Sunday, July 27, 2008


I think we can all agree that most Disney films of the past decade are horrific and I have, on more than one occasion, shouted "blasphemy!" at the latest Disney movie trailer. What Lion King are we on now? Lion King 50, Simbas' Adventures in the Underworld? What was their latest remake? The Swiss Family Robinson In Space? Pollyanna: The Pop Star? ::sigh:: Though a complete sell out to consumerism, Disney has had some successful ventures. Their latest - probably the acquisition of Pixar Studios. And as usual, the always innovative Pixar, has stepped it up a notch in this newly animated film Wall-E.

Wall-E is the last remaining robot on Earth. After 700 years, his counterparts have gone kaput, and he's left alone to complete the job of cleaning up the gargantuan mess humans have left for him; all the while, the rest of mankind grows fat on a cruise ship in outer space. Wall-E is curious, smart, and naive, and as he picks through 700 years worth of junk, he weeds out the last treasured remnants of human civilization and reminisces on the beauties of being a person.

Reasons why Wall-E is good:
- The characters. Wall-E's reminds me simultaneously of a tired, lonely old man and a klutzy, eager 5-year-old. Absolutely adorable, earnest, and stouthearted, Wall-E is a character that you can't help but like. Not to mention the clean freak, M-O, and Eve, the sleek bot with an anger problem.

- The CG. The computer animation is phenomenal; as can be expected from this studio. Pixar's ability to show Wall-E's emotions through his eyes and without using any dialog is nothing short of amazing. Wall-E's ability to bring back the meaning of human interaction and to cross communicational barriers without the use of words is both meaningful and impressive.

-The story. The plot is one of the best I've seen. It is modestly about a girl probe, Eve, who is out of Wall-E's league (in every way) and Wall-E's quest for her heart. Yet aside from being cute, the film is completely hysterical. I just about died every time Eve busted out her "hand gun." It is sad, funny, and sweet; all in one movie!

-The message. The plot is simple yet complex and it spoke to me on so many different levels. There are themes that were readily apparent, but commentary on the human condition not blatant, but to the point.

-The details. The attention to detail blew my mind. My friend Jason (and maybe you) will pick up on the lack of sound during the space scenes. Why? There's no sound in outer space, silly! I also enjoyed the motif for the ending credits, which shows the progression of humanity rebuilding their home on Earth, but illustrated in the progressive styles in art; first starting with cave drawing and ending with van Gough.

Wall-E is a must see. It's visually spectacular, emotionally intriguing, and thoughtfully complex. I don't think I've seen many that are better.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:56 PM 1 comments  


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


So you know those movies where you can figure out the twist after two seconds of the film? Well, this is one of them. But I do have experience with this. I figured out the Sixth Sense after the first five minutes. However, either way, this film is pretty dumb.

Starring Jessica Alba, Hayden Christiensen, Terrence Howard, and anesthesia awareness, Clay Beresford is a high powered capital investment executive in need of a heart transplant. Living a double life between his posh, rich lifestyle (including an overly controlling mother) and a humble dwelling with his sweet-natured girlfriend, Clay attempts to separate himself from the life his mother has laid out for him - starting with choosing his own heart surgeon and his own wife. Once he goes into surgery, however, he realizes that he's still awake. The rest of the movie takes us through his out-of-body experience and the revelations that follow.

Totally predictable and poorly acted, Awake is a sad example of a suspense thriller. There was nothing terribly dreadful in this movie - except, Christiensen. He is such a Nancy boy. I can't stand him. He's such a bad actor. What is equally as annoying as Christiensen is Clay's mother. She is originally portrayed as a flat character; controlling and over-bearing. She maintains her opinion on Clay's choice for a surgeon and for a wife in a completely aggravating and judgmental way. Yet by the end of the film, she's completely vindicated. So, is this film saying that controlling and over-bearing is the way to go when you're a mother? Apparently, yes.

They did do some cool things with lighting, but not enough to commend Awake for anything.

There isn't much to this film. It's meant to target that older teen audience, but I'm sure they'll still find this film equally as annoying as to the average viewer (unless they're a pre-pubescent boy who ogles over Jessica Alba). So in closing, don't believe in this anesthesia awareness baloney. Yes, it's a scary idea, but its not as scary as you enjoying this flick.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:43 PM 0 comments  

The Great Debaters

Saturday, July 12, 2008


So I've heard that the reason why Denzel Washington is good-looking is because his face is perfectly symmetrical, which makes it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I can agree with that rational. I mean, he isn't overtly handsome (to me), but yet he's nice to look at - even when he plays a bad-ass gangster or a corrupt cop. However, something must be said about his performance in his most recent flick, The Great Debaters. His glaringly insensitive and distrustful portrayal of Melvin Tolson definitely made me see the ugly in Denzel.

