Welcome to my film critic's blog! A lifetime of loving movies has enabled me to do this. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Battle of the Bs

Recently, I was immersed in a discussion about the virtues of seeing a B-movie at the cinema.

Some flicks justify themselves by their very existence - Machete; a grand return to Mexploitation flicks. Kick-Ass - an exercise in comic book deconstructionism that got a B reception but was really an A+ movie.

The great thing about B films is that all you need is one good aspect or quality or even a scene for it work for you. Just one.

Helen Mirren with a machine gun - Red is awesome for that one reason above all others. And I defend that to all who want to argue about it.

The only time B movies become a challenge and a headache are when you go to the movies expecting to see an A movie but wind up with a B. It can be harrowing - case in point: The Tourist.

That flick exists solely for the purpose of watching Angie+Johnny pout and smile. While I admit that might be more than enough for a good B-movie, watching As going so B is like watching an accident in slow motion. It's painful and the crash is still coming. If the movie ran on mute, the people who love it would still love it and the others who don't, well, will imagine themselves getting a root canal.

Knight and Day - another B that should have been an A. It was saved by the fact that the action was all A all the time. And like I said, you just need one thing for a B movie to be good.

I guess my point is that I'm readjusting my theory about Bs having a free hand to be as bad as bad can be. If you're expecting a B, then most Bs will satisfy that cinema trip. However, if an A slides slowly, embarrassingly down to a B, the journey can seem like the path to Mount Doom.

Know your Bs, filmmakers, know your Bs. That's all I'm sayin'.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rapid-fire summer movie grades

Summer is drawing to a close and I haven't seen as many movies as I'd have liked (that's always the case - so it's nothing new). However, it's grading time and I'll have to make do with what I've got. Without further ado, here they are:

Kick-Ass - A+
Talent, originality and a potty-mouthed preteen who knows how to kill you six ways from Sunday. This may not be box office fodder but it's definitely comic book gold and a new cult classic.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - B-
Jackie Earle Haley created a magnetic, blade-grinding Freddie for the new age. The other leads, Nancy in particular, just sank. You know it's a problem when the slaughtered teens stand out more than the ones that survive.

Iron Man 2 - A-
The original Iron Man was a total A+ movie and comparisons are inevitable. Being a tad repetitive in parts brings it close to a B. It stays as an A because it manages to take grab hold of the worthy successor status courtesy eclectic new characters, eye candy action sequences and lip-smacking Avengers tidbits.

Robin Hood - B+
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe definitely have epic aspirations with this one. The acting talent on display, the elaborate battles and camerawork all have a Gladiator-esque flavor. However, this story was not the bill of goods I was originally sold. I wanted the definitive take on Robin Hood, not the man before the legend or whatever this was attempting to be. It felt more like Robin Hood: Origins than Robin Hood and that took away from it quite a bit.

Shrek Forever After - C+
I love Shrek and his supporting cast and I always will. Having said that, some franchises are way past their sell-by date. Terminator is one, Shrek is another. This one feels fatigued, wrung out and plain lackluster. Sorry, this just does not work anymore.

Image via Wikipedia
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - B-
They were hoping it would be the next Pirates of the Caribbean. It wound up just surpassing The Scorpion King. Video game movies are always dicey and this one was trying for epic franchise status but could only go a little further than mild popcorn pleasure. Jake Gyllenhaal sells the character all right but the mish-mash of accents, tones and costumes don't add up to much. Very forgettable!

Sex and the City 2 - A-
I've been a fan since the TV series. I loved the first one and the sequel is in some ways even better. It hits all the right notes and is funny, cheesy and over-the-top in all the right places. Sure, the characters haven't changed much in spite of the financial crisis and everything but that's what they're all about. The trip to the Middle East actually impressed me because they showed me a little something I didn't expect to see in a SOTC movie - cultural sensitivity. Wow, what has the world come to? Next we'll be talking about an animated Terminator movie for the kiddies - oh, wait...never mind.

More to come...hold your horses.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh, never mind

So Amanda Bynes is "unretired." Disregard the previous post and shame on me - should have realized publicity hounds come in all packages. Onto more interesting things...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Say it ain't so, Amanda

I never intended for this blog to be perezhiltonesque but some happenings in the world of celluloid do affect me and I want to comment on today's news.

