The Edge of Darkness

“Im kinda sad that Ive gotten so far behind on my AFI list. Ive been hovering so close to 50 watched for so long. Im really close to having them all acquired, though. Once the ones currently on order get in, Ive got 4 to buy and 5 to rent. Im thinking at that point, I might just go in countdown order for whats left, or at least mostly countdown order with some skipping at my discression.

Anyways so yesterday I wanted to get another rental out of the way. For some reason, from the remaining ones I was most drawn to It Happened One Night–the considered the original screwball comedy, and not generally my type. Turns out, I ended up absolutely loving it.

From this film, I can totally get why that subgenre was so big back in the day, and why every movie tried to replicate it. Characters were great, cast was great, really funny, just on the outer rims of belivability, overall damn near close to perfection. So much so, that this is one of the 3 films to have ever won an Oscar grand slam. We talked about that a bit when I saw All About Eve (the second one to do so). For those keeping score at home, Silence of the Lambs is the third. Yet to see it for blogging purposes, but I do know it well and love it much. But yeah, I could see how if this is one of the first classic older films you ever see you could get \m/ addicted to them.

Also understand the whole Clark Gable thing. I’d seen him in Gone With The Wind back in jr high, but at that point in time I was not in a position to appreciate it. Watching him yesterday I was getting kinda excited to revisit …Wind once I break into the top 5. You know, its interesting how some things never change. A movie gets popular, and some little detail starts a big fad. According to IMDB trivia, during the undressing scene (one of many aboslutely classic scenes in the film. Im partial to the dunking donuts bit), it was too awkward for Gable to deal with an undershirt, so they nixed it. There was then a huge decrease in the sale of undershirts nationwide as guys stopped wearing them as a result of this movie. Im sure we’ve all got recent examples of similiar phenomenon. The first that comes to mind is the fashion craze from Sex and the City.

Gotta get this wrapped up to I can go about the rest of my day. Plans include a trip to the Kendall for Crazy Heart and finishing up Sophie’s Choice cause yeah I fell asleep thru it. Why do I always think its such a good idea to watch a 3 hour movie late on a Saturday night? I think Titanic was the only time that actually worked out.”

Legion

“I really worry about myself and my movie addiction. There’s times, like today, where I go to the theater just cause I hafta see some new movie cause it just opened, even if I know its not gonna be good. Such was the case with Legion. I tried talking myself out of it, but was unsuccessful. I still dont really know why I just had to go. Walking out of there, I overheard someone say “”Well at least it had Paul Bettany””. That’s kinda my sentiment too. Then her companion replied with “”Who’s Paul Bettany?”” and a little piece of my soul died.

Before ya’ll start leaving comments asking the same question, I’ll educate you so that you can at least pretend you knew if you didnt. I know him best as Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, but he was also in The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon, Master and Commander, and a buncha others. Got it now?

And yes, Bettany was great as the archangel Michael. He was the one redeeming quality in a movie that is waaay beneath him and what he’s capable of. I guess it does say something about him that he’ll still give 110% in something like this that woulda prolly be phoned in by another actor.

As far as the rest of it, there just really wasn’t much to it. There was the whole attempt at being meaningful and making a point about faith, but really I think it was just an excuse to have people possessed by angels that were essentially zombies. And I can just picture the protest emails that are likely circling the religious groups right now (hell back in the day I used to get those for other films). But it felt like it was attempting to be controversial simply for the sake of being controversial.

Another thing I found odd was how contained it all was. They never really left the little diner, which was a bit strange, or at least its not typical.

But yeah, really not worth your time unless you’ve got a movie addiction that rivals mine, and you’re not afraid to pay to sit through a potential dud.

Legion – \m/ \m/

I hoped to get in another AFI film tonight (My pace has slowed too damn much) but these write ups took longer than expected. At least I got Land Of the Lost outta my queue (that was my background noise). Yeah still dont know why I actually bought that. Impulse buy on Black Friday. Hoping to catch Youth in Revolt tomorrow. I really need to try and get in a few AFI’s during the week if I dont get stuck at work. Then planning to trek to an indie theater for Crazy Heart on Sat and Edge of Darkness of Sun. Aaaand break!”

