Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pearls Before Swine

The Fifth Element
Spoiler Warning

In past Pearls posts (pow! a particularly punchy post premiere) I've brought you my thoughts on movies that were generally beloved by my peers, but not at all by me. Here I unveil the flip side of this feature: movies that I love, that my peers seem to be completely uninterested in. I felt that this particular movie would be a good choice for this unveiling, as it's the second movie I thought of when I originally conceived of these features, and because the advertised-to-death Willis vehicle Cop Out opens today. What better way to tie both together then with Luc Besson's flamboyant space opera- The Fifth Element.
I was unsure how I would go about a version of this post where I'm discussing movie I loved. 'How will I keep this from just being stump speech about how much I love said movie?' I asked me. And then I realised: Why bother? All the entries prior to this have just been tirades about why I didn't movies other people loved. It's only fair that I expose my tender cinematic heart and dote over my own favorites, possibly to my detriment when it comes comment time.
It's hard for me to say where this movie falls in the hearts of my chronological peers (which is to say: "people my age") because everyone I know that's my age have seen it at least once, that time being when they saw it because they were forced to watch it by me. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised to find out that most people either hate it, have forgotten about it, or never saw it in the first place. For the latter pair, I say it's their loss. But as for the Haters, I find myself wondering what their number one complaint would be? In the end, I went with the review I've heard from countless (past girl-) friends. "It's silly."
It is kind of "silly". Even as a fan I have to admit that. And I don't mean just one small scene, clowns throwing pies silly. No Sir (or ma'am)! I'm talking about leading up to a bomb going off, a spaceship launching, and a woman orgasming with the same countdown silly. I'm talking about a flying car in the shape of an ancient Chinese fishing boat silly. I'm talking about a fight scene choreographed to alien techno-opera silly. But, in it's defense, sometimes silly can be cool, if not at least entertaining. Look at Evel Kenevel.
The entire movie is over the top, and obviously so. That it's purposefully so is true- but for many people that's no excuse. I just don't happen to be one of them. The Fifth Element is definitely a niche movie. Willing to sacrifice it's general appeal (at least in our culture) in an attempt to further endear itself to the target audience... though admittedly I have no idea who that would be. The comedy hounds? The action chasers? Or is it a movie meant for people who have an innate taste for the weird?
Any way you might choose, I thin we can all agree that one of the main crowds drawn are the science fiction fans. Though many purists are probably put off by some of it's approaches. Personally I think Bessons purposeful avoidance of some of the "mainstream" sci-fi pitfalls make up a lot of what drew me to this movie in the first place; the big three concepts I've been hoping to see the sci-fi paradigm shift towards.
1.) It doesn't always have to be dark. I love a great many movies that are, don't get me wrong. But not every ship has to have dripping chains and long sterile corridors. The cities don't have to be grey exercises in depression.
2.) Good science fiction is culturally subtle, and pays attention to details. How many times do you watch in amazement as your microwave turns something from hot to cold? You don't, because chances are you grew up with one- it's old news. Whatever piece of mind bending technology that would forever alter your life you're watching them use on the screen, for them, might well be an everyday thing as common in their society as a combustion engine in ours. Anyone can make up some convoluted form of space travel, but will they consider the progression of cigarettes? Good science fiction writers/directors do, and their creations are better for it.
3.) It speaks on the world. For me, good science fiction is, a least in part, satire. It speaks on the contemporary world by bringing hyperbole to it's flaws, quirks, and trends. The progression of pollution, the tiny but abundant housing, the effeminacy of men in entertainment, the progression (and ridiculousness) of fashion, relations with foreign cultures, even the slang; it's portrayal in movies like this, when analysed, speaks volumes on our everyday lives. And those are only a few examples.
