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Showing posts from March, 2009

Movie Review: Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park (2007)

If you helped commit a crime and never told the truth, would the guilt eat you alive? This is the quandary teenage skateboarder Alex finds himself in. Director Gus Van Sant gives this film a dreamlike quality. The truth of what happens that night unravels slowly piece by piece. By the time we know the truth, we are completely on Alex's side and are worried that he will be discovered. We know that Alex visited Paranoid Park with his friend Jared. We know that a security guard has been murdered. And we know that Alex almost called the cops and threw up. But we don't know until late into the movie what happened between visiting Paranoid Park and Alex throwing up. Alex has the look of a trauma victim. He doesn't respond to anything with emotion. He walks around in a daze, like he's not really there. To emphasize his displacement, Alex has conversations with people where their voices fade in and out or music plays over them. We know Alex isn't really havin…

Movie Review: Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009)

***First published in the Cary News on March 17, 2009***

Split open the mind of a scientist, add in superhero strength and struggles, set it in a doomsday world, sprinkle with some saucy fan service, shake, and you get The Watchmen.

But this film is more than its parts. The Watchmen is based on Alan Moore’s mind-blowing graphic novel. I am reviewing this movie separate from its graphic novel form, but check that out if you get a chance.
They had to simplify the story a great deal to make it manageable in a film form.

The plot is somewhat complex, but in fact, it matters little to this film. This movie is all about characters, culture, and the mood of the film. The story is set in an alternative United States history. It’s 1985, and Richard Nixon has been elected to his third term in office.The doomsday clock has been set for five minutes to midnight — midnight being the time when either Russia or the U.S. will launch a deadly bomb and the idea of world peace will forever be obliterate…

Understanding Movies by Raphael Shargel, Lesson 2: German Expressionism and Russian Montage

This series follows the film course Understanding Movies by Raphael Shargel. To view all the parts I completed, visit this page.

In this section, we are learning about silent movies still, but these filmmakers took the art of silent film to its max. I really enjoyed this chapter and had a lot of films to watch, which is why it has taken so long to get this 2nd chapter up.

The main movements discussed are German Expressionism and Russian Montage. In German Expressionism, we are looking at using film to create a heightened emotion. If you remember, in chapter 1, we looked at cinema as a way to reflect everyday life, in a documentary style, and as a way to explore the imagination, such as a fantasy. German Expressionism is closer to the latter, but it is beyond that. Rather than an emphasis on the story, filmmakers took a special interest in creating a mood or feeling--mostly a dark mood. There was a special interest in what impact the movie would have on the audience. Some of the…

Movie Review: P.J. Hogan's Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

I have been a longtime fan of the Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic books, which feature the lovable but compulsive Becky Bloomwood. So I wasn't sure what to expect out of the movie version.

Rebecca Bloomwood is a lovely redheaded young woman who loooooves to shop. I am not talking about the reasonable kind of love where she goes monthly or even weekly to see what's new at her local boutique. I am talking about an addiction as powerful as any drug out there. When she walks past a store, the mannequins talk to her and convince her that this, only this, particular item has the power to make her feel better, more attractive, more alive. She shops using 12 credit cards, including her Gold Card, which is encased in a block of ice in the freezer in case of emergencies. The tone of the film is comic, so it's not a tragic type of addiction, but we understand that Becky has a problem and she needs some serious help.

Rebecca also has her own personal bill collector stalker type person follo…