Friday, July 31, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt), using an unidentified narrator, recounts the 500 days of his relationship with the woman he thinks is the girl of his dreams , Summer (Zooey Deschanel). What could have been a banal story turns out to be gently comic, sweetly romantic in spots and a whole lot of sad. What makes it work is the inventive film work and the way the story is scripted. Tom has an adorable little sister who is wiser than Tom and she serves as the sensible advisor. Zooey dresses and accessorizes like she buys everything at Tom has his own Greek chorus of close friends. Zooey seems to be an island with a reality she very much believes in. I couldn't decide if Zooey was selfish, or was trying to love Tom because she LIKED him so much, or if she was a just a superficial person. Maybe all of it. Tom is a little sappy in his adoration and he misses the signs that all is not well and that is because it can't be well -because only one of them is in love. Alex loved this movie. And anyone who tends to love with all their heart, even against the odds, will identify with this movie. It is a charmer though. There is a little problem in that Zooey Deschanel is really not so beautiful that she would be a head turner. But I guess, as in most movies, a little suspension of belief is a good thing. The sound track is great and not intrusive. I am usually NOT a fan of narration in films because usually it's Morgan Freeman. And how often can you listen to that without wondering what Morgan Freeman is doing there? Once I was sure it wasn't him, I could relax. The narration is not necessary at all, and if I had one complaint, that would be it. And DO NOT get to the theater late. Because the very first seconds of the opening credits are some of the best.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

What can I say? This franchise is brilliant. In the first film, Daniel Radcliffe was such a bad actor that only the wonder of the 'book brought to life' saved the film. But that was enough. Now that Radcliffe has progressed and become a better actor, and his fellow (more talented) actors have become even more accomplished, the films are consistently imaginative and filmed with respect for the world of J K Rowling. Harry is now on his way to the showdown with Voldemort (though it is not going to happen in this book). He is facing the realization that this will end with only one victor. The residents of the wizardry world are now teen agers - and they are in the world of magic and all the trouble that can bring. Though this film is "darker" in its subject matter, and could be very frightening for small children, it is also lighter in a way. We feel that Harry will be safe. In this episode, the scenery is not the star any more. Neither is the magic. It is the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione and their nemesis, Draco, that are center stage. Of course it gets 4 stars. And J K Rowling deserves every penny she makes for the incredible attention to detail and classical tradition she uses.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Public Enemies

This movie was too damn long. I am sure that at the final screening, Johnny Depp hung his head and said, 'This movie is too damn long". Even if he loves himself, he had to get bored. Dillinger's actual crime spree was only 10 months long- about the length of this movie. It means to be as good as The Untouchables was. But it isn't. It puts a sentimental touch on Dillinger- almost making him heroic. It does nothing to humanize the actual 10 deaths left by Dillinger and his gang. It presented Marion Cotillard (an excellent actress) as his girlfriend, and she really does steal the scenes. Depp almost seems to sleepwalk through parts. Probably because he couldn't believe he had to be in every scene. It's stylized, melodramatic and sometimes bizarre. Christian Bale weirdly loses his annoying lisp while using his best southern accent. How come Batman lisps but not the (F)BI agent Purvis? Well, if you go, pack a lunch and an extra seat cushion. It was long enough that people FELT the length of it. At the end, everyone popped up like they were on call to the White House and opened their phones to see if Obama had called while they were away. DO people really think they are that important that they can't exit the theater without checking their messages? See- the movie made me crabby, too.