Of course, to pull of this off you need spot on art direction and production design, which this movie offers in droves. It makes the best of what it has in terms of CG, giving decent offerings for 1997- though it has no fear of accomplishing things by other means, which helps a lot. Many directors have a fear of props and prosthetics, Besson is smart to embrace it.
And then of course, there's the cast. And I can see where this one might be a bit divisive. On the one hand you have two heavy hitters, Ian Holme and Gary Oldman. Ian Holme had already unknowingly cemented himself in fiction history as Alien's Ash in 1979 (something he would do again -this time with knowledge before hand- in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) while Gary Oldman was still building the legacy he enjoys today- though he was already off to a good start with lead roles in movies like Immortal Beloved, Dracula (where his performance was critically acclaimed though the movie definitely was not), and another of Besson's more generally beloved titles, The Professional. Then, on the other hand, you have Chis Tucker, who can be detestable even at his best- which happens to be playing the annoying motor-mouth.
The main leads are played by Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, both of whom were were probably worth a bit more in 1997. Willis' career has certainly seen it's highs and lows since, though he seems to be a bit of a comeback king; falling off the public interest radar only to burst back on the scene again. All the while Jovovich made attempts at being an action hero, only to still be paying back the borrowed capital from her failed ventures to this day.
This is the beauty of 1997 however: Holme was already a legend. Willis was a barely blemished A-Lister. Oldman was on the verge and Milla Jovovich was an up and coming. Heck even Chis Tucker still had a career back then, fresh off the poignant Dead Presidents and the widely popular Friday. The Fifth Element is sort of a funny snapshot in history in terms of it's ensemble, as they all taken hugely different paths since, but at that time were on top, or quickly climbing the ladder. And they gel nicely, mixing drama and blatant slapstick as strong team. I would certainly refrain from making "best ever" comparisons (there is a gaping void between "favorites" and "bests") but as an ensemble piece, The Fifth Element is no slack.
But enough about me, what do the dollars say? The Fifth Element was made on a budget of $80 Million dollars, a record for independant productions at the time. According to, it went on to gross over $263 million, that's more than three times it's budget for the calculationally impaired. And while there's a grain of salt there in terms of it's U.S. earnings being less 25% of that0 it still makes the movie a large success. And then you have the awards. It of course received the perfunctory sound effects Oscar nod (or as I like to call it the "sure your movie was fantastic but we refuse to acknowledge your genre as art" award), but even beyond that it garnered a great deal of accolades.
Other nominations include: Five Saturn awards including best film, A Golden Satellite, A European film award, A Hugo, Five Cesars, and a golden Reel. And then there are the awards it actually won: A British Academy for Film and Television Arts award for best special effects. A Golden Screen, A Bogey Award: Silver (FYI: Bogey's are given like Xbox 360 achievements to movies for having a certain number of people view the movie in a certain number of days. Silver is 2 million in twenty days), Three Cesars for cinematography, production design, and last but not least, best director- for which Besson also won a Lumiere award.
...There's not a whole lot I can say after a list like that. I trust we can agree that The Fifth Element just might be a pearl. So if your one of those who's forgotten it, or never seen it- why not give it a try? And if your a hater, but it's been a while, maybe there's room for second chances? It would seem the numbers and the awards say it there is. You'll have to let me know what happens in the comments area. As for me, it's one of my old standards- perched on our floating shelves with others of it's kind like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Sneakers. But I guess those are titles for another post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shutter Island

