Friday, July 30, 2010

The A-Team (2010)

I'm sorry, but I really need to start this review this way

...simply because the movie a) did not play it enough, b) only played the first part of it (which admittedly is the only part worth listening to, but still), not even during the end credits.

But aside from that, there is not much I could criticize. It's a pretty good movie, provided your expectations are low enough.
I mean really, do you remember the show, it was camp, and silly, but it was fun to watch. Well, that's what the movie is, fun to watch, genuinely. Not in the "Oh my God, this is so bad it's actually funny" kind of way. There's some good punchlines, many over-the-over-the-top action scenes, which cannot help but find AWSM. There is a flying fucking tank, and you love it!

The reason behind this is because of the good transfer from TV screen to big screen. We had it before, "Charlie's Angels" and "Starsky and Hutch". I didn't see the second TV show, but I know that with "Charlie's Angels", they just kept the concept of three secret agent women, without keeping the characters, they put in some action sequences and some humour, and voila: nothing really special.

With "The A-Team" they managed to keep the characters as we remember them, which made the show successful in the first place. The four guys, the brain, the muscle, the suave guy and the looney. And the actors managed to catch their characters essence, especially Sharlto Copley (whom we last saw in "District 9" yelling "Fookin' Prawn!" every five minutes) is brilliant and funny as the crazy Murdock.

Don't expect a comedy, and don't expect a genuine action movie. Just expect a really funny (almost parodic) actionfilled film that doesn't really require using your brain (if you do, you will probably be too busy pointing the plotholes, which otherwise you won't notice thanks to the alert rhythm of explosions, fights and comedy). A film which had every reason to fail, and yet managed to entertain.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

C. Nolan

Excuse me while I pick up the pieces of my mind...

Writing a review about "Inception" now would be even more useless than the one on "Toy Story 3", so even I won't go there. You've all seen it, or are about to see it. Yes, it is huge, yes, it is great, yes, you do have to pay attention every freaking second, yes, it does have some plot holes, yes, there are a few things mister Nolan could've done better, yes, it has the most original action sequences since "The Matrix", and yes, there will be a bunch of anti-mainstream hipsters, who will not like simply because everyone else does, who will have arguments such as: "Too many special effects", "I didn't like the cinematography!", "Sure, it had an original concept, but I just didn't buy it, it missed that "Matrix"/"Bladerunner" [insert cult SF title] magic", "The acting was good I admit, but I didn't buy it, you know what I mean? I saw that it was good, but I didn't feel it wasn't acting", even though it is the same people who panned "The Matrix" and other such films (yes I mean "The Dark Knight") for the same reasons. Meanwhile we will ignore those irrelevant fuckers, and watch it again and again and be amazed every time how many details we missed the last times. Because that's how it is when you watch a Christopher Nolan film. You aren't rewatching it because you didn't get it the first time, no, Nolan has a talent to present complicated plots in ways you can actually follow, but because there are so many minor details, that it is like a new viewing every time.

So where did Nolan pop-up from? Or am I the only who feels like this guy, despite several great and successful films, suddenly appeared out of nowhere and jumped right in front of you?

First there was "Memento"; you probably didn't see it when it came out (I am talking 20 something age group here), you saw the trailers, it seemed interesting, but you were too small to catch it in the cinema, and the internet wasn't yet developed enough to allow the cultfollowing it does today. Then some friends kept telling you about it, "Man, it's weird! I mean it's all reversed, but not like going backwards! Well actually it is, but going forwards at the same time." [questioning look from you] "It's like the first scene is between minutes 120-130, then the next one is from minute 110-120, then 100-110, you get it? Here, I'll make you a drawing!" "Well, sounds good, who did it?" "Ahm, can't remember his name, nobody famous anyway, but it's really good, I mean Spielberg good!" And after many conversations you half-heartingly started watching it, and after two hours your whole idea of how a movie should be is gone. I mean, WOW! WTF? Even so, did you remember the guys name? Nope, he hadn't done anything else really, so...

Then came "Insomnia", you saw the trailer, you were intrigued. Al Pacino playing a worn-out cop, and Robin Williams playing a villain. This has to be good. But it seemed like the kind of long, weary film, and Hillary Swank did not convince you. You missed it on the screens again, and you couldn't be bothered to watch it when it ran late-night on HBO. Occasionally people would mention it, but too rarely for you to take real notice."

