Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Valkyrie at the Landmark Embassy Cinema

Valkyrie is the story of Col. Stauffenberg; injured in the war, Col Stauffenberg eventually recovers and leads a plot to assassinate Hitler. Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise and if you look up Stauffenberg's picture online there is an eerie resemblance. I always thought Tom Cruise looked like a Nazi. Typically, I try not to reveal too much of the plot in my reviews, but you already know the end to Valkyrie. Hitler lives and eventually dies at his own hands in a bunker. Throughout, Bryan Singer's movie there is a feeling of foreboding that hangs over the heads of the characters. The audience knows where this is all leading. Singer is able to build suspense anyway. During the failed bombing, the camera flashes back and forth between locations as the tensions build. The pace of the cuts quickens building the suspense. The movie is written by Christopher McQuarrie, the writer of the Usual Suspects. The script picks up right away and holds your interest up into the tragic ending. Valkyrie surpassed my expectations for it and I thought Singer's direction elevated it from typical historical drama into something special.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shoot the Piano Player at The Brattle

Alright a quick disclaimer before I go into reviewing Shoot the Piano Player. The movies subtitles were in white and since the movie was in black and white, I could only read about 60 percent of what was on the screen. So this might have effected my understanding or appreciation of the film more than I would know. Shoot the Piano Player is Truffaut's second film, shot right after his widely successful 400 Blows. Considered a disappointment at the time, but highly regarded now, Shoot the Piano Player is a weird little film that is parts comedy, part French new-wave and part film noir. The film follows Charlie Koller, a piano player whose brother is in trouble with thugs, as he gets entangled in his family's mess. The mise-en-scene is perfect as you would expect from Truffaut. But compared to some of his other classics, Shoot the Piano Player fell a little flat for me. Shoot the Piano Player lacks focus and personalty. At times it just seems like rather than allowing the story to flow, Truffaut takes it in unnatural directions. But overall this is still a nice send up to film noir, that shows Truffaut's strength as a director.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twilight at the Chestnut Hills Cinema

In Twilight, a new girl in school Bella Swan falls for a dreamy vampire named Edward Cullen. Luckily for Bella, Edward isn't a real vampire. He's some sort of gay vampire. Rather than living on human blood, he hunts deer and other wild animals. Also unlike most vampires, he doesn't burn up in the sun. He sparkles like some well-lubed asshole. It's not that Twilight is a bad movie. I actually kind of liked it. I just don't think I'm in its target demographic. The movie is a sentimental little thing made for teenage girls who want to get lost in some sort of vamp romance. As far as teenage romances go, Twilight is relatively smart and well written. The characters are interesting and dynamic. Overall, Twilight doesn't really expand and invigorate the vamp genre, but it is a fun little flick that your girlfriend will dig.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Milk at the Coolidge Corner Theater

I don't like biopics. But I really liked Milk. Most biopics are pretty predictable, they routinely involve 1.) impressive acting performances with 2.) scripts that repeatedly try to show you the importance of their protagonist and 3.) typically have uninspired direction with little or no creativity. 1.) Milk features Sean Penn in an expected great performance. 2.) The script by Dustin Lance Bass continually reminds you of what Milk was able to accomplish in his time as city supervisor, which sometimes is boring. 3.) But, and this is a big but, Gus Van Sant directs the hell out of this picture distinguishing it from most of the biopics I've seen in the past. The pacing throughout the movie is perfect and the camera flows with ease from scene to scene. Van Sant perfectly blends news footage, old videos, and the actual movie, splicing it all together perfectly. I went with Carlson who also really enjoyed it, so I'm not completely crazy. Go see it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire at The Coolidge Corner Theater

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of Jamil, an impoverished boy from the Mumbai slums who grows up to be a contestant on India's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Each question on the show reveals a portion of his life from his brother to his lost love, Latika. A cinematic fairy tale, Slumdog Millionaire is unapologetically sentimental and romantic. Some have decried its portrayal of India stating that it is unfair and simplistic. However, I think Danny Boyle has created a very impressive pseudo-universe based around the slums and locals of India. If at times the movie seems unfair to India, I don't think that it was Boyle's intent to make a realistic picture of the country. Through his dramatic angles and grainy film, Danny Boyle is creating a Dickens-esque story of great expectations- a story about a boy with an unshakable faith desperate to be reunited with his lost love. Slumdog Millionaire is very hyped. But it's also very good.