Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Walk to Remember: Not Your Average Teen Romance

Starring: Mandy Moore, Shane West
Category: Romance For the movie and book comparison, click here.

For some reason or the other, this is one of those movies that I have been putting off seeing for some reason or the other. Maybe because I thought it was just a shallow vehicle for pop star Mandy Moore. Maybe because I didn't like Shane West's acting, having sufferred through his performance in Get Over It. Maybe because I thought it was just another teen movie.
Apparently, I was wrong (again). A Walk To Remember is a heartfelt, emotional movie about growing up, finding yourself and finding that special someone. And dealing with the notion that time here on Earth is limited and that time should be used wisely.
Jamie Sullivan and Landon Carter are like in most teen movies, worlds apart. While serving his sentence for getting into trouble, he crosses paths with her. In two ways, while teaching under privelidged kids and in the school play. I think what struck him about her was that she didn't care who he was. She was determined to treat him the same as everyone else. Which means that she will be kind and compassiontate with him regardless of how he treats her.
Jamie does have a slight mean streak when it came to dealing with Landon and his friends as evident in her comebacks / retorts and when she taught Landon about how to ask help from her. On second thought, it may have been her self-defense mechanism, to keep everyone or just boys, at bay. She seemed to be friendly to everyone but has no circle of friends of her own.
Suffice to say, the school play draws them together. Landons is struck by how beautiful she is at the play and impromptu kiss from him awakens something in her. She hides it at first but a series of events brings them closer and leads to a full-blown romance. An adult romance, where it is not about infatuation but accepting the reality of one another. And reality soon hits home hard. I don't want to spoil things just in case you are like me and have put off seeing this. But it is pretty safe to say, as in any Nicholas Sparks books/movies, someone dies in the end.
".. an adult romance.. accepting the reality of one another."

The movie tends to drift into a mellowdrama at times but I guess only when necessary. I mean you can't face death without being mellowdramatic. Watching it a couple times, I found the plot holes quite gaping and that some dialogue didn't make sense. Some of it is explained in the commentary with the director, Adam Sullivan and the two leads and most are legitimate due to cutting and time restrictions.
But some are quite serious. Like we know that the flyer incident brought Landon and Jamie closer, especially when he stood up for her. But before that when he approaches her at school after the play and says that he misses being with her, I went 'Huh?'. All we see is Landon going to her house once to read their lines. And then all the rehersal scenes are with someone else or those that he has little direct contact. We don't see them connect. We don't see them share moments together. We don't see them communicate. There were several things that alluded to it, like Landon listening to songs given by Jamie and the other kids referencing to how close they were getting. But we never see it. It was all sorta left out or glossed over. A scene showing them reading lines together could have done the trick.
Alright. When he said that he missed being with her, it could have been just a line. After all it was Landon that went after her. And he totally called on her about her attitude of keeping people at a distance. I'm just saying that I didn't see what made Landon had feelings for Jamie to begin with. Maybe he was stunned by how good she looked at the play, thus the kiss. But that was it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Commentary: A second time around

Watching a movie again
My significant other doesn't understand why I watch movies the second time. Once it's over, it's over. Myself, on the other hand, have lots of reasons to do so.
Most of the time, I watch the movie again to 'feel' the movie. Movies have a way of changing the way I feel. Some movies make you feel sad, others ars uplifting but the best ones make you feel all of them. Watching them again and having those feelings played back is both fulfilling and nostalgic. It's taking a journey again. Seeing the same sights, meeting the same people. Sometimes, you might see things you missed before. What a nice surprise that'll be.
Sometimes, you might even take a different route. Things you saw the last time now seem different. They might take on a different meaning.
There used to be a time when watching a movie again was something hard to do. But with 100-channel cable, more if you have sattellite, the chances of seeing a movie again is an inevitability. So why not enjoy it.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Category: Action Adventure

I finally took time off to see this. And boy I sure wasn't disappointed.

