Thursday, November 6, 2008

Early November Double Features

On back-2-back nights this week I caught 2 movies in theaters. Tuesday, in order to avoid the election, I saw a couple of movies in Uptown. The following evening I ended up catching 2 more in Edina.



What Just Happened? imdb

For the 2nd straight year, De Niro has been in something I might describe as a redefining or at least a different kind of a role for him. 2007's "Stardust" playing a gay flying-pirate captain. And in this, a Hollywood producer; who while has a strong personality, he ends up having to do a lot more psychological examination of his clients and his own personal life. The portrayal of a high-stakes, high-stress lifestyle. And I think overall it was pulled off well.

This will remind many of the Tim Robbins movie "The Player." I suppose the comparison is quite valid in that it's a look inside one part of Hollywood. At the same time, possibly due to the tone or time it was made, "The Player" seemed a lot more subtle and dramatic, while "What Just Happened?" had a lot more constant humor. De Niro reminds me of among others, of the late Sidney Pollack, who had those meltdowns that were always worth seeing. One of those guys that either he made you laugh just on how he spoke, his interaction with others, or his sense of priorities were funny due to how he would communicate with people. Also, generally just someone I would enjoy being around I guess.

While the ultimate fates of the different clients and people he invests so much into dealing with is not entirely a "happy-ending" ("Indie" I suppose in that way), seeing the portrayal of different experiences a producer like him goes through is rewarding enough. Bruce Willis and the whole "beard" predicament. To hear De Niro mouth-off about that alone was priceless. The ending of the Sean Penn picture with the dog and how the director manages to con the Studio head (Catherine Keener); which is evidenced when it gets into Cannes. Everything with his ex-wives and daughter and the side-plot with the producer who dies, and Stanley Tucci.

While I doubt it'll be a classic many years from now, I pretty thoroughly enjoyed this. Quite funny, and without much if any filler.

7.5/10



Happy Go Lucky imdb

This was uneven. The 1st 1/3 I'd say or maybe about 1/2 of this was a lot of silly antics from the characters, mainly the lead Sally Hawkins who plays "Poppy." Perhaps her accent at times made it slightly difficult to follow, the personality she presented as a free-spirited, jolly young woman who found it easy to smile or laugh at most of her daily life experiences. Maybe my favorite scenes being when she ends up going to Flamenco dancing class with a co-worker. Poppy, and I think actually even more, the instructor were quite funny. "Myyyy spay-sss...My-spaysss!" I kind of wished I had been in the class myself!

But the Poppy character (and Hawkins I imagine) reminded me a lot of the british female musician Imogen Heap. Partially in her colorful style of fashion (she always wore multicolored knee-high boots among other things), and maybe more-so in her cheery persona that Imogen Heap could be described as having when she does interviews, or especially in her Youtube video blogs. In fact, I think it wouldn't be too big a stretch if it came about, for Sally Hawkins to portray Heap on the screen, which begs my curiosity if Imogen Heap is aware of Hawkins or this movie (and vice-versa).

The 2nd portion of the movie ends up getting a bit more serious. Mainly with Poppy's relationship with her driving instructor played by Eddie Marsan. I imagine this was an influence in his character from real-life, but Scott, Poppy's driving instructor, almost every scene is very on-edge and stressed-out. Poppy contributes to that while he's trying to teach her, but he definitely comes across as someone who has anger-issues. I guess the whole "backseat driver" symptoms come up with anyone who rides in a car with a new driver; but it's his job after-all, so you'd think he'd had enough experience to avoid stressing out over it. Perhaps it also was some strange way of displaying his love or at least social interest in Poppy. But that's kind of the challenge. He's so strong-willed and short-fused, that even SHE can't lighten him up.

But I also credit the actor for that. While that may not be everyone's cup of tea in terms of dramatic performances, he does a very good job of adding a in-your-face, serious character to what mostly is a less-than-serious story overall. At the same time, I guess the previews and entirety of this film didn't end up being as moving as I hoped; but it was certainly one of the more memorable pictures I've seen this year. And it introduces Hawkins, which added reason to see it as well.

6.5/10



Slumdog Millionaire imdb

Caught an advanced screening of this picture which on the surface sounded like a modern-day Bollywood work or some common foreign-language movie that I often see nominated during awards season. Well, it very well may get nominated during awards season, but I wouldn't call it exactly run-of-the-mill. Very cleverly edited and flashback + present day storytelling of an 18 year-old phone-center assistant who ends up appearing and having great success in East India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." He gets taken-in by the show's security in suspicion of cheating to continually getting question-after-question correct, with having very limited education and only being 18 years old. He's even tortured, as the police don't believe his story. But HIS STORY is where it gets quite interesting.

