Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Single Man

Who would have thought that a fashion designer would be able to make one of the years ten best films. Well, fashion designer and first time director Tom Ford has done just that. Yes the fact that he's a fashion designer rubs off on his filmmaking for sure, you see it in the characters with their stylish hair and their clothing and even the way they walk around or lean up against a wall. But Tom Ford has made a film with such style and passion that not a shot passes by that doesn't effect the audience, not a moment unplanned, not a scene is wasted.

Colin Firth plays George. A man who's trying to live his days as normal as possible after the death of his beloved partner Jim, played by Matthew Goode, who I absolutely loved in The Lookout. The story revolves around George going about his daily routine all the while planning on killing himself with a pistol that he carts around with him in his bag. We see him as a College professor teaching his class, making contact with his neighbors, making a transaction at the bank, meeting a James Dean looking man named Carlos at the liquor store, having dinner with his friend and fling of the past Charley, who is played by Julianne Moore, and having a night to remember with one of his students that just feels oh so familiar to him. But through every transaction that he has with a human or even a dog at one point, we see that he truly recognizes the beauty in every moment that he's experiencing, and he appreciates it. But while this is all going on we are frequently shown flashbacks of him sharing moments with his lover Jim and that shows us why he still has the urge to want to kill himself. Because from our view he kind of looks happy, but we see just how much more happy he was with Jim and we feel for him.

Colin Firth put on a a courageous performance portraying someone who is trying to get on with living without his lover, someone who's still much in love with his deceased lover, and someone who still enjoys a lot about life but still has the plan to kill himself. It's really quite amazing when you think about it that an actor is able to channel and control all those feelings and emotions all at once in one single scene, and keep it going throughout the entire film. The rest of the cast including Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult all did fine jobs as well.

The real praise in my opinion goes to the director Tom Ford. He must have really felt something deep inside when he read this novel because he executed it perfectly on screen with feeling and absolute effective stylish shots and sequences. When they're mixed together with the beautiful score and played before our eyes on the big screen it makes you clench your fist with joy. This is a great cinematic accomplishment and I'll say it again, it's one of the ten best films of the year and should get a few Oscar noms as well. A Single Man gets 4 and 1/2 outa 5.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Informers - Blu-Ray

The three main reasons that I was interested in this film were that it's set in the 1980's Los Angeles party scene, Mickey Rourke was in it, and it was adapted from a Brett Easton Ellis novel. So despite the many bad reviews I decided to give it a shot on blu-ray.

The film centers on multiple stories all going on around each other at the same time. One about a young adult rich boy Graham Sloan played by Jon Foster, his disgruntled parents played by Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger, a musician on the brink of insanity, a boy stuck in Hawaii with his asshole father played by Lou Taylor Pucci and Chris Isaak, and two guys who are all of a sudden involved with some very bad people after kidnapping a young boy, played by Mickey Rourke and Brad Renfro.

Though all the stories are pretty entertaining, they don't really offer too much into the characters that surround them. We really just see them in these moments and have no back story or know what they're thinking about whatsoever. It's kind of like a messy version of Less Than Zero also penned by Ellis, which I loved. The real attraction I had for this film wasn't the star studded cast, it was that I love seeing people self destruct in Los Angeles and then finding themselves again. Even if they don't find themselves I think that it's a beautiful thing to watch on screen if done well and it's something that can be very depressing and moving at the same time. Although it's done in a mediocre way here and I wish they focused on Grahams story much more, it's still an entertaining cinematic experience.

The film looks really great on blu-ray and the score definitely wasn't unforgettable. It's a film that can be thrown in at a party while having some drinks and watch in the background or it can be a film that you put in one night to analyze artistic cinematography and daring teen sex and drug use in filmmaking. Either way I recommend it. 3 and 1/2 outa 5.

The Road

I've been meaning to see The Road for quite some time now. I loved Viggo in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises as well as his older stuff like Carlito's Way. I was also greatly looking forward to seeing the next Cormac McCarthy novel adapted on screen since her previous work No Country For Old Men completely blew me away. The Road was good, but certainly didn't have as much of an effect on me as No Country did.

