Thursday, October 2, 2008

Alive and kicking: 7 Films

For the past month, my blog has been the perfect model of Super Neglection of Film Blog, unfortunately. I have been busy with life, which has been unfairly dominated by the multiple horrors of a new school year. It has only been a month and I'm already nerd-failing Pre-Calculus. Really. But enough of teen angst, let's talk movies.

I have seen seven movies since my last review of all three versions of Little Women. Seven. I'm pathetic, I know. My weekends are now not only dominated by school work, but also volunteer work at the library. I'm kind of on a path to be a (lol) librarian. I mean, I have to pretend to get somewhere in life and library science seems, well, not too bad.

Anyway, about all the films I've seen since my last post. Behold, incoherence!

- The problem I have with Princess Mononoke is that it is practically Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind all over again. I really, really, REALLY like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (thanks to J.D.'s recommendation--and surprisingly, it's pretty much my BFF's favorite Miyazaki film). Princess Mononoke is just a better-animated version (no, that's an understatement--the animation in Mononoke is insanely spectacular) of Nausicaa, with different characters. Both films have a strong environmental message and the way the message is executed feels so...similar. I understand environmentalism is a theme that Miyazaki often explores in his films, but he could have created a brand-new story. I mean, Miyazaki is so extraordinarily imaginative (duh) that any striking similarities between his films would result in some minor disappointment. I expected something new from the filmmaker. But even Miyazaki's lesser films are true works of art--and that is the case for Princess Mononoke.

- Newsies is awesome in a sort of, "Lol, it's a Disney musical directed by the director of High School Musical and it stars Batman" kind of way. But seriously, I love the songs. "Seize the Day" is my favorite. Not the best family film, but I like it a whole lot. And I'm in love with the soundtrack. How can you possibly NOT love Alan Menken?

- Okay, am I really the only person out there that did NOT know the "twist" in Psycho? Hitchcock is the man when it comes to slow revelations. I'm sort of like a filmmaker's ideal audience: Ignorant and guillable. I don't force myself to think ahead when I watch a movie. I just kind of sit there and enjoy the ride. But I love Psycho. It is probably my favorite Hitchcock film right now. For someone who loves fascinating fictional characters, Norman Bates is practically my obsession right now. I love the way Anthony Perkins portrays him. At first, Norman just appears charming, shy, and rather lovable. Perhaps that is his true nature. I don't know. I'm still waiting for Shawn's take on the character in his Hitchcock Marathon. All I know is that Perkins humanizes a character that has been so often villified in pop culture. But that shower scene is still badass.

- My thoughts on Amazing Grace is kind of "meh." It's okay, I guess. My mom wanted to see it because her sister said it was a great movie. The performances are decent, but it is kind of boring on the most part.

- Enchanted is really all about Amy Adams's performance. I love it more than Marion Cotillard's in La Vie En Rose and Ellen Page's in Juno. I smiled all the way through the movie, mainly because of Adams's fantastic performance. It is predictable and silly, but lots of fun. The story is, well, amazingly imaginative. I just thought, "Why didn't I come up with this story?" I also really like James Marsden in the prince charming role and--surprise, surprise--I actually really love Patrick Dempsey as the single father/divorce lawyer/possible love interest (c'mon, that is NOT a spoiler). I was really impressed by his performance, considering I've only seen him in the first two seasons of "Grey's Anatomy." The part where Dempsey begs Adams to not sing is just a little piece of comedy heaven.

- Charlie Bartlett has several entertaining aspects: It is a fairly intelligent teen comedy and a fairly decent coming-of-age story. Robert Downey Jr. and Hope Davis both give amusing performances. I kind of like the film...but I kind of don't. There are some things I didn't really care about, such as the central romance of the film. I didn't really sympathize with the Charlie Bartlett character. Plus, I didn't find the film to be very funny either. The film had trouble finding a balance between comedy and drama. I guess it tried to be too many things at once that I ended up not caring about any of the things they wanted me to care about. And honestly, it felt like a slight rip-off of Rushmore.

