Scott Pilgrim is fun and funny, especially at the beginning. I wish Soul Kitchen, a German film co-written and directed by Fatih Akin (who also made In July), wasmore about food. Watched When Harry Met Sally again, which really is the gold standard for romantic comedy, but I like Manhattan even more. Actually a lot more.
Toy Story 3 – by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner. Revisions by David Guion and Michaelk Handelman. 6/8/2005.
The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli is definitely preachy, but ithas some style, at least in some of the fight scenes. The problem is, well, not that it is that original as a post-apocalypse movie to begin with, but an absolutely ridiculous and eye-rolling ending completely renders this movie a waste of time.
A Perfect Getaway
I expected A Perfect Getaway to be just another silly horror movie, but it turns out to be a pretty entertaining thriller. The plot may not make complete logical sense, but there is enough suspense to worth a watch. It is however very nice to see Milla Jovovich in a non-rubbish movie.
Adapted from a South Korean movie, The Uninvited‘s twist is quite transparent from the very beginning, which takes away some of the fun. That being said, I appreciate the effort to scare by atmosphere and suspense, and not have to rely on gore.
Reservoir Dogs, the film that made Tarrantino’s name, still holds up. It doesn’t really matter now that a lot of it is “borrowed” from other movies, since Tarrantino has made paying homage to other cool films his own.
I usually quite like French romantic comedies as they are quite different from the ones made in the U.S. But L’arnacoeur (Heartbreaker) is actually quite Hollywood. So it’s not surprise that there is an American remake in the works already. Still, I enjoyed it – the lead is amusing and the farcical scenes are quite funny. The Dirty Dancing scene is always a crowd pleaser.
Oh, the fashion of the 80′s… Valley Girl is quite funny and entertaining in a familiar kind of way. Then again, that probably says more about the movies since then than about Valley Girl.
Despite the lackluster reviews, I enjoyed Wild Target for the charm of the actors.
Yes, the music is good. But it’s a bit of an easy cheat to make a scene better by adding a classic rock and roll soundtrack. Many of the characters are fun and would probably be more interesting if we could spend a bit more time with them. All in all, Pirate Radio has too many characters but lacks a center.
The original Heartbreak Kid (as opposed to the Ben Stiller remake) is a wonderful comedy/tragedy. It is funny, but the humor is almost a by-product of the story. In other words, the humor does not feel forced.
I just don’t see the point of Jonah Hex. Even with only an 80mins running time, it felt so long and pointless. How did they get so many big name stars to be in this dud?
Legion is a predictable B-movie with some fairly decent action sequences. The old lady in the diner scene was the most interesting one in the movie.
Reign of Assassins (劍雨)
The plot of Reign of Assassins is silly to say the least, but the mood and atmosphere of the movie evokes the world of martial arts in novels. The martial arts world in novels is the basis of this genre of cinema, but very very few films could retain that essence. The Reign of Assassins succeeds in this regard.
Toy Story 3 by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Predators – Screenplay by Robert Rodriguez – 1st Draft, Aug. 2, 1996.
Frost/Nixon – Screenplay by Peter Morgan – 8/24/2007 Draft.
I really like slice of life movies like Please Give, or pretty much anything with Catherine Keener. This movie is similar in style to Nicole Holofcener’s two other movies, Friends with Money and Lovely and Amazing, where the plot is not the really focus. Holofcener prefers to pay more attention to the flawed characters, and the dynamics between them. There is even a Woody Allen-esque feel to her films.
While Splice is certainly a good thriller, there is a deeper level of human emotions (and the questioning of it) that makes it quite a wonderful sci-fi. A bit like a futuristic Frankenstein, the interesting part of the film is human parents/monster child dynamics. I like that the filmmakers are willing to take it far enough to be both shocking and disturbing.
I don’t think The Rebound, even with Catherine Zeta Jones as the lead, got a U.S. distribution. It got released in the U.K. though. Compare it with a lot of the recent romantic comedies, it is actually quite sweet and charming for the most part (although the part with toilet humor just does not seem appropriate). However, the plot is entirely predictable.
Mama Mia is without a doubt a guilty pleasure. Apparently, some of the catchiest pop songs ever made + gorgeous scenery + beautiful people + lots of dancing = Box office gold. What more can you say about Meryl Streep? She is absolutely fabulous again. Pierce Brosnon, on the other hand, is such a terrible singer that it actually adds to the fun of the movie.