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

“Not my fault Im late on this one. LJ was down on Fri night when I planned to write it up, and just hadnt gotten around to it since. Yeah I know, Fri night is the least likely day of the week you’ll find me going to the theater (unless initiated by a buddy) but my options for Dr Parnassus were Harvard Sq or the Common. And since I try to avoid the AMC Loews Boston Common as much as possible I figured going straight after work on Fri would be better than a round trip the length of the movie that would knock out most of my Sunday.

I dont think ya’ll would be surprised that the reason I had to go out of my way to see this movie is Heath Ledger. For that, the film was worth it. The first image of him on screen caused so many gasps and sighs from the audience. I’ll try to spare you the sappy tribute as much as possible, but goddam I love that guy. No other celeb death has affected me the way his did. I remember a buddy of mine said he found out from this tribute. I’d actually heard it from someone and dropped everything and ran to a computer to verify the news.

That said, I think Im with the camp that will prefer to think of Dark Knight as Ledger’s last film. That was truly an iconic performance in a nearly flawless movie. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and it totally breaks my heart to say this, wasn’t really that great. I mostly say that cause it was just weird and I did not get it at all.

The big question about this film was how were they gonna salvage Ledger’s work, and as Im sure you’ve all heard, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell took it over. I have to say, for the most part, that worked quite well. Kinda serendipitous that this movie actually lended itself to that solution. Gonna try to explain as best I can without giving anything away, which is also tricky since I didnt entirely understand all of it. But the characters would go into this magical world (the Imaginarium) that was formed by their imaginations, so having a different appearance was entirely possible there. They even established this early on before it happened to Ledger’s character. That much worked. Depp was the first one to step in, and he charmed his way through it beautifully. The one downside was that the story had to be concluded within the imaginarium, since Im assuming they hadnt gotten that far in filming otherwise, and there was a bit of a disconnect having a different actor resolving Ledger’s character. But its not like there were too many options.

As far as the rest of the film, again it didnt make much sense to me. The pacing was a bit slow, things werent ever fully explained, and it was just all so absurd. Admittedly, I had similar feelings toward Brothers Grimm (another Terry Gilliam film) but then it grew on me on a second viewing. Im really really hoping thats the case here.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – \m/ \m/

The Lovely Bones

“Before seeing this movie, there were two things that I kept on hearing. One was the controversy over leaving out the murder/rape stuff. The other the debate whether or not it was unfilmable. Before I comment, should point out that no, I haven’t read the book. But I am very interested to. I usually prefer to go backwards (see movie then, read book) so I will be adding it to my list. That said.

On that first issue, I think they made the right call. It didnt take a lot to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what happened to Susie Salmon. Also, I really liked the way they transitioned into her death. I knew she was going to be killed, and I actually believed for a second that she hadn’t been. I was almost as surprised as she was when she realized it (not quite though cause I did know it was coming. Not a spoiler, cause its the basic premise of the story)

As far as the unfilmable bit, sorta inclined to agree. At least, I think I do. The reason its considered that is because of the whole “”in between”” stuff (where she’s in a purgatory state of not on earth, not in heaven). I really coulda done without all that. I was into the story otherwise, but it lost me everytime we went back there. That also really bogged down the pacing. I did like her having a connection to the living, but the whole What Dreams May Come-ish afterlife world just didnt work right.

I will say the cast was fantastic. Loved Saoirse Ronan even from the trailers for Atonement. That is one intense little actress, and with an Academy Award nod already under her belt there’ll be no stopping her. Heart Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weitz, of course, but the scene stealer was Susan Sarrandon who’s been a fave of mine since I first saw The Client. Excellent choice for the eccentric grandma.

The other debate I’ve been hearing is over Stanley Tucci. He’s got a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod this year. The question is Lovely Bones or Julie & Julia? Most tend to lean toward Lovely Bones. I disagree. Yes he was fantastic. He so fully embodied this really creepy character, including voice and mannerisms. However I felt there was a lot more depth to him in …Julia. There he shone by helping his costar shine, and we all fell in love with him for it, or at least I did. And while we all know how much I love psycho killers (Dexter, Patrick Bateman, etc) Im not quite ready to add him to the list of the most classic killers.

