Sunday, December 30, 2012

Young Adult. Last of the Mohicans.

Young Adult

Young Adult is about Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) a young adult ghostwriter who visits her hometown and tries to win back her old high school sweet heart Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).  Mavis is one of those girls from your high school- the pretty, popular, petty girl who's always powdering her nose or spreading nasty rumors about everyone else.  Theron does a good job playing Mavis who is so petty and hasn't really changed that much from her high school days.  There are sides to everything, there are friends like Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) who are still too uncool to associate with in public, and anything said by anyone needs to be thoroughly analyzed in high school girl speak.  E.g. He said this to me does that totally mean that he's still in love with me?

I know that a lot of people had problems with this movie because of the lack of growth from any of the characters.  While I found Mavis's character extremely frustrating and at times cringe worthy (especially when you see her so deluded and out of touch with reality), I found it more frustrating and unbelievable that there are so many others in her hometown who were just as set in their high school personas.

Last of the Mohicans 

Warning: Video contains spoilers

Last of the Mohicans (it's supposed to be based on the classic book but it's made many liberties ) follows the three last Mohicans: Chingachgook (Russell Means) and his two sons, Uncas (Eric Schweig) and adopted Nathaniel Hawkeye (Daniel Day Lewis), during the French and Indian War as they escort the daughters of British General Webb to a nearby fort.  There's conflict and hints of unrest from the colonists, who are forced by the British to help them fight the French.  There's revenge led by Magua (Wes Studi) and the Hurons against Webb and his daughters.  Hawkeye and Uncas also fall in love with the general's daughters Cora (Madeline Stowe) and Alice (Jodhi May).

It takes a little bit of time to get into this movie, but it picks up nicely once it becomes clear that it's not going to be an easy journey to the fort.  The score is absolutely beautiful and possibly one of my favorites.  The last half of the movie is absolutely breath-taking.  It blows you away.  All of the setup and implications from the first half really come to fruition and it's epic, it's tragic, it's beautiful.

I had trouble finding good clips of this movie that capture it well without spoilers.  While the clip on top does contain spoilers, it happens relatively early in the movie.  The clip below is one of my favorite sequences in the movie and does contain a lot of spoilers so proceed with caution.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman and The Artist

The Amazing Spiderman

After hearing that Spiderman was getting a reboot, I was one of those people who thought a Spiderman reboot wasn't really necessary.  It looked decent from the trailers but it wasn't a movie I was super excited about.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Amazing Spiderman.  The Amazing Spiderman is another origins story for how Peter Parker becomes Spiderman (Andrew Garfield).  It maintains a different voice and tone from the original movies.  It's less corny and while many of the story elements were similar, it's like a really good remix that stands strongly on its own.  I really liked Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spiderman.  His Peter Parker is still smart and witty but maintains more of a sharp, rebellious edge.  Tobey Maguire's Peter was a dork (and that wasn't a bad thing at all since it fit those movies well), while Garfield's Peter is more like that smart, mysterious loner who does his own thing.  I do like how Garfield's Peter doesn't go into being Spiderman with the best of intentions but learns along the way to become a hero.  He and Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) also have great chemistry.  I like that Gwen does get to take more of an active role than Mary Jane has in the past movies.

That being said, there are plot holes and sketchy sketchy biology.  One of my favorite parts of the original Spidermans was Peter's relationship with Aunt May, and while she's still supportive and Peter's only family, isn't she remotely curious or deeply concerned about how often and how badly Peter gets hurt sometimes?

Despite the plot holes, Spiderman is still a fun, superhero movie to watch and I am looking forward to what they do next.

The Artist

The Artist, which won best picture last year at the Academy Awards, is about George Valentin, a famous silent film star (Jean Dujardin)'s fall into obscurity as the silent film industry dies down.  Meanwhile, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) an actress he helped out during his prime rises to fame as speakies, movies with sound and dialogue, rise to their prime.

The Artist is a black and white film with very little dialogue.  Most of the little dialogue that was in the movie is done in silent film style - with quotes and captions shown after the scene.

A lot of The Artist is very predictable.  It's filled with these storylines that you've see over and over again and they all turn out as you expect  but despite all that, it's still very charming and very well done.    
It reminds you of the power of visuals and music and that you don't necessarily need much or any dialogue to tell a good story.  There are so many great movies that are kind of downers (and I do love my downers, I really do).  At the same time, though, it's refreshing once in a while to see a movie that's happy where all the characters genuinely have their best intentions at heart.