The Lonely Kids.
It's been a bit of a while, hasn't it. I know, I know -- two weeks away. The World Cup and some other errands (including visiting a rarely seen friend) got the best of me and my webcomic-ing and movie logging duties. I'll be the last one to talk about Germany's 7-1 hammering against Brazil (and the eventual 3-0 insult-to-injury against the Netherlands), but I'll just leave it at... wow was I evet right. I don't want to brag or anything, but I knew there was no way Brazil could win the World Cup, that someone would get them sooner or later. It turned out to be sooner, and bloodier than what anyone could've imagined.
Now they've gone and sacked Scolari and placed Dunga in his place. Good for him, sucks for Scolari I guess. Dunga may turn out to be great, or terrible, whatever. I can't help but feeling this is a massive act of nepotism. Time will tell.
But that's that. So long Brazil, here we come, Russia. Now let's do the movie thing.
The movie will most definitely put your brain to work about the cyber ideas going on here, regarding the feasibility of the logistics involved and the solutions to the eventual problems and hiccups -- but all that's thrown off the window by the third act. It takes turns too ... well, dumb, and ugly-looking to salvage whatever good will its concepts had earned.
Not helping either are the overall bland characters. Depp's nothing to write home about – it's a role that could've been given to virtually anyone who could keep a monotone voice while staring into the camera. He's not bad, but it's not a good use of his quirkier, offbeat talents. And the rest are on a similar boat: Morgan Freeman's a novelty, Cillian Murphy's forgettable, and Kate Mara's a limp, unimaginative villain straight up from a CSI knock-off. If this is someone's movie, it's Rebecca Hall's. She interacts with Depp the most, and has a front seat view to the world of possibilities he has in mind. But she's not terribly involved in his plans, no matter how much he says he's doing everything for her.
Overall, it's not a fantastic mainstream premiere for longtime Chris Nolan lenser Wally Pfister. The Nolan influence here's quite strong, but Pfister muted himself even at a photography level. I expected some sharp, polished looks, yet I found it to be lacking and un-iconic. It's worth a watch for the ideas, but you could do better plot-wise.
Next up is Teller's Tim's Vermeer -- yes, a film made by the mute guy from the famed magician, bullshitting-calling duo Penn & Teller. A documentary narrated by Penn Jillet about his inventor friend Tim Jenison, who aims to figure out the method and techniques behind Johannes Vermeer's paintings. He's the dutch renassaince painter of such works like "Girl with the Pearl Earring", considered to be one of -- if not THE best painter who's ever lived. The way he portrayed light, texture and perspective was just too real to believe. Basically, they're like film frames on canvas. The human eye just can't be that good; so how did Vermeer pull it off? That's the question Jenison's wondered for ages; the one he'll try answering as detailed and deeply as possible by giving it a go at painting one of his paintings -- "The Music Lesson" --, hoping his findings and theories will match Vermeer's procedures.
It's a enjoyable account, like a making-of meets Mythbusters of sorts, as the Vermeer Code proves more challenging than mysterous: an early idea would prove to be vital to Tim's ambitions, although it would only emphatize its difficulty even more as he went ahead by being as close as he possibly could to Vermeer. He wouldn't use anything outside Vermeer's period.
After showcasing a savvy, clever thesis, and literally getting a stage set, the movie spends a lengthy while in showing results. It's a silent, sparsely interrupted moment, as Tim devotes in getting somewhere. We see him getting there with strokes wide and fine, all a testament to patience and passion. It makes a fantastic work in exemplifying drive and commitment, especially when we see several days pass as Tim paints nearly invisible dots that'll pay off later on as a rich, rich carpet texture.
If anything, I wished it was a bit longer. It's an 80 minutes affair, that though it makes a smart use of its investigative and creative times, I wished it had a bit more terrain to cover -- it was fun enough, no problem here, but at a cost of being very, very selectfully insightful. I wished I had learned more, because it's a great teacher of a film.
Following that it was Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys. Based on the musical, it's a film about the rise, downfall and legacy of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the 60s band which popularized songs such as “Big Girls Don't Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Sherry”, among several others. From ameritalian street gangsters with close connections to the local mob to a steady rise thanks to a fruitful, talented sing-and-writing duo born within the band, the movie jumps from hit song to hit song until their unavoidable descent.
More focused than J. Edgar, yet not terribly improved either, it's a movie that's more functional than authoral or uniquely told. It's got a great array of personalities that are in constant clash and friction against each other, but they're all ambitious in unison. The kids are alright, even to the point of redeeming songs like “Big Girls Don't Cry”: long gone are the original's trademark high-pitched sandpaper-y sonic waves that made the song a truly, truly acquired taste.
Though the songs are decent enough, they don't help the movie to keep your attention fully afloat when they're not around. It's an overly long movie, that goes conflict-free for a while too long – but when it arrives, things start to settle in and you're back in track. One earlier, seemingly disposable scene ties neatly with their collective journey when it meets its end, as Frankie finds himself cornered and out of money – maybe he was swindled from the get-go and he's only realized of it when it's too late.
Overall, it's a fine film. Good songs, better performances. Story could use some work. One for the music fans, for sure.
Last but not least: here it is, folks. Matt Reeves's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I'll skip the premise here, it's a rather recent film and I'm sure most of you are rather well aware of what's going on here. It's the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the (...), about Caesar the ape who gained human-like intelligence thanks to a chemical experiment designed to fight Alzheimer, though it had a mortal, plague-like effect on humans. It's been 8 years since, and the world's gone to shit. Only a really small handful of humans remain against the newly formed civilization of primates.
It's grim. No doubt about it, it's one dark, positively washed-up film, stained with a midnight mud and covered in rust and moss. It's rather violent too, going beyond the societal limitations of the original, leaving all inter –and intra-- species rules behind. Much like the plague itself, it's unforgivingly violent too. The apes can't stray too far from their animalistic tendencies, while humans are cornered and out of options. Put them together, with their deeply rooted fears for each other, and you've got a bloody war zone.
While it's better than Rise, it's not by much all things considered. It's marred by the same original problems: issues are terribly binary, and overall, the human element is still a bit dull in comparison. The apes managed to build themselves a fantastic civilization, with rituals and duties, but the humans... well, they remain human. They don't change much – it's not their film, honestly – but it's a bit problematic when the main human character, played by Jason Clarke, doesn't add anything other than awe for the apes. He's so respectful and caring and kind... but without any insight or take on it. He's just a boring pacifist. His family are just as plain as he is.
And failing the peace route, the villain characters are... well, raging and blind. Eager to see the other race die a fast, painful death. No gray areas – maybe except for Caesar, but... well. That's the thing: you'll be seeing this movie for him. And he's great. Once again, Andy Serkis proves himself to be the best in the mo-cap game.
So that's that. It's a great film. A chilling, unexpectedly merciless film – for the most part, at least. The final act falls a bit on the wayside for me, becoming something more akin to a Marvel finale. But it's a good sequel, and I can't wait to see what's coming next.
That's it for now! See ya next week!