April 22, 2008

There Will Be Blood - $7

I've gone back and forth on what I thought of There Will Be Blood over and over again since seeing it. Quite honestly I was bored at times but at other times I felt I was watching an epic masterpiece. The passage of time and another viewing may increase or decrease my rating, I haven't decided yet.

There Will Be Blood is a story about Daniel Plainview, an entrepreneur in the early 20th century who attains great wealth drilling for oil. There is much more to this story but it's better viewed than summarized.

My initial reaction after watching TWBB was that I didn't quite get all the hype, as I've mentioned, it bored me at times and that's a sign that I'm not fully engaged with a movie. This was due to some slow pacing and some wildly out of place music in the soundtrack. In reflection I acknowledge this movie was very good, I'm not sure if it was great though.

The visuals in TWBB are breathtaking. I loved the subtle and minimalist settings which were frequently shown in long, pulled back shots. This only added to the ability of the movie to showcase it's great performances. In a recent online discussion I was involved in this person summed up the setting well, "Plainview is such an enormous character that I think he needed an equally large canvas to play on, or else he would have burst the seams of the film."

Daniel Day Lewis was brilliant in this movie as Daniel Plainview. He made me love and hate his character at different times in the story, sometimes even at the same time. Paul Dano is also incredible as the local church leader, who Plainview seems to loathe from the beginning.

This is a good movie, there are those who feel it is great and maybe I will want to increase this rating some day. I still can't get past the fact that I wasn't drawn in for the entire 3 hours. Maybe that's my weakness.

I put There Will Be Blood on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $7

April 12, 2008

When The Critics Get It Wrong

I frequently visit a site I'm sure many of you have been to, Rotten Tomatoes (RT). Unlike IMDB where average ratings are based on regular site users, RT gives you the average ratings by critics by giving each movie a percentage based on how many recommended seeing the movie being critiqued.

I find both sites useful in their own way but every once in a while I am astounded at a rating at RT considering that so many critics contribute to it.

Let me give you a few examples of times that I think the critics on RT got it horrifically wrong.

Spider Man 3
RT rating = 62%
Watch It rating = $2

I liked Spider Man 1 & 2, in fact #2 was a great movie, but Spider Man 3 was terrible. The writing was on a much lower level than the previous two superior installments and the dark side of Spider Man was extremely unconvincing. This movie contained some of the worst scenes I've sat through in years and yet somehow 62% of RT critics recommended it! Are you kidding me?

Live Free or Die Hard
RT rating = 80%
Watch It rating = $4

Live Freed or Die Hard was OK. The complete and total implausibility of most of the action scenes lost me though and the villain was lame. An 80% recommendation from RT is shameful.

Knocked Up
RT rating = 91%
Watch It rating = $3

I've taken a lot of heat for my low rating of Knocked Up. I still say that it's a simple and vulgar movie with far less laughs than I expected. A 91% level on RT should be reserved for Oscar contenders not comedies that revolve around masturbation and poo jokes.

RT rating = 57%
Watch It rating = $8

Transformers was a fun and entertaining movie. One of the knocks against it has been that it was weak on plot but did people really expect more from a movie based on a cartoon which was based on a toy? While 57% of RT critics saw it as good enough to recommend I don't know what the other 43% were hoping for, especially when 62% of them recommended the retched Spider Man 3.

Just my opinion though.

April 9, 2008

Rendition - $8

Rendition is a well executed movie with a political statement to make. For me it was very effective.

Rendition is the story of an Egyptian man who has lived in the US for 20 years and has a family there. As part of a terrorist investigation this man is taken while on a business trip and handed over to American officials who utilize a process called Rendition to send him to a country where they can have him tortured. There is also a connected story which follows the life of the torturer and his struggles to save his relationship with his daughter who has run away to avoid an arranged marriage.

This is well made movie, the settings are convincing and the story is intense and captivating. There are several effective twists and turns and a great ending. There's really nothing brilliant here but it's very good.

As I've said before on this site I'm really into performances and while the acting is good in Rendition, nobody amazed me.

All in all this one of the better options on an otherwise underwhelming rental shelf these days. I put Rendition on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $8.

April 3, 2008

Occupato - $7

Occupato was well worth watching. This is an entertaining short film by Shea Sizemore and the rest of the aspiring movie makers at (un)Heralded films.

When I started reviewing movies as a hobby at this site one of the first people I stumbled across in the movie-review-blog world was Shea Sizemore, pictured above. Shea has become one of the more regular visitors to my humble site and I've always appreciated the comments he makes. Shea's film company (un)Heralded has a few projects under their belt and you can order a collection of these films here.

I ordered this collection and have enjoyed everything I've watched. The headline movie of the collection is a comedy/horror called Occupato. Occupato revolves around a portable toilet that pulls it's victims in with long toilet paper arms. Sounds goofy and while it is humorous and entertaining, Occupato manages to make the viewer fear the portable toilet, at least a little bit. (picture below not actual toilet in Occupato)

Visually this is actually a very impressive movie, I really like some of the shots and there is a lot of potential shown here. I'm really looking forward to future film projects from the (un)Heralded filmmakers.

All in all I put Occupato on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $7. Check out the (un)Heralded collection and again you can order it here.