Produced by: Ray Stark, Andrew Stone, Victoria White
Written by: Robert Harling
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Cinematography by: John A. Alonzo
Music by: Georges Delerue
Starring: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott, Kevin J. O’Connor
Based on the play by Robert Harling
Steel Magnolias is one of those films I used to automatically think about when I thought of the term “chick flick.” It may well be one of those movies, like Sleepless in Seattle, which helped make me aware that movies can become so “gendered” and that there’s such a stigma attached to them that, if you just happened to like the film and not be part of the target demographic (i.e., women), then people begin to… well… “question” you. And I think I knowingly let this affect my enjoyment of the film and would overtly express my disgust for the film whenever the prospect of putting it on arose. Of course, I was probably ten around that time, but that stigma tainted all my future attempts to watch this movie with my mom, who happens to be a huge fan, even though I knew that, secretly, I found much to enjoy about it. And, even then, having been long since out of the house, time has also certainly taken its toll on my memory as to what it was that I enjoyed. Read more…
Produced by: Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon, Roger M. Bobb
Written by: Tyler Perry
Edited by: Maysie Hoy
Cinematography by: Alexander Gruszynski
Music by: Aaron Zigman
Starring: Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, David Mann, Cassi Davis, Tamela Mann, Lauren London, Isaiah Mustafa, Rodney Perry, Shannon Kane, Teyana Taylor
Based on the musical play by Tyler Perry
I watched a pretty bad movie this weekend, the Robin Williams-starring What Dreams May Come, but even that trite piece of cloying rubbish couldn’t come close to satiating my craving for bad cinema, apparently. And so I ran through my Netflix queue and discovered that, long ago, I had stashed away a Tyler Perry movie for just such an occasion. And, well, I did it. I finally did it. After watching about 70% of Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman on TBS and then not being able to take any more, I finally watched my first complete Tyler Perry production, Madea’s Big Happy Family. And, oh my God, I don’t know how I got through it. (Actually, maybe I do. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with “bin and chronic.”) Read more…
My apologies for the slightly longer delay in getting this part out. I kinda got stricken with the flu for a few days, and didn’t exactly feel like writing. But, here it is, the final third of the films I didn’t see in the year 2012. This is the period of time where the summer movies begin to trickle out before coming to a complete stop and where film studios begin their flood of Oscar-baiting dramas and such.
That’s not to say that there are never any good action films released during this time. That also isn’t to say that none of these Oscar-baiting films are any good, too. Far from it. 2012 saw the release of Oscar-worthy greats as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in the same time period as cash-grabbing features like the final Twilight film, The Hobbit, and Wreck-it Ralph, all with varying degrees of success. It’s actually a fairly ripe time to watch all sorts of movies, come to think of it. Possibly better than even summer!
Still, it’s not like I’m going to see every film released during this time. If anything, I ran out of time and risked going out of budget for all the films that I did want to see, but didn’t always have time to. Then there were also films that, quite frankly, I could just do without seeing. But, for the purposes of this article, I’ve gone through and examined all these, both enticing and repugnant, some being granted my attention possibly for the last time ever, and have collected my thoughts and impressions below. As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, this isn’t my final say on these films, and some of the commentary below is based pretty much on plot synopses, other reviews, skimmings, and a heavy use of Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes. I watched the trailers where I could and didn’t for those films that I just basically didn’t care. Which ones are those? Read, and you may just find out! Read more…
Ah, summer — the time of tentpole blockbuster films that are meant to pad out the studios’ budgets for the next few months. I believe I saw most of the major films released during this period, at least at some point in the year, if not the theatre: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3, Battleship… Overall, it was a more than satisfying year for quality summer blockbusters that pleased both audiences and critics. … Well, probably not Battleship. That movie was awful.
With so many films that release in theatres that are best seen actually on the big screen, though, it was only inevitable that smaller and/or less interesting films fell by the wayside of my attention span. Critically acclaimed features like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oslo, August 31st would get unfortunately lumped in with similarly ignored-by-me crap like Step Up Revolution and That’s My Boy this past summer, which isn’t a commentary on their quality as much as it is a reflection of my time and budgetary restrictions. (I subscribe to a number of rental services and still buy and go see movies in theatres, but I can only do so much and thus prioritize quality spectacle films usually over the quality comedies and dramas.)
