March 2009 - Posts
Woody Allen has directed thirty-eight feature films over the last forty-three years, with another due out this summer (Whatever Works, July 2009). With that kind of prolific output, it would follow that there would be some failures mixed in with successes. If one has only seen the likes of Anything Else, Melinda and Melinda, Scoop, or Cassandra’s Dream, then I understand if you don’t have high expectations. But several of his films are really quite wonderful. The dialogue-driven style that Mr. Allen has established across his varied comedic and dramatic films is an acquired taste for many. There is no better place to start than with Manhattan.
The film opens with a montage of glorious black and white images of New York City. Cinematographer Gordon Willis (The Godfather) takes full advantage of the anamorphic widescreen frame and creates some remarkable compositions. Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin begins and the effect is pure nostalgia. The New York we view is less late 70s and more Old Hollywood of the 30s.
The story centers on middle-aged TV writer Isaac Davis (Allen) and his search for love and meaning. His main interactions are with his seventeen-year-old girlfriend Tracy (Marial Hemingway), his pal Yale (Michael Murphy) and wife Emily (Karen Ludwig) and Yale’s mistress Mary (Diane Keaton). We also meet Isaac’s ex-wife (Meryl Streep), who has left him for a woman and has custody of their son.
As is common in most of Mr. Allen’s films, the main characters are writers, filmmakers or New York intellectuals of some sort. This allows for his trademark witty dialogue which includes a lot of high culture name-dropping and references to art, literature, philosophy and religion. For me, they are as fun to try and identify as attempting to catch all the pop culture references in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The humor resides alongside serious questions of love, commitment, meaningful work and morality. And the actors involved all do an excellent job in making it work. As we wander through romantic highs, immature lows and moments of clarity with these characters, I relish the restaurants, bookstores and movie revival houses of a by-gone New York.
All of my favorite movies immerse you in a unique world and invite you to become an insider there. Manhattan definitely does that for me. The moving camera in the movie adds to this, and is another thing I love. With Gershwin in our ears we follow behind cars, travel in front of them and race along a city street with Isaac on foot. If you’ve never seen Manhattan, get a hold of this film and see if it changes your perception of “a Woody Allen movie.”
The DVD edition of Manhattan is not spectacular in terms of bonuses. Woody Allen movies tend to go light on extra features. When it comes to the feature, the picture is quite good and the Gershwin tunes throughout sound majestic. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.
Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona is on DVD now. It got an 82% Fresh rating at Rottentomatos.com. Director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry McGuire) put Manhattan on his ten best list. And for other witty, dialogue-heavy films that involve New Yorkers take a look at Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco and Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale.
An awesome looking trailer came out for "Where The Wild Things Are" yesterday. I didn't even know they were turning this children's bedtime story classic into a live action film.
Check it out
My fiance took me to see "I Love You, Man"
last weekend and we both had a really good time. I repeat, we BOTH had a good time. Finding movies to please us both is difficult scenario. She has been on a "P.S. I love you" kick for the last month that is driving me up the wall, while I've been on a steady diet of SciFi and Saturday morning cartoons since age 5. So how did we both end up so cheery? Simply put, "I Love You, Man" is a chick flick wrapped up in fart jokes. Ok, maybe that's a little to simple.
Here's the story: This guy Peter (Paul Rudd) asks this girl Zooey (Rashida Jones) to marry him. She says yes, which is awesome, but he quickly realizes that he has no guy friends to occupy his half of the wedding party. So what's a guy to do? Apparently you go on "man-dates." Lots and lots of awkward man-dates. Eventually Peter runs into Sydney (Jason Segel), and they hit it off. They both like the band Rush and fish tacos - what more do guys need to talk about? Of course Sydney has some interesting character flaws (or strengths) that lead to hilarious escapades and uncomfortable situations that may or may not destroy Peter and Zooey's special day.
While the story line is a bit predictable, the "bro-mance" feels very genuine. Peter and Sydney talk about sex, tv and music the same way I did with guys I hung out with in high school. Walking out of the theater, I longed for the days of just hanging out in someone's parent's basement watching cable and jamming in a band. What I enjoyed most was watching Paul Rudd not have the quick one-liner responses like he has in other films like "The 40 Year Old Virgin"
and "Knocked Up"
. No one, and I mean no one, can be that "on" all the time. Instead, Peter is just like most of the guys I know - he's awkward and tries to be funny, but often falls on his face. It's the honesty that makes the laughs work. That, and Jason Segel is hilarious. Definitely check this one out if you're looking for a date movie or something to see with a friend.
