Random Factoid #270

24 04 2010

Another factoid brought to you by Ross v Ross, this time from their post “What are the best movies you have watched on a plane?

I think a great plane movie has to be entertaining and attention-grabbing, but it can’t be too rousing or hilarious because then you can’t fully express yourself (not wanting to wake up those pesky sleeping passengers).  It also has to play well on a computer screen or a screen the size of your wallet.

I selected my two favorite movies that I have watched on a plane, one that was provided by the airline and one I brought myself.

The best movie Continental Airlines has ever provided me is “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”  And it beat out a Best Picture winner in “A Beautiful Mind” largely because it made me happy.  I just sat there and really realized how many great songs MJ really made.

The best movie I have seen that I brought myself on a plane is “City of God,” Fernando Meirelles’ sweeping tale of the slums of Rio de Janeiro.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

Any favorites for you all?  Has anyone happened to have seen “Up in the Air” while up in the air?

REVIEW: Sin Nombre

16 01 2010

A few years ago, I watched an episode of “South Park” called “Simpsons Already Did It” that changed the way I view a lot of things. In the episode, one of the cartoon scoundrels is plotting with his best friend to bring about the demise of the show’s four main characters. Every time he comes up with what he thinks is an incredibly ingenious idea, the friend turns to him and says, “No, the Simpsons already did that.” In essence, the message that I got from these deliberations is that something isn’t worth doing is someone else has already done it.

If only someone were sitting at the table with Cary Joji Fukunanga when he was writing “Sin Nombre.” They could have given him a reality check.

“‘City of God‘ already did it.” Not only does “City of God” do a lot of what “Sin Nombre” does, but it also executes it with more grace and skill.

It’s a brutal movie – not the content, the experience of sitting down for an hour and a half and watching this. “Sin Nombre” has the plot sustainability of a ten-minute short film; by doing simple math, it is nine times too long. It wants to be a little bit of everything: a ganster movie, an exposé of poverty, a gripping emotional ride, and a touching human drama. But the movie doesn’t help itself by dividing up its attention between all four of them. It spreads itself too thin even though it has nothing to spread.

I haven’t talked much about the plot, but I will let you know that it is a story about illegal immigrants crossing into the United States. I feel sympathy for them on a human level; however, it’s hard to care too much because these are people who cause constant political turmoil. Given how boring Fukunanga’s movie is, I would have been much more interested in watching the characters stand in line trying to get a green card. D /

F.I.L.M. of the Week (September 25, 2009)

25 09 2009

I literally mean what I am about to say: drop what you are doing, get in a car, drive to Blockbuster, and go get “City of God,” the “F.I.L.M. (First-Rate, Independent Little-Known Movie) of the Week.”  With just his first film, director Fernando Meirelles creates a breathtaking world of crime and greed with the narrative poise of an old pro (I’m talking the level of Scorsese and Mike Nichols).  Set in a slum outside of Rio de Janeiro, the movie chronicles the history of drugs, gangs, and murder in the city through the eyes of Rocket, a boy with a knack for photography.  It is this gift which provides the opportunity to escape the vicious cycle of violence and retaliation which has claimed the lives of many of his friends.  For those who like comparisons, think “GoodFellas” crossed with the gritty world of poverty in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

After seeing the movie, I was compelled to find out more about Meirelles and what led him to make such a bold film.  I discovered Meirelles received a movie camera while living in Brazil at a young age, and it became a hobby.  It then made obvious sense to me why he was drawn to this project because he was clearly drawn to the character of Rocket and the parallels between how art saved them.  The painstaking lengths to which Mierelles goes to make sure that his vision hits you like a sucker punch the chest is incredible, yet it is even more incredible how hard he lands that punch.  I was in tears as the city’s crime lord forces a new recruit to slowly kill an innocent child.  The bleak, unsparing city that Mierelles is able to put on the screen before you is tough to watch.  But at the same time, he is able to bring such a vibrant and eclectic stylistic angle to the environment that I think “City of God” is a movie that I will want to watch over and over again.

So seriously, what are you still doing reading this post?  Get up NOW and get “City of God.”  (Although I do issue a disclaimer, this is once again not a movie for those who cannot handle brutally realistic violence and the gloomy world that Meirelles creates.  I would liken the violence to the level and power of “Schindler’s List” … at times, it really is that hard to watch.  And as for the gloomy world, he often cuts to shots of emaciated dogs that are literally just skin and bones scrounging for food.  That’s just a sample of what lies in store for you.)