"There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure Mr. Grady."

A U.S. Marshal, sent to investigate a disappearance at a maximum security mental hospital in 1954, soon admits that he and his partner are looking for much more.

Every once in a while I come across a movie where, when someone asks me about it, the only thing I'm willing to say is: "Go see it." Shutter Island is the newest addition to that list. Unfortunately, giving that response alone would make for a pretty disappointing review. So I'm going to do my best to expand on that sentiment. But know that in the end that's all I'm really thinking.
Visually, it is one of the most affecting movies I've seen in months. The imagery is just that striking; the colors that vivid. The cinematography, under the direction of Robert Richardson, is so profound that I feel as though I could come close to having as emotional an experience just looking at stills. And believe me, it is a thoroughly emotional experience.
Shutter Island is a movie about what people are capable of when pushed to the mental brink. It is a theme expertly hammered home; one that cuts deep and refuses to relent. I have heard it called "scary". This isn't the word I'd use. It is certainly a thriller, there's no question of that, but in the place of the word "scary" I would use the word "disturbing".
What's the difference? For me, scary is easy. All you have to do scare me is try. You could, off the top of my head, wait in the hallway bathroom of a condo that you already know I think is creepy and jump out at me when I pass by... Sure, that would scare me. We'd both have a good laugh and that would be that. But to disturb me, you have to have more than just access. You have to get into my head. Get me emotionally involved. Then, you show me something that I just can't wrap my mind around. Do that, and you've got more than a cheap thrill. You've got something that's going to stick with me. Something we're going to be discussing an hour later. That's disturbing.
Stanley Kubrick did it with The Shining. David Fincher did it with Se7en. Now Martin Scorcese has done it again.
And with him yet again - in a cinema duo that critically can't miss it seems- is Leonardo Dicaprio. He rules the roost as the haunted Teddy Daniels, paired perfectly with the haunting Michelle Williams as Dolores (who I will say again is a criminally under appreciated actress in the main-stream). Even if the supporting cast weren't phenomenal - which they are- these two could have carried this movie all on their own. Their chemistry (for lack of a better word) is often palpable, even in their separate scenes.
If I have one complaint, it's that there are moments where the films score feels a bit overwhelming. I say this with the distinct feeling that this may have been a purposeful act however. And even if it not, it's a forgivable error. It would take a lot more than loud music to kill this experience.
Shutter Island is a movie I would recommend to anyone old enough to buy a ticket. It is a fervid, deftly paced journey through disturbed minds. It will rarely resort to simple pop outs to make you jump- but it will gladly make you cry, make you cringe, and make you talk it over as soon as the lights come up. Go see it.

Reel Deal Recommends:
The Departed: Another kind of spectacular from Director Scorcese with Dicaprio as lead.
Brokeback Mountain: A ho-hum movie with a spectacular performance from Williams
Snow Falling on Cedars: A visual feast with Richardson directing photography.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Wolfman

"Go now, and Heaven help you!"
A man returns home after a long absence, to investigate the death of his brother. But when he gets there, he finds much more than his inner demons waiting for him.

