Cd1083

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2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

No Words Is there anything that can be said about this amazing film that hasn't already been said? How about, I have no idea what this film is about? That's been said before? It honestly doesn't matter that this film is a confusing one to follow, mainly because it's one you'll want to watch over and over again regardless. The obvious themes here of human evolution and Ai are incredible topics to experience from a late sixties point of view, but it's the dialog and lack thereof that make this film one of the best ever. The music, the special effects and the cinematography are all great. In fact there really isn't anything negative anybody can say about 2001 except for the fact that it's weird. It's not your standard plot with progressive nature of storytelling. It jumps around spatially and temporally. It's a treat to experience because even though it's complicated, it's not convoluted. 2001 is a perfect movie to start off with if you were to start a film club. Have a group of friends together some Sunday afternoon and watch the film …check that, make it a Saturday afternoon because you're going to end up spending the entire evening debating about what it all means; especially the final scene. 2001 is my favorite Kubrick film and it's always a must see, no matter how many times I've seen it.

The Killing (1956)

Excellent Kubrick Noir The Killing has been a Kubrick film I've looked forward to watching. It takes my deep love for Film-Noir and my fascination with Stanley Kubrick and puts them together and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed, as if there was any doubt. Kubrick here presents a cinematic inspiration for those that followed in his footsteps. It's of no wonder that this film and its broken timeline inspired other filmmakers to present their storyline in a similar fashion. As a plot there isn't anything too special here, but like everything Kubrick, it's not what he's saying but how he's saying it. Visually the film holds together quite nicely and presents itself with low key lighting and very nice contrasts for emphasis. Your Kubrick catalog is not complete without The Killing, it's probably his most accessible film outside of Spartacus.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Classic Film-Noir I'm a sucker for Film-Noir so Double Indemnity was right down my alley. It's your prototypical noir film, from its intense score to it's over the top dialog right down to the insurance salesman protagonist? Not what I would have expected, but to each their own. I liked Double Indemnity, but I'm bias because I love noir films. The lightning in this film wasn't quite as high contrast as I enjoy, while there was obvious separation of light and dark, it wasn't as extreme as some other films thus the tension wasn't quite there in some of the crucial scenes. I won't say that there isn't any contrasting lighting, just not as extreme as I tend to like from my noir films. This is to be expected however with this being an early noir films that inspired latter films I prefer. I'm sure that the content of this film was considered to be incredibly taboo at the time, but for modern audiences it's fairly tame. This being pre-code Hollywood prevents anything from getting too scandalous, but it's interesting to see how they worked around it. This is easily a film I'll watch again as I find the more noir films I watch the more I appreciate the ones I've already seen. Comparing various methods of telling similar stories only strengthens the genre overall.

All About Eve (1950)

Well Before Its Time This best picture award winner is an excellent classic drama film. The writing and dialog within this film is great. Even with such a serious topic, it is incredibly funny and engaging overall. In addition to its engaging plot, it's a visually beautiful film even though it's in black and white. With its setting within the theater, the acting is not only of high quality, but also very over the top in nature. I'm not the standard audience for a film of this nature, but I found myself very engaged throughout and the well over 2 hour running time didn't bother me in the least. Its engaging theme of homosexuality makes it incredibly topical and progressive film for its time.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Underwhelmed I know that this is supposed to be the greatest film of all-time, but I just don't see it. Was it an enjoyable film, mostly, but if I were to make a list of my favorite films I can't say that this one would even be a consideration. Therein lies much of the debate regarding what is considered the "best" films. On a technical level Citizen Kane sure does impress. The camera work progresses the story, the music is engaging and the editing is top notch. They all do an amazing job of elevating the story. The problem is that it felt like work watching the movie. Good movies should never have me looking at my watch wondering how much longer it has to go. I can appreciate the innovate nature that this film provided, but I don't sit in awe of a wooden wheel just because it was the first of its kind. That might be simplifying it a tad, but on my first viewing of Kane, it just didn't speak to me in the way other modern technical marvels do.

Context is crucial when reviewing films of this nature and I just don't have enough of it to fully appreciate the necessary details. Most of the dialog was engaging, but overall I just wasn't that interested in the of Kane. The flashbacks were creative and engaged me enough that I felt invested, but most of the time I was just waiting for it to all end.

I can't say that I disliked Kane, but like most films, my expectations were set so much higher than they really should have been for a film of this nature. Good film, not great. I liked it enough to not regret watching it, but it will be sometime before I choose to watch it again.

