music-and-movies
Music and Film in Review
This site is a collection of writings mostly focused on music and film. I'll be uploading reviews on a regular basis now.

Letters From Iwo Jima

Wed Aug 01, 2007 10:37 pm
Comments: 0 Views: 405
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Cohesion : 10
Composition : 9
Contrast : 4
Dynamics : 7
Humor : 1
Intelligence : 7
Production : 10
Quality : 9

Cohesion : 10
"Letters From Iwo Jima" takes viewers through the Battle of of Iwo Jima while perfectly balancing between story, characters, and battle sequences. I was impressed by the way this film emphasized distinct cultural characteristics while using some of the most graphic special effects I have ever seen. Carnage palpably enforces core assumptions in "Letters From Iwo Jima" and by doing so the impact of the story is more significant.

Composition : 9
Perhaps it's because of the subtitles, but I thought this film was much more tight and convincing than "Flag of Our Fathers". Characters had a lot of pull, perhaps because of the cultural differences, but also because they each had a very interesting perspective on what was going on. These different intertwining perspectives combined with what appears to be authentic Japanese culture elevated the composition far above most films I have seen.

Contrast : 4
This is a dark war film. I wouldn't want to send you into it thinking anything to the contrary. However, the first half of "Letters From Iwo Jima" was devoted to trench digging and had a somewhat lighter look than the war torn second half. You won't be going into a film that is entirely composed in the caves, but there were only a few contrasting moments and they didn't feel well placed.

Dynamics : 7
The distinct cultural characteristics combined with the intertwining story lines provided for a fairly dynamic film. I think Clint Eastwood was trying to sum up how many of the Japanese felt about the war along side actuality and the senselessness of battle. It was well portrayed but had a University History teacher flavor to it that I sensed in "Flag of Our Fathers" as well.

Humor : 1
I can't think of any good jokes about the battle of Iwo Jima either.

Intelligence : 7
This film is well researched and constructed. It also makes a lot of sense when you place it alongside Eastwood's first tale of Iwo Jima "Flag of Our Fathers". However, there's an uncreative pseudo-intellectual quality behind Eastwood's stories that make me feel as though I'm reading a modern history book. I think you'll probably find that most historians really like this film, and I do too, but it's probably for different reasons. Despite any reservations I may have I think this is a very unique and modern breed of war film that puts Eastwood in his own class yet again.

Production : 10
You can actually see the bombs dropping and appendages turning into hamburger. Yuck!

Quality : 9
If I had a list of top 50 films of all time this film would probably be on it. I've got an urge to go see "Flag of Our Fathers" again just to re-evaluate my position on it. I like this film for a lot of the same reasons that I liked HG Wells' "Things to Come"; it's very telling of the way our world is currently looked at.

40 Year Old Virgin

Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:12 pm
Comments: 0 Views: 500
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Cohesion : 8
Composition : 7
Contrast : 5
Dynamics : 5
Humor : 8
Intelligence : 4
Production : 5
Quality : 8

Cohesion : 8
"40 Year Old Virgin" holds together very well. The story stays pretty simple and the humor is tastefully executed. The characters we're all excellently developed and everything was cut together so well that there isn't anything to not like about this movie.

Composition : 7
Some of this movie wasn't composed so much as planed. While I'm aware that there was a lot of improvisation nothing comes off as wacky and out of control as something Robin Williams might do. You'll find yourself wondering how much of the movie is scripted and how much is improvised but you won't be wondering because you're not convinced.

Contrast : 5
"40 Year Old Virgin" is a pretty standard Hollywood production. You won't notice how good the film quality is because you're probably pretty comfortable with modern film techniques. So there's nothing especially good or bad about how this film looks; it's comfortable.

Dynamics : 5
Comedies usually have pretty predictable plot lines, so the ups and downs in the story and look of this film aren't anything to gush about. In "40 Year Old Virgin" dynamics are hardly memorable, or even noticeable, but they're not badly done either. This film is tasteful even if predictable.

Humor : 8
There are some extremely funny moments in this film and it keeps a very light and fun feel throughout. The kind of humor used is commendable. It's not a film where everyone points and laughs at the virgin. It's exploiting a lot more than that through the story. I was pleasantly surprised by a distinct lack of slapstick and crude humor.

Intelligence : 4
The story here is pretty stupid, however, the humor is excellent. It's not the sort of film that exercises your mind unless you're really looking for something to think about. This works well for "40 Year Old Virgin" where the point of the film is more to have a good time than build up your brain.

