So you often hear the adage ‘the book is better’ in regards to a movie or TV show based on a popular novel. However, there are some rare exceptions where the film actually improves upon the original source material.
For example, most people I know feel the Godfather movies are better than the book. I have never read the book so I can’t say one way or another but I’ve never heard anyone argue for the book over the movie.
When I mentioned this topic on facebook a lot of people said comic book movies such as Man of Steel and Thor are better than the comic books. Unfortunately I have never read a comic book. I know. I should be ashamed of myself but it’s true.
So here goes…
1. Batman Begins- I haven’t read the comic books but after the annihilation of Batman and…
Every time I see a Barbra Streisand movie I think ‘this is the most Barbra movie ever made’ and then I see another and quickly recant my words. There is something about her brand of ego that is like no other. She’s the Shyamalan of actresses. Yentl is one of the most ridiculous entries in the Barbra canon. It’s not a good film but there is something about it’s version of nonsense that is entertaining.
Yentl is based on Isaac Baschevis Singer’s short story ‘Yentl the Yeshiva Boy’ and tells the story of a woman named Yentl who pretends to be a man to study at the Talmud school in Poland.
On the surface it could be a decent Mulan-type movie but oh does it get silly. It ends up being a yiddish telenovella, and I found that fun to watch.
To begin with any man who thinks Yentl is a man needs to see counseling. She looks ridiculous. Mandy Patinkin is charming as that man named Avigdor. He is Yentl’s school chum and he can’t figure out why he is so attracted to this man. Their dialogue together is so laughable. Never have you heard such philosophy talk with long stares and confused glances. You even see way more of Patinkin than you want in a bathing scene. Oh my!
And then he is engaged to a girl named Hadass played by Amy Irving who is a dutiful woman who Yentl oddly judges and envies. In an insane turn of events Yentl ends up married to Hadass. I can’t even begin to tell you how entertaining that dialogue was. Ha.
And let’s talk about the songs. The songs are terrible. ‘Papa, Can You Hear Me’ is passable but the rest are awful and Barbra is the only one who sings a line in the entire movie and not just sings but acts like she is in a cabaret, really mugging it up to the camera. And the songs are so obviously lip synced and often are her thoughts being sung while she stares longingly at Patinkin. It felt like a silent movie sometimes she was so over the top!
And the lyrics are awful. The rhymes were particularly embarrassing. I especially liked
“Who cares when the food’s so delicious
‘Not to mention these beautiful dishes”
“A matched set- from France yet
No wonder he loves her,
No wonder to me
With ribbons and laces
In all the right places,”
And these silly lyrics all while Barbra is acting like she is singing the Star Spangled Banner. Hilarious.
Yentle wants to be all things in the film. It is part drama, part coming of age, a musical, comedy, sex farce, romantic comedy and all Barbra. I thought the Mirror Has Two Faces was her most ridiculously entertaining movie but this may be even better (that movie has no songs). In Mirror she plays a woman who decides to marry a man with the agreement they won’t let sex get in the way. Ha! Only Barbra would think of these stories.
And the supposed empowering dialogue between Yentl and Avigdor is laughable. Barbra and Patinkin have decent chemistry and it is kind of fun to see them wonder about their gender identities but it is all so silly. From a modern audience you just want to say ‘make out already!’ because such a scene would fit in with the campy dialogue and dopey drama.
And the resolution is completely unbelievable. He’s angry and then looks into her eyes and see’s her true heart and all is right with the world. And he goes back to marry Hadass despite her having just been declaring her love for Yentl days before. It doesn’t matter because he’s learned the right way to treat his woman. (Plus, a day in soap opera Barbra time is like 3 years. We all know that). Ha!
It’s one of those movies that is tough to give a grade for because I can’t deny being entertained. It’s like watching a soap opera. It’s campy and in love with itself and it makes it kind of fun. There is absolutely no doubt that Barbra felt this was the most important movie ever made. I can’t believe that she won a Golden Globe for this nonsense and the film won for Best Comedy/Musical. The score won an Oscar and that included the lyrics! Must have been a rough year but then again who can resist the egomaniac that is Barbra.
This week has been the week of trailers! I’m glad I stopped reviewing trailers on my youtube channel because I wouldn’t have been able to keep up. They are hard to do videos on because they are unpredictable and cut into work time. Also I don’t know how insightful I really am when it comes to trailers. I feel like I either love them or hate them and that’s about it.
I did write up my review of the Rogue One trailer last week and will be reviewing Angry Birds and Secret Life of Pets on my animated news video later today.
