Tag Archives: film review

A Summer Place (1959)

Nothing will put you in more of a summer mood than an idyllic, beachy, teen romance from the 1950s. They weren’t kidding about Sandra Dee, her character in A Summer Place is pretty much what Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy feared. Continue reading A Summer Place (1959)

Advertisements

Planet of the Apes (1968)

There’s something so charming about a good ole 1960s science fiction film. I was shocked when my older sister said she hadn’t seen the original series. When we saw the preview for the new Apes film coming out soon, we decided to watch them all!

We begin with the first film. Charlton Heston and his crew are wandering the desert, they found a sign of life, and they are about to go skinny-dipping. The writing, the music, the shot sequence, and every other component of the film just breathes 1960s.

But highly saturated color palettes and drastic wide shots over the abyss, I can only imagine the film was suspenseful, dramatic, and extremely entertaining in 1968. We may not be clinging to our chairs in 2014, but the entertainment value definitely continues to thrive.

Oh, but the ending! Genius is still found through the plastic faces of the apes, Heston’s snarling, and the clicking and popping sound effects. The moment Heston turns the corner on the beach, looks up, and sees The Statue of Liberty buried in the sand, oh I get chills every time!

If you are in the mood for a thrilling ride of charming hokeyness, I definitely recommend Planet of the Apes. The second one, however, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, is absolutely my favorite.

Five stars!

planet-of-the-apes-classic-01

Hitchcock (2012)

Let me tell you, I was in quite a rut with the movies that have been released in the past year. As I’ve said a million times, technology is replacing the tasteful charm that originally constructed a good film. The authenticity has been lost, I would say. Well, I have been proved wrong once again.

Another perfect cast, another great group of writers. Anthony Hopkins nails it, to say the least. Helen Mirren was Helen Mirren, but her go-to character is so unbelievably likable that we don’t mind. The most pleasant surprise was Scarlett Johansson, who was absolute perfection as Janet Leigh.

The basic premise follows the production of Psycho. Since this is my favorite Hitchcock flick (besides Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious of course), I was totally and completely captivated from beginning to end. If you are a Hitchcock fan, please see it. You won’t regret it. Five stars!

LR-Howard-Berger-and-key-makeup-artist-Peter-Montagna-did-the-actual-makeup-application-as-a-team

 

Les Miserables (2012)

So I’ve allowed myself a little time to simmer down after I saw this movie Wednesday night with my musical fanatic family. To say the least, never before have I been so pleased with an adaptation of a musical theatre production to film.

Starting with the essentials: I avoided reviews like crazy prior to seeing the film, now lightly surfing the web I find many viewers to be quite unsatisfied with Hugh Jackman as Valjean. I was confused by this reaction because I thought he was absolutely superb. Sure, his voice might have been a little too rah-rah for some of the intentionally understated power solos that were so mastered originally by Colm Wilkinson. However, he voice had character, I prefer that to some other cases of the film. Music set aside (which is extremely difficult for me to do), I thought he captured the role incredibly well and I don’t think I could have found someone to be quite as successful with such a difficult task.

The other side of the coin here is Russell Crowe. With essentially an opposite background, Crowe fell a little flat for me. I am extremely aware of his insane acting abilities that I understood and even appreciated this new interpretation of Javert. However, when I saw the show both times on Broadway, Javert’s bass/baritone voice was so rich and I found myself longing for the depth and devotion that Crowe definitely lacked. He was the worst part of the movie experience, but as you are about to see, if that’s the worst part, this film was pretty incredible.

The ladies: Anne Hathaway – very low expectations, I really only assumed they cast her to draw in tickets, a method I’m sure was very effective, but I didn’t even consider the amazing possibilities of her performance. I Dreamed a Dream, a song I’ve heard a million times before shook me to the very core. And to be a film major for just a minute, that entire song was in ONE SHOT. There were no cuts to complicate the scene, it purely relied on the talent of the actors, and in this case, it was wonderfully successful.

Amanda Seyfried – Cosette is an easy role, let’s be honest. To quote my sister, all you need for the role of Cosette is a killer super soprano vibrato and a pair of bright eyes. This role I believe was perfectly cast by Amanda Seyfried. The airy tone of her voice is not my favorite, but it definitely works for the innocence of the role. She exists purely as a counter-part for both Valjean and Marius, a duty that was definitely fulfilled.