I find The Wolfman hard to categorize. Not in terms of genre, but in terms of my feelings about it. On the one hand, pieces of it soar far beyond any predictions I might have had on how good a monster-movie remake could really be. But on the other hand, there are the pieces possessed of garish flaws that actually made me cock my head in disbelief as I watched in the theater. It's moments like these that make me regret deciding against offering "scores" on the movies I reviewed. I feel as though within that scale it might be easier to explain and justify my feelings.
...Where to begin... I guess we can start with one of the most obvious flaws of this movie: Benicio Del Toro. Until now (and I didn't really realize this until I sat down to write this review) he and I had a "friend of a friend" sort of arrangement. I'd only ever seen him in movies with a large cast full of big names or many stories bound together like The Usual Suspects or Traffic, as oddly stylized characters like Jackie Boy in Sin City, or in quick cameos like Snatch. Add this to the fact that I can't seem to track down a copy of the Che miniseries he starred in, and you have this as my first experience with him as a leading man. And let me tell you, I was wholly unimpressed.
As Lawrence Talbot, Del Toro spends half movie skulking around like a whipped dog (pun intended), and seems to have an affinity for hanging his head in shame -something the character really doesn't require by the way. This means that half the time he's looking at another character he's looking at them past his heavy eyebrows, which quickly grows annoying. He also plays even his subtlest cues as though he's being hit by a sledge-hammer; in one scene he jumps like he's been electrocuted when the character hears something strange.
On top of this he delivers his lines like he's the star of a community drama production, hamming and oddly inflecting his way through almost two hours of screen time. On the one hand, I wonder if this isn't a result of him trying to hide his accent; but on the other- is that really an excuse? And then there are the down right wacky looks he casts at the other characters whenever they say something even remotely revealing- but only when not giving them the brow-stare of course.
Luckily he's the worst of the leads. Anthony Hopkins delivers a like-wise questionable attempt at being mysterious in the first act as Sir John Talbot, only to return in the second and third with that venomous tongue that made us fall for him back in 1991. Emily Blunt turns in a great performance in spite of the fact that the predominant part of her role as Gwen Conliffe consists of standing around looking worried. By far, the best performance comes from Hugo Weaving. Watching him chew his words and spit them out the side of his mouth beneath that Fable-style beard as Detective Abberlein is almost a little too entertaining. Though obviously written as a throw-back, he makes the camp work as a character. Congratulations Mr. Weaving, you've stolen yet another movie.
In terms of direction, I know we already had a previous discussion about Director Joe Johnston, and I must say I'm a little disappointed. Outside of the random face shots of the the wolf-man running on all fours, it's a well if not blandly shot movie. The real problem is the choice on how to approach the handful of the movies attack sequences. These, again, are a mixture of genius and foolery. There is one moment, at the very beginning of the second sequence (which comes relatively early in the movie) where the entire theater literally gasped in amazement. My heart was racing with little-boy-glee at my favorite type of movie "monster" making an entrance that left me spoiling for more. Unfortunately, the action sequences rarely displayed that kind of affect again.
This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest faults of this movie. To this day I shiver when I think of what could possibly happen to a human body to cause it to make the horrid noises that Lambert makes as Ripley runs to save her in Alien. What the audience can imagine is always worse than what you can show them, but Johnston chooses to show us everything. What's worse, he revels in his gore. Showing us flying limb after flying limb and spraying bits at the camera. The thriller angle dies early in The Wolfman, and with it - a lot of the movies mental staying power.
And with that last paragraph, this is probably a good time to talk about creature effects. For the most part, The Wolfman's are strong. The update of the classic make up works for me as such, and the CG transformation sequences are brutal and fascinating. Even the updated howling is hauntingly human, and at the same time bestial- though unfortunately it's also a bit over used. The strong creature effects, unfortunately, make the oddities stand out. For one thing, I'm not sure if the prosthetics were broken during the course of filming, or whether it was intentional choice, but in the climax of the movie there are shots where the beast doesn't seem to be able to close it's mouth. This may seem trivial, but for me it kills the immersion a bit. Instead of cowering in fear, I found myself wondering why the beast was starring with his mouth agape, wiggling his tongue inside like a snapping turtle.
This is the essence of this film. All the praise is accompanied by complaints. There are no purely strong or purely weak pieces of The Wolfman. From the cast to the creature effects, the good is tempered with the bad. Truthfully, even as a script it's a bit bitter sweet, as I must admit I had hoped for better from a writing team composed of members with movies like Se7en, and Road to Perdition among their -admittedly sorted- accolades.
I'd read many an article about this films final approach to the screen reporting that Johnston and Universal spent a great deal of time warring in the editing room. We'll never know how far this final product is from what either faction wanted to show us- or whether either direction might have made this a better movie. The fact is, it's not a better movie. The Wolfman is enjoyable, and it's faults are, in the end, mostly forgivable on their own. However they are not on their own, and as a whole there are enough of them that, even if they can't bring the entire thing down, they hobble it as an experience.

Watcher X says: "Too much snarling and hissing, not enough story."
Real Deal Recommends:
Snatch.: This really has nothing to do with Del Toro. I just love this move.
Fracture: A crime drama with Hopkins as fantastically detestable villain.
The Devil Wears Prada: An "eh" movie with a hilarious showing of Emily Blunt.
The Matrix: Another movie where one of it's strongest attributes is listening to Weaving talk.

