Summer blockbuster season is here, and thank God for no hiccup this year! Alternative programming gives a refreshing element to cinema going activity this season. Simply said, we just cannot wait to go back to the movies!
Check out the select few of what I’ve seen in the past weeks after the cut.
Joss Whedon, all puns intended, marvels at assembling ego-maniacal characters whose wits, charms and punches are supposedly keeping us glued from the beginning. Instead, he delivers a big bang towards the end, which are really jaw dropping. Thus lies the big problem in the middle, where those characters have to carry scenes with their lines, and keeping us from momentary boredom. Largely the efforts fail, but luckily that does not really deter from overall enjoyment watching arguably the most satisfying casting assemble in any superhero films by far.
As Barnabas Collins, Johnny Depp sleepwalks convincingly, with his usual wickedness thrown in a few scenes worthy our chuckles. As Barnabas Collins, who is supposed to be at the center of the film, apparently Johnny Depp has to share his spotlight with crammed characters in the film. Sometimes these characters are presented up front, which confuse us, “who are really the focus of the story here?” Seemingly to keep up the spirit in Alice in Wonderland, the film is a feast for the eye by basking in its gorgeous retro costume and production design, yet relying on wafer-thin story.
This is probably the best Indonesian film this year. Focusing only on two characters, a father and his daughter who only have one night to reunite amidst their personal problems, it allows us to immerse in their world fully, and rooting for the story not to end as they walk through cold streets of Jakarta. This screams for a stage play adaptation, hopefully with equal powerful performances from the leads, as both Donny Damara and Raihaanun set the bar high for such characters. The film is lovely to look at, and it does linger for a very long time.
A decade has passed since we last saw these agents, which perhaps explain our nervousness in watching the film. Turns out the feeling continues throughout the film, as the main villain is given less than stellar portrayal, and grossed out characters are reduced, all of which make the original film was a blast. The dramatic twist at the end feels awkward, and instead of galloping buckets of tears, we are stunned, and slightly appalled with the decision. Watch this one with caution.
– ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY (1947)
Just because this is a lesser known Kurosawa’s does not mean it falls behind his other works. In fact, this packs emotional punches that serve as a stepping stone for his future well-known work, especially Ikiru. Film buffs may notice such traces, but for other regular filmgoers, watching this will leave us devastated as we follow the heartbreaking journey of the two characters in the spotlight, and triumphant in the end. This is the one that takes your heart away.
– RACHEL, RACHEL (1968)
The film works solely because of Joanne Woodward’s solid performance as the titular character. Other than her compelling act, we are forced to watch undecided film that cannot make up its mind whether to be experimental or psychological drama. The result is an uneven film that seems avoiding audience’s engagement.
– WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954)
When you decide to watch a Bing Crosby film, you know you expect to watch Bing Crosby as himself, crooning and occasionally strutting with equal grace to his male sidekick and female love interest. What you expect is what you get, and the film exactly delivers that, with additional fanfares from his co-stars. Our eyes cannot take off of lovely Rosemary Clooney, who holds her own next to her leading man.
– NINOTCHKA (1939)
This is a re-watch, actually, and boy, the film does get better in repeated viewing. The film was heavily promoted back then with the tagline “Garbo laughs!”, and that big scene of her big laughter is downright believable. She really laughs, perhaps at herself, but never at the film, for the film pulls off all the right stops in being a genuinely funny comedy. Ernst Lubitsch’s direction allows Garbo to place her acute comic timing perfectly. Undeniably, this is a timeless classic.