March 29, 2009

#021: Rachel Getting Married

Anne Hathaway stars in this film about a girl who takes a break from rehab to come home for her older sister's wedding. This isn't a film that you sit back and watch, but rather one you experience. It had this odd effect where it drew me in to the story and made me feel like I was a guest for the weekend. I felt like I was right there along with the characters experiencing these very awkward situations. Part of this is because of the way it was shot. It uses a hand-held camera style, but like pro hand-held; It isn't shaky at all. It really succeeded in making you feel like you were part of the action, without forcing you to notice it was using that type of camera the entire time. Another reason I was drawn in was because of the great acting by main characters. The father and two sisters do a great job. There were some very uncomfortable scenes they did really well with. I don't really know how to judge acting, but I will say that the characters felt very sincere, and I felt empathy for both sides of the argument. For me that means that the actor had to be fairly successful. Overall this was a great character film that invites you to join their family for a couple of hours and feel the stress and frustration that is associated with planning a wedding and dealing with the skeletons in your closet.
Of course, this film cannot escape without some criticism. This movie was really good, but there were a few things that bothered me about it. First off, there are some scenes that just go on for way too long. The rehearsal dinner was a great scene, but it overstayed its welcome for me. It started to get tedious and I was very happy to move on to the next scene. The wedding reception also goes on way too long. The feeling was communicated within the first 3 minutes of singing and dancing. We really didn't need the other 10 minutes or so that was tacked on there. I also didn't like how the older sister was in school to be a psychologist. We are watching them deal with family issues, you don't have to make one of them a psychologist. That just seemed a little hokey to me. With that being said, it was still a very good movie, and definitely worth watching.


March 21, 2009

#020: Let The Right One In

This is a Swedish film about a pale 12 year old boy who doesn't have many friends. He gets picked on at school and would like nothing more than to exact his revenge on the bullies. One night he meets a strange young girl who has moved in next door. They form a friendship even though he senses something isn't quite right about her.

Let The Right One In was on many critics' top 10 lists for 2008. It also scores an astonishing 97% on When it came out last week I bumped it to the top of my list and waited in anticipation. This is definitely not your Hollywood movie. It is very "art-house" with lots of lingering shots and very little dialog. I watched it in Swedish with English subtitles, though you can watch it dubbed in English if you wish. The director pays excruciating detail to the sounds in the film. He also uses lots of close-up shots. It all acts to pull you more into the cold white Swedish landscape.

When the movie was over I wasn't sure what to make of it. I definitely enjoyed that it was something different. I liked the characters, but there were lots of scenes that I just didn't understand. I felt I had to sift through the scenes and decide which ones were paramount to the overall plot. At the time it was frustrating, but when it was over I enjoyed the sprawling nature of it. I felt like the main themes of the film were pretty clear, and I did follow them the entire way. I would say the main theme was one of isolation and loneliness. All of the main characters feel somehow cutoff from the rest of the world. The white Swedish landscape acts to reinforce the coldness they are feeling. This movie is definitely character driven, but is still a tense vampire movie. I definitely wouldn't classify is as a horror, but it did creep me out a few times. I enjoyed the fact that this is not like most other vampire movies out there. I have to admit I usually shy away from the genre, so I don't have a lot to compare it to. However, the ones I have seen always tend to glamorize the vampire. The vampire is usually looking and charismatic. Most of the time the blood-drinking isn't just a way to stay alive, but an act the vampire takes great pleasure in. In this film, the fact that Eli has to drink blood is treated more like a nasty habit she can't get rid of. It is presented as sick and messy. Her victims still have to be disposed of, and somebody has to do the dirty work so she can continue to live.

I would definitely recommend this movie, but you have to realize it is a little different. It tended to be slow in parts, but it just gives you time to enjoy the cinematography and story telling. If you do see this movie I definitely want to know what you thought about it. After watching it, I really want to read the book it was based on. I feel there was a lot more to it than what the movie could present.

March 8, 2009

#019: Pineapple Express

I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie. I didn't have very high expectations because I don't usually get into the "stoner comedy" movies. Pineapple Express exceeded my expectations, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was a good movie. It had its moments, and those scenes are funny enough to make it worth watching. The plot was a mess, but the dialog made the movie watchable. I liked that it never took itself to seriously. The movie seemed to recognize how horrible it was. I guess I will recommend this one, but just don't expect too much. It should succeed in serving up some laughs.