Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Rating: 40%
Almost 12 years ago, my family and I tried to go on a trip in the mountains over the weekend. We ended up not going because we were lost or the weather was bad or something like that, (I can't remember) so we went to see Atlantis: The Lost Empire in theaters instead. On the way home from seeing the movie, our parents put in the soundtrack for Moulin Rouge on the car's cd player where while enjoying some crazy yet lovable music, our parents explained how the movie is about the love between these two particular characters. Since we were still young at the time, they only showed us a couple particular scenes of the movie, mostly ones that contained the music we really loved from the soundtrack. It wasn't until about two ago that I finally fully saw the movie for myself. At the time I wasn't much of a skeptical man when it came to film so while I found a lot of it weird, I still loved the music, story and movie all around. But a couple months ago, while I was still working on my Disney marathon and trying to reach movie review # 200 at the same time, I saw that the Nostalgia Critic made a 44 minute video review of the film. After seeing it a couple of times, I finally got myself to see it again for myself last Monday. So now that I've grown up and I know better when it comes to being more skeptical when it comes to film, I present to you my own opinion about this film.

Plot: The film is narrated by the now depressed main character, Christian. A year before, he moved to Paris to become a writer. He joins a group who are trying to promote their play "Spectacular Spectacular" where they go to the Moulin Rogue in order to try to get their play in the air. They get Christian to show his work to the star courtesan, Satine who mistakes him as the Duke of Monroth whom she's trying to sleep with to become an actress. Through a mix up, the group and Satine get the Duke to fund "Spectacular Spectacular" where Satine becomes the lead actress for the show. Throughout working on the show, Christian and Satine fall in love and form a secret relationship against the Duke who continues to try to have Satine.

This is an odd movie. I mean with just the beginning you have all these weird instruments and characters from the group Christian joins, and at the Moulin Rogue you have all of these super fast cuts when it comes to the editing, and there's a whole bunch of random things popping right in front of you. And there's no hiding it, the story is not that unique. And not a lot of people appreciated that they used a whole bunch of other people's song mixed together to form most of the numbers they had. And it did have quite a few plot holes such as *WARNING SPOILERS* 1) now this hole I mostly noticed from the Nostalgia Critic video, but even then, I have to completely agree on; they don't explain why that one woman who hinted that Christian and Satine were having an affair to the Duke didn't want them together. although what the Nostalgia Critic left out was how the rest of the film, she does blend back into the crowd like she didn't do anything.  and 2) Now even though I still liked the story as a kid, what bugged me then and now was why Satine didn't just tell Christian she's dying and the Duke wants him killed so they could figure out something. As a kid, I was like "whatever, I still like the story" but now that I've grown up, it drives me crazy that she did something that stupid. I mean it's bad enough they won't be together forever now that she's dying but giving in to the Duke because of that is just unbelievably stupid. *END OF SPOILERS* the same time it's sort of a likable film. I mean of coarse the plot is unoriginal and stupid, but somehow you do enjoy the love story anyway. Part of it has to do with the love song "Come what may" which I'll get to. And while a lot of it is just weird stuff popping right in front of you and mixed songs, you may be able to enjoy seeing that. So while this movie is no Sound of Music, Sweeney Todd, Wizard of Oz or even Wicked if they ever made a movie or TV special or something (we can only hope), in a partly reasonable yet completely ridiculous way, it's something we can enjoy not matter how bad it is.

Ewan McGregor/Christian: Personally, I liked McGregor's acting. I mean I do agree that his moment where he was crying did sound more like he was laughing, but at the same time I thought that was very well done. And while his voice could be annoying after a while, I think at the same time that he has a really good singing voice (way better than mine anyway)
Nicole Kidman/Satine: Now I'm not saying that she didn't do a good job, cause she did have her good parts. But I have to admit, there is some weird stuff she does where I do find it a raise in the eyebrow that she was nominated for best actress. and even then, I don't agree to it because, just as the story was unoriginal, Satine was no Natalie Portman's character in Black Swan herself.
Richard Roxburgh/The Duke: Now I'm going to be honest. What I'm saying is based on what is explained in the Nostalgia Critic review, but let's face it: he pointed out something that we should tell people who haven't seen this film about. The Duke is a messed up character. I don't want to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it and don't want to know just yet, but know at the least that The Duke will creep you out on a couple of scenes.