From Russia with Love (1963)

Bond at his Best. If you're a fan of James Bonds, it's a requirement that you watch From Russia With Love. So many of the Bonds staples that we enjoy today can be found in this 1963 sequel to Dr. No. There are different kinds of Bond films and From Russia With Love is the kind that Bond films that modern audiences tend to have an issue with. It's slower than modern versions with more focus placed on the sport of espionage than back-to-back action scenes

That's not to say From Russia With Love is without its action, in fact there are a number of great action sequences that are incredible to watch on the big screen even after all these years. Sean Connery is expectedly great as James Bond and the story is one of the series best. It's of no surprise that Bond connoisseurs will regularly refer to From Russia as one of, if not the, best Bond films of all time.

Casablanca (1942)

Meh. It was alright. I'll open up with my unpopular opinion. I wasn't a fan of Casablanca. It's was over the top, it was pompous and most importantly I just didn't enjoy it. Most of this has to due with context. I had some trouble on the first go around grasping everything that was going on, but I'm not holding any of that against the film.

The credit I will give to Casablanca is the dialog is engaging and the cinematography is excellent. The music is perfect and the acting is amazing. It's at this point I even have to ask myself, why didn't I like it? I don't know, I just didn't. It didn't speak to me in the way that lesser films have. It's quite possible that in repeat viewings I'll pick up a detail I missed the first time around and have a renewed appreciation for the film, but as it stands now I respect Casablanca for everything that it is, but I didn't enjoy it and in my eyes that's the most important part of a film, no matter how important it may be historically.

Stagecoach (1939)

Solid Western John Wayne is the epitome of America. Strong, brooding; yet unmistakably flawed. Nobody is going to confused Wayne for a chameleon actor. This is the guy you bring in when you want a John Wayne type personality. One of the first signs of this is here in Stagecoach. All of his mannerisms are present and they play into this John Ford film quite well.

I'm a fan of well-made Westerns so I had fairly high expectations of Stagecoach going in and I'm happy to say that it didn't disappoint. The acting throughout is ho-hum without much to write home about, but the execution of dialog and character development is where the films fleshes out into a well told story.

One of the beneficial plot devices come in handy as each individual is within the Stagecoach, the story is allowed to develop in a necessary but smooth way. It doesn't feel like these conversations are forced as its natural people are going to open when forced into such close proximity for a length period of time. Had they been in a bar, it would have felt far more unnatural.

Visually the film looks good and there is some creative camera tricks pulled out of Bert Glennon's bag of tricks. This as expected is a well crafted film that has very little fat and goes from beginning to end and tells a good story in the process.

Mildred Pierce (1945)

Film-Noir Classic Mildred Pierce was not what I expected. It was so much more, and whenever that happens it's a good thing. While some argue its inclusion, Mildred Pierce was my first official Film- Noir. I've seen other Neo-Noirs and films inspired by the Film-Noir genre, Mildred Pierce is the first that would fit the classical definition. The melodramatic beginning was exactly what I expected when the film began, but how engrossing the film was on as whole is what surprised me. This film has deep characters; even the femme fettle role of Veda is far more complex than one would initially believe. It's with these deep characters that we are given dialog that flesh out a story that always keeps you guessing.

My favorite thing about Film-Noir is the lighting and Mildred Pierce doesn't disappoint. Although there are a number of scenes (the restaurant comes to mind) in which high-key lighting is used, much of the film still revolves around high contrasting shadows, which helps create the depth needed.

I have already added this classic film to my library and look forward to watching it again. While the story is straightforward there is complexity to it that require repeat viewings in order to appreciate the subtle themes founds throughout.

Instant Favorite.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

All Love; No Hate. The Night of the Hunter is a brilliant film. There is so much to love about this film. If someone where to question how a black and white film can be aesthetically beautiful, have them watch this movie. Stylistically it looks very much like a Film-Noir. Low-key lighting is found throughout with high contrast characters. Key scenes of the film are done with one or both characters completely lost in shadows. It's amazing to think that such tension can be built visually with a film this old.

Going into this film I didn't have any expectations, which usually helps, but walking out it was instantly a favorite of mine and I look forward to watching it again in order to grasp more of the symbolism that is found throughout. Reverend Harry Powell is one of the scariest villains I can recall and it's all in lighting and symbolism. Under less capable hands, Powell could have become a caricature of a villain, but Charles Laughton instead develops an intense albeit fairly one-dimensional villain that is able to overcome his lack of depth and still provide a very threatening character.

