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
Mar 022012
 

Director: Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 95 minutes

Release Date: 6/23/2007

Genre: Graphic Novel,Autobiographical

Cast: Teenage and Adult Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni), Mother (Catherine Deneuve), Grandmother (Danielle Darrieux), Father (Simon Abkarian), Uncle Anouche (Francois Jerosme)

Synopsis:  The animated film is based on the graphic novel of the same name by by Marjane Satrapi.  It is the story of Marjane Satrapi’s early life as a young girl growing up in Iran and begins  in 1978 just at the start of the Iranian Revolution.  Eventually, the changes brought on by the  revolution become too much for Marjane and she travels without her family to a French school in Vienna.  She has many freedoms in Vienna that she wouldn’t have been able to have in Iran, like drinking and partying with older boys, but she also ends up sick and living on the streets and almost dies of sickness.  Later, she travels back to Iran to be with her family and it appears that life is a little better there than it was when she first left.  Even so, she has a hard time fitting in, so she gets married but has difficult time with her husband and decides to divorce him.  After a narrow escape from the police during a raid where her freind dies, she decides to leave Iran again. The film ends with her getting off a plane in Paris to try to find a better place to live.

Pro:  Persepolis is a great film and it is no wonder that it was given many awards and even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  Some of the notable reasons its high praise are;

  • The sequence during the opening credits are just amazing with the Mythological Persian styling.
  • It was interesting to see how normal her parents were despite what was going on at the time.  Also to see any sort of non-fanatical images about people inside of Iran.
  • The message that a revolution against a repressive regime can bring about something worse even though it is driven by the people.
  • There is a great scene where Marjane has a music montage where she sings “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.
  • Another scene where Marjane looks back on her ex-boyfriend and realizes what a complete looser he was.
  • Just a really good view of the people of Iran and how they live their lives and just go with the flow to get by when things go badly.

Con: Event though this film is nearly perfect there were a few technical issues with it;

  • I had a difficulty reading the subtitles and seeing their facial expressions or what characters were doing at the same time.  I might have to re watch but with the English version or I guess I could learn French.
  • I realize that part of the deal with Marjane  is that she gets out of Iran initially because she speaks French, and that the film is made in France, but it is a bit strange seeing all of these Iranians speaking French instead of Persian.
  • Was it necessary to translate the words Vienne 1986 to Vienna 1986?

Conclusion:  This is a great film.  I learned much from it in a historical sense and her personal story is very moving and was great in mixing very grave serious scenes with elements of comedy. I recommend this for anyone, but some people may want to keep their hand on the rewind button in case they miss some of the dialogue.

 

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 5
Story 5
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 3
Average 4.25