- I loved the first Anne of the Green Gables. The sequel, appropriately titled, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, is well, has several melodramatic and dull moments, but all in all, it's all about Megan Follows' lovely, enthusiastic performance as Anne Shirley. It's a touching coming-of-age story about finding a place to truly (cheesey moment) belong. I realize that Kevin Sullivan totally raped L.M. Montgomery's books to make his Anne sequels, but I kind of like his more epic take on the stories.

I'm kind of fascinated by the Jonas Brothers right now. Not in a, "Wow, they're hawt and their music rox" kind of way, but I just love memorizing random facts about them. I've watched tons of their music videos for no particular reason and a lot of the videos are really, really funny. In their "S.O.S" music video I love the part where Kevin Jonas gets so pissed at a text message he receives that he throws his entire cell phone away. Okay, nobody needed to know that. Anyway...

I hope you're all doing well. I've been trying my best to keep up with all of my favorite film blogs. Even though I rarely comment, trust me, I lurk.


  1. While I disagree that they're the same basic film in different forms or something, it's gotta be strange that they're my two favorite Miyazakis, right? By a wide margin, even. And Mononoke is definitely his most stunningly animated film (though Howl's is close). And for some reason I've always been attached to Claire Danes because of it.


  2. Marcy---I'm glad to see you're back. I really did miss you. =)

    Glad to see you saw didn't know the twist? crazy.

    I felt the same way about Charlie Bartlett as well, and did see some of Rushmore in there. I think what makes it stand out is Robert Downey JR's character and performance.

    anyways. Hope to see some more updates soon.

  3. J.D. - I agree--Mononoke is the best animated Miyazaki film from the ones I've seen. (I must see Howl's immediately.) I've always loved Claire Danes, just because. Eh, I don't think it's that weird that Nausicaa and Mononoke are your two favorite Miyazakis. Thematically, they're very similar. I guess that was what I really wanted to convey in my review. It just felt that Mononoke is not a completely original idea but was somewhat inspired by Nausicaa.

    Shawn - I'm glad to be back :)

    I didn't know the twist at all. All I've ever known about Psycho was the shower scene and the creepy Bernard Herrmann score. I know, I'm so deprived. But I guess not knowing the twist made me appreciate Psycho a lot more, so I'm glad no one told me about it.

    The more I think about Charlie Bartlett the more I dislike it. I liked Downey's performance, but I did not like his character. And the end when he predictably redeems himself is extremely phony, not because of Downey, but because of the entire atmosphere of the film. Nothing ever seemed genuine to me. Rushmore had a certain charm to its bittersweetness while Charlie Bartlett rarely had any charm at all.

  4. Glad to see you back, good movie choices. I still havent seen enchanted, but I know its gotten many praise from critics.

  5. Farzan, Enchanted is just a very fun, likable movie. But without Amy Adams, it would never had achieved so much critical success. And Adams is undoubtedly brilliant in it.

  6. I can see what you're saying and do agree that Rushmore is easily head over heels better than Charlie Bartlett, but this isn't to say I didn't slightly enjoy Charlie Bartlett in a cheesy John Hughes sort of reunion type thing.

  7. I watched Psycho kinda late as well (3-4 years ago I suppose) but I wasn't as lucky as you, a beer commercial on a magazine (I'm not kidding) had spoiled the ending for me. If you haven't seen the film, skip the next paragraph.

    The ad said (with appropriate images) "A man living with his mother is pathetic... A man living with his dead mother is a classic." And with the famous 'mansion in the backdrop of Norman Bates silhouette" shot made it not very difficult to guess which film it was referring to.

    I kinda don't like Mononoke, I found it a bit tedious and messy when compared to other works by Miyazaki. That and Lapute are his two films that I didn't hate but couldn't love as well.

    Life has got in the way for me as well, I haven't been updating my blog since a date that I am scared to check. I guess I can make a comeback like yours soon :)

  8. Anil, I never really minded spoilers, but revealing such a dramatic, clever twist in a commercial is just terrible. Just because Psycho is a classic doesn't mean everyone has seen it!

