Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts on The Breakfast Club

As many of you may know, 80s teen flick auteur John Hughes passed away recently. In honor of this, I decided to show The Breakfast Club to my Film Club. I started the year with something light and teen oriented (Charlie Bartlett, more on that later) so as to get them going in the right direction with something that wasn't as heavy as, say, The Seventh Seal. The film is far from perfect and I don't agree with it being the ultimate high school movie, but it's cultural impact is still undeniable. Allow me to elaborate.

The film follows a Saturday in the lives of five high school students in detention. They're all from different cliques and don't really get along. Because of their locked-in circumstances, they're forced to interact and get to know each other. Throughout the day they manage to get behind the assigned personas of their cliques. If this sounds cliched, it's because this film practically started this trend in teen and coming-of-age movies. Even if the character labels are a tad obsolete and simplistic, the movie's intention is what's remarkable. The reason they simplify the characters into archetypes even as they attempt to remove their masks is that this way it's much easier to explore a wide range of topics.

On the acting front, I must say I didn't truly dislike anyone's performance, but I did feel some of them could've been done better. Chief among these is Molly Ringwald's Claire, who I just couldn't ever like. Ally Sheedy's Allison, however, nicely treads the line between Ringwald and Judd Nelson's overacting. Even if the message they send through her character in the end is atrocious, I enjoyed watching her go from quiet and insane one second to pathological lying and crazy dancing the next.

The movie succumbs to some of the 80s most dreadful film making mistakes (music video-esque montages, random exaggerations, etc.), but it manages to relay it's message somewhat convincingly. There are films I say could've been better, but weren't, and as such deserve no special consideration. This film on the other hand, is not one of those films. The film is not interesting for what it could've been, but for what it attempts to say. The message, not the product takes precedence here. Of course, the film makes mistakes regarding some of its messages (the aforementioned Allison storyline), but overall the script is not half-bad. Maybe I'm just removed from the generation that grew up with this film, but I still understand what it meant back then. Should this impact my verdict on the film?

Le verdict: **1/2

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thoughts on The Hangover

The comedic front in cinema has been on a rut as of late. "Where is the big comedy of the year?", we clamored. Well, mesdames et messieurs, The Hangover should assuage us all (at least for now). Here is a movie that squeezes every ounce of fun it can from one of the most random, chaotic script we've seen this year (even if its chaos detracts from it as a whole). Even if the movie's brand of crass humor wasn't always my taste, I have to recognize there's no situation or line that wasn't funny within it's own style. That's ambiguous, isn't it? Let's get on with the explanation, then.

The movie's premise is quite simple: four guys wake up in a trashed hotel suite after a night of debauchery with no memory of the events that happened in the aforementioned night. They must now find the fifth member of their motley crew, who just happens to be getting married in two days. As they go about piecing information about the night's events, they run into such random characters as a pair of sadistic police officers, a hooker with a heart of gold and an enraged Chinese gangster. See what I meant about the chaos?

The guys get divided into regular, male comedy archetypes. The whipped wimp, the socially awkward idiot, and the suave ladies man all make their appearance here. The roles are decently portrayed by Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis (I had to double spellcheck that name), and Bradley Cooper, respectively. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but within the context of the film it manages to still be fun. Even if at times Helms' whining and Galifianakis idiocy get a tad grating, it doesn't detract too much from the film.

The film's star, of course, is not its leads, but rather the random messes they stumble into on their search for their friend Doug (Justin Bartha, who just can't seem to get his big break.). The situations are, more often that not, politically incorrect and go from merely embarrassing to outright dangerous. If there's one issue the script has regarding these encounters is the fact that they don't really have cohesion. To put it another way, even if the situations are funny, they're not really connected. They're like roommates that don't hang out much; they share the same space but don't have much of a relationship.

Overall, the film provides a healthy amount of laughs and will keep you entertained from start to finish. It is not, however, anything we haven't seen before. Nor is it, as some people seem to think, the next Big Thing. It's a summer comedy, and a good one at that, but nothing else.

Le verdict: ***

Friday, August 14, 2009

On sharing what you have

This week was the first week of school and the first week of the semester I've once more tended to my duties as creator and president of my school's Film Club. This year I have twelve members, an all-time high for the club. I am very excited to be able to share my love of movies with them and to maybe even be able to teach them a thing or two. Even better is the fact that if all goes according to plan, we may take a trip next year to the Sundance Film Festival. Cross your fingers, people!

Au revoir,
Monsieur Cinema

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New York, I Love You

The first trailer for New York, I Love You is making the rounds and I gotta say I am in love. I enjoyed its predecessor, Paris, je t'aime, so this was a no brainer. However, I was still surprised at how much I liked the trailer. I've seen better trailers than this, sure, but there's something about this one that gives me a gut feeling few others do. Maybe it has to do with my lifelong love of New York and my undying desire to one day live in it (Clich├ęs are there for a reason folks. It's people like me that keep them alive.). In any case, here I give you the trailer. Enjoy!

Let me know if my feelings on it are mine alone or if you share them.

Au revoir,
Monsieur Cinema