However, there were a bunch of other big trailers and let’s talk about them.
I thought it was a good trailer. I particularly like Will Smith seeming like the old Will Smith we knew and loved. I want him to come back to us after disasters like After Earth (and no more of his son!). The Joker looks really intense and I’m curious to see how Batman is going to be involved. Overall I’m intrigued and don’t pay attention to the reshoots story. It turns out it is a whole lot of nothing.
2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I’m really excited for this trailer! At first when I heard about the film I didn’t know if it would be nothing but a guy playing hide and seek looking for magical creatures. This looks like an actual story. I liked the humor in the trailer and was surprised to hear mention of Dumbledore as I didn’t think that he was so old. It’s going to be interesting to have a story more set in the muggle world and I liked little touches like the Muggle Approved luggage switch. It should be a fun little movie.
3. TMNT 2
After a very promising Super Bowl trailer this did nothing for me. The humor and the action looks right out of Michael Bay’s playbook and the plot with the purple ooze looks lame. And sort of weird to show us Krang in the Super Bowl trailer and nothing here?
4. Sing Street
I wasn’t aware of this film and now am very excited about it. It is by the director of Once, John Carney, and looks like a combination of School of Rock and About a Boy. I wasn’t super into his Begin Again because it was too much of a copycat of Once but this looks different and sweet.
5. Dr Strange
This trailer was great! I’m so intrigued about this superhero Dr Strange. It looks like something really different for Marvel and of course I love Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Strange! Tilda Swinton looks awesome and I love the Inception-like visuals with cities folding up and that one shot that looked like a kaleidoscope. This is a perfect trailer because it intrigues me without giving away anything.
So that’s my thoughts on all the trailers. I will have my thoughts on the animated trailers later today and will have my review of The Jungle Book up tomorrow!
So last month in preparation for Batman v Superman I watched all the Batman and Superman movies and gave my best shot with a mini review for each film. Even though I’m kind of superhero movie’d out I decided I’d plow forward and do the Marvel movies as well. It’s no secret that I enjoy the Marvel movies much more than DC properties but before Avengers I actually wasn’t into superhero movies at all.
From Catwoman to Green Lantern, it seemed like all I saw were horrible movies, so I was turned off of comic book movies. I didn’t see any of the early Marvel films and had no interest in seeing The Avengers. But my friends told me I had to see it and despite not seeing the earlier films I watched it and to my surprise- loved it. I liked seeing the formation of the team and all the different personalities. It had action but it wasn’t too bleak or drab. It was funny without being stupid and it had a female character that was awesome.
It took me a while to then go back and watch the earlier films, and I enjoyed those as well. I know a lot of people complain about Marvel’s villains but that honestly doesn’t bother me. I guess I like my heroes better than my villains. I’ve yet to see a film from Marvel that I’ve hated. They just get me!
So I decided to do these mini-reviews Best Shot style like the Batman and Superman posts. I am going to split these up into 2 posts as it will take me a bit to watch phase 2 and I didn’t want to forget why I picked my phase 1 spots and 13 reviews seemed like a lot for one post. I hope you enjoy them and let me know what your favorite shot or moments are from these films. Thanks!
Iron Man got the MCU off with a bang and is beloved for a reason. A super satisfying comic book movie with Robert Downey Jr oozing charisma out of every pore. Jeff Bridges is a decent foe but what I like most about this film is how smart Tony has to be. He’s given scraps and is able to build his first suit and then he continually uses his brain to make things better and help more people (and himself). I think you lose a little bit of that scrapiness and intellect as the series continues so it was refreshing to see it again. I picked this shot because I think it shows Tony thinking and problem solving.
The Incredible Hulk-
The Incredible Hulk is a weird Marvel movie because it doesn’t really feel like a Marvel movie. It feels like something more out of Birdman than Marvel and in that regard it is interesting. Edward Norton seems like he is in another movie he is so dark and brooding all the time. Once Mark Ruffalo takes over you get a little more fun. There’s also way too little hulking for a Hulk movie. That said the final showdown is fun and the chemistry between Liv Tyler as Betty is good. I picked this shot because I thought it was really cool moment in the big fight.
Iron Man 2-
Everyone kind of hates on Iron Man 2 and it is a flawed film but I enjoyed watching it. They definitely make Tony too unlikable in this film. He’s a real jerk and Mickey Rourke is just ok as Whiplash. We also get more of Pepper than we probably need but I don’t hate her like many people seem too. It’s nice to get our first glimpse of Black Widow in all her Scarlett Johansson sexiness. But the best part of this movie is exploring the idea of a famous superhero. That’s never really been done in a superhero movie and I found that interesting. That’s why I picked this shot showing Iron Man playing for the crowd in all his glory.