It's of no surprise that this film has inspired countless directors in their films. I very much enjoyed The Night of the Hunter and pleasantly surprised to know there are still films out there that can get me excited, even ones over sixty years old.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

I laughed all right. I don't like musicals. I should like musicals. I like music; I like movies. Why don't I like musicals? If I had a quick guess it would be because most musicals are made for people who don't like movies. They're made for the same type of people who enjoy high-octane action films. They're all sizzle without the steak. Singin' In the Rain is sizzle, it's steak, and it's a fully dressed baked potato as well. I don't like musicals, but I loved Singin' In the Rain.

Sure, the music was great, but the story was better. The cinematography was amazing and overall it just felt like an event while watching it. The only moment I even took the time to blink was during the ballet scene. It was at this moment I recognized why I don't like musicals.

This movie was funny, it was gorgeous to look at, and it was cleverly edited. I'm not sure Hollywood could make another film like this without turning it into a giant cast blockbuster of an event and as a result end up bombing at the box office.

I never thought that my favorite film of all-time would be a musical, and I'm still not 100% sold that it is, but it's certainly in the discussion.

Fantasia (1940)

Not what I remember from childhood. I remember loving Fantasia as a kid; the music, the imagery, the majesty. What happened? Come to think of it, I never actually watched the entire Fantasia film as a child. I watched the scenes that were of particular interest. In short; the one with Micky, and the dancing hippos.

Visually, Fantasia is just as gorgeous now as it was in 1940. The music is enthralling and as a result it's a masterpiece. What its not is an interesting film. At over 2 hours long this film lacks any resemblance of a plot, dialog, character development or any other story. It's a music video of its time and an impressive one at that, but I had a difficult time watching it in its entirety without feeling heavy eyelids.

I love Disney films and I appreciate what Fantasia means to the history of films, but on its own it fails as a watchable film. It lacks the one key thing that every film requires to be worth seeing. A story.

Chinatown (1974)

To tell you the truth, I lied a little. Film Noir is my favorite genre and I'm ashamed to admit that until now I have never seen Chinatown. The fact that it's not technically a Film-Noir and more accurately defined a Neo-Noir is irrelevant because had this exact film been released in 1954 instead of 1974 nobody would have argued its classifications.

I really enjoyed Chinatown. Jack Nicholson did an excellent job playing Jake Gittes and got me vested in a story that could have bored me to tears if not executed just right. Too many melodramas rely so much on their characters being over the top that they neglect to give them depth and make them interesting and make the audience care about the same things they care about. This is where Chinatown really succeeds. The dialog was overdone and outside of the remembered film closure, unforgettable, however the characters throughout make this film legendary.

Visually, Chinatown looks amazing. It doesn't physically look like your prototypical noir film because there are so many bright scenes, but the mood is there even when the contrast is not. The lighting does not prevent this film from feeling dark throughout.

Upon the film's conclusion, my first thought was that I needed to watch it again. I know I missed subtleties and that my first viewing was only a primer to prepare myself for the second go around. It's easy to see why Chinatown is always on best films of all-time lists. It doesn't disappoint.

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Name says it all. I didn't come into this John Ford fictional biopic with much hope. I've never been a fan of biographical films to begin with and despite some people's fascination with Abraham Lincoln, I've never been all that interested in his life. Sure I watched Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, but I saw it as nothing more than classroom material. When Young Mr. Lincoln started I still didn't have much hope as we were literally jumping into Lincoln's early life as a legislative representative.

This black and white 1939 film doesn't offer much visually yet it has held up quite well over the years. Its plot trudges along at a plodding pace, yet once the film reaches the courtroom it comes alive. The film never reaches 'thrill ride' levels of excitement, but there are certainly moments of intense discussion about the murder case Lincoln is defending. The dialog during the courtroom scenes is what holds this film together and worth watching.

I don't know if I'll ever take the time to watch this movie again, but for anybody looking at an approachable early Hollywood courtroom film, Young Mr. Lincoln is a solid film to take a look at.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Unfortunately Contemporary The fact that this film, almost 50 years old, is still culturally relevant is depressing. Films of this nature are supposed to help progress society into being more open-minded and force future generations to work in order to relate. It's truly unfortunate for everybody living, that modern audiences can watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and be capable of relating to it.

