Tag Archives: theater

Movie Reviews: Different Drum

I picked this movie because it looked lonely and unrated on Amazon Instant Watch. Well, and because the description mentions Indiana. As a dude from Indiana, I can totally speak to that bit.

The nutshell summary is that this is a travelogue movie that’s shot in a very informal and random manner. You feel like you were there but all in all nothing of great consequence happens. A couple travels from point A to point B and have pretty realistic adventures that result in a pregnant woman with a bedazzled eyepatch, urinating on the train tracks and changing a flat tire.

In the end…. yeah, it’s not a picture that’s ABOUT something. There’s no grand crescendo but it’s a story that really, we’ve all lived. As the picture wraps you don’t say to yourself “wow!” so much as you do, “yeah, I remember when…” We have all lived some vague insubstantial version of this story but unlike this filmmaker, we didn’t bother to record it.

This is a movie that doesn’t make you remember IT so much as it makes it remember your analogous version of what you just saw. This is a movie for when you’re in a contemplative and reminiscent mood.

Notes from my viewing…

The style is that clumsy but endearing one in which everything is shot in a very informal way. Shots get cut off at times, don’t quite work out, sometimes out of focus, but very lifelike. It makes you feel like you’re there but it’s not got that over-processed look that most of the Hollywood junk does. I love this aspect of the film.

The credits are exceptionally high tech and come in about 11 minutes into the film. They add a distinctly charming air to the whole thing. They also act as chapter markers.

The whole thing feels VERY midwestern. I would swear that I’ve been in some of these places. There are some great shots photographically; very similar to what I’d take when I’m traveling.

The dialog in this film is so… pedestrian… there’s a bit talking about uncles and great uncles and how that works and it’s just so… real. It’s very much like a real life conversation that’s really ABOUT nothing but it’s the sort of thing that makes up our entire lives.

Movie is filled with lifelike little contradictions… like the pregnant protagonist who smokes and drinks at times but then acts terribly guilty about it. And her identical coats in yellow and green.

My god; some of these painfully nondescript settings are completely and utterly realistic. Case in point, visiting the protagonist’s cousin. The situation is rather bizarre but the setting is completely natural.

This movie….. this movie has the MOST polite armed robbery in the history of … well, of history. Holy CRAP that was nonchalant. That is the Midwestern way. “Give me all your money but, you know, whenever you want.” OK, not quite a quote, but that’s the general idea.

Eight minutes from the end, it’s time for Indiana!!!!!

Yeah, that’s Indiana. Northern Indiana at least. Lots of Amish.

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Movie Reviews: The Grand Budapest Hotel (****)

Laura and I marched off to see this movie after seeing previews for several weeks. Are we glad we did? Oooh, mostly, though it put Laura to sleep and I was very yawnful at various points.

I won’t summarize the plot for you because that’s what the description is for but the feel of the movie was very French to me with a bit of 70s criminal comedic espionage movie. Imagine the Pink Panther movies, I guess. The movie is a first person narrative in which the characters speak to you directly throughout the action much like Amélie, one of my own personal favorites.

To the positive the movie was delightfully photographed. The scenes are artistic and well-composed and, as I said, felt very European. The plot is wacky and madcap and isn’t laugh-aloud funny but instead cute and whimsical. That said, it’s not really a comedy as it has a deep undercurrent of tragedy that overtakes the whole thing in the end.

On the negative side, when asked closely if she was glad we picked it, she was mildly non-committal since, as I noted above, she did fall asleep during the movie. It is visually stimulating but doesn’t really grab the viewer’s interest. Other reviewers hold differing opinions as aficionados of the cinema but as a plebe it just didn’t quite get my complete attention.

In summary, we were the youngest people in the theatre at 45 with the majority of the other viewers ranging into their 50s and 60s. They seemed at least moderately amused and there wasn’t a great deal of snoring (not even from Laura) but I didn’t hear any applauding after the movie either.

