Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Johnny Tremain - Through the eyes of 5th grade...

Hello blogosphere!
I realize that I've been on a hiatus for a while, but I am back... well sort of. I am allowing my little movie blog be a tool for my sassy fifth graders to publish a movie critique of their own! We recently watched Johnny Tremain, a mild version of the beginnings of the Revolutionary war told through the journey of a young patriot. This film, made by Disney in 1957, was based on a Newbery Award winning novel by Esther Forbes. All three of the classes watched the film and collaborated to create their class critiques. So be prepared to hear the thoughts and ideas of my fifth grade classes.

Black Team

Overall, this fifth grade class thought this movie was lacking in special effects, death scenes were not realistic, and humor was too corny.

In this film the special effects were lacking because the puff of smoke from the guns were over sized. Johnny Tremain’s hand injury looked unrealistic in the movie.
The death scenes seemed fake because the actors were acting overly dramatic. Also, the actors were shot precisely in the same fatal place every single time.
In some movies a little corny humor is alright, but in this film it was overdone. The film was also a bit predictable.
This movie is a great action filled history lesson. We are learning about our country’s history while watching an entertaining movie!

Gray Team

This film took place in early America during the Revolutionary war. Our class thought this film was hilarious because of the corny death scenes. Also we found it interesting because it showed historical events accurately.

Our class found the backdrops cheesy and lacking in depth. The death scenes were not realistic because one shot took down multiple people. Also the scenes were not gory enough for a modern audience.
Overall, the movie was interesting, entertaining, and informational. We rated this movie with four stars because of its historical accuracy.

Red Team

The movie Johnny Tremain was a historical movie. The things that our class liked in this movie were the soundtrack and the epic storyline. Our dislikes include costumes, accents, and death scene acting.

The soundtrack was relaxing and enjoyable. Our class loved the Boston Tea Party scene because the patriots threw the tea overboard in protest of taxes. The action and warfare were awesome because the soldiers were shooting and hiding to attack the British.
Our class despised the costumes because they looked uncomfortable and were unattractive. Also the accents of the actors were awkward and hard to understand. There were miscellaneous death scenes that were cheesy because the actors just fell over when they were shot.
This film was very informational and fantastic!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How Do You Know – We’re all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.

This quote is extremely fitting for this movie. It was just one small adjustment away from being a good movie… better writing. There are a few aspects of the movie that just added up to a mediocre romantic comedy. First, the main characters were un-relatable and cliché. Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is an Olympic athlete that is full of overused, encouraging one-line sayings who is running from her problems. She’s running to Matty (Owen Wilson) the vapid, sexist major league baseball player that does and says everything to reiterate that characteristics of the typical bad boyfriend. Also, in the mix of characters there is George (Paul Rudd), the naïve, idealistic businessman that seems to be rambling his way through the entire film. And then to top it all off, there is Charles (Jack Nicholson), the sly, smiling, bad father that does not really fit into the film.
That leads me to the movie’s second problem, the storylines. The two major plots seem to be haphazardly thrown together, the only commonality is the two characters were both facing huge, life-altering problems. This could have been a strong common thread to weave into the film, however, neither problem was developed. Witherspoon’s character ignored and repressed her issues, while Rudd’s character literally ran from him problem while feeling every emotion along the way. As a viewer, I was irritated and confused with the lack of development of the plot.
While there were a few funny, laugh out loud moments in the film, it lacked continuous humor that added to the story. All of the actors were adequate in their portrayals of their characters, it was just the characters and plot that lacked substance. However, a deserved shout out goes to Kathryn Hahn who played Annie, George’s secretary. She stole every scene with her bubbly and eccentric demeanor as she helped and cared for her innocent boss.
Overall, this movie was a disappointment. I would not even recommend it as a renter, more of a watch it if it’s on television in a few years. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Social Network – Now we’re going to live on the Internet!

