It's the first film I've watched by writer/director Terence Davies, and actually, he's also a prominent actor as well, this is definitely, an actors piece. Lots of very powerful scenes, in rooms, with little more than conversation, and interaction with the other actors. I particularly was fond of Weisz and Hiddleston's scene, where he finds the suicide note, and how that comes about. Weisz is really strong here, and she's in every scene, so she's got a lot to do. Even thought she's good in the period pieces though, I liked a film she was in called "Agora", last year, There's something about her, where I've noticed that I tend to prefer her, to be in modern-setting films, especially comedies, for some reason. Maybe, I've still caught up by my first impressions of her, in films like "About a Boy", and especially "The Shape of Things". Still, there's more-than-enough, but "The Deep Blue Sea," is a bit trying, you better be in the right mood, but it is a mood piece, and it does place you there. I can feel the fog, of the movie, even as I think about it still.

THE TURIN HORSE (2012) Director: Bela Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky

3 1/2 STARS

"The Turin Horse", is the latest film by the famed Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr, and was Hungary's submission for the Foreign Language Oscar last year. It's only the second film of Tarr's that I've seen, and most of her films, are only beginning to reach America in the last few years to begin with, but once you've seen one, you'll instantly know her work. The previous film of hers I saw, was the surrealist "Werckmeister Harmonies", which is famous for only having thirty total shots that are cut to in the movie. (To give you a comparison, there's a cut every 2.3 seconds in "Armageddon", so there's more cuts in two minutes of that film, then there was in "Werckmeister Harmonies") There's a lot of the same staples in this film, which resembles some of Robert Bresson's work, especially "Au Hasard Balthazar". It's in black-and-white, involves, mostly long takes and very little dialogue, and focuses on the life of an animal, and the effects of that horse on the family. It begins with a tale, of Friedrich Nietzsche, yes the philosopher, who apparently, late in life, while in Turin, Italy, saw an old man whipping a horse, and he pulled the horse to the ground from the neck, in an attempt to protect the horse from the farmer. This was right before he was diagnosed with a severe mental illness that left him bed-ridden and speechless the last ten years of his life. Anyway, this movie, is about the horse. Well, actually, the horse's family, which consists of the farmer, Ohlsdorfer (Janos Derzsi), who relies on the dying horse to go to town everyday, to take horse-drawn carting jobs, and his daughter (Erika Bok), who quietly and tenderly watches over the father. Cooking him food, and watching over the horse when she can. The movie takes place over several days, since the Nietzsche incident, which is never seen or mentioned. The man tries to get the horse out on the road, but the horse is unusually reluctant. He isn't a mean farmer, who whips his horse, with the intent of animal cruelty, he just needs the horse to do a job, so that the family can survive. If anything, treating the horse badly could be the worst possible thing for the farmer, as much as the horse. When the horse, refuses to go on one critical trip, it begins an awareness, that the horse's life is coming to an end, and that the family's going to struggle to survive as well. You have to be in the right move for Bela Tarr's films, and I don't know if I was entirely as I watched "The Turin Horse". It's a good movie, definitely, and has some amazing striking imagery, but it does drag.  With "Werckmeister..." for instance, there was always knew that, something new was going to happen, but with "The Turin Horse", seems to be a very stationary film. Without the Nietzche influence, this story could hypothetically be about any family that survives on a horse, and then has to come to grips with it's upcoming end of life. I'm still recommending it, but with reservations. I have to see more of Bela Tarr, to really give a qualified opinion, but this was has some amazing shots, and I wonder if anything more than skin-deep. More of a technical achievement than an emotional one.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2012) Director: David Gelb