An addendum to Feb. 17th's Five!!

It seems I some how forgot to mention what inspired Five!! Roles That Time Forgot. My apologies! So let me tell you now, and I promise I'll never forget again... unless I do forget- in which case that will definitely be the last time... probably.

Tuesday's Five!! was inspired by The Wolfman's resident beauty Emily Blunt. It occurred to me, as I contemplated seeing Ms. Blunt start to get roles as the leading woman, just how many places I'd seen her before she caught eyes in The Devil Wears Prada, and turned heads in Sunshine Cleaning. Among those, was the realization that she had appeared briefly in the Watcher X favorite Dan in Real Life as Ruthy "Pig-nose" Draper.
Not the most dramatic of stories, I admit. Still- I thought you should know.

The Reel Deal

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Roles That Time Forgot

!!Spoiler Warning!!

Do you do it as often as I do? you sit down to watch a movie you haven't even thought about in years (let alone how long it's been since it actually came out) only to see a familiar face that you either completely forgot was in the movie, or that you didn't know by name the first time you saw it? If so this Five!! is for you!

Now, as often happens with these list, I thought of this topic and too many choices flooded into my head. So I had to narrow it down. I did so by looking at my list through this line of thought: They had to be in a re-occurring role in the movie; no cameos. They had to be relatively unknown then, only to go on to make a pretty big name for themselves later. And it can't be their "breakthrough role", which is to say it can't be the role that got their name known.
Here's what I came up with!

Actor: Joeseph Gordon-Levitt
Movie: Angels in the Outfield
If only because these are two names I love to drop! Angels in the Outfield because everybody knows the name but nobody thinks about it. And Joeseph Gordon-Levitt because he maybe one of the most under rated working actors of the day. Truthfully my first thought for him was A River Runs Through It, his first leading role in a feature film, but as that's one of my favorite movies of all time and synonymous with his name for me- I figured I would go with something more "Obviously Obscure".

Actor: Vincent D'Onofrio
Movie: Adventures in Babysitting
It's not often a role as the Nordic god of thunder gets forgotten, but I didn't even realize it was him until I was in my twenties. Which is a big statement as I've seen this movie quite a few times. I'd say he's easy to mistake as he's young, blond, stoic, and ripped (not quite the desciptors one might use for Edgar, or Private Pyle) but make no mistake- that's him.

Actor: Bill Paxton
Movie: Weird Science
Before he was chasing tornadoes or blasting xenomorph's, he was the annoying older brother Chet -and that weird...toad...thing- in John Hughes sci-fi romp. This is really one of those movies for me. I forget about it for years only to remember and laugh uncontrollably at the thought of it. Also in that category- Teen Wolf.

Actress: Scarlett Johansson
Movie: The Horse Whisperer
I don't think there's any coincidence in the fact that Scarlett Johansson's many roles seem lost to time until she shows up -fully developed- in Lost in Translation. I chose this movie for a few reasons. 1.) Because it was based off a best selling book but flopped. 2.) Because it was chalk full of star-power, but still nobody seems to remember it. And 3.) Because this firebrand who's made a career of smoldering on screen- plays the bratty teenage daughter. Priceless.

Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
Movie: SpaceCamp
Oh SpaceCamp... Yup, he may be 12 and billed as "Leaf" instead of Joaquin, but that's him as the Star Wars loving nerd Max. Really this movie could work for a lot of it's main cast members: Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, Lea Thompson. It's a veritable cornucopia of roles none of the players want to remember. Wait... is that Tom Skerrit?!

And you know what, I'm gonna throw a bonus in here because I can't resist!
Actor: Sam Rockwell
Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I couldn't even remember what his character was called in this movie so I looked it up on IMDB.
He's billed as "Head Thug". Delicious! Can't remember him? He's the teenage boy at the Foot hangout that offers kids full boxes of cigarettes while giving them the tour. Check it out! It's no "Ninja Rap", but it's still pretty entertaining.

