Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Now Playing: Man of Steel

Full disclosure: I do not like Superman. Sometimes, it borders on hate. It starts with his name: superman? More like GenericKryptonian. And that silly boy scout attitude. And don’t even get me started on his “disguise” – Lois Lane has to be the dumbest reporter alive if she can’t see Clark for who he is. When I watched Smallville, I had the same issue with Lex’s willful blindness. Then there’s the Superman Returns – terrible. Just terrible. Poor Kevin Spacey was lost in a quagmire of horrid scripts, flat acting, and ridiculous plot.

Enter Man of Steel.
Couldn’t help but have low expectations.

WhenI heard that Henry Cavill would be donning the cape, suddenly things didn't seem so bleak. People may be saddened over yet another Brit taking on an American icon, but let’s face it - you have to have some serious gravitas to pull off a cape and tights. And Brandon Routh didn’t have it. In fact, the casting is solid all-around: standouts include Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and, surprise surprise, Russell Crowe. The acting level is what I expect from a cast of that calibre. You know who really stole the show? Dylan Sprayberry. He’s the 13-year-old Clark, and his spark with Costner and Lane is just pitch perfect.

So, the stage is set, the costumes are sewn (looking great), the writers are lined up (David S. Goyer? Christopher Nolan? Checkheck!) – now, it was all about delivery.

It delivers.

Some of you may consider what's written below as "spoilers" - I wouldn't, but consider yourself warned. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Now Playing: After Earth

Nothing says Summer Blockbuster quite like a Will Smith movie - this man can really bring it.  Independence DayI Am LegendI, Robot.  Solid.  And now, it's become a family business.  We met Jaden Smith for the Karate Kid remake and I liked him then too. 

So, After Earth.  A father-son action flick about family, forgiveness, trust, and respect.  Tugged at all the right heartstrings and was suspenseful to boot.  It was interesting to see the senior Smith take such a backseat on the action, allowing junior to take up as much of the screen he needed to get the job done.  And while sometimes it felt a bit heavy-handed ("what did you want me to do?!"), it tried to make up for it with beautiful cinematography (yummy old growth forests) and excellent special effects.  Oh, and let's not forget the surprisingly moving and poignant performances of Zoe Kravitz and Sophie Okonedo

There is only so much the actors can do, though.  Not as provocative or as challenging Cloud Atlas, and just missing the mark on entertainment.  2 out of 5 stars. And let's start a petition begging Will to suit up and headline again. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Now Playing: Now You See Me

Whoops.  Completely forgot to review this last week.  I'm really getting terrible at this.

I've been quite looking forward to Now You See Me, what with its fab cast and relative originality.  Also: am a sucker for magic.  I mean, I had such vivid and detailed fantasies of being David Copperfield's assistant growing up, that I think I'm perpetually dismayed by the lack of abracadabra in my life. Also: DC is really old and I somehow thought that if you were magical, you wouldn't age.  Let down again.

NYSM didn't disappoint, however.  Fast-paced, clever, and defying the fourth wall every chance it got, it was really, well, fun.  The tricks were cute (and mostly explained); the outfits were sleek and cool.  But really, it was the cast that stole the show: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine.  Sweet baby Jebus.  Who did they leave out?

The only complaint I have is the way it ended...really?  I can't say anything without spoiling it, so I'll leave it to you to judge if you decide to watch it  It's definitely worth a rental: 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 03, 2013

inspired by Ondaatje

Currently reading Anil's Ghost and it reminded me of when I first fell in love with Michael Ondaatje.
I hope he won't mind me sharing with you.


To A Sad Daughter

All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
--all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.

When I thought of daughters
I wasn't expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say 'like'
I mean of course 'love'
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.

One day I'll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it. For if you close your ears
only nothing happens. You will never change.

I don't care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories. Just
don't be fooled by anyone but yourself.

This is the first lecture I've given you.
You're 'sweet sixteen' you said.
I'd rather be your closest friend
than your father. I'm not good at advice
you know that, but ride
the ceremonies
until they grow dark.

Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
--but that is greed.
And sometimes I've gone
into my purple world
and lost you.

One afternoon I stepped
into your room. You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
--all those possible worlds!--
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.

I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
Want everything. If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don't care
but I'll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever.

If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don't recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon's
yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie
in his frightening mask
dreams perhaps
of gentleness.