I'm a big fan of single-setting films. Though Guess Who does venture off into a few other locations, a majority of it takes place at the home of the (Joey) Drayton's. This isolation puts the entire films focus on the relationship. Films of this nature don't rely on clever editing tricks or plot devices; it's all dialog and character development.

I enjoyed the complex nature of each character's concerns and how despite the ending being predictable, I was very interested in seeing how each character would evolve by the film's end. It's fair to say the film's topic is prime for a remake with a more contemporary plot. (Ie: Gay Marriage / Gay Interracial marriage) though I'd be concerned it would receive the necessary attention to prevent it from being a cash grab and not a true attempt at social commentary.

The Graduate (1967)

Third Time's the Charm. I had seen The Graduate two other times prior to this most recent viewing and I wasn't much of a fan. There was such a high expectation established prior to my first viewing that I was inevitably let down when the film was over and nothing that special happened. I used to consider myself a film buff because I had seen a lot of movies. After disliking a revered film like this I began to question my taste in films. Why did I dislike it? After some time to let my initial impressions digest I decided to give it another watch and much like the first time I just didn't 'get' it. What was I missing?

The third viewing was different from the first two because I had what I was previously missing, context. On this occasion instead of expecting the film to entertain me, I broke the film apart to see what made it special. It's when taking the time to observe the clever editing and overall flow of this film that I was able to see what everybody was talking about.

The key difference I didn't even think to look for the first couple times was the generational gap theme throughout. I had misinterpreted it as simple teenage angst or apathy, but in reality it was a much more complex emotion. Recognizing this along with being able to recognize the unique cuts used gave me a new appreciation of what I was watching.

One thing that I still was unable to shake is the fact that the music becomes incredibly repetitive throughout. I believe there were about three songs throughout that were repeated. Sound of Silence/Scarborough Fair and Mrs. Robinson. The quality of these tunes is inarguable, but the lack of variety is hard to ignore.

Overall I can now say I'm a fan of this film, though it isn't quite strong enough for me to consider it one of my all-time favorites.

Annie Hall (1977)

So Neurotic; So Glorious. I never would have expected to like Woody Allen. There is just something about his nasally voice that sets the expectation of boredom. When watching Annie Hall for the first time I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew this was a film about a man and a woman and I knew it was set in New York City, though beyond that I assumed I was either about to watch an hour and a half of neurosis or an existential art film. It turns out I was right. What I was wrong about is how much I enjoyed it. There are so many unconventional storytelling methods used here. Despite many of them now considered being trite, breaking the fourth wall, they all feel original in this 1977 classic.

The general plot of Annie Hall wasn't particularly interesting, but the characters created and the conversations are strong enough to make the story feel fresh and clever. There are plenty of gags here that turn this romantic comedy into a film that will make you forget you're watching a romantic comedy. In a traditional sense of course since modern romantic comedies have soured the term.

Annie Hall has opened the door to Woody Allen for me. I'm not sure if I'll like anything I find inside, but what I do know is that I'm interested to see what else I can find from a director that I've ignored for far too long.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

I Love You, Honey Bunny. There is zero debate that this film is the greatest film ever created. If there were a debate, I'd pay full admission to hear Vincent Vega and Jules Winfield have it. Pulp Fiction is what any film lover should consider to be a contemporary classic. Quentin Tarantino does everything right in this 1994 Classic. Sure Pulp Fiction is violent; sure it's full of swearing, and a mild case of Bruce Willis genitals yet that mean it shouldn't be shown in every school across America, this film is an American treasure!

In all seriousness, this is a great film. It's not often a film can end with the beginning and have you walking out completely unsure of what temporal space any of the scenes witnessed came from, yet still able to follow along the entire time. Tarantino does the imaginable by creating taking 3.5 short stories and editing them together so perfectly while putting the focus entirely on the dialog. It really didn't matter what happened in this movie so long as the characters were talking. Visually the film stands up as well today as it did twenty years ago, which is simply the cherry on top of this ice cream Sunday. Not enough good things can be said about this pop culture icon.

The piece of the film that might be the most unsung hero is the music. Most film buffs will be quick to point out "Miserlou" as being one of the best film theme songs ever, yet I've yet to here a casual viewer speak in awe of the great musical accompaniment.

Pulp Fiction. Go Watch It.