Ohhhh, there are so many more. I wish I had more space, and more time! Let me know what roles your thinking of! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

"You have that sharp, useless look about you."

Los Angeles couples and singles struggle to withstand the whirlwind that is Valentine's Day.

Not since my High School's attempt at Back to the Future: The Musical have I scene such a long list of talented names attached to such a terrible production. And by terrible production I mean, crap-fest. And by crap-fest, I mean I want my money back.
I knew as soon as I walked out of the theater that a standard review wasn't going to work for this movie. I flat out had too many complaints. So to save time, length, and sanity, I've decided to write this review as a list. I'm simply going to voice my complaints as a list. Also, there will be no "Reel Deal Recommends" at the end of this review for two reasons: A.) There would be far too many names to put on the list. B) As a punishment to every member of the cast.
So, for your literary consumption, I present: 10 things I hate about Valentine's Day.

1.) There were far too many stories.

2.) Of all of those stories, it's obvious writer Katherine Fugat only really cared about 2 or 3 because the rest are so thinly plotted that the heavy sighs of all the teenage girls ogling Taylor Lautner could have blown them off the screen. Not to mention that they're resolved in stupidly simple ways that just scream: "We ran out of ideas!"

3.) Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift.

4.) That those big three stories are actually pretty decent, which makes me resent that I had to sit through the rest of the tacked on lot just to get them. Thinning the rif-raff out of this screenplay could have left Director Gary Marshall with a decent romantic-comedy. But instead we get enjoyable players like Hector Elizondo sitting on their thumbs.

5.) Attempts at "randomly" connecting all of the characters that usually came off completely forced.

6.) That it wasn't me kissing Jennifer Garner.

7.) The soundtrack. It's composed completely of pop songs that contain even a single word that relates back to what's happening on the screen, or scoring that I can only describe as what must play in the elevator of Match.coms headquarters.

8.) That it's so obviously trying to be Love, Actually but fails miserably because it lacks the basic talent that that movie brought to the ball game, and the subtlety that made it's "web" of characters work. And where Love, Actually shows us many forms of love and does so at Christmas, Valentine's Day focuses on romance and does so on -you guessed it- Valentine's day. Insisting that every time a character is about to do anything even slightly romantic, they scream out that fact like a battle cry.

9.) That the one thing this movie does do that Love, Actually does not- which is acknowledge gay relationships- is done with fear and trepidation; barely letting the couple touch, and making them the only romantic pairing who don't kiss.

10.) That the only characters this movie feels comfortable with letting end up alone at the end, are the ones that they so directly made sure we hated by then. Because only "bad" people end up dateless on Valentine's Day right? Since being alone on Valentine's Day is obviously the worst thing that can possibly happen to you, right?

Put simply my friends, Valentine's Day is a sugary sweet, confection of a movie. And like most candies it has the ability to fill you without offering any nutritional value. To anyone who got dragged to this movie this weekend, I offer my sincere apologies. To everybody else, count your lucky stars you made it through the gauntlet. I'd count yourselves safe now, as I'm sure know one will be seeing this movie now that the big day has come and gone.

Dear John

"You, are the dumbest smart person I have ever met in my life!"

Two teens meet and have a whirlwind romance, but a summer fling ends up affecting the rest of their lives.