    What didn't you love about Castle in the Sky? It's actually my second favorite Miyazaki film...

    Yay for comebacks! :) Your posts are always so detailed and informative that I really don't mind the wait. I'd imagine they take a while to write.

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  10. Son-of-a...

    Well, apparently, I'm living vicariously through your youth and your blogging... even if you haven't posted recently because of school, etc.
    But I only just discovered your blog this past weekend, so what posts I've been reading are all new for me.

    That is so cool that you saw PSYCHO completely fresh! And that it worked for you. I'm referring to the twist.
    I can't even remember if I knew or not beforehand when I saw it years ago.

    I tend to gravitate towards a lot of junk and trash films lately-- I blame it on a lazy mind or impatience, perhaps-- but I've seen lots of horror films and the excesses of some of those films.
    In the last couple years, my wife chose to start watching some horror films with me even though they scare the crap out of her, simply because she loves me. I can't say anything else to that except, I'm pretty freaking lucky.
    What's neat about watching horror films with her is -- she's such a great audience!
    I tend to be jaded or whatever the proper word is when I watch these things. Sometimes I get surprised or thrilled, but a lot of times I feel a little world weary watching some of them. I still enjoy them, but there's a little bit of cockiness in me when I watch them, kind of "well, let's see what you got."
    But my sweetie still hides her face behind a pillow during certain scenes (oh, yeah, we pretty much watch DVDs-- there's lots of communication with the screen when we're watching).
    I mean, she's been enjoying them, too, it's not a total torture fest for her. Although, she won't watch J-horror. We watched the American remake of THE GRUDGE, and those long, black haired creepy girls freak her totally out. It's too bad it was the first horror film she chose to watch (because of Sarah Michelle Gellar-- she's a big BUFFY fan).

    Anyways, bla bla bla..!

    I only bring this all up because I love that my wife is a great audience... that she can totally get into these movies. I think that's cool when anybody does that. And more so when someone gets into older films as well.
    So, basically, I guess I'm just saying it's great to hear that Hitchcock works for you!

    BTW, my favorite story about my wife reacting to a scary scene in a movie is when we saw one at a movie theater. She screamed at this one moment...and was pretty much the only person who did scream.
    The film was FINDING NEMO, and it was when we see Bruce the shark for the first time. The audience was pretty full of families, too. So, people around us were kind of staring at us (and her). By coincidence, I happened to see the film earlier with my mom (who unfortunately passed away in 2007), who liked watching animated movies. But I enjoyed the movie so much I thought my wife would like it, too. She did. She also punched me in the arm for not warning her.

    I still have to see ENCHANTED, too. I thought the trailer was pretty funny.

    P.S. Can you actually understand the comments "Ed" leaves?

  11. @cattleworks - I'm glad you stopped by again. And that my old posts are boring you, haha.

    I've been deviating toward junk movies too. School's been stressful and the thought of thinking while watching a movie is completely otu of this world for me. Well, I like to think of it as comfort movies. As much as I want my brain to be challenged by the likes of Capra, Scorsese, Hitchcock, etc., I can't help but find myself being thoroughly entertained by something as idiotic as the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

    The last horror movie I watched was The Eye, also an American adaptation of an Asian movie. Jessica Alba is pretty, but that movie is completely ridiculous, but not as horrible as the reviews makes it out to be. Perhaps I was mildly entertained because I was off at the side, in a living room of cuddling teenagers who weren't even paying attention to the movie. Ah well...

    I actually love it when I hear the audience's reaction to certain things on screen when I'm watching a movie in theaters. When I saw High School Musical 3 with a room full of energetic pre-teen girls--let's just say it was quite an experience. It's pretty amazing and I'm sure I'd like to be in the same theater as your wife.

    Enchanted is a terrific film. It's got a lot of imagination to it and Amy Adams is becoming one of the best actresses of young Hollywood.

    And, about Ed: He's a spammer. I can't read Chinese, but if I did, he's probably trying to direct me to some porno site. He's left many comments and I just have to find time to delete them one at a time...