Grade: A | 5th+ Viewing
Iâ€™ve said before that Ratatouille is my favorite Pixar movie, and that sentiment continues as I watch the film for the umpteenth time this past week. The film is remarkably moving and I make new discoveries every time I take it in. It may be one of the best metaphors for human progress ever animated with a great screenplay and voice-acting performances.
Ratatouille is about the human ability to create and the obstacles put in the way to hinder that creation. Remy the rat is symbolic of any person who has taken a serious risk to try something new – the Einsteins, Da Vincis, and Pixars of the world â€“ and Anton Ego is representative of those in power who are afraid of change. The film has very high stakes and has one of the best three-word pieces of dialogue that says so much with so little: â€œRemy, where are you going?â€ â€œWith luck, forward.â€
Grade: A | 5th+ Viewing
Even though I have not yet seen Barneyâ€™s Version, I am very happy that Paul Giamatti took home the Golden Globe award for his performance because he is easily one of the most overlooked actors in Hollywood. My favorite performance of his comes in the 2003 bit of genius American Splendor, but Sideways is a close second. Nobody can do hilarious angst like Giamatti who puts endless thought behind every neurotic line-reading. One of my favorite moments in the film comes when he realizes he missed a chance with Mia and he desperately tries to get it back in an act of desperation. Director Alexander Payne wisely pulls the camera back to a separate room in order to make the viewer feel like an uncomfortable observer.
Alexander Payne finally releases another film this year with his upcoming The Descendants, which is his first feature since Sideways. Itâ€™s about time.
Wild Grass (2010)
Grade: B- | 1st Viewing
My first exposure to the critically acclaimed auteur Alain Resnais came in his 2009 Cannes Film entry and 2010 U.S. release Wild Grass. The 88-year old member of the French New Wave continues to show his imagination in this film about the spontaneity of human connections and about the fear of old age. With no previous exposure to Resnais, I will admit that I lack context, but the film was an enjoyable escape that became too scattered and random.
The film needs to be seen in a full-state of consciousness as Resnais uses subtle repetition where he shows the same scenes over and over with slight changes throughout to the point where during my first slightly-tired viewing I thought my DVD player was skipping. The central characters are slightly disconnected from the moral plane of modern humanity which makes them somewhat unlikeable, but their spontaneous connections make the film redeemable and sometimes even quite entertaining.
Grade: A- | 1st Viewing
One of the most effective portrayals of the American military experience in Afghanistan is this gripping documentary about one of the most dangerous outposts in the war. Unlike almost every other Iraq/Afghanistan documentary, the film is mostly apolitical, but whoever said that â€œevery war movie is an anti-war movieâ€ may be correct. The stationed soldiers at the outpost Restrepo fight only for themselves and their fellow soldiers. Their overall purpose is never made quite clear to the audience, because it doesnâ€™t appear to be clear to the fighters either.
2010 may have not offered a better display of emotion than in a segment the men call Operation Rock Avalanche when one of their enlisted brethren is killed. The guttural screams of agony from one particular soldier are raw and heartwrenching and better than anything that even the most seasoned of actors could manufacture.