May 19, 2006

Jamie Bell is my Boyfriend + Reviews

How much do I love Jamie Bell? So much so that I pretend he is my boyfriend and we're planning our Spring wedding. *sigh* We were meant to be together, okay!

Dear Wendy (2005, dir. Vinterberg)

This movie may be of interest to some of y'all because of the screenwriter - the one and only Lars von Trier. And you can definitely tell that it's his doing. I could find many similarities between this and Dogville - perhaps why this movie made an absolute pittance at the box-office. The movie stars Jamie Bell as the leader of a rag-tag group of small-town USA misfits pacifists who start a gun club (on the basis that they don't use their guns outside of their secret "temple"). Eventually shit happens (as it so often does) and then everything turns into a Western-genre stand off.

I really liked this movie. I thought technically it was ace, so too was the acting by the predominately younger cast (also including recent Tony-nominee Alison Pill, Michael Angarano, Danso Gordon and Mark Webber) although I don't really understand what Bill Pullman is doing there. The screenplay is a very interesting. Knowing it's by von Trier makes me want to look deeper into it but both von Trier and director Thomas Vinterberg have claimed there is no hidden meanings. If they're lying it's very easy to see what messages they have (and they're not to different to von Trier's other films) - America is violent and it'll bite them in the arse. Still, this is a very intriguing look into American violence - a lot like A History of Violence in ways. B+

Shampoo (1975, dir. Ashby)

A nice if frivilous comedy made in '75 but set in '69. It's incredibly dated, but there is still plenty of shine to this movie, specifically in the performances (Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn are definitely best in show. How Lee Grant won the Oscar is a head-scratcher) and the screenplay by star Warren Beatty and the legendary Robert Towne, which is filled with a swag of great lines. "What I really want is to suck his cock." LOL! B-

Kokoda (2006, dir. Grierson)

This Australian film clearly has the best of intentions and I'm willing to forgive many of it's mishandled moments (such as bringing out the old chestnut of giving an injured man a gun and letting him fend off the villains) because the story it's telling a deeply important one and there are aspects that I feel it works around really well. The movie starts with an all-too brief introduction (if you didn't actually know what the Kokoda Trail was you probably wouldn't understand what the hell was happening) and then gets right into it with a scene that underpins the whole movie. Lots of mud and guts.

The film, however, gives us barely anything in terms of character development, which would have allowed the film to move to a higher level. The acting is all perfectly fine but nobody really stands out except for two men on the fringes in much tinier roles than the leads. Shane Bourne is wonderful as an Army doctor and Angus Sampson is also surprisingly great as one of the chocolate soldiers in the heat of battle (surprising because i normally dislike the man). Technically the film is supurb. Cinematography is wet and cramped and saturated in greens - it looks fabulous. The musical score is appropriately grand and heavy. Editing is a problem though, particularly in the finale scenes as there is some awkward back-and-forth cutting between the final battle and a speech given by William McInnes - it takes away a considerable amount of power from the scene and makes it look as if the battle was won in five minutes. Of course the battle for Kokoda was much larger than the single event that the film portrays.

Overall though I think the film lacked a grandness that films such as Saving Private Ryan or Platoon had - they felt as big as the war they were covering. This film felt as if it had been shrunk down (it's only 90minutes long) in reference to the size of the playing field. But I am giving the film the benefit of the doubt. Some extra work on the screenplay however could've made it an Australian classic - who knows. B-

Dog Day Afternoon (1975, dir. Lumet)

In a weird coincidence, I got sent two movies from 1975 at the same time and watched them right after one another. I'm leaving the best til last though. How fantastic is this movie? There's a reason why it's considered the grand daddy of bank heist films (Inside Man clearly took some tips from it). We all know the story and all that jazz so I'm just gonna keep this brief.

How freakin' excellent is Al Pacino here? WOW. Absolutely amazing. I also thought Chris Sarandon as Pacino's male lover was excellent - I was pleasantly surprised to read he got an Academy Award nomination for this part. It's intriguing to watch this movie and wonder how the homosexual tangents would have been greeted back in 1975. Today it seemed natural and didn't come off as insulting (although some annoying ALL GAYS ARE GOOD PEOPLE!!! idiots would see it as some Hollywood screaming that homosexuals are evil or some claptrap). The screenplay was also fantastic (glad to hear it won the Oscar). I don't really have much to say. A

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