Sep 262010

Changeling posterChangeling has perfect pedigree: Clint Eastwood directing, a delicious subject of police corruption in early 20th century Los Angeles, Angelina Jolie starring. But ultimately it fails to click.

The plot gets a brisk start and then inexplicably stalls. Angelina Jolie is appropriately hysterical as the distraught mother. The scenes in the asylum are painful.

When all seems lost, the film takes a twist towards a far more Ellroyesque story and the plot discovers a couple of gears it had lost for a good hour or so. The ending remains ambiguous and feels drawn out.

The movie’s wikipedia page explains the film’s themes effectively, and the script and visuals revel in the L.A. gone by. Both J. Michael Straczynski and the CGI houses spent midnight oil in the film, but it remains oddly hollow to the end.

In addition to Angelina Jolie’s occasionally laborious performance, Jeffrey Donovan (the Burn Notice guy) stands out with a straight from the mould depiction of a corrupt cop. John Malkovich is restricted to a couple of scenes despite his name being featured in the advertising campaign.

I expected quite a bit more, but didn’t by any means leave empty-handed.

Sep 262010

Bitch Slap posterWent on a rampage in the last few weeks to purchase dvds to tide over a rainy and boring autumn.

Only two of these were full-priced. No prizes for guessing which.

  • Whole Ten Yards.
  • Mindhunters.
  • The Faculty.
  • Stranger Than Fiction.
  • Brokeback Mountain.
  • Public Enemy #1, parts 1 and 2.
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.
  • Bitch Slap.
  • Precious.
  • The X-Files: Fight The Future.
  • The X-Files: I Want To Believe.
  • Edge of Darkness (the Mel Gibson version).
  • The Cove.
  • Sherlock (Steven Moffat’s).
  • Night At The Museum.
  • Night At The Museum 2.
  • The Warriors.
  • Australia.
  • Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • Exit Through The Gift Shop.
  • The Spirit.
  • A Scanner Darkly.
Sep 262010

Toy Story posterWatched the original Toy Story off a dvd in preparation for the third movie in the franchise. The 1995 film was nothing less of revolutionary when it arrived, and it has remained highly re-watchable ever since.

Pixar’s debut full-length movie is many things. It is a buddy movie. It is a pop culture smörgåsbord. It is a proof of concept for the computer generated image-based animation. It is a rousing adventure. It is a journey of existential crisis and self-discovery. And ultimately it’s a feel-good movie for all but the tiniest of watchers.

Back in the nineties I dismissed Toy Story (and the other early Pixar movies) in the theatres. And got quite a revelation with the impulse purchase of Bug’s Life on disc – the crispness of the animation and the quality of the storytelling and characters just screamed out the need to collect the studio’s entire output. Which I dutifully did.

I had my doubts on the top-flight voice talent – could the likes of Tim Allen and Tom Hanks really pull it off in an animated movie. Shouldn’t have worried, the duo is nothing than perfect as the leading toys of Andy’s bedroom. The other cast members are equally good amongst the wide selection of toys used: a Tyrannosaurus Rex prone to panicking, sarcastic piggy bank, a jaded Mr. Potato Head, slinkydog, plastic soldiers and plenty more.

The plot wisely concentrates on the plastic toys. The rendering capacity of Pixar hadn’t yet reached the level of creating credible humans and dogs. Which are present in the story, and that’s pretty much the sole negative factor of the movie’s long history – perceived primitiveness.

Even though Toy Story was released under the Disney umbrella, the Pixar studio managed to steer clear of sugar-coating and songs.

The three dimensional version created to promote the third part of the franchise, never reached silver screens in Finland, but I doubt that beyond the addition of a little z-axis here and there the retouches to the film were minimal.

Toy Story went to infinity and beyond, to use a catchphrase from the film, and set up a whole new segment of the industry along the way. Enough legacy for a trailblazing film to enter the ranks of national film registry as soon as it was possible.

Sep 262010

The second week of fantasy football ended with a double victory as well, despite pre-game analysis showing both matchups to be close quarter battles.

The team in Finland Fantasy Football won on account of the opponent’s quarterbacking problems. My Aaron Rodgers vs. his David Garrard was not a fair game, as the San Diego defense crumbled the Jacksonville offense every chance they got. And they got a plenty of those. The receiving corps did not have a good day. Michael Crabtree continued to disappoint, even though his game against the Saints was improved over the first game of the season. Pierre Garcon suffered from Peyton Manning’s spread-the-passes-to-all offense, and was restricted to a single point. Tim Hightower was the highest-scoring RB in the team, in the absence of Beanie Wells, fumbles and an aerial Cardinals game he brought in their lone touchdown. Mason Crosby in the kicking position and the Saints’ defense reliably pulled double-figure results. The roster would have been slightly improved by the inclusion of the twin Jets, but I unnecessarily feared the Patriots’ defense and left them out.

The team in the public league won also. And the laurels of the victory belong to Frank Gore, who almost single-handedly kept the San Francisco machine up and running against the reigning champions. The elder brother won Manning Bowl II and Darren McFadden continued his high-scoring ways in the surprisingly well-playing Oakland Raiders. The bench would not have helped much – the RBs scored pretty well as it was, Knowshon Moreno would have brought in a couple of extra points over McFadden, but that’s not significant in a victory.

In the actual league the round proved that some teams have made significant improvements over last year. Both Detroit and Cleveland put up very credible performances in their second games. The biggest upset was the Jets victory over New England Patriots, with Mark Sanchez orchestrating a neat victory over Tom Brady’s crew. Dallas continued its crawl in the gutter, and San Francisco remains winless proving the games in the preseason do not really matter that much.

Bring on week three!