Friday, June 18, 2010

The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)

Yes, I am aware that most documentaries are one-sided, but none have ever told a single side of a story like this movie. It was still very entertaining.

Super-producer Robert Evans has lived the life that kids dream about when they are young. Be very, very business-savvy, become famous and have your pick of the girls. Evans narrates the movie himself, even imitating the voices of the other people he's talking about. His stories start with his disastrous turn as an actor in the 1950s and 60s...the only reason he got the gigs were because of his looks. He then focused on making movies and proceeded to buy the fledgling Paramount pictures and produce hits like Love Story, The Godfather, and Chinatown. Power struggles ensue and the 80s hit him with a jolt after he's busted for drugs. Evans is very open and honest about his long and successful life.

As much fun as I had watching this movie, I feel I maybe would have appreciated someone else talking about the Evans lifestyle. I know that's not what he or director Brett Morgen were going for, but I'm just saying. This movie was very good and any movie fan will like this look at a producer's life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Avatar (2009)

I will say this right off the bat, the 4 stars for this movie are, for the most part, strictly based on how beautiful it looked. James Cameron knows how to direct a movie. Writing one, that may be another story.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is an ex-Marine who has lost the complete use of his legs. He finds out his brother had worked on the Avatar project with a group of mercenaries, and Jake is subsequently asked to fill his shoes. The point of the project is to disguise various participants as the Na'vi, the native inhabitants of Pandora, in order to retrieve the unobtainable precious mineral Unobtainum (GET IT?!). While on Pandora, Jake meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a warrior who is the King and Queen's daughter. As Jake and Neytiri slowly fall for each other, Jake is finding his allegiances torn between this new land and the people who paid him to use the Na'vi into giving up the mineral. Who should he trust? Who can trust him? One thing is for certain, Jake needs to save his own hide before anything else.

Picture Dances with Wolves, but much prettier...and minus Kevin Costner's ass. That's the basic plot of this movie. It's simplistic, singularly focused and full of political undertones. Maybe if Cameron had spent less time on the technology for the movie, he could have spent more time on the plot. That being said, the movie looked gorgeous. And the fight scenes were phenomenal. I have to recommend it based on those credentials.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

While this is proof that Heath Ledger's potential was immense, the movie as a whole was hit and miss.

The ageless Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his traveling band of mystical misfits, which includes his own daughter, take their show across England to try and make some money. Drunkards and roustabouts always tried to hassle the workers, but one wrong step and they traveled into the Imaginarium, where your dreams and nightmares come true. After one show, they travel by a bridge and noticed Tony (Ledger) hanging from the scaffolding. They pull him up and resuscitate him. Tony then joins the group and has a way with women in getting their money. As the show moves on, they begin to suspect that Tony is not who he says he is. Can they trust him, or is he just in this to further his own goals?

Terry Gilliam must do a big batch of acid before he writes a script because the movie just illuminates the eye. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the plot of the movie. It meanders from point A to point B and gets the viewer lost along the way. After Ledger's death, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to finish the role. That part was written in wonderfully. Watch this for the imagery and the very good performances, not the story.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mystery Team (2009)

The boys from "Derrick Comedy" made a movie. It's basically just a longer version of all of the internet shorts they've done in the past, and just as funny. I was laughing almost the whole time.

Jason, Duncan and Charlie (the "Derrick" guys) are three high school seniors who have never grown out of their adolescence. They are still trying to solve menial mysteries posed by kids half their age. That is, until a little girl asks the Team to find out who killed her parents. The mystery gets deeper and deeper and the Team continues to get out of their element, but still manage to collect all of the right clues. However, they are unaware of the consequences of their actions. They might have gotten themselves in way too deep.

I'll forgive the last 20-25 meandering minutes or so that seemed to get away from the heart of the movie, because I expected that from a movie like this. It's got some humor that may not be for all audiences, but it worked for me. Some smart and witty, some gross-out and sophmoric. Either way, I had fun.