2 STARS

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is a transcendental little documentary of Jiro Ono, who's is worldwide, regarded as the greatest Sushi chef alive. His tiny little restaurant, Sukiyashi Jiro, which looks likes half of a drug store diner, and is on the first floor of an office building, is the only sushi-only place with 3 Michelin Star rankings, the highest rankings Michelin gives, as has for years. Jiro is 85-years old, still prepares sushi, right in front of the customers, and serves as they order. We meet him, and all of the chefs who prepare the fish. There's a lot hard work preparing sushi. I never think much about it, but it's sometimes harder to prepare food that you don't cook, in many ways. His son, Yoshikazu is the sous chef, and he and a couple other family members are following in his legendary father's footsteps. He's so good in fact, that the last time Michelin renewed their 3 Star rating, he was the one preparing the sushi. There's a beauty in the way Jiro works with the product. A care and poetry with the delicate way he prepares his food, that quite delectable. I'm not what you call the biggest sushi fan, but when it's made correctly there's it can be great. I don't know if that's an entire movie though. Watching some superslow-motion preparation of sushi, before it gets eaten, followed by numerous amounts of praise for Jiro and his family, is interesting, for maybe a half-hour short, I don't think it's an entire film. Frankly, I was getting hungry, but I was also getting bored from "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". If I'm in Tokyo, with an unlimited amount of yen, then, I definitely make a visit to the fame restaurant, but I don't think it's really necessary to see the whole movie about it.

THE GIANT MECHANICAL MAN (2012) Director: Lee Kirk

3 1/2 STARS

There's little thematically unique about "The Giant Mechanical Man". It's an indy love story, about two lost souls, who eventually find each other. It does just happen to be a decent one. In New York, Tim is a performance artist, who performs everyday on the street as a mechanical man. He dresses up in a robot-looking outfit, silver makeup and stilts, and only performs when people place money in the bag. Nobody gets the commentary he's making on society, but when he's on TV on a Man on the Street segment of the news, the reporter recommends break dancing to him. Janice works at a temp agency, although she's not good at it. She's always running late, and even gets complaints when the job is simply, standing by and watching a door to a room that no one goes into. She's eventually fired and moves in reluctantly with her younger sister Jill (Malin Akerman) and her husband Brian (Rich Sommer). Tim has a girlfriend in the beginning, Pauline (Lucy Punch), but that's over soon, (and probably didn't need to be written to begin with) and they meet. First they meet on the street with Tim in costume. Then, they run into each other, when they both begin working at a local zoo. Janice doesn't recognize Tim as the Mechanical Man at first, and they start bonding at work. Meanwhile, Janice is constantly pressured by her family, especially her sister to do a lot of things, but most especially lately to start dating this loudmouth motivational speaker and self-help writer, Doug (Topher Grace). This relationship idea is doomed, from the beginning but Jill is too persistant, and Janice and Doug go on a couple dates. It's around this time that Tim and Janice, start dating themselves, a fact which her family, doesn't even believe since they never see him around. An important monologue comes when Janice reveals that she's the older and adopted sister, and Jill came later, and even as a kid, always got talked down to by her. I would've liked a more elequent way of explaining that, but it's an interesting clue into their relationship. Jenna Fischer is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. I thought she gave one of the most underrated performances last year in "A Little Help", and work in "Walk Hard..." and on "The Office", I'm starting to realize just how impressive her range really is. Her casting is as crutial to the film as Messina's as the Mechanical Man is, and actually it makes the film better, giving us more depth and believability to a character, that's a little thinly-written. "The Giant Mechanical Man", is your typical small quirky little Indy. It's not much more than that, but for being that, I liked it.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE--GHOST PROTOCOL (2011) Director: Brad Bird

4 STARS

(Note: All celebrity-voiced appearances in this movie review are imaginary.)

ME
Welcome to another edition, of "Fantasy Filmmaker", and once again we're doing the "Mission: Impossible" scenario. We've done it, first with Brian De Palma, and then John Woo, did it the last time, of course, with J.J. Abrams, now we have the fourth filmmaker, brave enough to take on this little challenge, the great animation filmmaker, until now, unless he's set on really being different from our other three-

BRAD
(Laughing) An animated "Mission: Impossible" might be interesting.

ME
Might be easier in some ways too, 2-time Oscar winner, the director of "The Incredibles", "Ratatouille", "The Iron Giant", many other incredible works on his filmography, sitting next to me, Mr. Brad Bird, it's good to have you here.

BRAD
Great to be here, this is gonna be fun.

ME
Thank you for coming. I once met your friend Mark Andrews when he came to speak at my film school, right after "Ratatouille" had come out.

