The Giant Mechanical Man–Emotionally Honest (and not, in fact, about killer robots)

The Giant Mechanical Man sounds like exactly the sort of film one would expect to see being mocked by Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot in an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  And while I’m sure the two robots would find things to riff about it, it’s not their usual fare, as The Giant Mechanical Man is actually a romantic “dramedy” without a hint of science fiction anywhere in it.  The film stars Jenna Fischer from The Office (US version) whose presence in the project drew my attention to it originally, and it’s directed by her husband, Lee Kirk.  Continue reading The Giant Mechanical Man–Emotionally Honest (and not, in fact, about killer robots)

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (and a look back at the franchise as a whole)

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Banner I will get to my thoughts on the new film Mission Impossible Rogue Nation in just a moment, but first, a bit of context…

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Mission Impossible franchise. For example, I love the original TV series from the 1960’s. (Do you guys even know that it’s based on a TV series? So many people I talk to haven’t got any idea). I loved characters played by the likes of Steven Hill and Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. I loved the weirdly repetitive formula with the self-destructing tape bit, the needless dossiers, the apartment scene, the really complicated scams, the brazenly confident drive away at the end of each job completed… Continue reading Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (and a look back at the franchise as a whole)

Ant-Man (including Spoilers)

Well, I’ve seen Ant-Man! That seems like it took a while, but I guess it’s only been out a few weeks. Movies are a bit pricey in Australia so all I had to do was fly to Thailand and then it became easy to afford (even as I write this, I am waiting for my showing of Mission Impossible Rogue Nation. Thanks, Thailand!)

Anyway…Ant-Man. Could it possibly be any good? Well, you already know. It’s been out for a while and you’ve already read reviews and blog posts, if you haven’t actually gone out and seen it yourself. And the answer is yes, it is. It’s pretty good. Which just goes to affirm the fact that you can skillfully tell a story about just about anything if you’re canny enough. Of course, Ant-Man is a bit silly, but thank goodness for that, right?

Continue reading Ant-Man (including Spoilers)

The One I Love (2014)

After commenting on Coherence a few days ago, my friend and regular commenter Baldwin recommended The One I Love as another compelling low budget film.  So I rented it on iTunes (a challenge to download it here in Indonesia, where I am for the time being) and watched it today at a coffee / doughnut shop, while I was enjoying a day off.

There are some similarities to Coherence in a superficial way – the movie moves into a progressively (and only partially) explained science fiction territory, features quite a limited cast and limited number of sets, and was partially improvised.  In this case, the actors knew the whole story from the beginning, but the dialog was still largely created on set.

But aside from that, it’s quite a different project.  The plot of The One I Love is that a marriage therapist sends a struggling couple away to a private retreat as part of their process of sorting out their differences.  Ethan has been unfaithful to Sophie, and the two are finding it difficult to come to terms with how to move on.  So they go to this beautiful home that has a little guest cottage in the back yard.  But while they are there they discover something really strange…

(this is of course where you should stop reading if you don’t want the initial twist of the movie spoiled for you) Continue reading The One I Love (2014)

A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man is apparently the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final film performance (although the next Hunger Games movies is still on its way), and certainly in it he doesn’t look at all well.  I have no idea how much of that is acting and how much (if any) is actually failing health, but from a film performance point of view it doesn’t matter, because Hoffman does a solid and praiseworthy job playing Günther Bachmann, the head of a small group of investigators operating out of Hamburg, where the 9-11 attacks were apparently planned, charged with the task of making sure that such a thing never happens again in that city.  When they become aware of the illegal arrival of a suspicious Chechen with a violent past, they see an opportunity to take down a respectable Muslim statesman who is secretly laundering money to terrorist organizations.  Continue reading A Most Wanted Man

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Spoilers!)

I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past with my friend Rod (a birthday gift – thanks Rod!)

Now, we are both comic book fans, but to me the X-Men are simply another comic franchise–one which has given me a certain amount of enjoyment and has produced some good stories, but which overall isn’t any more special to me than any other. However, for Rod, the X-Men are his favorite comic. Seeing it “brought to life” in the movies like this is more aggravating for him than it is thrilling. The constant story changes, the strange casting choices, the random continuity adjustments – they all conspire to rob him of the enjoyment he’d like to have. Continue reading X-Men: Days of Future Past (Spoilers!)

Why is He Lying on a Pillow of Walnuts? – Thoughts from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Ah, The Hobbit – the Desolation of Smaug:  a timeless love story of an Elf Prince chafing under his father’s autocratic rule, who secretly loves a beautiful soldier under his command, and the tension that arises when a roguish dwarf suddenly appears in their threatens to steal her affections.  In particular, I appreciated the thoughtful way director Peter Jackson has lovingly and faithfully recreated the most beloved moments from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic work of literature, such as the one when Elven beauty Tauriel heals the Dwarf Kili of the Orc poison coursing through his veins….  Continue reading Why is He Lying on a Pillow of Walnuts? – Thoughts from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

My Thoughts on “Ender’s Game”

I was not particularly looking forward to Ender’s Game, the recent movie.  I thought it’d be a challenging work to translate without sacrificing the potentially “unfilmable” (as some would say) psychological story and focusing merely on glitzy space battles.  The advanced trailer didn’t necessarily give me a positive buzz either.  But I was introduced to the book by Orson Scott Card not long ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  More than that, I have found reading its sequels (of which I have read two so far – Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide) to be extremely compelling and emotionally churning experiences.  Then a friend gave me a positive report, so off to the theaters I went this evening with my wife. Continue reading My Thoughts on “Ender’s Game”