this film literally took my breath away - several times. a documentary about Tim Jenison (of CGI, animation, VFX fame) searching for an answer to Johannes Vermeer’s cinematic-esque and seemingly impossible to recreate by hand paintings and his attempt to recreate ‘The Piano Lesson’ with his two hands that, up to his attempt, had painted exactly 3 oil paintings prior. the commitment and diligence in painting with the method he discovers (a combination of camera obscura, various optics, and mirrors) blows you away at both his efforts and the reality that this very well may have been Vermeer’s system. Tim’s stoic persona and creative editing bring a very nice touch (thank you Penn & Teller) and humor to what must have been totally agonizing at times. definitely worth the money to catch in theaters, but will be just as impactful on a smaller screen as well.
3.75 out of 5.
The Monuments Men
I agree with the majority of reviews on this one; while there were many very heartfelt and ‘big’ moments in the film highlighting the importance of the existence of art and its effect on humanity, it did feel very much like the story was lethargic and only serving those moments which left it pretty want at times for more to happen. apparently there is a good amount of editorial changes to the story from the real-life accounts of the ‘save the art’ mission for this team in WWII, but i do think this story is INSANELY interesting and even if this movie piques people’s interests to do more research, I’d say that’s still something important. i actually didn’t even know the whole ‘Hitler steals all the arts’ thing happened and now I know the military was a butthole about recovering it all but thank god it did get saved (most of it at least). this’ll be a wait for it on Netflix, but still worth watching when you can.
2 out of 5.
The Wind Rises
Unlike Miyazaki’s past ‘last films,’ this one very much feels like it. thematically and narratively, there are many hints that he’s ready to lay down the pencil and paper. the art, as always, is absolutely breathtaking for an animated film - these aren’t just cartoons, this is moving art. the combination of ink and paint is just so perfect and beautiful. i also really enjoyed the deeper focus on very personal relationships and characterization in this film and the anti-war message (still present) was not nearly as heavy-handed as in his past films, like Howl’s Moving Castle. the film really struck a chord with me and it’s probably at least in my top 4 Ghibli films and a damn good final step if this really is goodbye for Hayao Miyazaki.
4 out of 5.
The LEGO Movie
I almost have no words. I don’t even remember the last time I left a theater feeling so much want for more as when I walked out of The LEGO Movie. I was in the same awe watching this as when I was watching Gravity - just pure fascination with what I was seeing and how well the film wove nostalgia, quality storytelling, technical animation, and flawless writing into just a… perfect film for everybody. The message is just so basic and almost naive, and it really does fit LEGO perfectly. Five minutes into the movie and I knew it was gonna be special. Get in line to see this one, it’s ok I’ll be there too.
5 out of 5.
The Pretty One
This was a very off-beat and truly quirky film - there were a lot of moments that really reminded me of Eagle Vs. Shark, which is truly the most awkward film I’ve ever seen and there are definitely some moments in this that just have you grinding your teeth in cheesiness… BUT. BUT BUT. the twist is oh-so heavy and came at the perfect time. As for the dramatic action of the film, it’s not too terribly great, but it’s not bad either. This is a pretty run-of-the-mill festival feature that’s strength is its cast, really good casting. Other than that, nothing too tremendously special.
3 out of 5.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I think a lot of people were probably coming to this to see the same kind of groundbreaking comedy that the first Anchorman was, which is kind of why it didn’t really do it for me… Even from the first trailer, the actors looked too old for their characters - and again, once I saw the film, each person was this cartoonized, caricatured version of themselves from the first film. A lot of the humor does kind of make you laugh out loud, because it’s the best take from a million other improvised takes that made it into the final cut and that’s another weakness - the scene transitions and back-and-forth is jarring most of the time and the edit feels very frankensteiny. The best part of the movie is the battle at the end with the rival networks again, so many actors from out of the cracks (Harrison Ford!). I would say worth the wait for it to get to Netflix.
2.5 out of 5.
This really was an incredible, heartfelt, and dense exploration of relationships - much more than the “guy dates his computer” tagline summary that seems to dog the film a little. Just an absolutely gorgeous and well-done film, much like the rest of Spike Jonze’s catalog. He’s easily one of the most visionary modern directors, which somehow I’ve understood since I first saw the music video for Buddy Holly (Weezer). I think the thing that touched me most was the film had it’s finger on the pulse of modern, romantic relationships and that’s what made it so colossal. A must-not-miss for sure.
4.75 out of 5.
So the way I reckon, I’m still allowed to review and give some thoughts about things I see, right? Even though the 365 project’s over? Well I’m going to.
