Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Okay, I just got back to the movie theater from seeing this movie and I think it is urgent that I write this while it is still fresh in my mind. The reason being is that this is a very complex movie with quite a few twists and turns, and it is going to take a very long time to work everything out. The basic plot of this movie is that Gary Oldman is a recently retired agent who is forced to come out of his forced retirement to help MI6 find a Russian spy at the very top of the ladder. Did I mention this took place during the early 70's? As in, the height of the Cold War? Yeah, things are pretty tense right now, and Lord knows what kind of damage this mole could inflict. So now, Oldman has to investigate 4 men who may or may not be the spy, each one has been given a different code name: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy. Each one is a key member in the agency and has as much to gain and loose as the next. The cast is pretty much The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as in they are some of the finest actors ever brought together. I already mentioned Gary Oldman, but there is also Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Ciarian Hinds, among others. The only thing I will warn you about is that the movie is extremely slow... Very... Very... Slow. That has turned a lot of people off from this movie, probably because they didn't expect a movie with a cast of all old white dudes to be anything but action packed. But now that I have warned you, you don't have an excuse to complain about this movie. Sure, it may be boring in the first half-hour, but the mystery itself is enough to keep you interested in the movie. It's a shame this movie came out in early 2012 instead of late 2011, because I would have placed it on my list of Best movies of 2011

Final Grade: A-

The Borgias

Just recently, I was introduced to a new show called The Borgias. I will admit, at first, the only reason I had any interest in this show is because of the game Assassin's Creed. See in two of the games, members of the family of Borgia serve as the games' main villains. However, when I saw the trailer for the show, it actually looked pretty cool. You've got Jeremy Irons playing a man who bribed, threatened and schemed his way into the papal throne in the late 1400's, and his sons who have helped him along the way, as well as the rest of this family. Are you interested yet? If not, then you and I are nothing alike because that premise alone had me intrigued. Just the other day, I bought the DVD and have watched the first 5 (out of about 9) episodes with my mom, and we are more than anxious to watch the rest. Like I said, the show chronicles the rise (and probably the eventual fall) of the Borgia family in Rome. The father, Rodrigo, played by Jeremy Irons, has a knack for playing people and scheming into getting what he wants. Helping him are his two sons, Cesare and Juan, who both serve the family in separate ways. Juan, the younger, leads their armies and would soon become captain of the papal armies after his father's election. The older son, Cesare, has joined the church as a way of helping his father's political agenda. If you know your history, you'll know that the story surrounding these people is a bloody one and rather dark as well, and the show captures all of that while also adding some dimension to these characters. Sure, they are known for being some of history's greatest douche bags, but we get to see why they may have gotten to be that way. We even get to see some emotion to Rodrigo (or Pope Alexander XI), who feels genuine remorse at some of the things he has forced his children to go through just to serve his own ambition. I will say that it is hard to like or even feel for these characters because of the reputation that history has given them, but the show has at least done a good job of making them somewhat relatable. Sure they scheme and plot and use each other, but we are reminded that at the end of the day, they are still a family and they do care about each other as well. The show was created by Neil Jordan, who directed other films like The Crying Game and Interview with a Vampire. What does that mean? To me, nothing, because I haven't seen either of those movies. To you, it might mean something. But based on this show alone, which he has helped write and direct, I would say he has some talent.

Bottom line: If you are like me (drop-dead handsome and intelligent beyond belief), which you probably are but most likely aren't, you will enjoy this show. If you love history, conspiracies, and movies about either, then you will enjoy this show.

Yours truly,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yay or Nay? 3D/ IMAX

So to start this out, I thought I would talk about a trend that is becoming more and more popular, to my ever growing dismay: 3D. Yeah, you probably already knew that I have a particular disdain for 3D, and have even given credit to directors like Jon Favreau and Christopher Nolan for giving the studios the finger when they are told to use it. I will admit, that the experience that 3D gives is pretty cool and does give the movies a new look as well as add to the experience... when it is done right. And that is the problem, nobody ever really does it right. You either have converted 3D or half-assed filmed 3D. My first experience with this trend was Clash of the Titans, which I saw at a midnight showing with a few friends, and since the only showings were in 3D, we had to pay the extra money. No big deal, at the time, 3D was still relatively new and we figured "what the heck? why not?" So we paid the extra money and lived to regret it. Not only was the movie itself disappointing, but the 3D didn't even add anything. There was a point where I actually took off the glasses for a few minutes and didn't notice a bit of difference. Needless to say, I was not a fan then.

But a few years later, I was offered the chance to see the latest Pirates movie at midnight and in 3D. Now the person that I was going with offered to use a free ticket that he had acquired to get me in, so I figured I would go and that would be fine. And the 3D in that was better... A bit. I had noticed a few things that were different. For instance, instead of just having stuff come out at you, they also had objects in the background appear farther back. That was pretty cool. Same thing with the last Harry Potter movie. But again, I didn't really leave the theater feeling like it was time well spent. When they advertise it, the studios make 3D sound like it will just knock you on your ass, that is how awesome it is. But every time I go see it, they always come up short. Sure, it's cool, but there is something missing that should be there. The only example that I can think of where people said that 3D actually made the movie all that much better was Hugo. I never got around to seeing the movie again like I had hoped, but every review that I read and saw said that the 3D was actually worth it. Even James Cameron admitted to it trumping his own use when he did Avatar. But again, that is one example against about a thousand of disappointments. Maybe I'm being a little too cynical about this, but I'm going off of past experience.

Now lets talk about another growing trend: IMAX. This is something that is rarely used by itself, it's usually paired with 3D, but when it is by itself, I think it is far more worth the extra money. In thinking about the movies that I liked with the 3D, I realized that I also saw them in IMAX. Again, I would have thought that this was just another tool that studios used to get extra money and would be totally worthless, but then I saw the most recent Mission Impossible movie. Originally, I went to see it in IMAX because I heard there was something for The Dark Knight Rises. When I actually saw the movie itself however, I though it was pretty dang awesome. The action actually felt more in-your-face than the thing that is used to make action feel in-your-face. In fact, I saw Mission Impossible 4 again, but in a regular theater, and to be honest with you, it just wasn't quite the same. I was spoiled by the bigger screen and the second time around was just a little underwhelming. So, for that reason, I say IMAX is pretty cool, and the fact that it is only being used every so often makes it even better.

3D: Nay
IMAX and 3D: Nay

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yay or Nay?

Something I am going to start doing is something that I'm going to just call "Yay or Nay?" This will be where I talk about something that has had audiences split over the past few years when it comes to movies, and give my opinions. In the end, I will give my opinion if they should continue it (Yay) or if they should just abandon it altogether (Nay). Such things will include IMAX, 3D, remakes, sequels, exploitation films among other things. Again, this is pretty open, so if there is something you want me to talk about, feel more than free to suggest something.