A.movie.Journey

Thoughts on new movies and other film musings

Looper

Dir. Rian Johnson; Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

What makes a person who they are? How do events change the path of someone’s life? And what is the impact of the people and environment around you? These questions, among many others, are at the center of Looper and have been on my mind since I’ve left the theater. Blending elements of film-noir with time-travel sci-fi, Looper is a unique and smartly structured thriller with engaging characters and a lived-in, fully realized world. Almost everything in the film is left ambiguous, too; not from a plot standpoint, mind you–the ending is fairly clear–but as far as the characters and their actions. There is no clear good and bad for the film’s entirety, and even when you think there is, you’ll probably rethink those assessments when the movie is finished. The greatest strength of the movie, putting aside style for a moment, is the way it gets the audience to grapple with questions about how they feel about what is going on in the film, how characters are interacting with one another, what their motivations are, etc. Looper is not only the most important film this year, thus far, but as a strikingly original, post-modern movie that is anything but “typical Hollywood,” Looper brings to mind shades of The Matrix and will be a major influence in cinema just as that one was before it. Read the rest of this entry »

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July Movie Wrap-Up: Superheroes, Teddy Bears, and the End of the World

Hello fair readers! Another month has gone by in this busy movie season, and one of the most anticipated movies in years was finally released. And no, I’m not talking about Step Up Revolution. Since it’s been another busy month for me (weddings, travels, getting psyched for the Olympics, etc.), I wanted to give you my quick takes for the films I saw last month: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Ted, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. **THIS POST IS SPOILER-FREE**  I am planning on seeing TDKR in IMAX next week, so I will be posting a more in depth, spoiler-filled analysis on that afterward.  Read the rest of this entry »

June Movie Wrap-Up: Prometheus & Snow White

So. It’s been quite a busy month, hasn’t it? I hope you haven’t missed me too much… Wait, scratch that, yes I do. I hope you came back to the blog every single day in anticipation of my return. Well I’m back! To recap you: Wedding season has kept me plenty occupied the last 30 days; I got to travel up to NYC again where I saw the ridiculously crazy/awesome Sleep No More; the Miami Heat finally got their championship with LeBron; and the doc that I told you about when we last met managed to raise all of it’s $30,000! In all of that, I haven’t seen a whole lot of movies. Just 2, actually. So I figured I’d go ahead and give you a quick review for both Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus before we all head into July, a month that is completely jam-packed with big movies. Read the rest of this entry »

Forgive–Don’t Forget: Documentary Project

So a couple weeks back I mentioned a documentary project that I’ve been involved with. Today, I’d like to share a little bit more on that with you. The company I work for is co-producing a documentary following the journey to return a Japanese sword, taken from the country during WWII, to the family of its original owner. In an attempt to secure funding, the film recently launched a kickstarter page where anyone can pledge to donate to the project. The project has raised about 10% of its budget, but I encourage you to spread this around to anyone you think might be interested in the film. Head to the kickstarter page for more information on the project, and check out the trailer below (also, be on the look out for my cameo past the 1 minute mark).

I’m still in an Avengers coma, so I don’t know if I’ll make it to the theaters in the upcoming days. Expect a review next week, but I’ll be back on Friday with something fun!

It’s Friday: The Avengers Wrap-Up

Vodpod videos no longer available.

If you didn’t get a chance to see my post on The Avengers, check it out here. Or you can head over to ComicBookMovie and read it there. I got the chance to see the film three times so I had a lot of time to think about it, and that’s why the review is a little bit different. I did, however, want to share a few more thoughts for those accustomed to my usual review format.

What Works

  • Humor
  • Character Interaction
  • Emphasis on Iconography and Symbolic Imagery
  • The Hulk

What Doesn’t

“Seeing It–Working on Believing It”: Sight and Vision in The Avengers

From Fury’s patch, to Loki’s possession of Hawkeye, to Dr. Banner’s reading glasses, Marvel’s The Avengers frequently emphasizes eyesight, seeing, and vision, stressing the importance of perspective in the film’s story. The quote, “[I’m] seeing it–working on believing it,” is taken from Tony Stark’s response to an alien invasion in the film, but in pointing out the literal act of seeing, it works doubly to articulate the audience’s main response to the movie. The Avengers doesn’t just succeed as a film because of the shock of what is on screen, however, it is the constant shifting and re-aligning of perspective that allows the audience to grow a deeper relationship with these costumed heroes and to become invested in their new struggle.

“Eyes are the window to the soul,” as the cliché goes, but in The Avengers, eyes are vital to seeing the film’s soul. What makes up the “soul” of The Avengers? First and foremost is the character illustrations. This is most overtly evident with the possessed-not possessed Hawkeye, whose eyes physically change based on his mental state. Another physical example is Bruce Banner’s glasses, objects that go toward weakening and humanizing his “huge, green rage monster.” The film approaches this more subtly, too, in what might be seen as the most important character in the film. Agent Phil Coulson is often referred to as “seeing everything,” an extenstion of the all-seeing, omniscient S.H.I.E.L.D. organiztion; Nick Fury even calls him, “my only good eye.” Toward the middle of the film, Coulson provides a pivotal scene  that affects a number of characters and impacts the entire film, a scene in which his eyes are a heavy focus. For all intents and purposes, Phil Coulson, with his old-fashioned beliefs and his good-humored nature, is the soul of The Avengers.

