Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seen in November 

Icelandic glacier as alien world. Image via Screenrant

In November I saw two of the more memorable movies of this year, Interstellar and Birdman. I doubt I could convince you to see Interstellar. It's a long beautiful film but with a kind of cosmically whacky third act. Birdman however, felt like a tour de force. For me it was great and worth seeing on a big screen, but for some it may have been too “showy” to enjoy. You're grown-ups. You can decide for yourself.

Tim's Vermeer
A polymath inventor of video and camera equipment becomes obsessed with the idea that Vermeer used a combination of techniques involving mirrors and lenses to create his masterpieces. He sets out to recreate one of his favourite Vermeer paintings despite never having painted to prove his theory. A great and simple documentary.

Enough Said
One of James Gandolfini's last roles. He stars with Julia Louis Dreyfus as a couple of divorcees starting out a new relationship. The twist is Dreyfus's character unknowingly starts a friendship with Gandolfini's ex and when she realizes it, that friendship begins to influence her new relationship. At the same time both Gandolfini and Dreyfus are dealing with their teen-age daughters moving away to college. The film is funny and sad and surprisingly realistic in how people probe and explore new relationships and how they lean on old ones.

The Zero Theorem
Another chaotic and terrible mess of a film from Terry Gilliam. The story is about an employee of some nameless futuristic number crunching company assigned an impossible theorem to crack. Somehow this movie is about something. The only thing it seems to really be about is Gilliam's mental instability and complete lack of how to tell a story.

I suppose “wildly ambitious” are the words that best describe this film. The setting is a future Earth that is exhausted of crops and energy and Nasa's discovery of a worm hole. On the other side of this anomaly are three planets that are possibly inhabitable. A group of scientists travel to make the final bet for humanity's survival by taking the two year journey to the new world. Ok. First the thing is gorgeous. I saw it projected in 70 mm which makes all other technology (3D or digital) look like garbage. Second, it is a fascinating depiction of black holes, work holes and relative time and the effects of gravity on a planet. Third, there are enough plot holes to fly a spaceship through and too many to describe here (how do you transport 7 billion people to a new planet? How exactly would a cooler of fertilized human eggs be born and raised to colonize a new planet? Wouldn't a planet able to sustain life already have some rather hostile life on it? I don't mean space tigers or anything but space pox maybe?) Most people seem put out by the third act but there were plenty of other things to put this movie in the “looks nice, shame about the story” category.

This is one of my favourite movies of the year. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson, an aging actor who walked away from a Super-hero franchise years ago and is now seeking professional redemption by staging a play he adapted, directed and stars in. He is also plagued by the voice of his previously stated screen hero, Birdman and seems to be suffering from some of hero-sized delusions as well. The whirl of the play within a movie is played out with almost nested virtuosity. Each actor has their moment to shine as does the cinematography and direction. The film is told mostly without cuts. There are several transitions but no cuts in the traditional sense. Additionally the camera disappears impossibly over the shoulder of actors facing mirrors or cleverly passes through walls. All of this technical bravado mixed with a heavy dose of magic realism gives the movie a lucidity of a waking dream.

I Know That Voice
Simple documentary of a bunch of talking heads. But what A bunch! All of your favourite voice actors… revealed! Such a strangely genuine (how genuine can an actor be?) and funny group of people.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home