Monday, March 25, 2019

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Sometime in the past year or so I finally watched The Terminator (1984; currently ranked 226 on the imdb top 250) and I thought it was on the good side of okay. The story was interesting, Arnold's character was interesting and knowing that this series would spawn sequels and TV shows was an interesting thought. Yet, having watched the higher ranked Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), it's clear to me how this film is ranked higher.

Watching an action film from a pre-CGI error has risk -- you'll either be amazed realizing non of it's computer generated or disappointed when it seems (by modern standards) very amateur.

In this case, save for a couple scenes (I think that hot metal at the end is water with red lights shining on it), the effects are stunning (Robert Patrick's T-1000 metal bending self). But even more than the effects it's the stunts the motorcycle/truck chase for example really brings an intensity to it that pulls you in (couldn't help but think of Mad Max, just less weird).

But, in many ways James Cameron's story, which deserves a great deal of credit, has an emotional heart that is found in this film that wasn't nearly as clear in the initial film. The turn in developing a Terminator character who was a good guy worth rooting for was genus. Not to mention was the creation of an action film that asked the questions "Could a machine be a friend? And does the answer change if the machine, although it has AI abilities, follows your commands?"

Currently quite high on the top 250 films, I'm glad that I snagged myself a library copy of this film and finally cross it off the list of top 250 films I haven't watched

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Kid (1921)

Charlie Chaplin films are unique gems in so many ways, but part of the charm is that there are memorable standalone scenes that can be enjoyed outside of the context of the entire film. For me, it seems like there are a handful of Chaplin films I know I've seen scenes from but haven't seen start to finish. But, I can cross one of those off my list, having watched The Kid (1921). This film has been on the list for a bit, in part because it's was one of the top 250 films I haven't seen yet.

In reading reviews and commentary of this film it's clear that the charm the key words are "pathos" and "comedy" and the way Charlie Chaplin creates a comedy with a string of emotional punches. The film is the story of the tramp who through a comedy of errors finds himself raising (and lovingly caring for) an abandoned orphan. That abandoned orphan character is 5 years old for the bulk of the film and played by Jackie Coogan, who's extensive acting career extended all of his life, and is such a wonderful foil this film matching him in comedy and drama.

I was able to rope my 8 and 10 year old into watching with me, and felt that it held their attention (especially the 10 year old), and if there is any critique it's the dream sequence at the end which seems like fluffy, insincere, and unnecessary -- there's probably a little bit of "wow" factor for some cinemagic of flight in this scene, but for such an otherwise touching comedy, this was unnecessary fluff that seemed like an attempt to extend the reel of a generally simple (but enjoyable story).

But, I'll try to forget that, and instead remember the kid boxing scene, the sneaking the kid into the flophouse, the pancake scene, or the scene with the make shift ways the tramp cares for the baby.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Your Name. (2016)

In the quest to knock out some of the top 250 films I haven't seen, I got a hold of  Your Name. (directed by Makoto Shinkai) and immersed myself in this film with my 10 year old daughter (who's younger siblings joined in, which has made for some awkward moments of 6 year old acting like he's grabbing his breast like the character does in the film).

In the film the initial set up is an odd occurrence of two people swapping bodies (a teen boy from Tokyo into a girl from small town Japan and vice versa). The story actually seems like an artful freaky Friday at first, but it gets more...well meta-physical (think Interstellar and String Theory).

I'm not surprised that this very popular and commercially successful Japanese film would be slated for a live-action American produced re-make, and imagine that it will be very successful. The American version is currently slated to be directed by Mark Webb, of 500 Days of Summer and Amazing Spider-Man fame with a screenplay re-write by Oscar-nominated Eric Heisserer (Arrival).

Is this one of the best films of all time, currently in top 100, I don't think it'd make my list, but it was certainly enjoyable, and am excited after my viewing to see what happens with this film when re-introduced to audiences in a live action format.