My Own Private Film Festival
This past weekend was full of activities - several family events including a wedding that I happily volunteered to shoot for a close relative. However I managed to find some time for relaxation as well, and I had been saving up some movies on my DVR for just such an occasion. Here's a summary:
Tom Cruise doing a German accent was something I was wary of. Lucky for Germany, he chose to play it was his regular all-American voice, but surrounded by British actors doing a variety of accents, with the occasional German line thrown in. It was a bit weird how they went back and forth.
The various plots to kill Hitler was an aspect of WWII that was not familiar with. It was exciting to know that there were elements within the German military that were not happy with Hitler's leadership.
Aside from Tom Cruise's presence in the movie, I thought the performances of the supporting characters, including Terrance Stamp and Tom Wilkinson were very good - as the real story was the political planning behind the scenes of the assassination plots. Von Stauffenberg could have been played by anyone and did not need Tom Cruise's star power.
Director Bryan Singer has a decent track record - Usual Suspects, X-Men 1 & 2 and Superman Returns - and they are letting him do a Battlestar Galactica movie - this was a departure for him from big-budget action back to big-budget dialogue with action around the edges.
Next I watched "The Hangover." I know this was supposed to be a hilarious movie with toilet humor and crazy antics, but in all honesty, I think I laughed once. Once. Sure it was a fun buddy movie with physical comedy and gross visuals, and Mike Tyson (a cameo which would have been funny if it was not included in the trailers) - but so what - there have been so many gross physical comedies in the past decade that this one was nothing new. Having been in Las Vegas 2 weeks ago it was kind of neat to see some of the same locations (Bellagio and Ceasars - yes, Wedding Chapel and Jail - no) but it just seemed to be trying too hard. And I am a fan of comedies and the occasional gross joke, and who doesn't love movie stars puking?
Now, back to Bryan Singer's world - X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
I had heard it was a fun action movie - and it was. But very disjointed storytelling. Other origins stories like Spidey 1 and Batman Begins were not disjointed but very cohesive films portraying no only the physical but the emotional sides of the main characters' journeys. While showing the conflict between Logan and his adversaries and how he became so indestructible was well executed, the movie just seemed to jump from one set piece to the next with very little useful exposition. And when there should have been a few more minutes devoted to story, we were sucked into the next action sequence. I suspect filming on Wolverine began well before the script was delivered. First time big budget director Gavin Hood may have been part of the problem. I realize every director needs a big break, but this should not have been it.
Ouch, a bit punch today aren't I.
Finally on my list were biographies of George Lucas and Harrison Ford. Their stories have been well told over the years and I did not learn very much new information. Although both men admit that they make the movies they want to make regardless of what people think about them. It is cool to see Lucas in home videos with his kids, basically being a regular guy who drove his kids to soccer practice and went to the mall, despite being a gazillionaire. And hearing how Ford was told by studios after Empire Strikes Back and Raiders that he will never get work in dramatic roles shows that maybe Lucas and Coppola were right when they decided that working in Hollywood is not for everyone.
Before bed, just for good measure, I watched the last episode of Flash Forward - an underrated and now canceled series about a worldwide mental blackout, and re-watched the final episode of LOST as I am still on the fence about what it all means. But that will have to wait.
I thought Valkyrie was really interesting, though only mediocre as a major film, and I probably would have enjoyed just watching an hour long history channel documentary on the same subject. I'm happy I saw it, but have no need to ever see it again.
Hangover was funny, I didn't think it was the funniest movie of last year at all, so I found it slightly overrated, but I still thought it was funny. I think I laughed more at the minor jokes (like when they almost swerve into the semi-truck near the beginning) than the more obvious attempts at big laughs (like the police taser scene).
And Wolverine was pretty terrible all around. Didn't like much of the casting or acting (or maybe bad directing causing both), and the only part I found really cool was the montage of the mutant brothers fighting in a slew of wars in the beginning. They kind of ruined one of the coolest X-Men, just saying. I'm looking much more forward to X-Men: First Class whenever that comes out (2012 I think?).