BRAD
Ah, that's interesting.

ME
Yeah, it kinda is. Fun guy, and he's currently an Oscar-nominee for directing "Brave", good guy over at Pixar, and he speaks very highly of you.

BRAD
Good to know.

ME
I can see you've got your notes, and outlines it looks like, a few storyboards as well even, so before we begin, I'm gonna refresh the audience's memory of just how this works. This is "Fantasy Filmmaking", it's a little bit like fantasy booking in pro wrestling, or fan fiction, that made in-eh, some of the popular sci-fi and fantasy franchises. So, we're gonna to give you, Brad Bird, a filmmaking, scenario, in this case, a very popular one, a film version of "Mission: Impossible", and you're going to tell us, just how you would direct your version of this film adaptation. I'm gonna go over the guidelines we've set. We can't really set a budget, but especially since this would be the fourth film in the series now, presume you have, enough studio confidence to get, pretty much whatever you need budget-wise. You can shoot the film the way you want, and pick the story, cast the actors, choose the style and tone and how you're gonna shoot the movie, and you basically have free reign to do, whatever you want, but it's still has to be "Mission: Impossible". Doesn't have to be completely accurate to the TV show, it can follow the films that have already happened or not. Completely free reign,  to interpret "Mission: Impossible" however you want, but it still must clearly, still be "Mission: Impossible" in some aspects. There's no real limit, however, you must have Tom Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, as your star. That's non-negotiable.

BRAD
I think I can accept that can.

ME
Glad you can. So are you a fan of the old TV show, or the movies?

BRAD
I'm a fan of all of it. The TV show, the movies, even the second one, which you didn't like so much.

ME
That's true, I didn't like "...2" at all.

BRAD
I understand, but we may take some elements from it.

ME
Good elements I hope.

BRAD
Yes, the good elements. (Chuckle) So, here's what I would do. It's been a few years since the last one, which I do agree with you, was the best one up until now, because it really got down to the action/dramatic aspects of "Mission: Impossible", that really weren't there in the first couple. Good tension-building, really good character development, good spy work, good spy vs. spy, good fights scenes, good action, all that stuff. So, if that was "Casino Royale", the new one, not the old one, it "M:I-3" was "Casino..." tone-wise, I'm gonna go back and make my version, like "Goldfinger".

ME
(Laugh) Really, "Goldfinger"?

BRAD
Yeah, everything, basically went right, until it went wrong, on that last "Mission: Impossible", and this one, it's gonna be a little more loose and funny, and gonna be more things going wrong, like the smallest technical glitches. For instance, it's good to have the masks, I enjoyed that, but what if, we see the mask machine, try to make the masks that they need, and it doesn't work. Just a bunch of these ridiculous absurd glitches, in the  middle of these, high-pressure situations, so nothing going right, as they're trying to solve the case. Try to keep a suspect alive, accidentally kill him, those kind of twists I like.

ME
Sounds a little like how "The Rockford Files", debunking private eye cliches.

BRAD
Well, this happened in the original show all the time. Somebody would climb up an empty elevator shaft, and then the drop the thing, and have to go back down, and hope the elevator, doesn't squash you, it happened all the time on the show.

ME
That's true actually. So you're closer to the original TV show.

BRAD
Yes, and I'm even gonna start with Russia, in fact. Really go old school spy, cold war, bad guys trying to blow nuclear bombs, all that, old-time spy story stuff, and the first thing the IMF team, has to do, is break out Ethan Hunt, from a Russian prison. That'll be the opening sequence, and that's when we'll learn that, Hunt's been there for years, since his wife, vanished.

ME
His wife's gone, from the last one?

BRAD
Gone in this one, 'cause that was all covered in the last film, there isn't much to add to that, unless she's out of the picture, but because Hunt's been away, in this prison, for years, nobody's sure what exactly happened between them, and he's keeping it quiet. And BTW, this IMF team, this is not, his normal team.

ME
Not his normal team?