Yeah so it seems I liked it more than a lot of others did. Its losing half a point for the whole in between fail. Otherwise, really intriguing story with a great cast.

The Lovely Bones – \m/ \m/ \n

The Book of Eli

“Little bit of catching up to do. Yesterday’s schedule was so jammed I couldnt find any write up time. Original plan was to do this during the Globes yesterday, but I ended up getting really into it until power went out on the whole block during the last hour. *sigh*

I shoulda known better than to get really excited for a January released movie. That’s always a setup for disappointment. From the trailer Book of Eli looked so promising. Yes I know the whole post apocalyptic thing is a bit over done (just in the past year: The Road, 9, Terminator: Salvation, plus a few other more subtle ones). But what could go wrong with Denzel kicking some butt? Lots actually.

My main gripe, well there’s a few actually. One is that it was so \m/ slow paced. Yes the action sequences were good (I _really_ loved the silhouette one) but they were few, far-between, and fleeting. The rest of the time, things were just progressing really slowly. Felt like nothing much was really happening the rest of the time. I recognize that a lot of that was to establish the feel of how sparsely populated the world was, but really we got the point. Move on please.

The other big gripe is that it was trying to hard to be meaningful. The irony there being that it woulda been, if they hadn’t pushed. The last ten minutes were amazing. While a lot of it was predictable, there was something I hadn’t forseen and it made me wanna watch the whole thing again with that knowledge. But up until that point, there were lots of vague references attempting to be universal. And the somewhat minimal dialogue was somewhat mediocre at best.

The saddest part was that such a great cast was wasted on it. Love Denzel and this was one of his most badass roles to date. Gary Oldman makes a wonderfully evil baddie, if only he had better dialogue to work with. Mila Kunis is another fave of mine, but she didnt have much to do. Surprise appearance by Malcom Macdowell, which made me happy, although it was distracting as I tried to figure out if it was Malcom Macdowell or Terrance Stamp cause I always have the damnest time trying to tell them apart.

Ultimately, I think it was kinda worth it for the end (which earned it an extra half point) but it just takes a long ass while to get there

The Book of Eli – \m/ \m/ \n

Daybreakers

“Say what you want about the vampire craze. Im not tired of it. Although I am annoyed that some of the lesser vamps kinda tarnish the image for all of them. But I’ve loved vampires since Edward Cullen had braces (maybe not, but its been a while) and will still love them once this fad is over.

While I have my core vamp lore that I love above all others (sorry I didnt mean for that to rhyme so much) namely that by Anne Rice and Joss Whedon, and lately Charlaine Harris, Im always really interested to see the mythology and vampire “”rules”” that someone else comes up with. That aspect tends to be kinda make or break for me. If you’re gonna stray from the usual, you’d \m/ better incorporate it in well. And if you’re creating something new, introduce it in a smart way. Otherwise, Im gone. That said, I would like to take this moment to applaud Daybreakers for the vampire world it created.

What was unique about this universe is that humans were the minority. I loved the opening sequence with its mix of backstory and vamp-centric advertisements, and snapshot of how the current world operates (ie, sign for school zone speed limit in effect from 2am – 3am). And that is what surrounded the morally gray area the film lived in. I just got off the phone with my parents and my daddy, in reference to the movie, asked me who won. My response was that it depends on how you look at it. “”You mean what side you’re on?”” “”No, more what outcome you wanted””. I just love that

The setup may have sucked me in, but the story kept me glued to it. Nothing too particularly spectacular, but it was very streamlined and interesting. Without going into spoilertastic detail, I’ll just say that I liked the way it played out and eventually concluded.

Big fan of Ethan Hawke. Have been since Training Day (although in my head it always takes me a minute to remember he was in Training Day, not Seven). He made quite the sexy conflicted vampire (very Angel-like, Angel as in formerly Angelus not as in Gabriel or Michael). Sam Neil was quite creepy as the evil corporate undead dude. Happy as always to see Willem Dafoe. Given some of his acting history (Cirque Du Freak, Shadow of the Vampire), he too seems to be quite the vamp lover.

