Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Grade: B | 3rd Viewing
After re-watching the latest Harry Potter film I found myself both excited and concerned for the upcoming final installments to the series. Iâ€™m excited because I feel David Yates is taking the films in the right direction as far as tone and style and I look forward to the amazing visuals that will surely be a part of the last two films. Iâ€™m also concerned, though, because some of the child actors have not grown up to possess that much acting talent.
I stick by my assertion that the adult casting in the Potter series is pitch-perfect and Jim Broadbentâ€™s performance as Professor Slughorn is one of the best yet.
The Messenger (2009)
Grade: C+ | 1st Viewing
The Messenger is a film that is full of beautifully tragic individual moments, but as a whole it is not very cohesive. Each successive scene that features the delivering of news of a deceased loved one is wonderfully directed and acted. I was especially struck by the scene where a father finds out his daughter got married in secret and her husband has been killed in combat. His transition from anger to empathy was an incredibly realistic emotional shift, which was very moving.
I am also glad that Woody Harrelson got the Oscar nomination for his role in this film. I can not imagine another actor pulling off the role of a slovenly soldier who parties on the weekends with young girls. Woodyâ€™s performance was rich with layers and despite his faults, completely empathetic. Ben Foster was also strong in the lead role.
Grade: B | 5th+ Viewing
Thereâ€™s nothing quite like revisiting the movies you grew up with and realizing how messed up they were. Jim Hensonâ€™s Labyrinth was one of my favorite movies as a child, and I find that I can still enjoy it as an adult, but in a completely different way. Hensonâ€™s inventiveness with his puppet based characters is ingenious and even though itâ€™s an outdated technique it feels fresh alongside the CGI in todayâ€™s childrenâ€™s movies. There was a playfulness to the puppets that I just donâ€™t think you get from computer-animated characters.
David Bowie was outright disturbing as Jareth the Goblin King, complete with giant bulge and pedophile tendencies. That completely escaped me as a child and Iâ€™m probably better off for it.
Grade: B+ | 1st Viewing
To celebrate the 4th of July I decided to watch this patriotic war film that I had never previously seen. George C. Scottâ€™s performance as the confrontational general ranks right up there with Orson Wellesâ€™ performance in Citizen Kane as one of the best portrayals of a man who is stricken with power. Like Kane put his personal affairs before his political outlook, Patton does what he wants and worries about the consequences later.
The film is easily one of the better war films ever made and seems an accurate portrayal of what life was like in the higher ranks, where social perception is as important as military strategy. The film approaches the legendary general without political persuasion and presents a character that the right can idolize and the left can empathize.
The reason the film gets a B+ is because I didnâ€™t like that it used newsreel footage as a cheap trick to advance the plot and I thought the ending did not live up to the expectations set by the iconic opening scene.
The General (1926)
Grade: A | 2nd Viewing
This classic was featured on the 4th of July as part of TCMâ€™s Silent Sunday features. Buster Keaton is a fantastic acrobat and his vaudevillian background is evident throughout the film. He conducted all of his own stunts and they never cease to amaze me as he fluidly bounds around the set with gymnast like grace. His style of comedy is a lot different than Chaplinâ€™s as Keaton prefers to let the silliness happen around him while he keeps an emotionless expression. The brilliance is that the same expression is given different meanings depending on what just happened previous to it.
I still need to see some of Keatonâ€™s less famous work, but I find it hard to imagine any of those films surpassing the genius of The General.
I know this piece is later than usual, but what did you see over your Holiday weekend?