Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Trailer Watch: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a literary classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and is one of my favourite books, having read it for the first time 2 years ago in my 12th grade literature class. Gatsby is a book about love, life, desire, and hidden pasts. It follows Nick Carraway, after having moved to West Egg, New York. He quickly gets wrapped up in a very twisted plot after meeting his next door neighbour, the infamous Jay Gatsby, and revisiting his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. Through Nick, Daisy and Gatsby are reunited, having had a passionate past with many secrets. It quickly becomes a tangled web for Daisy, Gatsby, Tom, and especially Nick.

They started casting this film around the time I was reading it in 12th grade, so my literature class was really excited to hear Leo Dicaprio was playing Gatsby. We were also a little skeptical as it was Baz Luhrman directing, who`s films include Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Australia. What kind of film would it turn out to be?

And though the film isn't slated to be released until Christmas Day, we got a very early trailer. And I must say, Luhrman has taken a very flamboyant look to the movie. While most people, and other movies, have been more of a "prim and proper" look to Gatsby, this book/movie is also set in the 1920's, the roaring Jazz age. It's interesting the look that Luhrman has selected for this movie, but it's not a surprising one.

Already some people have said it's too "modern". Although this could be due to the modern music used in the trailer, added for dramatic effect and to draw more of the masses in, making it "relevant". However, I rewatched the trailer on mute, and this movie looks like it could be very good, indeed. Yes, it's different from the book. It's over-the-top, it's colourful, it's flashy. And while we didn't get to see much of a performance from any of the characters, they certainly look good.

All in all, this movie, if well recieved, could be a major contender at this years Awards Season. It's one of the most popular and beloved books, in a year of literary classics coming to the screen. Obviously, it has big chances on landing the art nominations, whether this movie is actually any good or not. And while Leo is garnering more attention for his evil role in Django Unchained, Carey Mulligan looks like she could be a contender this year (whether lead or supporting is yet to be seen), and even Tobey MacGuire.

All in all, I'm really excited for this movie. It looks exciting, and I'm really looking forward to seeing if the movie will be very true to the text. However, it's already had a few lines straight from the book, and they've kept a couple parts that I recognize, from the book.

I'm just really excited, and being a literature fangirl right now.

Friday, 11 May 2012

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady, 1964
Directed by George Cukor
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 8
Up Against: Becket, Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins, Zorba the Greek

My Fair Lady is the story of a poor young English woman, and a rich older speech therapist. When the speech thearpist, Henry Higgins, meets the young English woman, Eliza Doolittle, and hears her horrid Cockney accent, he makes a bet with another speech therapist, Hugh Pickering (a new acquaintence), that he could turn this any woman into a proper speaking woman and present her as a duchess at the Embassy Ball. Eliza, who aspires to work in a flower shop, instead of selling flowers on the streets, goes to Henry the next day, asking for proper English lessons. Henry Higgins is a pompous, slightly sexist man, who is more used to working with upper class people. Eliza reminds him that he said he could pass off any woman as a Duchess after working with her for 6 months, and Pickering decides to pay for Eliza's lessons and clothes, etc, if Higgins will, in fact, train Eliza. He says yes, and the work begins, though Eliza is a loud, stubborn woman, showing his work is cut out for him.

I feel ashamed to say I've never seen an Audrey Hepburn movie before this. That being said, I have no idea what to expect with this movie. It looked like another cutesy musical, and I was interested in seeing it.

First off, Audrey Hepburn was totally awesome in this film. I'd always pictured her as a dainty soft-spoken kind of girl (sort of a back-then's Carey Mulligan). But she totally rocked the crazy Cockney, whining young woman. She was horribly annoying and her accent was terrible (all of that in a good way! you know?). It was fun watching her on screen, making her transformation. Although her transformation was a little abrupt, it was fun. She didn't look all that special in the beginning, but she looked amazing when she got all dressed up.

Rex Harrison, who played Henry Higgins, was also great. He was pompous and arrogant, but also had a sort of lovable side to him, and Harrison really embraced that.

The movie really deserved all the Oscars that it won, Directing, Best Actor, Cinematography, Sound, Score, Art Direction and Costumes. Addition nominations included Supporting Actor (Pickering), Supporting Actress (Mrs. Higgins), Editing and Adapted Screenplay. I was sorely disappointed that Ms. Hepburn wasn't even nominated, but that's the way it goes I guess. She'd gotten her Oscar several years before for Roman Holiday.

The only flaws I found in the movie was it ran on too long. Clocking in at 2hrs and 52 minutes, some of the film (the scenes about Eliza's father, for example) were unnecessary, and the movie could've been solved earlier.

However, all the musical numbers were great. Most musicals there's at least either a) a long slow song that the girl sings (ex, As Long As He Needs Me, from Oliver!), and/or b) a long modern number (Broadway Melody Ballet, from Singin' In The Rain). I was surprised that there was neither of these in My Fair Lady, giving the film an extra few points for me.

Overall, the movie was enjoyable. It was cute, and funny, and Audrey Hepburn was great.