Set in the 1930's and loosely based on a true story, the 'Great Debaters' are a group of young, educated individuals from the historically black Wiley College. Under the supervision and guidance of Melvin Tolson (Washington), four debaters are chosen for his elite team, James L. Farmer Jr., Henry Lowe, Samantha Brooke, and Hamilton Burgess. This film, produced by Harpo Productions, takes this team through one year of debate competitions with other black colleges in the South. After beating all notable schools in the area, Tolson begins to seek out white colleges to compete against, but in this heavily racist era, this is no easy feat. Throughout this film, their travels and experiences take them through a number of issues that affected the times (lynchings, racism, communism) and adolescence (first love, coming of age). This film also features Academy Award winning Actor Forest Whitaker.

I didn't like this movie. It was a jumble of political and social issues that were suppose to be facilitated by the plot, but actually became the side story to the plot. Or maybe they were suppose to be the side stories? I'm not quite sure . . . and this ambiguity does not bode well. There was just too much going on for it to be any good. It was a coming-of-age story, but then it wasn't. It was a educational film on racism, and then it was a period piece, and then it was a sports film. All these different aspects in a film, but yet all under-developed.

As for Washington's performance, the man is just good. However, his character contributed to the indecisiveness of the plot. He was a underground revolutionary, a Communist to be exact, and yet I couldn't quite tell if the film meant to portray this as a good thing or a bad thing. He had terrible character flaws. He liked to cheat in the debates. He wrote all of the arguments while the team did the research. He was insensitive and at times, cruel. He lies and creates uncomfortable tension, and yet he mentors these young minds and tells them to believe in themselves. He can be kind, but yet is terribly ruthless. He's such a huge contradiction that I can't see him as being a very good role model. So, though Washington gave depth and complexity to this multi-layered character, it deepened the obvious flaws in the already unfocused plot.

This could easily make the Hallmark Classics shelf, but not mine.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:14 PM 0 comments  

The Kite Runner

Sunday, July 06, 2008


What's kind of annoying to me is when a genuinely good book gets exploited by blockbuster hype. There it was, a little known, well written novel with its humble cover; tucked away at the bottom corner of the fiction section. Then, someone else in Hollywood realizes what a great book it is and rapes all the dignity from it. Suddenly its a New York Times best seller, its classy matte cover replaced is by a glossy photo of the movie poster. And now, when you re-read the book, the characters suddenly look like the actors who had portrayed them. It can be quite awful to a true book fan. The good thing is, it can get more people to read a book that might have been left forgotten, but it simultaneously makes it trendy, an undesierable characteristic to many.

So The Kite Runner is a novel turned film about Amir and his best childhood friend Hassan during a time when Kabul was still peaceful. The difference is, I didn't think the book was all that fantastic. Different in class and race, Amir and Hassan struggle with the societal convention that decided the unlikelihood of their friendship. Then, one day, something changes their life paths forever, and it takes almost a lifetime for Amir to make amends with his ghosts of the past.

Usually, when novels are altered for the silver screen, screenwriters adapt the story to visually make the story flow smoothly and to trim the plot of story fat. However, in this instance, they kept everything. Nothing was changed, and in my opinion, to the film's detriment. I didn't enjoy the novel, and I didn't really enjoy the film. In both mediums, I never felt that Amir's guilt was ever amended. Even as he risks his life to save Hassan's son, there was always some part of me that didn't believe that he did it for Hassan and Sohrab. I felt he kind of did it selfishly - so that he wouldn't have to feel guilty anymore, and I feel horrible for thinking that. I feel so judgmental.

In regard to the actual performance of the actors. The young Hassan and Amir (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada and Zekeria Ebrahimi respectively) were fantastic. Their friendship was alive and real. Khalid Abdalla brought humility and a quiet modesty to Amir that I didn't see in the novel. However, other than the performances and learning about a culture I know little about, I thought the plot was quite anticlimactic and plain.

Beautiful though a story is about a childhood filled with innocent kite flying and savoring pomegranates underneath a trees, the beauty lies only in the idea. Its not in this story.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:34 PM 0 comments