Comments on watching and making films.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

To be perfectly honest, if this film would not have been directed by David O. Russell, I would have never gone to it. Early trailers made it look like stereotypical romantic comedy fodder, but, later trailers, and the knowledge of Russell as director, changed my mind.

Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man who has just been pulled out of the state mental hospital by his mother, to come home and be with his family again. Pat has had a difficult past, mainly stemming from his bi-polar disorder, but feels positive about where he is. So positive, in fact, that he hopes to win over his estranged wife Nikki. He meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) at a dinner, and enlists her help to try and get Nikki back, although she's clearly in love with him. She has emotional problems, as well, stemming from the sudden death of her husband. Together, the two make a life conquering, dysfunctional team, that attempt to get things back to some semblance of happiness for each other.

Cooper is pretty good in this film, and goes to further prove, he's not just the guy from The Hangover. Jennifer Lawrence is at her crazy/sexy best. Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver play Pat's mother and father, and are fantastic. The biggest surprise here, though, was Chris Tucker as Danny, Pat's friend from the mental institute. Tucker actually gets to act here, as opposed to being Rush Hour Chris Tucker, and he does a really good job. Hoping to see him in more stuff soon.

This film was better than I expected. It was fun, meaningful, and I think David O. Russell is hitting that Soderbergh stride of being able to produce amazing independent style films, and larger budget Hollywood fare.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I was talking to a friend the other day about Spielberg and how his career trajectory has changed. In the beginning, he made really well crafted audience pleasers. Nowadays, he seems to split his time between those well crafted audience pleasers (Tin Tin and War Horse being his most recent) and making equally well crafted passion projects, like his latest film, Lincoln. The problem with the latter type of project, the one made from passion, is that, while they are well crafted, they are often times the kind of movies I like to call "One and Done". In other words, you see them once, it was enjoyable enough for you to not want to leave, and then you never have any interest in seeing it again.

While the performances were commendable, the cinematography outstanding (though, in my opinion, not as inspired as many have written), and the writing well done, Lincoln is, ultimately, kind of mediocre. While the events it covers are definitely important events in the history of America, and even the world, ultimately, it's two hours of guys arguing with each other. Honestly, the conflict of Joseph Gordon Levitt's Robert Todd Lincoln, who wanted to join the Union, but his mother and father were against it, is the closest thing the film really comes to having an interesting story.

I like Spielberg's stuff, and I think he is still a valid and creative filmmaker, but, for me, Lincoln joins the likes of Munich, War of the Worlds, and The Terminal, as a somewhat mediocre film from a filmmaker who is the standard bearer in Hollywood.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holy Motors

My attitude towards this film is as follows - There was some really cool visual stuff in there. Things I've never seen before. I'm glad I had a chance to see it. Other than that, I really don't know what else to say.

If you don't like "experimental" films, I would recommend you don't see this one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I'm a huge fan of Robert Zemeckis, or, at least I was until he started doing all of the 3D animation work in the 2000's. I've never cared for that type of animation, and the stories were all kid's tales, so my love affair with Zemeckis took a hiatus. I still left a light on for the man, mind you. How can you not, when you're talking about the man who made the movie that got you interested in making movies? (Forest Gump, for those who haven't read it here before). I'm glad I did leave that candle burning, because he finally came back from the dark side, so to speak, with Flight, his first live action film in close to a decade.

Flight tells the story of commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker, an alcoholic, drug using, out of control divorcee. In fact, we meet Whip in the opening scene of Flight in a dirty hotel room, a naked woman at his side, empty beer and liquor bottles everywhere, as well as drug paraphernalia. Whip goes from this, to flying a plane in a matter of a few hours, a job which he is OBVIOUSLY not in good enough physical or mental shape to take on. The plane takes a dive, and Whip, somehow, manages to crash land it successfully, with a very minimal loss of life. He's praised as a hero, until the evidence starts stacking up against him.

Flight isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it immensely, and, for a director who hasn't been in the live action arena for a long time, I thought Zemeckis's come back was as much as I could have hoped for. The cinematography didn't feel as clean as most Zemeckis films do, but I liked it a lot. Washington is always great when he's put into a great role, and Don Cheadle was awesome, as well, as Whitaker's lawyer. My only two complaints would be the subplot where Whitaker falls in love with a recovering junkie he meets in the hospital, which feels like it was never taken to its necessary conclusion, and, really, could have just been stripped away completely, and John Goodman's drug dealer character. I love John Goodman, don't get me wrong, but this dude just seemed way to over the top, especially for his age. His flamboyance just came off as fake to me.

Two very minor things, though, in a comeback film that leaves me wanting a lot more from a filmmaker that I can't seem to get enough of.