movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Sunday, September 11, 2005

TORONTO - day 2

Korean cinema is quickly rising to the top on my list with directors like Chan-Wook Park, Ki-Duk Kim, and Je-gyu Kang having been recently brought to my attention. So when I heard that there was a well-reviewed Korean film at Toronto, I thought I would check it out. I am glad that I did.

The film was “The President’s Last Bang” and the newest director to watch is Sang-soo Im. The film is about the assassination of South Korean President Park in October 1979. To give you an idea of the tone of the film, it was described to me as… “Dr. Strangelove mixed with a gangster mob movie”. That might sound a little out there, but I see what they are going for. I find that most of the Korean cinema that I have seen has an element of humor to cut the intensity of the plot. This film is no different. The assassination of a tyrannical President that ruled for 18 years is a heavy subject matter and one that the movie deals with in a responsible and successfully tense way. During this there are some interjections of humor though and if you can find a way to embrace them as I did, you will enjoy the movie quite a bit. The main thing to be mentioned when talking about this particular film is the visual style of Sang-soo Im. There are some shots in this movie that took my breath away. He moves the camera with the courage and confidence of a master filmmaker.

Let me put it this way… I will be surprised if I see a better movie at this year’s festival than Bennett Miller’s “Capote”, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. It is a great film. “Capote” tells the story of the four years that Truman Capote took to write his masterpiece, ‘In Cold Blood’, a true crime novel about the brutal murder of a family in Kansas. This is a very patient film that takes a very good look at a brilliant writer, where he finds his inspiration, how he gets the information he needs to complete his book, and the lengths and manipulations that he is will to go through to do so. While Truman is the central character in this film, he is not all together likeable. That is one of the things that I loved. He is a flawed human being, but I understood where he was coming from at all times throughout.

While this is a movie with a cast of great actors, I am going to focus on just two… the first is the always amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman who also serves as the film’s executive producer. I have always been a big fan of Hoffman and don’t think that he has ever delivered a bad performance. This might be his best performance to date. He is transformed by this role. Capote is a short, extremely flamboyant gay man with a very whiny, high pitched voice. He was also a brilliant man and a master of manipulation. Hoffman sinks his teeth into this part and makes the most of it. The other performance that I want to talk about is that of an actor that most people don’t know yet named Clifton Collins Jr. He plays one of the killers, Perry Smith, that Capote befriends in order to get information to use in his book. Smith is not a dumb man, but he is no match for the intellect of Capote. He is dangerous and severely disturbed and can put on the wounded puppy act, making people believe that he could never have hurt a fly. Collins plays him with such vulnerability that you actually begin to care for this man, even though you know what he has done. You, like Capote, want to understand why. This is a bold movie that I really hope finds an audience this fall. If it does, look for a number of academy award nominations from this one…

The last film that I saw today was the world premier of the Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown”, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Before I get into what I thought, I have to say that I am a BIG fan of Crowe. I think that “Almost Famous” is one of the best of the decade. The thing that makes Cameron into a great filmmaker is that he is second to none in capturing those precious real moments on screen. A look. A word. A feeling. There is no one better than him at this. That brings me to “Elizabethtown”… Are the moments still precious when you try so hard to capture them? I don’t think so. It seems like all that he was trying to do for 2 hours and 15 minutes is pack as many of those ‘Cameron Crowe’ moments into the film as possible. The problem is that I felt him trying and it made the movie seem like a movie. It was fake and devoid of the genuine emotion that Crowe is usually so great at. He just tried too hard this time. There are some great scenes in this film and one sequence in the middle involving an all night phone conversation between Drew (Bloom) and Claire (Dunst). But when so much of the movie feels manipulative and false, it makes it harder to let yourself fall for the moments that do work. This is not a bad movie, but it is not the movie that Cameron Crowe has proven himself capable of. It is cute… he is better than that.

What about Orlando and Kirsten? First… Orlando – This is his first chance to really show that he is an actor and I think that he is going to need another one. He, like the movie, is uneven, great at times and really not believable at other times. His accent is passable and his emotion seems forced a good deal of the movie. It is as if he really wanted his “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen” moment. He, like Cameron… tried too hard.

Kirsten is probably my favorite performance in the film. It does help that she has a great character, full of life, someone that we all would like to meet. She has a charm and an exuberance that radiates from her in this movie. It is infectious. There are some things that bothered me about her performance, most notably her accent. There are scenes where it just all together disappears. The rest of the cast… Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Judy Greer and Paul Schneider, are all fine. There is really not that much to say about them. If I would have bought into the emotion of the movie, I think I would have enjoyed it much more.

So I stood in line for “Brokeback Mountain”, the gay cowboy movie, but was turned away because I had no pudding… maybe later in the week. (shrug)
"History of Violence"... and whatever else I feel like seeing...


Post a Comment

<< Home

free web tracker