"The Prestige" you did see, maybe you missed it on the screens, but you downloaded it as soon as a good dvdrip came out. This was another one your friends bugged you about "You won't 's so fuckin' believe it! It's so complex, but you follow it, sorta, well everytime you think you got it, it twists again, and the ending, duuuuuuuude!" And truly it was so. It had Wolverine in it, twice, and that guy from "Equilibrium", twice, and Scarlett Johansson, and David goddamnmotherfucking Bowie. And because this time you had IMDb at your command you were surprised it was done by the same guy who did "Memento" , cool. Did you remember his name? Probably not.

When you heard about "Batman Begins" coming out, at a time when superhero movies were all over the place (Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil, Elektra, Hulk to name a few) you first thought was: "Really, that's what we need? Another superhero summer blockbuster?" Somehow you couldn't shake George Clooney's nipple suite from your mind, and it all seemed like a bad idea. Some guy named Christopher Nolan was making it. Who? Still you went and saw it. And even though at the time you didn't realize how big this film was for the superhero genre, you knew it was good. And when you were on IMDb once more, it made click, and you knew who the guy behind was.

A couple of years later "The Dark Knight" came out, and nothing would be the same again. And the name of the director who somehow always managed to evade your memory was forever etched into you brain. C H R I S T O P H E R N O L A N. It suddenly all made sense, you suddenly saw methodology, and similarities in themes, and effort for detail, and perfectionism. Yes, this is the man who delivered those awesome films, those films which were a bit heavy, but thoroughly entertained you, and made you think, and make re-evaluate your concept of film and story. This is THE MAN!

And now his new baby, "Inception" is out, a project he has been working on since before he dreamed up "Memento", a project for which he didn't feel mature enough until now. And his talent has only been confirmed. Exceptional entertainment, for the dumbest movie-viewer whose favorite actors include Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude van Damme to the movie professor who will teach about this film in seminars in a couple of years from now. Action, story, characters, drama, philosophy, intelligent ambiguity. It is all there.

And although I have a few bones to pick with the film, such as the whole premise being a bit small for the concept as a whole (all that great stuff just because of some business competition?), I am sure those bones will diminish in numbers with every new viewing.

To you Chris Nolan, you came from nowhere to sit down directly with the greats

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toy Story 3 ... and other sequels

I'm back fuckers!...I mean readers...I mean...whatever!
Toy Story 3 has been out for about a week now and writing a positive review is about as useless as pointing at the Sun and exclaiming in surprise "Oooooh! Shiny!", but then again personal-blog-movie-reviews are more or less the equivalent of utter uselessness, so I don't see why I shouldn't go on.

For those of you who read this blog (hahahaha, hihihihi, hahahaha, tears of laughter rolling down my eyes; I implied somebody is actually reading this blog) it should be by now pretty much clear that I love Pixar so much that if it would turn into a guy and ask me for a BJ I would actually hesitate a second before saying "No.", so expect this review to be a bit biased.

As usual the film kicked off with another film (a la "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life"), a short one called "Day & Night", of which you can see an illegal copy here, and which reminded people why Pixar isn't just for kids. Humour, action and a serious message elegantly transposed, so as to not become too overbearing.

Then we moved on to our main feature. For those of you who don't know, the the Toy Story series is about a boy called Andy, or the be more precise about his anthropomorphic toys (that's when they talk and act like humans, dumm-dumm). Well, now Andy is all grown up and is moving to college. The toys are very unhappy because they haven't been played with for years, which, from what I've gathered, is the toy equivalent of having sex (one of the reasons so many adults can relate to them), and are not sure what their fate will be once their owner moves out. He decides to keep them in the attic, but through a series of unfortunate events they end up in a Kindergarden, where BAD things happen. What follows is a roller-coaster of humor, adventure and surprisingly deep emotions.

The animation is great (even the 3D is just a gimmick added just to keep in line with the competition), the voice-acting is spot on (we rejoin Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, and meet new castmembers such as Michael Keaton and Whoopy Goldberg, who should really stick to movies where she doesn't show her face...and has only a small part which doesn't allow itself to be turned into her blend usual performances), the writing is brilliant etc. The movie has been dubbed "the best third part ever", "the film which MAKES MEN CRY", it is the second best reviewed film on rottentomatoes, it popped right into the top ten list on IMDb (nr. 8). And there is a good reason for all this: PIXAR does things the hard way, they put effort into their films, into every detail from animation to characters and story development, which is why they only make about 1 film every 1.2 years, which is why it took fifteen years to get from Toy Story to Toy Story 3; they have that Disney essence from the 50s, when it wasn't just about the money. They care about quality and not quantity, which is why they don't churn out a new one every few months, relying on the idiotic public which will pay to see it despite the few laughs and not caring about the critical success like other studios with their franchises...ahem.

