His Dark Materials
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When I was watching Lee Daniels latest picture "Lee Daniels' The Butler" I was thinking of Forrest Gump. This film isn't as powerful as Gump but the film's narrative goes toward that direction. The Gump character in "The Butler" is Cecil Gaines who started off working in the cotten fields, saw his fathered murdered by a plantation owner and his mother raped. After his father's death, Cecil would be raised by Annabeth Westfall (Vanessa Redgrave), leave home and meet a man who gives Cecil the opportunity and teachings to become a class butler. Cecil Gaines would serve US Presidents From JFK to Reagan and then come home to face problems with his wife Gloria Gaines (Oprah Winfrey) and a conflicting rift with his son Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo)
It's the father-son rift theme I believe is what attracted Daniels to take on the picture. As a child, Daniels was abused and tormented by his father due to his sexuality. I'm sure while he read Danny Strong's screenplay there was somewhat interesting father-son theme. Sadly though Daniels doesn't tackle the theme strong enough. There are times when father and son quarrel for a bit, then part ways, come back, argue some more, part ways and so on that I didn't get a real connection between the two. I felt I was only getting a taste of the father-son relationship rather then the whole (Going to jail with your son doesn't quite cut it for me), a taste of the main character Cecil Gaines lacks a bit, and audeiences get a taste of American history through a "Forrest Gump" like narrative. By now all Americans should by now remember the turbulant times. The picture is well made and Daniels uses the all star cast system to his benefit. The performances is well suited ( I was actually impressed by James Marsden's performance as President Kennedy and John Cusack's performance as Richard Nixon), well edited (admired the cross cutting of Cecil Gaines serving the table at the White House while his son is learning how to take racial hatred in public dinners) I will admit I got pretty tired of hearing the N word being used repeatedly throughout the film (I got it the jest already while watching Django Unchained), the racial divides against white and black Americans, and the politics behind it. Even though Cecil Gaines served the upper class and eight Presidents in his life, I got a sense that Gianes understood that being a butler is just being a butler and like any other job today there will always be politics. President Obama would probably agree since he's already got his work cut out for him.
35 percent on the tomato meter? You seriously got to be kidding me...I honestly felt "The Robe" was a fascinating picture and a great performance by Richard Burton. It's a spiritual picture tracing back to the days of the Romans to the crucifixon of Jesus. There is hardly any religious films made today but films like "The Robe" made me appreciate sprituality more. The Burton character is a man with authority who is true to the Roman Empire, buys and befriends a dangerous slave, wins Jesus robe in a dice game then becomes ill in the mind, gradually changes from a non believer to a born again Christian. I wish the film industry made more biblical pictures today. A film like "The Robe" which was the first shown in CinemaScope should not be forgotten.
*Jay Robinson was great as the vile tyrant Caligula
Well I don't really have to describe the movie's plot. Most critics and audiences praised the visuals but loathed character development and can't say I disagree on the character development. It needs work basically and my mind wondered as the characters were drifting into the background. The action is kinda boring. At first I was mesmerized by the action and visuals and then once again my mind started to wonder again. It seems to me Tron Legacy seems to be a film that lacks some sort of goal or ambition and while the movie isn't bad it's not good either. Apart from those frustrating flaws it was pretty good to see Jeff Bridges play a young and old role of himself. Michael Sheen is a pretty cool villian reminding me a bit of Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange", Oliva Wilde as the sexy Quorra, Beau Garrett as ice cool Gem, Garrett Hedlund as loner genius Sam Flynn, and Bruce Boxleitner who was in the first Tron picture makes an appearance. The music is great by Daft Punk, the visuals is a marvel but overall Tron Legacy is a sci-fi picture I just couldn't grasp or get involved in. I'm not even sure if a sequel is in the works. There should be because Tron has imo cinema potential.
I don't think this is one of Altman's best films. It's good but no where as good as his other works (MASH, McCabe & Mrs Miller, The Long Goodbye, California Split, 3 Women)
And yet it is a pure Altman picture filled with his signature overlapping dialogue, a fleet of characters, wicked satire and multiple plots. This film takes place at a wedding and well it's not your typical average wedding. So much zany stuff goes on that I was distracted and had a tough time trying to keep pace with the rest of the movie. I'm sure that was Altman's intent but even his recent film "Nashville" I was able to understand what was going on. Underneath the crude dialogue there was always a powerful scene involving the characters. In "A Wedding" Altman shows many scenes and plots but im not sure if it has made a huge impact for the characters or myself. Hard to describe overall.
I just lost a good lengthy review on what I thought of World War Z so i'll just try to cut it short. Nothing new or original, wall to wall action sequences, visually stunning like the scenes where the human zombies pile up on one another like a great big ant hill, Mireille Enos and Daniella Kertesz were great to look at but sadly they don't have much of a respected part. While the Enos character was on the phone was wondering if she wished she could kick some zombie ass with her husband, instead she's laying up in a bunker with her kids hoping to expect a call from her main star Brad Pitt, Kertesz's character is more of a soldier sidekick and again not much is said about her role, Pitt is in every scene and not much is said about him except that he use to work for the government and much rather prefers making homemade pancakes to his kids rather then risking his life trying to fight off a deadly plague, the WHO Research Centre scene was well shot and looked somewhat dramatic, the human zombies were humourous to watch imo, Marc Foster was able to somewhat make a good yet forgetable picture, expect a sequel.
Haven't read the Max Brooks novel yet and don't really plan on going to. The goes for the film; too bad because maybe this picture had something worth going for.