Thor is probably the character from the MCU that shouldn’t have worked. I mean a Norse God with a giant hammer just sounds so stupid but I actually enjoy this film! First of all, I love the world of Asgard that they build. It looks beautiful and the dynamic between Loki and Thor is dynamite. I also like how Loki is trying to get the approval of his father Odin played by Anthony Hopkins. Where it falters for me is when Thor gets to earth. Some of those scenes are very amusing but I don’t really love Natalie Portman as Jane and don’t feel that she and Thor have great chemistry. I’m always waiting for it to get back to Asgard. (I also think that Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are two of the world’s prettiest people so that helps…). My shot for Thor features father Odin and the two sons Thor and Loki- the best parts of the movie!
Captain America: The First Avenger-
This movie could have easily been bland and boring with our origin story of Captain America- the super soldier. However, fortunately for us it turned out to be a ton of fun. In a way it is kind of like the early Indiana Jones movies. The hero defeats Nazis (or in this case Hydra) without it feeling calloused and cheap to real historical tragedies and events. I love the 1940s touches throughout and the action is really enjoyable. I also like seeing scrawny Steve Rogers turn into the superhero we all know and love. Tommy Lee Jones is also perfect casting as the colonel and I like Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. I think this shot captures the spirit and joy of the film best. The Avengers-
As I said above The Avengers brought me back into appreciating comic book movies. It’s one of those movies I can’t imagine not being at least marginally entertained by. I love how the team doesn’t work together or gel immediately. You get their individual stories and journeys to the group so it feels so satisfying when they all do become one. Loki is so much fun as the villain and I love his interactions with all involved. Agent Coulson’s death is emotional and I totally buy it galvanizing all of our heroes. I love each of the Avengers and the witty dialogue Joss Whedon gives them is perfect. I think Mark Ruffalo was a good choice over Edward Norton for the Hulk. The action is tense without being drab or dreary and the special effects hold up. It’s just a great movie, not just a great comic book movie. I love it! It’s probably predictable to pick this shot of our team but it’s honestly my favorite so it’s my pick!
Today I saw the new film from director Jeff Nichols called Midnight Special. Despite its trashy sounding title, it turns out to be a pretty good little scifi film. Like so many quality films these days some will find it boring but I thought it was great.
Midnight Special tells the story of a boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberner) who at the start has been abducted by his father Roy (Michael Shannon) and friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). But this is no ordinary boy. He has supernatural powers that allow him to communicate with other life forms and lands. His eyes grow strong with blue light and he overtakes buildings and homes.
He is so strong in fact that he has inspired a cult that follows his words like scripture and honors him like a God, which he kind of is in this case. The leader of the cult is named Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd) and he and his followers have been tracking dates Alton gives them and on an upcoming one something special is to occur. This is what inspires Roy and Lucas to take Alton from the cult.
At the same time the cult gets called in mass to a high school to be interviewed by the FBI, who are also doing their own investigation into Alton and his powers. The lead investigator is Paul Sevier (Adam Driver).
We also meet Altdon’s mother played by Kirsten Dunst in a very heartfelt believable performance- best I’ve seen from her in years.
Midnight Special is a bit of a slow burn but it builds a believable story that gives you time to contemplate what is happening. I liked all of the characters including Driver as the FBI agent (although I admit getting Kylo Ren out of my head was hard at first!). Michael Shannon is tremendous as Roy who is desperate, practical and honest at the same time. Joel Edgerton as Lucas is a new believer in Alton but fresh with conviction. They are all great.
What I liked most about this movie is the way it dives into belief and what that means for our choices. Alton is a figure of hope for all different kinds of people. For the cult who have turned him into a God, for the disaffected who still love him, for the new believers who are in awe, and for those like Sevier who believe because they have seen great things, he has impacted all of their lives in a powerful way.
All good scifi should be about something and I think this film passes the test because belief changes all of us in one way or another. Belief can even break your heart on occasion.
It’s also so beautifully filmed by Jeff Nichols and has great performances throughout. Think of it as ET without the laughs!