Oh and yes, there was blood. Lots. A bit on the gratiutous side for most tastes, but I happen to enjoy that sorta thing. Most of the movie had a dim yet sleek look to it, and the bright red blood was a cool contrast to that.

Yes, I know Im gonna prolly get a good deal of negative votes on Rotten Tomatoes for giving this flick such high praise. Keep in mind, I rate based on enjoyability and entertainment value, not necessarily quality. And I verily enjoyed it and was thoroughly entertained. While that may mostly be because I’m a fangbanger, Im a very picky one at that. Not just any movie that has hot guys with pointy teeth is gonna get my approval.

Daybreakers – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

An Education

I eventually made it outta there, and I had about half an hour until the next one. I’d actually planned ahead and brought a granola bar intead of pigging out at the snack bar like I typically do at my double features.

The whole placing was really jumping, mostly there for Crazy Heart I think. There’s always a really strange vibe there, guess cause its not my usual crowd. There’s just some sorta slightly superior attitude I tend to get from ’em. Makes me feel almost like a poser being at that small indie theater when I spend far more time watching the big coporate blockbuster type films. And then when the trailers play, Im sitting there thinking WTF during some of them, bored during others, but everyone around me is laughing hysterically or chattering away about how good those films look. Huh? Moving On.

An Education is another one of those that I didnt expect to like, based on the premise alone. Then A) it got really good buzz B)it was on the list of 25 movies to see before the Oscars C) Quentin Tarantino (the god of movie gods in my eyes) listed it as one of his faves for the year. So I went. As soon as the quirky music started playing over the opening credits, I knew I was in for something fun.

Turns out quirky is a pretty good way to describe a lot of the film. The spirit of the movie, especially embodied thru the main character Jenny, was very much like Juno–spunky young independant woman learns about life the hard way. Carey Mulligan was so adorable, but also capable of such depth. She’s another assumed lock for an Oscar nod and I fully support that as well. I could also really relate to her character, having grown up in an environment of “”school first””, college is the number one goal. Granted, my ‘rents weren’t quite as harsh as hers, and I didnt have some big rebellion, harsh life lesson/epiphany, but I still totally get it. I guess for me it was more focus focus focus, done, now what?

Starting to ramble. Back to the film. Speaking of her parents, Alfred Molina played her dad. I hated him for half the movie, but I think that was just a sign of him doing a good job. Also, never quite realized Molina is actually British. Yeah, IMDB just told me that. Weird. Points for Peter Sarsgaard as well. Although I was kinda distracted for a lot of it cause I got his last name confused with Skarsgard, as in Alexander Skarsgard who plays the hottest vamp currently on tv–Eric on True Blood. I somehow got it into my head that they were bros, so that got in the way a bit.

Ultimately, yes I was very much entertained by this one. It was both very light at times and very intense at others. Yeah can’t really think of much else, but again thoroughly enjoyable

An Education – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

A Single Man

“OMG work has been murder this week. I had time to watch movies when I’d come home, but I figured in the state of mind I was in, I wouldnt be able to give them a fair watching. Pulled what I call a Dawn Dawn Double Feature today. That just means I saw two movies today. This time, both at the Kendall Square Landmark Theater. First time I ever double there. Usually I get one there, then catch the second elsewhere.

Anyhoo, first up was A Single Man, which I thought was rather incredible. I absolutely adored Colin Firth’s character, George, and he was played so expertly. You could practically feel the pain he was going thru, and sympathized with his character every step of the way. Fully support the inevitable Oscar nod Firth is poised for.

Guess we’ll keep going down the line with the cast. Never particularly cared much for Julianne Moore, except for Magnolia, but I loved everyone in that. While she was good here, I dont see why she’s also supposed to be a lock for an Oscar nod. I dunno, just wasnt as struck by her as I was by Firth and some of the others. The others would be Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode, neither of whom I was familiar with previously. Apparently Nicholas Hoult was the little kid in About A Boy, which I never saw. He annoyed me at first but I fell in love with him over the course of the movie. And Goode was (resisting the urge for the bad pun) quite go..um…great as the idealized lover.

