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A Whole New World

7 Dec

I suppose you know what you’re getting when you go to see a Terrence Malick film: beautiful cinematography, sweeping shots of nature (and lots of them), ethereal narration, major actors who have bit parts or who don’t appear until two-thirds of the way through, and a general sense that you’re watching a Very Important Movie and you should just get comfortable because Malick’s in no rush. All that and more is present in The New World, Malick’s latest film — which probably hits a theater near you on January 13 (if it’s not there on Christmas Day). The New World is Malick’s take on the founding of Jamestown in 1607, but instead of it being a historical document of culture clashes, Malick has made an epic love story. And this is not the Disney Pocahontas movie, that’s for sure.

To be honest, I have a hard time reviewing the movie. It’s not that it’s not good — and with sweeping camerawork, a beautiful score, and fine acting by Colin Farrell, it’s quite impressive. I can appreciate the film for what it is, but I just didn’t enjoy it. I just found it hard to connect with. My eyelids were closing at times, the narration got a bit annoying, and I really thought it was quite long — as opposed to Malick’s last film, The Thin Red Line, which was also long, but which I did enjoy. I’m no professional critic, just a frequent moviegoer (this was my 48th film so far this year), so I guess that entitles me to write about the movies I see however I want to. So, I’m not going to give this one a letter grade, because I don’t see how I could give it a B+ or A-, for example, when B+ is the same grade I gave, say, Wedding Crashers, and that movie is in a whole different league from The New World. So let’s leave it at that: The New World is an impressive, beautiful movie, but it didn’t make a connection with me, and I just didn’t enjoy it.

On Second Thought

7 Dec

For a change, I bought and actually watched a DVD this past weekend: Mr. & Mrs. Smith. When I first saw this movie over the summer, I rated it a B/B+, but after a second viewing, I am upgrading my grade to a solid B+. Mr. & Mrs. Smith clearly got a bad rap because of all the Brangelina hype, and too-high expectations from literal movie critics. Now that some time has passed … well, the film is really fun — a great mix of humor and action with some great showpieces, and Brad Pitt gives a typically deadpan funny performance. Personally, I think Pitt is one of the more underrated comic actors out there. For evidence, check out Ocean’s 11 or, perhaps a better example, The Mexican — which few people have seen and which was widely called a bomb because of its box office performance (don’t forget, Julia Roberts is also in it). And Doug Liman did a pitch-perfect job of keeping the film moving and mixing music and action (especially the big fight scene, scored to “Express Yourself,” by Charle Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rythym Band). Liman, of course, also directed The Bourne Identity and even better, Go. And duh, Angelina Jolie looks great and kicks ass. And it’s fun to see Brad Pitt and Vince Vaughn acting together as friends, given all that’s transpired in the past year. So yeah, I just wanted to say that I’ve had a change of heart and that I highly recommend Mr. & Mrs. Smith as one of my favorite movies of 2005.

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