Sunday, May 24, 2009

Movies #53 - #55: Blindness, Nick & Norah, Eagle Eye

#53 - Blindness (2008)

Based on the novel by Jose Saramago, which I read and immensely enjoyed (as much as one can enjoy a novel where rape and feces are recurring elements), the movie adaptation by The Constant Gardener's Fernando Meirelles falls decidedly short of capturing the book's realistic account of a world struck by sudden blindness. It's a brilliant premise/allegory which seems almost plausible, but the movie is so severely hampered by weak acting that it never seems quite real. Unlike in the book, where genuine empathy is built for the characters enduring this waking nightmare, I pretty much didn't give a damn about their screen portrayals. It also doesn't help that Meirelles washes out most of the color in the film---a choice which would seem to make sense given the nature of the affliction, but it backfires miserably. There's nothing to be learned or enjoyed here.

#54 - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

My cynical side was really looking forward to trashing Nick and Norah, but in the end my better angels prevailed. There's nothing remarkable about it, but N&N is one of the more enjoyable, sweet-natured films I've seen in awhile. It's solidly in the "teens having a crazy night out where they fall in love" genre, but it has a simple earnestness to it which I defy you to scoff at. Michael Cera plays the same role he's played his entire life, but this may be his best version of it yet. He's perhaps the most likable actor today, which is why I fear the day he turns up on for having beaten his girlfriend in the midst of a cocaine-fueled rage. Kat Dennings plays opposite Cera and she's a real find. I might be in love---especially after watching her hand-made puppet show on the DVD extras. N&N is also a fine tribute to New York City and really captures some of the wonder that is the city at night. I feel like a true New Yorker now that I can identify almost every location they filmed at. I'm a happier person for having seen this.

#55 - Eagle Eye (2008)

Stupid DVD-queue-skipping. (sigh) Okay, so the Pentagon has built this massive super computer, voiced by Julianne Moore, and she's so smart and principled that she decides a Bush-like administration should be executed for their overly aggressive war on she/it proceeds to roll out a massive plot to bomb the State of the Union address by manipulating innocent people to do her bidding. She's basically the Hal 2000, but more pissed and more powerful. D.J. Caruso, who directed the surprisingly taut Disturbia, takes the helm here and displays once again a gift for well-paced action. But did I mention that the film is about a Julianne Moore-voiced super computer who's out to bomb the State of the Union Address? That's a deal breaker, ladies! I suspect Caruso's career will end up not unlike Peter Hyams', a director who made many mediocre, but well-paced movies. More entertaining than the movie, however, is a DVD extra called "A Conversation with John Badham." Badham directed the movie War Games, from which Caruso liberally borrows for Eagle Eye. What's funny is that this 8-minute "conversation" is mostly Caruso talking at Badham. Badham occasionally nods and says, "thanks for ripping me off." Awkward.

Blindness 3/10

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist 7/10

Eagle Eye 4/10


Blogger JMW said...

I thought Nick and Norah was cute, but I was disappointed. I thought the script was pretty weak and it had to coast on Cera's charm (which is considerable). If you haven't seen Adventureland yet, do. I think it's the best recent example of the coming-of-age flick.

The other two movies you mention involve Julianne Moore. Fail.

May 28, 2009 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

Yeah, I've been wanting to see Adventureland but haven't yet. I will, and I'll let you'll know if I agree. N&N isn't great, but I think it caught me in just the right mood...and that can make all the difference in the world sometimes.

May 28, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

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