Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Woman In Black

      I hate scary movies! Why am I watching this? By the end of this movie that is exactly what I was thinking! The Woman in Black (2012) is a pretty good thriller. If you like thrillers. It’s Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, Vertigo) scary, very intense and creepy.  It isn’t Wes Craven (The Hill’s Have Eyes, Swamp Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street, New Nightmare) scary at all. So don't expect that.  

      Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter, December Boys, My Boy Jack) plays a young, grieving lawyer named Arthur Kipps. His wife died during childbirth and he is now raising his four year old son on his own. I think Daniel really enjoyed this role. He did a wonderful job. He did this movie after he had been on Broadway. He starred in Equus, on Broadway. It was a very challenging role for him and from the buzz I hear, he did great. He really rose to the challenge.  I think it helped him grow as an actor and give him some separation from the Harry Potter saga.

      The Woman In Black is a very interesting story. It’s a very quiet movie, not a whole lot of dialog and what is spoken is quiet, and hushed. It does have a wonderful score that adds to the movie beautifully. The cast is quite small as well.  It is mostly up to Daniel to carry the movie. Roger Allam (V for Vendetta, The Queen, The Iron Lady) plays Mr. Bently. He works with Arthur temporarily while Arthur is in this strange little village. I really liked his character and what he added to the movie. I can’t leave out Liz White (Life on Mars, Vera Drake, Wild Bill) She plays the Woman in Black.  I am not sure if she does her own screaming in the movie or if that was taken from else where, but the screams are great. Very spin chilling.

      While I am not a fan of scary movies, I do like the intense situations at times. I like to be a little scared, and if I am going to be scared, I prefer the unseen. That is so much scary than a monster, or chain saw man. The fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Host

      I was so excited for this movie! Not for the reason you may be thinking though.  Yes, it is a popular book, written by a very popular author. Yes, I have read the book, more than once.  I liked it.  It’s a good read. However, the reason I was following this movie, and was so excited for it, is because of Andrew Niccol (In Time, Gattaca, Lord of War, S1m0ne) Andrew is a writer, director, and producer. He does it all.  I really like In Time (2011) and Gattaca (1997). He wrote and directed both of these.  Having read The Host I knew, it was right up his alley and it would be good. I wasn’t disappointed.

      The Host (2013) is a very interesting story about life on earth after aliens have come and taken over. They not only take over the planet, but they take control of peoples bodies.  Humans become hosts to this alien species. There are pockets of resistance, of course. You always need opposition for a good story. The book is pretty long and goes into a lot of detail. Describing setting, background, building characters and relationships. In a movie you can leave all of that out.  We don’t need a lot of pages describing the underground caves that the humans are living in.  We can just see it.  We don’t need a lot of background story in a movie either.  It is common for a movie to drop side stories.  You have to figure out what the main story is and stick with that line of story telling. I understand these things, and so I am really ok with things being left out. As long as the main things are there.

      The movie stays very true to the book.  There is nothing in the movie that doesn’t happen in the book. The things that are left out aren’t crucial to the telling of Melanie’s story. So it worked.  The casting was great! William Hurt (The Village, Neverwas, Vantage Point, Into The Wild) plays Uncle Jeb.  Jeb is one of my favorite characters. Hurt played him just the way I had imagined him. He was wonderful, which is to be expected of Hurt. Diane Kruger (Unknown, Troy, National Treasure, Wicker Park) is the Seeker. She is another character that leaves an impression. Diane played her beautifully. I can’t really say I “like” her. You’re not really suppose to “like” her. But Diane brought her to life. Saoirse Ronan (City Of Ember, The Lovely Bones, Atonement, Hanna) plays Melanie and Wanderer. I haven’t seen her in anything before. She was really good in this though and I enjoyed watching her.  It’s a bit of a tough role. Melanie is the human, who is resisting her alien, who goes by the name Wanderer. It was fun to read the interaction between the two and I wondered how they would portray it in a movie format.  There is so much that takes place in her mind. They did a great job and the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer really comes across.

