Archive for October, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

October 7, 2008

 

What Is It?

This is the latest retelling of the classic book by Jane Austen. It has been a BBC melodrama, an A&E mini-series and even a modernized musical out of Bollywood. Now, Focus Films is bringing a limited release independent film version with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Donald Sutherland as her father.

This is the story of the Benet family. The matriarch of the family tries desperately to come off as high in society as she finds husbands for her daughters. Elizabeth doesn’t want an advantageous marriage, just a marriage of love.

How Was It?

At first, they were showing scenery, and I thought, “How are they going to fit all that story into 127 minutes? Expensively, when they spend time on scenery!” (A&E had to make cuts and they had 300 min. to work with.) Then this film showed me something I have not seen in a very long time. Pride and Prejudice used the medium of film to its fullest extent. The camera was directed with a hand as deft as a master poet’s pen. The pictures on the screen were as beautiful, meaningful and well crafted as the words from Jane Austen’s books. First, there were great moments, like when Elizabeth was being chased by her mother. In that instance, mother is flanked by squawking geese that match her outfit and temperament. This moment gives us more insight into the character than three pages of dialogue.

This film also utilizes very long shots without cutting. Though, In the a world of 3 second cuts and MTV editing, that may sound like a bad idea, but they seem to go at least 2 minutes at times without cutting. In that time the camera and cast are choreographed so well that their movements become more interesting and communicate more information than any 100 fast cuts could hope to. (Comparing the skill and effect of this film to your standard fast paced film is like comparing the speed and power of a punk band to a 100 piece orchestra giving a booming rendition of “Hall of the Mountain King”.)

This film also has great moments that give you visual insights into the characters’ thoughts and struggles (particularly Darcy’s) much better than any other production I have seen. All this is added to beautiful sets and incredible acting (Donald Sutherland seems born to give the dissertation after Elizabeth gets her first proposal).

Finally, they use the dialogue from the books fantastically well. Not only do we get the most pertinent lines, they also use others as flavoring and coloring in background conversation and overlapping dialogue.

Elizabeth dancing with Darcy is just fantastic!

All that, then there is the phenomenal story. The issues of the title are brought together through a story that didn’t need all this cinematic mastery to make it good, but coupled with it, makes it incredible.

Was It Good For Children?

This is a fantastic movie to see, though the big words and overlapping dialogue may be hard to follow. They are very appropriate when showing the actors, although there are a couple of houses that are decorated with Greek art, including a lot of nudes. For the most part it’s in the background.

You can get an entire breakdown of what’s on the screen at Screenit.com

What About Spiritual Issues?

There is the slight issue of the pastor who is ridiculous. In the other versions and in the book, you see that he is not the lone representation of Christianity. Here that is not as clear, though there is a point where they talk about the office of a pastor as honorable. They refer to the man who turned down the office as dishonorable. I do not think the film is saying that Christianity is simply silly and boring, I can see where people could get that misconception.

There are also the major themes of the film that show the folly of marrying for money or for the love of romance alone. We also see the problems of judging people too harshly and listening to gossip, as well as the mistake of thinking everyone to be of the best intentions.

Nice point: there is no physical progression in relationships until they are married.

What Is Your Recommendation?

You should keep the issues of Greek art and the silly pastor in mind. Other than that, I would recommend this film wholeheartedly as one of the best examples of exquisite filmmaking I have ever seen.

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Iron Man

October 7, 2008

What Is It?

This is not only another Marvel comic book movie, but the first to be entirely the creation of Marvel Studios.

Iron Man is the story of Tony Stark. He is a weapons mogul and an electronic and mechanical genius. Terrorists, capture him, using his own weapons to do so, then try to force him to build a new weapon for them. Instead, he secretly creates a metal suit that he uses to escape. (All of which is in the preview.) When he finds out that his company has been selling weapons to America’s enemies under the table, he perfects his suit to undo the wrongs that were done in his name.

How Was It?

It is said that Charlie Sheen had tried for the part of Peter Parker in Spider Man. He should have held out. Tony Stark is a cross between Charlie’s womanizing alcoholic character on Two and a Half Men and the “wise as a serpent” lawyer James Woods portrays on “Shark”. Unfortunately for both actors, Robert Downy Jr‘s performance not only propels the movie, but insures he will wear the suit for many sequels to come. Between Downy and a great supporting cast, with a well thought out story, and a great supporting special effects crew, this was a fun movie to watch. This film moves, pounds and blows up from start to finish; all the while fueled by a “Power Metal” soundtrack (bracketed by AC/DC’s Back in Black at the opening and Black Sabbath’s Iron Man at the end).

Is It Good For Kids?

This is a hard one. Tony Stark is a rich play boy and it is not played down like in the BatMan movies where it’s “all just an act.” He does admit that his life was wrong but does not go into specifics. Still, a lot of kids will not be able to make that logical leap with such a likable character.

The violence is ever present but is not always “comic book” style. Where Iron Man vs Fighter Jets, is exciting, Tony Stark vs Terrorist is also a touch gruesome. This was not meant to be a kid’s movie.

The final warning is the sexuality of the movie. We don’t see anything more than you would see on a beach (though we probably see too much there) but it all has a sexual context. We even see Stark in bed with a girl who is wearing a shirt and underwear, but the scene changed once we “know what’s going on”. The hard thing is that these people are dressed inappropriately, but the camera does not “Stare”, it simply lets us know what a letch the character is. What makes this hard is that while the images are there, they are not front and center, blurring the line of distinction.

I did hear one second string character take the Lords name in vain, but screenit.com found much more that I missed.

I strongly suggest you read the break down on Screenit.com before bringing kids and teens.

What About Spiritual Issues?

Though every Marvel movie brings up God, I am happy to announce that this is the second Marvel Franchise to reference God and not be Heresy. (Ok, The Hulk was just too confusing to know if it was good or bad, and I have not seen Blade or Electra.)

Stark shows off a new weapon, which is designed to “protect” us. It will destroy an entire city and is called “Jericho.” When demonstrating Jericho, the missiles explode behind Stark as he holds out his arms in a Jesus Christ pose and the winds blow behind him and nearly push over the onlookers. There is also a comical reference to Matthew 22:21.

Stark is said to have “Come back from the dead” when he returns from captivity. Of course after this “resurrection” he announces that he finally knows his purpose in life and why he was put here. All of this of course suggests that there is an intelligent designer who has a plan for Starks life. From the other inferences we can assume which “Designer” they are thinking of, but it is nowhere as specifically Christian as the Spider Man Series.

What is your Recommendation?

The few shots of scantily clad girls were short enough that you know they were just there to tell the story, but a bit too long for me to be comfortable with.

Barring that, it was an exciting and often tense movie with some welcome messages and symbolism. Still, if you are looking for Tense thrills with Biblical Symbolism, “I am Legend” does it better.

If you are looking for Comic Book action with Biblical Messages, “Spider Man 3” does that very well.

If you are looking for a flawed man searching his soul through a film with messages about finding God’s purpose for your life, all with a Comic Book Superhero Motif, then look no further than M. Night Shyamalan’s, Unbreakable.

But if you are just looking for “Iron Man,” I would say it’s the second best offing Marvel has for us.

Waterhorse – Reviewed on Video!

October 5, 2008

This is the start of our video reviews. Please let us know what you think.