BRAD
Yeah, like I said, nothing is ideal, or going right for Ethan. Instead of the Ving Rhames professionals that we're used to seeing, he's gonna get people, he's not familiar with, and not as trained or experienced. This team, well he was in the third one, but we're gonna promote Simon Pegg's character. Unlikeliest of unlikeliest, he has passed the field exams, and is now a field agent, and somebody else, who he wouldn't normally work with Ethan, some young woman who he really doesn't know that well. I don't have an actress named yet, but some hot, up-and-coming good actress, for this part, who has kick-ass attitude in general (Paula Patton), so well find someone like that, he's uncomfortable with the team he's got, he's in a weird place in general, and now, he's fresh out of Russian jail, get the message with the next mission, and he has to break in and rob the Kremlin!

ME
The Kremlin! You're really are going old-school with this.

BRAD
Yes I am, but we're gonna throw in some new school as well.

ME
You got like a good foreign-accented villain or two to go after as well.

BRAD
Actually, yes! Were gonna get, Michael Nyqvist as the bad guy.

ME
Oh! From the-eh, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", the Swedish one.

BRAD
Yeah, him.

ME
Oh, that is a good choice, I like him.

BRAD
Thank you. So yes, he's the bad guy, and like everything else, things don't go exactly as planned at the Kremlin, in fact the Kremlin, is gonna blow up.

ME
That sounds like it wouldn't be planned.

BRAD
No, not planned at all. The other guy, beat them to the Kremlin, got the, MaGuffin, whatever that is, and then blew it up, and now, IMF, is blamed, and this is gonna be key, 'cause, it's not like IMF ever really officially existed, but now, it really doesn't exist, at all. The whole thing is shut down, and now, they don't have the gadgets they need, they don't have all the technology they need, and they don't have any contacts anymore. So now, with what little team, he has,- oh, hold on a sec, I gotta backtrack, 'cause there is another member of this team. Not originally, but they're gonna pick him up somewhere, and they're gonna need him, especially after the entire IMF goes dark. He's gonna pick up somebody who's clearly trained as well as the agents, but is not an agent, but they kinda end up with him, and start using him, 'cause what he lacks in experience, he has knowledge of the people and situation. I haven't flushed him out quite yet character-wise, but that character's gonna be played by Jeremy Renner.

ME
Oh, that's intriguing. I would've thought bad guy, for Renner, but on the same side as Cruise.

BRAD
Yes, he'll become part of the group, reluctantly out of necessity. So that's basically, the set-up, and there's gonna be a lot more after that. Real, kind of, obscure devices and tricks, that don't look like they're working to get the result they need, but they eventually do, kinda like that British show "Hustle", you ever see that. Big parties, and big stunts, and exotic locals, and one exotic locale actually I know already. I want to do something with Dubai, and the Bruj Khalifa, the Tallest Building in the world, 'cause no one's used that location yet, and I want to use it.

ME
What do you mean, use it? How?

BRAD
However we can. Maybe make Cruise have to climb the outside of it, from one window to another maybe, or something along those lines, but we're gonna use it. Another locale where it's believable that bad guys with nuclear and sinister ambitions might be. Old school Russia, new-school Dubai. Might through in some other stuff. Eh, I have a few ideas that are gonna be tricky, 'cause I have an idea of the beginning, following the match, like in the show, and follow it, up and down, and twisting and turning everywhere, and that's a tough shot for a live-action film, so we're gonna have some cool special effects. Not overdone, blow everything up like John Woo, but some useful, smart, good special effects. Realistic though, 'cause everything else, is bare already. Deconstructing this, but there's be some innovative camera angles and shots that I want to experiment with this movie, and that's gonna be cool. Good guys, stumbling most of the way, but winning over the calm, steely-veneered bad guy, despite many limitations, infighting, in the group, and sheer dumb luck. Not as sophisticated, but definitely interesting.

ME
It's definitely, different, but also, definitely fun. I can see myself, really being entertained, by this, more old-school toned, "Mission: Impossible", and I like the way you've deconstructed it, and taken away everything, that we've become familiar with so far; it's puts a fresh new twist on this series, and once again. Four completely different directors, four completely different movies and ways of approaching this material. Brad Bird, thank you for doing this, it's an honor.