Apparently actress Amanda Bynes at the age of 24 has announced her retirement from acting on Twitter. Right now, the news appears to be legitimate but it's entirely possible that a prank or something is at play.

If true, it is my duty as a film buff and defender of the cinematic medium to say it's a loss that I will feel along with many others I'm sure.

I agree that she isn't old enough to have made a significant impact on us. But I have also always believed that this woman possesses a certain something that will take her far.

I don't usually pay attention to Nickelodeon actresses but Bynes drew me in the first time I saw her on The Amanda Show. I thought then, 'this girl should do movies'. Many Nick actresses do some super softie flicks and fade away but Bynes was different.

She stole the show teaming with Frankie Muniz in Big Fat Liar and I knew she was on her way. It was when I saw What A Girl Wants that I saw glimpses of a young Anne Hathaway in the making. I filed it away under my favorite family movies and hoped Bynes would move on to bigger and better things.

Then for a while it seemed she had lost her way courtesy lackluster films like She's the Man and Sydney White. On the other hand, she did play against type in Hairspray and that was refreshing.

I was also looking forward to more from her in Easy A, possibly her last film. Bynes is one of those naturally charismatic and talented actors that connects instinctively with an audience.

It is my wish that she realizes she has much more to offer the silver screen. If not, I hope she finds a niche on the small screen at least.

In the end, it is her decision and I hope she does what makes her happy. If this is goodbye, I wish her well - Amanda, it has been a treat watching you on screen and I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that way. Adieu!

This photograph is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Movie lover diary: To like or not to like

My mom tells me I loved movies even as a baby. Long before I could talk, I used to sit entranced in her arms at the cinema. Thinking about that makes me believe I was meant to love films long before I knew that I did.

I bring it up now because I've been doing a lot of thinking about taste. Like or dislike for flicks is very subjective and critics cannot really agree on what makes a movie likable. So does a refined taste come from practice and a discriminating palate like fine wine? A movie critic recently told me that the quality of films has plummeted in recent years and she hates most of what she sees at the cinema.

I can see where that critic is coming from but I guess I'm just different. I always go in with an open mind and hope to have a positive experience. It's not because I think I need to promote movie-going or be an advocate for the cinema. It's just that I tend to enjoy the good parts of most movies that I watch. Sure there are some that are just plain awful with zero redeeming qualities but I don't need Oscar-level quality to satisfy me.

I just need a motion picture to make me feel something and make me see what the filmmaker was seeing when he was creating it. I'll still notice the negatives but I also make sure I don't disregard the positives because of them.

I guess for movies in particular, taste really is not simply what the Academy Awards tell us it should be. I think being on the positive side of the enjoyment fence is just as legitimate as many of the critics that enter screenings thinking of them as shooting ranges.

Let me illustrate. Two critics pick a 100 random films from a bin and watch them. Critic A enjoys 30 of them and hates the others. Critic B enjoys 82 of them. Does that mean Critic A has better taste than B? No. It just means Critic B has a different way of looking at movies than A and his perspective is just as valid.

Just some food for thought.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The right movie diet for 2010: Part XII

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader takes Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and their cousin on an ocean voyage with King Caspian (Ben Barnes) to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia. With the returning cast under Michael Apted’s direction, this flick has a good chance of being the best of the series so far.

Tron Legacy is the sequel to TRON, the 1982 film set in a digital world full of fierce programs and gladiatorial games. With today’s special effects, an Imax 3-D experience should be something special. These two definitely seem like the best bet.

This list should leave you pretty cinematically satiated by the end of the year. Plenty to look forward to – should be a good year, fingers crossed. Bon app├ętit!

The right movie diet for 2010: Part XI

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is the penultimate movie in the series and the beginning of the end. Since the last book is arguably the best one and director David Yates has consistently created quality material, the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s quest to save the world should be an awesome spectacle.

The other notable release is Unstoppable. As a Tony Scott fan since the 1980s, I'll watch anything he makes. This one is about rail company employees fighting to prevent an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas from wiping out a city. Seems to bring back memories of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, which I found more than a little underwhelming. Still, the Scott-Denzel Washington combo is usually special and I'm hoping he will do better this time. Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson seal the deal.