Friday, February 26, 2010

Some recent films

I have been downloading/going to the movies a bunch lately and figured it was about time that I updated this blog. Here is a list of films that I have seen recently with ratings and my brief feelings about them.

These three films were all directed by really great directors of varying careers. One more experienced than the other two by almost a lifetime, but the other two standing very strongly in the competition of my mind, and in my opinion they both made better films.

Up in the Air - I saw this in theaters when it first got its wider release. I really enjoyed it the first time I saw it but felt that the pacing was a little off. On my most recent second viewing I must say I enjoyed it more and feel like the film works perfectly. A great cast with Clooney, Kendrick, and Farmiga as the leads and some great supporting performances namely Danny McBride. The soundtrack is great as well with few actual pieces of score. Namely "Help Yourself" by Sad Brad Smith. The film is as everyone else has said "very timely" in that it deals with the loss of jobs that have been occuring in this country with the current economic downturn. Honestly, I wouldnt be suprised if this picked up the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (it already won a BAFTA for that), but I would be surprised if it won best picture against other films such as Inglorious Basterds, The Hurt Locker or Avatar. 9/10

Shutter Island- I am very sure that most people are aware of what this film is. It is the new Scorsese-DiCaprio mashup except this time Scorsese is going into mostly unfamiliar territory (besides his stint in Cape Fear). I was really surprised by this film. The trailers for it and for most other smarter/edgier films in this genre make it seem like its going to be full of jump out of your seat moments. Fortunately, Scorsese does not go the cheap route by throwing stuff in front of the screen, but creates an atmosphere that is more frightening than that. I saw it twice in three days and must admit that the second time was even better (which was also my experience for "Up in the Air".), although the first time was not bad at all.
A standout performance from Leonardo DiCaprio who has really come into his own in this film. Mark Ruffalo was as good as he can be, but the supporting performances from Ben Kingsley, an 80 year old Max Von Sydow, and a devastating performance from Michelle Willams as DiCaprios wife were all really great. The score features some really great standout tracks. A couple being "Fog Tropes", "Symphony No.3", "Quartet for Piano and Strings in A Minor", and "On the Nature of Daylight". The look of the film (U.S. Marshals outfits, Cars, Interiors and exteriors of buildings on the island) and the cinematography were both pulled of very well. The CGI elements that were used in DiCaprios "waking nightmares" worked very well for me. Without giving too much away, the film ends brilliantly in a typical horror genre fashion but done with such elegance that only an experienced director such as Scorsese could pull it off. 8/10

Un Prophete- This has to be the defining and best of all French crime films ever made. This is no Goddard take on crime ("Band of Outsiders" etc.) it is gritty, raw, and real. The story is about a 19 year old Parisian who gets sent to jail for an unknown reason for six years. He starts out illiterate, and with no one on his side. Through the coming months and years he builds friendships and works his way up to the top of the jails gang world all while becoming literate. When I saw this movie it made me recall two great foreign crime films that were released last year "Gomorrah" and "Revanche". The way the film was shot was excellent. You felt as if you were actually there, and in on the action and everything. But that does not necessarily make you feel all that comfortable. This film tackles alot of really rough stuff primarily murder. Although, it is not without some considerable remorse because the main character seems to be haunted in sorts by a man he murdered. I have yet to see the main contender for Best Foreign Film this year ("The White Ribbon" by Michael Haneke), but I have a feeling that this film has a very good chance of making and impact this year. My highest approval 10/10.

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