Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekly Round-Up (1/5/14 - 1/11/14)

Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor/Verena Paravel) **** - I wish I saw this on the big screen but alas, my 32" HD flatscreen will do. This is an extraordinary film. I would best describe this as The Man with a Movie Camera meets The Deadliest Catch and that's a compliment. The film basically chronicles a North American fishing vessel. How they work, their day to day lives as well as the different sea life that surrounds them. Using special cameras mounted all over the boat and I don't know where else, they get these amazing shots which often assault your senses both visually and auditorily. It's beautiful, grotesque (there's a sequence where it feels like a horror film for fish) and oddly exciting. There is no real narrative to speak of or even a statement of any kind. It's an avant-garde experimental documentary that's an exercise is acrobatic shots. I don't know how a casual moviegoer would react to this but cinephiles will more likely be blown away by the sheer audaciousness of this cinematic undertaking.

Blackfish (Gabriela Cowperthwaite) ***1/2 - I've actually been to SeaWorld twice. Once when I was a young kid of 10 and I remember enjoying it and another when I was 16-17 and remembered being bored and disappointed with it and sensing something was not quite right with it. Well, this film just confirms it. This is a compelling documentary about how those stories of trainers being injured, attacked or killed by captive killer whales are far from isolated incidents or unfortunate accidents. It's quite an eye-opening expose though it falls a bit short of true greatness as a film since it doesn't go deeper than "treating orcas this way is bad!" Still, it's a very good film that must be seen. Boy, what greed and pride can do to people. Jeez.

Lone Survivor (Peter Berg) *** - Director Peter Berg very nicely bounces back from the disaster that was Battleship with this tight war drama. There is nothing here thematically that we haven't seen before but you still get swept up with the visceral, bone-crunching action. There's a sequence here where you can literally almost feel the pain. You'll know it when you see it. As a bleeding heart anti-war liberal, the film REALLY borders on the RAH RAH RAH 'MURICA! aspect of it which I found a bit problematic. The pre-credits sequence was particularly jarring. But still, it's very well made, very well-acted. It's worth checking out.

47 Ronin (Carl Rinsch) ** - It's not quite as godawful as its 10% Rotten Tomatoes score suggests. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. But it's pretty close. Now, I love samurai movies. I will say that I'm a fan of samurai movies. This is a samurai movie. But it's not for samurai movie fans. It's a samurai movie for people who have never seen a samurai movie. It's quite dumbed down. There's dialogue quite literally explaining the concept of seppuku that's absolutely laughable. If you've never seen a samurai movie in your life, I think it can be quite entertaining. But if you're like me and you've already seen Seven Samurai, Ran, The Sword of Doom, Samurai Rebellion, 13 Assassins, etc. or even the Japanese version of the 47 Ronin story (which has been filmed a lot in its native Japan), you will find yourself wanting to watch those movies again.


Michael Peterson said...

I'm quite keen to see Lone Survivor - all the more so seeing as you like it. Will check back when I've caught it

Adam said...

I still kinda want to watch 47 ronin for some strange reason