Sunday, July 24, 2011

Minimalist Movie Reviews

There are bloggers who deliver erudite, thorough, well-balanced thoughts on cinema. And then, there is Apprentice Writer. She delivers one word or plus on movies as subjective fancy strikes her. Choose you loquaciousness.

Robin Hood
1. *Sigh*
+. There was a lot to like about this adaptation: Cate Blanchett, cinematography, Cate Blanchett, the care that went into architectural, costuming, and landscape features, Cate Blanchett. But the positive aspects were overshadowed by the shamelessness of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe trying so heavy-handedly to recreate 'Gladiator' glory. Not once, but twice, they tossed in the signature move of a weapon being thrown up at Crowe on horseback at full gallop who, of course, catches it one-handed and despatches some villains with suitable flourish. Living in the past, much?

1. Girlpower!
+. How far Disney princesses have come. From role models of yore that were all of the same apparent ethnic background, forever waiting for some prince to come change their lives, letting themselves be exploited in the meantime, and sometimes, just sleeping all the time (how's that for the ultimate passive character?) . Heroines offered up for little girls today look different, think for themselves, snatch up whatever items are handily available for self defence, negotiate, work hard, and see beyond shallow looks (Mulan - crossdressing, Princess & the Frog - amphibious transformation, Rapunzel - negation of hair as female power). Superb animation, lots of humor, hero to be redeemed; what's not to like about this movie? Appealing for any age.

How Do You Know
1. Quirky.
+. AW had no expectations of this movie, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. She has no special love for Owen Wilson but he was exactly right for the role of egocentric superjock who sincerely makes an effort at genuine commitment, with some stumbling on the way. Reese Witherspoon was convincing as the woman finding her way in a new life who doesn't seem to follow "typical" female thinking processes about love, as she puts it. Paul Rudd played the guy he always plays, but it worked. A quiet, odd, gently pleasing little movie.

1. Whaaaa????
+. Was this movie thought provoking and creative? Sure. But: perhaps AW is intellectually no longer up to par. Perhaps she was too tired or distracted to put together all the clues provided to form the full answers to the questions the movie posed. Whatever the impasse, by the time the final scenes rolled around, she was hopelessly confused about the many clones of each character that needed to be accounted for and was clueless about what really happened to the wife, the as always mesmerizing Marion Cotillard. AW thinks this is a great example of a movie that is trying too hard.

Arn: The Knight Templar
1. Nope.
+. Good points? is kind of nice to see a movie about the Crusades that does not have England or France as the protagonists' home base, and AW supposes it is instructive to be reminded that even though Scandinavia is known as the global elite in terms of egalitarian society these days, historically it may have been just as misogynistic as other parts of Europe in the name of the Church.

Not so good points? When making a movie that spans two decades, it is probably a good idea to have makeup and hair artists on staff who are skillful enough to prevent the hero and heroine looking exactly the same throughout. It is probably also a good idea, when including battle scenes, to, you know. try and make them convincing. AW kept watching on the principle that Swedish movies don't come her way every day, but it all fell apart during a climactic confrontation between rival Swedish factions when one side begins its advance, the other faction's archers raise bows, the commander of the first side suddenly shouts "It's a trap!" and - the second side looses its arrows.

ARE YOU KIDDING????? THAT'S IT????? AW was expecting something along the lines of the sharpened logs that impaled the cavalry from 'Braveheart', or the ground falling away like in "Prince Caspian". But a medieval army that is surprised by a generic arrow volley? Come on.

What do you say, Gentle Reader? Agree? Disagree?


raidergirl3 said...

Great reviews! I love the format. I haven't seen any of these movies but I remember thinking Russell Crowe's Robin Hood looked an awful lot like Gladiator.
And imagine what fun it would have been watching Inception together as I fear I also have lost intellectual power and find those kind of movies tres confusing. Wait, who was the bad guy?
Tangled looks like the winner!

M. said...

Thanks, Raidergirl. I love the idea of watching Inception together - I watched alone, and it would have been so much better to say: did you get that? What does THAT mean? etc.

Rachel said...

Hiya! Robin Hood so got the thumbs down from me - and I don't even consider myself a violent person. ;-)

Re Inception: I enjoyed watching it, didn't have much trouble getting it but I still wasn't blown away. I didn't get what all the fuss was about. Solid, yes. Mind-blowing, no. There were too many logic and plot errors. Honestly, it's probably not that you "didn't get it" but that you readily perceived the inconsistencies therein.

The movies on offer these days are so often terrible that when something manages to achieve average I think the viewing public just goes nuts. Rather than ceasing to watch the horrible movies (which would be the fastest way to encourage them to not be made anymore) folks just get all giddy when a movie actually makes even the tiniest bit of effort.

For me, this year's Inception is Source Code. I haven't heard a bad word about it other than what the DH and I had to say about it. Not terrible but certainly well below what it ought to have been for such a good idea. Logic and plot holes GALORE and without even counting time travel inconsistencies. Oi!

Julia Smith said...

I loved Robin Hood - but I'm a Ridley Scott kinda gal. Also loved Inception - but I'm an indie/art house/cult film kinda gal.

Brad brought Arn home for me but I didn't have time to watch it. Now he's been let go from Blockbuster - maybe it will turn up on The Movie Network. I'm too busy writing now, anyway. In a good way!

M. said...

Rachel - I'm looking forward to 'Sourcecode', not least because I like Jake Gyllenhall (this is how much: I watched 'Prince of Persia' right through to the end. Yes.) and I'll amuse myself by looking out for those plotholes.

The logical inconsistency I still marvel the most about was in Pirates of the Caribean I - when Barbossa's crew are blackmailed into doing what Elizabeth wants by her threat to drop the medallion over the side. Really? Aren't they like, undead, and able to walk the ocean floor? And didn't that same medallion call to them from thousands of miles away when it first fell in the water, meaning they'd have no problems finding it again?

Julia - Glad to hear your writing is going so well. Hope Brad finds something else soon, that is interesting for him. Fingers crossed!

Rachel said...

Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!! Jake Gyllenhaal!!!!!!!!! Is there a movie of his I haven't seen??? In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to say that I watched Source Code again to make sure I didn't like it because he's in it and it's such a shame to not like it. Will not even mention the number of times I have seen Prince of Persia. *cough* To Embarrassing To Live Down *cough*