The Road stars Viggo Mortensen simply known as "Man". The man and his son known as "Boy" are living in a post-apocalyptic world with nothing left remaining except very few humans. Very few, and the ones who do remain are most likely savage cannibals. For this reason he has to constantly be on his guard in order to keep his son safe. We see this best displayed on screen in one particularly intense scene where him and his son approach a bridge to take a short break from walking. Soon a group of these crazed cannibals approach the area in an old souped up pick-up truck, with each of them armed with weapons and looking nasty as ever. Picture something along the lines of "human eating hillbillies from hell". What ensues is intense filmmaking and shows us just what the man is willing to do to protect his son.

It's a really quiet film as they roam the road, country side, and beach areas, scrounging for food and usable items to take with them. The cinematography is done really well in convincing the viewer that they really are living in a post-apocalyptic world, and a frightening one at that. Sometimes the most quiet moments are the scariest because when you here that first sound, it could be someone approaching and it could be your last.

Viggo was good as the father protecting his son and the way he slowly starts to unravel, health, and insanity wise was done fairly well. His movements were great too. The way he struggles with things really makes us see that he's been through a lot. In one small scene he wakes up and gets out of a truck and stretches and moans and we see that this is indeed a tired broken down man. The son could have been better casted that's for sure. I read that he got the part mainly because he looks like Charlize Theron who plays "Woman", his mother. But that's no reason to cast the little chap. Especially when the only times we see Charlize is in a darkly lit home pre-apocalypse. The score by Nick Cave was quiet and moving when it was being used. Also there are a few small almost cameo appearances by Robert Duvall and Guy Pierce who are almost unrecognizable. So I'll let you try and spot them out rather than telling you who they are.

You could definitely watch this with a group of friends and analyze it's meanings and what it's trying to get across, but I'll leave that to you all. The film just didn't really do AMAZING things for me, but it's a film I'm willing to give another shot and I will be watching it again. So that tells you something about it right there. Honestly if you haven't seen the directors previous film The Proposition, with Guy Pierce, see that first. It's brilliant. I give The Road 3 and 1/2 outa 5.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Lovely Bones

Let me start off by saying that despite the highly mixed reviews of this film, mostly bad, I still felt that there was hope for The Lovely Bones. Something about it, about the story said to me "can this really be that bad??". Well I was right. I liked The Lovely Bones quite a bit actually.

Now I've never read the book, only seen the cover multiple times in the bookstores over the past year or two. The only thing I new about this film was from what I had read in the synopsis. A young girl is murdered and watches things play out in the real world, while she's making her way to her heaven. I'm not sure if this is why I liked it more or what, but I seem to be in the minority of fans of this film. Also I think a lot of the Peter Jackson "nerds" out there kinda bashed this film as it's not your typical Peter Jackson style of filmmaking, although there is quite a bit of CGI shots of the girl in the afterlife. With that being said, I think everyone should go into this film and pretend it's an unknown director. Give it a shot.

The Lovely Bones centers around the young Susie Salmon played by very talented Saoirse Ronan. One day walking home from school she's lured into a god awful situation by a very bad, disturbed, and sick individual named George Harvey played by Stanley Tucci who delivers in my opinion his finest most daring work to date, but we'll get back to that. After her father Jack played by Mark Wahlberg starts suspecting it's the man living just up the street, George Harvey, he starts lose control of himself and takes matters into his own hands.

The parts of the film that worked most for me are basically all the scenes that weren't fantasy oriented. I could have done with much less of seeing Susie in the afterlife and would have loved more real life scenes. After her death it's a cross between a cat and mouse game with George, Jack, and Susie's sister Lindsey, who really gives George's sanity a run for his money. up until about 3/4 of the way through the film Mark Wahlberg gives just a descent performance as the father but there is a scene where he confronts George in his driveway where he and his character step it up a notch. It's a great scene. Stanley Tucci's portrayal of George Harvey is freaking flawless. He's so twisted and such a disturbed person it's like we're really watching this nut case and not Tucci. His little mouth movements, the way he makes his straight evil face and then all of a sudden makes it dark and evil, it's amazing to watch. The way he goes from a normal looking creepy guy, to a disturbed creepy guy, to a crazed killer, all in one scene, in most of his scenes throughout the entire film. What an exhausting role for Tucci to play and he's so deserving of the nominations that he's received. A villain that will be remembered in cinema for years to come. I will be buying this on blu-ray the second it comes out for Stanley Tucci's performance alone. The Lovely Bones gets 4 outa 5.