BRAD
Anytime, this was fun. A lot of thinking and work, but it was fun.

ME
Glad you enjoyed it; it sounds like you enjoyed it. This has been another edition of "Fantasy Filmmaking", the "Mission: Impossible" challenge.

OCTOBER BABY (2011) Directors: Andrew Erwin & Jon Erwin

Normally, I don't start writing my review of a movie, until after the movie is over, but despite limited time left in the library, where i'm watching "October Baby" on Netflix, while playing a game of "Rummyclub" on Facebook, I've paused the movie, in order to make this initial point about "October Baby". You see, if I gave you this logline of a movie, "19-year-old girl sets out to find her newly-discovered birth mother after finding out she was born despite a failed abortion attempt", what kind of movie would you make? I can think of several good options. (God dammit, I just lost my game.) I can think of several ways to tell this story. It's an inspiring logline, a great plot device, and a ready-made tale for numerous genres of films. Yet, at the, (Check netflix) 46:13 mark of "October Baby", there's a scene where two teenagers, who've been reminiscing all day about their lifelong friendship, and have to share a hotel room, the main concern of the scene is that, there's only one bed, and the girl , Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) has just run off a long rant about wanting to remain a virgin, essentially, which such brilliant lines of dialogue as "--And, --and, I have a wild side. You've seen me play Scrabble. I'm wild." before running out of the room, despite the fact that the guy, Jason (Jason Burkey) has just been silently trying to go to sleep on the floor the whole time. At first, I was inspired, and now I realize, "Oh fuck, I'm in the middle of a stupid faith-based romantic-teen-comedy) It's not the faith part that bothers me so much, in fact, I actually think it'd work well in this story if the characters and actors were in any way believable or realistic, and not some, bad movie cliches, about characters, that frankly, aren't even good cliches. Why don't any of these film, ever realize that faith is more powerful, when a movie seems as realistic as possible, and not a preachy and self-indulgent metaphor. Oh, good god, I pressed play on the movie again, and two scenes later, we're going back to the line "I do have a wild side", like it's a bad refrain. Fuck! Also, I should mention, in this movie, there's been two very understanding and prophetic police officers, who hear Hannah's story, and seem to completely forget about the law. How lucky is that, two cops, two different incidents.

1/2 STAR

Okay, I've since finished the movie since writing that, and needless to say, the movie went downhill from there. Way downhill, and it makes me depressed, and angry, when you've fallen into such an amazing idea, that could've been done a couple dozen diffrent ways, and instead, we get this preachy piece of garbage. (Mocking) "My birthmother tried to abort me, but thankfully, my cute boyfriend still wants to marry me." (Sorry, SPOILER ALERT! Not that I'm giving anything away that you couldn't have predicted.) After finding out about the abortion, after having a severe asthma attack while performing a dreadfully amateurishly-written play, college student Hannah accepts an invitation to Mardi Gras, with a stop in Mobile, Alabama, where according to her birth certificate, she was born. Her longtime friend Jason, invited her, and he's fighting with his current girlfriend the snoody Alanna (Colleen Trusler) who doesn't want Hannah-, Oh, you know what, this isn't worth it. There's an important piece of overly-emotional, badly-written exposition, that they get Jasmine Guy to do, and thank God, she's the only decent thing about this movie, that maybe, six minute scene in the middle, that's really it. After that promising start, and last half-hour of the movie is dreadful, beginning with Hannah's father Jacob (John Schneider, yes the one from "The Dukes of Hazzard"), he comes back into the movie, at a particular moment, and gets irrationally angry, just to get angry, and create a made-up conflict, stopping the movie in it's track, just to add another half-hour to this film.  This movie gets worse and worse, the more I think about. 1/2 Star for this film, is me, in a good mood today. It's one thing, when a bad plot, turns into a bad movie, that's understandable. When you have a good solid plot, at it's core, and you end up with this, I-, I can't describe the degree of insulted I feel. Insulted that I wasted an hour and a half of my life. Insulted that I held on a spot on my Netflix queue, that could've gone to one of thousands of better movies, I couldn't gone on my life, without ever having to sit through this film. So beyond insulting, I can't even describe it. Oh, screw the damn thesaurus, I don't need pretentious adjectives for this one, here's my review: "OCTOBER BABY", SUCKS!!!!!!!

