Movie Tuesday: Christopher Robin

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 10.47.30 PMRecommendation: This movie was not only funny, entertaining, and thought-provoking, but it was also very well-made and a wonderful trip down memory.

Writing/Screenplay: This movie was written to send a message, and it did so in a very artistic and successful way.  This was a script intended to remind its audience of the joys of childhood and the importance of using leisure well.  I would say the script succeeded in these things, by using some of the most classic Winnie-the-Pooh lines, consistently throughout the movie (keep scrolling to see specific lines in the quotes section).  There was a lot of wit and humor in the language of this film, but it was used meaningfully to both entertain and engage the audience as only Pooh can.

Score: 10/10

Acting: There are two aspects of the acting in this film, the voice-acting and the live-action acting.  For the characters of Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore the acting was very good, they stayed true to the iconic voices of the characters that I remember from my childhood.   The other voices of the hundred acres’ woods did undergo some changes and as a result they felt unfamiliar to me.

The live-action acting was excellent, especially that of Bronte Carmichael. Ewan McGregor also did a great job as an older Christopher Robin.  If I had one criticism it would be that unfortunately Ewan McGregor’s Scottish accent sometimes popped up, but all in all, the actors did a phenomenal job, maybe not Oscar-worthy, but certainly worth watching.

Score: 9/10

Cinematography: The use of color in this film to remind the audience of leisure and childhood was absolutely phenomenal and may have been one of my favorite parts of the film.  The mise-en-scene of this film was incredibly intentional and consistent, it was excellently done.  Though I did not notice any super fancy camera work, I really think so much effort was put into the set that fancy camera angles were unnecessary and probably would have been too much.

On a different note the animation was actually quite realistic and meticulous.  The lines between reality and imagination were intentionally blurred in the way the the 100 Acre Woods was animated, again done very consistently with the theme of the movie.  At first I thought having such life like characters in Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and so on would be strange, but it fit so well with the theme of the movie that after the first 5 minutes I didn’t even notice it anymore.

Score 10/10

Soundtrack: To be honest, I did not notice too much about the soundtrack of the movie.  This, to me says that music was used well to evoke the appropriate emotion from the audience at the appropriate time.  Beyond that I have no real comments about the soundtrack.

Score: 8/10

Overall Score: 37/40

 Favorite Quotes:

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.” –Winnie the Pooh

“Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, that was too much day for me.” –Winnie the Pooh

Christopher Robin: “The tree I remember was in the countryside, not here in London!   There’s no opening!”
Winnie the Pooh: “I suppose it’s where it needs to be.”
Christopher Robin: “That’s a silly explanation.”
Winnie the Pooh: “Why, thank you.”

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” –Winnie the Pooh

Movie Tuesday: Salmon Fishing in Yemen

First Impressions: I am very sad to say I was disappointed in this film.  Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor are two of the best actors currently in the biz, so I was expected fabulous things.  As with most things in life I did not quite get what I expected.

Recommendation: I feel like this is a film for middle-aged men, with a little romance thrown in so their wives will watch it with them. The movie itself was done well enough, but the story really did not keep my interest.

Writing/Screenplay: The writing of this movie was particularly underwhelming.  It was very hard to follow what was going and figure out where the story was going.  The problem was the writers couldn’t make up their minds what they wanted this movie to be.  It was a political film, a mid-life crisis film, a coming of age film, a romance film, a religious film, it tried so hard to be everything that it ended up not really being anything.  This movie was based on a novel (which I have not read), but I would imagine all these stories and subplots could be fleshed out better in a novel than they were in this hour and forty-seven-minute movie.  I did however like the parallel of the life of the fish with the life Dr. Jones; that was clever and well done.
Score: 6.5

Acting: Again Emily Blunt (as Harriet) and Ewan McGregor (as Dr. Jones) are two fantastic actors and I was SO excited to watch them perform together. They both delivered and I loved their on-screen chemistry.  Amr also was very mysterious and wise in the role of Sheikh Muhammed.  However, Kristin Scott Thomas in the role of Patricia Maxwell was very . . . annoying.  It may just be because that character grated on my nerves that I did not like her performance, but I really don’t even understand why she was in the movie.  I found her character and performance to be irrelevant and annoying.
Score: 7.5

