With scheduling conflicts and time restrictions, I don’t have much time to thoroughly review every new movie I watch. More often than not, I find myself having to bunch a whole slew of reviews all at once. I usually don’t have as much to say about these films as I do in individual reviews, but I love jotting them down anyway. I hope you enjoy reading these five reviews, and stay tuned for more reviews during Oscar season. Have a Happy New Year!
Tim Burton has made some truly great stop motion films in his life. I adore The Nightmare Before Christmas (even though he didn’t actually direct it), and I love Corpse Bride, and I really wanted to like Frankenweenie. I’d say the first half is much better than the second half. The first half is what the movie really should be like overall. It’s focusing so much on the relationship between a boy and his dog, and building on the emotion of such a relatable thing. It also manages to sneak in Burton’s signature macabre stamp, including a hilarious rant by Martin Landau’s character.
However, the second half takes a turn for the worst. The script turns out to be more black and white than the actual photography, it’s rushed, it’s underdeveloped, and Burton indulges a wee bit too much in the classic horror movie references. At the very least, Burton’s visual eye has not been lost. The stop motion animation and the stunning black and white camera work are just pure eye candy. For all my problems, and I do have plenty, it’s not all that bad, and it shows that Burton still has talent in him. He’s just misusing it.
*** / *****
The Invisible War:
Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War is an unsettling and scathing examination of sexual assault within branches of the US military (the Army, Marines, Air Force, etc.) that dives into its topics with various levels of emotional involvement. The interviews of the victims are raw, unfiltered, and unflinching, and are, indeed, very tragic. To also see the corruption and lengths to cover up and distract from the truth – such as unintentionally hilarious commercials advising about assault in the army – is practically infuriating. Kirby Dick makes for a strong interviewer, nailing his topics, letting the victims speak their mind, and leaving the guilty parties shaking in their boots, trying and failing miserably to lie through their teeth. Emotions will be put to a workout.
****1/2 / *****
Katy Perry - Part of Me:
Yeah, I actually took the time to watch this. It’s exactly what you would expect. It’s simply another touring concert movie to cash in on the success of a modern icon, but at least we do get to see why people look up to Katy Perry in such a way. Is it her music? Okay, but lots of artists have good music. Is it her fashion? I don’t think that’s it either. I think people look up to Perry because her personality is just so likable, and she’s faced relatable issues and real life problems, all of that leading to where she is now. Maybe the movie makes her a little too likable, but you can see exactly why she’s considered such a role model, and any fan of her music (guilty) will enjoy hearing the live performances of her songs.
*** / *****
William Friedkin’s never shied away from grisly issues. Why start now? The Trailer trash Killer Joe is probably everything you’d expect it to be. The game cast assembled is quite the assortment of talent. Matthew McConaughey, in particular, shines through with a subtle, darkly comic, and quietly terrifying performance that blows any of his other credits out of the water. Characters have to be careful with what they say or do around him, never knowing what may send him flying off the handle.
Still, not everything works. The violence of the third act goes over the top, even in context. Also, and I’m sorry, but Juno Temple did nothing for me in this movie. Still, if you can stomach the material, it should be a good watch.
**** / *****
The lesser cousin of Snow White & The Huntsman, Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror could only bring one defining response out of me... Eh. By typical movie making standards, it isn't very good. The potential of the movie gets lost amidst the aimless direction, the uneven script, and the overall confused tone. The dialogue is weak, and I hate the modern talk in this "period" film. I also feel sorry not only for Julia Roberts, indeed a talented actress, but for the rest of the cast trying and failing to add any depth to their one-note characters. On top of that, how dare you make Nathan Lane not funny?
On the other hand, there's never anything offensively bad about the movie that makes me regret seeing it (Well, Alan Menken's end credits song is pretty attrocious). Sure there's a boat load of problems with this movie, but it does have some enjoyable moments, such as scenes with the frenetic pacing and imagery you'd expect out of Baz Luhrmann. And considering Tarsem's style, the movie does look visually interesting, if a bit overcooked at times. Chief among this come from late costume designer Eiko Ishioka, who can rest assured that the costumes she made for her final movie were to the highest quality possible.
** / *****