Archive for the 7/10 Category

River’s Edge (T. Hunter, 1986)

Posted in 1980s, 7/10 on April 16, 2014 by chrisfilm

River’s Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986)

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.  –Proverbs 22:24-25

Not quite the troubled teenage life film I thought it was going to be. Exaggerated in both the presentation of youth’s passive attitude and in the performances of the actor’s involved, it’s far from ‘real’ and instead lives in the realm of realistic surrealism. (Yes I just made up that oxymoronic term!) It really is bizarre watching the mostly passive reaction to learning one of their friends has killed another. There is definite internal moral wrestling occurring in almost every character, but it really does not detract from the important things like when they are getting their next hit, or who they are going to make out with next. Hunter’s odd and over-the-top depiction of troubled youth is neither completely successful nor a failure; I just couldn’t quite break its outer shell.  6.75/10

river's edge

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (P. Jackson, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 7/10 on March 18, 2014 by chrisfilm

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson, 2013)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  –1 Corinthians 16:13

I’ve been avoiding writing this review for a while now because I just don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, but I have no insight here. It’s another fun movie in an ever-growing franchise that suffers from the same issues as the first Hobbit movie – too much CGI. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable and a nice chance to escape real life, but it doesn’t pull you in and somehow trick you into thinking it could be real like the original trilogy and its ability to avoid CGI whenever possible. I don’t always feel like I’m in Middle Earth; I feel like I’m in a computer. The adventure and storytelling were still enough to reel me in and keep me interested though.  7/10

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lawrence, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 7/10 on February 17, 2014 by chrisfilm

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)

The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.  –Proverbs 29:13

A huge improvement over the original. Perhaps now that we are rid of the idea of innocents being forced to kill and the psychological turmoil that should have created (but was conveniently ignored in the first), focus could be placed on the more inspired and entertaining ‘fight the power’ theme. Katniss finds herself peeling the armor from President Snow’s invincibility. No longer is he focused on keeping the districts in check (though he claims to be). Instead, his focus is on a single revenge. Every moment on screen is an exhibit of tunnel vision as he plots her demise. And, she, though mostly powerless, walks a fine line between acting out and protecting her family from his threats. It’s a cat-and-mouse game that’s secondary to the general oppressed vs oppressor storyline that dominates the film. But it’s a stronger idea and should have been a greater focus to lend more credence to the film’s finale. As is, everything fits well enough though, and it does mostly what it expects to do – entertain.  7.25/10

hunger games catching fire

Redemption (S. Knight, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 7/10 on February 12, 2014 by chrisfilm

Redemption (Steven Knight, 2013)

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’  –Matthew 26:52

First of all, I refuse to call this by its IMDb name. Whoever made the decision to give this a different ‘known’ name made the right choice. Hummingbird only puts focus on what is easily the weakest aspect of this film – the war flashbacks and the ridiculous effect they had on the protagonist. They’re heavy-handed, entirely too ‘important’, and just completely unneeded.

redemption

Minus those scenes what we have is actually another entry in the recently ever-growing subdued action genre. More time is spent on atmosphere, settings, conversations (which were more or less natural), and general ambience than fights and chases. While I prefer a bit more elaborate cinematography out of films like these (the poster is perfect; I want more neon!), overall this still is much closer to Drive than it is G.I. Joe in its aesthetics. And the film’s relationships and the actions that result are handled with delicacy and patience. So while it falls into a lot of common big blockbuster traps, its footing is firmly planted on the side of quality cinema.  7.25/10

Buffalo Boy (Nguyen, 2004)

Posted in 2000s, 7/10 on December 5, 2013 by chrisfilm

Buffalo Boy (Nguyen-Vo Minh, 2004)

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son’; and he answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.’  –Genesis 27: 1-4

A solid coming-of-age story. A quiet but confident teenage boy is sent, in essence, to take on the world as his parents request he take their two buffalos to dry land to feed during flood season. It’s a long journey which finds him doing whatever he can to survive and meet his parents’ requests. But in doing so, he has no choice to grow up quickly. As he returns home, the story has really just begun. From here his relationship with his father, with his mother, with his newfound friends and enemies all contribute to the continual molding of this boy as a person. The many different worldviews become blurry, and like any other teenager, he bounces back and forth between believing the world has the answers and his father has the answers. It becomes a great depiction of a father/son relationship and how growing up and going out, and eventually maturing reshapes that relationship. Overall, it’s not as cinematic an experience as I would have liked and tends to become unfocused at times, but it’s a good watch despite this.  7.5/10

buffalo boy

The Cranes are Flying (Kalatozov, 1957)

Posted in 1950s, 7/10 on November 25, 2013 by chrisfilm

First, let me apologize to my millions of readers for not giving you word on why there have been no updates recently. On 11/8, my wife and I welcomed our newest little addition to our family into this world – Howie Walter Weseloh! So, obviously, things have been busy and not a lot of movie watching has been happening around here. But I did have time to sneak this in during nap time.

The Cranes are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.  -Proverbs 3:3

Well if this is any indication, the flaws from my first Kalatozov experience, Letter Never Sent, seem to be staples of his directorial style. That’s a disappointment, especially since it leaves no room for other flaws. So the overbearing melodrama on display here is too much to bear. The beautiful opening sequence of young love filmed gracefully, painted with the light of the surroundings and the unashamed smiles and laughter of the two people lost in their own little world, is serene. But almost immediately the melodrama takes center stage as war is abruptly introduced as a central conflict. How will this love survive? Unfortunately, a beautiful depiction of young love becomes a lesson of how war rips apart relationships, including an eye-roll inducing scene where the start of the loveless marriage happens during a frightening airborne attack. If only Kalatozov would have continued down the path he started with young love, extraordinary cinematography (well, this is consistent throughout at least), and an interesting familial dynamic. But the drama and the message become too much.  6.75/10

cranes are flying

World War Z (Forster, 2013)

Posted in 2010s, 7/10 on November 5, 2013 by chrisfilm

World War Z (Marc Forster, 2013)

Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and wandering all the precious things that were hers from days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, her foes gloated over her; they mocked at her downfall.  –Lamentations 1:7

Soooo, my wife and I had no idea this was a zombie movie. But, hey, that made for a fun experience. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We were basically put in the exact position as the characters in this film and any time you are able to do that, it enhances the film.

world war z

But while it was fun, it was still just a popcorn flick. That is, until the film finds itself in Jerusalem in what is easily its most horrifying scene. Initially, for the first time since entering this world, safety is abundant. Suspense is down and the pace is allowed to slow. But what Forster does next is brilliant. Working off of a previously established ‘rule’ for the zombies, and by using the culture’s natural tendency for vocal praise, he turns a moment of jubilation into one of the most frightening scenes I’ve seen – a fastly-formed, frantic mess of a human ladder overtaking the one remaining safe place in the entire world. Haunting, especially since at that point, it truly feels like all hope is lost. Overall, it’s a good watch, at least when it’s not what you expect.  7.25/10