Production : 5
Typically, comedies aren't given a big production budget so you can't really expect much. Everything looks great but you're not going to see any cool special effects or people flying across the screen.

Quality : 8
I really enjoyed "40 Year Old Virgin". It's a nice light movie for a summer night or evening in. The pace wasn't too slow and all the characters were likable.

Things to Come

Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:20 pm
Comments: 0 Views: 368
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Cohesion : 9
Composition : 10
Contrast : 5
Dynamics : 8
Humor : 1
Intelligence : 8
Production : 5
Quality : 10

Cohesion : 9
I discovered HG Wells' "Things to Come" on google video where I watched the entire movie. I've placed the link to the film at the end of this review.

It's easy to gawk at the fake looking special effects and acting and call this film a dud, however, I think it is a remarkable accomplishment for 1936 cinema which is overshadowed by the better known "War of the Worlds"; a better known production but not a better film. The look and feel of "Things to Come" is excellent even if dated.

Composition : 10
"Things to Come" is a masterful play on a theme of civilization written in the wake of World War I and made into a film just before World War II. In it Wells tells three short stories that take place at three distinct times between 1936 and 2036. Central to the film's motives are progress, society, and reason which are portrayed in accordance with a distinctively early 20th century prospective.

This is better science fiction than even "War of the Worlds", which is essentially a fantasy movie about aliens attacking earth - hardly any different than writing a story about angels descending from heaven in my opinion. The story is also immensely more interesting as a commentary than "War of the Worlds" can even hope to be in 1938. "Things to Come" is also much more in the vein of "The Time Machine" and has many similar ideas written into it.

The story and themes in "War of the Worlds" are almost completely out of touch by the time the film was released in 1953 (it's out of date by the famous radio broadcast in 1938) because Colonialism was already on the way out the door. In contrast "Things to Come" is in the theaters of the British Isles one year before violence breaks out in Asia and 3 years before it consumes Europe. While you're watching keep in mind that when the story was written Nazi power was beginning to take hold in Germany and it was made into a film only 8 years before the end of WWII.

Contrast : 5
It's not exactly fair to give a score for contrast. While I was watching this film on Google Video I couldn't stop thinking about how annoying it is that these old films deteriorate so much. I don't think it detracts from how good the movie is that much, it's just a shame that the sound and film quality isn't better.

Dynamics : 8
The stories in this film follow a family over the course of 100 years through the fall and reconstruction of civilization. They are highly dynamic and engaging stories with very interesting sets and and visual abstractions. To be honest, I really want to give this film a 10 for dynamics but that would be a little too inconsistent with other films I've been rating. Dynamics refer to visual and thematic variation. While the thematic variation is excellent for the time period for obvious reasons it can't possibly be compared to modern films. 70 years ago I would have given this film all tens (minus humor).

Humor : 1
There's no humor here. Wells is characteristically serious.

Intelligence : 8
There's a fair amount of rebelliousness going on in "Things to Come". Wells is looking at men and man kind critically and he isn't afraid to say so. It's not a protest against government so much as mobs and intellectual depravity; it paints reason as all that is good. I think Wells comes off as emotionally attached to the idea of reason more than he's actually willing to be reasonable, but that perspective only comes from the benefit of hind site.

You've got to give the film smart points just for the association with HG Wells, if he hadn't written the screen play I probably wouldn't have watched the film. So, some of the high intelligence score comes from hero worship that I'm having trouble squashing, but I also respect the the large perspective that the story takes. You can't tell me I'm influenced by hero worship too much since I've basically said that "War of the Worlds" was basically a giant puddle of stupid by 1938.

Production : 5
This is another unfair rating. At the time this film was produced it would have scored an 11 for production and now it's garbage. This score doesn't mean anything. It's a great movie that is extremely dated.

Quality : 10
I shouldn't have to explain why I gave this a 10 for quality if you read the whole review.


The entire movie can be viewed at :
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8876180018878952272&q=things+to+come&total=11155&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Pride and Prejudice

Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:20 pm
Comments: 0 Views: 435
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Cohesion : 9
Composition : 4
Contrast : 6
Dynamics : 6
Humor : 1
Intelligence : 3
Production : 9
Quality : 6

Cohesion : 9
Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is a film that is designed to look good with good taste. In these sort of films the way it looks is as or more integral to the films success than just about any other factor. Director Joe Wright Managed to almost perfectly execute a romantic Hollywood look and feel over this classic story.

