September 2011

"She's All That"

I’ve been on a ‘90’s movie kick lately. I watched Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore and was more interested than the wacky fashion and Leelee Sobieski—where did she go?—than the plot. I rented She’s All That, the 1999 Pygmalion remake starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze, Jr., on Saturday so that I could relive the cultural phenomenon that was my fifth grade year.

Profile: Michael Fassbender

Some actors are stars from the moment they're on screen, others toil in obscurity for years before their big break. A rare few, the most dedicated artists among them, raise their profile by doing excellent work no matter how small or undemanding a role. German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender is one such actor. He has weaved through an extraordinarily varied career over the past decade, giving memorable performances in everything from little-seen independent films, scene-stealing bit parts and eventually star turns in major motion pictures. You've probably seen him several times over the years, but now Fassbender is on the verge of becoming one of his generation's great leading men. Here's a quick primer to familiarize you with one of today's finest actors.

"The Book of Eli"

A sense of majesty in a desolate world


Post-apocalyptic pieces are a dime a dozen these days. Whether it's from the zombie holocaust, nuclear war or an undisclosed catalyst, everybody - humble servant included - has tried their hand at positing the question, "What happens after?" What happens after the world ends? What becomes of its people, its cultures, its spirit? The answers are never good, but sometimes they are interesting. The Book of Eli, the 2010 film written by Gary Whitta and directed by the Hughes Brothers, is one of those interesting answers.




Review of "James and the Giant Peach"

I watched James and the Giant Peach for the first time since I was nine the other day. I was amazed by how wacky the movie was, even though it was for kids. I don’t think that a movie that was anything like it would be made today, only 15 years later. You wouldn’t see a big-budget film with singing centipedes, violin-playing scholarly grasshoppers and a pair of terrifying, dead-looking aunts. In 2011, that’s a surefire way to get your script turned down. Unless you’re Tim Burton, who actually did (and probably still could) make this movie. And that’s why you’ve got to watch the version from 1996 that probably would have pleased the pants off of quirky Roald Dahl, had he lived to see it.  

Harry Potter and Story Exhaustion

I'm not going to write a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two, at least not exclusively. After all, how does one write a review of that film in the context of a solid decade and eight movies involving actors who have literally grown up on screen, directors who have dramatically different styles and a writer whose relationship with her work clearly evolved over time? A situation that complex deserves better than a pithy summary and declaration of how well it all came together. In the history of English-language cinema (and possibly in the entirety of cinema history), there has never been a film series that did what the Harry Potter movies did. HP told one, continuous story involving the same characters, using (but for one, death-related exception) the same actors across eight movies, totaling 21 hours and 12 minutes in duration. That, readers, is insane and I think the wear of those years is apparent in both Deathly Hallows movies.