Average User Score: 8.7Aug 23, 2010It took two viewings for me to fully appreciate The Prestige. I loved it the first time, but mostly because of the questions it left me with. The second time it just clicked and stirred up so many ideas and thoughts, I felt like I actually had witnessed something magical. There is so much going on in this movie, at times you lose yourself. The beauty of the film is in the intricacies of the plot. When asked at the start of the film, "Are you watching closely?" I only thought I was.
There are three parts to a magic trick. It begins with The Pledge. This establishes the illusion to be performed. Next comes the Turn. The Turn is the heart of any magic trick and initiates the perversion of reality. But actually doing the trick only prefaces undoing it. This part is called The Prestige. The title of the film is The Prestige for three reasons. The first involves rival magicians deadly pursuit of each other's Prestige. The second deals with the significance of consequence. Algiers and Borden never seem to learn they are responsible for their actions. Finally, The Prestige is aptly titled because it's about the pay off and quite literally the "undoing" of certain elements that made up the majority of the film. It is about refuting the false notions and suppositions audiences might cling to when watching.
Dueling magicians provide an intriguing stage to explore the competitive nature of man. On the surface, Algiers(Jackman) and Borden(Bale) seem well intentioned. Each wants a family, home and success as a magician. However, the basest characteristics of any type of performer are suspect in this film. Truth seems an empty word to all who speak it. Not one character in the film can be trusted. It sets up an interesting predicament as a viewer used to bonding with a usual protagonist. These characters endure countless pains and just when you start to care, they get back up and cause even more pain. The beautiful, horrible cycle within The Prestige reminds me of Nolan's Memento. Vengeance can be seductive; so much so, that the things each character thought they wanted become irrelevant.
Director, Christopher Nolan, dissects the boundaries man claims to put on himself. How far are we willing to go for success? Are we willing to get our hands dirty? What are we willing to sacrifice? The answers to these questions for Borden and Algiers are played out during the film, but they resonate past the narrative. Morality can't be part of a magician's repertoire because risk and death are essential to winning an audience. Nolan re-imagines death in this film. It is likened to the limits of human will. The "undoing" of death, or Prestige, comes at a high price. Our capacity to harm or love ourselves and others is unrestrained. Life is The Pledge, death is The Turn and then comes The Prestige.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Aug 23, 2010Imagining a future void of intellectuals or leaders is not that hard. In Idiocracy, the priorities of the populous are grounded in spectacle and pleasure. Set almost 500 years from present day, Uh-merica has become disadvantaged by its own breeders. The film astutely points out how ignorant people, by nature, will continue to reproduce at alarming rates. Survival of the fittest is turned upside down when considering the sheer number of people uncomprehending of consequence. Stupidity infesting the world like cockroaches is all too relevant.
Our President is most certainly an idiot. We are forced to put up with his gross misconduct and abuse of our countries name because he has disguised his ignorance as faith. Unfortunately, the people steering Bush into destroying the free world are all too aware of their actions. While the world of Idiocracy is unjust and uneffective, at least it lacks the evil genius. The president in the film is Mr. T and Ludicris rolled into one. I cant help but think a president dependent on threats and demands plausible considering the direction we are currently headed. Idiocracy appropriately does not deal with faith because without peddlers smart enough to deal intangible truths, there is no use for it.
Comparable to the fall of Rome, Uh-merica finds itself existing without knowing to what end. There is no sense of unity or hope for the future, but only an acceptance of shallowness. In essence, writer and director Mike Judge deals with how flavor has replaced purity. As we have come to learn, spin can alter events globally. In Idiocracy, entertainment and free love are as holy as it gets. Altering the mundane is condemned in the film, as even Starbucks perseveres 500 years only to provide affordable and expedient sexual gratification. A combination of ebonics and hillbilly has usurped the English language providing a flashier and less coherent means of communication. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, To be great, is to be misunderstood. In Idiocracy this sentiment is taken to a thought provoking extreme.
The film delivered ample laughs. It was glaringly uneven, but the short running time helped me forgive some inadequacies. Like Office Space, I enjoyed the characters and premise enough to wade through some of the filler. Mike Judges film will undoubtedly appeal to low brow audiences. However, seeing as the film lacked any endorsements or hype at all, there is something to be said for the exclusivity associated with even knowing about it. The film would have done well if Luke Wilson and Mike Judges previous success had been exploited to sell it. Instead, I shared the theater with maybe seven others on its second day of release. Despite the crude jokes, I couldnt help feeling like my own aptitude had earned a unique and enjoyable viewing experience.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Aug 23, 2010Living forever would be hell. Eternity claws at the heart of Aronofsky's temporally transcendent hero, Thomas. Hugh Jackman plays Thomas, but the character embodies director/writer Aronofsky's complex and insightful interpretation of what immortality means. Beyond humanity conquering time, this film tackles how ideas, and even feelings, can be inherently timeless. The Fountain courageously examines what keeps us here and why we eventually need to go.
Aronofsky's ability as a director has been hailed with both Pi and Requiem for a Dream. The Fountain is unlike anything he has done before. He provokes audiences intellectually, spiritually and viscerally, but this time, with extra concern for plot and character dynamics. Like Fellini, putting his wife in his films compels a richer and more passionate creation. Weisz proves more enchanting in this sci-fi spirit quest than any other film to date. Instead of isolation and dependence, Aronofsky focuses on interconnectivity. A responsibility to his wife, new born, and devoted fans gives birth to a film that aspires to be something timeless itself. Aronofsky, more than anything, demonstrates how much he expects of himself.
