Monday, August 23, 2004

POPCORN REVIEW: Catching up "Bourne", "Bill", and Braff

Determined to play some catch up in the film arena... I made a weekend of it.



Friday, Chinese w/ Darren and The Borne Supremacy - 7/10





The second chapter of the screen saga from the Bourne series, The Bourne Supremacy earns a definite "check +" next to the series debut in The Bourne Identity. This is a solid as a summer film can get (no, I haven't seen Spiderman 2 yet).

It's fun, fast paced, a great story, that's clear without being static, with action that is appropriate and not absurb for the purpose of the film. Matt Damon is great as a quick hard action star instead of the more "Riley Finn" (BTVS reference) type he normally plays.

Supremacy put one more nail in the coffin of James Bond and buried Jack Ryan in film that defines was a post cold war international thriller can be. The supporting cast was all under used, but at the same time, used just enough for what again was appropriate for the story.

The style of this film is sharp. The cinematography, score, and editing echoed top notch fan friendly directing. Always being a fan of the avant garde and high style pictures (not every film can be CQ), for a "normal" film to really stick out in my mind is always good. I think the last "normal" look in a film I really loved was About a Boy. Well, I'm sure there has been more since, I just have that film in my mind at this moment. It's a great film; it's about a boy. If you haven't seen it, you must. See Bourne too.... Okay, back to the task at hand.

What I really loved about the film was the action situations itself and the plausibility if not possibility of the scenarios. For instance, compare the bridge scene from CA: Full Throttle with the bridge scene from Bourne. While the Angels make a fantastic escape... there's more excitement in the Bourne seen because it's "possible".

Speaking of scenes the direction was impeccable securing Greengrass a happy solid future... I'd love to see what this guy can really do. I don't like high motion of this film. It's not that's it poor, in fact it's done well. It's just not my proverbial cup of tea. By high motion... most directors move the camera with slower edits or inversely fast edits with static shots. I don't like Jarmusch super static muted camera/edit style... and Bourne is the other extreme.

The climax of this film is marked by a car chase. No, the climax of this film is marked by THE car chase, and the torch is passed from William Friedkin. Okay, briefly, if you don't know who William Friedkin is, you should. He's renown for 2 things, 1. Directing the scariest film of all time - The Exorcist, and 2. Directing the best car chase of all time - The French Connection. On a weekend Renny Harlin was desperately trying to channel a little bit of Friedkin into Exorcist: The Beginning, the spirit ended up across the hall in The Bourne Supremacy. To call the finale a car chase is to call the Beethoven's 9th Symphony a jingle, the Great Pyramid a tombstone, Catcher in the Rye a good book, or "Blonde on Blonde" a record. And that's all I need to say about that.

This is a sequel that's bigger, and better than the original and well worth a summer escape.



Saturday, a pint from Maggie Moo's Creamery and Darren's dvd, Kill Bill v2 - 8/10




It's not that I didn't love Kill Bill v1, I did. It's not that I didn't want to see v2. I did. But before I knew it, the brief chance I had in the theater was gone and the dvd wait began. Darren was kind enough loan me his copy.

With my week of Olympic fanaticism winding down, Saturday was reserved for attempting to qualify for the World Series of Poker via the internet, watching some Discovery channel programming on Ancient Greece, and watching Kill Bill v2.

The second volume sweetly sums up the journey of the vengeful American samurai, Black Momba, The Bride, Beatrix Kiddos, or Mommie. Tarentino echoes with Pai Mei training (a brilliant sequence) the loveliness of "wiggle your toe" from the first half. That's just one example of the excellent rhythm this film has... having the second best soundtrack of the year might have something to do with it. Not quite as flashy and much more emotional, I actually yelled out "EWE" at one part. I'll let you guess when. Part Deux is beautifully styled, directed well, and written better. The acting was great, showing that these actors really should be working more, especially from Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah) and Bill (David Carradine). Uma "The Bride" Thurman was stellar, but at times was so good at giving QT what he wanted that she was really bad. So bad she was good or so good she was bad... one of those. Especially the whole pregnancy test scene. I honestly thought it was unnecessary and for the most part inferred as obvious. Carradine and Thurman should be locks as GG noms. Carradine, in a just world, should be in the Oscar race. Then again, in a year where most all films lived up to or exceeded my expectations (not usual) with better (maybe) yet to come... Closer, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Life Aquatic, I Heart Huckabee's, Alexander, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket... and more.

