Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

High-RiseQ: How many times do you see a movie before you review it?

A: With few exceptions, one viewing is all I get before I pull the trigger. And, with even fewer exceptions, one viewing is generally all I need. And by that, I do not mean that I know all there is to know after a single screening. Rather, it’s unlikely that my basic opinion will change from that initial reaction. One notable exception is The Dark Knight. I’m not sure what it was, but my response after seeing it was, “Meh.” I’ve seen it twice since then and have been awestruck both times. Not sure if it my expectations were too high or if I was just having a bad day, but that’s one time when my first impression was not worth a damn. I really enjoyed Map to the Stars the first time I saw it and decided to use it as a critical experiment. I waited a week and then saw it again before writing a review. The additional viewing provided some nuance, particularly regarding performances, but had little effect on my overall evaluation. Otherwise, too many movies and too little time limits me to one shot per flick. (more…)

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The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens is a movie that demands a second viewing by most filmgoers – fanboys and casual observers alike. The reason for a repeat is rather simple. The heightened expectations surrounding the film’s release left most audiences in a state of diminished awareness, capable only of following the action from Point A to Point B and forming immediate visceral reactions: good, bad, loved it, hated it. Our eyes were wide and unblinking, but also unfocused on the less obvious and without the needed peripheral vision to incorporate all aspects of the production into our criticism. (more…)

TomorrowlandDisney as cult is not a new concept. The Corporation would never choose such a descriptor, but neither has it ever shied away from behavior that justifies the label. Walt Disney saw his company as the landscapers of the future, the architects of the social engineering that would lead us into a brave, new world that simultaneously held the small town values of a past that never existed with a technology-solves-everything, squeaky clean and dazzlingly white future that could be ours if we purged ourselves of our baser vulgarities. (more…)

self-madeIf you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Self Made – a pleasure limited to attendees at a number of film festivals, including the London Film Festival, since the movie’s premiere at Cannes earlier this year – do not be mislead by the one-sentence teaser description that often accompanies a showing. Self Made is not a mere comedy of mixed identities between an Israeli and a Palestinian. This is no Freaky Friday for the Middle East, where two women develop a mutual appreciation by walking a mile, or standing in line at a checkpoint for half a day, in the other’s shoes. Self Made is not a fairy tale, nor does it offer a magic wand solution for peace in this most troubled of regions. (more…)

springSpring weaves together familiar cinematic strands to fashion a strangely beautiful and original tapestry. The sophomore effort by the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the duo responsible for the well received 2012 horror thriller Resolution, is a hybrid of genres, with elements of horror, science fiction, and romance in a near-perfect ratio. The film invites a mash-up movie pitch, i.e.; it’s (movie A) meets (movie B), as do the filmmakers – literally. During the Q&A session after a screening of the film at the London Film Festival, Benson and Moorhead encouraged the audience to come up with their own, like Spring is Say Anything meets Species or EuroTrip meets Lifeforce or An American Werewolf in London meets An American Werewolf in Paris. The game is almost as much as fun as the movie. (more…)

TheZeroTheoremA unique pleasure awaits in the not-too-distant future for a film archivist or critic or festival organizer charged with organizing the definitive Terry Gilliam retrospective. The body of work he has amassed to date has already established Gilliam as a historically significant figure in cinema. With each subsequent release that begins with the placard “A Terry Gilliam Film,” his legacy expands. We know his vision: the steampunk designs of modern society strangling itself on ducts and tubes, cathode ray technology, and soul-sucking workplaces populated with mid-level drones assigned to tasks of mindless repetition. Outside, the infrastructure is crumbling, the cacophony of post-modern life is numbing, and the individual is targeted for extinction. The only escape is fantasy and women and a fantasy woman that exists only as long as one can whisper the word, “Hope.” (more…)