Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four To See

Every year budgets are bigger, profits and tickets are higher, special effects are grander and more people stay at home. Plots are cookie cutter, the faces and costumes change but the stunts and characterizations are all the same.  It’s the state of film today. We’ll soon need a new descriptions of the medium other than film or the movies as what we see is increasingly digitally formatted. I find myself becoming less and less amazed, amused or moved by the product that at one time was a considerable art form.
In contrast to what I’ve just said I now I have to say that recently I have seen four movies (for lack of that new description) that have actually renewed my faith in the theatre experience. These were complete surprises and very welcomed. The title of these gems is:  “The Black Swan”, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, “True Grit” and “The Green Hornet”. Yes; “The Green Hornet” was good enough to make my cut.  These features were all very different and they touched on varying aspects of humanity. They were funny, driven, compelling, intriguing, fanciful and daring. They chronicled many adventures, were gritty, black and one was a even a little “green”. I’ve included individual posters of all and below the poster I have my thoughts on each one. They are four to see.

 Black Swan

 This is Natalie Portman’s vehicle. She gives a compelling, believable performance that like her character should transform her actual career to another level. This is in a film that is in many ways pure fantasy. Set in the competitive, demanding but beautiful world of ballet it is really a dark psychological thrill ride. Director Darren Aronofsky has taken a certain art-house hit and somehow tapped into the main stream consciousness or possibly sub-conscious to forge a popular hit. The twist and turns are many, the intrigue abounds and you will never truly be sure of what is real and what is imagined.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  The third adaptation from the Narnia series of books is completely wonderful, endearing and magical as a series for young readers and movie goers should be. There are no uninteresting scenes here. It is a pleasure from start to finish. One for the whole family’s enjoyment. New characters are introduced and old ones are developed. The special effects are used to develop the story and not merely gimmicks. This enchanting movie was able to capture and convey a sense of awe, adventure and the belief of infinite possibilities.  The leap into the fantastic that once was a staple of the movies is in full form here. 

True Grit

More than any of the films I’ve featured; “True Grit” is the most satisfying and brilliant. The original film is an American Icon and gave John Wayne his only performance Oscar. By placing their version more firmly into the actual time period the Coen brothers have envisioned a more realistic telling of the original source material. It is a remarkable thing to behold. The principal’s performances of  Matt Damon,  Hailee  Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges are to perfection and with no trace of modern quirks and mannerisms. The narrative is one of revenge, justice, perseverance and ultimately about the consequences of our life choices. This is a solid film, the result of creative talent at the height of their powers combined with and embellished by the shock of the new.

The Green Hornet
I really enjoyed seeing just how many things Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as the Green Hornet and Kato could break and or completely demolish. Keep in mind the source material was weak. The Green Hornet was an almost totally forgettable radio show from the thirties, a completely forgettable movie serial in the forties and a mostly forgettable TV show from the sixties (It lasted a grand total of one season). Bruce lee and the car were the only bright spots from the sixties Green Hornet.  Every truly popular super hero has at least one cool nick name; The Man of Steel, The Dark Knight, The Wall Crawler, to name a few. Everyone recalls lovingly referring to The Green Hornet as…The Green Hornet.  Anyway; the character was perfect for a movie with no seriousness attached to it. The laughs are built in because of the almost total lack of any history with any of it’s audience. Good satire with daring escapes, fist fights, car crashes, guns, bloody noses, martial arts and all done remarkably  without tights.

Oscar Night is Feb. 27th


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