Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Netflix Pix: Eternal Kramer vs. Up
However, to reward a long wait, as well as to celebrate the first collaboration between Awkward is What We Aim For and Reel Artsy, we have three movies featured today, one regular mail and two Instant Watch. The combination (and the title of this post) is awkward, but that's exactly as it should be, no?
Without further ado, let's get started!
Black Swan, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Devil Wears Prada and Moulin Rouge!, the film is firmly planted among my favorite films of all time. It also can boast that it is among the best I have ever seen--not an easy distinction.
Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Sunshine revolves around the ideas of manipulation of memory--what if ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends could be erased, never to be thought of again? Science fiction-based but truly grounded in the humanity of its characters, including the quartet of memory-erasers who provide a secondary, equally moving plot, Sunshine never forgets the essential reality lying underneath its mystical premise.
The film is truly original, a work of art that is the rare intersection of great acting, great direction, and great writing. The fact that it was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in its year is a crime--it should have been the clear winner. Director Michel Gondry truly manipulates the audience, traversing cinematic worlds that others would never dare consider. It's a shame his last film, The Green Hornet, was such a disappointment--perhaps if he had used his flair for the bizarre but incredibly functional there, it would have been better. It is surely in full effect here, and it is paired brilliantly with Charlie Kaufman's dynamite screenplay. Both challenging and complex, Kaufman twists time and expectations for maximum payoff. It's a fantastic trick and one that might never be pulled off again with the same aplomb.
There's almost nothing wrong with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is perhaps one of the most ambitious movies ever made and one of the greatest. Both of those superlatives together are a rare but incredibly satisfying combination. Not one to forget, to say the least. A
An artistic marvel, Up tells the story of Carl Fredricksen (memorably voiced by Ed Asner), a curmudgeon who attempts to escape the world by using balloons to lift his house into the air. It makes more sense in context. He winds up on a tropical island with a Boy Scout who tagged along, a dog who can speak (Dug, who we'll discuss more in a bit), and a flamboyant bird named Kevin and is forced into an altercation that is far too cartoony to even describe.
It is because of this that I have such issues with the typical cartoon plot that follows. A movie with that ambitious a beginning deserves a more ambitious follow-through. I often hear in response, "Well, Kevin, it's a kid's movie," but I don't think there's been a Pixar movie in some time that was really a kid's movie. WALL*E remains one of my favorite films of all time, and I certainly wasn't a kid when I saw it. The only element in the rest of the film that really worked for me was Dug, the talking dog, and even he was too cartoony. The only reason I liked him so much was because Bob Peterson, the voice actor, gave such brilliant line readings it was impossible to not fall in love with the character.
All in all, not a great movie. But a passable one. B for the film, A+ for "Married Life"
With all of Streep's performances in the 21st Century, there's been a hint of self-referential in each. A sort of "I am Meryl, screen titan" quality that she is certainly not imbuing in them herself, but is a natural side effect of being considered the greatest actress who ever lived. None of that exists here. This is Streep proving exactly why she has the title she has. She is masterful. Other than in Sophie's Choice (her other Oscar win), there is no better performance in her repertoire. It's a must-see for every up-and-coming actor: this is how you make a career for yourself. This is how you get them to remember your name.
Well, there's our three Netflix Pix for the week. Like them? Hate them? Think I'm inhuman for not loving Up? Take it to the comments!