Normally, I like the titles I come up with for my posts. But if I were to ever start a band, I would push hard for Moving Pictures Stole My Soul. That being said, here are a few movies that I've watched recently and my thoughts on them. Also, like most reviews, there will be spoilers.
Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing is about race relations in America in the late 1980s. Danny Aiello and his sons own a pizza joint in a predominately black neighborhood. Spike Lee (who also wrote and directed) is the pizza delivery boy. There are other characters that we see and meet throughout the neighborhood, but the main story focuses on the pizza place. Now, I think I understand the point that Lee was attempting to make with his film. That we all silently hate each other and it will only get worse unless we make an effort to change. However, I think that Lee's message is delivered ham-fistedly. He portrays Aiello as a nice, if not overly tolerant, individual. However at the end of the film, when he is pushed by two characters who feel as though they've been hurt by him, he reaches into his bag of racial epithets and begins throwing them around more freely than Parmesan on a pizza. Lee's character is who we view the story through and he is not very sympathetic. He is an absentee father, who works a minimum wage job and does so poorly, and on top of all of that he is the one who escalates the racial standoff into a full-on riot. Yet, after the race riot and burning of the pizzaria, he goes to find Aiello and demands to be paid. This is probably the biggest downfall of the movie and what keeps it from being great. If the main character was just a little bit more sympathetic, this could work. As it stands, I think this is a move that's worth watching, but only once. (Currently available streaming on Netflix.)
This is a film all about time travel. The two characters accidentally create a way to travel through time. And so like everybody else would, they hide the secret and use it to make financial gains and save lives. This is an incredibly interesting concept, that becomes incredibly muddled as characters begin to go farther back in time or create multiple time machines. This is understandable because time travel is a mucky business. The major flaw this movie has is that the actors are all amateurs. That's what is keeping this from being one of those films that everybody has to see. Instead, it is one of those films that you hear about from your nerd friends who keep pushing it and then when you see it you have trouble following it and then when you see your friend again you give several non-committal answers so that you don't appear stupid. As it stands this is probably in the top five of time travel movies. It deals with the subject as honestly as you possibly can. Things like causality and paradoxes are dealt with in a mature and scientific manner, which is nice to see in a movie about time travel. Again, acting holds it back, but you should watch it. It may hurt your brain, but it's worth it. (Currently available streaming on Netflix.)
Alvin & the Chimpmunks 2: The Squeakquel
If you let your kids watch this movie, you are a bad parent. Seriously. If I find out you allowed your kids to see this, I am calling social services.
I wasn't interested in seeing this movie. At the end of the film, I still felt uninterested.
Ever get the feeling that a movie was manufactured to sell other things? That's how this movie felt. The plot felt secondary to how "cool" everything is supposed to look. I don't really why anybody would enjoy this movie. Even for a superficial popcorn movie, this movie isn't much. I would say I was disappointed, but I had low expectations anyway.
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Winner of the most cumbersome title of 2009. This movie should have won all the Oscars. It had a great, compelling, and tragic story. The main character, Precious, is 16. She has one child, with a mental disability, and is pregnant with another. The father of both of her kids is her father. Her mom physically and verbally abuses her. Her life is enough for anybody to give up on, but she doesn't. Even after she finds out that she is HIV-positive. This is a tough film to watch, but it is so very well done that I couldn't stop. I cannot recommend this film enough. I don't want to spend the rest of this review saying how great this movie is and how much you should watch it, so please just go and do it.
This is the film that The Departed was based on. And when I say, "based on," I mean "run through Google Translator and made in Boston instead of Hong Kong." I watched this well after I saw and enjoyed Scorsese's movie. Then I saw this and realized that they completely ripped this off. Honestly, you probably needed to in order to get western audiences to see it, but still. I don't think I've ever seen a remake that took so few liberties with the story. Scenes, characters, and shots were lifted right into The Departed. Don't get me wrong, I love Scorsese, which is why I was so disappointed after I saw this movie. Not because I didn't like Infernal Affairs, but because I did. I highly recommend this one, if only so you can see how similar these two movies are.
Agree? Disagree? Think I am completely off my gourd? Let me know in the comments section below.