Quick Takes – 01.10.11

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Grade: A | 3rd Viewing

For the third consecutive time Toy Story 3 has reduced me to a blubbering baby with its emotional and cathartic ending. Upon third viewing I’ve had to increase my original rating from A- to A because the minor criticisms that I initially had are so minuscule in comparison to the film’s overwhelming achievements. It is a beautiful film and a solid addition to Pixar’s already legendary canon.

Out of all the excellent moments of the film the part that continually sticks out to me is the moment near the ending when the toys are about to be destroyed by the incinerator and they all grasp each other’s hands and wait for the end to come in what seems like a great moment of sheer hopelessness. The rescue by the claw is a marvelously apropos Deus ex Machina, that offers fantastic emotional release (and an excellent in-joke with the aliens worship of the claw making Deus ex Machina literal) and wonderful preparation for the final scene and the conclusion of the series.

I’m Still Here (2010)

Grade: B+ | 1st Viewing

There was a lot of criticism for this film surrounding the way that Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix alienated a lot of celebrities and members of the press in order to pull off what many called an elaborate stunt. However, I don’t feel that Borat style film was at all what the pair had in mind when they set out on this ambitious project. The film obviously came out of a place of great frustration with the celebrity-worship and gossip culture in which we exist and the phony-ness that is forced upon people who live in the public eye.

The fact that this film is a hoax has no bearing on the content of the film and if you pay attention to the credits, it is pretty obvious the whole thing was set up. However, the point was well-received. Joaquin Phoenix has what appears to be a very public emotional breakdown and what does Hollywood do? Instead of reaching out to him and offering help, they turn their cameras on him and hope that they catch his next big act of insanity. The same thing has happened to Brittney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and any other star who becomes an object of public scrutiny.

It’s an important message and one that at times Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix go too far to prove, but it’s a worthy film nonetheless.

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