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 7.5/10 
Screenplay- 7/10 
Visuals- 8/10 

Music- 9.5/10 Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 8/10 
Rewatchability- 8/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 8/10 

Overall Package- 7.5/10     
Total: 80/100

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Crash, 2004
Directed by Paul Haggis
Nominated for 6 Oscars, Won 3
Up Against: Brokeback Mountain, Goodnight and Good Luck, Munich, Capote

Crash tells the story of racism in LA. It tells 6 different stories, all of which don't seem to connect with each other at first, but as the story goes along, it does. I'd explain the intersecting stories, but I'd end up explaining the whole movie to you. The first storyline is about a middle-aged white couple, the man of whom is a dsitrict attorney and uses race as a political card in his career, and his wife who was recently car-jacked feels that her biases and views towards those who aren't white are justified and therefore not racism. Then we have the car-jackers; 2 young black men, one of whom is constantly complaining about racism half the time, and uses it as an excuse the other half. Then we have 2 cops, the experienced one a racist pig, the other who believes he doesn't hold those views at all, and hates the experienced cop for his. We have a black filmmaker and his wife, who were recenetly harassed by said cops, the wife semi-molested during the experience, and feels her husband doesn't support their black background and tries to be "too white". Then we have a Latino man, who is trying to make a better life for his daughter. And a Persian family trying to make it in America with their store, who have recently purchased a gun.

I'm going to put it out there right away, this movie tried WAY too hard to get it's "point" across, that racism still happens today. In all honesty, most of the things that happened weren't really racism, just people making stupid decisions. Granted, there were a lot of examples of racism, but there were also a lot of examples of people acting like idiots. But that's besides the point. This movie just took everything to the extreme to make a point, and it really lowered it's value. This year's The Help also dealt with racism, but did it in a much better way, which wasn't throwing it in your face every 5 seconds.

Ludacris's character was the car-jacking, racism complainer. All we really did heard from him was about how racism is unfair, how racist people are, and how he don't ever steal from black people. I understand him complaining at first, but it got really tiring after over an hour of straight complaining whenever he was on screen. Granted, he did a great job in his role, and I thought he was quite well acted.

This is the same with pretty much all the character. I know it was a film about racism, but in other films about racism, it's not a constant rant about race, which is what this movie was. Sure, there were some powerful moments in the film, like when the filmmakers wife is rescued from the car crash just before it exploded by the racist cop who semi-molested her only 12 hours before. Powerful, and it wasn't as blatant as some of the other scenes, and had much more subtlety to it.

Anyway, enough about my rant about it's obviousness. Other than that fact, the acting was quite good. While most characters spent very little time on screen (another problem of the film, I felt like I was being introduced to someone new, constantly), they performed well. I was pleasantly surprised by Ludacris. I'd had no expectations from him, but he was quite good. And I really enjoyed Sandra Bullock as the cold and racist woman. Things like cinematography were good too.

Overall I spent half the movie going "oh my gosh..." and rolling my eyes, or being like "really? did that just happen?". I also laughed a lot. This movie was just too corny and hoaky, and while it did get it's message across, loud and clear, it was just too much. Also, has anyone ever heard of this movie?

Acting- 7/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 6/10 
Visuals- 7/10 

Music- 7/10 Emotional Connection- 4/10 
Entertainment- 5/10 
Rewatchability- 6/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 5/10 

Overall Package- 5/10     
Total: 59/100

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Best Years of Our Lives

The Best Years Of Our Lives, 1946
Directed by William Wyler
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 7
Up Against: Henry V, It's A Wonderful Life, The Razor's Edge, The Yearling

The Best Years Of Our Lives is a story about returning to everyday life after serving in WWII. This movie tells about 3 soldiers stories, all of whom meet on a plane on their way home to Boone City. Fred, who worked in planes and dropping bombs is returning to a wife he met while training, married soon after, and was deployed after only being married a month. He hardly knows her. Homer is a young bloke who lost his hands when his ship was sunk, and is returning home to a girl he hopes will still want to marry him. Al was an Infantry Platoon Sergeant, and has been married for 20 years and realizes his children have grown up while he's been away. All are returning to jobs they don't love, and find it immensely difficult to adjust. All 3 men's lives intersect with each other and even though they didn't know each other during the actual war, they make ties to each other that are unbreakable.

Though this picture clocks in at 2hrs and 50 minutes, this film had me captivated the whole time. It's not simply about soldiers returning from war (though that's a large part), it's about life, and finding value in what you do, and loving people, and falling in love, and being the best you can be and being accepted by others.

While a story about a soldier returning from war makes for a cliche story, this was one of the first films to be done after WWII. I thought the film was insightfully done. It was made very soon after WWII ended, and gave some good insight on things I'd never thought of. Al's son is talking with him about side-effects of the nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima, asking about side-effects. His son, knowing he'd been there, assumed he would know more. Al didn't know very much. Additionally, his daughter was telling him about the struggle on the home front, something he also wasn't aware of. It's not something I'd really thought of. You assume people knew what was happening on both sides, but this wasn't the case.

