Posts Tagged ‘chris cooper

12
Nov
09

Movie Review: Where the Wild Things Are

where_the_wild_things_are

 

Substitute “wild” for “mild”…

Starring Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo and the voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, and Lauren Ambrose. Directed by Spike Jonze. Based on the childrens book by Maurice Sendak

Wow. They kinda sucked the fun out of this one.

It’s been forever since I’ve read Maurice Sendak’s book. My dad read it to me and my brother when we were younger and I vaguely remember enjoying it (as well as the “Reading Rainbow” segment on it). It’s this childhood fondness that drove my want to see Jonze’s movie adaptation of the 1963 classic.

No offense, but I’ll take my “childhood memory” over the movie.

Max is one lonely kid: his older sister Claire is more interested in her friends than paying any attention to him. His mother (Keener) is a stressed-out single mom trying to deal with her job and life as well as the lives of her kids. One night while having a dinner date (with Mark Ruffalo) Max acts up: he screams, climbs the table, stomps on it, fights and eventually bites his mom before running out the door, down the street, and disappearing from sight.

Max finds his way to the water and climbs into a small boat where he heads out into the water and ventures for parts unknown. From the ocean he spots a light in the forest. Might as well check it out…

Scaling up a cliff he wanders into the forest toward the light where he hides, watching the “Things.” One of them, Carol (Gandolfini), is walking around destroying all their huts. Max jumps out into the open and convinces them not to eat him and that he’s a king who conquered vikings. Lacking any real leadership they make him their king. He promises a new world, new adventures, etc., and they take him for his word.

And let me discuss the “Things” for a moment: they’re morose. It would be like a party of severely depressed people trying to “out Eeyore” Eeyore (the melancholic donkey from “Winnie the Pooh”). Yeah, that fun. There’s the headstrong Carol (Gandolfini), the whining Judith (O’Hara), her bore-holes-in-trees partner Ira (Whitaker), low-esteem goat Alexander(Dano), Douglas the chicken (Cooper), and K W (Ambrose) a woman who seeks advice from owls Bob and Terry.

Max proposes an idea to bring everyone together: build a fort that only they can get into. It’ll have a secret underground entrance and a machine that will scoop out the brains of anyone who dares to enter without their consent. Happily they all come together and begin working on fortress.

As a “team-building” exercise, Max declares dirt-clod war, dividing the group into two. They all begin to have fun until someone gets hurt and Max’s position comes into question and his power falters. Max must come to terms and grow up or face the threat of being eaten by Carol.

Maybe in hoping for something great I faulted myself on this one. I wanted something more uplifting, something to remember being a kid and enjoying the book. I didn’t get that from this movie. The
“Things” and Max were stunted in his age-mentality. Maybe that’s what Jonze was going for.

The movie isn’t entirely depressing. There were happy moments but for the most part it’s a depressing movie. Not bittersweet but humbly sad.

If I can say anything good about the film, it’s technically amazing. With CG blending in with animatronics from the Jim Henson company (creators of “The Muppets”), the “Things” are incredible to watch. Jonze went above and beyond in creating characters, nay, a world all to itself. Maybe he gave us all a bit more to chew on then we wanted.

I find this movie tough to suggest. It’s well-made but if you’re looking for sweet, charming, whimsical,
uplifting, and overall warm-fuzziness, it’s not to be had in this one. I’m just sayin’.

My grade: B- (with points for technical achievement)

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21
Aug
09

Bourne Again

On a whim me and a friend decided to watch “The Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum” films. Here’s the rundown:

bourne_identity“The Bourne Identity” – Matt Damon stars as the main character, Jason Bourne, a spy found lying facedown in the ocean with two bullets in his back. When he awakes he has amnesia and must piece together who he is and/or was. His one clue to the past is a deposit box which has multiple passports, money, and a gun. This tips off the CIA who are looking for Bourne namely Conklin (Chris Cooper) who sent Bourne on a secret assassination mission that has blown-up in the CIA’s face and brought questioning by another person in-the-know, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox). Bourne enlists the help of Maria (Franka Potente) whom he pays $20,000 to take him to Paris where he hopes to find out more about Project Treadstone.

In Retrospect: I remember watching this movie and loving it, hyping myself up for the sequel. Looking back, it’s still a good movie but I don’t love it as much. At the time it came out (2002) it preceded the final Austin Powers movies as well as the last Pierce Brosnan “James Bond” movie, and this was a welcome change. Both franchises had run their course and Jason Bourne was a spy who didn’t really on gadgets or one-liners; the man could disarm and disable you in three seconds using only his thumb. It was new, fresh, innovative, and action-oriented WITH a story. Doug Liman directed the first film entry in the series and I’ll give him credit for what he did, but it does seem to pale against its sequels (and imitators).

 

 

bourne_supremacy“The Bourne Supremacy” – Classified Russian documents are stolen when a CIA operation is botched and Jason Bourne is framed. On the other side of the globe Bourne is living in India with Maria when he’s spotted and during the ensuing chase, Maria is killed. Bourne returns stateside to find out why he’s being hunted down. Memories of a secret mission that wasn’t part of Treadstone return in bits and pieces and he soon goes to Moscow, returning to the scene of the crime and confronting the hitman initially sent to kill him as well as apologizing to the daughter of the couple whom he assassinated. This time around he’s being tracked down by Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).

In Retrospect: I liked this movie as much as “Bourne Identity” when it came out, citing the fact that the extra car chase was “the cherry on top of an already good movie.” Re-watching it, I liked it even more than the first. Sure, the camerawork during the fight scenes can get a little crazy or choppy, but overall it kept a cohesive story amid all the chaos.

 

 

bourne_ultimatum“The Bourne Ultimatum” – A journalist for the UK paper The Guardian (Paddy Considine) has found out about Jason Bourne and is trying to expose him, along with information on a Top Secret project called Black Briar. Bourne has to get to the bottom of things and runs into Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who happens to be working for the guy trying to sell the CIA secrets. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (CIA), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is honing in on the journalist when Bourne comes into the picture. Landy is sent in to help him with Bourne and, just in case, to be a scapegoat. Bourne must clear his name while trying to find out more information on Black Briar.

 

In Retrospect: I had such high hopes for this movie before I saw it in theatres. After watching it I wasn’t so much nauseous (major shaky-cam) as much as let down. It felt like an amalgamation of the other two Bourne films.

And I was partially right.

I’m reminded of a quote John Carpenter said about sequels which went something to the effect of people want the same movie over again. Sitting back and watching the other two Greengrass, as well as scriptwriters Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi, seemed to look at “The Bourne Identity” and say, “We can just use THIS script again!” Replace Chris Cooper with David Stathairn, Brian Cox with Albert Finney, Clive Owen with Joey Ansah, and even Franka Potente with Julia Stiles, and you have “The Bourne Identity Deux.”

And to make matters worse is the 1:20 (hrs:mins) point, where we find out that everything we’ve been watching takes place before the end of “Supremacy.” So, while Bourne was busy discovering why he was framed and avenging the death of his wife, he ALSO had time to find out about the other Black Ops Program, Black Briar. Did any of these guys think about this while it was happening, or just hope to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes? Fool me once, shame on me; I didn’t get fooled the second time.

 

THE WINNER: “The Bourne Supremacy.” A good blend of action-adventure with a plot and storyline.

 “The Bourne Identity” still holds, but not as well as “Supremacy.” “The Bourne Ultimatum?” More horrible than when I first watched it.