QUICK TAKES – 07.11.10

Toy Story 3

Grade: A- | 2nd Viewing

I went to the theatre with a group of friends this week and although we had all seen Toy Story 3 at the theatre once already it was still the most enticing movie playing. Like all Pixar films it definitely holds up on a second viewing allowing for new discoveries and laughs.

This time I was even more touched by the scene where the toys are moments away from dying in the garbage furnace and are saved by a bit of deus ex machina. The toys grabbing hands in a show of solidarity is one of the finest moments of the movie and a great representation of all the attributes that Andy describes in the toys at the end. Namely their determination to never give up.

The Prestige

Grade: B | 3rd Viewing

About halfway through Christopher Nolan’s magician film The Prestige, after learning how a trick works Rebecca Hall’s character points out: “it’s not so exciting once you know the secret.” That actually describes the film well, which is structured like a three-part magic trick that hinges on a final act twist. After knowing the secret some of the magic of the experience wears off.

Nevertheless Christopher Nolan once again illustrates his masterful directing skills and his ability to derive great performances from his actors. This is one of my favorite Hugh Jackman roles and Christian Bale is fantastic as a sort of antagonist. The brilliance is that everybody on screen is portraying their characters who in turn is playing a part. Nobody is always themselves throughout the entire movie because that would risk giving away the trick.

Coraline

Grade: A- | 4th Viewing

I don’t think any 2009 movie release has grown on me as much as Coraline. I still maintain that it is the best 3D film I have ever seen and it looks gorgeous on Blu-Ray. I’m very sad that Henry Selick has left the film’s production company, Laika Entertainment, which seems headed for disbandment. After seeing the quality of work they put in on their first feature film Coraline, I thoroughly believe that they could have been the only animation studio capable of competing with Pixar in terms of cinematic quality.

Read My Full Review from 2009

Youth in Revolt

Grade: C+ | 1st Viewing

The writing and directing team behind Youth in Revolt present a pretty idealized look at American youth. The teenagers’ rooms are plastered with posters of Jean-Paul Belmondo; they write Futurist poetry and watch Fellini movies in their spare time. The film constantly wants to remind you that it’s smarter than the average comedy.

The problem, however, is that it is too disjointed to completely work. Scenes transition from live-action to stop-motion animation and back with little explanation or opportunity to collect ones thoughts. The characters are also underdeveloped, which adds to the overall confusion. Even Michael Cera’s protagonist who narrates the film is not given enough of an arc to make his alter-ego creation really believable. It’s a very funny film and the talented cast makes it watchable, but I thought the film had higher potential.

What movies did you see last week?

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  • Alex, I feel you may have misread the movie “The Prestige”. Not that it’s a hard thing to do. I know dozens of people who don’t know what it’s about. If I may make a bit of a suggestion though, try to make the distinctions between the two Bale characters. Yesterday I spent the entire film trying to determine which character is on screen at what time. It makes everything so much more eloquent, and you really get to the heart of what Nolan was thinking while writing the film.

  • I liked “Coraline” a lot, but no way does it deserve the same grade as “Toy Story 3”. I’d give it a B+, and “Toy Story 3” an A. “Coraline” is visually amazing, but the story just doesn’t have the same emotional weight as Pixar’s best efforts.

    As for what I saw: again, I only saw one film. I’m still watching “Mad Men”, and I’ve also gotten hooked on Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”. So I haven’t watched many movies.

    The one I did see was “In the Loop”, and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s very funny, but also has some sad stuff to say about current politics. The early sections aren’t quite as good as the later parts, but overall I liked it a lot. Let’s say: B+

  • @Duncan – I get where he was going with the duality of character, but the film was all showmanship and the “prestige” ending didn’t feel like a real payoff. The build-up was better than the result and the “trick” feels less exciting because of it.

    It’s still a decent movie, but with Nolan, Bale, Jackman, etc…it could have been so much better.

  • Andrew R.

    3 masterpieces (I went there) and one film that is OK.

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