Which brings us to Dreamwork's Shrek Goes Forth, or 4ever After, or whatever fucking fairy-tale pun the came up with.
Last time we left the Ogre, he had just settled back into his swamp with his wife and three newborn kids, and for the third time all seemed well, and he was preparing for a happily ever after. But unbeknown to him the big evil dragon Studio-nickus was growing hungry for money again, and was plotting to get the once loveable but now dull and annoying ogre into a new adventure so stupid kids could be lured in and spend their parents money once again on overpriced movie tickets (because hey, it's 3D, how unexpected), dolls, toys, cereals, real-life donkeys imported from Easters Europe, cookies, happy meals and pretty much everything remotely similar to a donkey or the color green.
But alas, all plot threads have been resolved in the previous installment, whatever shall we do? Have him find out he is actually an alien and have him explore his home planet? Have Donkey/Fiona contact some deadly decease and have Shrek go for the cure? NO, I know! We'll have an alternate reality in which he hasn't been born, and him having to cope with it! Brilliant! Original! Not at all similar to "It's wonderful life" and hundreds of movies and TV-series since.

The movie is so predictable you'll feel like you are having a 90 minute deja-vu and that you are re-seeing every single fucking movie you have ever seen. The characters have become worn out and boring, there being nothing new they could say or do to amuse/entertain you; there are of course plenty of new characters, but even they can't save the show, not to mention to supporting cast of fairy-tale creatures which were delighting in the last ones has pretty much no screen time.

Everything the franchise had good in the first one has been lost forever: the story is lame, there are no special references and puns for adults to enjoy, come to think of it, there are pretty much NO puns; it's all become just an unmemorable comedic adventure animation flick for kids.

But hey, we all know you are going to watch it anyway, mainly because you've seen the first three and have by now forgotten how disappointed you were by the first two sequels; and to be honest it is somewhat better than the last one, and it does make you chuckle once or twice, which seems to be high above the standards of most animation films which have come out in the last few years; so by all means to let me stop you from illegally downloading it from this site.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aliosha (2010)

Ok, nu prea fac eu recenzii la filme de studenti si alte proiecte amatoriale. Poate ar trebui sa incep, caci desi majoritatea in mod foarte previzibil intra in categoria de cacat plictisitor, unele sunt chiar vazubile (da, tocmai am inventat acest cuvant pentru ca nu-mi amintesc cuvantul oficial, deal with it!), cum ar fi minunatul "Daca aveti un minut...FOARTE BINE!" de acum cativa ani.

"Aliosha" e un scurt metraj de vreo 9 minute conceput si creat de Andrei Barza de la facultatea de arte din Cluj, si ne prezinta doi prieteni si un trip violent pe niste ciuperci.

Fiind un film studentesc nu ne vom obosi sa criticam cinematografia, editul si alte elemente de care de obicei se ocupa o echipa intreaga si nu un singur om. Sau shacky-cam-ul care nu parea chiar o alegere artistica. Sau actoria, care desi are destule momente care par naturale, are si cateva de: "bah, fra, acum suntem actori, hai sa para serios si chestii"

Sarind peste aceste elemente care erau previzibile, sa trecem la film:

Dupa un generic de introducere putin mai lung decat necesar, ne sunt prezentate cele doua personaje principale si ne dam imediat seama ca va fi un filmulet cu o tendinta spre umor (slava domnului! filmele studentesti cu teme serioase sunt groaznice).
Dupa ce consuma niste ciuperci cenzurate publicului si o poveste neplacuta este impartasita urmeaza un trip in tonul povestii, care pune sub semnul intebarii limita efectelor drogurilor asupra realitatii. un mesaj anti-drog cumva?

Dialogul e unul din punctele forte al filmului. scos din scoala lui tarantino si kevin smith, e direct, alert, ritmic si natural. are din pacate cam un singur moment de autoexplicatie (show! don't tell my friends), dar in rest nu te lasa sa te plictisesti cum o fac multe alte filme din aceasta categorie.

Celalalt punct forte e animatia, care in contrast cu alte elemente ale filmului, are profesionalismul si calitatea animatiilor din unele videoclipuri si filme rotoscopate. Aceasta continua umorul si in mod elegant salveaza niste scene care daca ar fi fost live ar fi fost absolut rizibile.

Per total un scurt-metraj studentesc bine-facut si gandit, cu un ton de umor dar un substrat serios. Nu intra in categoria filmelor profesioniste, dar un foarte bun inceput.