Thursday, July 1, 2010

Viewing Journal: 7/1/2010

(2010 dir. M. Night Shymalan) Date Seen: July 1 2010

I hate to even remotely sound like a fanboy when talking event movies like these, but this is one of the most disappointing film going experiences of my life. I had been anticipating this adaptation for what feels like years.... There's no way to put it nicely, the movie's bad. I worry almost every other crap-fest that comes out this summer will feel like a gem in comparison. It's all around a conceptually poor approach to the tone of the cartoon in my opinion. And possibly a worst-case scenario of an artist prizing himself over his material. The production design, photography, music & c.g. are all slick as hell (hat tip to Deakins & J.Newton Howard) but everything else is almost complete dreck. The casting is racially questionable off the bat. The screenplay is full of jaw-droppingly bad exposition through voiceover bridging every scene. The action is a curious bore. Framed & performed awkwardly in an un-organic stagey style that looks as if it's being rehearsed. Most of the actors read their lines in a mopey almost sedated whisper. I truly feel bad for the young lead who seems to genuinely have the wonder in his face & martial arts skill to portray Aang & for SLUMDOG'S Dev Patel trying his hardest to bring as much angst & charisma to his role as the conflicted Prince Zuko. Their efforts cannot overshadow the bland directing and everything else I've mentioned. Is it too soon to propose an immediate reboot free of the influence of Mr. Shyamalan? A man I find it harder and harder to be an apologist for. He took a dump on the memory of one of my favourite televised stories.

(2009 dir. Michael Mann) 2nd Viewing: July 1 2010

Caught this on HBO earlier in the day and liked it even more a 2nd time. Mann's formal gifts are a thing of zen beauty. And I've warmed considerably to his choice of using DV in the past. Still ambivalent about some of the casing choices, but - it is what it is.

61) TEN
(2002 dir. Abbas Kiarostami) Date Seen: July 1 2010

Outside of wanting to smack the main character's kid in this, I found it rewarding and I'm glad I finally caught up with it. Thank you Netflix streaming for adding it and many other blindspots of mine. I appreciate Kiarostami's ability to reveal so much about his characters through these long uninterrupted takes. Both of silence & dialogue. Here just as expertly as he did in the 90's with TASTE OF CHERRY. People driving in vehicles shouldn't be this engaging.

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