Mar 122012
 

Director: Tom Hooper

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr 58 minutes

Release Date: 12/24/10

Genre:  Historical Drama

Cast: King George VI (Colin Firth), Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), Queena Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter),  King Edward VIII  (Guy Pearce) ,Mrs Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), King George V (Michael Gambon)

Synopsis: From an early age the man that eventually becomes King George VI (Geoffrey Rush), had a bad stammer.  If he was a common person, he could have just stayed in the background and not been noticed.  As he got older,  Prince Albert (One of George VI’s many aliases), was forced to make speeches on the radio and in public, and since his stutter was so bad, it often led to embarrassment.  His wife,  Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter),  decides to find him some help.  Eventually, she is able to track down a promising Australian therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

Logue doe not have a real degree in speech therapy or any other formal training.  He uses techniques that he devised and his innate knowledge of the human mind to help King George VI overcome his stammer.  King George VI goes on to lead the nation after the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), and inspire the people of England during World War II.

Analysis: Due to the many awards this film had gathered, including the Academy Award for Best Picture , I was interested in seeing it.  Now that I have, I wish that I had taken the opportunity to watch it in the theaters because a small screen does not do it justice.  The sets, and actual filming locations are spectacular and the acting is top notch.

Pro:

  • Lionel Logue’s interaction with his sons is very gripping and he seems like a really good father.
  • Written in such a way that I cared about all of the characters, even King Edward VIII and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • Great seeing Lionel’s house get better and more fancy over time as he worked with the king.

Con:

  • Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall),  looked like a chubby Richard Nixon, but the acting was good.
  • I would have liked to hear more details about how the speech was received by the general people at the end.

Conclusion: At first I was worried that the film would be a boring period piece, but it kept me interested.  In fact, I was totally absorbed by it.  It was filled with great characters and interaction.  Unlike other historical dramas, the historical characters were treated like someone real and not just something out of a textbook.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 5
Story 4
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 4
Average 4.25
Mar 082012
 

Director:  Barry Sonnenfeld

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr 38 min

Release Date: 7/2/1997

Genre:  Science Fiction, Comedy

Cast:  Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), James Darrel Edwards III/ Agent  J (Will Smith), Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), Chief Agent Zed (Rip Torn)

Synopsis: Brash yet fast and smart young NYPD officer, James Darrel Edwards III (Will Smith), is recruited by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) of the mysterious Men in Black organization to help intervene when unsuspecting humans are close to knowing the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials.  As it turns out, the Earth is a neutral zone for aliens  and many of them choose to live and work there.  MIB agents must assume a new identity and forsake all contact from the past, so James Darrel Edward III becomes Agent J and is soon embroiled in defending the earth from a race of aliens, the Arquillians that have tracked a type of aline know as a Bug to earth and that they will destroy earth rather than let the Bug escape.  The “Bug” has taken over the form Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), a simple farmer.  So it is up to Agents J and K to find the bug and also find the mysterious Galaxy on Orion’s belt.

Analysis: Men  in Black  is a great movie with some funny lines and well written characters.  It is often on basic cable, and I will watch it every time I can.  The most recent time I caught it, it was actually on a premium channel. I  had forgotten there was some swearing in it, and was reminded why it was rated PG-13 and not PG.  An interesting note is that MIB is based on a comic book by  Lowell Cunningham, but the comic has a darker and more violent tone than the movie.

