The Silver Screener

A blog on film, television, theaters, DVDs, the people who make them, star in them, and watch them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook (3/4 stars)

Very late to the party but finally saw David Russell's Silver Linings Playbook from 2012. I went in blind (didn't know anything about the story), only that J-Law was good enough to win the Oscar. Was treated to a relatively simple story that was a rather delicate treatment of a mix of mental illness, drama and romance. Totally character driven - Lawrence, Cooper, DeNiro and Weaver made this show go. In the end, while the plot was full of holes, the characters allowed suspension of disbelief. That was enough.

I'll never get tired of J-Law I think. She's pretty much surpassed Scarlett and Nat in my girls that can act book (not that the other two have done much... I dread Under the Skin to attempt it for now).

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Chris Nolan's Inception (2.5/4 stars)

Director Christopher Nolan's career was built on his mind-bending thriller Memento, a film that was a near-perfect blend of atmosphere, pacing, character evolution and time-twisting. His latest film, Inception hearkens back to many of the same elements. In this reality, dreams are a place that can be controlled by the dreamer, and others can come into the dream and interact with it as if it was the real world.

Nolan's cast includes Academy Award winners Leo diCaprio (as the lead character Cobb) and Ken Watanabe, and Academy Award nominee Ellen Page. Sadly, the film's structure and the ensemble nature of the roles end up diluting any character work that the three heavyweights attempt. (You can tell they were trying tho.) The film's focus is on keeping the audience aboard the barreling freight train that is the second half of the film.

The second half of the film involves layering four different timeframes/realities on top of each other, trying to give all the characters some gravitas while advancing the increasingly complex plot events. The weak link in the storytelling is a key subplot involving Cobb and his wife. The subplot is the cog that explains the whole Inception mechanism that's driving the film, but it's also the squeaky gear that's throwing the pacing off-tangent. The lulls that allow for Cobb's explanatory dialogue with Page's disingenuously-named character Ariadne downshift the movie at inopportune times. Ironically, Ariadne's role in Cobb's team is that of an "architect" which is the namesake of the character that brought The Matrix Reloaded to a screeching, soul-crushingly laughable halt.

This approach is far more audience-friendly than Memento's figure-it-out-yourself philosophy. That's not necessarily bad since your average filmgoer will probably be hard-pressed to explain exactly what's going on despite the decision to maintain a mostly-linear progression to the movie's events. People might be more likely to appreciate the effects, which are mostly comparable to the old Matrix mainstays (shattering cities and slow-mo low-gravity melee combat). I suppose that Nolan wanted it to be more Dark Knight than Memento, but I would argue that this did the film a disservice from an artistic standpoint while trying to give it more commercial oomph.

To those who are raving about the ending: get a grip. It's not really relevant whether the bronze top focus stopped spinning or not.

Bottom Line: Inception isn't Nolan's best work, and it wastes DiCaprio, Watanabe and Page. However it's still an intelligent film that is diminished by decisions to make it more commercial appeal. That doesn't make it bad, and it's still well worth the time to go see.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Iiiiiiii'mmmmm baaaaaack

Wow. Four years. That was a long time ago.

Monday, July 31, 2006

More Super Heroes: Iron Man

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Today's moviemaking magic makes it a snap to bring Tony Stark and Iron Man to the big screen. Nice teaser poster, but 2008 is a long ways away.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Rewind Reel

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The past couple of weeks have been all about seeing films again. It's a mood that strikes me once in a while. This is when a film library of 1,000+ titles comes in handy.

No big reviews here, just the title, a rating and a few lines.

Die Hard - 3.5/4 stars - Holds up

John McClane is timeless, as are the explosions, but it's Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber that makes Die Hard memorable. It's still one of the iconic action/suspense films ever made.

GlenGarry GlenRoss - 3.5/4 stars - Holds up

Nothing flashy here, unless you would classify "acting your socks off" as flashy. A powerful cast tears through the David Mamet signature screenplay with gusto. Outside of his mafia films, this is Pacino's best work. The rest of the cast, including Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon and the scene-stealing Alec Baldwin keep pace with Al.

Full Metal Jacket - 3/4 stars - Mostly holds up

I've been less enamored of FMJ than many other people, but I think that's simply a testament to the quality of films about war and the men whose lives are changed because of it. FMJ remains a very strong film, but alongside others (such as The Thin Red Line, All Quiet on the Western Front, Patton, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, and even the Band of Brothers miniseries) it's one very good film among many. In the Kubrick pantheon, it's a clear follower to many others.

The Princess Bride - 3.5/4 stars - Holds up

I'll cop to being a fan. There are just so many quotes and scenes in TPB that it's a favorite. It's not the best film, admittedly. The acting isn't outstanding, and the film's momentum keeps getting killed by the fast-forward device of storytelling. However, TPB is FUN, and good fantasy yarns are very hard to come by. Mandy Patinkin's Inigo Montoya is worth half a star all by himself.

Sky High - 3/4 stars - Holds up

The most recent "rewatchee" of this crop, it's amusing that this lightly-regarded Disney film is better constructed than the massively-hyped X3 and Superman Returns. The story is simple and familiar, but the treatment applied is energetic and reasonable. The ensemble cast gives a spirited performance and it's easy to lose yourself in the fast pace of the film. Sky High is a criminally overlooked film in the superhero genre.