5 Quick Commentaries - The Artist, Girl w/the Dragon Tattoo, Mission Impossible, We Bought a Zoo, New Year's Eve

Monday, January 2, 2012

I didn't do a lot of Christmas shopping this season, didn't try any new restaurants and my lips were left cold and wanting on New Year's Eve. But on a bright note,  I did manage to fit in 5 films between Christmas and New Years.

The Artist (Writer/Director Michel Hazanavicius) - Silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is riding high, full of fame, ego and verve, one moment at the height of stardom, the next crashing down to earth, brought low by the advent of sound - "The Talkies". This same new movie craze propels his ingenue, protege Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) into celebrity starlet status. Silently, sans color and with few subtitles, we follow these two early Hollywood lives and careers as they intersect and separate.  Gimmick wise I can understand why this film is getting so much buzz,  it's cute, the costumes are perfection and it's got a fine Tinseltown ending.
When you watch Chaplin’s films, you tend to remember the comic parts but the stories are pure melodramas, where young girls are not only orphans but also blind! The funny things are always in counterpoint to a poignant story. This is the vein that seems to me to suit the film I wanted to make. Besides, regardless of my wanting to make a silent film, I’ve wanted to do a melodrama for a long time, if only because I love to watch them. I wrote with that in mind but, at first, I was slightly nervous of making this world mine. Until the day I no longer even asked myself that question. - Interview with Michel Hazanavicius from Emanual Levy Cinema 24/7
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Director David Fincher) - I saw the original Denmark version directed by Niels Arden Oplev during the 2010 Philadelphia Film Festival, where they showed the complete trilogy back to back.  This was a great way to become totally engrossed in the saga.  I was completely satisfied having not been bothered by the subtitles and wasn't going to see the American version; but, it was what my friends wanted to see the Friday leading into the holiday weekend, so I changed my mind.
It's good. They stuck to the main framework and sequences of the original. Daniel Craig is a sexier Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara is a slightly thinner Lisbeth Salander, but otherwise the characters are indistinguishable.  In fact, the casting of Martin Vanger was so like the original, I had to check to see if they used the same actor.  It's not, but Stellan Skarsgård and Peter Haber could be brothers.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (based on books by Stieg Larsson) American or Danish is a great mix of intrigue, mystery, corporate espionage, family secrets, detective work, romance and danger.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Director Brad Bird) - Every time the next installment in this top box office franchise hits the theaters, I've done forgotten what happened in the last one.  So I wasn't too choked up about Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) having lost his wife.  I didn't even remember she was played by Michele Monaghan.  I go in looking for crazy stunts, espionage and amazing locales. And that's what you get; with a good dose of spy humor to boot.  My only problem with the film was they killed Josh Holloway off too quickly.  I'm still having Lost withdrawal and seeing him even with shorten locks, was a soothing balm. 
We Bought a Zoo (Director Cameron Crowe) - I know I'm always pointing out celebrities that look a like, it's just kinda my thing, but has anyone notice that Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio have basically morphed into the same bloated, aging, white guy?
I didn't know until the start of the movie that it was a Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) film or that it was based on the true story of author Benjamin Mee, who bought Dartmoor Wildlife Park, moved his young children and mother into this dilapidated zoo and set about making it a viable family business. - Link to Benjamin Mee You Tube video
In the film, there is no grandmother, Matt Damon's Benjamin Mee, moves to the zoo with a 7 year-old daughter (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) who is a scene stealer, soooo adorable! and 14 year-old son (Colin Ford). He does have a brother who tries to talk him out of the notion, played by a badly aging Thomas Haden Church
The story centers around the loss of Mee's wife and the mother of the children, whose recent death at the start of the film is the impetus for starting a new life. In the real-life version, Mee's wife dies shortly after they moved into the zoo. 
The film has a lot of heart and Disney-esque qualities. Scarlett Johansson plays down her sexy, as the head zookeeper, but still of course plays Mee's love interest.  There's a cast of characters that make up the small zoo family and plenty of talented animals. Basically, making it a nice film to take the family to see or more likely to rent.

New Year's Eve (Director Garry Marshall) - I've always envied how smart Kool and the Gang was for writing the song "Celebration" or Baby Face for "Anniversary" these songs are used as anthems over and over again, decade after decade, earning untold royalties for the life-time of these musicians and beyond.  Same holds true for Garry Marshall, for taking national holidays and making them into movies. He can probably just keep this format going for years - Memorial Weekend, Halloween, Election Day, is Christmas too cliche? Is anything too cliche for Garry Marshall?
I make fun, but actually I admit to enjoying the cavalcade of stars in overlapping and intersecting, sentimental storylines.  I actually think this one was better written than Valentine's Day and found myself shedding a little tear at the end; which probably had more to do with feeling nostalgic and sorry for myself, as going to see this film on New Year's Eve, all alone, was my only plan for the over-hyped holiday.

Wait, that's a sad note to end on, actually my NYE wasn't an entire bust, I found $140 in the movie theater!  Really, I did. It was in an envelope with no name. I'm sorry for the person who dropped it, but I'm taking it as a sign of prosperity for 2012!

Happy New Year Readers  - wishing everyone blessings of movie magic and culinary delights in the coming year!



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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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