Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Its A Wonderful Life

Since we are playing It's A Wonderful Life starring everyone's favourite Tom Hanks impersonator James Stewart, I thought I would add an abridged 30 second version of the film here.  It's got bunnies in it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Burn After Reading

After the consecutive disappointments of Intolerable  Cruelty and The Ladykillers, I was about set to give up on the Coen Brothers.  And then came No Country For Old Men, which was almost as good as their best films.  After the massive success of this Oscar winning film it was announced that they were working on an extremely violent spagetti western.  How Exciting! It would seem that the Coen’s were back on track, but when I saw the trailers for Burn Before Reading, I was caught off guard.  Brad Pitt dancing around is kind of funny I guess, but this seemed closer to the previously mentioned disappointments than to their recent success.  Still though, I jumped at the chance to catch an early screening, going in optimistic, but  leaving quite disappointed.  The movie plays kind of like The Big Lebowski, with simple (stupid) characters kick starting a series of events via a misunderstanding.  Also like Lebowski, a large cast of characters grow entangled in a mess they don’t understand.  The difference though, is that it’s hard to tell what the focal point is.  Which plot is THE plot.  This was my question for about 30mins and this is about how long it took me to get comfortable.  

On the page, it probably does all come together nicely, but execution to the screen seems rushed and clumsy.  The result of these plots never really connecting properly is a jarring effect on the audience.   Joe Veroni sums up my feelings for the movie with a question: “How would I feel about this film if it wasn’t made by the Coen Brothers?”  His answer, and an answer that I share, is that I would have thought it was a cheap Coen Brothers knock off.  This feels like it is trying to be a Coen Brothers film, with forced quirkiness, forced complications, and definitely forced acting.  

The majority of the humour comes from Malkovich, Clooney, and Pitt, and you get the impression that all three of them are quite aware of The Coen’s films and are trying to fit in with their other rich characters.  The actors that play it straight are the most rewarding though, and perhaps the most fun to watch.  Richard Jenkins in particular is refreshing as the sad sack gym owner pining over his employee Frances McDormand.  Both he and Tilda Swinton provide a nice break from the other actors hamming it up. Malkovich is funny, but out of place.  In the press release it is noted that the role was written for him, as was the case for many of the other actors in the film.  And I think that the lack of a smooth connection between the characters and their stories is a result of the Coen’s wanting to work with the various actors so much that they forced a script that would accommodate them, resulting in a very fragmented narrative.  Brad Pitt dancing is funny and against type to a degree, but is not enough to sustain this film.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Year of the Geek

This seems to be becoming the year of the comic book movie.

We've had The Incredible Hulk, Ironman, Hellboy, and the Dark Knight with promises of more to come; maybe not this year, but certainly soon. Captain America (scheduled for 2011), Thor (2010), the Justice League (2011), and of course what most of this has been leading up to, the Avengers movie (2011). Oh, and how could I possibly forget The Watchmen (2009)?

You know, after X-Men 3 I really wasn't looking forward to Marvel making any more movies. They piled too much in and tried to cover several story arcs in one two-hour movie, it was a stupid move and it made me want to hide from the next big superhero release. And don't get me started on Spider-Man 3...

But, I'm glad I saw Ironman. I'm thrilled at how well Robert Downey Jr was able to play Tony Stark (see the post from my Boss about how awesome he is below). And as someone who reads comics (and also loiters in a comic book store, The Watcher Comics, every Wednesday) I can safely say that Ironman has been the most well adapted comic book movie I've seen thus far. I'm especially fond of all of the throw-in's to the comics that they put into the movie, like War Machine and Nick Fury, not to mention S.H.I.E.L.D.

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(apologies for the annoying link to the image-hosting site that shows up underneath this image)

Don't get me wrong though, I've loved many adaptations, even the ones that changed the story ever so slightly and turned the meaning into something else, like V for Vendetta. And from what I've heard, Wanted is a great movie but only if you've never read the graphic novel. I think I'm also one of the few people who enjoyed The Punisher and how very tacky it was.

And more then just that, I'm excited to see The Hulk. I don't even like the Hulk.

I feel like I should talk about the Dark Knight too. Though I still am not sure how I feel about it. I think, after all of the hype it got, I was let down somewhat. Ledger was a fantastic Joker and one of my favorite scenes was the interrogation room with Batman -- I heard that that scene was the first shot and it's where Christian Bale and Heath Ledger got into character, and you can see that happening, and it's wonderful to watch. But, honestly, I was more impressed with Aaron Eckhart's performance as Harvey Dent, though the transition could have been better, slower... as the corruption of a good man should be.

What I'm trying to get at, more or less, is that it's a good year to be a geek.

So, tell me what you thought of Ironman, Batman, Hellboy, The Hulk, or any other comic adaptation of the past, because I would honestly like to know.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Support Robert Downey Jr. aka. Go See Tropic Thunder

While I have not seen the film FUR with Nicole Kidman, it is incredibly safe these day s to claim that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most charismatic and intriguing performers currently working in mainstream Hollywood.   Over the last two weeks I have seen the man in three recent features, and I think it is safe to say that without him these movies would not have been half as exciting or amusing.  In Iron Man, his Tony Stark is an interesting change from the hero who gets all dark and brooding once he decides to take some responsibility.  Instead Stark is just as much of an arrogant sarcastic fellow as he was before he switched to the good guy side.  

See also Charlie Bartlett, a pretty rubbish coming of age indie film that would have been slightly obnoxious if not for Downey’s drunk and depressed foil to the title character.  Kind of funny, but more bittersweet, he steals the show with his blank and sunken stare.  Now Downey has been getting a lot of press for his brave portrayals of characters with demons/addictions just because he’s had a few of his own, so one may be inclined to worry about him being typecast as this kind of character, but let’s face it, this is when he’s at his best lately.

In Tropic Thunder Downey plays a bad boy Russell Crowe type actor so into his craft that he dyes his skin darker in order to play an African American soldier in a Vietnam film, and then stays stuck in character even when cameras aren’t rolling.   While the film does deliver a satirical look at Hollywood, it is mostly successful as a silly comedy.   After describing his character it seems odd to call him the straight man in the film, but with Ben Stiller and Jack Black involved as well, somebody had to take it down a notch.  And so we get a quieter and less invasive performance than his co stars, that still evokes gut busting laughs.  Adopting a deep southern accent and talking about cooking up crayfish had me in the aisles.  I won’t say any more but it’s a must see this summer. 

Friday, July 4, 2008

Welcome To The Fox Theatre Blog

This is a place where members of the Fox team will share their opinions on films, and other important topics like politics, love and the quest for glory.  The Fox team welcomes you to this space and invites you to criticize grammatical errors, especially poor punctuation.  You are also welcome to express your opinions in the comments section if you don't agree with a post.  Explain why you think Buster Keaton is greater than Chaplin.  Be warned though; any anti Chevy Chase sentiment or pro Dane Cook talk will be dealt with harshly.

Welcome and enjoy!!