It’s a film that wanted to to be bigger than it is. It spans a whole lifetime, has some profound dialogue and a guy who ages backwards. All well and good and both Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett look amazing as they age in opposite directions. I did like it. However as spectacular as it looks it’s a bit forgettable. I saw this a while back and completely forgot to write about it. While watching it I kept thinking of Pete Hamill’s fantastic book “Forever“, not sure why. The two don’t have anything really in common. I love that book and always thought it might make a good movie, but then again, maybe not. Some books work only as books and imagination. Something tells me Benjamin Button is one of those.
It is often that I wonder what makes a movie good. It is in many cases difficult to answer. Some are memorable, others you want to see over and over. Yet other really well made films you never want to really see again. In the case of Dredd it boils down to:
- It did not have a single boring moment. It was fun!
- Dredd played by Karl Urban, for a guy who never takes off his helmet, was surprisingly “engaging”. He felt like a real person and
- A good well-played villain and her gang (although I really wanted to know more about the young guy with the “electronic” eyes)
- Pretty cool choreography and fight scenes
- It does not try to be too funny, corny or take itself too seriously. It’s a “shoot your way to the top and out of this skyscraper” flick. No more or less.
Really it is much better than more hyped up comic book flicks like “The Amazing Spider-man“. I would love to see a second one with the same crew, but it does not seem very likely since this one was not such a huge box office success.
Few and far between movies I can watch repeatedly, Big Night is one of them. I love this film. The story of two Italian immigrant brothers in the 60s with a struggling restaurant. The cook of the two, Primo, is an idealist, a brilliant chef who believes that he should cook what he loves and knows is good as opposed to catering to the low expectations of his potential customers like the bustling Pascal’s restaurant down the street from him. His brother, Secondo, played by Stanley Tucci manages the front of the house and the money side. He knows they are drowning and would like to make some changes. We love Primo’s character, principles and passions, but we understand Secondo’s point of view and his desire to capture that promised American dream.
An opportunity arises when a famous singer is supposed to come to town and visit the brothers’ restaurant. A visit and dinner from a famous person might be just the type of publicity the restaurant needs. That’s the Big Night that Primo and Secondo pull all the stops for and cook an amazing feast with risotto, fish, suckling pig and the famous Timpano.
The film is a real gem with one of the most amazing performances by Tony Shalhoub as Primo. He comes across as sweet, vulnerable, uncompromising, stubborn and loving at the same time. He expresses so much in his face and even when he is speaking his non- native Italian. Stanley Tucci also does a great job as the younger brother who has immense respect and love for his brother but really has his own dreams and love life as well that he does not just want to abandon and go back to Italy. Big Night is a film that is as lovingly crafted as that Timpano that Primo baked and so carefully waited and waited till just the right moment to slice into it.
I do not think that Celine and Jesse really understood the impact of that night in Vienna on their lives. If they (well, Celine really) did they would not have missed meeting Jesse 6 months later as she and Jesse agreed to do at the end of Before Sunrise . She probably would have missed her grandmother’s funeral and made it to that train station. Instead about 10 years pass by before they meet again this time in beautiful Paris. Jesse is there on the final stop of his book tour. His book is basically an account, a fictionalization, of that fateful night when he met the love of his life.
Much has changed in their lives and we catch up on everything through their engrossing conversation. Celine makes it a point to be at the book shop for his reading. Jesse basically was hoping she would. He is married now and has a young boy. She had many love interests but nothing permanent. Jesse is not very happy and both of them know that the night they spent in Vienna was really something special. Through the span of only a few hours Jesse and Celine go through 10 years of pent up emotion ranging from love , blame, anger and disappointment. They are older now of course and their conversation takes the tone of individuals who have had many more experiences than their much younger selves in 1995. Celine is an activist and staunch liberal. Jesse is more of an easy going writer with no strong beliefs. All that, as interesting as it is, is just icing. The real conversation veers toward them and their personal lives. She wanted every man she dated to have been Jesse and they were not. He married out of loyalty but is not in love and heading towards a breakup. An why, oh why, did she not meet him at the train station? How on earth could they not have exchanged actual concrete information about themselves (like last names! Contact information!) after they parted in Vienna? Oh, how their lives could’ve been different.