CADDYSHACK (1980) Director: Harold Ramis

2 STARS

I guess I'll never be friends with Mike Greenberg. The "Sportscenter" anchor and "Mike & Mike in the Morning" co-host, has often talked about "Caddyshack" being a favorite movie of his, and how he can't even understand anybody who doesn't love this film. Well, I'll try to explain the opposing point of view, but understand, it's not that I don't like "Caddyshack", in fact that I really do like parts of the movie. Al Czervik's line "You wear a hat like that, outta get you a free bowl of soup. Hey, it's look good on you though," is one of my all-time favorite Rodney Dangerfield lines. There is a good amount of comedy in "Caddyshack," but it's all a little hit-and-miss, and more importantly, it's a little too random. My issue with the film, is that the movie is unfocused, and meanders. Take for instance, Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe). The first scene we gets of him, is his homelife, which we never see again during the film. Conspicuous, since it's the pressure from home that makes him struggle over whether he should get a caddy scholarship that's being offered by the country club that Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight) runs. He's fighting with Al, who's you're typical loudmouth smart-alec kind of guy, who gets on the nerves of everybody who's so straight-laced, and also with Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), a low-key guy, who's father helped find the country club with Judge Smails, and is a talented scratch golfer, who's disgusted with the Judge's swarminess. Meanwhile, there's thing with, the least realistic-looking gopher you can imagine, and the stoned-out greenskeeper, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), who's been told to get the gopher, no matter what. There's a bunch of different kinds of comedy in "Caddyshack", but that's as much a detriment as it is a benefit. The movie seems almost like a bunch of random skits about the funny things that can happen on a golf course, and that's about it. There's isn't much depth or any driving plot concern that we're watching for. Even Noonan's unsure whether he wants a scholarship, that, I'm surprised is worth enough for college to begin with. He starts a brief affair with the Judge's niece, Maggie (Sarah Holcomb), which is nice for some farce, and nudity, always a good combination. Structurally through, it still remains flimsy at best. Funny at times, but not enough. It never feels like all the actors are in the movie; they're all just doing their own shtick, and they're not part of the same film. I think it's safe to say that, they probably covered nearly everything humorous they could out of golf, but is that enough for a movie? I don't know, but I likes certain parts of the movie, but not enough of the movie itself, so reluctantly, I can't quite recommend it.

UN COEUR EN HIVER (1993) Director: Claude Sautet

3 1/2 STARS

"Un Coeur en Hiver", or "A Heart of Winter" as it's translated, begins with Stephane (Daniel Auteuil). His job is to make and fix musical instruments, particularly violins. His boss Maxime (Andre Dussolier) works the public side. Smoozing with classical musicians at parties and the like, strumming up business, and having some fun of his own. Stephane is a great violin, but he isn't much elsewise. He envies the social skills that Maxime has, but it isn't until he starts dating Camille, (Emmanuelle Beart) who falls for Stephane. He wants her too, but she's infatuated with him, and how skilled he is. She leaves Maxime for Stephane, like you'd expect. And Stephane is appreciative and happy, but he's not really capable of love. He's capable physically of it, but personality-wise, he isn't, and it becomes surprisingly daunting for Camille. His passion is for music, but it doesn't translate anywhere else. The story is simple, it's about a girl who loves a man, who can't love him back, and how they both eventually find this out. There's not a lot of plot, it's more of a character analysis, like most French films are. This requires some good acting by both Beart and Auteuil, in two difficult roles, that have to hit all the right notes, or else, the story becomes something that it's not. There's no bad guy or bad girl, just two characters who cannot connect, no matter how much they try. "Un Coeur En Hiver", is a slow film, and I think it could've been paced a little better, but it's still quite strong. It's the first film I've seen by Director Claude Sautet, it's the directorial feature of his I've seen, although he previously wrote the adaptation of the great Georges Franju horror noir, "Eyes Without a Face. This one of Sautet's later films, when he had switched from noir gangster films to more, relationship study films.




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