      In my opinion that is the most important thing in making a book into a movie. Does the feeling of the book come across? Can you get attached to these characters in just two hours the way you do in the long drawn out time it takes to devour a good book? Andrew Niccol has a gift for telling a story. I like his writing style, his character development and his directing style. He accomplished these things beautifully.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Alex Cross

      Alex Cross (2012) is very loosely based on the novel Cross by James Patterson. The similarities between the book and the film are few and far between though. I have never read a James Patterson novel.  The only reason I have followed this one is because of Tyler Perry (Good Deeds, Star Trek, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Family That Preys). Yes, I am aware that he did not direct, produce or write Alex Cross.  I just really like Tyler Perry! It was very cool to see him doing something so different. I have to say I am a little nervous to read the book now. I may not have read any of his books I have however seen the other movies based on his Alex Cross books, Kiss The Girls (1997) and Along Came A Spider (2001). Pretty frightening and disturbing stuff. 

      If you have seen Kiss The Girls or Along Came A Spider you will be prepared for Alex Cross. It is not for the faint of heart, as they say. (Whoever “they” are) There are a couple of steamy sex scenes, there is torture and the killer, Picasso, is just evil. If you liked Matthew Fox (Vantage Point, We are Marshall, Smokin’ Aces) in Lost (2004-2010) you may not want to watch this movie. He is absolutely terrifying as Picasso. He looks terrible, shaved head, too thin, and crazy eyes. Matthew went all out for this role, strict diet, crazy workout routine. It paid off. His portrayal of Picasso will forever change your view of him and you will never get it out of your head. It reminded me of watching Harrison Ford (American Graffiti, The Frisco Kid, Blade Runner, Witness) in What Lies Beneath (2000). Creepy!

      The casting was actually really good.  I liked Edward Burns (Saving Private Ryan, 27 Dresses, Man on a Ledge, She’s the One).  He was wonderful as Thomas Kane, Alex’s partner, and he has some very funny, quotable lines.  In an intense murder mystery you always need some comic relief.  Edward delivers. Cicely Tyson (Fried Green Tomatoes, The Help, Diary of a Mad Black Woman) is wonderful as Nana Mama, Alex’s grandmother. I always enjoy watching her. It was a little weird seeing John C. McGinley (Point Break, Se7en, The Rock, Wild Hogs) He is the Captain and I had a hard time seeing him in that role.  He was great; don’t get me wrong, he did well. It’s just that, well, for some reason I couldn’t get Dr. Perry Cox out of my head.  I didn’t even watch Scrubs (2001-2010) all that much but still…. I kept picturing him saying “your not going to make a very good Dr. if your head keeps exploding like that” I don’t know, whatever.

      Tyler Perry was wonderful, as usual, and Alex Cross delivers. If you are looking for a good shoot ‘em up, cop goes off the deep end, crazy serial killer movie, here you go. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Premium Rush

      When I was in high school I was big into the skateboarding scene.  Yes, I owned a skateboard and knew how to ride.  One of my favorite movies was a skateboarding movie called Gleaming the Cube (1989) starring a very young Christian Slater (Kuffs, Untamed Heart, Murder In The First, Bed of Roses). I have been a fan of Christian Slater ever sense, and I still love Gleaming the Cube.  It is a very fun, cool skateboarding movie.  You may ask, “Why am I talking about this old movie?” Well, that would be because I just watched Premium Rush (2012). It was a lot like Gleaming the Cube but with bikes instead of skateboards.

       Premium Rush takes place on the streets of Manhattan, mostly from the eyes of a bike messenger.  I was captivated from the opening scene! Joseph Gordon-Levitt (10 Things I Hate About You, Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises), whom I just adore, plays Wilee. Wilee is a bike messenger who lives life a little dangerously, or so his friends say. He has taken the breaks and the gears off his bike. The opening scene is him flying through the air and landing in the road after being hit by a taxi. The clock then counts back a few hours to show us how he got there.  I think the whole movie takes place in a matter of 3-4 hours. It is very fast paced and entertaining but also has a good story line with well developed characters.