As for Thurman, I was never a huge fan of her's except for when she teamed with QT. I think this is by far her best work ever. As for previous roles, Gattaca was on last weekend. I don't think I've watched it since some point in college and honestly forgot how absolutely beautiful the film was. You could freeze on any frame of the film and have a piece of photographic art... that was, until I saw...

Garden State, 10/10


Lightening really does strike twice. For the second time this year, I did not just watch a film, but experienced a film that hit so close to home in my own life, was so well crafted, was so well written, that I was genuinely emotionally disturbed after watching it. If I have such an emotional reaction once a year, I'm stunned. Unlike a film like Mulholland Drive or The Village or AI where I talk and talk and talk about the film until someone tells me to shut up... Garden State now sits along side Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, The Hours, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in my consciousness. In fact, these are the films I don't talk about. These are films I simply set in awe of. These are films that make me want to be a filmmaker. These are the films that so profoundly effect me, they often offer not only a catharsis as an audience member, but a turning point in my life.

So, yes I like the film. Truly in this film, every frame was a piece of art. Garden State made me laugh more than any film I can remember, more than Mean Girls, more than Elf. I have a peculiar sense of humor which is why I like very few comedies. Well, it's not that I don't like them, I just don't see their greatness. Things I don't really find funny... Sealab and Space Ghost, the Ben Stiller Show, Supertroopers... pretty much anything with Owen Wilson. In fact, everyone I've known (mostly boys) are Rushmore and Ben Stiller Show types, Supertrooper and Old School types, and Dude Where's my Car and American Pie types. I always felt like I never "got" what everyone was laughing at. I love to laugh but find few things really funny, besides my cat (yes, I'm aware how disturbing this sounds) and sharks... I find sharks very funny. I like the masturbating bear (thank you, mr. Blink) and jimmies really bad weekend update commentaries. I really like sad and sarcastic humor. Maybe, it's because in my sad sarcastic childhood, I became really good at making fun of people... which sounds mean, but what's a chubby smart girl to do when other kids call her names for all sorts of reasons? She uses her intelligence to belittle their angry German pants off, that's what. What else makes me laugh besides sharks? While I strongly dislike everything woes Anderson had done before, The Royal Tennanbaums is one of my favorite films... primarily because of Gwyneth Paltrow's character. Arrested Development is the funniest TV show ever and one of the few that makes me completely lose it for hours over one simple joke ("well, let's hope it doesn't come to that!") In fact, I'm laughing right now.

Okay, so what does this have to do with Garden State (a film about nothing)? I laughed through the whole thing, without crying. In fact, my laughter was probably inappropriate at times, and I gave Darren the giggles. I'm sure the 3 other people in the theater thought we were high. The reason I loved this film so much is not because of the characters, but because I could find myself or people I knew in every character. Because of that, I applied so much more love, sadness, depression, and ridiculousness into the scenes because I felt like I was looking through a scrapbook ( I don't keep one, either) of post high school life. I walked out of the film checking my ambitions slightly. It reminded me not of how far I've yet to go, but how far I've come. It reminded me not of what I was, but now of what I wasn't. And, after a mini nervous breakdown this weekend due to undisclosed reasons, the reminder of what I wasn't was really what I needed to slide "happily" back into my stepford molded life (at least temporarily).

After watching Garden State, I will never watch Scrubs again. I feel it violates how beautifully gifted Braff is. This is one of the absolute greatest films ever. Whether or not this is the only story Braff has to tell remains to be seen. If it's his only work, it's a work of greatness. The composition of this film more than lives up to the trailers and the soundtrack far surpasses it. This is the greatest soundtrack of the year by far. It's probably even the best since Magnolia, but that would require me examining my music collection before making such declarations.

If you've never tried to pull yourself out of the working class traps then had to return to the small town woes to face the skeletons you left behind, I don't know how much you'll like this film. If you've never experienced the fact that you've ascended the world you once belonged in, I don't know if you'll like this film. If you've never fallen in love in way to change your entire life in only 4 days, I don't know if you'll like this film. If you've never carried guilt - If you've never self medicated, you might not understand, you might not appreciate how beautiful this film is. If you've never laughed through sadness, it might not give you giggles, but, if you have, this could be the greatest film you'll ever see.

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