Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Good Will Hunting" a contemporary classic

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "Good Will Hunting"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1997
DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant
STARS: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgård
EDITOR: Pietro Scalia
AWARDS: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Williams, Oscar), Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Affleck & Damon, Oscar)
BOX OFFICE: $138,339,411 (USA)
RUN TIME: 126 min.
RATING: R
VIEWING FORMAT: DVD

SUMMARY:
When a troubled MIT janitor (Damon) is found to have the mind of a genius, a professor (Skarsgård) takes him under his wing. To fulfill a court order, Will Hunting must also see a psychologist (Williams). Little do any of them know how much they will effect each other's lives.

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
This film started as a thriller, before Rob Reiner suggested to Damon and Affleck (who share writing credit) to focus on the relationship of Will and his psychologist. That change made all the difference. Kevin Smith, who had directed both actors, brought their new script to Miramax, who bought the rights as soon as they could. Damon and Affleck were allowed to star, and make the movie their way.


They chose Gus Van Sant to direct, after Smith declined. Van Sant's previous work, especially "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989) helped cement the idea that he was the man for the job. His focus on character, with visually exciting imagery, was just the style needed for the emotionally charged tale.


While the script is wonderful, many famous lines from the film were ad-libbed. One notable instance was a humorous scene in which Sean (Williams) tells Will (Damon) about his deceased wife's idiosyncrasies. The camera can even be seen shaking, due to the camera operator laughing at the unexpected quips.

CRITIQUE:
Van Sant's film is a character drama, filled with humor and emotion. His visual style brought Damon and Affleck's script to new heights, and helped the film to become a critical and commercial darling. The story is heartfelt, the actors are wonderful, and the complete product is sometimes breathtaking. This is a film that will continue to be a part of movie fans' repertoires forever, and deservedly so.

MY IMDb RATING:  9 out of 10


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Have a great few days everyone! And check back on the 29th for our next review!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Modern Times" a sound-synced silent classic!

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "Modern Times"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1936
DIRECTOR: Charlie Chaplin
STARS: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard
EDITOR: Willard Nico, Charlie Chaplin
AWARDS: National Film Registry (1989)
BOX OFFICE: $8,500,000 (approx.) (USA)
RUN TIME: 87 min.
RATING: N/A
VIEWING FORMAT: 35 mm. Film Print

SUMMARY:
Chaplin's "Modern Times" revolves around his famous "Little Tramp" role, in the last appearance of the character. After losing his job in a Depression era factory, he must find ways to make due and achieve the American dream with his girl (Goddard) by his side.

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
This film is often considered one of the great pieces of cinema. This was Chaplin's first overtly political film, and was also his first "talkie," though he did everything in his power to limit that.

Chaplin addressed, in very humorous tones, the treatment of factory workers, the ideal of the American family, and the treatment of vagrants throughout the film. Almost everyone with money is portrayed immorally, while factory workers, bums, and street urchins are the heroes of the tale. Key scenes portraying these are: the famous feeding machine, the machinery scene where the Tramp plays a young assistant, and the final scene in the restaurant, where the tramp serves the aristocratic elite. This social commentary lead to Chaplin's later troubles with The House on Un-American Activities, who accused him of being a Communist. He left America, rather than become a further target of their behavior.

By 1936, "talkies" had become the norm in the movie world, but Chaplin thought his "Little Tramp" character would lose his charm (and international audience) if he were to speak. So, anyone who is heard speaking in the film, is heard through machinery, or off of a record player, and Chaplin's only speaking lines, are a song, whose words are gibberish, during the climax of the film.

CRITIQUE:
"Modern Times" is a classic example of a comedy transcending its generation. Chaplin made a politically charges, situational comedy, laden with slapstick, that will never go out of style.

The politics are somewhat universal, fighting for the rights of workers, and lay persons. Fighting against authoritarian government. The motivations of the Tramp are easy to understand, and root for.

What continues to stand out through the film, and reach audiences today, is the slapstick situational comedy. It doesn't get out-dated, because it's always funny. This is generally considered the last silent film ever made, and it was a worthwhile finale to an incredible art form.

This is a funny film, and it will be able to find an audience for generations to come. This writer would highly recommend this golden age masterwork.

MY IMDb RATING:  8 out of 10



Thursday, December 8, 2011

How goes it?

Hello to the twelve or so people who regularly read my reviews (maybe we can make it a baker's dozen by the end of the year)! I hope this holiday season finds you well, and allots you much time to watch many great movies. Due to the crazy schedule of visiting families, working on a new film, and just being a bit busy at the tail end of the year, I have slacked on providing new reviews. Fear not! A new posted shall be available next week at its normal time. I hope you will all enjoy it!