Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sleepless in Seattle Review

I find this movie to be simply pleasant.  There isn’t much about it that is spectacular, but nothing about it is necessarily bad.  It has a very nice soundtrack, and not a bad plot, but both of these are shamelessly borrowed from other movies.  Still, it makes it sentimental in a way that I think is okay.

The characters are likable enough, and they’re written pretty well.  Their motives and desires are pretty understandable and relatable.  The one thing that bugs me is that the movie talks enough about destiny, magic, and fate to make the audience accept that these are all working in favor of the protagonist, and we are supposed to like that.  This gives the writers “permission” to fill the sucker with Dius ex machina, while also showing faith in destiny to be a very positive thing, with which I personally disagree.  This kind of comes across as lazy writing, especially since it’s the writer’s job to make it seem like nothing can possibly work out for the protagonist, and this movie seems to proclaim from the beginning that destiny’s going to ensure that everything works out.

For that reason, and the fact that the plot doesn’t strike me as anything absolutely outstanding, I think the movie is a little weak.  However, in its simplicity it manages to be remarkably pleasant, and I see why it’s a classic.

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Cabaret Review

The 1972 film Cabaret is the musical starring Liza Minnelli that won eight academy awards and seven BAFTAs.  It was nominated for other awards, including Best Picture, and it has gotten good reviews, with a rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Wanna know why?

It’s artsy.

That’s it.  It has an odd look, a couple of daring subject matters, an off-putting feel, and an unconventional plot.  Artsy.

Artsy is fine, unless that’s all that the movie has to offer.  Annie Hall is reasonably artsy, as are many Woody Allen films, but on the whole, they tend to be good.  That’s because he has a strong high concept, strong characters with interesting lives, clever humor, a decent story, a nice soundtrack, and other simple things that make a movie good.  Cabaret is lacking in so many of these areas.

The high concept is weak, the characters are boring, the story is pointless, there is no humor present, and the musical numbers don’t do their basic jobs (telling the story, developing a character, exciting the audience, making the world of the movie bigger, etc.) very well at all.  The music is one of the strong elements in the film, because I really enjoy “Willkommen” and “Cabaret.”  Some of the songs are indirectly expressing what is happening in the story, such as “Money, Money” and “If You Could See Her,” but since they happenafter we already see what’s happening in the story, they are merely unnecessary echoes rather than tools to move the plot along in an interesting way.

In terms of characters and story, this is yet another film that has more of a series of events than an actual plot.  A series of events can work okay, as long as there is a clear progression in the conflict, and each event is a situation, meaning that the audience wonders what’s going to happen next.  I don’t understand the conflict in this film (although a conflict would be more present had they simply had the Nazis in the film actually do something that greatly affects the main characters) and I don’t care about the characters, so the story was doomed from the start.  Sally is a reasonably likable character, but the other characters feel flat to me.  Oh, and the ending is rather stupid, because so little progress has been made, if any.

The film looks interesting, with lots of the kind of colorful, theatrical lighting that I love.  The people in the film, however, are what make it a rather ugly film.  The solution to the problem that Liza Minnelli looks strange was apparently to make everyone else look stranger, with the most ridiculous make up I’ve ever seen.  I would prefer it if a movie made me want to look at it, and maybe even made me want to be a part of its world, rather than use visuals that push me away from it.  You can create an ugly world that is still not too terribly off-putting, but this is not it.

While the movie makes some decisions that are smart, bold, unique, and artistic, it is very overrated.  I know that it is based on a stage musical, and once again I debate about whether to criticize the film or the original show upon which it is based, but I still have to blame the movie for most of the problems.  Unless you’re a hipster, or you want to fit in with the elite movie critics, I don’t see why you should enjoy the film.  (The soundtrack really does have some gems though.)

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Back to the Future Part III Review

I love the Back to the Future series, and I recognize that this is the finale that brings everything to completion, but I think it is probably the weakest of the three.  Still, it’s a chance to see Doc and Marty on the screen again, and they are still as enjoyable as ever, so I love it.  It’s fun, funny, and, as usual with the BttF franchise, keeps the audience in suspense and wonder.  (Honestly, the only reason it doesn’t get an extra half a star is that I wish it were as good as the first movie in the series, which may be a little too much to ask of a sequel that a studio demanded.)  It unfortunately does not have as many beautiful shots as the first two, but it still has a neat look and feel.  I like getting to see the ancestors of the characters, and the things and people that shaped the town.  The writing is absolutely brilliant, as one would expect, but it does leave me with one question: how could the future not be influenced at all by the passengers on the train not making it to their destination?

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Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Review

Boy, was I ever excited to see this movie.  It’s a cartoony ‘80s comedy directed by Tim Burton!  And did you see its trailer?  It’s bound to be great!

It stunk.  The movie dragged on forever with characters I did not care about and a plot that seemed pointless in the worst possible way.  I know that it’s not right to judge a screenplay based on the movie having not read the screenplay itself, but this movie seems terribly written.  Each scene seems to be without purpose, even to the point that many scenes in the film could be rearranged and it would make no difference.  The plot doesn’t built, the twists are dull or insignificant, the beginning is a waste of time, and the climax, while containing some strong elements, has a scene with Pee Wee rescuing animals from a burning pet store that has nothing to do with anything else in the entire film.  Why in the world should the climax be unrelated?  Who thought this was a good story?

That being said… this movie is so beautiful.  The darkness, the colors, the lights, and all the theatrical visuals make it a distinctly ’80s Burton work of art.  So, so, so many shots in this film are breathtaking, and they inspire me to try to reach their level of majesty should I ever become a filmmaker.  I almost wish that this film did not have Burton as a director.  Had he not done this piece of junk and instead worked on a project with a good story during this time period, he might have made a movie I would have adored.  However, if it led to the ’89 Batman, I guess this movie was meant to be.

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