      David Koepp (Stir of Echoes, Secret Window, Mission: Impossible, Carlito’s Way) wrote and directed Premium Rush.  I love his style! At times we would see the streets from Wilee’s point of view.  We would see his various options and the out come of going each way, then he would choose a path.  It was a very cool idea and it worked really well.  There is so much I liked about this movie! The soundtrack is great, the acting is wonderful, the cinematography (the art or science of motion-picture photography) is incredible and there is a plot and a story line. It’s more then just a great action flick. Every thing I loved about Gleaming the Cube back in ‘89.

      Here’s a little trivia for you. Watch the end credits. While filming, Joseph crashed into a taxi. He shattered the rear windshield and cut up his arm pretty good. He needed 31 stitches. I knew the blood in that scene looked more realistic then usual.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Warm Bodies

      With the move and the other things going on in my life right now I have felt a little like a zombie lately, just going through the motions.  I am trying to get back into a routine and back to living.  It seems only appropriate that my first blog after a long break should be about a zombie coming back to life.  Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, X-Men First Class, Clash Of The Titans) is simply adorable as R, he goes by R because he can’t remember his name but he knows it started with an “R”. The zombie with a conscience. “They’ll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I’m conflicted about it”. R has some very funny, quotable lines.

      Warm Bodies (2013) is a very cute, fun and charming twist to the typical Romeo and Juliet story.  That’s really what it is. I mean, he goes by R, her name is Julie. Julie is engaged to Perry and R’s best friend goes by M.  Julie’s best friend is Nora and she just happens to be a nurse. There is even a balcony scene, one of my favorite scenes by the way. 

      The makeup in this movie is so well done. I really enjoyed watching R slowly become more human and watching the way his face changes. It is so subtle and barely noticeable. He just all of a sudden looks…..better, livelier.  I loved the voice over. It was a fun way to let us into R’s quirky thoughts. He narrates through the entire movie but in a fun way, not annoying at all.

      Isaac Marion wrote the novel on which Warm Bodies is based. He also worked on the screenplay with the director, Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) He is a fairly new director who hasn’t done much but I liked his style and what he did with this movie.

      When it comes to this movie you get exactly what you expect. It is a Horror, Comedy, Romance zombie movie with a little something for everyone. Just a fun entertaining story, it doesn’t pretend to be anything more then that. A zombie love story, and why not in this day of paranormal romances?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Les Miserables

      What an experience! I had the privilege of attending a prescreening of Les Miserables (2012).  I didn’t know what to expect.  I have been following this movie since the rumors began.  I have followed the casting. Watched every available clip as soon as it was released. Needless to say I have been anxiously awaiting this day.  I fell in love with the music of Les Mis right from the beginning, it just gets into your soul. Then I got to see it performed live. That was breathtaking! Since then it has been a favorite of mine.  I can’t get enough of it.  So it only makes sense I would be on pins and needles waiting for the movie version.

      Where to start? The music? The acting? The directing? The brutal honesty? Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Damned United, Longford) directed Les Miserables. He really wanted it to be authentic, the life of the people at that time, the look and feel of the poor. It was not sugar coated.  As I mentioned, I think I am pretty familiar with the story and the images portrayed at that time period.  I have never seen it so ……… brutally honest.  The Lovely Ladies song is a perfect example of that honesty.  It’s kind of hard to watch, and the things Fantine is put through ...... how tragic. Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Ella Enchanted, Bride Wars) plays Fantine. I have heard people talk about her the most, fans doubt that she can play that part. She is amazing! The entire cast did a wonderful job singing.

      When you watch any production of Les Miserables the focus is on the talent of the singers and really hitting those notes, the beauty of the voices. However, the movie is all about the emotion of the songs and what they are saying more than anything else. In the past, when a musical is filmed, the actors would lip-sync to a prerecorded track. Not this time! The actors had to sing live. The orchestra was added in post-production and they had to play to the actors singing, not the other way around.  That was so cool. It gave the actors the freedom to act and add the emotion they were feeling in each scene. And there is a lot of emotion in this movie. The composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyricist Alain Boublil even wrote a new song for the movie. It is such a beautiful song called Suddenly and it fits in perfectly. All of the music is slightly different due to the actors choices but I enjoyed it just the same. There is so much passion you can’t help but get lost in it.