It is clear that people enjoy the excitement of seeing a movie for the first time. Go into any video rental store or onto any video rental website and it isn’t hard to figure out that the heaviest consumer demand is for new releases. Yet the movie fan has options when craving that excitement and need not always head straight for the new release aisle.
My goal with this blog will be to highlight quality films from the past that may have fallen through the mainstream cracks. I will be choosing movies made before 1980 that will still be a fun watch for someone who isn’t well versed in earlier movies. In addition to my opinions and some background info I will inform you of DVD details and also mention how the movie relates to more recent films that may be more familiar, providing a link from past to present.
Check in next week and we’ll get this underway.
Ok, I know I said previously that I would write a review of the movie "What Just Happened". Honestly, that was one of the worst movies I have seen this year, so I am not going to waste my fingertips writing about it. Instead, as I sit here and watch Field of Dreams on HBO, I feel compelled to talk about how great this movie was. Think about how that movie made you love baseball. I love baseball and just watching this movie makes me want to play. Also, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liota... The acting was just superb.
I like baseball movies and I would say that this is my all time favorite.
Let me know your thoughts about Field of Dreams.
Also, here is some information about an upcoming product launch from Klipsch.
I'm Andre LaRouche and that's my 2dB
Hello all, I'm Andre LaRouche and I have been chosen to write about movies. In fact, I am a self proclaimed movie buff. I will never claim to be an expert or a know it all, but I am definitely a fan of Cinema. If you don't know me here is a little personal information about me. I am an Acoustic Engineer with Klipsch since June of 2003. I graduated from Michigan Tech University in Houghton MI with a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering. I actually live in Dongguan City China where I am the Engineering ground support to each of the factories that we work with. That is not the purpose of this Blog, but if you are more interested in China you can read my BLOG "Andre's Blog". My wife and I both love movies and we watch a lot of new and old movies. I am going to be writing reviews of new movies, talking about old movies and sometimes just ranting about movies that I think someone should make. I am a fan of most films with the exception of horror movies. I am most fond of comedy, action, and dramas. I'll watch an occasional romantic comedy, but let's be honest, they are so predictable. Enough about me, lets watch some movies. My first review will be of a movie called "What Just Happened" Staring Robert De Niro.
Hi, I'm Phil. I'm a graphic designer here at Klipsch. I'm on this page because I watch a truckload of television and movies. How's that for an intro? Hope you liked it, cause it's all you're gonna get.
I figured I'd start out by mentioning two of my favorite TV shows that are saying goodbye this week. The first is the HBO series Flight of the Conchords. In a nutshell, the show is about two men from New Zealand, living in New York trying to make it as musicians. They are self-described as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo." The show stars Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, who write and perform original tunes that are both hilarious, sometimes raunchy, and always well executed. While not a musical, the show has a musical feel because Bret and Jemaine daydream and sing extremely well in their personal lives, but put on lack luster "live" performance in the show. Kind of like that guy in "Rent" who couldn't write a song, but was ad-libbing rockin' tunes with his friends. If he had only carried around a tape recorder he would have been set, but I digress.
The show, understandably, is ending this Sunday night after 2 very funny seasons. I say understandably because it must be extremely difficult to come up with more than an albums worth of music for one season of television every year. Good bands take years off between albums, so I imagine the stress was extreme. I'll really miss laughing to this show before bedtime, but hopefully they'll continue to make music and release albums. I would highly suggest the DVD of season 1 or their album of tracks from the show. Some favorite tracks include "The Most Beautiful Girl [In the Room]" and "Think About It."
The second show ending this week is Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, I'm a nerd. The show is about the last 60,000 or so humans left alive after their home planets have been nuked by cylons [robots] and they're on the run in outer space. This description in no way does it justice. Battlestar delves deep into the human condition and gives the show extremely relevant themes. Having started out as a mini-series, it blossomed into an incredibly well produced piece of television that has set a new standard in science fiction.
The cast is great, the writing is phenomenal, but I won't gush on, you should just trust me and check out the series on DVD or SciFi channel reruns.
This concludes our broadcast day.