This week for Hit Me with Your Best Shot Nathaniel has given us a film I have long wanted to watch as it gave Harrison Ford his only Oscar nomination. I’ve always felt that Ford is more than just a popcorn movie actor as certainly movies like Blade Runner and Regarding Henry show, so it is interesting to see the film the academy feels is his best. It is also directed by Peter Weir who has done some wonderful movies including Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show.
So what did I think? I thought it was a pretty good crime thriller and that the entire cast was very strong. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece or anything but a solid well made movie.
In Witness, Ford plays a detective named John Book who is assigned to investigate the murder of a cop in a train station. The only clue to the crime is a little Amish boy (Lukas Haas) who saw everything from a bathroom stall. It turns out that the entire police force is corrupt and so Book hides out with the Amish including the boy’s mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis). Rachel is a widow and nervously aids Book but the two form a bond in the tense days. The community also has to deal with Book’s presence as the corrupt officers come closer to finding his location.
Witness is particularly strong in the beginning and end. The scenes where young Samuel is witnessing the crime are very brutal- even more so because they are seen from a child’s point of view. Haas is very good as the little boy seeing things he cannot process in any way.
I’ve only seen McGillis in Top Gun but she’s fantastic in this film. I really liked how well rounded all the Amish characters are portrayed especially Rachel. It’s easy for Hollywood to take religious characters and turn them into caricatures or make them judgemental, patronizing or stupid. These men and women are none of those things but just people living life as best as they know how.
The middle section with a barn raising and building romance between Rachel and John wasn’t as compelling as the crime elements but they aren’t bad. Overall it works and is a good movie.
It does earn it’s R rating for some strong nudity and violence.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people have my best shot. It is from the scene where Lukas is witnessing the murder. You of course have the image of him peering through the hole in the bathroom stall but to me the full view of his face grasping what he has seen is more powerful. In fact, it is here that he can’t help but exclaim ‘Ah’ in a gasp almost heard by the criminals.
Hi friends! Yesterday proved to be a busy day for me! I filmed and edited 8 videos for this week and participated in a podcast style video discussion. It is the first in a monthly series we are doing leading up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November. Each month my friends Abby, Jeremy and Richard will join me to talk about one of the Harry Potter films.
As this is the first month we naturally are talking about the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone for UK). This is similar to what Jeremy, Abby and I did for our Star Wars series but this time we are joined by Richard who is a blogging friend of mine. He has been doing a detailed chapter by chapter review of the Harry Potter books on his blog so I had to include him. It was so neat to finally talk to him after reading his blog/tweets for years.
It was my first time leading a discussion with 4 people so I was a little nervous about that. Plus, I am no Harry Potter expert but I think it turned out pretty well. I am looking forward to the next videos where hopefully I will continue to improve and so grateful to Abby, Jeremy and Richard for making time out of their Saturdays to do this with me. It really was a lot of fun.
Anyway, as far as the movie itself it’s charming in many ways but in all honesty it didn’t hold up as well as I remembered. I understand Chris Columbus was trying to stay as true to the book but this movie should not be 2.5 hours long. Especially in the quidditch sections I found myself getting pretty bored.
Also Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were in their first movie with this film…and it shows. I hate to say it. They are passable I guess as child actors but you can tell they aren’t like a Jacob Tremblay in Room. It looks a little amateurish.
All that said, the introduction to Hogwarts and the magic world is very charming and fun. The British greats in the adult cast are all wonderful especially Alan Rickman as Snape. The sets and settings feel immersive and fun and the music by John Williams as expected is perfect.
So it’s not a bad film just a little more boring than I remembered.
Overall Grade- B-
What do you think of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and what do you think of our discussion? Thanks!
Yesterday I had the chance to see the new political thriller Eye in the Sky and it’s a tough movie to review because I was engrossed throughout but I left not really buying what it was selling. Let me explain. .
Eye in the Sky focuses on the many characters that come into play in the decision to make a ‘precision missile strike’ from a drone plane on a terrorist cell in Kenya. Some of the key players are:
Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren)- British military intelligence who has been hunting down these terrorists for many months.
Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman)- British general who is in England brokering the different voices there
Lieutenant Steve Watts (Aaron Paul)- USAF drone pilot out of Las Vegas
An array of other voices- cabinet members, Secretary of States, Prime Minister, legal counsel, foreign secretary, and a woman in Hawaii who has cool facial recognition software.
These characters must work together to realize the threat, calculate the risks, and execute the attack. Colonel Powell has discovered the 3rd and 4th most wanted North Africans are meeting together in a house in a dangerous part of Kenya. She hopes to do away with the suspects so they are no longer a threat to the Kenyan people.