Zwartboek (Black Book)
Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book has so many twists and turns, betrayals and double betrayals, that there is not a dull moment in its 145 mins running time. It is also quite melodramatic. Carice van Houten is fantastic as the heroine.
I like Juno even more after reading two drafts of Diablo Cody’s script, and watching the film a second time. It helps that it is perfectly cast.
Another WWII movie. Max Manus is a well made, if a bit straight forward, account of the Norwegian resistance during World War II. Max Manus is a well known hero in Norway, but I must admit I’ve not heard of him before watching this film. It is always fascinating to learn something new about a culture or history of a country that I do not know much about.
The Special Relationship
The third film of the Peter Morgan’s Tony Blair trilogy. The Special Relationship, a HBO film, has many of Morgan’s signature elements. And it is another intriguing and entertaining re-imagination of two high profile public figures.
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen has an very entertaining and interesting opening in France. But the main story never really gains any momentum. The superhero storyline never develops. There is a lack of character development. And too many unnecessary subplots drags down the movie. Good fight scenes though.
Predators - screenplay by Robert Rodriguez, 1st Draft, Aug.2, 1996
This 1996 Robert Rodriguez screenplay of Predators has undergone so many rewrites that it is almost completely different from the final movie.
Frost/Nixon - Screenplay by Peter Morgan - 8/24/2007 Draft.
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows)
Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) is such a good norish thriller that it’s surprising that the French director never made another film in that genre. Calling it a genre film is actually quite misleading, as the beautifully shot B&W film doesn’t give in to genre conventions. The story is unpredictable and the Malle allows his characters to explore their lives, their emotions, and their predicaments.
Pick of the Week:
An easy choice this week. Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows)
Salt – Written by Kurt Wimmer. Current revisions by Brian Helgeland. Jan. 19, 2009.
Whip It – Screenplay by Shauna Cross. Based on her novel.
Solitary Man (written by Brian Koppelman, and direct by Koppelman and David Levien) is a great character study of a sleazy character. It’s a character almost tailor made for Michael Douglas who has a knack of making unpleasant characters watchable. I can’t wait to see Wall Street 2.
Dick is one of the most imaginative, funny and smartly written teen movies I have seen in a long time. The fact that it is a teen movie set against one of the biggest political scandals is clever (and daring) enough. The two actresses (Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams) play dizzy brilliantly. Dan Hedaya plays a hilarious Nixon.
Ne te retourne pas (Don't Look Back)
Kudos to a fresh and daring execution of a tried concept. Ne te retourne pas (Don’t Look Back) features two of the most beautiful European actresses, which is reason enough to see it. It is more of an experiment, which means that there are flaws. But there is enough intrigue in the set up to last most of the 110 mins. The score and some of the atmospheric shots , however, maybe a bit overdone and forced.
I really like the natural dialog in Diner. Barry Levinson’s now iconic first film is a slice of life ensemble piece, which is always difficult to pull off. Hollywood is usually more at ease with a single protagonist because they like to believe that average viewers would have a hard time following more than one main character. Come on viewers, let’s show Hollywood we’re smart enough!
The Secret of Kells
The Secret of Kells was nominated for an Oscar in the animation category, but it was up against some stiff competition (Pixar pretty much owns the category). The film has some gorgeous and inventive 2D graphics, which is very different from the computer generated animation we see in most films today. The story and characters are a bit underdeveloped, perhaps due to the the short 75mins running time.
Ip Man 2
Despite its cliché superhero (and a bland one at that) formula, the first Ip Man was enjoyable for its accurate (well, a bit more than your average martial arts film anyway) depiction of the Wing Chun style of martial art. This sequel has an even more flawed plot, more forced conflicts and shameless and simpleminded patriotism, but without the authentic martial arts.
2012 was so long that I was pleasantly surprised that it’s still 2010 when I finished it. I actually finished reading a screenplay while watching it. Every once in a while, a pretty cool destruction of Earth scene would make me look up and go whoa, but the ”story” part of the movie is still dreadful. Not that I was expecting anything better from the maker of Independence Day and Godzilla.
Salt - Written by Kurt Wimmer
This version of the script (January 16, 2009) is still a draft and is still quite different from the movie. The protagonist in the final version is better defined. I like reading this kind of “action” script just to learn the rhythm of writing actions scenes.
Whip It - Screenplay by Shauna Cross
I really enjoyed Whip It the movie. The script is written by Shauna Cross, adapted from her own novel. This draft is quite close to the movie version. Now I want to read her book.