As the evening flight time for Jesse to take back to the US approaches they have to decide. If they part again this time around, they will most likely never meet again. Maybe that is best. Should they just keep that idea of an amazing life together just an ideal in both of their minds or give it a shot and see what actaully happens. I won’t spoil it here for the 2 or 3 individual who might be actually reading this and are interested in watching the film. These movies might seem easy to make, but they really are not. Linklater choreographs and plots all the dialogue to the last detail so as to make it seem like these two people are just having a conversation. Nothing here is improvised, but the actors do a fantastic job that we feel by that we know them so well. We like them. Like Celine and Jesse who pick up their conversation naturally and effortlessly after 10 years of not seeing each other we do the same. We are right there with them.
What makes life the most meaningful in its short span are the relationships we forge with people, those who we love. Before Sunrise is a film I’ve seen a few times over the years and recently watched it again with Diana before diving into the other two in this amazing series. It is a great film that manages to show us just how fleeting (and memorable) those relationships could be. Jesse tells Celine, the pretty girl he has just met on a train heading towards Vienna, that this could be one of those moments. After she is old and wrinkly she will never have to look back and wonder what would’ve happened if she accepted the invitation from the handsome American to walk around Vienna and get to know him. She should just do it, take a chance and see what happens. Then she’ll know what she is missing when she is an old grandmother winding down her years.
This could be a recipe for a horrible romantic comedy where the two characters get into all kinds of ridiculous situations in the European city, have a falling out and eventually kiss, make up and live happily ever after. Instead, Richard Linklater writes a movie in which those two very likable people do what characters in their situation would ideally do. They walk around, see some sights, get some drinks and talk and talk some more. They know they only have a few hours together and they figure that walking and chatting is the best way to know each other and wind down the hours. We walk around with them and listen in to their conversation. We see what they see and, more than that, notice how they talk and how they look at each other. We see that they are falling in love and we would love to know what happens after today. Do they meet again? We want them to. We would love to rest assured that they lead a happy life. It’s open-ended or more accurately it ends with a promise and that is good enough. After all, as the great Roger Ebert said, any “ending” in a movie is simply arbitrary.
It is over. One of the best TV series of all time just wrapped up recently with a fantastic finale. I am not sure if we’ve ever seen a character transform from a sympathetic hero to a villain and everywhere in between over the course of a series quiet like Walter White. He started off as a chemistry teacher with terminal cancer who starts cooking meth to – in his mind- leave a legacy and money to his family. The Journey he takes and the trail of blood, bodies and broken lives he leaves in his wake until his final spectacular demise was a pleasure to watch and observe. It’s a show with amazing writing, performances, memorable characters, music and cinematic production value overall. Just re-watch the train heist episode and I think you will see one of the tightest most brilliantly executed heist mini-movies ever. Another memorable episode is the final one we see Gus Fring in, aptly labeled “Face Off”, it is intense and so perfectly executed. So many more to pick from including one of the best of the series, this season’s “Ozymandias”, it looked great and was so heartbreaking. Heisenberg (Brian Cranston), Jesse (Aaron Paul) and the amazing set of characters (Hank, Saul, Skyler,…) will all be greatly missed.
Kids liked it. For anyone older than 10, this is ridiculous and -worse- boring.
It looks very good and has that unique Wes Anderson feel, color and dialogue. It’s a fable of sorts set in a fictitious island about growing up, love and finding a home. We have two young protagonists, a boy scout and a local girl, who decide to run away together. We learn more about the quirky town people, the parents, and the crazy serious scout troops during the search for the kids. We have really good performances from both kids and the excellent cast of actors including Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Harvey Frances McDormand.