Friday, 8 July 2016

Movies from the plane and repeats

Plane Movies

So I recently took a trip so was on a plane for a few hours. The following were some films I saw on the plane. Therefore I may not have seen them at their best.

Frozen (2013) - Repeat viewing

Frozen is an excellent movie. To start with, the animation is stunning. From the character models to the scenery everything is gorgeously made. The voices are impeccably well cast. I would put emphasis on actors who are particularly good in this, however I would be mentioning the whole cast. Additionally the music is nearly perfect, the story line is constantly engaging and the comedy is brilliantly timed.

What makes this movie truly special, however is that it is daring enough to take elements of the princess movie sub-genre that have been cemented for years and completely transcends them. In doing this it also has a lot to say about sisterhood and love. For this reason it has become one of the biggest animated films of all time.

Tangled (2010)

It is unfortunate that I watched both this and Frozen on the same day. While also a very good film, Tangled is in the same genre as Frozen so it is hard not to compare them and Tangled is a much more simple movie. That is, however, not necessarily a bad thing.

The film does not try to be more than a good looking, funny, fairly basic princess film and it succeeds at that. The animation is great, the characters are interesting, I found myself relatively engaged in the plot throughout the film and the music was excellent. Overall it does not reach the heights that Frozen does but not a lot of films do. Taken on its own merits it is well worth watching.

Everybody Wants Some (2016)

Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors. He seems to have a good, somewhat philosophical understanding human emotion and this shows again in this film, a spiritual successor to one of his previous films , Dazed and Confused. This film assembles an excellent cast and has them relive the American college experience from the perspective of a testosterone filled guy on the baseball team. As with many of Linklater's films there is very little story but a lot of heart and it feels engaging throughout.

I did have a few problems with the film but they are largely my fault and not the film's, This is because, while Linklater obviously feels great affection towards these people, I never managed to get along with these types and they often remind me of people I do not care too much for in real life. Regardless he manages to argue that they are not so bad in the end and no matter who you are its hard to argue with the film. In the end it did have some of an emotional connection to the film so it must have worked.

Hail Caesar! (2016)

The Coen Brothers are also directors I have a lot of time for, unfortunately this is probably one of their worst films. That being only because they are yet to make (entirely) a bad film as far as I have seen. Hail Caesar is bright, colorful, preposterous and fun to a point. It is melodramatic, over the top, silly and full of great actors who all look like they are having a ball.

For a large portion of it I had a ball. To some extent the whole movie could be described as very entertaining.  Unfortunately at around the halfway point the schtick starts to wear old and I found myself getting tired of how theatrical, pointless and needlessly excessive the whole thing gets. It is certainly not a bad movie but it could just do with taking itself a smidgen more seriously and being toned down a notch.

Here are a few films that I re-watched over the past few days. Note they are all films I re-watched because they are films I really enjoy and are therefore all rated highly.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

After watching Frozen on the plane I felt I should rewatch what I believe to be the behemoth princess films. Beauty and the Beast, in my opinion has the best songs of any Disney feature. It blends in to this music an extremely relatable lead character, voiced wonderfully by Angela Lansbury along with a mansion of memorable, fun, interesting characters. Most of whom are literally furniture.

Every single aspect of Beauty and the Beast is picture perfect. The voice cast, characters, sound, story and dialog are all perfect. It is relatable, funny, heartwarming and downright fun. It is also fantastic to look at. Every aspect of it has been drawn in a gorgeous way from the amusing talking candelabra to the beautiful, grand mansion. I could not fault a thing with this film.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

I believe this to be the most well made movie from last year. The film had a story to tell with a point to make and it made it look effortless. Tom Hanks continues to be one of the most likeable actors in the world and Mark Rylance, who is mostly known for his stage work, managed to do the impossible by making people from the western world care about a man who was a Russian, cold war spy.

The film looks great, with excellent production design being particularly noteworthy and sounds great with a fantastic musical score. The biggest strength in my opinion is the script. Its dialog is snappy, interesting and funny in the most emotional and real kind of way. The pacing is perfect and I found myself consistently interested and engaged.

Love and Mercy (2015)

This film went under the radar of many people last year. When I went to see it in the theatre last year I was expecting "another safe, dull musical biopic" and I could not have been more wrong. This is an unconventional biopic that gives us a good look into the head of a brilliant man.

Both actors who play the lead character, Paul Dano and John Cusack, paint Brian Wilson wonderfully as a stange, brilliant, kind, wonderful, slightly messed up human being. The rest of the cast, especially Elizabeth Banks, also do a very good job at giving the film a wonderful, unconventional heart. The filmmakers managed to get the rights to the original music of the beach boys, which is played perfectly throughout the film and gives the film almost the entirety of its wonderful sound. This is a warm, quiet, wonderful, strange biopic that absolutely should have had more exposure than it did.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Concussion (2015)

This is a tough one for me to write about. Simply put it is about subject matter that should absolutely be talked about and is made with the best of intentions, but, unfortunately, is not very good. The film takes place less than ten years ago, making the ideas presented timely and all the more worth discussing.

The film follows a Nigerian pathologist, living in America, named Dr Bennet Omalu. He is a hard working Christian who performs autopsies for a living. One day, upon performing an autopsy on an NFL player who had gone crazy later in life, he discovers a brain disease caused by repeated head traumas. The movie follows his attempt to get this discovery noticed, while the NFL attempts to cover it up and get him discredited.

The problems this movie has are of the nature that it teeters on the edge of being a good movie. Therefore many of my criticisms would not necessarily be problems would it not be for how they fit together as a whole. The most obvious example of this, and also my largest problem with the film, is the slow pacing. There are many great films that tell stories in a leisurely way to progressively build character and tension and this is what the film seemed to be going for in this case. Unfortunately it often does this by needlessly reiterating points throughout the film and eventually starts to become tedious.

There are many scenes in the film that are interesting and necessary and when the film is at its best there are glimmers of greatness. Between these moments, however, there scenes of characters almost directly telling the audience what happened in previous scenes. This happens almost as if the filmmakers do not think the audience can understand it on their own. Together with these are too many obvious close ups and landscape shots to ensure that the audience knows how to feel at a certain time. Again, this is an example of a technique that, if done right, can help to make a movie great. It however is used so often and obviously that it becomes tiresome. Some of these scenes do, however look very nice.

While a tad obvious, the cinematography generally looks very nice as far as individual shots are concerned. These can, however get tiresome. The camera is kept very close to the dialog to attempt an emotional feel. This makes sense in aid of getting the message across. I unfortunately found myself at time wishing they could take a step back and properly show us the story.

On a positive note, the movie is very well scored and acted. Particularly, Will Smith as our lead gives one of his best performances in years. This is aided by a great make up job giving him a refined, mature look.

Overall, while the movie looks nice, sounds nice and features a great central performance I was left disappointed. This is a story worth telling and with only a small amount of refining could have been a movie worth watching too.