Friday, June 25, 2010
Blu-Ray Dossier the Return
A running article here at Chicken Scratch is the Blu-Ray Dossier. I am a movie geek and a bit of a snob when it comes to the art and business of film. I love cinema and it has become one of my favorite delivery devices for plot and story. It is for this reason I am picky. Here in the Blu-Ray Dossier I like to give credit where credit is due for the good, the bad and the just plain ugly. The first rating that you see is all about how good a movie/film it is. The second rating is all about the jaw dropping Blu-ray factor. Modern cinema is shot in 1080p just the way a director usually intended you to see it. It is the gold standard the cameras use. Television has evolved to the point of High Definition and now 1080p is now an option for ones own home.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, grab some popcorn because here is what has been playing in Evil Chicken’s living room…
Where the Wild Things Are: 3 Stars / 3.5 Stars. I love Spike Jonze. The man can tell a story in a way that truly makes it his own. And Where the Wild Things Are is no different. The challenge is to make a full-length motion picture from a 15 or so page beloved children’s book. No easy feat. Yes, the Wild Things represent different people and parts of Max’s psyche and yeah, that’s cool to a degree but the film gets bogged down in it’s own complexities and loses a bit of it’s heart.
Sherlock Holmes: 3.5 Stars / 3.5 Stars. I loved the pairing of Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) with Jude Law (Watson). Great chemistry. I am looking forward to the sequel to this adventure through a blue-screened Victorian London. It was fun to watch and worth the rental. Some have criticized this film by saying that there was too much fighting that Holmes was involved with and that the filmmakers wanted to make him into an action hero. Conan Doyle’s Holmes WAS a pugilist and a man of action. He was not just Basil Rathbone with a violin, a pipe and a magnifying glass. That being said it is a passable action flick.
Twilight New Moon: 2 Stars / 3 Stars. I wanted to be fair with this one. I was hoping to walk that thin line between objectivity and honesty. I hope this passes. I am not a Twilight fan. Sparkling hundred year-old vampires who fall for high school girls who have friends that happen to be a pack of werewolves just don’t cut it for me. The CGI is not as wooden as the acting. The best part about this franchise is knowing that it is half over. Perhaps if I was a teenage girl I would feel differently? Nope, my three daughters are as perplexed at this phenomena as I am.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: 4 Stars / 4 Stars. I love Mr. Terry Gilliam. He is worth seeing no matter what it is he does. His work has a tendency to stay with you YEARS after you have seen it. It’s a sad state of affairs that he does not get the backing that he truly deserves most of the time. This time, and perhaps partiality due to the sad and untimely death of Mr. Heath Ledger, Gilliam does and he nails the dismount while doing so. The scenes shot in the real world – with Heath Ledger were complete. The scenes inside the Imaginarium – an amazing dreamscape where anything is possible were not. To rectify this Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Collin Ferrell assumed the roll of the Hanged Man (Ledger) in the dream world. Check this one out. I guarantee that it is the most original thing that you have seen on your HDTV in a long time. The dedication of the film is pretty classy too.
Ponyo: 4 Stars / 4 Stars. Hayao Miyazaki, the same man who brought us “Spirited Away”, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke” gives the world his take on “The Little Mermaid”. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have been powerhouses of Japanese animation for decades. PIXAR is the house of magic here in the Americas and Studio Ghibli holds that honor in Japan. Miyazaki is a brilliant and gifted storyteller. If you are familiar then you know the spectacle that you are about to behold. If you are just discovering him and his work I am envious. You are in for a treat.
The Road: 4 Stars /3.5 Stars. I was depressed after viewing this film. But it stuck with me. Some may just say that it is just a downer of a film but now, after considering it further I believe this is a film about hope. Hope when there is absolutely nothing to be hopeful for. The plot follows a father and son as they traverse across a post apocalyptic world heading towards the ocean. There are some allegories at play here as well. SPOILER – SKIP TO THE NEXT REVIEW TO REMAIN PURE: Not to spoil your experience but the father is Moses. He gets to see the Promised Land but he is not allowed in. But there is hope for the children who actually make it to the land of milk and honey. This story of love and survival is not easy to watch but it will stay with you.
The Wolfman: 1 Star / 2 Stars. I so wanted this movie to knock it out of the park. It did not. I so wanted Stan Winston’s final film to be one for the ages. It is not. I so wanted to see Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro rip into their scenes together. They try but are caught in what must have been a development hell on set. One gets the feeling that once they started shooting the filmmakers really did not know which direction they were going to take this. Where they take it is clichéd and tired. I can’t believe I’m about to type this but “Twilight New Moon” is better than “The Wolfman”. Ouch.
Alice in Wonderland: 4 Stars / 4 Stars. Tim Burton – Johnny Depp? Here… just let my buy my ticket now. We (my daughters and I) really dug this quasi-sequel to the original Alice stories. Dizzying imaginations are at play in this production. The story is well served and realized and the green screen work is something to see. Depp shines as the Mad Hatter as does Mia Wasikowska as THE Alice – the Underland prophesized champion and potential slayer of the Jabberwocky. I thought it was fun film and worthy of the name, Alice.
Yojimbo: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. Back before “The Man With No Name” played by Clint Eastwood roamed Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns a ronin samurai, Sanjûrô Tsubaki, was pitting two rival gangs against each other in Yojimbo. What an amazing and influential film this truly is. Leone and his Japanese counterparts did a lot of ‘borrowing’ from each other in the early sixties. Thankfully we the viewers have a win win because of it, two great films one timeless story.
The Godfather Parts I & II: 5 Stars / 3.5 Stars. Yes, technically these are two separate films but they are meant to be one picture. What can one say that has not already been said about these classic films? I can say that it has been re-mastered for Blu-ray and that the print that they used to do so is an improvement over the regular DVD release. Where these films truly shine are in the storytelling and the acting. The characterizations that Brando, Pacino, Caan, DeNiro, Duvall and Keaton bring to life are epic in scope. Francis Ford Coppola made lightning strike twice with these films. They are national treasures. If you have not seen them in some time check them out on Blu-ray. Have some pasta with meat gravy and maybe some cannoli. You really cannot go wrong with these films and that’s something you can take to the mattress.
See you at Blockbuster!