This Week In Cinema: November 25-December 01, 2012

image courtesy of synergytvnetwork.com

I have a feeling that most women would love it if the stork myth were real!

I watched more movies this week than I have in a very long time, I’m liking this upward trend in my movie watching,

Mamma Mia! (2008, Phyllida Lloyd, Germany/United Kingdom/United States Of America) **

My wife assures me she is not an ABBA fan. I’ll take her word for it, despite the fact that she really liked Mamma Mia!. The reason I say this is because honestly, outside of a few cheesy moments of fun I can’t see why anyone but an ABBA fan would like this film. It’s obnoxious in a way that I found cheap, and cheap looking in the way that only comes from some badly designed fake sets. I’m not the target audience for Mamma Mia!, and I’m not sure I understand who is the target audience for this film. I laughed a few times, but mostly I was bored and uninterested by this mundane effort.

Partly Cloudy (2009, Peter Sohn, United States Of America) ***1/2

A brilliantly simple premise comes to life because of the power of animation. There’s a lot of hyperbole in that sentence, but it more than adequately describes Peter Sohn’s short film effort, Partly Cloudy. There’s nothing all that new about this films message, variety is the spice of life and we need to be more accepting of said spice. The animation is of the great quality that I know I have come to expect from Pixar Animation Studios. Throw the message, the breezy way the message is conveyed, and the wonderful animation into a pot and the result is a terrific animated short. Partly Cloudy is fun, laugh inducing, and is a great showcase to the younger set of what animation can do, even if they may not understand all of what Partly Cloudy is doing until they are a wee bit older.

Dug’s Special Mission (2009, Ronaldo Del Carmen, United States Of America) ***

Not up to par with the bulk of Pixar’s short film output, but still quite a decent little short. Dug’s Special Mission is geared towards a younger audience, but I still found myself laughing at the gags and enjoying the animation. The story is a tad too simple for its own good, and ultimately there’s not much to the short beyond the animation and a few gags. But, truth be told I always relish spending time with the characters that populate the world of Pixar. Though Dug’s Special Mission may not be great I enjoyed spending time with Dug again.

The Real Rocky (2011, Jeff Feuerzeig, United States Of America) ***

Chuck Wepner is a compelling individual and a great storyteller. It is for those reasons that The Real Rocky is an intriguing, as well as engaging, watch. The film is at its best when the director, Jeff Feuerzeig, steps back and lets Mr. Wepner’s life speak for itself. The film falters all to often because Mr. Feuerzeig insists on inserting his own touches into the story, such as the newspaper homage cutaways, the blood splatter effects, and so on. Mr. Feuerzeig’s touches are needlessly flashy and distract from a very interesting story. Luckily, the tale of Mr. Wepner overcomes the intrusions of the director, and The Real Rocky ends up being a nifty film.

L’avventura (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni, France/Italy) **1/2

Too much ennui can be a real drag, man. I really wanted to dig L’avventura, especially because of how visually striking the film is. But, about halfway through I realized that not only did I not care about any of the characters or their problems, but I was becoming bored with their incessantly emo-ish behavior. The more I think about the more I am certain that Michelangelo Antonioni loses the message about connectivity, communication, and the desire to be loved and accepted because of how drolly emo-like his characters are. It’s all Italian ennui and people whining, which I found boring sooner rather than later. Yes, the film is gorgeous, and Signore Antonioni has a wonderful eye for filling a frame. Unfortunately, he failed to create characters, a setting, or circumstances that helped to really probe his message and that’s why I was left underwhelmed and disappointed by L’avventura.

Prancer (1989, John D. Hancock, Canada/United States Of America) ***

At first glance Prancer is nothing more than your average holiday themed family film. But, for as much as Prancer is very much that type of movie, there’s also more at play within the cozy confines of its family film status. Prancer is nowhere near the level of the French film, Ponette, but I was struck by how Prancer bothered to take a look at how a child reacts to death, much like Ponette. It’s cheesy, corny, and very rough around the edges. But, Prancer is also willing to delve into a child losing their parent and just how that impacts their life. For that I am willing to afford Prancer much more leeway than I would a film that was just content with being a stock holiday themed family film.

Mirror Mirror (2012, Tarsem Singh, United States Of America) *

Usually I’d be okay with a movie that has bird poop being spread all over Julia Roberts unappealing face. However, Mirror Mirror is so bad that I can’t even make the joke I was going to make. The brass tacks of Mirror Mirror are that Tarsem Singh is a visually interesting director, but he can’t do much with a horrendous story. There are moments in Mirror Mirror where the film looks gorgeous and employs visual motifs that catch the eye and engage the viewer. On every other front- acting, scene direction, humor, and most importantly story- Mirror Mirror is a complete disaster. It’s as if some writer threw a bevy of terrible ideas at the wall and somehow they all managed to stick and thus they were all inserted into the movie. Not only is Mirror Mirror lacking any type of actual direction, plagued by pedestrian acting, and frankly stupid, it’s also extremely boring. None of the things I said in that sentence are good, and neither is Mirror Mirror. Nope, Mirror Mirror is nothing more than a terrible entry into the Snow White mythos.

Wrap-Up:

A few good movies this week, but it’s a short that clearly stood out more than the rest. Partly Cloudy easily takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

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