Music: Well even though most of the music is just mixes of songs that we already know. But most of them, are really fun. "The Can-Can song", "The Pitch", "Hindi Sad Diamonds", not to mention how so many of us especially love "El Tango de Roxanne". But at the same time we get really weird songs like "Like a Virgin". But what really helps when it comes to liking the romance in this movie, is the love song "Come What May". While the title is based a little bit from Shakespeare, the song itself is original. So you partly like it just because we at least have ONE song that they came up with on their own, but after that, you may find out that the song itself is actually really good. As for the score, I thought it was nice.

Editing: Now the editing itself has mixed results. Generally it's not good because it's probably too fast. a lot of the shots last less than 5-10 seconds, sometimes it's not even a split second. Which I'm generally okay with because most of it is the case when it comes to scenes like the first time we're in the Moulin Rogue because it helped make what was happening fun to watch in a way. And while most of the later shots are slower but not by much, I thought it worked as long as the cuts weren't stupid fast which they mostly weren't during the rest of the film. But my issue was mostly how they decided to hint what happens later in the film at later moments by showing a piece of footage at a random time. For example, *WARNING SPOILERS* when he get the first close-up of Satine, there's a brief point where they cross-dissolve between that shot and a shot for when she is dying during the end of the film. Then later, while they do "Come What May" There's a moment where they show two seconds of the shot where that woman revels Christian and Satine's affair to the Duke and this happens...about a minute before they actually show her hinting it. *END OF SPOILERS* They were just pointless choices of editing that didn't really work to me.

And that's my review of Moulin Rouge. While the story is cheesy, some of the characters are strange, hardly any of the songs were anything more than mixing other people's songs and we get a lot of moments that are just messed up, we do get an okay love movie and some awesome musical moments that can get you to enjoy the film anyway.     

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Help (2011)

Rating: 90%
Well the Oscars are not that far away, and now I have finally seen The Help. I was just lucky enough that my dad got it from Redbox last week. So let's take a look at another Best Picture nomination.

Plot: Aibileen Clark is a middle-aged maid who has spent her whole life raising white children for their parents while her only son died years ago. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is a young white woman who has recently graduated from college and has gotten a job as a columnist at a local newspaper. She has also recently found out that her maid, Constantine, has mysteriously quit her job to her family without even writing to Skeeter. Skeeter notices how the maids have been given a terrible attitude from their employees to the point of one of her friends, Holly Holbrook forming a bill that gives the black maids separate bathrooms because "they carry different diseases". So Skeeter asks Aibileen and eventually an outspoken maid named Minny Jackson to secretly answer questions about their lives and what they are going through with how they are being treated.

Now even though we've seen plenty of movies like this already over this particular concept about the racism that was happening in the most foul ways in the past, that doesn't make this movie any less good. It gave us a particular world that we most likely haven't looked at before film wise when it comes to that concept that has given us characters to love or really hate with all your heart, some crazy moments, some suspenseful moments, and some very powerful and at some points super, super sad moments all from an excellent cast.

Emma Stone/Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan: Well it's probably not a secret anymore that I've become a fan of Emma Stone when it comes to a lot of the work I've seen her do nowadays. And this film was no exception. I mean good grief, all she had to do was just be there and have the main white character with the much more caring heart and not-focused-on-getting-married-ASAP attitude and already I liked her. But even then she did an excellent job in both the good and the bad moments that happen to the character.
Viola Davis/Aibileen Clark: I really liked her character. She gave a lot of love and caring to the white kids she raised along with the one she was currently raising. She showed a lovable character all around.
Octavia Spencer/Minny Jackson: Yeah she was a fun character. You knew she wasn't much of a woman to mess with even before *WARING SPOILER* you find out what she did.
Bryce Dallas Howard/Holly Holbrook: FINALLY SHE'S A MAIN CHARACTER AGAIN!!!! I know a lot of you have never read a lot of my earlier reviews, but most of them pointed out how - while I'm not a big fan of the actress and I don't see everything she's in - She seemed to only be in a lot of half major half minor roles. I mean she was Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man 3 (which neither her nore the character at a right to be in.) She was Kate Connor in Terminator Salvation and she was Victoria in Twilight Saga: Eclipse. in all three of those films, they were kinda major yet really minor roles. So to me it's nice to see her in something recent that not around that category. But anyway, yes she did a good job too with being someone to hate and make fun of.

