Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jumble, Jumble: 2011 Films

I was hoping to do individual posts on all of these films, but every time I sit down wanting to write a couple of paragraphs on each of them, my brain seems to shut off. December was a slow month for me; I need to get back into the swing of things. This is me taking baby steps, I guess.

The Mill and the Cross

Simply put, the visuals in this film are beautiful and stunning. Even though the film only deals with one of Pieter Brugel's paintings (The Way to Cavalry), each shot in the film is inspired by his work. Watching this also gives you a sense of director Lech Mejewski and his background as a modern day Renaissance man. His sense of framing is fascinating; this is the kind of film that makes you want to hang some of the stills on your wall. It would have been interesting, had it been a silent film, but I did enjoy the brief moments of dialogue. The spider web metaphor is pretty damn cool, and I love Michael York's line about capturing a moment and wrestling it to the ground. This is a very impressive film.

Le Havre

This film has charm in spades. And visually, this is another film that is a lot of fun to look at; the colors are very retro and immediately set the tone for the film and put the viewer at ease. Not only do I love this film for what it is, I love it for what it's not. It's not one of the many hundreds of films that are so cute they make you hate everyone and everything. And that's a credit to Aki Kaurismaki, who is a very adept filmmaker. This film is also nothing like The Blind Side (how's that for weird comparisons, Brandon?). There's no undertone of white people acting as guardian angels toward the black youth. It's a film that handles the topic of immigration with humanism and a strong sense of community. I'll also compare moments of this film to the ending of It's a Wonderful Life, because that's the mood it puts you in: one that celebrates the human spirit that could potentially exist. And, of course, the film has Little Bob. Need I say more? Oh, thanks for going with us, John.


Most of what I have to say about the film is positive, but it's one of those cases where, at the end of the day, there are just so many other films out there that do more and are better. I enjoyed Capote, but feel no strong connection to Bennett Miller. Moneyball is enjoyable for three reasons/people: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Aaron Sorkin. You get some great performances from the aforementioned actors, and Sorkin demonstrates again that he's one of the best screenwriters out there.

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" is a question that is asked a few times by Brad Pitt's version of Billy Beane. I hate baseball and it befuddles me when people say that they think soccer is boring, and they go and watch people hit a ball with a stick for five hours. Anyway, this film challenged my hatred of baseball for a couple of hours, but in the end, I'm right back to where I started. But one cool thing about the script that I liked was that it gave a behind-the-scenes look at sports. It was interesting to see how general managers talk to each other and how trades are made, etc.

The Adventures of Tintin

My feelings for this film are similar to Moneyball (pretty good, but not great). Because Spielberg is at the helm, many have compared this film to Indiana Jones, and they're right. What you get with this film is a lot of fun and adventure. And because it's animated, Spielberg can achieve so many things that he couldn't with a live-action film. There are two sequences that I really enjoyed: the chase scene through the streets of Bagghar, and the fight sequence between St. Francis and Red Rackham aboard the Unicorn. I'm glad Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish got a chance to write this (along with Steven Moffat); they complimented Spielberg's style very well, I felt, to make this a fun film to see with family and friends.


I wanted to see this film because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has been doing a lot of great work lately. JGL keeps it going in this instance. Seth Rogen is a little on the played-out side, but I still enjoy seeing him in things...mostly. In this, Rogen plays your standard rom-com buddy. But admittedly Rogen plays the role better than the thousands of turds who have picked up that role before him. There are few moments that reminded me of Knocked Up, which is an arena he works best in, so I didn't hate his performance.

Anyway, JGL's fellow cancer patients are great (played by Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer), Angelica Huston was good, Bryce Dallas Howard was awful. Well, let me rephrase that, she was good, but it's her character who truly hurts this film. She exists purely to give the audience someone to hate; it's too easy and doesn't work for me. In fact, most of this film didn't work for me because of the script. It's every movie you've ever seen before with a couple of scenes here and there that try to get you to overlook that fact. But mostly that's all I'll remember about this film a year from now. But you can find the best scenes in the film toward the end: the scene when JGL sees fellow cancer-patient Mitch interact with his loving wife at their home, and the hospital scenes when JGL is going in for surgery at the end. In those moments, you get some powerful scenes with heart, but it's the rest of the film I could do without.


I mostly agree with Jeff. I like Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. Melanie Laurent is beautiful and talented (I was wondering when we would see her again after her great work in Inglorious Basterds). Too bad the script tries too hard. The Christopher Plummer storyline tries to save this film from ruin, but ultimately fails. I liked most of the scenes between Plummer and McGregor, as it does try to stir up your emotions and get you to feel something. The McGregor/Laurent relationship is extremely disappointing. There's nothing there...just Mike Mills telling them to be cute together and to try and show the audience what true love is supposed to look like. It's formulaic and even if the two actors have some interesting chemistry, it all goes to waste.

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