Pro:

  • A great scene is when Agent J is being given the test to see if he can qualify for the MIB and he is in the shooting range and all of the other guys are shooting at the really scary looking monsters, and when asked why Agent J shot the girl in the head at the last minute, he said that a little girl hanging out in a bad part of town, alone, and carrying books that are too advanced for her must be up to something.
  • I like the mix of computer graphics and puppets and costumes to create the aliens.  I think it makes them more real looking compared to some more modern special effects that are 100% CG.
  • I am almost always impressed with the performances by Vincent D ‘Onofrio.  I always think of the time when he is cornered in the film and asked to put his hands on his head and he says, “Put my hands on my head like this?” and then rips his skin off and becomes the huge cockroach.
  • David Cross has a great brief scene as a morgue attendant and ends up pissing Edgar off.
  • One of the best lines ever about Elvis.  Agent J “Elvis is dead, right?”  Agent K “Elvis is alive, he just went home”

Con:

  • I know it is supposed to be funny, but it is mentioned that the MIB have a galactic standard week to capture the bug and Agent J asks how long that is and it ends up being 1 hr.  If you are translating from a different language you’d think that the term would be galactic standard hour or something similar.
  • I still only have a vague idea why the  Arquillians want to destroy the earth and if they are so powerful why can’t they get the bug themselves.
  • Edgar is bothered by Agent J crushing some normal earth cockroaches.  He isn’t related to them since he is from a different planet.  I’d think it would be more like us watching someone squash mice.  It would be gross, but not anything to get so upset over.

Conclusion: This is one of my favorite movies and it was a great pleasure showing it to my kids for the first time this winter.  They really enjoyed it too!

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Story 4
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 5
Average 4.25
Mar 072012
 

Adjustment BureauDirector:  George Nolfi

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 1hr 46 m

Release Date: 3/4/11

Genre:  Science Fiction, Thriller, Literary

Cast: David Norris(Matt Damon), Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), Charlie Troynor (Michael Kelley), Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), Richardson (John Slattery), Thompson (Terrance Stamp), Adrien Troussant (Anthony Mackie)

Synopsis: Promising Representative David Norris (Matt Damon) is running for Senate, but a scandal derails his campaign.  While rehearsing his concession speech in a bathroom, he meets a Elise (Emily Blunt).  He falls her, but doesn’t see her again until months later while he when he meets her on a bus on the way to his new job.  A mysterious man,  Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), was supposed to ensure that David and Elise did not meet again, but fell asleep when waiting to prevent Norris from getting on the bus.  Norris sees more than he was supposed to when gets to work and he finds everyone frozen while men in riot gear are waving strange machines over the heads of his coworkers.

Mitchell is part of an organization called the Bureau  and Norris learns that according to the “Plan”, he and Elise should never have been together.  The Bureau will stop at nothing to ensure the Plan is followed, and threaten Norris with lobotomization if he continues to try to see Elise.  Norris learns that the Bureau,  “are the people that make sure things happen to plan.”  Norris will also not be swayed from being with Elise and he gets help from unexpected sources.

Analysis: The Adjustment Bureau is based on the Philip K. Dick, short story  “The Adjustment Team” (1954).  PKD has been one of my favorite authors for many years.   Typically when his stories are turned into films, the scriptwriters usually take the general theme and a few lines here or there.  A good example is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  which was turned into the great film, Blade Runner.  I think that his stories are often hard to translate into film because they don’t fit the typical Hollywood mold and contain strange things like people being taken over by God/Aliens and the narrative is very hard to follow at times.  This is also true for The Adjustment Bureau, but I think that even though  it isn’t 100% accurate, it is a still a pretty good film.

Pro: Some of the best things about the movie were trying to guess what sort of entity was behind the plan, aliens, dieties, people from the future.  I was rooting for aliens.  Another great thing about the film was Terrance Stamp as Thompson, I have been a fan of him since he played General Zod in Superman II.  He plays a higher up in the Bureau and is called in to help when Norris’ ability to evade the Plan is underestimated.

Con: My least favorite part of the film was the many real world reporters, pundits and politicians  including; Jon Stewart, Wolf Blitzer, and Michael Bloomberg,  appear as themselves. It is more the fault of the individuals, but I just don’t like it and it makes me question their motives.  I’d rather see actors playing roles similar to these people, because it is less distracting.

Conclusion: I liked the film quite a bit even thought it was different and lighthearted from those typical inspired by Phillip K Dick stories.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Story 4
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 3
Average 3.75