Posts Tagged ‘Finding Neverland’

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Swimming Pool

May 18, 2010

Swimming Pool

This art house film is fairly well done that takes on one of my favorite subjects, writing, much like Finding Neverland.  The acting in this film is quite well done and it just flows together quite nicely blending two stories into one.  It combines a soul finding adventure and mystery.

The story starts off with Sarah Morton, a British mystery writer, trying to get work done on her next book.  She is stuck and hasn’t been able to write for a long time, so her publisher kindly offers her the use of his vacation home, in the south of France.  She goes there, and words start to flow onto the paper, and then a disruption comes into her life as Julie comes into her life as her publisher’s daughter.  She is a promiscuous and is working her way through the town and other country men.  She generally disturbs and frustrates Sarah Morton.  Sarah eventually ends up using Julia as a muse for her story, adding in her sorted affairs.  Things go very wrong when one of Julia’s trysts ends up dead.  Then there is a twist at the end that leaves you thinking.

Charlotte Rampling stars in this film as Sarah Morton.  She does a good job creating the character of a seemingly boring author writing about something that she really doesn’t know having lived a safe life and showing just a little interest in the sorted affairs that are going on around her.  Ludivine Sagnier takes on the role of Julia, and while primarily in the film for her beauty, she does a decent job in terms of acting.  There is some semblance of being care free and rebellious that she blends together very well as she bucks the ideals that Sarah Morton expects.  Rest of the acting is pretty minimal after Rampling and Sagnier, there are various men that show and disappear in the film with Sagnier’s character, and the publisher only shows up at the beginning and end of the film.  They all do a solid job, but it is much more about Sagnier’s character pressing and bothering Rampling’s.

Francois Ozon screen wrote this film as well as directed it.  He takes on a pretty challenging story as creating a story about another storytelling medium.  Visually he does a solid job portraying the beauty of south France and creating a beautiful story at the same time.  He likely won’t ever be a household name in the United States with only a limited number of films, and all of them in France, but he definitely has a talent for story telling and has written most of what he has directed.

This isn’t a film for everyone, it is fairly risque with all the sorted affairs, and it moves along fairly slowly developing characters more then it works on moving the plot along.  However, the characters are interesting and it is an entertaining film to watch.  This is a film that should be better known as well because the story is as good as is, and it is fairly well critically recognized.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+

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Stranger Than Fiction

March 20, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction

This comedy, directed by the same man who made Finding Neverland, is the funniest film that Will Ferrell has ever been in, and the best film that he’s ever been in.  He goes away from his traditional juvenile humor to a much more sophisticated well created story.

Will Ferrell plays an IRS editor who starts hearing a voice in his head, narrating his very boring, very routine life.  The voice goes into specific details, how many strokes he uses to brush his teeth or how many steps he takes to get to his bus.  And it isn’t limited to the mundane aspects of his life, but it goes into his love life, his job, everything.  It does him good, as well, taking him out of his normal mundane, repetitive life into something much more interesting and exciting.

This is a much smarter comedy then Ferrell is normally involved with, and he pulls it off extremely well.  It is disappointing to see him back in the routine of stupid comedies.  But he has shown that he does have actual acting chops and actual talent.  Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman round out the big names in the cast and all do a good job.  Ferrell steals the show in terms of his performance, though.

Visually this film is almost as good as Finding Neverland.  Marc Foster does a very good job creating a world that isn’t as detailed and fanciful as the world of Finding Neverland, but is large enough and sterile enough for the world of an IRS Auditor.  Very little of the world has all the much detail and creativity, but when he needs to create it, such as for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character’s shop, there is a whole lot more depth and detailed interest created in the season.

This is a film combines drama and comedy very well.  It is much more serious then anything else that Will Ferrell has done.  This seriousness and a smart funny well written comedy take this film to a very entertaining level.

Entertainment Grade: A-

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A-

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Finding Neverland:

March 12, 2010

I’m going to start out with my favorite film:

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland

This film, I feels, combines what you want to see in a film.  It is a strong story, has good acting, and is visually beautiful to watch.

The story is that of J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.  It follows his process of creating the story and his inspiration for it.  He goes from down in the dumps, having had some success as a playwright, but he his most recent works have been panned.  He finds his muse, so to speak, in a family with three boys.  Their father has died, and they have had to grow up too quickly.

It works with the characters as well the difference between Peter, a young boy who is very mature of his age, and J.M. Barrie who is a grown man but still acts at times like an immature little boy.  Freddie Highmore gives a very good performance as Peter, showing that he is a very good young actor and should have a good career ahead of him.  Johnny Depp does a good job of playing the more immature adult figure with his normal set of quirks that fit perfectly for the character.  As one would imagine, they do learn from each other and much of the film focuses on this aspect.  They end up bonding and creating a relationship that is worth seeing.

Visually this film is done beautifully.  It transitions between reality and the mind of J.M. Barrie and the two boys.  The shots are colorfully created and aren’t just big grand shots that some films tend to stick to, but it combines the beautiful scenery with more intimate shots.  It also uses a wonderful fade to white at the end.  Normally films fade to black, but with the feeling of the last scene, this film is willing to buck what is the standard convention and offer something more.

The best part about this film is the message.  Some people get confused by the pseudo-romantic tryst that J.M. Barrie seems to be having with the mother of the boys.  The real idea of this film is the idea of creativity and the loss of creativity that people tend to have as they get older.  Everything in life becomes structured.  People don’t have that time, and at times the ability, to make that creative decision or action anymore.  It is something that is sad to see being lost as people age.  This film really puts the two characters, Peter and J.M. Barrie, not really saying that either is the ideal but placing them opposite to each other and saying that a fully mature person loses some ability to have fun but as compared to the place where J.M. Barrie is at, he isn’t capable of being mature and responsible.  The film would say that there needs to be some sort of balance between the two.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A+

Just a little on my grading technique.  I’ve found that a single grade for a film is really not enough.  A film can be terrible but be extremely entertaining.  Or a film can be extremely well done but very boring.  So there needs to be a separate grade for the two.  If you want to know how the various letter grades will break down:

  • A+ – A-: I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys any sort of film and probably worth buying.
  • B+ – B-: It was very entertaining and is worth checking out but I won’t say you should buy it, it will depend on your taste.
  • C+ – C-: If it is in a genre that you like, you’ll enjoy the film.  Most likely just worth a rental though.
  • D+ – D-: Not really worth watching, but it could be entertaining if you really love the genre, but that is a major maybe, I probably just saved you from wasting time.
  • F: Don’t watch, if you do, you likely will regret it and wish you had that time back in your life and most likely will feel dumber for having seen it.
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The Scando Movie Madness

March 11, 2010

Because of a buddy I’m now creating a new blog.  This one is going to be pretty simple.  I’m a movie buff, I love almost any movie ever put out there, and this is going to be me reviewing them.

A little bit about my taste in films.  It is all over the map, really.  I look over at my collection and I see new and old classics.  I see comedies, sci-fi, drama, and horror.  I even see a couple of chick flicks sitting over there.  I have musicals and romances as well.  I have watched a ton of different television shows as well (so they might get a nod in there as well).  I really can watch basically any genre and enjoy what is going on with it.

A little more about my taste, here is my top 10:

1. Finding Neverland

2. The Virgin Suicides

3. American Beauty

4. Primer

5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

6. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

7. Persona

8. Repulsion

9. Love Actually

10. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

That probably shows that I do have a really odd set of movie taste.  I’m going to get this rolling, likely later today.  I’ll go with both new and old films and hope that you enjoy them.