      There were some things I missed.  You don’t get to hear Gavroche sing the full version of Little People, just the little reprise parts. The other two songs that are cut are the innkeeper and his wife's songs. They do sing Master of the House but not Beggers at the Feast or Dog Eats Dog. I understand why they cut these songs; time, focus, side characters, however they are a bit of comic relief, without them you don’t get a break. One thing I noticed while sitting in the theater was the absolute silence.  It isn’t very often an entire theater is so engrossed.  The only noise was the laughter during Master of the House and then an applause as the end credits rolled.

      Every single person involved in this movie really gave it their all and wanted to please the fans. You could feel it in every inch of the film. I was wondering why it is such a powerful musical and why it has the impact it does on people. It’s not pleasant; it shows humanity at its worst. I mean it’s called The Miserables, it’s not supposed to be pretty.  I think it’s the message it has. “To love another person is to see the face of God”. It’s the story of a man who hated the world and all the wrong that had happened to him. When he lets God into his life and learns to love others, and forgive, he finds happiness. What an important and timeless message.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stand By Me

      To finally have all of those questions answered after so many years! Way back in 1986 I watched this little coming of age movie starring some amazing up and coming actors. It has been a favorite of mine ever since.  Stand By Me (1986) will always have a soft spot in my heart.  I can’t explain why. It's probably one of those movies that planted the seed for my love of movies in general.  I just love it!

     There are a lot of people that don’t realize that Stand by Me is a Stephen King movie.  It is based on a short story entitled The Body. Stephen King wanted to write a story compiling events that happened to him and his friends, and what it was like for him growing up. So, which parts actually happened to Stephen King and which are made up? The leeches are true; the milk money story is true. Stephen King was the good kid that they trusted. A lot of it is true and the feeling of being 12 in 1959 is all true.

    Since this movie came out in 1986 I am guessing you watched it years ago or have never even heard of it. If you are going to watch it, whether for the first time or just the first time in years, watch the special features. There is an  exclusive featurette called “walking the tracks the summer of stand by me”. It was so good! I absolutely loved it and that is where I got the answers to all of my questions.  It is so different from what we think is typical Stephen King for one thing.  I mean not all of his works are horror. The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption aren’t horror either. I always wondered where the story of Stand By Me came from, and if it was somewhat autobiographical.

     Another question I always had was about Gordy’s hat.  There is a scene in which the hat Gordy’s brother gave him is taken by the bullies. He never gets it back and it seems to be forgotten about. Why?  Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Toy Soldiers, Leverage, The Big Bang Theory) who plays Gordy, asked the director about that. He was told that the bully threw it away as soon as he walked around the corner. The hat scene is mainly used to push Wil’s character forward to the final scene. Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys, Young Guns, The Sentinel, Phone Booth) plays Ace Merrill, the leader of the gang of bullies. It was one of his first roles and I have been a fan of his ever since. When he talked about stealing the hat he wanted to put it on. He was told no he couldn’t, “you wouldn’t care that much and you would never mess up your hair that way.” Rob told him.

     I should mention that the director of Stand by Me is the famous Rob Reiner (All in the Family, Bullets Over Broadway, The Story of Us, The Bucket List) He is amazing! He is what they like to call an actors director. He has done it all, actor, director, writer and producer. In the featurette he talks about casting the boys for this film. “when you are casting 12 or 13 year old boys you need to stay close to who they really are. They don’t have the craft at that age to go far beyond that.” That shows how gifted he is that he would know that and then could find such talented boys to fill those roles. It is so well cast. Because they were so young it was kind of a first for some of them.

   Jerry O’Connel (Jerry Maguire, Scream 2, Sliders, Obsessed) was one who had never acted before. He had only done one commercial. He said that Stand by Me was the first film he made that he felt was a reflection of him or an extension of himself and a  coming of age for him. Wil Wheaton pretty much felt the same. I adored Jerry and have liked watching him grow and evolve.  I am a fan but I don’t really like the movies he does or the acting choices he makes. Tom Cats (2001) ughh! Need I say more?

   I could go on and on, obviously, about how much I enjoy this movie and how much I loved the featurette. The featurette even made me cry at the end.  It had a beautiful tribute to River Phoenix (My Own Private Idaho, Running On Empty, Sneakers, Little Nikita) whom I absolutely love.