They must have facial recognition so they send in a little bug camera which is operated by undercover agent Jama Farah played by Barkhad Abdi in a solid performance. Through the video they find the group is arming themselves for suicide bombings right then and there. This makes it imperative the situation be turned from a capture to kill operation.
The problem for Helen Mirren’s character is this requires a million approvals. Will they get away before the bureaucrats can make up their mind? That’s the big question and tension of the film. Alan Rickman is very good as her main touchpoint with London and the voice of the military in that discussion.
Things then get even more complicated when a little girl sets up shop outside of the house to sell bread for her family. They try to buy all the bread but it breaks Farah’s cover and they must decide whether a risk to her life is worth taking these terrorists out. Aaron Paul as the trigger man in Las Vegas is good as he stands up to the Colonel not wanting to kill the little girl.
The script by Guy Hibbert builds tension very well and the acting is great from all involved. However, like I said above I don’t know if I bought everything it was selling. It seemed a little propagandaish. Like I was being presented with the best possible situation for this type of operation. It felt like a way to say ‘see friends look how careful we are…’. Like a slickly made PR push for drone strikes.
I am sure there are strikes that are as painstakingly decided upon as the one depicted, but it all felt a little too perfect. There is one woman who is the opposition voice in the discussions and she is given some good dialogue. I like her pointing out that a suicide bomber killing a crowd of people doesn’t make UK look bad but them taking out a little girl does. There is a sick and twisted reality to that comment.
But even the way her character was resolved felt a little too preachy. I can tell you one thing my liberal friends will hate this movie. If you hated American Sniper than you’ll hate this. Both films show the new brand of warfare, but I personally felt Sniper told Chris Kyle’s story from his POV in a compelling way.
Anyway, I wouldn’t say don’t see Eye in the Sky because it is very well done. But I guess just try to enjoy it as fun entertainment and not a realistic political/military portrayal. If you can take it with a grain of salt than you’ll probably really enjoy it.
Also, this movie should not be rated R. Some of the swears must be background swears or mumbled because I didn’t hear them and the violence is not anything you don’t see on 24 or other shows. Either way, it’s extremely tame R rating. I can think of so many PG-13 movies that are WAY worse as far as content.
Man it’s a good time to be a nerd. Particularly a Star Wars nerd! In just a week and change we’ve gotten the amazing Star Wars Rebels finale (oh my gosh it was awesome!), Force Awakens on bluray (still waiting for mine stupid Target!!!) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer this morning!!! I’m giddy!
I will definitely be posting a review of Star Wars Rebels Season 2 down the road a bit but the finale had me pumped to get more information on Rogue One because the two properties aren’t that far apart in the Star Wars timeline and it looks like they share some similarities.
They both have strong female presences although Rebels has 2 lead men. Ahsoka and Sabine are complex, rich characters. Nobody can claim they are Mary Sues (I hate that phrase more than I can say!). In Rogue One we get Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones. She’s an Oscar nominated actresses so I’m sure she will be great if looking a little wooden in the trailer. Her character sounds awesome.
Jyn is a true rebel which excites me. We get a list of her crimes to start out the trailer. She has committed “forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest”. She’s been on her own since 15 and asks “this is a rebellion isn’t it?”. We also learn she is “reckless, aggressive, undisciplined”. I almost feel like Jyn is a grittier Star Wars version of Aladdin!
I also love seeing Mon Mothma back and Forrest Whitaker looks awesome in his role. Donnie Yen is going to be great and the whole look and feel of the film looks like something we haven’t seen from Star Wars. It looks like an actual WAR movie! I mean the AT-AT’s and the battles look so cool. The action looks kind of like Rebels in some ways as well as the characters.
We also get a look at Ben Mendelson’s white Imperial leader and I think Vader bowing before the Emperor. I am going to not get too excited about the cool Stormtrooper because I don’t want a Phasma disappointment.
Another thing I am pleased with is as great as it looks it has a bit of a 70s feel about it so I don’t think it feels discordant with the original Star Wars: New Hope, which this is a precursor of (I won’t use prequel word!). It feels like it is at least semi-believable that the next step is New Hope in the story.
Long and short of it is I’m thrilled with what I see Gareth Edwards is doing with Rogue One. I think it is a grittier version of Star Wars but it will have compelling characters and fun action as well. It was a longer trailer than I expected but I’m pumped!
What about you? What did you think of the Rogue One trailer? Did you see Star Wars Rebels finale? Without spoilers let me know what you thought!