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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…

Theatrical Review: “The Amazing Spider-Man”

July 9, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin, Matt Tolmach
Written by: JamesVanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves (screenplay); James Vanderbilt (story)
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: James Horner
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Chris Zylka
Year: 2012

 

A Foreword on the Reboot

Is it just me, or is cynicism the attitude of late with movie going audiences these days? I get that we’re starting to realize, more and more, that Hollywood, as a business, just really doesn’t care about the art, of their industry, or originality, or creativity as much as it does money, but, really, all the cynics should’ve realized this a lot sooner ’cause that’s how it’s always been. The attitude I’ve seen on internet discussions can hardly be called “jaded,” because there’s just too much hostility, less like a cry for higher quality entertainment and more like animosity towards any film that we really will know little about until they actually come out — primarily with films that involve the phrase “reboot.” It’s really all Christopher Nolan’s fault, to be honest. He had the audacity to reboot the Batman film franchise and turn it into gold, which in Hollywoodese means that everything must be given the gritty reboot treatment!

The reaction to his two Batman films has been largely positive, ecstatic, even, but with The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, it seems like people are already hailing it as an inevitable letdown for some reason. Casino Royale was pretty much the first major franchise to be given the reboot treatment, and that worked out pretty well, too, though even that film had its critics — people who hated the film based on the blonde-and-blue-eyed Daniel Craig or its turn towards the gritty and serious, people who apparently longed for the days of gadgetry, Denise Richards, and James Bond in space, I suspect. Like with Batman, I’m already seeing people ready to see them crash and burn. People are apparently tired of revisiting old franchises and their stories all over again, despite the fact that they keep turning up for these films and convincing the studios otherwise. Perhaps the greatest affront to reboot-haters out there these days is the latest Spider-Man film.

Though they had their flaws, the Sam Raimi films created a largely appealing world for the Webslinger and had a largely fantastic cast in place. Scenes from the series — from the upside down kiss in the first film, the terrifying awakening of Doc Ock and the moving train sequence in the second, or even the overacted silliness of pretty much everything in the third (Peter strutting, emo Peter, James Franco’s hilarious delivery of the line “So good”) — all became iconic moments in superhero cinema. With this reboot, all that has seemingly been painted over, replaced with something new and unfamiliar masquerading as the old. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t among them for a while, but after the disastrous Spider-Man 3, I was willing to give it a chance, which is more than some were willing to give — there were actually those out there who were hoping that this would actually fail and teach Sony a lesson, largely due to the even more worrisome fact that Sony was more concerned about losing their hold on the Spider-Man license and allowing them to revert back to the now-Disney-owned Marvel.

Review

Despite being a reboot and, therefore, another origin story, The Amazing Spider-Man manages to cover enough new ground and present a familiar character and his world in new ways that it never feels like the film is aping the Raimi films while capturing that Spider-Man spirit. The continuity between the two franchises is non-existent — the stories of Peter’s spider bite and the death of Uncle Ben both get retold, as expected, but other than that, the new film is completely different in tone, style, and personality. The previous films took on a largely soap opera-like sensibility and a cartoon style for their action scenes and characterizations which emphasized their comic book origins, but director Marc Webb took this new series (and it will be a series, I assure you) in a more down-to-earth direction that manages to still be lively, retaining the heart and fun nature of the character and his world intact, though, as with the Raimi films, there are a few elements sacrificed along the way. Read more…

Review: “The Departed”

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment
Director: Martin Scorsese
Produced by: Brad Pitt, Brad Grey, Graham King
Written by: William Monahan (screenplay), Felix Chong & Alan Mak (story)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson
Music by: Howard Shore
Remake of: 無間道 (Infernal Affairs, 2002)
Year: 2006

 

Can a film that tries to be a serious drama simultaneously be a popcorn film? I believe it can. The Departed certainly is. In fact, I was actually inspired to throw a bag in the microwave and toss in some Parmesan cheese for good measure while watching this remake of the Chinese gangster film, Infernal Affairs. Martin Scorsese, winning with this film what was somehow his first Oscar for Best Director, has crafted what is essentially an action film where all the action takes place in the flurry of words rather than bullets. Read more…

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