One Popped Corn

I Just Watched This Movie; “The Judge”

Drama. It’s an inherent element in all films, but it is emphasized most in the “drama” genre. “The Judge” claims to be in this genre. The film stars Tony Stark as a big city lawyer who goes back to his hometown for his mother’s funeral and is forced to stay to defend his father who is on trial for murder. Sure this sounds like it could be told dramatically, but the final film was far from it. A good drama nowadays needs a lot of action. “Transformers” is a brilliant example of a modern drama. The story and the emotion is obviously there, but what makes the film affect the audience is the expertly timed explosions and wonderfully choreographed robot fights. Unlike Stark’s previous “Iron Man” films, “The Judge” has absolutely no explosions or fighting robots. I found myself totally apathetic to the personal dramas and relationships knowing that the world wasn’t threatened by an alien invasion. “The Judge” did make a pitiful attempt by including many scenes in moving cars, moving planes, and moving bikes. However, I never felt the adrenaline rush that a good drama should give. Now if their cars had turned into robots, that would have been a movie!

Cinematography. It’s the art of the camera. A cinematographer is the person in charge of capturing the scene on camera. However, in some rare cases, like in “The Judge,” a cinematographer will go overboard. Often during the film, I felt I was watching a tourism video for Carlinville, Indiana. Every shot was so beautiful. They were perfectly lit and composed. It was simply to pretty too be believable. I would go to Indiana to validate the beauty of the locations, except the film was shot in Massachusetts.

ADR. Automated Dialog Replacement. This is a sound editing device that allows actors to record their lines in post production to replace inaudible lines from production. It is used in nearly every film, yet it often goes unnoticed. For example, this technique was famously used in the television cut of “Fight Club,” where you don’t even realize that all of the F-words are dubbed over. However, in “The Judge” it became apparent that ADR was in use when Stark would suddenly have several lines every time he turned his back to the camera. It is a lesson to all filmmakers. Get an actor that speaks very fast. Tony Stark is one of the fastest talkers in the business. I have no doubt that he was cast because he could give the filmmakes the opportunity to polish the script in post production.

Despite my criticisms, I found the film to be a collection of stellar performances that made a predictable plot into an emotional and entertaining experience. I give it one popped corn.Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 3.49.01 PM

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Zero Popped Corns

I Just Watched This Movie; “Gone Girl”

Casting. It’s important to every film, and even more important for films that want to win Oscars, like the new movie “Gone Girl.” The question during casting is always “what does the actor or actress bring to the role.” Most directors are able to answer this question, and work with the actors talents. A primary example of this is the use of Natalie Portman’s dancing skill in “Black Swan.” ┬áThe original script for that film called for no dancing, but the director realized that he could incorporate her talent. When I saw “Gone Girl,” I was struck by how some of the most talented men in Hollywood, were used. Neil Patrick Harris, host of the Tony Awards and star of “How I Met Your Mother,” has the ability to dance, sing, and be funny. Was he used this way in the film? Spoiler alert… No! Not one dance number! Not one wink at the camera! Another actor that was severely underused, was Tyler Perry. This man can play a character of either gender, but as far as I could tell, he just played a man. Oh, and he can be funny too though the script was written with a lot of drama and tension.

The script. This movie was not one movie, I interpreted it as many. It was hard for me to tell the theme, or who the protagonist and antagonists were because the plot kept twisting. I thought at the beginning, that the movie was about a man who lives in the suburbs and has a cat. But then I find out that he has a wife!? What’s going on? Then another twist: The wife goes missing! Who kidnapped her? The cat? I chose to stop expecting a conventional simple plot at that point. And really, the cat doesn’t show up very often later in the film, so I lost a lot of interest in the story. I will say though, this story would fit well as a novel. In fact, I could see a popular teen romance writer like Lois Lowry (The Giver) adapting this movie into a young adult novel. I guess we’ll see who buys the rights.

The Directing. With such a complicated plot, David Fincher(Alien 3) did an awful job giving the audience the opportunity to guess what’s happening. When I watch a film, I want the director to show me something so ambiguous and artistic, that I get to interpret the movie in my own way. I love when I have to ask the person next to me “what happened? Did I miss something? Where did the girl go?” With this film, every action, every piece of dialogue, every shot, was skillfully designed to direct my mind on how to respond to the film.

Despite my criticisms, I found the film psychological, entertaining, and thrilling. I give it zero popped corns.

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