Saturday, May 12, 2012

In-Flight Movie Round-Up

I watched a number of movies during the many, many hours I spent aboard airplanes journeying back and forth from Calgary to Sierra Leone. Here's how I felt about them:

The Artist (2011): This is great fun for fans of silent films (both of us). The real interest of this film isn't that it's a 21st century silent movie, it's that 21st century filmmakers could relearn the process behind silent movies and capture what made the artform succeed. It isn't a novelty or a pastiche, it's a work of art.

A Bug's Life (1998): I had heard this was a lesser Pixar film and I suppose it does come in below most of their output, but by any other standard, this was a fun diversion.

Eight Men Out (1988): A neat surprise, this tells the story of the 1919 World Series and how eight members of the White Sox were paid off to throw the series; I was most interested to learn how badly run the operation was, as the White Sox kept winning some of their games because even the paid-off members wouldn't let their comrades or their pride down.

Haywire (2012): I lasted about 25 minutes before switching this off; I keep giving director Steven Soderbergh rope, but I'm not very interested in his filmmaking style, which is so subdued I often feel like I'm watching someone's vacation film.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011): This seemed to be trying to restore some elements from the original television show, such as in how the opening credits were constructed. It has some great action pieces, but it's not memorable.

The Muppets (2011): This film walks a strange line, trying to be both sweet and cynical; it's really meant for older Muppets fans which is fine, since I'm in that demographic; I laughed an awful lot at this film, so kudos.

On Dangerous Ground (1952): A very atypical film noir; it begins modestly enough with a tough city cop who beats up criminals and witnesses, but then he's sent into a snowy rural community to catch a killer, taking this outside the usual noir culture. What's fascinating is how the cop is forced to become a better man through circumstances he can't control - because people expect more of him, he has to transform his behaviour for their sake.

Top Hat (1935): I've never been very interested in the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers ouvre and I can recall walking out on my mother and sister when they would put this movie on. However, since having seen Rogers in Stage Door and Bachelor Mother I was interested to see more of her work. It's got a very slight plot about mistaken identities, but many excuses are found for dance scenes, which is why it exists, after all.

War Horse (2011): Boy, having read MightyGodKing's "Too Much Horse", this movie was fairly ruined for me. Even taking MGK's mockery aside, this was just a retelling of National Velvet, only not as charming or believeable. I fell asleep during it and awoke grateful.

The Woman in Black (2012): I was interested to see what this attempted revival of the Hammer horror films would be like, but I don't think this is them putting their best foot forward; it's not lurid enough for Hammer devotees. For the rest of us, it's just another rehash of Turn of the Screw; go watch the Innocents or the Others instead.

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