Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm back, with - believe it or not - three pretty friggin great movies!

My sincere apologies to the very few people who bother to stop here on a semi-regular basis. If you do, you've surely noticed I've been gone, deterred first by a tornado that ripped out my power for a few days and then by a vacation that unfortunately included watching my beloved Orioles turn in a listless performance in falling 2-1 to the lowly Washington Nationals.

Being me, I of course also managed to go to the movies three times (twice on Saturday) and - shockingly, given the year so far - managed to see three really enjoyable flicks. Here are my quick thoughts on each, in order of just how much I liked them.

"Prince Caspian"

I realize it's an incredibly irrelevant activity to add my two cents about a flick that's already had a $56 million opening weekend, but I still wanted to mention that it's the best flick I've seen so far this year.

I had my doubts going into this one, though given my love of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" I'm really not sure why. Perhaps it's because that what little I knew of "Prince Caspian" was that it was a darker - and therefore bloodier - tale, and I really wasn't sure that director Andrew Adamson had the heart for it. In chapter one, the battles were almost completely blood- and consequence-free, not exactly the message you want to pass on to kids by my measure.

That's definitely not a problem with "Caspian." The rather epic battle that takes up the final 45 minutes or so just keeps coming at you in wave after wave and has a real fluidity to it that keeps the excitement at top notch throughout.

Which brings up the only real problem with "Caspian," which wasn't much of one at all to me: It's definitely not for the younguns, either in it's rather slow buildup or it's seriously violent finale. But I like movies like this when they're at their most quiet (my favorite portion of the "The Lord of the Rings" flicks is still the opening half-hour when they're in the shire), and "Caspian" delivers a lot of humor before the carnage, thanks in large part to Peter Dinklage.

And, if I can digress just a bit on that note, if you happen to make movies and want to cast a "little person" (or whatever the right thing to call them is), please consider using the very talented Mr. Dinklage or the very funny Tony Cox (if you doubt me, just watch "Bad Santa") before you employ the simply annoying Verne Troyer.

But if you like epic adventure, it really doesn't get much better than "Prince Caspian," no matter what you see Aslan as.

"Son of Rambow"

The rather seasoned citizen with a pierced lip at the concession stand who told me this one was "thoroughly cool" was thankfully thoroughly right.

I'm a sucker for movies about the love of movies, which this certainly is. But much more than that, Garth Jennings' ("Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") flick is just a beautiful little movie about the power of friendship. I realize that sounds seriously sappy, and this one is at times, but it has just enough heart to push it to the brink but never over it.

I don't want to say too much about this little gem, because I want as many people as possible to see this one and just be surprised by how well it works. What you'll find is that little summer comedy I had been searching for, and two fantastic performances from young bucks Bill Milner and Will Poulter.

"Flight of the Red Balloon"

Hsiao-hsien Hou's homage to Albert Lamorisse's "The Red Balloon" is the definition of an acquired taste, but one I certainly appreciated.

To put it in more solid terms, I'd call it a mix somewhere between "Seinfeld" and the late Edward Yang's "Yi yi," still one of my favorite flicks. Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying this is as savagely funny as "Seinfeld" or even close to it, but instead that it's a film about almost nothing at all that features some of the most astounding camera work I've seen in years (or at least since "No Country for Old Men.")

What story there is centers on Juliette Binoche's Suzanne, a divorced voice artist for puppet shows who is raising her young son Simon (Simon Iteanu) with the help of nanny Song (Fang Song.) The titular ballon rouge does indeed make several appearances, but mostly Hou manages to find magic in the most mundane of moments, just as Yang did with "Yi yi." And it's a real treat to watch Binoche really get into the spirit of her puppetry work.

Looking over the rather long filmography of Mr. Hou reveals that this is the only one of his many flicks that I've managed to see. If anyone can recommend any others, I'd certainly appreciate it.

"Dollhouse" trailer

A hearty word of thanks to Divinity for the word that Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse," coming to Fox this fall and starring Eliza Dushku, has a fairly up-and-running Web site you can visit here.

Even better, I managed to find this trailer on YouTube which just went up a few hours ago but has already been viewed more than 1,000 times. It looks like a whole lot of fun, and best of all it's narrated by Olivia Williams, a k a Rosemary Cross. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. Peace out.


Shorty said...

Good to have you back...I desperately want to see Son of Rambow...but it isn't out around here...

Ian said...

Welcome back! Was worried my RSS feed might have broken so good to know you were away with good reason. Hope you had a good break and very happy to hear you enjoyed "Son of Rabow" - a little gem of a film.

Eric said...

Hey same from me. Hopt the twister did not cause too much havoc.
Lorraine and the kid went to see Caspian on Friday. And the kid loved it.

FYI the short film we did a couple of summers ago, Fortune Hunters, staring Kelvin Yu, Jessica Skerrit and Gedde Watanabe is now available on itunes for only 1.99
Check it out if you have an iPod

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely check it out, Eric ... There were a lot of people who had it a whole lot worse than I did from the tornado, so I really can't complain!

J. Marquis said...

Glad to hear you liked Prince Caspian so much. I will definitely have to check it out.

Mercurie said...

Good to have you back! I have to say I actually liked Prince Caspian than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe myself. And thank you for that Dolhouse trailer!

sexy said...