So while I do believe I got the most out of my summertime viewings that I possibly could, let’s go over the films that I somehow managed to not see as of the time of this writing, for better or for worse. Read more…
Produced by: Masao Sato, Masumi Okada, Teruo Kamaya, Tetsu Kayama
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Katsumi Yanagishima
Music by: Masamichi Amano
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano
Based on the novel Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) by Koushun Takami
Director Kinji Fukasaku once said that he took on the duties of directing this adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel thanks in large part to his experiences as a 15-year-old, working in one of Japan’s munitions factories during World War II. When he realized that the government had been lying to them about war, he grew to distrust adults, a resentment that apparently had carried on well into his own adulthood. Though I haven’t read the original novel, it’s easy to see why he was so drawn into the project, given his history. Battle Royale seems to take the stance that teenagers need not necessarily always listen to their elders and should always question their reasons for putting them through the systems that they set in the way as they head into adulthood. In this case, the system is represented through the titular 3-day, all out battle to the death between teenagers selected at random by the government in a post-millennial attempt to curtail the rise in youth crimes and once again regain the respect the younger generation no longer holds toward their elders. Read more…
Produced by: Rick McCallum, Chas. Floyd Johnson, Ales Komárek (co-producer), George Lucas (executive producer)
Written by: John Ridley, Aaron McGruder (screenplay), John Ridley (story)
Cinematography by: John Aaronson
Music by: Terence Blanchard
Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Tristan Wilds, Kevin Phillips, Marcus T. Paulk, Michael B. Jordan, Daniela Ruah, Bryan Cranston, Ryan Early, Lars van Riesen, Method Man
I’m going to preface this review with a disclaimer: I know very little about the actual history behind this film’s story and setting. I blame it on my education. (Doesn’t everyone?) I had heard about the Tuskegee Airmen before, of course, but most of the time, they were a footnote or, at best, one of those little side panels in my history books, sidelined with a photo or two and a few facts listed, undoubtedly being an answer to a question that nobody would remember. Even in college, where we were expected to be more enlightened, we glossed over the subject entirely, with maybe a one-sentence mention thrown in for good measure. Read more…
Produced by: Nora Ephron, Lauren Shuler Donner
Written by: Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron
Cinematography by: John Lindley
Music by: George Fenton
Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Jean Stapleton, Greg Kinnear, Steve Zahn, Heather Burns, Dave Chappelle
Based on the play Illatszertár (trans. “Parfumerie”) by Miklós László
When I had heard that Nora Ephron passed away not too long ago on June 26, I knew that I had to do a tribute review for her. It’s not that I was a huge fan of her, her films, her plays, or even her widely acclaimed various writings. From my earliest memories of becoming a fan of films, Nora Ephron was among one of the earliest names in film credits that I recognized consistently outside the much more widely recognizable names like Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. This was largely thanks in part to my mom, who was a fan of many of the films she did make, especially Sleepless in Seattle.
I originally planned on reviewing Sleepless in Seattle, in fact, which was Ephron’s second film as director and first widely acclaimed film. It also happened to be the only film of hers that I had in my library, and only then due to the fact that my mom had somehow managed to have two copies and so, you know, why not? But, though it is not at all a bad film, I must confess that my already limited affection for it has waned over the years, primarily thanks to the Meg Ryan character going completely unrecognized as an insane woman who seriously needs help. Needless to say, after re-watching it for the purposes of a review after not seeing it for several years, I felt as though I wasn’t doing the director justice in writing up a review of a film that I began to see as, well, enjoyable but quite mediocre.
Luckily, I found justification in buying up one of her other films — one that I genuinely love. At $9.99 on Amazon and featuring a DVD copy of the older film, The Shop Around the Corner, which also borrows its story from the same Miklós László’s stage play, You’ve Got Mail was a steal, and its purchase a cathartic experience for me. You see, as a guy, it was hard to admit it for a while but, yes, I genuinely have the whole guilty pleasure thing going on with this movie. Read more…
Since this blog’s inception, I’ve posted 85 times, and while that is not necessarily one of those significantly recognized numbers like, say 25, 50, or 75, I must say, I didn’t know whether or not that I would stick with this blog for as long as I have, and while I’ve at times wondered if I could continue writing for this, 85 seems like a good enough number to definitively say to myself, “Yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing, even if it’s not for a living.”
You see, even though I might not be getting paid for what I’m doing here, there’s still a significant part of me that absolutely loves the cinema, even the crap movies sometimes, and I love discussing them with people when I can. Writing this may be a somewhat of a one-way street, as I’m still not entirely certain how significant my readership is here, but the more I write about it, the more I know that my audience will grow, and even if I’m not getting quite the comments level that I probably naively expected/hoped, hopefullyThe Viewer’s Commentary has at least helped in elevating this art medium that I love so much, if even by a small amount.
Going forward, I hope to have more reviews and commentary up more often. Going through a few sites around the blogosphere, I’m inspired to stop caring so much about the scope of my posts as much as I am posting from both my gut and heart and only worry about the high concept stuff when the mood strikes me just right. This will enable me to not burn out after work in trying to do a ton of research only to decide to abandon all plans to write that night. Less pressure, more pleasure, I guess you could say.
And, so, with this, the 86th published post, I’m going to make good on that promise to myself and my readership with a follow up to my very first article on the site — Here are, in no particular order, five more films that I would consider to be, more or less, my favorites!
Inglourious Basterds – I initially fell asleep during this movie. There. I said it. I blame my friend, who was also present with me during our recent viewing of John Carter — another film I fell asleep during. (Though, with that film, it was likely the fact that it was a midnight showing after a tame hockey-game bachelor’s party — that and it was also kind of a boring flick in general.) That bad luck for me apparently rubbed off once he got married, as he was also present when we went to go see The Avengers, and I was glued for that. (Honestly, Inglourious Basterds was also a late night showing during a very hectic and busy school schedule for me, so it wasn’t great timing.) But I’m digressing. Read more…
Produced by: Robert F. Colesberry, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin
Written by: Gene Brewer, Charles Leavitt
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Music by: Edward Shearmur
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard
Based on the novel by Gene Brewer
For this review, I decided to outsource the suggestions. While I’m always open to friends and family recommending films to me, it isn’t often that a film suggestion catches me off guard as much as this particular friend’s suggestion did. To understand this, you must understand the friend who recommended K-PAX to me. You see, he’s not really into films. In fact, aside from a few anime productions and some other random suggestions that he would so characteristically justify the viewing of, my friend is relatively disconnected from films, especially sci-fi films. This is a man who has not once, not twice, but countless times told me, “You watch too many movies,” and said it as if it was out of some kind of concern I was in need of intervention. (It’s totally cool, though, I can quit any time I want!) So, that being said, I was rather stunned when his response to my admittedly mildly antagonistic question of “What film should I review next?” was the rather quick response of “K-PAX.” Read more…