White Zombie (1932)

Not Your Grandchildren's Zombies I took the time before watching White Zombie to read enough about the film to understand that this was not a film I was going to recognize. It's not George A. Romero, nor is it Sam Raimi. White Zombie is something else all together and I can't say that I enjoyed it even with that expectation.

My general rule of thumb is that the shorter a film, the less leeway I give it in terms of excitement. If a film is going to run at less than an hour and a half, it needs to be efficient with it's time, while a longer film is allowed to create more suspense and setup and run parallel story lines at the same time in order to fill up the time. When a film barely surpasses the hour mark, it better do something to keep my attention. White Zombie did not.

There is certainly going to be those viewers who enjoy this film for the pure reason that it's a 'cult classic.' It's not well acted, it's not presented visually in even an adequate manner and overall the plot is dull as dirt. The medium in which the film was presented may certainly play a factor in my enjoyment as a bright lit Sunday afternoon may not do the film justice, but even with that in consideration the ebb and flow of the film presented a difficult pill to swallow…and stay away through.

Where the film does receive some credit from me is with Bela Lugosi's casting. He is the lone bright spot in this film and provides some sliver of hope that I'll find more to enjoy with this film with repeat viewings. The dark setting and low contrast makes it difficult to appreciate much of the subtle I'm sure this film offers that I was unable to pickup on the first couple go around.

I really wanted to enjoy White Zombie for the simple reason that there is obviously something to it. Legendary filmmakers have been drawn to it and it's been credited as being the granddaddy of zombie films even though it has very little to do with what we think of in our zombie genre. The rules of the modern zombie world simply don't exist here and that makes it difficult for anybody without the appropriate context to appreciate what it has to offer.

Nothing Sacred (1937)

Nothing Special It's not often that a film is able to pull off punching a woman right in the face as fodder for comedy, but it was the 30's, and domestic abuse was funny back then. No points are deducted here for poor taste, mainly because Carole Lombard got her retribution in satisfying manner. 1937's screwball comedy, Nothing Sacred does nothing special. It's a short film clocking in at less than 80 minutes; wasting no time to throw down 'The End' once the conclusion was declared. Only ten years had passed since the first 'talkie' in 1927, yet Nothing Sacred unlike many others during this period has aged quite well in comparison. Rarely while watching this film, would anyone be detracted by any technological restrictions, this inaugural screwball filmed in color has been restored to levels that allow it to look marvelous, even by today's standards.

This is not a film I would go out of my way to watch again, but when taking the time to consider where film was at in 1937, it's easy to be impressed with how enjoyable of a film this was. To provide some context, actress Margaret Hamilton has a bit part early in the movie as "the drug store lady." You might better know her as the "Wicked Witch of the West," a role she's iconically play two years later.

Overall, Nothing Sacred does stand on it's own. It tackles an important topic in journalistic ethics along with presenting it in absorbable medium. The acting is solid and the chemistry between the two leads is strong. This is the type of a film that lays a strong groundwork for future classics though can stand on its own without excuses. There is much to like here for film lovers who have a soft spot for these 30s-40's romantic comedies.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Did The Wrong Thing Let's get this out of the way early, Mookie did the wrong thing. Some will argue that the climax of the film played out as a way to protect Sal, but any keen observer will note that despite Mookie's calculated decision, there was absolutely zero indication that anybody other than Radio Raheem was on his mind.

Taking a step back into observing the film as a whole, I must be forthright in saying that these films do not speak to me on a personal level in the way it may to many others. I'm not black. I didn't grow up in an urban environment, and I'm not oppressed in any substantial way. It's with this context that I was unable to appreciate the content of the film fully.

There is much I disliked about the film. The acting worked the extremes. Lee's acting was wooden and tedious while the other bit characters were so overblown that I had a hard time taking them serious. Buggin' Out instigates the entire plot with a grievance that forces even the most progressive mind to question the logic. Here is an Italian pizzeria with pictures of Italian-Americans on the wall, what sense would it make to arbitrarily put anybody else up there? Conceding to the fact that there are indeed individuals out there who would want a representative of their community based on principle, why escalate the issue to such a degree? My content issues are surely subjective and considering my lack of social empathy I'm open to accepting the fact I just can't relate.

Despite the number of little things I didn't like about the film, the thing I liked most about the film and the thing that allows me to like the film overall is the dialog. This film was incredibly well written. No matter how poorly many of the lines were delivered, the fact remains that the social consciousness of this film and the impact it has had on society is incredible. Whether it's the in your face cultural clash of Italian-Americans and African-Americans, or the police ineptness, there is plenty of conversation material still relevant today.