His mother is killed when his village is raided when he is very young. Him and his brother flee, and they end up meeting a girl named Latika who he immediately befriends. Through turmoil and his older brother's influence, Jamal ends up losing Latika, who is of course his first and he believes true-love. Eventually when they get older, Jamal and his brother Salim end up seeking out and rescuing Latika from what would be considered a child-slave trader, whose primary interest in the kids is to find the one's who can sing well and then blind them. Blind singers apparently command(ed) more money to perform or trade there at that time it's set in. After they escape, it is shown how much all 3 of them have changed. Salim unfortunately falls prey to what I'd describe as a mob-businessman; and he's forced-in to taking Latika to him. Jamal loses both of them at that point.

A few years later, he starts working at the cellphone customer service office and stumbles upon their database and both Latika and Salim's whereabouts. He visits both of them, and learns that not a lot has changed. Latika is still more or less a slave to the same wealthy mobster; but he manages to see her and also learn that she watched the Millionaire show. Jamal gets the idea that if he went on the show, she would see him.

What transpires at that point I won't spoil. But it definitely worked on many levels. Logistically I suppose some things didn't necessarily seem entirely realistic, like how would Latika be listed in the cell provider's listing if she more or less was a slave? But the story, flashbacks, and the way it ended up being told was very moving. I particularly liked the youngest portrayals of the three main character most.

It may not be my film of the year, but I would say it's certainly one of the best I've seen in many months. "Transsiberian" and of course "Snow Angels" might be it's biggest competition. I hope more people get to see this. It won some festival awards recently in fact, as the girl from Miramax, who appeared at the theater mentioned.

8/10



Religulous Religulous

Bill Maher somewhat channeling Michael Moore with an agenda that religion is all fiction and fairy tales more or less. This definitely was worth seeing for the amount of comedic value and one-liners. I also liked a lot of the different unusual people from many sects and angles into different religions. The black fella who was a minister I believe, who had been involved as a singer on a pop hit that it escaping me now was a laugh-a-minute. Claiming he was in the Jesus-bloodline, lol. The satanic priest who was a born-again; Maher had a field-day with him. I imagine like Michael Moore and a lot of these cleverly edited documentaries, a lot of footage was shot and edited out, that Maher had no comeback or debate with. But like Michael Moore, it's for entertainment value 1st and foremost, so it didn't matter.

I suppose one thing I wished he'd been able to do is cover more religions, more obscure perhaps like Buddhism, and many of the ethnic religions. Time and resources (money) being factors I suppose. Maybe a 2nd picture will consider doing that. Id' also have liked to have seen Deepak Chopra or at least 1 modern theologist interviewed. I wonder if Chopra declined.

Unlikely the funniest movie of the year, but still one I'm glad I got to see. Maybe since Maher made it, Michael Moore now won't have to.

6.5/10

1 comment :

Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar said...

Hi, Thanks for posting.

Lost Tomb of the Knights Templar

by Ben Hammott

I have just read a great book of which a very small part appeared in 'Bloodline the movie' after seeing the movie I did some searching to find out more and come across the website of Ben Hammott who appeared in the film briefly: www.benhammott.com and it is worth cheking out as it has lots of interesting stuff on his hunt for treasure, which he finds and also what could be an old Knights Templar TOMB!
He has written a book about this which has just been realeased and available here: www.losttomb.net
It is a fascinating read, full of humor and discovery. It has secret codes, tombs and tunnels, treasure, mystery,

100 years ago a French priest embedded clues in his church leading to a secret location.
Those clues have been solved.
That location has been found.
The SECRET is revealed!
www.losttomb.com

reasure, tombs, secret codes and hidden clues, a brutal murder, the Knights Templar and 2000 year old relics – it could be the premise for a new archaeological thriller. Except that it is real.

What begins as a treasure hunt and a bit of fun and adventure, leads an Englishman to the tiny French village of Rennes-le-Chateau, where an ordinary man unlocked a mysterious puzzle set up by a priest 100 years ago.

Abbé Bérenger Sauniere became mysteriously and fabulously rich after finding a hidden parchment when carrying out repairs to the Church of Mary Magdalene.

Subsequent to Sauniere’s death in 1917, speculation was rife about the possible source of his sudden wealth. Some have said it was proceeds from the sale of an ancient or a Royal Treasure? Or it might have been hush money paid by the Vatican to keep Sauniere quiet, but if so what did Sauniere find that they were so afraid of?

As many believe, the mysterious priest had embedded clues in his church decoration leading to a treasure or a secret, & the source of his wealth. When Ben Hammott enters the church he soon spots something that everyone else has somehow missed--a key that deciphers some of the embedded clues.

Painstakingly deciphering and following the clues, Ben is led to a discovery of 2000-year-old artefacts, a treasure of gold, and a Knights Templar tomb containing a shrouded body!

Read it and you won't be disapointed.