The Green Hornet (2011)

The Green Hornet (Gondry, 2011)

I had a chance to catch an advanced 3-D screening of Michel Gondry’s latest film, The Green Hornet, last night, so I am taking a bit of a break from my 2010 coverage to venture in to the present. Never early enough to get a jump on the current year, especially when that jump involves the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, and others. Not to mention a script from the men who penned Superbad, an Asian pop star taking up acting, and one of the more compelling comedians working today. So with all this talent involved this cannot possibly go wrong, right? Continue reading

Taking on 2010: Lead Performances

We walk a road, a long road. Follow up my previous Top Supporting Performances of 2010 post I now am going to take a look at those who occupy the screens for the majority of a film. The A-listers, the stars and starlets who dazzle us with those big performances, those few who have risen to the top of their profession, jumping from reel to reel with ease. As was the case with the Supporting Performances list, I have not seen every 2010 film but I have seen most of the contenders. I need to let it be known, mostly for the leading females (and two males, I reckon), that I have not seen Another Year, Blue Valentine, or The American. Apologies to all the terrific talents involved with those films. I also seem to be in a position where I will be counting Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives as a 2011 film because I do not think it is being released around me until April. With those two notices issued we move on to the leading men. Continue reading

Taking on 2010: Supporting Performances

With the year officially over, and my inclusion of 2010 winding down as well, I need to start wrapping up my end of the year awards. Naturally I have not seen all the films I hoped to get to over the year, but life happens. I am going to try and continue to catch up with films that need to be seen, but for the most part I think I have had a chance to see most of the films that boast the buzzed about performances. It should probably be noted that I am only drawing from a sample size of 80 films for these lists. Continue reading

Turn The Bunsen Burner On. My Creation Comes Alive.

TRON: Legacy (Kosinski, 2010)

Earlier in the year we had princes of Persia, men made of iron, ogres in quadruple, more vampires, and dream theft. All, in their own way, disappointments, at least of the ones I had the unfortunate chance to view (so all except Shrek, Twilight and Prince of Persia). Without the potential promise of a Nolan at the helm or the inclusion of a Robert Downey Junior in front of the camera I placed on my 3-D glasses with great hesitancy as this sequel to a film I have only tangentially experienced through Kingdom Hearts II displayed the oddest warning about 3-D versus 2-D presentation typed itself across the screen. So without any of these draws, without this background knowledge, with all these warnings could TRON turn in a strong showing or make me wish I had been derezed?

What stands out about the latest film with ties to the Mouse House is not, as one may suspect, the stellar art design, transcending the previous look of TRON in favor for a much more stylized, slickly contemporary video game look. No, what really stands out is the incredible sound design, perfectly mixed to bring life to a world that, for the majority of viewers, is likely unimaginable and alien. The metallic sounds, the movement of the vehicles, the clicking of circuits, it all remains understated while still being integral to the experience as a whole. The Daft Punk soundtrack was highly touted leading up to the film’s release, but the star is the sound mixing and editing, two categories that it should be acknowledged for in a few months when Oscars roll around. But beyond this what stands out, perhaps even more, is the composition of frames. The director makes incredible use of symmetry to establish the highly mechanized world in which these individuals inhabit. All of these aspects seem to fire in perfect unison, making for a startlingly superb technical thrill ride.

But a film can have all the technical prowess it desires, if those aspects do not feed in to a higher purpose then a film is likely to flounder. What TRON: Legacy gets correct is keeping the core story incredibly bare bones and then adding on to these common themes (father and son reunite, stopping evil from taking the world) by layering a bit more subtext. The thoughts that are spouted off by the older Flynn force the story to turn its attention away from the generic evil that is found in Clu and focus it on humanity’s quest for perfection. It is through this search that much of the narrative weight is present, and while the movie does not do a great job of establishing exactly what Clu could do if he escapes, at least not until the very last scene when we see transference from the grid back to the real world, the twisted pursuit of his goal and the havoc he has wreaked on the grid does establish the potential threat of what may be possible if he escapes.

The film is brilliant in the way that it balances tremendous action alongside these higher, albeit overly dramatized, concepts. The film simply continues going, which I find incredibly admirable. By constantly expanding the scope of the ideas it tackles, all very well integrated into the fiction and narrative, the film starts to become existential. What is perfection? How does humanity develop? Do we need help? How do we exist? What can imperfection mean in the pursuit of perfection? Granted these ideas are not always handled completely, but the presence of such concepts in a film of this magnitude are incredibly refreshing. By having creations taking on human forms and still exploring the meaning of existence, of problems and conflicts that have spurred some of the largest conflicts of mankind, the film reaches a level of near brilliance without sacrificing the fun of a large scale action flick or existing as too serious. The main conflict is also genius in the way it has man take on himself, while still externalizing the conflict on a large scale level. Truly tremendous construction that holds a startling amount of narrative weight.

I was not sure how I would respond to TRON going in to the film, but the solid acting across the board, with some highlights breaking that solid descriptor, keeps the film moving and constantly developing in a way that nearly mirrors the more successful parts of the Star Wars franchise. On top of all that I do not feel as if I was ever lost because I did not see the original film, yet this one never was weighed down by exposition. TRON is plenty full of flaws, but despite it all the film still manages to be much more than a simple thrill ride and, when it comes down to it, we need more mainstream films like TRON: Legacy.

Forever off the grid,

Rich

Comments are encouraged and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at twitter.com/FLYmeatwad or twitter.com/ProcessedGrass.

Taking on 2010: Songs

I may have tipped my hand a bit by already posting my Top Albums of 2010, but I hope there are still plenty of surprises left for my continued conquest of all aspects 2010. Today I am going to be looking at tracks, but before I go on I should probably state that I am not including covers in this list. I am only including one song per band/artist. So far those are the only stipulations. Sadly, that means that Weezer’s excellent cover of “Viva la Vida,” likely the second best song of the year, is not eligible. It also means that “Monster” will not be making the list. With those possible marks of shame out of the way, we are on to the list. Continue reading

Taking on 2010: Albums

It has been a while, the grass has grown, now we are back to being processed. With the year drawing to an end I have found myself compiling lists on top of lists in an attempt to make sense of the past twelve months in all venues of culture. Well, the ones I I feel comfortable discussing. Now I should probably do a Top 20 Tracks first, but I am still working my way through the Pitchfork list to make sure I have filled in my blind spots. Albums I think I have a fairly comprehensive list, and I can certainly expand on last year’s list. I have not gotten a chance to listen to a few records I would still like to check out, but 33 records are probably enough for now, right? Right. Let’s get to counting down. Continue reading

Now In The Morning I Sleep Alone, Sweep The Streets I Used To Own

The Social Network (Fincher, 2010)

It seems that once every year a film comes out during ‘Oscar season’ that is labeled as immensely topical, a true testament to our time that perfectly captures a specific mentality that defines our world now, perhaps even defines a generation as a whole. Most of the time these films are mislabeled. Last year we had Up in the Air, the year before was Milk, and now it seems that David Fincher’s The Social Network has taken the mantle of my generation’s voice. However, just like all of these other films that are incorrectly labeled as purely topical ploys for attention, Fincher makes an attempt to transcend the times and deliver a cinematic experience from what appears to admittedly be a very topical concept: the invention of Facebook. So does Fincher deliver a film accessible by all, or something better left just for friends? Continue reading