Friday, June 3, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge, Days 1 - 4

I've been really terrible about blogging for the last several months, so to help me get back into it, and to make it up to anyone who reads this stupid thing, I'm swallowing my pride and using a device.

It's called the 30 Day Film Challenge. Found it on some website, some guys thought it up. I've already missed a few days (go figure, I'm so irresponsible...) so this first entry will be the first three days of the thing, but thereafter I'll at least try to write some little blurb every day.

So join me. Let's talk about movies for a while


Day 1 - My Favorite Movie

For many of these entries, I'll probably mention multiple movies. I love movies, and I have lots that I really love. But for my personal favorite, there is one that stands far above the rest, and it's the only one I'll mention this time. That movie is Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece Spirited Away. One thing I've heard many people note about Miyazaki is his uncanny ability to tell a beautiful story on screen, and that is no more apparent than in this anime classic. The magical and fantastic elements appeal to the Harry Potter superfan in me, and that is part of the reason I love it, but it's also has an amazingly well-thought-out narrative structure. Every time I watch it, I am amazed at how the tone shifts near the end from desperately hopeless to ecstatically happy, and completely seamlessly. Everything that happens in Spirited Away feels right, and everything falls together in the way it feels like it should. Another thing I love about the movie is its music, written by Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi. The fusion of whimsical pop with classical elements fits perfectly into every moment in the movie, and it really drives the story along throughout. Spirited Away is my standard for a perfect movie. I love it so much. It is fantastic.

Day 2 - My Least Favorite Movie

There are several movies that deserve to be mentioned here. You Don't Mess With The Zohan, a movie starring Adam Sandler, is the only movie during which I've walked out of a theater. It's a movie that is consistently and painfully unfunny, but Adam Sandler thought it was absolutely hilarious, and that was a big problem. Between all the jokes about the Zohan's preference for older women in the bedroom, his lack of maintenance regarding his pubic hair, and shots of a large fish landing in between Sandler's butt cheeks, I (needless to say) lost interest. I remember being offended by that PG-13 rated movie more times than any R-rated movie I'd ever seen. It was terrible.

Another awful movie I saw (all the way through, I might add, although I'm unsure why) is One Missed Call, an American remake of a Japanese horror movie about cell phones. One Missed Call is a thoroughly bad movie. Its acting: horrific. Its dialogue: dismal. Its premise: outrageous. I think maybe we stayed in the theater for the entire duration of the movie because we were laughing so much at it; it was so unbelievably ridiculous. Its demise was the fact that it took itself far too seriously. If Sam Raimi had directed it and given the movie a little Evil Dead touch, it would have been much more successful. Like I said, the movie ended up providing a few laughs, particularly as the butt of the joke in this scene from a movie I might be mentioning later.

But a movie I grew to thoroughly hate is James Cameron's giant f*cking spectacle, Avatar. I went in expecting a cool, visually stunning science-fiction epic, along the lines of Star Wars. I went out having seen a less than mediocre bastardization of Disney's Pocahontas. There is no new story here, it's very poorly written and acted, yet people seemed to think it was the greatest thing to ever hit the theaters (and they said that mostly with their wallets -- Avatar is the highest-grossing movie ever). By no means is it a great movie, yet when the Oscars rolled around that year there was talk that it might beat out Kathryn Bigelow's brilliant The Hurt Locker for best director or even best picture. I was starting to think the moviegoing audience was losing their minds. Maybe the visuals were eye-popping, I'll admit that, but even so, 162 minutes of explosions really gets boring after a while. While Avatar is probably a better movie than the previous two I mentioned, it remains my least favorite, and by far the most annoying.

Day 3 - A Movie I Watch To Feel Good

I don't watch romantic comedies very often at all, but one that I really loved when I saw it was the Rob Reiner classic When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are (somehow) the definition of chemistry in this movie. The dialogue is the greatest in this movie, witty and hilarious at every moment. The soundtrack is great, especially the use of "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," sung by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Another thing I love about it is that it's set in New York, one of my favorite places I've ever been. It's just a wonderful, entertaining, feel-good romantic comedy.

Day 4 - A Movie I Watch To Feel Down

A while ago, I probably would have mentioned movies like Hotel Rwanda and The Killing Fields. Those are both well-made pictures about horrible genocides, and there is many a blue moment in each, but something is missing from them. A sprawling, raw, and heart-wrenching Holocaust epic, The Pianist, however, has what those two movies lack. Director Roman Polanski lived through the Holocaust, and this movie was heavily influenced by Polanski's own experiences, and viewers can tell when watching. Combined with Adrien Brody's incredible performance as the Polish pianist Wladislaw Szpilman, The Pianist is an amazing, moving piece of cinema. Some of the scenes are disgustingly brutal; the filmmakers held nothing back. But that makes it all the more effective. It's not a movie that I'd watch over and over again, but it is indeed a great one.


  1. I really enjoy reading your pieces. Especially about film. Keep up the good work.

  2. You Can Do It!

    Ps Sure, AVATAR is mindless drivel, but I challenge you to find a more satisfying experience in IMAX 3D. It looked so Big and Good!