Samantha Barks – Eponine is the role I was meant to play on Broadway if I ever had any business in musical theatre – HA. She’s always been my favorite character of both the story and the music and I was relieved to find that this was yet another perfect casting call. On My Own was in mostly one shot as well. Brilliant.

The men: Eddie Redmayne, I’ll refrain from obsessing over his attractiveness as I’ve already driven my family crazy with that behavior. Good looks set aside (another difficult thing for me to do), I was extremely impressed byRedmayne’s performance. He was the cute and innocent love struck boy-man in My Week With Marilyn. Les Miserables casts him as this same character, but he must be a killer tenor. Well, surprise, surprise, who’s insane falcetto comes out of absolutely nowhere and breaks my heart during Empty Chairs and Empty Tables? Damn. His acting was superb – he gave Marius a story – a depth that one wouldn’t see in the role otherwise.

Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, oh my God.

Everyone else: Brilliant, just brilliant.

The movie in general: After countless disappointments in the theatre this year, I really needed something to prove me wrong. Everything was overzealous and exhausting to watch, with flashy angles and super vibrant color schemes throughout every scene. The constant stimulation that is required by today’s audience could not be more apparent on today’s silver screen. A black and white film of folks talking around a table would never fly in 2012, and for me, that’s pretty tragic.

The film was shot classically and simply. I argued with myself as to what I liked more: the solos of one shot that merely relied on the talented actors or the ensemble tunes that could have been so chinsy in their execution. I left the film feeling proud of everything I just experienced, the cast, the camera, the music, the story. My childhood love for the show was instantly rejuvenated.

What was obvious to me was the production’s goal to please the theatre fans. There were countless shots and tidbits that paid homage to the theatre production, both through the set and iconic imagery, such as the death of Enjolras and the very presence of Colm Wilkinson to introduce and conclude the film.

The movie reminded us of the dark beautiful magic of the stage and why we fell in love with the story in the first place. I give this one ten billion stars.

Film Title: Les Misérables

Anna Karenina (2012)

How must I begin? After spending all of my free time this semester reading the 800 page Tolstoy novel, I was incredibly excited to go see the beautiful new film. I didn’t even allow myself to watch previews until I finished the book. I finished it on a Sunday night, went to see the movie on a Monday night. Then I died.

It was a film that completely forgot about its roots. Tolstoy is currently turning over in his grave. Besides the fact that I was incredibly proud of myself for completing such an ambitious reading task – which for me, is saying a lot – I adored the book. When it was over, despite the tragic conclusion, I felt content. The resolution of Kitty and Levin, looking at society’s ability to singlehandedly ruin a life right in the eye, and the numerous epiphanies made by key characters made reading the book a worthwhile experience.

So here’s why it killed me – it completely striped the story of its eloquence. Instead of admiring the drama presented by Tolstoy, it was ignored – and replaced by a strange need to provide a deeper concept. Here’s what needs to be said: Tolstoy already has the romantic depth, the spiritual development, and the ability to keep an audience intrigued. There is NO NEED to further these ideas.

Okay, so the entire film was presented on a stage. Obviously this signifies how one life in society is a spectacle – the presence of the audience defines this life. The response of the audience can lead to either its success or its demise. We get it. For five minutes. The full length feature film was not necessary and made the entire concept beat itself into the ground.

Another deal breaker was the writing. There are so many passages in the book that I absolutely fell in love with – the romance between countless characters, especially Levin coming to his religious epiphany. The words have such perfection, why do they feel such a need to take these pieces away, only to fill them with overzealous and dramatic one liners of characters to whom we have zero connection.

The most frustrating aspect of this was that it was perfectly cast. Kiera Knightley has done her fair share of British literature heroines, so we knew and fully expected a wonderful performance. Sure, Anna Karenina could hardly be seen as a heroine, perhaps more of a martyr to a society held responsible for her demise. Frankly,Knightley was among the biggest disappointments (she’s great, I blame the writing). Matthew McFadyen was PERFECTION as Oblonsky. Alicia Vikander and Domnhall Gleeson were amazing as Kitty and Levin (and that helped that they were my favorite characters). Jude Law as Karenin. The list goes on – it was perfect. So why did the film have to be such a serious let down?

That’s all – you can tell my ramblings stem from a weeklong frustration. Sorry there’s no organization in this review – one star. This star is for the cast and the costumes, otherwise it was the biggest disappointment to date.

Anna_Karenina_3