What is interesting to me is that if George Lucas did actually tried to make the Star Wars movies in sequence (e.g. The Phantom Meanace first in later 70s), he would have gotten at most to Attack of the Clones. Even if he was lucky, by the time he got to Revenge of the Sith, the budget would be so low, it would have been a direct to video release or worse, a TV movie. Fortunately for us, he didn't.
Revenge of the Sith is what a StarWars movie should be. Full action punctured with comedy and poignant moments aka character development. From the get go (which for those watching the Clone Wars animated series is a pleasant surprise), the action is piled high and furious. We know all the players already from the past two movies and now the game is afoot. From Coruscant the plot moves between action, intrigue and drama. We know what is going to happen. So everything is spectacle. George Lucas knew that and what a spectacle he delivered.
It is enough for me to say that even if you are not interested in StarWars, Revenge of the Sith will be a great action movie with enough drama for the date.

Jersey Girl

Starring: Ben Affleck, Geogre Carlin, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro
Category: Humor, Drama, Feel-good

This movie suffered from the fallout of both Gigli and Benniffer Affair. But it really is a good movie. Think of it as a Father's Day movie for adults of this generation. It has all the ingredients of a standard Father's Day movie: a sympathetic father, a precocious kid / daughter, a grandfather, a tragedy, generational conflict. But it's a Kevin Smith movie; unconventional most of the time, strong characters, interesting bit players, dick and fart jokes, cameos by people who have appeared in other ViewAskew movies and so on. So how does it mix? Very well, thank you.
A Father's Day movie for adults of this generation
Ben Affleck plays the father who looses the mother and ends up with the first daughter. First-time father looses his job in process of not being able to handle being a father and lands him back the at his grandfather's place. Taking it all in, he decides to put his daughter number one on his list and life, even if it means working in lower paying jobs, away from what he was used to. And then the movie begins. Or where a normal movie would begin. You see, OtherDirectors would cram all that up in 15 minutes, pausing only long enough to drag the melodrama of losing the deified wife. But this not about that. What director Kevin Smith does it put a character for each of those faces. Everyone is a human not a caricature. I was taken aback at first but showing that the mother was an actual person created more of an impact than just showing flashbacks or adding more "fun, romantic moments" in the first part. But then OtherDirectors, would reach up to that point too quickly and end having to pad the remainder of the movie.
At this point, I fee like I am going to expose more plot and ruin the experience of anybody thinking of watching it. There is nothing more to think about. Just go out and rent or buy it and watch it. Fresh, with no expectation other than to enjoy a story. Plus it has George Carlin as an grumpy father figure. Who would have thunk?
As with most of Kevin Smith's movies, if you do get the DVD, the commentary tracks are great. Listen for a good time not only about the movie but about the people themselves. Interesting conversation to listen to.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Team America

Starring: Puppets
Category: Humor, Satire

This is definitely not for everyone. At one level, it is very offensive. But at least it's an equal opportunity offender. This movie satires the perception of the left-wing and right-wing politics about each other's fringes or at least each other's publicly visible figures. It not only screws the right-wing "why-use-a-gun-when-you-can-use-a-rocket-launcher" attitude but also the left-wing "celebrity-who-think-they-can-change-the-world" figures. A lot of it is hilarious on the surface. Take for example, the use of Arabic. The movie makers didn't even bother getting it anywhere near to sounding like Arabic and just uses repetitive gibberish. And the cheesy notion of getting Broadway musical actor to play a spy because he it the best actor they can find is simply great.
But it is really hard seeing what you believe getting shafted. Perhaps the idea was to offend every one in every conceivable way so that all of us can see how ridiculous all our stands are, the resulting actions and results of those conviction-driven actions. That we just should stop fighting each other and get on with our daily lives. That is fine and dandy when you are in a cocoon in the middle of Texas. But in the real world, people are dying, and duped into dying, for and over greed. In a way, the movie cheapens all causes from each side, alienating the audience. And that is not what a movie should be about.
If you do catch it, laugh at it's over-the-top ridiculousness (and cringe at the sex scene) but don't be surprised if it leaves a bad taste in the mouth at the end. Don't watch if possible.