Monday, September 24, 2012

Robot & Frank

My friend Joel has a standing rule about movies... they can't possibly be any good unless they have a dinosaur in them. My position is not as strong as his, but I probably feel similarly about Robots. I might say that any movie with a robot is a better movie than if the robot was not in it. My second favorite genre of film is the heist. So you can see that we have here the potential of a great film. Frank Langella is fabulous as a former jewel thief who is given a Robot as a personal assistant to help him as he ages. Actually, his son forces the robot on him with the threat of being put in a home if he does not comply. Frank begins to anthropomorphize Robot and we all fall for the sentimentality. Add in some great performances of over-the-top hipsters of the future and this is plays out as a cleverly comic film. At the same time, we are asked to think about what role family plays with the elderly and what role purpose in life plays in making life meaningful at any age. Well done.
4 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Finding Nemo (3D)

I know...

This was my first experience with XpanD 3D technology. Instead of multiple images with different polarizations (one for each eye), these active glasses flicker back and forth between the eyes in sync with theaters projection system. The result was removal of the edge/peripheral effects that always bothered me. On the down side, my nose was tired at the end of the film. Those glasses are heavy. As for the film, Nemo is a great film and it seemed like a perfect setup for 3D. A world that was deep. My only experience with real life scuba fascinated me because for the first time in my life I was in a 3D world and I hoped some of that would translate to the screen. And some of it did. But aside from a few of the panoramic views of the coral reef, it seems a bit dull (purely speaking of 3D wow factor here). Maybe the sign of a good 3D is that you aren't always thinking of the 3D? Maybe not? I am not sure here since in the past I have always been thinking of the 3D (in a bad way).

Don't have to say much about the actual film since it is part of popular culture now. A great look at an undersea world with lots of good environmental consciousness thrown in. I actually showed this film in my environmental science class once and challenged the students to list every environmental concept that they encountered. They pulled out paper and started the list. After about 100, they gave up and watched the 2nd half of the film. And I still like the turtles... dude.
4 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Goodbye Solo

Solo is a Senegalese cab driver in Winston, North Carolina. He usually drives the night shift and one night picks up William, a passenger that makes a trip reservation for 10 days later. When Solo gets a bit suspicious about William's intentions, he finds a way to become his "regular driver" over the next week and their lives become intertwined. Solo is engaging, honest and interesting. He has hopes and dreams, struggles with present reality and seems to be an all around decent person. Perhaps only because I have seen this recently, but reminds me a lot of Driss in The Intouchables.  Unfortunately, in a two person film, you really need to be able to develop both characters to hold interest. William is too much of a blank slate to warrant any real care. So we get a promising, but ultimately only adequate, film that scratches the surface of what it could be.
2 stars (out of 5)