Let me just say the acting in this film was great. The man who played Homer, Harold Russell, is also a war veteran. He really did lost his hands when he was filming a training film in 1944, after an explosive he was holding accidently detonated. Harold Russell additionally won an Honoray Oscar that year "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans". Harold won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and did he deserve it. Having lived through the experience of actually losing his hands, I'm sure Harold was able to connect with Homer quite intimately. He really tapped into the heartbreak and the awkwardness of people around him, and made Homer become 3D. Additionally, Fredric March, who played Al, won Best Actor that year. Again, he play the part so well. The ladies in the film were also fun, especially Teresa Wright, who played Al's daughter Peggy, who finds herself in a triangle with Fred, the newly-wed who's only really getting to know the girl he married. She's whip-smart, and funny, and Wright portrayed her so well.

This movie was just well put-together and was quite touching. The scenes of the soldiers reuniting with their families and loved ones had me tearing up a little, and I found myself really getting into the story. Will Homer get over what happened and be able to love Wilma? Does Fred really love Marie? And what will Peggy do, now that she's fallen in love with Fred? It was a good tale, and it was a great example of a "full package" film that are deserving to win Best Picture. However, it wasn't my favourite film on the list. It did start to drag on at some points (being the almost 3 hour film that it is), and some story lines were a tad dry, but it was a good movie, and definitely a touching one.

Acting- 9/10 
Directing- 8/10 
Screenplay- 7.5/10 
Visuals- 7.5/10 

Music- 7.5/10 Emotional Connection- 8/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 7/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 

Overall Package- 8/10     
Total: 77.5/100

Monday, 7 May 2012


Braveheart, 1995
Directed by Mel Gibson
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 5
Up Against: Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino: The Postman, Sense and Sensibility

Braveheart is the story of William Wallace and his fight for the freedom of Scotland, and his people, from the British. When William was a little boy, King Edward I, or also know as Longshanks, of England, invades Scotland. Little William see's tons of men in his village hung in a hut where they were promised a meeting to make peace, and William's father and brother die. William goes to live with his uncle, is educated, and returns to his village a grown man. He falls in love with a woman he knew when he was young, and they court in secret, and marry in secret. They marry in secret because Longshanks grants his noblemen land in Scotland, and also something called "Primae Noctis", which means noblemen have the right to sleep with a Scottish women on her wedding night. William and his wife meet in secret, hoping to avoid this. However, when a man tries to rape William's wife, William injuries and kills many of the noblemen, and the two try to flee, but his wife is captured and publicly executed in the village before William figures out what has happened. William and the entire Scottish village wage a war on the noblemen staying there, killing them all, and executing the sherriff. William Wallace is now on a crusade for Scotland's freedom, and as his name and legacy spreads, his builds an army. But with all this comes a cost.

Braveheart is a film about bravery, and about living (and dying) for what you believe in. This movie is nowhere near historically accurate, nor does it really try to be, though is set with real people as characters, in a real war. What I loved about this movie straightaway was the score. And right away I could tell it was by James Horner. He has such a distinguishable sound to him (but so did John Williams, back in the Star Wars/Jurassic Park days, and as does Hans Zimmer, John Powell, and Alexandre Desplat), but the score was superbly Scottish, and was very beautiful. Additionally, the sets and costumes were really stunning. The scenery was gorgeous, and filmed so well (it won Best Cinematography). The Art Direction, set design, make-up, just looked really great too. Besides Best Picture and Director, the film won Cinematography, Make-Up and Sound Editing. All these awards were rightfully deserved. And it rightfully earned nominations for Score, Costume, Editing, and Sound Mixing. However, the thing I wasn't so keen on was the pacing of the story.

The story of William Wallance, his childhood and the secret wedding and murdering of his wife took up the first hour of the movie. The next two hours were battle scenes, cliche scenes of Scottish citizens overtaking the English Noblemen, and The Princess of France (married to Longshank's son), and Robert the Bruce (aspiring to take the throne of Scotland) supporting William Wallace inwardly, while those around them do not.

While the movie was acting very well, had great effects, and achieved well in the art and tech areas, this movie was a little stop-and-start in pacing, and was just so simply average. The story was cliche, with nothing all that new or original to boast about. It was exceedingly inaccurate, and was just like any other period piece war movie. Additionally, I found things were drawn out too long, and the movie could've been significantly shorter than the 3 hours that it is.

I don't mean to crap all over this movie. It was a decent film, with some good acting, beautiful scenery and great costumes and great music. However, this film isn't all that original, is a wee bit too long for it's own good. Oh, and it was up against Apollo 13 that year.

Acting- 8/10 
Directing- 7/10 
Screenplay- 6/10 
Visuals- 8.5/10 

Music- 9/10 Emotional Connection- 3/10 
Entertainment- 3/10 
Rewatchability- 5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 5/10 

Overall Package- 6.5/10     

Total: 61/100