This Week In Cinema: November 20-26, 2011

I’ll give him that much, Christopher Nolan is consistent in directing bad movies, very, very consistent!

A lot of different movies this week equals a good week of movie watching for me,

Deep Blue Sea (1999, Renny Harlin, Australia/United States Of America) ***

I don’t care how stupid this movie is, or how dodgy the effects are in some places because Deep Blue Sea is oodles and oodles of fun. The moment when Samuel L. Jackson gives his big speech is actually a pretty damn ingenious idea, and even when I know it’s coming it’s still pretty freaking cool. Deep Blue Sea is incredibly simple, and very, very stupid, but in the best of ways. It’s almost as if for one moment Renny Harlin realized just how stupid his movies usually are and he went with the stupidity. The result is a lot of big, over the top fun, and it’s quite glorious to watch.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989, Bruce Beresford, United States Of America) ***

Sufficiently quaint and well made, but there’s no real heart to Driving Miss Daisy. The end product is enjoyable enough, it leaves very little to complain about. Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, and Dan Ackroyd are all very good in their roles, and the film does a good job of capturing the era its story takes place during. At the same time the message behind the film is obvious and the measures it takes to get said message across are calculated and manufactured. Quaint and well made, that’s the ticket I’m putting in the turnstile for Driving Miss Daisy.

Marmaduke (2010, Tom Dey, United States Of America) **

You know what, the first fifteen minutes of Marmaduke are actually really good. There’s something about Owen Wilson being witty and setting up a relationship with his family that is handled in an interesting fashion by Tom Dey. There are moments throughout the rest of the film that come close to those first fifteen minutes, but on the whole once the other dogs enter the picture the movie takes a turn for the worse. Those flashes of wit and humor feel wrong surrounded by so much easy humor and an empty story. I know it’s odd that I’m this invested in Marmaduke, but man, those first fifteen minutes were really good and I thought maybe the film was poised to be more than what it ended up being.

Memento (2000, Christopher Nolan, United States Of America) 1/2*

The fact that my wife fell asleep ten minutes into Memento exemplifies my first problem with the film, it is unrelentingly boring. Yes, unrelentingly boring is what I wrote, Memento isn’t content with just being boring, it remains boring even when given the chance to not be boring, and that is a sin I can not get past. Then there is the main reason I do not like Memento, it is a gimmick of a film. The story taken on its own is very piss-poor, with twists that are obvious from a mile away and characters who do stupid things out of contrivance. The gimmick of telling the story in reverse gets old real fast, because once the lack of a story is discovered the reverse storytelling is just a flashy and empty gimmick. Like the entirety of Christopher Nolan’s career, Memento is all surface flash in an attempt to hide a film that has nothing of any substance to offer. I keep trying to let Mr. Nolan win me over, but Memento is yet another film from everyone’s favorite director that I found plain awful.

Happy Feet (2006, Wayne Coleman, George Miller, & Judy Morris, Australia/United States Of America) ***

The environmentalism at the end is a little too everything- too on the nose, too obvious, too manipulative, just too. That being said, Happy Feet is a very enjoyable story. It’s funny and charming in all the right places and a pleasure to watch. Most of all, Happy Feet is absolutely freaking gorgeous. I don’t know why more people don’t spend time talking about Animal Logic when it comes to the animation field but they are bar none one of the best animation companies out there today. Every frame of Happy Feet screams beautiful, highly detailed, and terribly realistic. Pixar has yet to succeed at making realistic looking humans, and The Adventures Of Tintin continues to show that motion capture presents very false looking humans. Yet Animal Logic with Happy Feet has animated the most realistic looking humans ever. Animal Logic isn’t an animation and story company like Pixar, Disney, or Studio Ghibli, but as far as the field of pure animation goes I’m not sure if anyone comes close to matching Animal Logic.

Rumble Fish (1983, Francis Ford Coppola, United States Of America) **1/2

Fresh off the heels of One From The Heart Francis Ford Coppola tackled Rumble Fish and the similarities are striking. Rumble Fish is very experimental in its visuals, and in its willingness to do away with a traditional narrative. I respect the daring of Mr. Coppola, and I did love the style of Rumble Fish, but I didn’t love the actual movie. The actors spend most of their time mumbling through a state of befuddlement and I can’t help but feel that the movie is befuddled as to what it wants to say. There’s no core to Rumble Fish, nothing to grab on to beyond the eclectic visual style. Rumble Fish wants to be a mood piece, but it’s mood was too inconsistent for my liking and the visuals are in service of nothing and that left me disappointed.

Wrap-Up:

Driving Miss Daisy is a perfectly fine movie, and Deep Blue Sea is a whole lot of fun. However, neither are tops this week, Happy Feet takes home the honor of movie of the week mostly thanks to its gorgeous animation. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “This Week In Cinema: November 20-26, 2011

  1. Speaking of Rumble Fish, have you ever seen The Outsiders, which is also based on a novel by SE Hinton, directed by Copolla? I thought it was a much better film, at least it was pretty to look at.

    BTW, Happy Feet is awesome! (and so is Memento, but I’ll let that go…)

  2. I watched The Outsiders years ago in school, I do hope to revisit it again someday.

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