Cinematography: There was some visual interest in this film towards the end, but not a lot throughout.  There was a shot of Dr. Jones, “swimming against the current” and then later in the film there was the same shot done with the fish which really added to the parallel of Dr. Jones life with the salmon’s life.  Other than that the cinematography was pretty standard which is fine.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: This soundtrack was actually pretty cute.  It was dramatic when it needed to be, but at times there was some sort of Scottish folk music that was really funny.  The soundtrack was not particularly fabulous or ground-breaking, but it was done well and was one of my favorite parts of this movie.  A lot of time I think people overlook the power of a good soundtrack, but it seems like a lot of thought went into the soundtrack of this movie and that is important.
Score:8.5

Overall Score: 30.5/40

 Favorite Quotes: None 😦

 

Movie Tuesday: The Truman Show

Fun Facts: All the street names in Seahaven and all the names of characters in The Truman show are based on the names of famous Hollywood stars (ex: Meryl, Marlon, Lauren Garland, Barrymore Road).

When the film was released director Peter Weir wanted to install cameras in theaters and have projectionists stop the movie and cut to a shot of the audience as they watched the film.

Recommendation: So I have never been a huge fan of Jim Carrey and was a little leery going into this movie, but I actually LOVED it.  This is a movie that provokes thought, but at the same time is also very relatable and easy to understand.  It is a diverse movie that will appeal to a wide range of people with varying tastes.  Highly recommended.

Writing/Screenplay: This film tells one of the most unique and original stories I have ever encountered.  This is such a clever film, because it so relatable.  Marlon was right when he said, “who hasn’t sat on the john and had an imaginary interview on ‘Seahaven Tonight.’” Now this movie is generally believed to be a powerful commentary about the pervasive and invasive nature of mass media and I do think it is that.  However, I think the last scene is definitely a commentary on God.  I’ve watch that scene over several time and to be very honest with you, I can’t decode it.  There are some references to Psalm 139 and the character of Christof is supposed to God-like, but he’s also clearly the villain of the film.  However, what is really interesting is that amid Christof’s dialogue we cut to a shot of Lauren staring at the TV and then looking heavenward saying, “Please God, Please.”  Given this I can’t decide if we’re supposed to see God as Truman’s savior or his warden.  At any rate I think this is a movie with a story that makes you think and in my book that’s a good story.
Score: 10

Acting: The acting in this film was pretty good.  This was definitely the best performance I’ve ever seen Jim Carrey (as Truman) give, he was appropriately dramatic and comedic.  Natasha McElhone also did well in her small, but important role as Lauren.  The absolute standout, top-notch, best performance definitely came from Ed Harris as Christof.  His performance was excellent, compared to him all other performances were just decent.
Score: 8

Cinematography:  I loved all the choices made to help the audience feel like they were watching a television show.  There were several iris shots used throughout, especially when the audience is supposed to feel like they are watching Christof’s show.  I think this is even more interesting because Jim Carrey was cast partially because he reminded the director of Charlie Chaplin and iris shots are usually used to pay homage to silent films.  Just an interesting tidbit.  Anyhow, the cinematography was good, not necessarily a masterpiece, but it was good.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: The soundtrack in this movie was actually fantastic.  It completely controlled the tone of the film and the mood of the audience, just like a good soundtrack should.  The music did its job well.
Score: 9

Overall Score: 35/40

Favorite Quotes:
“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”
-Truman

“We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.”
-Christof

Garage Attendant: [the Truman Show has ceased transmission] “What else is on?”
Garage Attendant: “Yeah, let’s see what else is on.”
Garage Attendant: “Where’s the TV guide?”

 

Movie Tuesday: Footloose (1984)

My Thoughts: The original is lightyears better than the remake; 80’s movie are my favorite! Also, I relate to this movie to the point where it is almost unnerving.

Recommendation:  I think this movie is great.  It’s well-done, fun to watch, and it has a killer soundtrack.  I definitely recommend it!