Not only is presenting these characters important to the film, but more, it is about relating all of these distinct, different heroes to the audience, and it is here The Avengers takes advantage of perspective. Following each of the characters individually at the start, the audience gets a sense of the ensemble’s respective day jobs: Stark is finishing work on his tower, Banner is serving as a doctor, Black Widow is doing what she does best, Hawkeye is keeping an eye on things as a security guard, and even Captain Rogers is keeping active and letting off steam. As “super” as the cast eventually becomes, the film shows that these people have ordinary qualities to them, too. Their personal problems are certainly ordinary and relatable, as the shifting perspective highlights things like Banner trying to keep a lid on his anger, Thor dealing with family and girl issues, and Natasha and Clint seemingly dodging feelings for one another–things even non-super heroes face. The Avengers even sides with Loki at times, either to underscore his “schemes” or to showcase his issues with power and trying to compensate for his own insecurities. For the audience, “seeing” from all perspectives is, in fact, “believing,” believing in small character, human truths in what is an otherwise fantastical movie.

As much as characters and their (often humorous) interactions are key to the soul of The Avengers, the film’s focus on sight and seeing emphasizes one other aspect that is vital to the film’s core and success: vision. Vision, or foresight, that is, on behalf of Marvel. For almost five years, Marvel has been laying the foundation for what has become one of the fastest-grossing films of all time. The Avengers is a paragon for cinematic foresight, from a business perspective, and the film is quick to point this out. Easter eggs, like Odin’s crows watching Thor or Thanos’s knowing glare at the audience, connect past and future Marvel films in a way that shows the company has a grand vision, indeed, and that it not only knows where it will take audiences for years to come, but that it has known for some time. Vision has been an important factor to each of the entries in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but it all comes to a head, and successfully, in The Avengers.

What will probably become the biggest superhero film ever, at least for a little while, The Avengers succeeds because, yes, it has a soul. The film’s grasp of the importance of sight, vision, and perspective propels it beyond mere summer spectacle–though, to be sure, it certainly is that–and it allows audiences to truly believe.

The Cabin in the Woods

2012 Horror (Sci-Fi/Comedy), Dir. Drew Goddard

Five young stereotypes drive up to an old log cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway, but almost as soon as they get to said cabin, supernatural forces begin torturing them. Meanwhile, in what appears to be a NASA-like control room, office goons control everything that is happening.

Why I saw it?

A couple years ago I read about some small horror flick written by Joss Whedon (who you should all know by now considering The Avengers’ recent success), but then I didn’t see anything else about it. After sitting on the shelf for a long while, The Cabin in the Woods, a hilarious po-mo take on the horror genre, finally saw a release.

Reaction

As someone who doesn’t usually go for films in the horror genre, I thought Cabin was funny, ballsy, and smart. It’s not scary, however, though I don’t know if it really wants to be. The few eerie spots and the “jump-out-at-you” moments in the film are attempting to mimic those found in other horror films more than anything else, and even then there is a sense of security that you don’t often feel in a typical scary movie. If you’re approaching the film looking for some cheap thrills, you might be disappointed—especially since it makes fun of those types of moviegoers. Think of it as a smartly done, actually funny alternative to Scary Movie, one that truly succeeds in examining and uncovering the horror genre and our fascination with it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Willy Wonka: A Local Middle School Theater Musical

The Video Embed isn’t working. Watch WSET’s Willy Wonka coverage by clicking here.

I know, I know, you guys miss me and my reviews. I promise my Cabin in the Woods review is coming soon, and then it will most definitely be The Avengers, but it has been hectic lately with wedding season starting up. More importantly though, I’ve been helping my former middle school do flying effects for their big Spring stage production–Willy Wonka:The Musical! It’s actually pretty awesome, and the kids have been great. I’ll do a little write-up about it after the performances this weekend (for more info on that if you’re in the Lynchburg, VA area, check it out here). Since I’ve been MIA, I wanted to share this video a local news outlet did on the show’s flying effects a couple weeks back. Note: I’m actually the one lifting the reporter into the air. I know this isn’t entirely movie related, but I will tell you, the original Gene Wilder film affected me so much when I was little. As in it scared the piss out of me and I hated it almost as much as The Wizard of Oz. Don’t worry, I’ve come around to love both films since. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday at the latest!

It’s Wednesday: Cell Phones at the Movies

I’ve got to switch up the order this week, dear readers, because wedding and job interview stuff has taken over my attention the past few days; in addition, I’ve been working on making it possible for little kids to fly in a local school production of Willy Wonka, so I’ve been booked. Fear not, however. Fingers crossed, I will be putting up a review for the very unique Cabin in the Woods on Friday. Until then, I want to direct you to a quick, interesting article over at the LATimes about the debate to allow texting at movie theaters. I personally don’t want little screens lighting up during most movies, but I can understand that younger kids are growing up with cell phones attached to their hands at all times, and that they are probably going to find a way to text in a movie anyway; that or they’ll just stay home. What do you think, though? Is it becoming OK for cell phones to be used in movie theaters, or should they always be banned? Hit the comments below!

It’s Friday…Friday: Looper Trailer

So I haven’t seen Brick yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. The Brothers Bloom was great fun, however, so I have all the faith in the world that director Rian Johnson will be able to deliver on this mind-bending set up for Looper. It’s got a little bit of Inception in it mixed with some Blade Runner, and it has a whole lot of JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), which is always a good thing. Check out the newly-released trailer above, and let me know what you think in the comments below. If the trailer isn’t working for you, check it out on iTunes here.