Music: I liked the music. I thought it worked very well with the time period.

Editing: I enjoyed the editing. I loved...yet really HATED what they did with the editing in the end because *WARNING SPOILER* when Aibileen gets fired, she has to walk out of the house while the child she was raising who called her, her "real mom" earlier in the film was crying her heart out that she's leaving and it's all back and forth, Aibileen walking away and the girl watching her going. I hated that because as the girl is looking out the window, she starts out just crying but at the last shot she kind of looks like shes like "okay I'm done" as if she's probably about to move on already from Aibileen like she already pointed out to a lot of the white kids she raised before. That works very well to prove the point about that time so well and yet i hate it with all my heart cause it makes me get all " DOES THE KID MOVE ON!?!?! AM I ACTUALLY WRONG!?!?! WHAT THE FRICK HAPPENS!?!?!?!"

And that's my review of The Help if a fun yet powerful film about the hardship from that time period that works so well that I find The Help to be one of the stronger movies of the Best Picture category of this year.      

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Rating: 50%
Now the day when they announced the nominations for the Oscars, I already planned to see The Artist to get that movie out of the way in terms of having one less best picture nominee to see before the Oscars. But like everyone else, I was surprised and a little enraged that while Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Ides of March weren't nominated, this film was. So I decided to watch this as well as The Artist that day and while that was good in terms of getting closer to have seen almost all of the nominees, it doesn't change the fact that this film has no right in heck to be there.

Plot: Oskar Shell is the son of Thomas and Linda Shell who possibly has Asperger's Syndrome. Thomas and Oskar play as scavenger hunt that has to do with trying to find this mysterious place in New York. But then Thomas died during the attacks of 9/11 were he left 6 messages on the answering machine before the towers fell which Oskar hides from his mother. A year later, Oskar finds a vase in Thomas' closet and inside, he finds an envelope with a key inside. The envelope only has one word; "Black" so he goes on an expedition throughout New York for every person whose last name is Black and tries to find out how they are connected to his father.

In a way you can appreciate what this movie has to offer, but at the same time you can't. One one hand, it sounds like a very interesting story, with some characters to appreciate. But at the same time it's confusing, not very satisfying, and it altogether seems like the movie is only nominated just because it involves 9/11 and it has Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Plus, one point a friend of mine told me that he heard that this movie was roughly just Hugo only it's post-9/11 for some family, and I have to agree with that. The story is still roughly interesting, but the fact that it's nominated for roughly the same plot as one if its fellow nominees...not a good thing. Anyway, it's confusing because for some people, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because the whole investigation about the name Black turns out to be a totally different story line than what the story that movie started before Thomas dies at 9/11. And * WARNING SPOILER * even though they do get back to the first story line at the end, in one way it was good for the character considering his personality Asperger's or no, but at the same time it is really an empty happy ending for the audience. Actually, both stories are really empty because we never fine out what the key was for *END OF SPOILER*

Thomas Horn/Oskar Schell: Like the film itself, I have mixed feeling for how Horn did with this character. Personally, I do take an interest in performances that involve a character that is Autistic, has a form of Autism or is believed to be either one. And I saw a whole lot of proof that I believe the character does have Asperger's. However, they went so far as to put in how annoying Autistics can be mostly through just being plain stubborn. I'm not saying that to insult anyone, I'm saying that out of fact and experience. Sometimes going that far can be a good thing in cases like Abed in Community, but this particular boy with Asperger's has been found to have gone to far as to be hated by a lot of the audience. I'm mostly saying that while I can put up with it due to my experience, in general people may not be patient for a particular case like Oskar. But all around, I thought the acting was very well done.
Sandra Bullock/Linda Schell: She did an excellent job...then again she is Sandra Bullock.

Music: Music was nice. I think it worked for what was happening in the film.

Editing: Editing was good. I did like how there would be times where they would go back to focusing what happened in 9/11.

And that's my review for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's an okay film with a few nice ideas, but it splits into two different stories that don't really satisfy you. All around, it really has no right to be nominated for Best Picture.