Writing/Screenplay: I think a lot of people take this movie and see it as a group of teens sticking it to their parents and all moral authorities in their life, but that is not how I see this movie at all.  Part of the reason I think that the original is so much better than the remake is because it does a fantastic job of showing the destructive nature of two different moral extremes.  When Ariel dove too far to the left she developed a self-destructive (suicidal) nature and it ended with some punk guy who saw her as nothing more than his whore whaling on her.  On the other hand, when Ariel’s father (Rev. Shaw) dove too far to the right it ended with the burning of books and the town being so constricting that even his wife couldn’t breathe anymore.  In the end the two of them had to learn to communicate and meet somewhere in the middle.  That being said I do think that the writing was a little heavy handed in certain places.  They got a little sloppy when dealing with the destructiveness of conservatism in the end (particularly with the book burning scene).  I felt like the director was hitting me over the head when I watched that scene.  Now I do think that’s how I was supposed to feel, I think it was intended to really make the audience feel the frustration that Ariel and the other kids in town were feeling.  While I think that is good in theory, in execution it was not conducive to making the film a good film.  I was also a little sad because I don’t think there were a lot of great quote take-aways from this film (comment below with your favorite Footloose or just movie in general quote).  All in all, though I do think the idea behind this story is a really original one!
Score: 8

Acting: The acting in this movie was all around decent, but not exceptional in any way.  Kevin Bacon did well and I really enjoyed watching his cool/smooth (dare I even say righteous or totally tubular) performance. What can I say? I love the 80s; I truly feel I was born on the wrong decade!  Now I have to say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Lori Singers performance.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it was just off in some way.  Everyone did well, but I’m not shocked that there weren’t any Oscar nominees.
Score: 6.5

Cinematography:  I was pleasantly surprised by the cinematography in this film.  I had pretty low expectations, but they were exceeded beyond what I would have thought.  Don’t get me wrong the cinematography was not by any means extraordinary, but there were a few choices here and there that pushed it above average.  I like the opening scene where everyone is in church listening to the sermon and Rev. Shaw is preaching about how Jesus doesn’t want us to be bored with our responsibilities.  As this all is being said the camera is panning over a very bored and disinterested congregation.  Shots like this throughout the film added a certain level of interest throughout the film that I wasn’t expecting.  Well done Herbert Ross, Ric Waite, and Paul Hirsch.
Score: 7.5

Soundtrack: And now we get to the radest part of any 80s movie, the rokin’ soundtrack.  Seriously this movie soundtrack was fantastic! It was nominated for two Oscars.  The one thing I will say is that for as awesome as this soundtrack is, Ren had horrible taste in music.  I mean who in their right mind picks Men at Work and The Police for their favorite bands.  Yes, they have some good songs and they don’t totally suck, but common they’re no Bon Jovi.  Just saying!  That said, the soundtrack was really great.  I had no idea that so many classic 80s jams originated with this movie.  The music was by far and away my favorite part of this movie.
Score: 9

Overall Score: 31/40

Favorite Quotes:

Mr. Gurntz: “He was trying to teach *that* book down at the school.”
Mrs. Allyson: “Slaughterhouse-Five, isn’t that an awful name?”
Ren: “Yeah it’s a great book… Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s a classic.”
Mr. Gurntz: “Do you read much?”
Mrs. Allyson: “Maybe in another town, it’s a classic.”
Ren: “In *any* town.”

Willard: “You won’t get any dancing here, it’s illegal.”
Ren: “Jump back!”


 

Movie Tuesday: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

My Thoughts: First of all, I would like a sequel to Beauty and the Beast that follows Chip as a he grows up.  Can you imagine the conversations: “So Chip, that’s an unusual nickname.  How did you get it?” “Well I grew up as a teacup in an enchanted castle . . .”  Second of all, I know Disney gets a lot of flak, but the truth is they are such a big company for a reason.  When they put the time, effort, and money in, they are master movie makers and Beauty and the Beast is a master film.

Recommendation: If you like movies that are done well with good acting, music, etc. and you like to be transported back into your childhood you should watch this movie.