The problem I had with this film was that it was really mostly just about eye candy, in the cinematography, the storytelling, and the casting. Jennifer Lawrence did what she could, but that was not a part or character for a 23 year-old woman to be playing (maybe try a 27-30 year-old). Christian Bale, however, did absolutely fantastic - he’s such a great actor and this was no exception. The heist has been done over and over and again though, and so nothing with the story really had me sucked in - the twists kept flying so that was what I came to expect and that’s all the movie really was. The only really stand-out scene was the one with Robert DeNiro and it was far far far too short, and then there weren’t any consequences from why he was even in it! It’s getting lots of Oscar love for some reason, but it’s pretty overrated, in my opinion.
365 Film Challenge - Caddyshack
- here’s what i think is really interesting… the ‘main’ cast credits roll at the top of the film and then the ‘starring’ cast rolls in soon after with Danny’s name coming first etc. but arguably Rodney Dangerfield probably has the most lines and then maybe Danny and then the old guy and who knows after that, but it’s all out of whack! the actual story of the kid winning the scholarship just doesn’t resonate the same way the comic performances (Bill Murray and Dangerfield) and the memorable sequences (everything Bill Murray does, the pool scene, Dangerfield’s entrance and golf bag) and I think that is what makes the film as classic as it is. it would have been SO DUMB had Chase, Dangerfield, and both Murrays not been in it. coupled with actually very creative camera work and boosh. instant classic and the perfect film to end my 365 Film project. happy 2013, here’s to an even happier 2014! THAT’s IT I’M DONE.
closing thoughts to come tomorrow afternoon (and by tomorrow afternoon i mean probably never).
365 of 365.
365 Film Challenge - Ben Hur
- i actually really enjoyed watching a film that was supposedly kind of about Jesus but Jesus was hardly even in it at all. in fact they didn’t even show his face (on the one shot it would have been visible they covered it up with a big black smudge). anyways, Jesus aside, i have a feeling the BIG thing about the film that people take away (because it is awesome) is the chariot race, which I’m pretty sure was absolutely practically done. huge crowds in the stadium and all these actual chariots and horses with actors driving, just a ridiculous scale to have be just PART of the film, only 7 minutes. totally insane. buuuuuuut the rest of the movie is 3 hours and 30 minutes and it definitely drags for quite a bit. Charlton Heston carries the story pretty well and the intrigue of the biblical context is pretty interesting as well, but it’s just so long… the film itself being made is an undertaking and the score is pretty incredible and featured at the top and the intermission pretty prominently, so that’s probably the huuuuge legacy of the film. either way, i does also make The Life Of Brian way funnier also. just interesting that i keep watching these films after i’ve seen the parodies already. GO SEE THIS. ALSO I ONLY HAVE ONE FILM LEFT BAAHHH.
364 of 365.
365 Film Challenge - Seven Samurai
- the night cinematography was what really jumped out to me and all the awesome fight sequences once the bandits start attacking the village. obviously it’s pretty long, but the story moves forward the entire time and the pacing never really seems slow - it’s pretty fantastic. i would have been curious to see how foreign film got into the U.S. market so well back when distribution was tougher, because tons of directors cite Akira Kurosawa as one of their inspirations (George Lucas, etc.) and i suppose samurai culture wouldn’t necessarily have been quite as pervasive as it is now… just interesting that Japanese culture was seemingly so accessible and understandable in the 50’s and 60’s. the script was pretty great, but there were a few things that seemed a little tacked on, like the random love interest part way through. either way, it’s great and the film deserves it’s legacy - Criterion Collection on Hulu, get at it.
363 of 365.
365 Film Challenge - Metropolis
- oh man, by way of silent films - which i’ve seen a hefty amount of by now - i’d say the scale of this is simply unrivaled. i was definitely saving this one for near the end of my film-watching project and it was pretty worth it. as being the first sci-fi film EVER really, this one just took that bar and raised it so high, there’s no wonder even modern sci-fi films have so much precedent for inspiration and also reputation of actual realistic fantasy to uphold. i wish i could have been in a 1920’s audience to see this in theaters, the effects must have driven people insane! it’s pretty evident (between this and Modern Times) that the norm for society was either factory life or religion, or a crossover of the two - and Metropolis is this grand blend of commentary on both. workers being held down by the powers that be (totally inspired by the rising German government of the time) and manipulated by technology and leaders of singularity, all held together by a caste system-inspired plotline. for a 1920’s movie, this is pretty impressive, almost too dense for one watch-through. i am glad to finally get this classic into my brain and understand allusions to it better (lookin’ at you Star Wars) and see even more historical representation in film.
362 of 365.
365 Film Challenge - The Fall
- an excellently crafted fantasy film on a big scale - the part of the story that makes it unique is that it’s framed as this story within a story for Alexandria (the main little girl) almost in a Stranger Than Fiction way that takes on this storybook quality. the way the film is shot and the bright colors of the story being told make it that much more immersive and exciting as you watch the film. the fictionalization of history (Charles Darwin!) and the contrast between what starts as a lighthearted story and the reality of bed-ridden hospital patients really creates a great film. i’d love to watch it again soon, so you should watch it too!
361 of 365.