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Monday, July 21, 2008

Hot Days, Cool Films

When the hot days hit the Colorado front range, the spouse and I start looking for cool places to hide out in the late afternoon. We have air conditioning, but hate to turn it on for just a few hours a day. We're fortunate here to have cool nights and lovely mornings. Movie theaters work very nicely. I'll say we've seen three great summer movies.

The Dark Knight: the blockbuster of blockbusters. Enjoyed it very much. It is indeed dark. It is indeed well acted. Heath Ledger and Christian Bale - both excellent (though I still don't like his "Batman voice"), and who couldn't love Michael Caine's Alfred? Maggie Gyllenhal takes over the role of Rachel. I like her as an actress, but somehow she just didn't fit my image of a big city, assistant DA. Casting is so much more than ability. I've liked Aaron Eckhart since Erin Brockovich (though I do miss the earring!) He fit the role as the noble DA beautifully, but his story struck me as the weak spot. I'm just not sure I bought "what happened" to him. What I found the best was how the film addressed the moral dilemmas of the hero. I am looking forward to seeing the film again, which is always a good sign for me.

I might have enjoyed Iron Man just a little bit more. Robert Downey Jr was great as Tony Stark, the wealthy arms merchant captured by terrorists. Gwyneth Paltrow fun as girl Friday Pepper Potts, Jeff Bridges nicely patronizing as Tony's old friend and business partner. (Oh, Starman, how far you have fallen...) Was it the engineer as hero that made this a more "fun" film than the Dark Knight? Was it the complex, interesting relationships between these people? Sometimes excellent characters in a film don't "fit" together, but these did. I knew I was watching a comic book movie, but it was thoughtfully done without being grim. Robert Downey made Tony witty and smart and lovable and heroic all at once. I like smart.

And for the third film, maybe my favorite of the three?

It's got to be Wall-E. The Pixar folks have topped themselves with the tale of the diligent, sturdy robot left behind to clean up the garbage-smothered earth while the human population is off... Well, I really don't want to do spoilers. But I loved every minute of this film. Funny, beautiful, graceful - who would think a robot romance could result in the very definition of dancing? Good story. Unexpected heroes. Unbelievable detail in the animation. I particularly loved Wall-E's collection of interesting "stuff" he found as he worked. Can't recommend this enough. Of course, if you don't enjoy animation or such...well, as with all works of art - even books - to each his own opinion.

Still lots of films in the backlog, but these three will be keepers for my collection.


Calenhíril said...

I feel the same way about those movies. Wall-E was definitely my favorite of the three...you can't beat the combination of a great story with hilarity and heartfelt emotion even if it is from a robot. And the score was upbeat and cheerful, which is always something I take note of.

I've seen Iron Man twice, and I wouldn't mind seeing either TDK or Wall-E again. I'm looking forward to the fall/winter dvd season!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the films!

I just watched The Dark Knight a few days ago, and I'd have to agree that it was a solid film. This sequel has secured the batman live action series as my favourite "comic-book-turned-movie-series" so far. It was well-paced, well-acted, and I was genuinely disturbed at the few key Joker segments.

I still haven't seen Iron Man, and I'm not sure if I'll get the chance to. Some of my friends have spoilt the ending for me too. >_<

Wall-E was an enjoyable movie with wonderful acting, and definitely deserves all the praise. And speaking of animation, I'd also have to recommend Kung Fu Panda. It's sort of the underdog compared to something produced by Pixar, but I think the people at Dreamworks have outdone themselves and taken a huge step forward with this one. The plot may be simple, but the choreography and art direction (colors, design, etc) is simply amazing. But then again, I'm a sucker for visuals, so this is just a biased opinion.

Kathy Amen said...

One of the things I liked best about WALL-E, in addition to the things you mentioned, was the environmental message that was on-target without being preachy. Plus wouldn't it be cool to have robots around to help with stuff like they do in the end credit animation?