Writing/Screenplay:  This is such a creative tale, which is why it has been told again and again for centuries.  I liked the added elements of mystery in this film. The character of Agatha added a fascinatingly new facet.  I also liked how they spent a lot more time cultivating a relationship between Belle and the Beast while still emphasizing Belle’s need for freedom and loyalty to her father.  They also added a lot of historical aspects with Belle’s mother, etc.  I wish they could have spent more time on the Beast’s past.  It was touched on briefly, but I wanted more!  I love the new depth that was added to this old classic!
Score: 10

Acting/Performance: The cast in the film was incredible!  Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Dan Stevens, Emma Thompson . . . need I say more (because I could)?  Now I know, Emma Watson has been getting all the hype for her performance and she did a great job, but the standouts to me were Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad.  Dan Stevens was wearing a giant green suit and walking on stilts for most of the movie and he was able to really dig into the many layers of the beasts’ character.  Also his song, Evermore, was my favorite; it gave me shivers!  Josh Gad and Luke Evans were just fantastic.  Gaston was cruel and manipulative.  Le-foue was the funny, innocent victim of Gaston’s manipulative nature.  The two of them had such a great chemistry.  They were funny and clever and they just absolutely shone!  All the actors and actresses gave wonderful performances (they are all incredibly experienced and talented) and it was just a pleasure to watch each and every one of them perform!  Now, there is one thing that annoyed me.  The movie is set in France and the only actor they made do a French accent was Ewan McGregor (as Lumiere).  Literally everyone else had a British accent and it was just a little strange to me, but I still love everything about this cast.
Score: 9.5

Cinematography: I don’t have a ton to say about the cinematography.  I think we were supposed to focus more on the special effects, etc. in this film.  The special affects were great, I really liked what they did with the beast.  I wonder if I might have been more impressed had I seen the movie in 3-D.   The one thing that I did really, really love was the theme of the rose that they emphasized throughout the film.  It was seen in the costumes, in the props, in the stairwells of the castle.  It was very cool to see that theme carried out in different places throughout the movie.
Score: 8

Soundtrack: The music in the movie was lovely.  Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, they all have beautiful singing voices.  The new songs: Evermore and Days in the Sun were my favorites, I can’t stop listening to them.  However, in terms of being a musical this film was not on par with films like The Sound of Music or The Phantom of the Opera or some such musical.  It breaks my heart to say, because I am a huge fan of Ewan McGregor, but I was not overly impressed with his and Audra McDonalds singing.  They were good, but not great and I was a little disappointed.
Score: 8.5

Overall Score: 36/40
 
Favorite Quotes:

“People say a lot of things in anger.  It’s our choice whether or not to listen.”
~Mrs. Potts

Gaston: “Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village and that makes her the best.”
Le-foue: “But she’s so well-read and you’re so . . . athletically inclined.”
Gaston: “Yes, but ever since the war I’ve felt like I’ve been missing something and she’s the only girl that give me that sense of . . .”
Le-foue: “Je ne sais quoi?”
Gaston: “I don’t know what that means.’

“Those are called books you third-rate musketeers!”
~Cogsworth


 

Movie Tuesdays Announcement

Hello All,

I’m starting something new and I am very excited about it.  At least during the summer months I will be doing movie reviews (hopefully) every Tuesday.  Today I am giving an introduction as to the standards of the review and next week you can read all my thoughts on The Godfather Part II. Here’s how the reviews are gonna go:

Each review will begin with my thoughts on the film and whether or not I would recommend it.  These personal opinions of mine will not go into the calculation of the overall score, because my opinion does not make a film good nor does it make one bad. The film will be given a score out of 40.  This score will be based on more objective categories.  These are: Story/Screenplay, Acting, Cinematography, and Soundtrack.  The film will be given a score out of 10 in each of these categories.  These points will then be added up to form the final score.  As I “grade” each film I will try to be as objective as possible looking at the goal of the film and it’s success in achieving that goal.

I love movies, I always have.  This semester I took a cinema class (which obviously makes me a film expert) and I loved it.  This is a project that I am really excited about and truly love, so I want to do it well.  Things may change as I go and I will keep you posted; it’s all part of the learning process. I have a particular passion for the old classics, so I will probably review a fair amount of those kind of films in the hopes of infecting some of you youngsters (literally just people from my own generation; I’m 20) with this passion.  I will, however, try and do some newly released films as the opportunities present themselves.  We’ll see how the new match up against the old and visa versa.   So please, starting next Tuesday, come learn about film with me.