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Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Spellbound-018

OFFERING A mix of horror and comedy, Spellbound (2011) is a lighthearted romantic comedy, who doesn’t offer much conflict but is surprisingly entertaining.

To be upfront, what sets this film from other films is that it effectively handles horror and comedy. As you may observe, that rarely happens in movies. In logic, as the film puts it, if a heroine, in a horror movie, falls in love, the scary factor loses its effect, because it would be overcome by romance. Without qualifying the situation, how can a person be scared if there’s a person beside her willing to protect her?

That’s why even if there is a couple in a horror film, say in the case of “Shutter”, “Scream” or “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, the romance is usually suspended to make way for the horror. It’s either you gain the element of one genre but you lose the other. In “Spellbound”, you get to keep both. At one point, we get to smile as drunk Yuri rips off Jo-gu’s tailor made shirt. Then the mood shifts, as we see a long-haired abnormally white-skinned tone woman coming out from a frame, matching with a cool breeze wind.    (more…)

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Hugo watching "Safety Last"

Hugo watching “Safety Last”

WHEN YOU are rooting for a character – you want them to succeed, you don’t want them to die, you’d give up everything just to see them happy – then the film has made an impression to you. Just as “Hugo” did for me.

Emptying the pockets

“Hugo” tells the story of Hugo unearthing the mystery of a worn out robot after the wake of his father. On the process, he befriends Isabelle, a girl who fancies book adventures and is hoping to get into one on this quest. Together they not only discover the hidden message but also renews a man drained from his past.

Before you get all jiggly, the “adventure” I’m talking about is not where they cross vast ocean, ride a flying beast, slay monsters, or travel into the new world, which seemed implied by the misleading posters and trailers. This is not Narnia-and-Alice-in-the-Wonderland like, but it does contain the charm and stunning CGI from the two. The adventure here is about a boy learning his purpose, an event that mostly happens in the train station, and I don’t say that as a caveat.

Hugo and Isabelle anticipate what the robot is going to write

An enchanted castle

By far, this is the first modern film I saw that cleverly enhanced the depth of the 2D medium by using dramatic lightning. In every scene there is always a touch of light and shadow, bringing you to the Romanticism period, it’s just “too good to be true”.  Not to mention, the playful use of smokes.  The film has “panache,” and you get the feel of it at the very start of the film where the camera tours around the train station.

I know this isn’t much but I had fun watching the scenes where it cut from an over-the-shoulder shot to a neutral shot. The other day I was reading a cinematography book. Seeing the shots in practice awakes my senses, its’ like the film saying “Look at this!” There are also some spectacular over the head shots and extreme below angle shots. Obviously, it’s more of an aesthetic intention than functional, but it gives the film a different look, telling you this isn’t your ordinary family film.

Surely enough, it isn’t.

Kind to old movies

When I was watching “Hugo”, it reminds me of “Super 8”. Both films are about films. “Hugo” teaches about film history, and “Super 8” celebrates the art of film making. Although unlike “Super 8”, “Hugo” doesn’t fall apart in the third act. You lose interest in “Super 8” after you find out what the hullabaloo is about. But, I’m happy to admit that these two films have a great job building up the climax. They spare you the thrill. Wanting you to want more.

Later in the film, Hugo and Isabelle go to a library, to further their research. They pull out a film book, and, as on that scene, a brief recap of the film history, where an actual footage of the old films are used. You’d also get the idea that the film pays homage to these classics. For instance, in the scene of the “Safety Last” (1923), where a man is about to fall, only hanging on the clock’s hand, is replicated on one of the climactic scene of “Hugo”, where Hugo is being chased by the train inspector.

Apparently, there’s still more. As I read on the internet, the ideas of some of the plot points of “Hugo” are “common” in early cinema. If you want to know more about “Hugo”, read a comprehensive analysis from davidbordwell’s site. It’s lengthy but rewarding.

Hugo mimicking “Safety Last”

Last thoughts

People also say that the story of the film does not deserve a 3D feature, because it’s too shallow. Yes, it’s too shallow. But for me, one of things that I consider that a film is magical is that it transforms people’s small little concerns like it’s the world’s. This is basically what the film does. Maybe you don’t care of a child fixing a robot, but for that child and the owner of a robot, it means a lot, it means their life. And at the end of the day, provided that their characters are played out well, that is only what matters.

P.S. I’m just wondering, since this is set in Paris, why doesn’t the characters talk in French?

His “best” smile

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0970179/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR-kP-olcpM (not recommended)

Rating: ★★★★★

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Skinny Chris Evans

“Captain America: The First Avenger” tells a story about a small, weak and feeble young man named Steve Rogers, who has a deep conviction to join the American army and help win the Nazi war, but because of his present condition he has been denied for a few times.  On  his recent attempt, luck finds him when he is spotted by the head military scientist and immediately admitted to the army, and is later transformed into a buff, strong and invincible young man. The journey starts there.

One thing that struck me at the start of the film was how did they shrunk Roger’s (Chris Evan) body. We saw resizing small into big, like that of “The Hulk”, but never the other way around. It turns out that the production team did a lot of effort CGI-ing Roger’s body, and it took them a while to shoot the scenes. Well, the first choice was to take a real skinny person for a double, take off its head and replace it with Evan’s. But the double’s performance didn’t lived up to Evan’s performance and so the production team opted for green screens. This also made Evan relieved, since he doesn’t want to share a performance. Rest assured, the film looks realistic and impressive.

Perhaps, this is the best hero I have ever seen, at least that I knew of. And like all other hero films, he has the girl that supports him and later he had her. I was surprised when they didn’t spared the film from visual effects. There was a big explosion encounter, and I thought it is the end of the film – since usually this is the way hero films end, with tons and tons of explosion – but I guess I was only halfway. That was exciting. I was looking forward for the next scenes.

What set this apart from the movie is perhaps the ending, which is hinted by the beginning of the film. It is a thrilling prologue on the upcoming Marvel film, “The Avengers”, which you might recognize as the team of Ironman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, etc. Isn’t that great? A one big superhero film. Sounds like “The Incredibles”. Not actually. Why? Because this time the film already built a strong characterization and I’d like to see them explode!

 

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