Instead of calling this a review of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, I want to talk about finding the HEART in PLOT. Yes, AGE OF ULTRON is a big huge action movie. Yes, it’s fluff and fun and who thinks about intimacy and feelings when there’s stuff to blow up that looks awesome at the same time? And I LOVE big huge action movies, so it’s not like I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges. So, yes, AGE OF ULTRON is fun, it’s watchable, it has some moments, but it’s lacking in something critical to making audiences really connect with the action, really feel the stakes that are at risk, and from a writer/director who I know can do so much better, that left me disappointed.
I have a love/hate relationship with what is considered “indie” film.
On the one hand, the fact that the tools to make films and to experiment with that medium are cheaper and more prevalent than ever before and that is an amazing and exciting development that allows for diversity in visual story-telling. I love the energy of independent films: it’s walking a tightrope without a safety net. Everything is on the line. Everyone is putting in their all on the prayer that their film gets noticed in a big enough way that they can break even, get another job, or better yet make money and launch a career. Indie films are often intimate stories that often focus on the real and dirty parts of the human existence in a realistic or honest or even scathing way.
On the other hand, many of the films I’ve seen or read about that come out of the festival circuit with lots of buzz are just plain weird. For a while there was a cinematography “style” where shots were never fully in focus. A lot of the festival favorites are so myopic in their “slice of life” tale that the audience has no idea how the characters got themselves into their particular situation or how it will all resolve even after the credits roll.
But what I truly hate about independent films is that I often don’t feel a damn thing once I’ve watched it. The film might be thought-provoking, even interesting, but more often than not, indie films follow completely unlikable characters and use odd plot devices to get their characters into a strange situation and I don’t end up enjoying the ride. I feel nothing except the confusion that I spent an hour and a half watching good actors and beautiful cinematography and good editing/sound design and I felt no connection to the characters, to their dilemma, and when it ended I couldn’t care less.
That was my experience of THE ONE I LOVE.
So it’s a Tuesday Movie Monday but better late than never, right?!
Recently, I traveled to NYC to visit friends and was able to go see a movie in the theater – a feat only accomplished on weekends without children. We went to see DON JON, a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s a modern-day envisioning of the “Don Juan” character who romances women, but this movie isn’t about his conquests, it’s about his flaws. Gordon-Levitt’s “Jon” is addicted to porn and despite the revolving door of ladies he sleeps with night after night, week after week, he only finds true sexual satisfaction in porn.
Harmony Korine’s SPRING BREAKERS movie is a contradiction: a visual orgasm of pornographic/pedophiliac imagery that can be interpreted as art, social commentary, or trash. There is too much artistry in it to be dismissed but it falls short of any kind of social commentary because the story grounding the visual/auditory orgy is so convoluted and fantastical.
It’s Movie Mondays and I managed to watch a bunch of movies this past week! Here’s my review of THE WOLVERINE (2013), directed by James Mangold:
What works really well in the X-MEN Series is how the writers tie in world history/events to give greater meaning to the action. In THE WOLVERINE, that event is the atomic bomb landing on Nagasaki. In that opening sequence, US B-52s fly over a Japanese POW camp in Nagasaki and everyone realizes the end is near. A Japanese soldier, Yashida, frees the prisoners, including Wolverine knowing how dangerous he is. Wolverine in turn stops Yashida from committing hari-kiri and protects the soldier’s body with his own when the blast goes off. It is a moment that humanizes the “enemy” and the war and also reminds the audience in stunning visual FX of that horrible time in our world history. It made me wonder how we will remember these events as time passes and more and more of that generation dies. There was a young child sitting in front of me who was awed by the A-bomb explosion and it made me cringe a little. Nevertheless, I think the moment was handled well and while there was no explanation or reason as to why in the hell Wolverine was a prisoner in Nagasaki (I assume based on his history this was one of his many tours of duty in the US Army), it served well as an introduction to Wolverine and Yashida.