Posts tagged ‘Stephen King’

October 13, 2010

Movie Review: The Green Mile

I had never seen Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile until just the other day, and to be quite honest, I was underwhelmed. Let’s start out with the fact that its 3 hours long. Now this isn’t always a problem, but these three hours feel long. And as Darabont’s second feature (and his second Stephen King adaptation) it really doesn’t challenge what we knew about him as a film maker. He makes very comfortable movies that I think are what the populace expect a good movie to be. But maybe I’m crazy when I think a truly good movie should challenge you.

There will be another time and place for why I dislike Tom Hanks (it mostly has to do with Meg Ryan and Big), but his performance as a death row jail warden is very touching and sincere. The supposed “breakout” performance is from the Academy nominated Michael Clarke Duncan. He gives about zero emotional range and just strains his face into contortions that inspired The Ring. I actually don’t think he was terrible, he was quite good, he just had the unfortunate job of being next to Sam Rockwell, the best working character actor. Although fun fact, apparently if you recognize Duncan on the street, he’ll give you 5 bucks. Good for him.

Sam Rockwell gives the craziest performance as a very showy, loud, offensive, sinister, and let’s face it, hilarious criminal. He gives this incredibly honest and tortured performance that completely outshines everyone else in the cast.

I discussed Darabont’s safe take on this work earlier. He doesn’t push the mysticism, the racism, the class difference or anything. He stays in the very comfortable happy miracles and friendship zone. He does however stick to something, if only to create a frame narrative. SPOILER When the old man reveals that he is 108 years old and still young, Darabont introduces the dark element of any King adaptation. Our centenarian is accepting God’s punishment for letting John Coffey die. It’s a little dark, a little creepy, and I like it!!!!!

And since the Oscar’s are the true measure of whether something is good or not, let’s look at its nominations and its deserving-ness.

Best Supporting Actor: Michael Clarke Duncan in the role of John Coffey. Sure he deserved it, but Rockwell deserved it more.

Best Sound: I’m no sound mix expert but there were a lot of cool sound effects and nothing offended me. I’ll buy the nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay: It’s long, emotional, and successful. In those terms I understand it’s nomination, but I wouldn’t have given it the nomination. I think it actually lags in a couple place. It’s only redemption is the ending.

Best Picture: Well I’m glad it lost to my favorite Best Picture winner, “American Beauty.” This is another not deserved nomination. Magnolia deserved this spot and I don’t even like that movie. But it challenges me and is well made. Or what about the Talented Mr. Ripley? Certainly just as Oscar-baity and I think a lot more gutsy, stylized, beautiful, and thought-provoking (not to mention better acted and filmed).

All in all. I liked the film. It’s very touching, its successful in its goals, it handles the mystic well, and cuts the happiness with a bit of a dark ending. And possibly the best mouse film. I would recommend it, but only to my mom and my grandma, not to cinephiles. I don’t think it nearly deserves its #85 ranking on IMDB, but what are rankings anyway.

6/10

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October 13, 2010

Flashbacks: 1990

I thought it would be fun (mostly for myself) to go back through the last few years and look at my favorite films, my least favorite films, and the ones that I’ve missed. I don’t want to go too far back; my interest in film is relatively recent, and I’m still young enough where I just haven’t seen enough outside of my lifetime. So I’m starting with the year I was born: 1990

Top 5 Films of 1990:

 

5. Dances With Wolves

So what if it’s a little sappy, and so what if it’s four hours long. But really that is a problem. Yet this is one of the most endearing and thoughtful looks at Native American life and the American West. I’m not a Native expert, so I can’t comment on accuracy, but this beautifully lensed drama hits home in all the right places. Do I think it deserved the Best Picture win? No. But Costner actually directed something worthwhile.

 

4. Ghost

When Patrick Swayze passed away, many people turned to “Dirty Dancing” but I turned to the far more appropriate “Ghost.” I think it’s safe to say that this romance is original and fresh while refusing to give up all of the 80s that seeps through it (see Demi Moore’s haircut). Also Whoopi Goldberg’s performance is brilliant. I laugh every time she comes on the screen. This romantic and oddly exciting look at the afterlife and true love may be super corny and borderline campy, but it was a runaway hit of the year and still has the ability to resonate today.

 

3. Cinema Paradiso

If you don’t seek out Italian cinema often, do yourself a favor and go find “Cinema Paradiso.” It falls into the meta category, a film about film, as the our boy protagonist learns about life and love through the back of a cinema. Beautiful, touching, original, emotional, and very Italian. Truth be told, I haven’t seen it in a very long time, but it remains a touch stone in my mind about great films about films.

 

2. Misery

Oh Kathy Bates, you can be so very frightening. This is possibly my favorite Stephen King adaptation and it’s success is entirely because of Ms. Bates, possibly the best working female character actress. Her crazy Annie Wilkes is way crazier than Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance.¬†And right now, EW’s Popwatch’s Scary Villain poll, I think she is my favorite on the list. This is also one of the finest and most exciting takes on fandom, obsession, and entrapment.

 

1. Goodfellas

Could I have really put anything else? My favorite Martin Scorsese. In my top 10 of all time. This slick, stylish, sexy, daring, and vicious film redefines the gangster film. The opening segment where young Henry works his way up through the ranks gives me chills every time I watch. As I just dive into Boardwalk Empire, the Scorsese HBO series, I am reminded how much the cathartic violence and the sexy imagery of Scorsese has impacted my view of cinema. Truly one of the greats at his peak. And let’s not forget the last sequence. The utterly breakneck pace puts the tension through the roof.

 

Regrettable Haven’t Seens:

Pretty Woman

Miller’s Crossing

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

Total Recall