I must admit that I haven't had the best history with Nicholas Sparks novels, and that that history is even worse with their adaptations. From the atrociously sentimental A Walk To Remember, to the purely un-effecting Nights in Rodanthe, I'd found that as far as I was concerned all the doors to Sparks' fantasies were marked expressly with the sign: "Enter at your own risk"; with that risk usually being quite grave.
And then I saw Dear John. Of all the Sparks inspired films I've seen (Between knowing a lot of girls and seeing a lot movies that's all of them by the way) Dear John is the only one that seems to have a sense of things more important than romance. And yes, there are things more important than romance. Not only does this movie contain story lines that exist outside the lovebirds in question, they are the more poignant plot points (and I'm not just talking about 9/11).
In a very real -though not all encompassing- way, Dear John seems to explore how two separate lives brought together can interact. How people can affect each others lives- not just their moods; though don't get me wrong, there's plenty of that too. Plenty of sentimental, romance novel fodder (like female characters named Savanna for instance) to satisfy the die-hards who came to smile and cry. So know that I'm not calling this movie a bar elevator, I'm just giving it points for taking the risk of alienating those who hate all that pesky self-awareness ruining their romance movie.
In terms of performances, Dear John offers little to any roles outside that of the title character and the aforementioned heroine- though in general the supporting roles are decently filled. As for the leads, Amanda Seyfried offers a cute but unremarkable performance as the young innocent Savannah, only to return with a much more convincing show in the third act. Overall I say she does the best with what she's given- which really isn't much. And then there's Channing Tatum... I never really imagined myself saying this, but in Dear John I'd say he does enough to a least open discussion on him maybe being more than just a pretty face and muscular shoulders. There are moments (and I emphasize the use of the word moments) where his performance is convincing- even enjoyable. Offset of course by everything around those moments, which is mostly bearable and only occasionally horrid; such as the "Tell me what to do" scene audiences have been subjected to with every cut of the trailer.
Even with its flaws, Tatum's performance comes through in a way he'd yet to achieve before. I don't know where credit for the change is due. Maybe it was direction from Lasse Hallstrom (sorry Lasse, I don't know how to make an Umlaut) who's certainly no stranger to drama with titles like What's Eating Gilbert Grape and An Unfinished Life under his belt. Or maybe he just realized that this was the kind of name and money backed vehicle that could really progress his career. I don't know. One thing it certainly wasn't was the often ham-fisted writing. Though the movie survives despite it, not unlike We Are Marshall -also penned by scribe Jamie Linden, who's over the top approach was also saved from itself by the strength of it's performances.
By far, Dear John's strongest on screen attribute is Richard Jenkins, who nails his role as John's father with the kind of thorough-ease that I've come to expect from him. They say the best players aren't just good, they make the rest of the team better. Could this acting juggernaut (bitch!) have been the element that elevated the entire movie? OK well, even if that seems like a stretch- his performance as this pivotal character anchors the piece, adding all that poignancy mentioned before. He may not have elevated the cast, but his performance and his characters storyline elevate the movie as a whole.
So there you have it. Dear John was, to sum up, not terrible. Which is a huge compliment considering it's brethren and the man writing this review. Anything more is debatable. To say Dear John transcends it's genre would be light years more than a bit much. In truth, I'd say it takes steps towards doing what every romance really should have been doing already- telling more of a story than the purists require to get their tears and run. It's a movie with definite flaws, and it lays far from the best and the brightest of the day- even of it's market. Though I will say, that it is easily the best of the Sparks series. Though being the best Sparks' adaptation is kind of like being the best dressed bag-lady: your title doesn't really say much for the big picture, and the competition really wasn't all that stiff.
Watcher X says: "Loved it."
Reel Deal Recommends:
Jennifer's Body: I know what your thinking, but give it a shot. I bet it surprises you.
Stop-Loss: I guess if I have to pick one for Channing Tatum this would be it...
Burn After Reading: So hard to choose. See also the series Six Feet Under.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I had hoped to have more to offer before this day came but life, of course, had other plans. And so, it's time for me to say goodbye for now. California hastily awaits my arrival it, seems with the impatience of a child, and I am happy to oblige.
I promise to return to you next weekend with posts a plenty, both to catch you up on what we watch this coming week and because I've been running rather silent these last two weeks. Besides, Wolfman on Friday means we're going to have a lot to talk about. So until then, I hope all is well. See you soon friends.

The Reel Deal