Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Reaction

Important note: I saw the 2005 remake.

A satisfying (but not great) action/offbeat-romance about two assassins who meet and marry each other, neither knowing what the other person does. I might even call it a romantic-comedy, just with dark humor as the comedy aspect. Sure, the plot has holes, the action scenes start reasonable and get more and more preposterous, and the film's not consistent in feel, but the fun the actors are having is obvious, and that fun is contagious. There's something simply cute about it (referring to the film) or them (the actors).

In short, it's a larger-than-life movie about larger-than-life people trying to make a relationship work. As such, it's a metaphor for marriage: the struggles, the conflict, the need for openness.

Interestingly, the film has no real villains. Originally it had villains, but they were removed in editing to make the focus more about the Smiths' struggles and relationship.

The repartee is generally pretty good but not great. However, the kitchen scene, with its double-entendres, is great.

An early scene in the movie gratuitously uses the sex appeal of its stars: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Luckily, the movie has more content than that.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sound and Fury - Reaction

A tv-documentary-quality docudrama about a deaf couple deciding whether to get a cochlear implant for their child. It was only vaguely interesting to me. Nevertheless, I think I'm, as one IMDB reviewer says, "better for having watched it."

At its heart is "the old story of parents either wanting their kids ... to either be like them or to have it better than they had it," as another IMDB reviewer puts it. While even-handed, it's emotionally heartfelt. It's hard to watch people making this type of decisions for their children.

At a higher-level, it's easy to see the film as exploring the defensive reaction of a closely-knit community/cultural group as its existence is threatened by technology and medical advances. Basically, it's about how the existence of separate worlds / separate cultures can lead to xenophobia, and about how a constrained world-view can lead to ignorance and pride.

Incidentally, I think there's something ironic that the film has no subtitles and thus no deaf person can watch it. By the way, it uses voiceovers to translate what's said using sign language.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bloodspell - Reaction

Bloodspell is said to be the first feature-length machinima film. I first learned about this burgeoning art form of using video games as animation engines through Red vs. Blue and later a screening/talk at a film festival in Berkeley.

This movie is described as a "post-goth punk fantasy adventure" set in a world where some people have magic in their blood and have to live in hiding due to church persecution. Though an action film, the action isn't that thrilling. The best visual effects are the appearances of the creatures (which, interestingly, is something the video game engine supplied, not the producers). Although the film has stilted dialogue, poor characterization (e.g., relationships which evolve unnaturally fast), and a plot that doesn't really make great sense, I nevertheless, despite many opportunities to stop watching as I waited for the film to download each new chapter, watched it to the end. In spite of these problems, something in it must've appealed to me. I did like the soundtrack, though it didn't necessary go with the action. (It didn't clash either.)

The film is freely available online.