Sunday, July 29, 2012

New & Past Releases: Volume 1

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Marc Webb

Reboots are all the rage, and I actually enjoyed this one. I saw it in 3D because it was the only showing that a friend and I could catch, and while the the 3D did nothing for this one, the special effects were good. Andrew Garfield does a pretty good job making the Peter Parker character a little complicated without overdoing it. The villain wasn't the best, but this was fun, if forgettable.

To Rome with Love (2012)
Woody Allen

This is probably the most polarizing film of the bunch, as Woody Allen movies tend to be. Someone I know described it as "charming" and I completely agree. The four vignettes presented here (two of which are completely in Italian) are a delightful mix of comedy, satire, opera and Italian visual delight. Some people think of Allen's movies as being a bit trite, but this felt fresh with plenty to unpack. All the performances are good with Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni and Alessandro Tiberi standing out. I think Allen knew precisely what he was doing with his two most recent flicks, and it's reassuring given the large number of confused movies out there.

Norwegian Wood (2010)
Tran Anh Hung

I'd been really looking forward to seeing this one as its based on one of my favorite contemporary novels. Unfortunately, it falls quite flat, simply moving an attractive cast along a book plot; there's no real character development here. The score deserves some commenting on: I'm a big fan of Radiohead, but I've never been completely "on board" with Jonny Greenwood's avante-garde classical offerings. And while he can tap into a sound evocative of jazz greats like Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus (or even Sun Ra), I'm not sure that ambiance works in all contexts. The guitar theme works well for the film, but some of the orchestral music becomes tedious. While this didn't really work as movie, it had enough pretty shots that get me interested in its director.

The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)
Tran Anh Hung

Which takes me to...something much more interesting! Tran Anh Hung's enormous talent is evident here in one of the visually beautiful films I've ever seen. Hung is French-Vietnamese, influenced by Ozu and Japanese cinema, and shot this film set in Vietnam on a sound stage in Boulogne, France. The movie's production raises questions about what it means to make a movie about a country one knew only in childhood. Perhaps I'll get to writing about this film in the future...

That's all for now!

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