If a person looked at the Internet history on my computer the most visited website, by far, would be Facebook! I LOVE Facebook! Therefore, it was a definite that I would go see this movie. I was intrigued by the story of how a college undergrad created an internationally known website. David Fincher (director) created a feel to the film that embodied the tone of pure, fresh creativity. The timeline of the movie is of the “flash-back” nature, going from litigations to dorm rooms. Re-telling the instances that lead to the formation of the world’s largest and most extensive social network along with the personal losses of it’s creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The best adjective that comes to mind to describe this film is pure. Which is representative to the origins of “TheFacebook”, it was a pure and unadulterated site that’s sole purpose was to connect with friends and peers in the college life-sphere. This film depicts the journey that a forward thinking entrepreneur takes to create and keep an advertisement-free, exclusive social network for only college students. The anticipation and uncertainty of the consequences from the actions taken by the main character, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), kept me on the edge of my seat. The audience was never sure what he would say or who he would insult or turn on during the entire course of the movie! The dynamic between Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and co-founder of the site Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) was full of best-friend angst and jealousy, thickening the emotional uneasiness one feels for Zuckerberg.
Jesse Eisenberg was phenomenal as Mark Zuckerberg. He was just enough geek-sheik and had just enough jerk-ish charm to portray Zuckerberg as the savvy, up-and-coming Internet mogul. The audience related to and rooted for the main character in spite of his somewhat shady decisions due to his crude charm. Eduardo Saverin, portrayed by Garfield, was the victim that was wronged by those closest to him. Garfield sketched a portrait of Eduardo as a helpless pawn in Zuckerberg’s game against the elite groups Zuckerberg was desperately trying to impress. He brought a depth and helplessness to the scorned best friend. Justin Timberlake’s performance was impressive; he brought an effortless charisma to the role as Sean Parker. He was smooth-talking, egocentric character that wanted to grab onto the shirttails of Zuckerberg as he was moving up. Overall, the cast created a vibe and flow that allowed the film to masterfully unfold.
Overall, this film fulfilled its purpose. It told the tumultuous story of the beginning of not just a social network, but THE social network that is redefining the society and socialization of not just our generation, but the world. There are definitely small parts of the film that are entertaining for Facebook users, such as the story of the creation of the relationship status. As well as an overlying theme to what Facebook was and how it has become a forum for redemptions and reconciliations in the world today. So go forth and enjoy, then post your thoughts about the film on your fb page… just like I’m about to do right now! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - Curiouser and curiouser…

This was my first 3-D experience and I couldn’t have chosen a better film. Needless to say Tim Burton (director) set the bar high, Alice in Wonderland was a joy to experience. The film is not a duplicate of the book or animated feature. The story follows nineteen-year-old Alice as she flees from the expectations of her friends and family, only to find herself in Wonderland where she has new expectations to live up to and different things pulling her in all directions, literally and figuratively. Burton did not disappoint, his style and aesthetic definitely was enhanced by the 3-D technology. The scenes were extremely fresh; the colors in the wardrobe, make-up and setting were rich and bright creating the perfect template for experiencing the wonderment of Wonderland. 
The movie did not follow any stories previously written, this was an excellent way to use the already developed characters to build a new story for all to enjoy. However for the viewers that have read Lewis Carroll’s works, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, can be assured that the essence of the stories are still intact. The film incorporated aspects of the books into the storyline, such as the Jabberwocky, which gave it a genuine feel. Also, the characters from the novels were authentically portrayed. The film did a wonderful job of developing the characters, especially Alice, in a way that seemed seamless and effortless, as well as true to the character created by Carroll. The essence of the story, as well as the masterful directing, created the perfect base for a marvelously artful film. But, it would not have been complete without the great performances by the entire cast. Every player portrayed their character with such mastery I could write pages on each performance, however, I will limit myself to the exceptional ones.
Between Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen), I’m not sure which one stole more scenes. Both were so engrossed in their characters they were almost unrecognizable. Depp was phenomenal, from his hair and make-up (which changed colors!) to his swinging pendulum of emotional outburst he WAS the Mad Hatter. He created a character that was kooky and endearing all at once, you will want to keep from blinking, so not to miss a moment of him. Bonham Carter brings the same type of an all-encompassing performance in her portrayal of the Red Queen. The viewers are torn between pity and disgust as she tyrannically rules Wonderland in her efforts to find adoration from her subjects. Anne Hathaway played the other royal character, the White Queen, she moved and spoke with such an extreme amount of grace and sweetness it was completely whimsical, almost overwhelmingly so. As for Alice, newcomer Mia Wasikowska effortlessly portrayed her as the curious, questioning, presumptuous girl that was created by Carroll. Her frankness and stubbornness was ideal, as well as cleverly placed and disturbed throughout the film in order to fully develop her character. Also, all of the voice actors were perfectly cast and articulated beautifully.
Overall, this was a great film, plain and simple. Tim Burton took a classic story of silliness and nonsense and transformed it into a film that is not only pleasing to the eye and entertaining, but kept the heart of Lewis Carroll’s story beating. The idea that thinking differently and seeing things for not what they are, but what they could be, can be extremely rewarding.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ode to the Outstanding Tom Hanks!

So thanks to AMC and their “Can’t get enough Gump week”, I’ve watched Forrest Gump at least six times this week, in it’s entirety once and then in parts the other five times! Now, A League of Their Own is on Bravo and I find myself unable to go to sleep…
On to the point of this post, Tom Hanks is one of the best actors of our time. As I’m watching him in A League of Their Own, I realize that I don’t see Tom Hanks, I see Jimmy Dugan. He is one of those few actors that doesn’t just portray a character, he creates a persona that takes of life of it’s own. After pondering his filmography I begin to gain a new appreciation of him. I’ve always refered to him as the “all-American” actor, but in reality he’s extremely versatile. Able to not just portray Carl Hanratty (Catch Me If You Can) but become him and generate a completely believable character with personality, quirks, likes, dislikes, etc. On the other hand, becoming the strict, somber prison guard Paul Edgecomb (The Green Mile), he embodied the character, heart and soul. I could go on and on describing all the different personalities he’s created and portrayed.
So here’s to you Mr. Hanks, I love to watch you become these people! Thanks for creating them and portraying them so well I don’t even see “you” in them.
p.s. So who’s your favorite Hanks persona? Here's his filmography.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shutter Island - You’ll never leave this island.

I love to watch all types of movies, but I especially love the movies that require a second watch in order to be truly appreciated. Shutter Island is definitely one of those films! It’s set in 1954 and follows two US Federal Marshals as they investigate the disappearance of a patient in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. Martin Scorsese (director) is a master behind the camera. He created elegantly intense scenes using simple, but unique camera angles, coupled with an astounding musical score that kept the viewers on the edge of their seats from the first frame.
There was an air of mystery woven through out the film, the audience kept questioning what was truth, what was a ploy, who do you believe? Teddy Daniels (Leonard DiCaprio), the protagonist, seemed to be the only person that the viewers could ultimately trust, because the story was being told from his perspective. He took the audience on a quest through the vast grounds of the island, from trekking in the wilderness to lurking through the halls of the fortified ward C.  The scenery and extensive details to the set strengthen the film, especially in coordination with the perfectly articulated script. Another aspect of the film that added mystery were Daniels’ memory flashes. They were artfully placed and assisted in the unfolding of the twisted plot.
As for the acting performances, DiCaprio was amazing! His portrayal of the tormented US Marshal Daniels was phenomenal. He developed a bond of trust through acts of genuine sincerity for justice and morality. This was a crucial part of film. The other notable performance was Sir Ben Kingsley as Dr. Crawley. He created a man with such smooth, suave charisma he was almost untrustworthy, however he had enough compassion and care for his patients the viewers want to believe and trust him.
This film was definitely created for a viewer that appreciates the see-saw of emotions as well as the opportunity to generated a load of conspiracy theories on how the plot will pan out. It will most assuredly keep you guessing and questioning while on the edge of your seat holding your breath! It is Scorsese, so there is a bit of vulgar language and some graphic scenes. Overall, it is a MUST watch film!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine’s Day - All we really want is loves confusing joy.

I was very skeptical of this film, all the stars, all the hype, I just didn’t have much faith in good ol’ Garry Marshall (director). However, I was pleasantly surprised, Marshall definitely delivered. I didn’t love absolutely every storyline, but the film had a very nice flow and spoke truth about our desperation and desire for love in all walks of life. I also appreciated the connectivity of all the characters, how every storyline was connected in some way.
The film followed the life of couples and singles during the day devoted to love. The stories consisted of young love, new love, old love, imagined love, and all the kinds of love in between. I’m just going to touch on a few of the storylines, as to not spoil all the little twist and turns the movie takes.
  • The story of Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) was one of how love can withstand not only the test of time, but the test of forgiveness. True love is loving someone in spite of themselves, loving them completely no matter their previous mistakes. The scene at the Hollywood graveyard was perfection.
  • On the flip side, the story of Jason (Topher Grace) and Liz (Anne Hathaway) was the predictable cheese-fest. Hathaway was charming and charismatic in her portrayal of Liz, but the idea of acceptance to moral differences is not love to me, it’s the recipe for disaster. I’m not saying you should judge people for their choices, however, you have a right to have standards and morals in your choice of romantic interest.
  • The young love story with Grace (Emma Roberts) and Alex (Carter Jenkins) was also an interesting one. I was not a fan of the openness of sexual activity of high school students, but thankful that this film encouraged waiting for emotional readiness. Emma Roberts brought a unique freshness to her scenes as Grace, she had a quiet force that made you remember your “first love” and all the emotions that went with it.
  • Finally, who hasn’t been in the same shoes as Kara (Jessica Biel)? The single person on the one day that everyone else seems to be coupled. The desire to fall apart and turn to sugar induced happiness in the form of circus peanuts and chocolates. Biel was amazing as the “hot mess” Kara, showing the pure, irrational emotions that Feb. 14th can involuntarily bring up in a single woman. I loved her!

Another surprise was Ashton Kutcher! He stole the show as Reed Bennett the overly romantic florist. He was the sweet, sincere guy that you love like a brother and just want the best for in all situations, especially love. Reed’s interactions with Edison (Bryce Robinson), the young boy who must get flowers to his Valentine, was precious, building more on his genuine character. George Lopez was a great comic relief as Alfonzo. He was full of funny one-liners, as well as tidbits of romantic wisdom. Other shout outs to the start-studded cast include Julia Roberts with her effortless beauty as an Army captain on leave to see her Valentine and Jennifer Gardner as a sweet school teacher that finds love right under her nose. Also, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift were hilarious together. Swift portrayed Felicia the typical high school sweetheart that was uncontrollably in love, she was perfection.
Garry Marshall did an excellent job weaving all of the stories together and developing a film that connected all these relationships to one another, as well as bringing out the true meaning of love. I also appreciated the Marshall cameo! If you are in the mood for a funny film that speaks to true human interaction and emotions, this is the film for you!