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Archive for November, 2012

Theatrical Review: “Rise of the Guardians”

November 30, 2012 12 comments
Rise of the GuardiansDirected by: Peter Ramsey
Produced by: Christina Steinberg, Nancy Bernstein; Guillermo del Toro, William Joyce, Michael Siegel (executive producers); Arin Finger (associate producer)
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay); William Joyce (story)
Art Direction by: Alexandre Desplat
Editing by: Joyce Arrastia
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Based on the book series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce
Year: 2012

 

Imagine that all the childhood mythological figures were somehow real and were also way more awesome than how they are usually imagined. Imagine, for example, that they were way more like superheroes, and let’s say that, from time to time, they assembled together like some other recent big screen superhero team in order to defend childhood from evil fiends who would like nothing more than to ruin this blissful period of life. That’s essentially the awesome concept behind Rise of the Guardians, an DreamWorks Animation adaptation of the William Joyce books of a similar name. It’s a fairly awesome premise for an action-packed fantasy film, and, for a good while, Rise lives up to its promise, but not without making a few missteps along the way. Read more…

Special Review: “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) – A Gradual Epiphany

November 27, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: George Seaton
Produced by: William Perlberg
Written by: George Seaton (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Lloyd Ahem, Charles G. Clarke
Editing by: Robert L. Simpson
Music by: Cyril Mockridge
Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, Edmund Gwenn, Porter Hall, Gene Lockhart
Year: 1947

 

I have never believed in Santa Claus. My parents were pretty much of the same opinion regarding Santa as Maureen O’Hara’s character, Doris Walker, is in this film: Why lie? My younger sister, too, never believed, though it was more through my own efforts to “ruin” things for her as the older brother than any discouragement on my parents’ part. (I also ruined the Easter Bunny and Toothfairy for her, which makes her interest in the film Rise of the Guardians somewhat ironic, if not a result of some deep-seated resentment for having never believed in fairy tales — though I may be over-analyzing here.) So we basically grew up only understanding these figures as mythical characters, understanding that many other kids believed in these myths and that we shouldn’t ruin it for them, but never comprehending exactly how someone could. Read more…

Review: “It Happened One Night”

November 21, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Frank Capra
Produced by: Frank Capra, Harry Cohn
Written by: Robert Riskin (screenplay); Samuel Hopkins Adams (story)
Cinematography by: Joseph Walker
Editing by: Gene Havlick
Music by: Howard Jackson, Louis Silvers
Starring: Clark Cable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Jamesson Thomas, Alan Hale, Arthur Hoyt, Blanche Friderici, Charles C. Wilson
Based on the short story Night Bus by Samuel Hopkins Adams
Year: 1934

 

The romantic comedy genre has a bad reputation these days, primarily because most modern romantic comedies are insipid, grating experiences that rely primarily (often solely) on star power and easy jokes to fill 90+ minutes. Yet so many of them make such big money, it’s easy to see why studios continue to make them — a sad fact that infuriates those with, in my humble opinion, objectively better taste than those who pretty much throw their money away. Read more…

Review: “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”

November 20, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Produced by: Steve Golin, Joy Gorman, Mark Roybal, Steven M. Rales
Written by: Lorene Scafaria
Cinematography by: Tim Orr
Editing by: Zene Baker
Music by: Jonathan Sadoff, Rob Simonsen
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Martin Sheen, Mark Moses
Year: 2012

 

Even though the chances of the 2012 apocalypse actually playing out the doomsday scenario so many are still claiming it will are infinitesimally small, the very thought about life as we know it ending forever does get one thinking about what matters most to them and to mankind in general. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a romantic comedy that attempts to examine this profound question by following in the life of a middle aged insurance salesman and his ditzy Manic Pixie archetype neighbor with whom he inevitably falls in love with as they head out on a road trip, facing an end of the world scenario thanks to the giant asteroid heading in Earth’s direction. Read more…

Review: “Enchanted”

November 14, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Kevin Lima
Produced by: Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Bill Kelly
Cinematography by: Don Burgess
Editing by: Gregory Perler, Stephen A. Rotter
Music by: Alen Menken, Stephen Schwartz (lyrics)
Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon, Julie Andrews (narration)
Year: 2007

 

Every now and then, you just want to escape the cynical world around you and delve into a little bit of celebratory saccharine sweetness to make you a bit happier to be alive. Enchanted is a great film to unwind with, as I quickly found out tonight after this movie arrived in the mail and I decided to put it on in the background of my household cleaning, only to find myself laying down on the couch and absorbing the infectiously fun fish-out-of-water fairy tale about a naive princess who is transported into our world after being pushed down a magical well by an evil queen, only to find out that true love isn’t always at first sight. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Skyfall”

November 13, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Music by: Thomas Newman (score), Adele (title song)
Editing by: Stuard Baird, Kate Baird
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney
Based on the characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2012

 

One of the best things about Skyfall, Bond movie #23, is that, being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise means that it gets a bit of leeway for being a bit reverential towards its series legacy. Fans of the series from any era will find a few bits here and there to point at and go, “Hey, look!” A lot of franchises do this on their anniversaries, and the Bond franchise even went and did this ten years ago, when Die Another Day was released as not only the 20th Bond movie, but also on the somewhat less glamorous 40th anniversary of the film franchise.

Whereas that film felt more like an exploitation of the series history through a poorly assembled “Greatest Hits” compilation, however, Skyfall feels more like a reverential tribute that smartly takes these well known and celebrated elements (ridiculous stunts, expensive gadgetry, eccentric villains, and sweeping theme songs) and reworks them to fit into the new tone set in place by the reboot films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. From the opening gambit onward, director Sam Mendes establishes this tone with a great mix of the old and new, as Bond is faced with not just physical struggles, but also emotional and personal struggles.

(Very mild spoilers ahead.) Read more…

Review: “Quantum of Solace”

November 9, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Marc Forster
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Cinematography by: Roberto Schaefer
Music by: David Arnold (score), Jack White and Alicia Keys (title song)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton, Anatole Taubman, David Harbour, Joaquín Cosío, Rory Kinnear
Based on the character created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2008

 

After the considerable critical enthusiasm over the James Bond reboot, Casino Royale, it was probably inevitable that disappointment would have surrounded the followup. Consider the fact that the film’s production was affected by the 2007 – 2008 Writer’s Guild strike (with writer Paul Haggis reportedly completing the final touches just two hours prior to the beginning of the strike) and the fact that the film’s director, Marc Forster, was making his action movie debut. So, yes, the odds were stacked up against this already unusually named Bond entry (which is named after but not an adaptation of a collection of Bond short stories — in case you didn’t know). Read more…

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