June 2012 - Page 2 of 5 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
23Jun/120

Brave (2012)

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Without delving too deeply into the Freshman's first creative writing assignment on how difficult it is to write about something then turning that into something to write about; writing about Brave is hard.  At the very least, the results of Brave are difficult to write about because if there's one thing I never expected a Pixar film to be it's totally bland.

There were quite a few people with tear streaks on their face right when the movie closed and the credits blared up.  I was not among them, but at the same time I still had to fight the urge to cry during those climactic moments.  Crying when I’m genuinely affected by a film is a wonderful experience, but during Brave I was aware that this moment was designed entirely to make me feel sad.  I knew exactly what was coming next, but because Pixar has gotten so used to pumping out these saccharine moments I felt that the previous seventy five minutes  had been nothing but a series of barely-related plot devices to get the audience to this moment.

I have not grown cynical, just able to take part of the shared experience of one moment and relate it to the whole.  This is yet another time the geniuses at Pixar have delivered on the same promise as before ("You'll weep tears of joy!"), but to a very diminishing return.  There are adult themes present, and there is no doubt very small children with little experience of film will find the movie engrossing, but I’m getting tired of the emotional ploy they throw into the last act, and here it is as naked and brazen as ever.

Brave is a pretty standard fable telling how brash Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) learns to find her adult way by clashing with her well-meaning mother.  Plenty of other kids films have dealt with this exact dilemma (even Pixar’s, Finding Nemo being chief among them) so I won’t knock the film for sticking with a winning formula.  But I will knock it for doing absolutely nothing of consequence with the theme.

22Jun/123

Akira Kurosawa: One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

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The earlier Akira Kurosawa films showed promise to varying degrees.  Some were bad but there were enough factors during their creation we can’t entirely blame the man for the product he finally released.  Last week, it seemed that we were finally there, watching a story unfold with the full weight of what had happened during World War II to Japan and its citizens both young and old.  We watched Kurosawa become fully comfortable behind the camera and make a truly great movie.

This week he finally made something I love.  I am in complete and total adoration of One Wonderful Sunday.  It seems to be the antithesis of The Most Beautiful, portraying absolutely beautiful idealism in the face of such overwhelming hardship that it doesn’t seem likely to survive.  But it doesn’t beat you over the head with harsh reality.  There are enough subtle hints in the background to what’s going on that this film could take place at nearly any time.

It’s for those people who came home after any blow to a society that seems doomed to forget them or to place them up as hopefully forgotten relics of an earlier age.  One shot posits this greatly as Yuzo (Isao Numasaki) manages to find himself at a higher class social banquet.  The people outright ignore him or treat his presence with disgust, and the only time he earns a direct look is when he is framed in the reflection of a mirror framed like a painting.  He will serve as a reminder of what they are ignoring in artistic concept only, not as something that gets to intrude on their dome of high culture.

That biting cynicism in the way Yuzo and his fiancé Masako (Chieko Nakakita) are treated provides a powerful undercurrent to One Wonderful Sunday.  On the one hand you have the reality of their class and financial situation, one inexorably tied with the other, as they are rejected time and time again by people who supposedly know better.  This is played in direct contrast to their love as the two of them, poor as they are and separated by circumstance, plan to make the best of their only Sunday together that they will have in some time.

Without that bite every so often the saccharine bits might seem a bit too much to stomach.  But each moment is either tethered to the ground by the reality of postwar Japan, just filled with people unwilling to give in.  Another early scene with Yuzo shows this as he enjoys a game of baseball with a bunch of kids amongst the debris and wreckage of a Japanese town.  These people have barely had time to pick themselves up but still want to accommodate some kids with their dreams.  Then everything comes to a stop when an emaciated cow, carrying barrels of some kind of unlabeled substance, brings the game and accompanying soundtrack to a complete halt.

21Jun/122

Project X (2012)

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Project X made me feel dirty.  I haven’t felt this bad about a film since I watched a pregnant woman get stalked from the shadows by a sweaty bug-eyed film buff and forced to give birth out of fear.  Yes, the fanciful discretion's of high school youth are about on par with the violent murder of an innocent mother-to-be.  It stems partly from the fact that Project X regards women on what is essentially the same level, and also because hand-held cameras sometimes catch all the wrong images.

Here’s a litmus test to see how much I was able to grasp from the content versus the presentation.  For the content:  high schooler throws party.  Now for the presentation: a floating voyeuristic camera catches not moments of exploration between adolescents but the creepy post-teen fantasy of someone still clearly holding a grudge against the folks who got some in high school.

This film is like the guy with the lettered jacket and bad mustache who strays a little too close to the school football field on Friday night.  He’s simultaneously pathetic and arouses our defensive instincts, something that Project X managed to do without flinching.  That the film is able to elicit a cameo from said pedophilic creeper without directly commenting on exactly how much statutory rape he was able to cram into one night is a sure sign of a wrong head on this film’s shoulders.

20Jun/120

Seeking Justice (2012)

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I’m not a fan of making lists, especially when it comes to writing a review.  Those of you kind enough to stick with this site day after day know that I try and put some kind of analysis into these reviews.  But sometimes I watch a movie that is so wrongheaded and simplistic the simplest and most honest response would be a review consisting of entirely two lines.

Query:  What’s wrong with Seeking Justice?

16Jun/124

That’s My Boy (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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First, let's get two important things about that's the world that That's My Boy is coming from out of the way:

1) Incest is horrifying.

2) Pedophilia is awesome.

Mind you, not just any sort of pedophilia, just the older woman seducing a young boy sort of thing-- I assume the movie about the 10-year-old girl having crazy sex with a male schoolteacher and becoming a national hero because of it is still sitting on a drawing board somewhere. The film's use of this as a narrative device undoubtedly reveals that, yes, we're in for another machismo screed from Adam Sandler, and more to the point that we're in R rated territory for this go around.

The plot is this: A young schoolboy named Donny is seduced by his teacher, Ms. McGarricle (Eva Amurri Martino). They begin a torrid affair which ends when they're revealed mid copulation to an auditorium filled with his entire school. McGarricale runs off in a panic, but Donny finds himself an instant star, and is Photoshopped onto dozens of magazine covers between dozens of Coreys.