Monday, March 31, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part III

There Will Be Blood (2007)
This is a glorious exhibition of bravura filmmaking. It is also a brooding and ultimately emotionally empty tale of two men and their quest for power. It has sparked the most conversation of any film I have seen so far this year, but in the end I just don’t care for the story it tells.

No Country for Old Men (2007)
It is a glorious chase film with wonderfully realized characters with a bizarre choice of ending that seems out of place and unsatisfying. I have read in multiple places that people did not like the ending the first time around, but on a second viewing the ending makes much more sense and becomes more appropriate, so I may have to reserve judgement until I see if for a second time. Javier Bardem is immensely creepy as the unstoppable killer in a role that would have gone to Robert Mitchum 50 years ago, and I did like the extended sequences of little to no dialog (even though that meant missing out on the Coen Brothers’ signature eloquent dialog). This is the film I think will win big come Oscar night.
(Obviously I wrote this before the Oscars. Looks like I was right.)

Sunshine (2007)
Though the premise of the film looks a lot like that of Armageddon, this science fiction film has more in common with Alien: a small group of isolated people try to complete a mission on a space ship, but have to make some difficult choices when their ship picks up a distress call. The story is intelligent, and when things inevitably go wrong, they come organically and plausibly from the story, and never feel thrown in because it has been a whole ten minutes since the last action sequence. I would be giving the film an even more glowing review if it wasn’t for some odd stylistic choices director Danny Boyle made. First of all the scenes of violence are shot confusingly and edited erratically, making it hard to figure out what just happened and even looked silly in a couple places. Also, he chose some weird camera filters and visual effects during the final climactic confrontation that served to push me away from the film instead of drawing me in. These reservations are mostly notable because the film is such a great film otherwise, that it upsets me all the more these flaws are present (if it was in Armageddon, I wouldn’t have minded nearly as much).

Mean Girls (2004)
What drew me into this movie was that Lindsey Lohan’s first days in school eerily mirrored my own experiences at the beginning of eighth grade.

THX 1138 (1971)
So I finally got around to watching George Lucas’s directorial debut, and I must admit I liked it better as a short. The whole thing felt like a student film with a bigger budget and greater technical expertise. There are plenty of good ideas in the film (the prison Robert Duvall gets sent to made me think of the prison from the short story Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold) but there is not enough story to fill out 88 minutes of screen time. I did find it ironic that when they are hunting down THX 1138, they are more concerned with coming in under budget than they are in capturing him.

Next up: a movie about running away from mindless hordes, plus a zombie movie.

No comments: