Tuesday, October 30, 2007

London Film Festival: Bee Movie and No Country for Old Men

First off, sorry for the wait on these. The past two nights I've been getting in from the film festival at around midnight and I have been way too tired to write anything. But I've got the day off, until tomorrow when I'll see my final film of the festival, "Juno". So, here are my delayed reviews of Jerry Seinfeld's entertaining "Bee Movie" and the Coen Bros.' masterpiece.

Bee Movie: In Review

Jerry Seinfeld is one of my favorite comedians. "Seinfeld" is one of my all time favorite television shows. The man is a genius. In "Bee Movie", his new animated comedy, Seinfeld manages to entertain us but we can't help but feel that we expected a little more out of such a comedy god. I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it, but I still feel like there could have been more for us to feel completely fulfilled.

We've seen one other animated movie this year where the protagonist is of a species that is not well regarded by humans. The first was "Ratatouille", for rats obviously, and now there is "Bee Movie" for bees. Both films did a good job of making us relate to them. However, both do it in a different way. While in "Ratatouille" we were shown that a rat could also have a talent and a hobby similar to humans, "Bee Movie" instead creates a life of its own where it may seem foreign to us but also quite recognizable. The first ten or fifteen minutes of the film are spectacular. The screenplay is very sharp. It integrates aspects of a bee's life (very short lifespan, worker bees, etc.) into ours. For example, Seinfeld's Barry B. Benson, the main bee, graduates high school in the "9:15" class and the one before him graduates in the "9:00" class. I thought that was quite clever.

The animation in the film is quite good. It looks more like a Pixar film than it does a Dreamworks film, or so I thought. In the beginning, we are introduced to the honey factory and the various jobs and I thought it was a quite brilliant work of animation. The animators did a really good job with that particular sequence. All the different jobs and machines in any of the factory scenes were really enjoyable to watch. The animation is very creative.

The film has some very funny moments but it also drags on a little in the middle. While the celebrity cameos are golden, especially Ray Liotta's, it evens out with some bordering-on-gimmicky plot in the middle. I think that the one storyline inside the film about Barry suing the human race because they were stealing the bee's honey was a cool idea but I didn't like some aspects of the way they carried out that plan. That being said, I still think it was a funny idea. There is a lot in the film that is fiction and could not possibly happen so be sure to go in with an open mind and not look for a scientific explanation everywhere.

It's hard to tell how a film like this will do when it goes nationwide and worldwide. One part of me thinks that it will be a huge success and then the other part of me says that it will pretty much bomb. The kids sitting behind me hated it. However, many adults I talked to really enjoyed it. I guess that it could be one that parents love but younger kids do not. Like I said, it's hard to tell. I liked a lot of the jokes intended for older audiences, especially the brilliant homage to "The Graduate", but some were in bad taste such as a suicide pact joke.

While parts of it really entertained me, I left "Bee Movie" feeling that there could have been more and that Seinfeld could have taken out some bits and pieces to make a more cohesive film. But, that being said, I do recommend it and I think it would be only fitting if I gave it a B.

That night, I went to the "Surprise Film". I had several hours in between "Bee Movie" and the "Surprise" so I was waiting that whole time shivering in excitement and anticipation in hopes of it being a great movie.

Even more so, I felt fear of the film being "Margot at the Wedding".

Thankfully, it wasn't.

No Country for Old Men: In Review

Ethan and Joel Coen are rightfully two of the entire film industry's most respected names. With films such as "O Brother Where Art Thou?", "The Big Lebowski", "Barton Fink", "Blood Simple", and my second favorite movie of all time- "Fargo" under their belt, it makes a lot of sense as to why they are so respected. My opinion of the film has been said millions of times. It's probably the phrase I'm least sick of hearing this awards season too. Here it is: "No Country for Old Men" is a masterpiece. It is the Coens' best film since "Fargo". It's an instant classic.

Oh, my friends, but it is so much more too.

I don't know what Kris Tapley was thinking when he gave the film **12/****.

Everything about the film is just plain fantastic. The cinematography is amazing, it reminds me of "Fargo" except in the desert rather than snow. Every single actor in this film is great. Tommy Lee Jones gives his best performance ever, better than in "The Fugitive", for which he won his Oscar. His monologues, which are almost straight from the book, are expertly delivered. Every facial and body movement is exactly in the vein of Ed Tom Bell. Josh Brolin is also great as Moss and it is a performance that I was much more impressed with than I thought I would be. Kelly Macdonald's work as Carla Jean, Moss' wife, is some of the best Supporting Actress work I've seen this year, and I've seen Cate Blanchett for "I'm Not There" (review to come tomorrow or Thursday). She is extremely good and I honestly believe that she holds a chance to getting an Academy Award nomination. Although her screen time is widely spread apart at times, she still manages to make an impact. I absolutely loved this ensemble. The Coens do an inspired job with directing this masterpiece but, to me, that really goes without saying. Every film they direct is directed well.

Oh yeah, and Javier Bardem is the best on screen villain since Hannibal Lecter. Not only is it the best Supporting Actor job of the year (I've seen Wilkinson, Bosco, Mueller-Stahl, and several others) but is the best Supporting Actor performance of the decade. Anton Chigurh is a character that we are absolutely scared to death of but still eagerly anticipate Bardem's screen time and can't help but release a chuckle when we see him following someone we know is about to die on a staircase in the back of the frame. He is truly frightening. I could talk about his performance for hours but I won't. You just need to know this: Javier Bardem gives an unbelievable, incredibly satisfying, scary, haunting, troubled, violent, expertly crafted, superbly acted performance. Not to mention that his haircut just might be one of the contributing factors to why he is so scary yet strangely comedic.

The screenplay is a wonderfully done adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's excellent novel. It is a sure contender at the Academy Awards and will most likely be my winner at the end of the year.

There isn't one bad thing I can say about "No Country for Old Men". The reason this review is so poorly written is because I've run out of ways to express my love for the film and can't help but repeat the same thing over and over again because...I felt that it was fantastic and 'fantastic' SHOULD be used again and again and over and over.

It's a masterpiece, plain and simple. You will see me campaigning this film a lot more once the awards start coming out. A

Tomorrow I should have reviews for the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There" and the extremely intimate, hilarious, and heartbreaking "The Savages".

Stay tuned.


Alison Flynn said...

Wow! What a stellar review! I love the Coen Brothers' films and am looking forward to seeing this. I'm glad you mentioned Tommy Lee Jones. His performance in Valley of Elah was praised by everyone even though the movie got so-so reviews, but so far he hasn't really been singled out in the reviews I've read for No Country for Old Men.

As for Kris Tapley I think he's biased toward other films like 'The Assassination of Jesse James' and 'Sweeney Todd'.

zgamer said...

Excellent review. I really want to see this.