My love for movies and movie trailers knows no bounds, as you are very well acquainted with, but most of the time I fail to actually see those movies that I comment on until they are well past their expiration date. These past few weeks, weirdly enough, I’ve been on a steady binge, keeping myself occupied watching more (relatively recent) films than I ever have in the past two years. So, I decided to challenge myself. Here, for your enjoyment, are TEN reviews for the price of one. Let’s go to the movies!
Saving Mr. Banks
One could only hope that all of you, if not most of you, have already succumbed to the magic and mystery of the infamous Mary Poppins. Odds are, her stories and songs have effected you in one way or another ever since you were a wee little babe; whether it be in film or on the page. What you may not be aware of, however, is the influences that shaped Mary Poppins and her creator, P.L.Travers. Emma Thompson – delightful as always – stars as the famed author in this semi-true biopic revealing the twenty year fight to bring Travers’ beloved Mary Poppins to the screen. Her stipulations for the adaptation were severe, at least to Mr. Disney, himself. Her requirements were strict. Saving Mr. Banks explores the early childhood of Travers and how the life and death of her father changed the way she saw the world. Those who love Mary Poppins will ultimately love the behind the scenes look at the making of the popular classic in both forms, but the true heart of the film lies in Travers’ transformation during the film making process. Despite being repeatedly established as inaccurate, seeing Thompson gradually tapping her toe to the melody of Let’s Go Fly a Kite is the reason why this is such a spectacular film.
I knew from the beginning, Gravity wasn’t going to be a film I would have an interest in. Any writer, any storyteller could tell you that there are only so many outcomes possible; that either death, life, or aliens would be the focus of this science fiction adventure. Yes, I was a bit prejudice, but the film’s trailer was very clear on these facts, as well. Needless to say, two hours of watching Sandra Bullock float through space was as boring as you think it would be. Sure, there are some lavish action scenes and The Clooney makes a brief appearance, but the relatively good can not outweigh the tedious and uninspired.
Mike and Sully are together again for this Pixar prequel which uncovers the true history behind the loveable monsters’ fated friendship. The feature boasts some of the most flawless, vibrant, mesmerizing animation. Yet, lacks the heart its predecessor possessed and a story to match. Don’t let that fool you, though. Monsters U is undeniably enjoyable and perfect for that lazy Sunday afternoon.
Dallas Buyers Club
Hollywood seems to have a soft spot for actors who undergo a physical transformation in their movies, regardless if they skillfully undertake an emotional transformation, as well. Rewarding actors for their ability to successfully sustain an arduous diet is all too common theses days, and Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club is another performance we can add to that list. The film, based on an inspirational true story, relates the difficult journey of Ron Woodroof, a former hustler and deviant, who uses his own influences to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is diagnosed with the same illness. There is nothing remarkable or moving about McConaughey’s portrayal despite the weighty subject matter, and despite what most critics have led you to believe. Jared Leto’s metamorphosis, on the other hand, is nothing short of brilliant; managing to effectively combine corporeal alterations and instinct in a very small supporting role. The story itself is remarkable, but failed to translate on the screen like it was meant to, with passion and intensity. Instead, the film is slow-moving and controlled.
The Great Gatsby
As I may be one of the few people on the planet who has yet to read this infamous work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, my impression of Gatsby is, honestly, one-sided. I can not comment on the faithfulness to the original novel or the actors’ portrayal of their characters. My review is based solely on Baz Luhrmann’s directorial style and surrounding factions. Unfortunately, when you begin to pray for a film to be over within the first hour, you know it’s in trouble. The film is unnecessarily long and fussy; distracting, as it is almost cartoon-like in its pace and coloring. It’s extravagant, but not as an extension of the story’s theme, as it should be. It’s indulgent to the point of being ridiculous. Sadly, for me, even Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t save this adaptation.
Blue Is the Warmest Color
There is a stigma amongst the American people, an unspoken rule of sorts: we must never (ever) – God forbid – see two people making simulated love on-screen. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about it. It’s not going to happen. Those types of scenes without the use of well-placed shadows or perfectly timed segues are forbidden. FORBIDDEN! It’s just one of the many regulations set upon American filmmakers. At least, those who wish for their film to see the light of day. We’re prudes and that’s not going to change anytime soon. It’s disappointing, but not surprising to see critics and moviegoers alike chastise Blue Is the Warmest Color for its graphic love scenes. What they have failed to see, sadly, is the honesty of it. It’s a love story that does not make excuses or edits the truth, which is a component of storytelling, quite often, missing from American-made films today.
Some elements of a Woody Allen film are effortlessly identifiable. Music. Location. They may change from one film to the next, but both remain distinctive and iconic. Most importantly, however, they must act as their own character. Neither are simply a backdrop or an extra component, but a critical part of the entire ensemble. Another common attribute is the casting of a strong female lead. Fast-talking, smart, and independent; Woody Allen has perfected the charismatic, complicated woman like no other. Predictably, Blue Jasmine runs along the same path. Yet, fails rather uneventfully across the board. Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of a former New York socialite struggling with her new-found poverty-stricken life may have won her an Oscar, but I find myself having a rather adverse reaction, all the same. There is no deviation in Jasmine’s narrative, nothing that separates one monologue from the next. The film plays out like one endless, incessant stretch of indistinguishable dialogue.
An office rivalry becomes deadly when a manipulative ad executive competes with the emerging talent of her favorite protégé. Staring Rachel McAdams, this twisted tale entertains an obvious, satirical, plotted melodrama. Seriously, it’s really obvious. So obvious, in fact, you may miss it amongst the overly dramatic lighting, tired revenge schemes, and sick seduction attempts that leave you cringing in horror. Although the intention of the film collapses underneath the ostentatious storyline, you might want to watch this unremarkable film with the sole purpose of having something to talk about at the water-cooler the next morning; if people still do that, of course.
The Monuments Men
Strangely, this is the only movie I saw in an actual theatre, choosing (instead) the more “hip” thing to do these days and rent them from the comfy seclusion of my own couch. The Monuments Men – based on a true story – remarkably re-imagines the fight to restore thousands of paintings and artifacts to their rightful owners during World War II. While the film hosts an interesting plot and countless stars, the lack of conflict throughout makes The Monuments Men an enjoyable, but flawed picture. However, I think we can all agree, devoting two hours of your life to George Clooney is not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
I’m not ashamed to admit that Frozen had been the one film I had insisted on seeing; and with the future of Frozen being what it is (Sequel + Broadway Musical + Theme Park Attraction), I doubt you will be unable to ignore the charisma and heart of this cult-like film for very much longer. Why would you want to, though? The MUSIC – which is necessary to list with very big, very bold letters – is, undeniably, one of the main reasons Frozen is so freakin’ popular. Let It Go. Do You Want to Build a Snowman? You have to hit your well-weary head repeatedly against the nearest solid piece of furniture to get those earworms out of your head within the next decade. Not to mention, Disney now owns one of the most realistic, honest, and awesomely awkward princesses ever to grace the screen. It’s another animated classic!
Have you seen any of these films? Which one was your favorite? What movies have you seen recently? Tell me in the comments!