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Movie Reviews: Girlfriend 19 – Not really any plot to speak of but instead detailed emotional forensics on what it’s like to break up with someone

Please click the photo to visit the review on Amazon and vote it helpful. While you’re there watch the movie and leave your own review.

I watched this movie because it looked lonely and unreviewed on Amazon Instant Watch and I’m reasonably glad I did but it’s important to know what you’re getting into.

First and foremost, this movie is not broken. It starts out with about 60 seconds of complete blackness and almost no audio and very slowly brightens to reveal a woman’s hand. We scrambled around a bit wondering why the movie wasn’t starting only to realize that the movie was starting but very slowly. So be aware of that oddity.

So, the plot is really not much of a plot so it’s impossible to “spoiler” much of anything. The slowly-appearing opening scene features a couple in bed yet also in the process of breaking up. About 5 minutes into it he’s finally out the door and the rest of the movie covers the next 2-3 days as she deals with the emotional aftermath of the situation. It’s a deep and (I’m told) accurate view of breaking up from the woman’s perspective but it’s not a movie driven by events. She talks to her friends, she flashes back to before the relationship, she talks to her ex, she flashes back to events with her ex, around and around for 90 minutes.

In summary, it wasn’t a movie that took our breath away but it was reasonably thought provoking. Guys will have a bit more trouble with this movie since it’s not really their perspective on things but it’s a pretty accurate and it will spur some potential conversation if you’re open-minded about the whole topic. Most definitely not a first-date movie though.

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Movie reviews: Frozen

(I never quite know what anyone cares about or doesn’t, but just to shake things up, here’s a movie review)

Click the photo to visit the review and give it some love on Amazon.

To begin, I went to this movie because my 8-year-old daughter decided she wanted to go 12 minutes before showtime so we dashed in a huge hurry to the movie theatre 11 minutes away and got the Sunday matinee. Since this movie isn’t really targeted to my demographic, I won’t really try to make a value judgment so much as state a few random observations. (Also: No spoilers whatsoever)

OK, so the most important reaction is that of my daughter. Everything I say in paragraphs after this is merely silly adult-talk that matters not one iota. My 8-year-old was absolutely transfixed. She bounced in her seat. She bit her nails. She gasped audibly. She raised her hands in triumph. She was thoroughly and completely sucked in to this. When asked at the end what she thought she went on at length about the music and one particular character. As she says after every movie, “This was the best movie ever!!!!” Also, she’s fairly sensitive to violent situations for her age but she was fine in this case. On the edge of her seat but certainly not under it.

Alright, silly adult talk commences.

At a plot level this one is a mix of a lot of other Disney movies. A bit of Beauty and the Beast, some Shrek plus some X-men to mix things up. There’s some grand variety to be sure. The music in this one wasn’t bad but in the first hour or so it seemed we had a 4-minute song about every 5 minutes. Song quality was wonderful but I thought at points that I was watching a cartoon opera. In the second half of the movie the vocals settle down to a more reasonable level and we get on with an actual plot. No single song stands out for me (they were all fairly pop-ish) with the exception of one sung by a group of trolls. That one is assured to be lodged firmly in my head for a while. It’s musically entertaining and so very, very, very true all at once. As always, the graphics were jaw-dropping. Some scenes drew audible gasps and whispers from the audience just from the standpoint of quality of the artwork. Human characters have become so natural that they’re often difficult to distinguish from real actors.

My only complaint is the standard one that I make about all such movies. At the risk of a mild spoiler I will merely say that it bothers me when movies are all wonderful fireworks and bubblegum at the end. Eventually kids should learn that there is a price to success so it bugs me when absolutely EVERYTHING turns out just wonderfully for EVERYONE involved who’s not a terrible villain.

In summary, Izzy loved it, I was entertained though very slightly grumpy in exactly the way I’m grumpy about all Hollywood movies. Take that for what it’s worth. Which is probably everything and nothing in exactly that order.

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