Monday, November 10, 2008

My 2008 Movie Odyssey - Part X

Tokyo Story (1953)
This is the final film on Sight & Sound’s top 10 list for me to see. I don’t think I would consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made, but it was a satisfying viewing experience. It is the sad tale of an elderly Japanese couple who travel to a distant town to visit their children in post-WWII Japan. Sadly, the only one of their relatives who is truly glad to see them and not preoccupied with the inconvenience this visit causes is the wife of their dead son (who technically is not even a relative any more). The whole film is a little slow moving, and I felt the third act was redundant, but overall it is an interesting look into Japanese lifestyle in the years shortly following WWII.

Iron Man (2008)
I haven’t read any Iron Man comics nor been interested in them and the trailers of the film weren’t terribly compelling, so I had very little in the way of expectations when I watched this movie, other than good word of mouth. I enjoyed it. There was a good balance of thrills, laughs, and character. It is by no means the greatest comic book movie ever made, but I would rank it slightly ahead of the X-Men films.

Spartacus (1960)
I liked the training sequences, the ambitious battle scenes, and the scenes showing the Roman officials debating how to deal with the slaves’ uprising. I did not like the overlong dialog scenes, the overabundance of characters to keep track of, and the pointless "snails and oysters" scene. Also the film wandered around for fifteen minutes, unsure of how to end itself.

Mean Streets (1973)
My roommate walked in while I was watching the movie. "What’s happened?" "Nothing." "You just started?" "No, I’m an hour in." And it was downhill from there. I have never enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s exercises in ugliness, but this one didn’t even have a plot to pretend to engage me. I should give some credit to some interesting camera work, but all the fancy camera work in the world is useless unless it is showing something worth looking at.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
When I watched this movie it was the most unique movie-watching experience I have ever had for one simple reason: this is the first time I have watched a movie for which I have tried to write a screenplay. A few years ago I started writing a screenplay for Prince Caspian mostly just to see if I could do it, and got about halfway through before I lost interest. But it made me keenly aware of all the problem parts in the book. Sure there were several things Adamson and Co. could have done better, but it was surprising how many times they took the film in directions I was trying to go. Overall it made me much more forgiving of every time they strayed from Lewis’ written word, and more often than not the movie was better for it. Now it will be interesting to see how they tackle the episodic nature of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Coming up next: movies inspired by a Broadway musical, an 80's adventure movie, a children's book, real life events, and nothing in particular.

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