Composition : 4
I enjoyed the PBS rendition of this story more. Most of the characters were not as enjoyable, and the connections between the family members were not nearly as strong. While Donald Southerland did an excellent job in his role, the role itself lacked a warmth and wit that I've associated with the character of Mr. Bennett through the PBS series. The writing for the characters needed to be more engaging for the characters and their relationships to become meaningful.

Contrast : 6
Classic Hollywood glamor meets Jan Austen romanticism is going to have a predictable look. "Pride and Prejudice" has that look. It's very crisp, clean and full of feel. While its good, it doesn't show much contrast.

Dynamics : 6
It's a pretty dynamic story. Guy meets girl, guy gets girl, guy looses girl, guy gets girl... over and over again from the girls perspective. I guess everything goes round and round, up and down, but it all becomes a little homogeneous after a while.

Humor : 1
There should be see humor in this film. It's a funny situation, but you won't ever laugh. This film takes itself seriously to its own detriment.

Intelligence : 3
Someone pointed out to me that this story is basically about little girls fantasizing about getting married; It's out of date and not much thought went into making it more relevant. What is a screen writer to do with a vapid story? IN the case of "Pride and Prejudice" they decided to leave it be and rest on laurels.

Production : 9
"Pride and Prejudice" reminds me of why I like to listen to classical guitar. Everything was meticulously and tastefully well put together from photography to cinematography. Ball room scenes are well orchestrated and the homes of the aristocrats are stunning.

Quality : 6
I like this movie. Giving it a 6 was a sort of gut instinct. I can't say it's actually a good movie, or that it's worth while, but I like it so it gets a 6.


Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix

Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:20 pm
Comments: 0 Views: 454
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Cohesion : 9
Composition : 4
Contrast : 8
Dynamics : 6
Humor : 4
Intelligence : 2
Production : 10
Quality : 4

Cohesion : 9
"Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix" is a summer blockbuster about wizards and thus delivers exactly what you'd expect in both story line and special effects. The CGI was applied appropriately and editing, for the most part, was excellent. Any contention with cohesion between script and product is completely the product of the screen play and not post production.

Composition : 4
I'm not a fan of Harry Potter. I don't particularly care for the characters or the story, but there are some aspects of this particular film that I do like. The antagonist Dolores Umbridge was a good device to stir things up at Hogwarts and really brought the politics of the adult wizarding world into the school. However, writing devices that I absolutely hate were repeatedly brought into this script. Anytime there is a scene where characters are thinking out loud in irrelevant truisms my eyes roll into the back of my head. Even as a child these moments in film (and at the end of every family sitcom) pull me away from the story and the characters. I'm pretty sure these moments are designed for people like Dolores Umbridge.

Contrast : 8
All the Harry Potter movies are visually stunning and contrast well. I think that is particularly true with "Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix" where Harry makes dark ghoulish friends and fights bright pink evil doers. This is part of the appeal of the whole Harry Potter series and something these films cannot do without.

Dynamics : 6
Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix" flows like a summer blockbuster should. It has got all the standard ups and downs both in cinematography and story line. While it was all very well done but it wasn't in any way special or memorable.

Humor : 4
I recall some attempts at humor, but I don't remember laughing at anything. So I guess there was humor, it just wasn't particularly good. Here a 4 means that humor may have existed at some point in this film but it's not a funny movie. Also, all these Harry Potter movies take themselves way too seriously.

Intelligence : 2
This film is manufactured for an industry that is supposed to be following a children's book very closely. There was some intelligence in execution, but I think it's both fair and safe to say that this is a stupid kids movie covered in chocolate so adults can swallow it too. Don't go to Harry Potter for intellectual stimulation.

Production : 10
The special effects were outstanding, and I'm still surprised that these kids can say anything on film without making me gag (if I delivered any of those lines everyone would walk out and demand their money back). Through the whole series the production has been excellent and they always improve the special effects while keeping the feel consistent.

Quality : 4
A lot of people are going to like this movie. Some people love the film series and are attached to the books. Others are going to be attached to some of the thematic ideas in this film. Others still will be attached to political analogies it provides. There's thousands of reasons to like this movie; it was designed to succeed and it is in no way boring. However, I think it is a very superficial, silly, and pointless creation designed to continue a long running and extremely profitable franchise.


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