My Man Godfrey (1936)

Stand still, Godfrey. It'll all be over in a minute. There is something incredibly progressive about this 1936 film. A female comedic lead that doesn't take a backseat to a male co-star. Now it could be because the two leads, Powell and Lombard, were previously married, but the chemistry between the two engendered genuinely funny moments. That is rare in contemporary romantic comedies. The screw- ball comedies of the 30s and 40s are all but forgotten and it's really too bad. One of the reasons why a film like "My Man Godfrey" is so enjoyable is because of the clever ways the writers walked the line of decency. Instead of resorting to gaudy displays of sexuality, the viewer is forced to fill in the blanks.

One doesn't watch a film like this for the plot, in fact there isn't much of a story whatsoever. What is there is simply exists to give the leads a change of scenery to continue their quixotic interplay. Luckily the humor is there among all characters and the lack of story doesn't really matter. Every scene is filled with a chuckle or two and while there are romantic elements, there is never a point in the story when we are led to believe the two will end up together, nor are we given any reason to want them to end up together.

The lighthearted nature of it all pushes any criticisms to the back as we're instead allowed to enjoy the hilarious banter among all on screen. It's a shame that films like these aren't held in higher regard among modern audiences who require sophomoric humor in order to consider a movie funny. Many may consider a film like "My Man Godfrey" to be highbrow humor, but once you see it for yourself, it becomes quickly apparent that this film was made for all, yesterday and today.

Read my complete review (w/ possible spoilers) at CD1083.com

The Congress (2013)

Roger Rabbit takes a trip to The Matrix Expectations for a film are very powerful. When we walk into a theater/put a disc into the player, we have an create an idea of what is in store. When the product delivered is different from our anticipations, our judgements can become skewed. Upon viewing the trailer for The Congress I believed I understood what the film was going to be about; after finishing the film, I have no idea what I just watched. The plot I understand, it's everything else that I'm still hazy on. The general idea of the film is that Robin Wright, playing herself, is given a final role. The role is to become a product. No longer allowed to act, Wright will only be seen on screen via her computer generated avatar. Her initial hesitation to this offer are obvious. Robin doesn't like the idea of a conglomerate film company controlling her image. This idealistic desire is immediately shot down by her agent as the film makes it important to note that Robin Wright's career has been a colossal failure. Every decision she has made is a bad one and her decision to decline this opportunity of a lifetime is just another example of it.

Once Robin agrees to sell off her image for peanuts, she wants the process to take no longer than it has to and requests the scanning process be completed right away. Despite her forceful request, she still acts reluctant to have the procedure. This indecisiveness is prevalent throughout the film as we're never quite sure what her priorities are. What does Robin want? She says that she wants to save her son. Even the trailer puts the plot point as a primary objective, but that case isn't made very clear during most of the story. There are moments here and there where she reminds us all, but the film puts the sizzle before the steak and that ends up being its defining flaw. There ends up being an important moral message at the core of the film. It's not until the end that we even get an inkling of what it's trying to say, but it's there nonetheless. The Congress does a good job early on building likable characters within Robin's family. We learn that her son, Aaron, has a disease that is slowly deteriorating his vision and hearing. We are also introduced to Robin's 'daughter', who inexplicably disappears a third of the way into the movie. The only character established early on who remains one of relevance is "Miramount" studio executive and antagonist, Jeff Green. Instead of further fleshing out these characters, we are given an out of this world experience that becomes far too bizarre for most to grasp on a single viewing.

The film is directed by Ari Folman and was loosely adapted from a 1971 Science-Fiction novel, "The Futurological Congress." Folman is someone I wasn't familiar with prior to now. His prior films were non- English documentaries and even this film is not considered an American film as it was first released over in Europe. Folman's approach for the Congress is what many could consider avante-garde, despite the fact that it's really not presenting anything new. The hybrid live-action/animation film has been done many times before (Roger Rabbit, Cool World, Looney Tunes) and the alternate state of mind film has been done before. (The Matrix, Inception, Trance) The Congress attempts to do them together and it mostly succeeds. Mostly. Visually, the film is remarkable. From the very beginning, before the animation kicks in, the colors and lighting are amazing. The colors pop from the screen and cinematically the film draws you in for something you know is going to be special. Once we transition over into the 'alternate' state of being, the sophisticated beauty is replaced with a uncanny callback to classic cartoons of day's past. The idea being that the experience is unique to each person who implies Robin's experience is a reflection of her childhood surrounded by traditionally animation while a younger individual may create a world of CGI. I'm interested in watching more behind the scenes of the film, if only to learn more about how it was created. How have the technologies advanced from earlier films with similar visual styles.

