write_mich

IMDb member since October 2003
    Lifetime Total
    1+
    IMDb Member
    16 years

Reviews

Adaptation.
(2002)

Disappointment
The first time I saw this film was many years ago - I was much younger then. I remember liking it and, more than anything, wanting to like it. But I also remember that I didn't care much for the ending. I was a bit disappointed.

I recently watched Adaptation again and now, nearly 10 years later, I realize that this is a flawless film.

As much as this is a film about a writer's struggle through the creative process - inspiration, the lack thereof, internal conflict and self loathing - this is also very much a film about disappointment.

The true ending of this film, for me, was that moment in the swamp when Orlean and Laroche cannot find the "ghost" orchid. Charlie Kaufman's character says:

"That's the end of the book. I wanted to present it simply without big character arcs or sensationalizing the story. I wanted to show flowers as God's miracles. I wanted to show that Orlean never saw the blooming ghost orchid. It was about disappointment."

Sure, life is full of drama, as Bob McKee so passionately reminds us. But for most average people there are no scandalous affairs, suspenseful pursuits or 11th hour epiphanies.

Still, too often, such an ending is not satisfactory, not enough for today's audiences who crave sex, drugs and violence and other cheap thrills. Perhaps the reason we love film is because it tells stories that are satisfying and have closure, things we lack and crave in our lives.

And so Kauffman offers an alternate ending... and that is all I'm going to say.

This film is a triumph for writers, and in many ways a message to Hollywood producers. I haven't enjoyed a movie this much in years and I assure you, it's better the second time around.

So to those who found the ending disappointing...all I ask is that you look a bit closer. The whole story comes together perfectly. It is probably the most beautiful and brilliant script ever written.

Trust
(2010)

A powerful and effective film
I had the privilege to be among the first in North America to screen David Schwimmer's latest film last night at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), with cast members including Clive Owen and Catherine Keener (two of my favourite actors) present as well as the director, Schwimmer himself.

Before the screening, the former "Friends" star provided some valuable context for the film, sharing his personal connection to the topic. It was enlightening to learn that he himself is a dedicated advocate for survivors of sexual assault/abuse and has spent a great deal of time working and interacting with the families impacted, because the film was executed with such a sensitivity and deep psychological understanding around the difficult topic.

Before delving into my review let me just say upfront (for those who are quickly trying to decide whether or not to see this) that this is a good movie, and yes you should see it.

I also went into this film not knowing its rating and I can assure you, that while the subject is very heavy and there are some disturbing scenes and some violence, there is nothing here so sexually graphic that it is too uncomfortable to watch - even my husband who I would consider to be a "sensitive" viewer did not find the film to be graphic.

"Trust" is the kind of movie that relies heavily upon the plausibility of its dialogue and the believability of its actors. If the script was poorly written or the innumerable emotional scenes poorly acted, the whole thing might have been a disaster for Schwimmer.

Instead, Kenner and Owen turned in Oscar-worthy performances that invited viewers into their home, their marriage and their suffering. Under great direction, Owen led his character through a roller-coaster of emotions that was accessible to viewers, as we shared in his character's progression through anger, grief and understanding.

Not to be overlooked, and the true star of this film, is the young Liana Liberato who plays the daughter and the victim with such authenticity that it was at some times painful to watch. Not enough can be said about how incredible she was in this film - I think the career she has ahead of her will speak for itself.

Of course, the best acting in the world would have been wasted if the screenplay was weak, but with Robert Festinger (who wrote the screenplay for "In the Bedroom") on board, you can expect a convincing storyline and dialogue that felt real.

At times, the film comes dangerously close to being cliché or cheesy like a television drama or TV movie-of-the-week. And this is almost inevitable when trying to make a cautionary drama with the underlying objective of raising awareness around a societal issue. However any time you feel the film beginning to veer down this path, it is rescued by the incredible acting and you forget once more that you are watching a film. Even the ending which I thought at first was a bit overly sentimental, quickly took an unexpected and dark turn that, for me, restored its credibility.

This is a powerful and very important film, not just for families but also for David Schwimmer's career because now the sitcom actor-turned- director has established himself as a serious and very capable dramatic filmmaker who is not afraid to take on challenging material.

I'm not sure how well "Trust" will do outside of the film festival or if it would appeal to mass audiences, however I do hope people see it, especially those who care about this important issue.

I would definitely watch a David Schwimmer film again in the future - he has legitimate talent behind the camera and should he make more marketable movies in the future, he might actually make it big as a director.

I give this movie a solid 8 out of 10. Congratulations to Schwimmer and your team on this great accomplishment. And, as a woman and caring citizen, thank you for telling this story.

Napoleon Dynamite
(2004)

I have never laughed like this...
This is definitely a comedy, and it doesn't claim to be anything else. It doesn't even claim to make a lot of sense, or strive to reach our hearts or teach us things or blah, blah, blah. No, it's a comedy. It is for laughing very hard- at some points, so hard I was crying and choking on my popcorn.

Everything that is said and done in this film is fresh comedy as opposed to the generic pranks and gross-out stunts and gimmicks we've seen countless times. I really think the director's technique here was the (and I quote the Simpsons here) "it's funny 'cuz it's true" technique. This movie shows us losers, absolutely and completely, as we have seen them on the streets, in school or at work, and gives us a tiny window into their warped lives and delusional minds. The indie feel of this movie keeps us from feeling like anybody in this movie is *trying* to be funny, which would take away from the naturally comedic scenarios that occur. The dialogue is excellent because all the funny lines are so unexpected and completely out of nowhere that they throw you out of your seat.

See this movie.

Big Fish
(2003)

How to create your own legacy...
I often find that in order to be captivating, a film these days needs to be stressfully suspenseful or have a complicated story line. This film had neither, and yet I found myself hoping it wouldn't end while at the same time, anxiously awaiting its conclusion. I have to admit, I was distrustful of Burton as many of his more recent films have had less-than-satisfying conclusions. Nonetheless, I went to see Big Fish (3 days before its release in Canada) with no expectations and was astounded. This movie is an absolute treat for our hearts, ears and especially our eyes with each cartoon/fantasy-like scene painted with Tim Burton's reliable brilliance and magical touch. Ewan McGregor is pure sunshine and Albert Finney gives one of the greatest performances of the year- he *is* Big Fish. But I suppose that when you strip away the beauty, the doll-house sets and all the abracadabra of cinematography and modern day technology, all you have is a very simple story, and therein lies the heart of this film; that one can create their own legacy, "the story of my life." Not through either extreme of extraordinary adventure or unbelievable lies, but through the art of storytelling- and THAT is what this film is about. It is through our *stories* that we are immortal.

Go see this movie, bring the kids, bring your date, bring your parents! It is for everyone...everyone who appreciates a visually and emotionally beautiful irregular story about a regular person's life.

***** 5 stars!!

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