Alice in Wonderland (2010)


I saw this movie a week or so ago, and it's taken me a while to get a post up because I have mixed feelings. I thought it was well done, but I really wasn't that impressed. It might be because I'm not that big a fan of computer animation, or because I'm too big a fan of Tim Burton's early work (Vincent, anyone?), but while seeing this in theatres, I was actually quite bored. 

Don't get me wrong- I thought the actors did well with the material they were given, but there was nothing behind that material backing it up to make you want to pay attention. Oh, Alice doesn't remember coming as a little girl? No big deal- no one else is trying to convince her that she's the same Alice. Actually, almost every character is convinced she's a different person and wants to leave her. I thought that plotline dragged out way too long and that she should have remembered everything a lot earlier. There was no urgency, and the fact that she was still convinced she was in a dream an hour and a half into the fucking movie made it even less exciting. By that point I was like "Ok, we get it- the magical computer animated world of Wonderland is too whimsical to seem real and Tim Burton's animators are fantastic, blah blah blah. Either fucking wake up already or admit that it's real, but stop pinching yourself. It's getting old."

Also, that whole backstory with the prophecy of Alice slaying the Jabberwocky was not explained well, nor do we ever learn why the Jabberwocky is important to the Red Queen to begin with. It seems to me that she could still be ruthless and rule Wonderland without it, since we don't even see the thing until the very end. And by the very end, I actually mean it. During the battle scene, she releases how many other creatures for Alice and her friends to fight before the fucking Jabberwocky comes out? Honestly. If the Jabberwocky had been used since the beginning instead of that bear-like thing, I might not have been as bored because I would have gotten to see from the start what Alice was up against. Instead, we get backstory from the dog, the bear, and all the Red Queen's workers, but the supposedly most important villain Alice has yet to face? We get a fucking prophecy from Alan Rickman. Yup. 

I thought Helena Bonham Carter was great as the Red Queen, but I didn't find her to be a very oppressing figure as the only human character in the movie to be animated. It was kind of distracting, and I think if she had acted live in the film, she would have been terrifying. She's short enough (especially in comparison to Anne Hathaway). It could have worked. As it was, however, I just couldn't picture her winning against live characters. 

How much more effective would this have been?

On the whole, I just thought this movie was just another washed up, overdone production spit out of the Tim Burton machine. There really wasn't anything that struck me about it and made me say, "Wow." Sure, it was enjoyable, and the graphics were superb, but I want my $10 back. And just because you slay a Jabberwocky, Alice, doesn't mean that the world will suddenly accept you. In fact, you might even be rejected more, because no one in Victorian England knows what the fuck a Jabberwocky is. But Tim Burton, if you want to go all feminist on us, you go right ahead. It doesn't make a lick of sense in the context of the movie, but if it makes all the six-year-old girls going to see Alice in 3-D want to be explorers and business executives instead of princesses when they grow up, I'll let it slide. Until then, I'll just go watch Beetlejuice and hope Tim Burton decides to come back and be original again one day. 


The Movie Mistress


Oscar Mania!! Highs and Lows


I have a question for all you lovely bloggers out there: if the Oscars have been traditionally career-stunting in the past (Halle Berry and Kate Winslet, anyone?), what is someone like Sandra Bullock, who didn't really have a stellar acting career to begin with, to do? At this point I think returning to duds like All About Steve is just awkward, not to mention cements the fact that she shouldn't have gotten the damn Oscar to begin with. On the other hand, however, I just can't picture her in mind-blowing, career changing roles. So... if she can't go up, and can't go down, does that mean even more movies as terrible as The Blind Side will be made? I hope not. 

On a better note, I was immensely happy to see Mo'Nique win Best Supporting. More happy than I was when she won the Golden Globe (I mean, this is the fucking Oscars). She gave, as always, a heartfelt and touching speech, and I mean that with the deepest sincerity. Only a real asshole would turn the cut-off music on her. I haven't seen anyone as openhearted. Just to show some love: 

I was also really happy to see Kathryn Bigelow win Best Director. It's high time that the award goes to a woman, and I loved that they kept flashing to James Cameron's reaction to the results. I couldn't find her actual speech, but there was a great interview with her afterward:

My only other gripe about this year's Oscars, was, of course, Up. I knew it would win Best Animated Film, but I was still immensely disappointed when I compared it mentally to what it was up against. I've said this before, and I'll say it again- I have a lot of issues with Up and I think that to call it a children's film is to cheat children out of a full film. It basically insinuates that it doesn't matter if you market a film to kids that they'll only understand a quarter of, and the parts that they do understand are cheap laughs and side gags. Because I don't feel like going more into this, I'm just going to say that Coraline had a more sophisticated animation style and The Secret of Kells was more concise, and either deserved the award more than Up.

If you didn't watch the Oscars this year, I'd say that the overall feeling was that they were very rushed. It was as if there was this race or push to get to the end, the very thing that the Academy always tries to avoid!! I just felt that because of all the Best Picture Nominations, they didn't take any time in relishing any of the movies, whether the nomination was for Best Picture or Best Documentary Short. The Oscars are not just about announcing the Best of this year's films- they are about appreciating what is out there in terms of cinema, and for some reason, this year's awards ceremony seemed to forget about that goal. 


The Movie Mistress


Double Feature Friday- Shakespeare

I saw a production of Romeo and Juliet a couple nights ago, and it made me think of the vast number of movies that have been adapted from the Bard himself. I haven't done a double feature in a while, and what better way to start again than by highlighting the marriage between film and classic theatre? It's impossible to have seen them all, or even the liberal adaptations (O, 10 Things I Hate About You, She's the Man, The Lion King....) but I'll highlight two of my favorites that I have seen.

Titus (1999)

Creepy, twisted, and strangely beautiful, this is my absolute favorite movie made from a Shakespeare. It has a neo-totalitarian feel to it, and while you're watching it, you get the feel that there is no specific time or place, especially judging by the modern bondage-esque costuming juxtaposed with ancient Roman columns and sets. There are definitely moments where you can see the theatrical performance-art type visions that were brought about by the original play (Lavinia singing blood out of her mouth, anyone? Fucking brilliant.) The first time I saw this movie, I totally didn't get it, from watching the kid walk his way through this strange story, but upon watching it again, I have total respect for the amount of loss of childhood and innocence that Julie Taymor (famous for her crazy-ass fantastical sets and costumes) was trying to convey. Genius.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Aside from the jarringly horrendous performance by Keanu Reeves, this movie was really enjoyable, and I thought that the chemistry between the lovers was sharp, energetic and convincing (well, given the fact that Branaugh and Thompson were married at the time, it isn't surprising). I think that is the key to this play- if it's put on and the actors can't match one another in energy, the entire endeavor fails. Yes, this movie has its ups and downs (although I personally never understood everyone's harsh criticism of Robert Sean Leonard), such as the fact that Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves are supposed to be brothers. It also made me wonder what has happened to Michael Keaton in recent years. I think this is one of his greatest performances in a film. If you haven't seen this, it's highly entertaining and a gentle escape into great Shakespeare.


The Movie Mistress