While I definitely recommend this film, I warn you it is quite the downer. As if the story wasnt somber enough on its own, the feel was heightened by the lighting. During George’s low points, the lighting would be very bleak and dull. It’d brighten momentarily along with his moods, but that didnt usually last too long. I found that detail to be extremely effective and was quite impressed by it. By the end, it was one of those that I just needed a minute to recover from. I wont go into spoilery detail but all along I’d expected the film to end a certain way, then it didnt, then it twisted again. I spent the last 5 minutes frozen, with my hand covering my mouth after I’d gasped with surprise along with the rest of the fairly sizable crowd. I didnt even get up until halfway through the credits, and I wasn’t the only one who’d been affected that way it seemed.

A Single Man – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

It’s Complicated

“If you’d just told me the plot of It’s Complicated, I woulda told you there’s no way in hell Im seeing that. But throw my favorite actress, Meryl Streep, into the mix as well as all the good things* I’ve been hearing and Im there.
*good things include but are not limited to Golden Globe nominations and inclusion on EW’s 25 movies to see before the Oscars.

Turns out, it was oh so incredibly worth it. I was dying of laughter at various points throughout the film. Unfortunately, that was lessened a bit since the trailer gave away the hi-\m/-larious webcam scene. The audience reaction to that was amazing, and I really wish I coulda had that too.

But OMG Meryl. Not sure how into detail I’ve gone as to why she’s my favorite, so if this is all repetition, apologies. What started her climb up my list? 2008. In that one year, she had an amazing rich role and dramatic performance in Doubt, earning her yet another Oscar nod. But she also had a completely for fun role in Mama Mia. That juxtaposition of films is the type of thing I’ve always admired in actors. I love it when someone is so versatile and able to balance fun and prestige (is that the word Im looking for?) She’s done Sophie’s Choice and Lemony Snickett’s, The Deer Hunter and Fantastic Mr Fox. And then this year, she took what could have been mediocre roles for another actress and now has Golden Globe nods and legit Oscar buzz. And every syllable of the praise she has gotten has been very well deserved. She was just stunning in this movie. Who says you need to be a size zero twenty year old female to have the lead role in a rom-com? Her every expression & emotion was just flawless. Bestest part about Meryl in general? Despite being one of today’s most acclaimed actresses (13 Oscar nods in addition to her two wins) she’s so gracious and humble. She’s so sweet about receiving praise and you see her incredibly happy for her colleagues if they beat her for an award.

I’ll quit gushing about Meryl now. Kinda tough to transition to talking about the rest of the cast. Oh, but I must. I’ve adored Steve Martin since I was like 6. I can’t even begin to count how many times I watched Father of the Bride back then. We’re all always so used to seeing him as an over the top comedian, but he had such as sweet vulnerable side this time around that was so touching.

Alec Baldwin was a little much for me. Granted, Im not particularly familiar with him, but from what I hear that was pretty typical Alec. I’ll admit, my favorite Baldwin (besides Adam who isnt a true Baldwin, or at least not one of those Baldwins) would be Stephen Baldwin, but I’m open to reassessing that once I get to the 30 Rock DVD’s that have been sitting in my queue since Black Friday.

Also quite enjoyed John Krasinski’s performance. He’s another one that Im not too familiar with (wasnt interested enough in The Office when it started, and Im juggling waaaay to many shows now to jump in), but Im well on my way to becoming a fan. He had Ryan Reynolds like charm that was just so captivating (eh that word might be a tad strong). I also thought that his character, as one of the daughter’s fiancee, worked quite well. As an outside insider (or is it inside outsider) his perspective was a nice addition and allowed for some comedic bits that needed some strong relationship with the main characters, but wouldnt have worked with the kids.

The most pleasant surprise award this time around goes to Rita Wilson. Dont really see Mrs Tom Hanks (they’re one of my fave celeb couples, bee tee dubs) that often, and always makes me smile when I do. But what made me smile even more was the first few seconds of screen time Hunter Parrish got. I’d forgotten he was in this. Although, I gotta say his performance/presence felt kinda forced. His character was waaaay to nice for him. He works much better with some edge. Not quite as much as he had in 17 Again, cause that character was just an ass. But Im used to him in Weeds, which is such a better fit. Pretty boy with and edge is totally my type.

