Posted by: kfugrip | March 22, 2007

Getting behind during personal crisis; a user’s guide

I’ve watched three films in the past few days, more actually but I’m not counting some because I either caught them in progress or stopped watching in the middle because I had seen it before (though Tom Dowd and the Language of Music was really interesting, and when I do have a chance to see the beginning, I’ll write about it). Before launching into the specific comments on the films I want to rant about something we all hate, thus making the statement an excercise in obviousness. Commercials before a film, and previews have gotten out of control. When I went to see one of the below movies I arrived what I believed to be 5 minutes late, and expected to have to find a seat in the dark. Instead the theater was quiet and awaiting the start of the projector. When the lights did go down I had to sit through 25 minutes of commercials/previews. Why is this okay? I already paid 11 bucks to watch the movie, now I have to sit through the extended cut of a pepsi commercial that annoys even the most brain-dead of viewers. Considering the movie I was to see was over 2 1/2 hours long I wanted it to start so I could go home and get some sleep before work. Twenty-five minutes! Unreal. Are the filmmakers benefiting from this in any way? I have a feeling that commercials don’t make it any easier for filmmakers to get projects made than multiplexes do. It’s just another way for companies and theater chains, to fill their pockets. How long before the movie is interupted by a commercial in addition to product placement?

Return to Me, directed by Bonnie Hunt, is a family favorite of Kelly. I was lead to it by her and found it to be funny and one of the better romantic comedys that I have seen in quite a long time. I’m not a big fan of the genre, so it had that obstacle to navagate, but funny turns by James Belushi and Carroll O’Connor made it easier for me. I liked that the chest scar Minnie Driver’s heart-transplant-reciever character had, was addressed, because it was the first thing I thought post op. Though the opening was like wading through mud, it took so long to get any pace, the film ends with a natural, and well won happy ending.

3 stars.

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The Dying Gaul, by Craig Lucas, is the story of a gay screenwriter who must decide whether to sell out this artistic ideals (for a million dollars no less) concerning a script he has written about his partner’s death from AIDS and their relationship. The first big bonus to this film was that it has three of my favorite actors in it, Campbell Scott, Patricia Clarkson, and Peter Scarsgaard as what can be described as a modern day love triangle. Gothic in it’s language, The Dying Gaul is drama at it’s best with characters who want something coming into conflict on important and emotional levels. Peter Scarsgaard’s Robert is a riveting portrait of a desperate artist seeking some meaning and then distancing himself from whatever he finds.

My biggest problem with the film was the constant use of score. It was distracting and incessant. Why is it that filmmakers think that they have to use music over so many scenes? I feel like they get in the editing room and think that the performances don’t do enough, so they start dropping scratch tracks in and then they’re married to music being in the particular scene. Hate that. Also, the choice to play so many scene with voice over as “translation” to the IM’ing that is going on was well done. Chat rooms are the definition of un-cinematic and making them a verbal conversation was a great choice. The directing was good and just the type of film I like to see. Actors being given the opportunity to play and excellent use of location. The phone call between Jeffrey (Campbell Scott) and Robert that ends with Jeffrey standing in front of Robert’s car sticks out as inventive. However, I was never able to lose myself in the film and forget that I was watching a movie, which is why I rate it as I do. Blame it on the music.

3 Stars.

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Zodiac, by David Fincher was the aforementioned 25 minute wait movie. This did not set me in the best of moods to view but Fincher, and a phenominal cast, fixed that. Zodiac was a story I was not familiar with other than the fact that he was a media aware serial killer who was never caught. This movie is a peppered with name actors, and good ones, and though I wouldn’t describe it as a traditional ensemble piece Fincher does a masterful job of juggling all the roles without the audience losing interest in any of the leads (Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo). It’s a difficult task.

Initially I gave this movie 5 stars, I loved it. I still do love it. However, I have since seen another movie, which will get it’s own post, and that movie shifted the paradigm and made me realize why Zodiac is a 4 star movie. I’ll address that in the next post.

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