23 June 2006

Movie #28

Life as a House.


This may be a formulaic film. It might be trite and contrived. It could very well be crapped.

But for reason I can't analyze it.

For me, any film that has a father trying to (re)connect with his son is sure to get ten or twenty dozen tears out of me. In this case, Life as a House grabs me and it slaps me around for 2 hours.

And when I'm not looking, it drops kicks me for good measure.

This movie is proof that Hayden Christensen can act (when not directed by a tired old curmudgeon). He's so believeable as a distraught and troubled teen. Jena Malone is my favorite teenage actress. She's so honest and real. I would pay money to watch her drink water. Kristin Scott Thomas (who I think is a better actress than Emma Thompson) is more than believeable as the ex-wife. He range of emotion is sublime. It's like watching a mother trying to keep a family together, all the while she's a ragging storm inside.

Mary Steenburgen is fantastic as well. I can't say enough about her in any film. She always seems to play characters with real dialog.

Or maybe she just writes her own.

But, it's Kevin Kline who keeps this movie humming. He's like a long distance runner pounding out a marathon and all the noise of the fans are a blur and whire of confusion and nonesense and he's reached some zen-like state, pushing for the finish line. You are so engaged by his fearlessness, you never want the movie to end. Starting with his rageful opening, his tender moment with the nurse touching his face, and the arguments with Hayden in the first 15 minutes, Kevin lets you know why he's as good as he is. Why his work stands out despite his inability to choose Box Office Phenoms, and why he has an oscar.

In fact, as Kevin's character gets sicker and sicker, the movie actually begins to crawl to a halt, until his death at the end of the film. It's as though the cast doesn't know how to operate without him on the set.

Maybe this is intentional, but it certainly noticiable.


Well. Maybe I could analyze it after all.

Complimentary Film: DOA (original), Lone Star, or Requiem for a Dream

19 June 2006

Movie #27

12 Monkeys. This is the single best time-travel movie I've ever seen.

So smart.

I don't make a habit of reading movie scripts, but I read this one.

Wow is Gilliam good.

He took a skeleton of a story and added all this tension and mood. He created something from what was a pretty good plot, but made it even better with great actors and excellent choices of set design and style.

Bruce Willis' true breakout role. This movie showed his range and ability to do moody as well as stern. Even Madelline Stowe is good in this film (but I generally like her, actually). Brad Pitt also made a name for himself with his frenetic rich kid character.

The ending is great, but the revelation of what the armies of the 12 monkey are is even better. So many surprises. Even Madeline Stowe's phone call and message (in Act 3) that gets picked up in the future (in Act 2) is brilliant piecing together of story.

Dang. I haven't seen this movie in years. I need to see it again.

Complimentary Film*: Flesh and Bone or 16 Blocks or Brazil.

*This is a hard one to link to anything else, because of how different this film really is.