When a film features a cast of Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Hamm I would expect the acting to be in the bag. While the plot does a good job of creating characters I want to get to know, the dialog is dull and apathetic. It's almost as if everybody lost a bet and was forced to do this film pro-bono. The moment Robin steps inside the world of animation for the first time, her attitude approaches apathy. She acknowledges the novelty of it as if she were looking at a caricature of herself at the state fair instead of living it out. This lack of interest in the world she inhabits is infective as I felt the same way

The Congress is one of those films I absolutely will have to watch again in order to have a true opinion of the quality. The disjointed nature made it difficult to follow and boring at times. I found myself not caring about what happened. It felt more like a tour inside the world it created instead of a story being told. The end felt rushed if only because I didn't know where we were going. So when we arrived I was surprised at where we ended up. Despite my overwhelming criticisms of the film, I love the premise and visuals enough that I'd be able to view it again in order to gain a better understanding of the message being told.

Read this and my other reviews at CD1083.com

Frankenstein (1931)

Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not. Frankenstein lives and dies with the monster and like the monster, this film is more dead than alive. The disjointed nature of Frankenstein cannot go ignored. Credit must be given to Frankenstein for helping define the monster movie genre, but it did so based purely on the gimmick and not due to the quality of the film.

The star of the show is indeed Frankenstein's monster however he is absent from much of the film. In addition, Frankenstein himself goes from engrossing to lifeless without logic. This transition leaves the viewer without an engaging point of focus. By the end of the film we're left with a secondary plot unresolved and a promising premise underwhelmed.

Overall, Frankenstein is satisfactory. It showed the world what was possible with monster movies...and frankly, that was all we needed to become hooked.

Read my complete review (w/ possible spoilers) at CD1083.com

The Wrestler (2008)

Randy "The Ram" fights his toughest foe yet...time. It's truly a shame that a film as captivating as "The Wrestler" can go ignored by so many viewers based purely on its subject matter. The professional wrestling industry has been a joke from its incarnation, yet only one watch of this film will give you a whole new respect for the men and women that step inside the squared circle. "The Wrestler" isn't a documentary, but its cinematography allows you to get lost in the story and believe everything happening to Randy "The Ram" Robinson is true. Mickey Rourke puts on a performance of a lifetime and transforms himself into a broken down former wrestling great that is now living in his past; milking every ounce of glory that he has left in his body.

From beginning to end we as the viewer can't help but like Randy no matter how many flaws he reveals. It doesn't matter he can't pay his rent or takes illegal drugs; his charm pushes those faults to the back and it becomes very believable that he was a main even icon twenty years earlier. The interplay between Rourke and Marisa Tomei is captivating. Tomei's Cassidy is a stripper paralleling Randy's conflict with age. Her best years behind her, Cassidy doesn't have the same passion for her career that 'The Ram' does. Cassidy does it for the money, Ram does it for the fame. It's in Randy's attempt to transition into something more that we see ourselves. Coming to grips that his body can't handle anymore physical abuse he does everything he can do rebuild broken relationships and build new ones.

Mickey Rourke must be applauded for his commitment to the role. This performance required 100% investment in order to truly capture the essence of the film; he did that and more. A role that catapulted back into mainstream discussion of leading men, Rourke must have seen a little of himself in this character. The result of his work was an Academy Award nomination for Best Leading Man. Physically, Mickey looked the part so much that we start to believe that he's the man he's portraying. In an industry like professional wrestling where so much importance is invested into name value, very little suspension of disbelief is necessary in creating a realistic wrestling world for us to attach to. Mickey instantly gives the fictional environment credibility.

With the limited budget, Director, Aronofsky ends up with a film that benefits from the lack of gloss and glamor. Another director with more money might have been inclined to bring in more wrestlers with name value and larger venues thus losing the intimate charm we find here. The behind the back filming style along with the incredibly strong score rounds out an "independent" gem that must be experienced. Don't let the plot, revolving around a professional wrestler, sour your impression into missing one of the best films of this century.

Read this and my other film reviews at CD1083.com

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