Sunday, April 28, 2013

Movie Review - Goats

After having picked this movie up several times in the video store I finally decided it was time to rent it.  The movie is called Goats.  This film was equal parts beauty and chaos.  The story centers around a teenage boy named Ellis Whitman and his incredibly messed up family.  I know everyone thinks their family is screwed up but this family is a real gem to watch.

The film starred David Duchovny as Goat Man, the Whitman's pool boy and gardener.  David Duchovny is fantastic in this role, he is so chill and smooth he really brings a deepness to the character of Goat Man.  

Also of notable mentions is Ellis's father Frank who is played by Ty Burrell from TV's Modern Family.  It is pretty interesting to see Ty play a serious character; especially since his Modern Family character is such a klutzy, goofy person.  The rest of the cast was amazing as well.  The cast works really well together overall and they are quite amusing to watch.

The production value of this film is great.  They spent a great deal of effort making the film look great.  Half of the film is set in the Arizona desert which is a beautiful set for this often melancholy film. The beauty of the dessert is an interesting backdrop for the this dysfunctional family's misadventures.  The other half of the film is set in the city, and it is interesting how the city scenes have a very different feeling to them.  It also shows the different sides of Ellis' life in this film.

This film has an original score and the composers did a very good job with the film score.  The music was always perfect for the emotions that were being displayed in the various scenes.  You really can't ask anything more of a film score.

The costumes are perfect for the characters in every scene.  The costumes really helped to define each characters individuality.  Ellis' mother is always brightly attired while his father is very professionally dressed.  The costumes are just part of the devide between Ellis's parrents.  This devide makes up the majority of the angst in this film.  Ellis loves his mother, and he wants her to be happy, but he also wants to reestablish a relationship with is father.  Throw in Goat Man, a jerk of a boyfriend and you have a crazy amusing mess.

Overall this is a great film the characters are very memorable and the production value is high.  There were a few scenes that were not critical to the movie but they were few and far between.  If you like films that show personal development in the characters and make you feel better about yourself, then this film is for you.

I rate this film four out of five smiley Mike heads.  It was amusing to watch and the characters were certainly memorable, but it had a few scenes that were a bit uncomfortable; otherwise I would have rated this film higher. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Movie Review - Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

 This movie manages to show you both the worst and the best of humanity all at once.  The film is Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

This is another one of those awkward films that I love so much.  The end of the world is not a popular subject with most people, however this film does an amazing job of portraying it with grace and dignity.  The acting is simply amazing, and really is the highlight of the film.  While there are explosions, and action, this film is truly a story about the human experience.

We start the film in a car parked on the side of the road.  Dodge () and his wife Linda () are listening to the radio they are absolutely quiet and still.  There is an announcer stating that our last chance to divert the giant asteroid headed for earth has failed.  In the next moment Dodge looks over to his wife and says "honey I think we missed our exit", she gets out of the car and runs away as fast as a woman in heels can run.  This event sets Dodge on his course for the rest of the film as he tries to find what is important in life, so he can hang onto in in his final moments.

Steve Carell is terrific as Dodge the character of Dodge is very beaten down by life.  He is so stuck in his daily routine that you wonder if he even knows the end of the world is upon him.   Steve brings such a quiet intensity to this role.  Sometimes you can really see the gears turning in his head and other times he is a veil of ambiguity.

Along his journey Dodge meets Penny ().  Penny is very vibrant and full of emotion, the polar opposite of Dodge in every way.  Where he is clean and organized, she is dirty and chaotic.  Keira Knightley is an amazing actress and she really brings a much needed vibrant energy to the role or Penny. 

As I mentioned, this film sheds light on both the best and the worst of humanity.  We see looters, rioters, sleazy guys who are taking full advantage of the end of the world.  Yet in the midst of all this negativity we find love, kindness, and compassion for fellow human beings.  This is the first film I have watched, in quite some time, to truly make me feel something.  Happiness, sadness, remorse, longing, and heartache, all in the span of 101 minutes.

I will admit that because Steve Carell does such an amazing job playing an unfeeling character it does take a little while to really care about his character.  I thought a few times, why do I care about Dodge, he is a human twig, devoid of all emotion.  Having said that, this film is also a great study of the human condition.  It seems like the writers spent some time researching what makes us all tick when writing this film.  There is never a moment where the dialog felt forced or unnatural.  All of the characters in the film are very believable, I could imagine myself in their position very easily acting the same way.

I would highly recommend this film if you like movies that dig deeper into who we are as a species.  Heck, even if you like to people watch you might enjoy this film.  Watching people deal with the biggest dilemma in the history of humankind is pretty interesting to watch.

Because of the amazing way the film portrayed humanity's final moments and still managed to end the film on an up note, I rate this film five smiley Mike heads.

Movie Review - Dredd

I am the law, so says Judge Dredd.  The movie is Dredd, the new one from 2012.

This is a very different film form the first film about the Judge Dredd character.  The first film was a grand story arc told in a very short amount of time.  This film however is a much more detailed account of a very short amount of time in the world of the character.  Like many of the recent superhero movie retellings this one is very realistic and gritty.  It is filmed in such a way that you can really get a sense of what is going on in the different characters heads.  In some characters this is exactly what is happening.

In this film Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is breaking in a rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) who happens to be psychic.  They work this power of hers in a much more personal way then I have ever seen.  The scene is not overloaded with special effects and it does exactly what it needs to do to tell the story.

Karl Urban does an great job playing the law enforcing, crime fighting, sentence delivering hero.  He manages to follow the sentiment of less is more.  Even though we can only see half his face Karl manages to display a full range of emotions.  Even though I have not read any of the Judge Dredd comics I can imagine that he isn't much for small talk, and Karl Urban manages to deliver a lot with very few words.

The rookie Anderson on the other hand display a wide range of emotion from fear to anger.  Olivia Thirlby plays the character of Cassandra Anderson very well.  She brings a bit of innocence to the character but also a toughness as well.  This character undergoes a wonderful transformation throughout the film that is fascinating to watch.

The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking.  Director seems to have a great vision of the world of Dredd, along with a high working knowledge of what works on the film.  Watching the making of revealed to me that there was a great deal of experimentation in the filming of this movie.  They shot the film in 3D and the director had never worked in 3D before this film, the results are truly amazing though.  This is really the first film that I have seen that has a valid use for the super slow motion photography, that has been highly overused in films since the Matrix came out.

The bad guys in this film are pushing a drug called slo-mo which slows down time for the user of the drug.  All of the scenes filmed with the super slow motion photography are filmed from the perspective of one of the drug users.  This use of the "bullet-time" effect certainly sets this film apart for me.

As for sets and costumes they were both exactly what you would have expected of a major Hollywood production; however this was a fairly low budget film.

If you really like superhero movies then I highly recommend this film.  If you don't mind a fairly moderate level of gore in your films then this one is highly entertaining to watch.  Honestly even the gory scenes are filmed in a very artistic sort of way.

For the high art value while still telling a compelling story and actually having a good use for Bullet-time filming techniques I rate this film four and a half smiley Mike heads.