Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My 2010 Movie Odyssey - Part XVI

Well, with the combination of the holidays, spending time with family, and going to my grandfather's funeral, I lost all the momentum I had built up. I still have about ten more movie odyssey entries to post (half of which still need to be written). Oh well. No rest for the procrastinator.

Grizzly Man (2005)
This documentary tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who decided to spend much of his time living in the wild alongside bears, foxes, and other critters. What starts out as a portrait of an interesting character who has dedicated his life to studying these animals quickly becomes a look at a man who is losing his touch with reality, wilfully forgetting that bears are dangerous wild animals. He seems to care more for the bears than the people in his life, and every time he says “I love you” to one of the animals, it is downright unsettling.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Is it as good as the first two X-Men movies? No. Does it bring new insight to the character of Wolverine? Hardly. Does it have some good action sequences? Absolutely! The film is mostly mindless fun and an enjoyable way to spend 100 minutes. Just don’t go in with high expectations.

Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Weird gets piled on top of more weird and is then blanketed with a layer of surreal in this film from Charlie Kaufman. There are some engaging set pieces and ends with some interesting thoughts on life. The main problem is with the first half of the movie. It bites off more than it can chew, trying to tell too much story in too little time. The story jumps around and I was never really aware of how much time supposedly had passed and I had difficulty keeping track of the main character’s relationships to different characters as they popped in and out of his life. The second half has lots of wonderful strangeness, but the first half is a chore to get through, almost ruining the whole movie.

Hamlet (2009)
This is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed a version of Hamlet. David Tennant breathes life into the title character instead of merely spouting off words that sound good (as too many actors doing Shakespeare are wont to do). His madness scenes were fun and yet I found myself actually listening to him during his many soliloquies instead of reaching for the fast forward button. Of course Patrick Stewart is wonderful as Claudius (after all, he’s great in everything he touches) but the real gem here is Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius who plays the character as a lovably senile old man who caused me to laugh in almost every scene he was in.

The Happening (2008)
The movie starts out promising as the people of New York City start killing themselves in the quickest, most efficient ways possible. The scene is creepy and even a little funny in a morbid sort of way. But things quickly go downhill. We are introduced to a science teacher played by Mark Wahlberg who is going through some sort of marital problems with his wife played by Zooey Deschanel. The screenplay skirts around their problems so much that we never really know what is wrong with their marriage, and both characters are so uninteresting that by the time we do get some sort of explanation we just don’t care. But our intrepid couple do not have much time to dwell on their issues, because whatever caused the New Yorkers to start killing themselves is spreading across the east coast, quickly making its way to where they are. Whatever it is appears to be airborne, so they find themselves running away from the wind. That’s right, The Wind. Scary. The group of people Marky Mark escapes with depletes faster than the cast of a Roland Emmerich film and soon the hapless couple and the girl they are babysitting are the only ones left. And then a completely different movie starts as they find themselves at an isolated farmhouse inhabited by a crazy lady. None of the characters are interesting and every new turn the plot takes is more ridiculous than the last. I usually try to be very sensitive about spoilers, but at times the big twist or explanation at the end is so absurd, so laughable, so idiotic that I feel like I am doing my audience a favor by spoiling it. This is one of those instances, for the thing causing all this mayhem and death is not some sort of biological weapon or terrorist attack that several characters theorize, but plants conspiring against humanity to release deadly toxins that are only harmful to humans. The more I try to wrap my head around this explanation, the more ludicrous it becomes. See? I told you I was doing you a favor.

Coming up next: a couple versus movies.

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