I have four films for your consideration in today’s post. I watched them about a week and a half ago and I know I promised the reviews would be up sometime toward the end of last week but quite frankly, I guess I didn’t really want to write about them up until now.
So here we go:
I will start with Immortals because it seems like the majority of folks that saw this film were extremely disappointed and were happy to offer their opinion on how horrible it was.
I read quite a few reviews from both the public and the “professional” beat writers for several publications compare this movie to 300 but after I watched it I failed to see where this conclusion was drawn from. I suppose that since there was Greek Mythology in both you could somehow make that connection but they are completely different films. Really the only similarity is that the look or style of film is similar in that there are a lot of sharp colors. Color and lighting were a huge problem though because I found it difficult to see anything throughout the movie due to the darkness of the shots. This may be due to watching it on my laptop, but in two other films that I will discuss below, I did not have the same issue.
This also offered me my first taste of what sort of actor is going to be portraying Superman in Warner Bros. upcoming reboot Man of Steel. I often like to give the actors the benefit of the doubt as often as I can when they are not the only thing wrong with the film. In this performance Henry Cavill works well with what he’s given by the writers and director. The same can be said for the most notable name in the film, Mickey Rourke. John Hurt also stars as an old man who mentors Cavill’s character. It’s your classic tale of the hero, where he isn’t sure he wants to be one, but he has an older mentor that teaches him the necessary skills and then finally a life altering situation occurs where he is forced into the hero’s role. It even featured a symbolic baptism by water for not only our main character but others as well. All of that is for a different discussion, but basically the writers didn’t deviate much from that type of story that we’ve seen told a thousand times over. The only interesting aspect is the backdrop of the war between the Olympians and the Titans with man stuck in the middle as always.
If you want some mindless fun and don’t care too much about historical accuracy or the accuracy of the mythology, then Immortals might be okay by you. It offers some interesting action but again, nothing we haven’t seen in better quality films.
Next up is:
J. Edgar: 5/10
Unfortunately I probably won’t have much to say about this film other than that I somewhat understand the Oscar snub that Eastwood and company received. I’m not sure whether that was based on the unwillingness to accept that Hoover might have been a homosexual, or that there were heavy suggestions that Hoover tried to bury Martin Luther King, Jr. in a sex scandal, and a slightly less obvious suggestion that he may have been involved in his assassination.
The film also focuses on the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping scandal and how Hoover attempted to use it to elevate the validity of the F.B.I.
Aside from Eastwood’s chosen direction of the film, the acting was exceptionable as always in most of his films. I didn’t feel like the direction or writing was too terrible or forced either. Leonardo DiCaprio gave yet another excellent performance as did Judi Dench, Naomi Watts and Josh Lucas in his small cameo as Charles Lindbergh.
This is also the other film I had lighting complaints about though. It seemed extremely poorly lit throughout the majority of the movie and I’m not convinced Eastwood was trying to achieve this on purpose.
I won’t say much more about it other than that I’m not sure what was so horrible about this film either that had critics crying foul or unworthiness.
The last two were my favorite of the foursome.
Ides of March: 7/10
I really didn’t have any idea what this movie was about because I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to it. I just knew that George Clooney and Ryan Gosling were in it and they are both excellent actors. It wasn’t until I settled down and got into the movie that I remembered Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei and Paul Giamatti were in it. The cast alone makes it worth watching in my mind.
We seem to get a political film or two or more with every term of the presidency and this is no different. Gosling and Hoffman head up the campaign of Governor Mike Morris, who is running for president. Giamatti is doing the same for the opponent and fills the same job title that Hoffman does in the film.
Throughout the movie Gosling spear-heads the campaign even though he is 2nd in command to Hoffman. He seems to be the one that is helping the governor win primaries etc. Tom Duffy (Giamatti) likes what he sees and offers Gosling a job, tempting him to switch sides.
The rest of the film is basically the avalanche of what occurs due to the phone call between Giamatti and Gosling, involving a persistent New York Times reporter (Tomei) and an intern in the governor’s campaign office who is played by an all grown up Evan Rachel Wood. She ends up playing a vital role in what transpires throughout the film, as she befriends Gosling.
Even though the film was political in nature and didn’t offer much as far as plot depth goes, Ides of March works for a quick mystery thriller, if it can be classified as such.
If there is nothing else left in Red Box or you’ve watched everything else on Netflix and you’re in the mood for a light drama, this should hit the spot.
Now for my favorite of the four:
I really can’t say I’m a fan of baseball at all. I do claim to be a fan of the Seattle Mariners and I have been since I was little, but unless it’s football, it doesn’t tend to hold my interest. Luckily for baseball, most of the films made that include baseball have little to nothing to do with it in the long run. Some of the greatest “baseball” movies weren’t really about baseball, but then again, is any film with a sport as a backdrop?
Moneyball is based on the novel Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. He also wrote the novel that The Blindside is based on. It follows the story of Oakland Athletics general manager, Billy Bean‘s attempt to re-invent the game of baseball. Perhaps not completely re-invent so much as modify the tactics of how to win games. Bean is portrayed fantastically by Brad Pitt who earns his Oscar nod. While I watched I also grew to understand why someone like Jonah Hill could pull off garnering a nod from the Academy as well.
I had discussed this with my buddy Greg Sisco right after the Oscars a couple of months ago. We agreed that the basic formula for achieving a nomination is to basically break your typecast and put on a somewhat believable performance as someone who is serious more often than being a jackass. Enter Jonah Hill. He did exactly that but he managed to do it well enough to not hold any sort of snobby grudge on him.
There really isn’t much to the plot other than explaining how Bean and his assistant GM (Hill) were able to revolutionize the game of baseball by acquiring players that have the ability to get on base and score runs for little to no money. When you’re a struggling ballclub financially like the Oakland A’s, it’s difficult to compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox. This was a common theme throughout the film.
I could probably go into further detail about the film but it’s one of those movies that you don’t need a big long explanation of how it’s the story of a young guy’s career and how he overcame the odds and struggles and so on and so forth (or maybe I’m just being lazy right now because i’m more excited to get out and get in line for The Avengers).
The easy way out of this would be to say that if you’re a somewhat fan of baseball (or a huge fan), you like Brad Pitt and even Jonah Hill than you’ll want to check out Moneyball.