Friday, February 22, 2013

Archie’s Final Project (2009)

Number Rolled: 100
Movie Name/Year: Archie’s Final Project (2009)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 110 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: David Lee Miller
Writer: Eric J. Adams, David Lee Miller, Jordan J. Miller, Gabriel Sunday
Actors: David Carradine, Mariel Hemingway, Brooke Nevin, Nora Dunn, Michael WelchZachary Ray Sherman, Vanessa Lengies, Gabriel Sunday, Tony Hale, Joe Mantegna, Sandy Martin, Tim Halligan, Steven Anthony Lawrence, Stephen Sowan

This movie is about a teenage film-geek. He’s obsessed with David Carradine and his mistaken interpretation of the man’s films leads him to decide to film his own suicide for his film class final project. He goes along a road that allows him to film interviews with people in his school and life, capturing their reactions to this shocking news.

It’s an interesting concept, and because the plot is so different from anything I’ve seen before, I wasn’t sure what I would be getting myself into. I’d never heard of the movie before, never seen a trailer, didn’t care about any of the actors or other people known to be involved; I added it to my instant queue solely on the description of the plot. After spending nearly a whopping two hours watching this movie, I’m still glad that I added it.

They say it’s a comedy. I wouldn’t call it that. I mean, even the little blurbed plotline will make you question that. However, I couldn’t even begin to choose a genre for “Archie’s Final Project.” It was completely different. It had aspects of drama, aspects of mockumentary, aspects of comedy and thriller and romance. This movie created a brand new genre that needs a brand new name that I couldn’t even begin to come up with. So let’s just leave it as ‘comedy’ for now, and pretend we all agree.

I felt like I was watching an acid trip that was so wrong that it started to make sense. If you were to take the film style of the Monty Python series, the film style of “Requiem for a Dream” and mixed it with the feel of “SLC Punk,” you’d come pretty close to what you get here.

It was completely original, with absolutely amazing acting. The script was ridiculous (in the best sense) and the film style blew my mind. Not only that, but the storyline drilled into me with such force that I feel like this movie has changed a part of me. When I think back to “Archie’s Final Project” I will note this movie as an inspiration to what should be and who I want to be.

It has undoubtedly become my favorite movie of all time.

Overall Opinion – 5/5

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New York, I Love You (2008)

Number Rolled: 80
Movie Name/Year: New York, I Love You (2008)
Genre: Romance
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Randall Balsmeyer, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner
Writer: Hu Hong, Yao Meng, Isreal Horovitz, Suketu Mehta, ShunjiIwai, Olivier Lecot, Jeff Nathanson, Xan Cassavetes, Stephen Winter, Anthony Minghella, Natalie Portman, Fatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Hall Powell, James C. Strouse, Emmanuel Benbihy, Tristan Carne, Yvan Attal
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, Andy Garcia, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan, Emilie Ohana, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Maggie Q, Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin, James Caan, Olivia Thirlby, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, Julie Christie, John Hurt, Shia LaBeouf, Ugur Yuvel, Jacinda Barrett

This movie was created as a kind of love letter written from those involved to New York City. The plot of the movie is less clear than the plot of the segmentations within. Love. Sex. Chance. The three things that New York has been known for. Even before Sex and the City, New York was the place people came to in order to make it big; the city that never sleeps. After all, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

As a born-and-bred New Yorker, when I see a movie that takes place in my city, I’m going to judge it more harshly. Mainly because I live here, and have lived here, for almost thirty years; my entire life. Movies and television shows tend to show a glorified version or an ultra dirty version of what New York is. It’s either the place where everyone has a chance, or the place where everyone gets killed. I don’t feel that represents this city correctly.

In this segmented film we follow a bunch of character all going about their daily lives. None of them really get to know each other outside of their segment, but that’s representative of New York. People taking the train avoid eye contact with anyone else. People walking by each other don’t nod their heads in greeting unless they already have a connection – or if they’re tourists. It’s a busy city, with busy people that don’t have time.

I read a lot of critiques on this film. What I saw got me so angry I had to walk away from the computer for a few minutes. The same critics that loved Sex and the City, said this film read like a playboy letter. Critics like that are why I write this blog.

Not only that, but they didn’t seem to understand. Yes, it was segmented, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was an anthology. Each segment shared a similarity in tone, but they weren’t independent of each other. It’s not even just that the characters bled from one story to another, it’s that there really was a singular viewpoint; a silent narrator that is guiding the viewer from behind the scenes through New York. Showing us what they see. Either the critics that missed that had no understanding of the movie what-so-ever and therefore no right to criticize or they had made their judgment five minutes in and the ending had no sway over them.

If you don’t like romance than this is not for you. Granted, there are some very comedic and even some thriller-worthy moments, but it is first and foremost a love story; both involving people and the city itself.

Overall Opinion – 4.5/5

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alpha and Omega (2010)

Number Rolled: 1
Movie Name/Year: Alpha and Omega (2010)
Genre: Children and Family Movie
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Anthony Bell, Ben Gluck
Writer: Chris Denk, Ben Gluck, Steve Moore
Actors: Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Larry Miller, Eric Price, Vicki Lewis, Christina Ricci, Chris Carmack, Brian Donovan, Kevin Sussman, Maya Kay, Christine Lakin

This animated children’s movie is about an Omega wolf named Humphrey and his long developed crush on an Alpha wolf named Kate. It’s a basic Romeo and Juliet recipe made PG by the target audience being children.

Humphrey sees no reason why he can’t be with Kate and continues to put himself in her line of sight. After a moment where he has particularly invaded her life a bit too far, they are sleep-darted by a random human and brought to another park where they are supposed to “repopulate.” Of course, even if that weren’t the issue, the fact that they were taken on the very night Kate learns of her fate to be in an arranged marriage with another Alpha, to unite the packs, heightens the importance of getting back. If she doesn’t return, the packs will go to war.

This film got trashed. I’ll tell you why. Number one, the animation wasn’t exactly perfect. The wolves looked a little odd, as did the background. That’s an issue I find to be valid. However, it was also trashed because it was a children’s movie being judged by adults and because it’s a recipe film. I’ve made this argument before, but I’ll say it again. Not all recipe movies are instantly bad. I use a recipe to make cheesecake and it still comes out good. However, there are thousands of recipes – different recipes – to make cheesecake. I’ll never outright say a movie sucked just because it was a recipe. I don’t think anyone should.

The components in this particular recipe movie weren’t bad. The wolven mother of Kate, I’ve decided, was placed in this movie specifically to make the parents of the children laugh. I know a few people that she reminded me of in real life, and they’re all very close friends.

Story-wise, Alpha and Omega had a slow start but it picked up. I had a big problem getting into the movie in the beginning. Especially after they did a time jump without any real notice about what they were doing. It was made more difficult to notice because the art, the animation, of the wolves didn’t change. So you had to rely on the script specifically to know that you were going from watching wolf-children to watching wolf-young-adults. It irked me a little bit.

My final issue isn’t really an issue, it’s more of a warning. Parents who watch this movie with their children should be prepared to answer the question, “Where do babies come from?” There’s nothing sexually graphic, but there are several references to mating and the creating “little wolves.” Also, there are some graphically mentioned ideas of violence which, even coming from an animated and slightly off wolf, made me stare at the screen in awe. Do with this information what you will.

Overall Opinion – 3/5