As previously mentioned, the movie was quite hilarious. And I actually did rather enjoy the storyline. It was unique yet familiar. Its the sort of thing I dont really have any personal experience with (I’ve never been married and/or divorced, and my parents are still married after 29 years) but from my limited perspective it felt like they included everything. In particular, I wouldnt have thought to include the impact on the children as a major part of the story, but I thought that grounded the whole thing. The one downside was that it felt like it was about to wrap up by the graduation party, and then there was still a whole other half hour. Took a little big to get its groove back then, but ultimately I was happy with how it all concluded.

It’s Complicated – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Avatar

“EW just published its list of 25 movies you need to see before the Oscars. I’ve already seen 17 of them before it was published, which I think is even better than last year after intentionally going out to see ones on the list. The 17 are (and lets see if I can do this from memory cause I dont feel like getting up and checking it): Up in The Air, Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up, Fantastic Mr Fox, (500) Days of Summer, A Serious Man, The Messenger, Inglorious Basterds, Nine, The Blind Side, Invictus…d’oh I gotta get up and check it…Julie & Julia, Star Trek, District 9, The Informant! Beyond that, I already had plans for 3 more this week. Hoping to get to Its Complicated either tomorrow or day after. Depending on how this week goes I’ll either catch A Single Man on Thur at Coolidge Corner or I’ll double feature it on Sat at the Kendall with An Education (which I plan to see on Sat either way). That’ll bring the total to 20. Then Crazy Heart and The Lovely Bones go wide next week, so I’ll swing ’em at that point. That will just leave The Young Victoria, The Last Station, and Bright Star. I’ll prolly wait until nods are actually out before deciding if I really feel like putting in the effort for those.

Okay, so technically I’d only seen 16 of them before reading the list, cause number 17 came today–Avatar. I know, for me thats a long time since release date for me to catch such a major flick. Plans to watch it earlier were all thwarted by life and other outside factors. Anyways, the Regal Fenway had been jam packed the past two days, with Avatar selling out, so I figured I’d go to the earliest showing possible 3D or not. That plan worked out quite well. Caught the 11:45 which did feature a third dimension.

PS – Kinda had this song stuck in my head the whole time. Only slightly related

Initial reaction, wow. No it wasn’t the best movie ever or anything like that, but as far as groundbreaking film-making technology wise, dayum. And the plot was pretty decent too.

But for reals, the CGI and special effects were killer. I was particularly fond of the night time scenes with all the glowy plants. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about 3 hours of 3-D, but I actually do think it was worth it. Normally I complain when the extra dimension only equals extra depth (as opposed to things jumping at you, which is what I like) but it was such a great touch. It made their world so much more massive, almost felt like being at the IMAX without really being there. I can’t even fathom what it must be like in 3D at the IMAX.

Im generally not someone to be so readily accepting of a new alien culture, especially not such a “”tree-hugging”” one as the Na’vi. But I was drawn to them for some reason. Just absolutely loved them. I find it kinda strange that toward the end of the film, you’re cheering AGAINST the humans in the story. We become the bad guys. Deep. Whoa.

Did like the cast. And before you question how possible it is to give acting merit to a CGI being, I’ve got one word for you: Gollum. Sam Worthington is kind of a poor man’s Ewan McGregor (their American accents sound the same). Is it weird that I found him hotter as a Na’vi? Between this and Terminator: Salvation, he’s really starting to prove his worth as an action star, and he’s doing a fine job of it. Was pleasantly surprised to see Giovanni Ribisi. Hadn’t really seen much of him in a while. Was equally surprised but less pleasantly to find Michelle Rodriguez in this one. Never really cared for her, but this may be her first few steps toward redemption in my book.

Wasn’t anything too special about the story, but it was good and simple. Really, I think this movie was more of a showcase for the technology and the environment than anything else. And the characters were good, which keep me interested. Was a bit lengthy, clocking in at 3 hours if you count all the previews. But when you realize how \m/ long James Cameron spent on this one, I think he’s entitled to a little bit of excess running time.

Avatar – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/