Moving within the millennia spanning the films narrative are the souls of Thomas and Izzi. They are tied to each other and the tree of life. Uniquely positioned as the tie that binds them to the tree is love. In every period, Thomas scrambles to save Izzi in some way. Thomas exasperatingly challenges the life threatening circumstances Izzi faces. Battling Mayan warlords, cancerous tumors or traveling to Xibalba(The Place of Fear) are dwarfed by the life purpose Izzi instills in him. The limitations of love and devotion are reluctantly acknowledged, as Thomas becomes a slave to hope and memory.
The very essence of existence comes into play as fantasy is given as much legitimacy in the film as reality. The scenes from the Mayan period are melded together with the fiction Izzi is writing in present day. The line between truth and fiction disintegrates as the three stories continually intertwine. The motives of the characters are similar in each, but it takes the fantasy to provoke their destinies. Thomas's ultimate fate and acceptance of reality can only happen in surreal settings where anything is possible.
The Fountain delves into the ineffable headfirst. Infinite possibility lies at the heart of life and death. One answer is as valid or invalid as the next without a map key. The closest we come to understanding it all is when determining what it isn't. Aronofsky posits the question as the answer stylishly, uniquely and profoundly.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Aug 23, 2010At heart of such a familiar story are characters that shine above their own archetypal conception. The progression of the narrative is fluid enough, but the performances ensure the films distinction. The characters would not be believable, or nearly as compelling, were it not for their unwitting dependence on one another. The family is mutually deceiving, but each with the best of intentions. Road trip films are nearly classified as there own genre with such a distinctive structure and pay off. Comedian, Mitch Hedberg said, Im sick of following my dreams. I am just going to ask where they are going and meet up with them later. In Little Miss Sunshine, dreams both guide and antagonize the six people trapped in the yellow VW bus.
A lack of control haunts the actions of the family. In one of the more focused scenes in the film, the son Dwaye, played aptly by Paul Dano, acknowledges his own limitations with poignant vocalization. Dwayne craves autonomy more than any other in the film and is grounded by a new found genetic disadvantage. In attempting to blame his family, from afar, it only provokes his sister closer. She is unaffected by his sentiments because his true nature contrasts the outburst in her mind. It is her intimate knowledge of Dwayne that enables the film to move on.
In this sense, the movie can be viewed as an interpersonal puzzle. Alone, each character is indistinguishable of something whole. It is only when pushing on together that they get anywhere. The goals of each individual become dwarfed by the sense of unity birthed from their 800 mile adventure. Significantly, it is young Olives naive hope to be Little Miss Sunshine that creates a consciously shared and cherished moment between all characters, dead and alive. Olives determination destroys her fathers notion of winners and losers. Surrounded by people in denial about themselves, Olive embraces the contradictions, consequently providing a metaphoric mirror for the rest.
The film celebrates failure. Within the winning film, are desperate losers. Steve Carells, Uncle Frank, discusses the necessity of suffering. Being introduced to him after a failed suicide attempt, Franks words seem genuine despite their irony. The diverse talent of Carell is most acutely witnessed as he reacquaints himself with the family at the dinner table. The intrusion of Frank into his sisters family plays as a blessing in a family needing of fresh, albeit fatalistic, perspective.
Little Miss Sunshine depicts family as an undefinable ideal. The movie grows much the way a family does; not often in expected directions, but forever adapting to inevitable change. It isnt until the family sees the path they have taken, before they realize they have a home to return.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.5Aug 23, 2010Me, You and Dupree had too much potential. The genuinity of the film's concept actually prompted its own downfall. The trailer snagged me early spring; having everything to do with Hudson and Wilson. The idea proved especially poignant after a near two week stint, of my own, in a friends spare room. The circumstances of both Dupree and my own living circumstances were sickly similar. Movies just sometimes come out around the perfect time in your own life.
First time writer Mike LeSieur must have dealt with a similar nomadic friend to prompt such a likable device for a film. A more likely scenario might be that LeSieur was a nomad himself. Writers, though keen to point out truths, are restricted by their own experience. LeSieur saw something grand in what it means to float, but in the end, relied on Owen Wilsons tried and true interpretation skills to bring any substance to Dupree. Wilson fleshed out somewhat of a character in a script laden with skeletal characterization. The ideas were solid, but storytelling is more than initial concept.
Owen Wilson was a producer on the film. Turning out to be more of a business man than I, or even Wes Anderson might have imagined, Wilson has manifested his own path to success. His best films are the Anderson compilations, and outside of those I can only truly commend him for Minus Man, Zoolander, and Meet the Parents. I cant help but appreciate Wilson, but I am getting distracted by his motives of late. There is the off chance he is diabolically exploiting his own pigeonhole to get the power to present himself with more diverse roles. Yet, by producing the film, it seems Wilson defies any altruist hypothetical.
Me, You and Dupree had moments. The soundtrack was great(Blind Melon/Coldplay), the career day pep talk by Wilson was a gem, and Seth Rogen turned in another scene stealing performance. Having been so enraptured by the characters of Wilson(Bottle Rocket, Royal Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic), Dillon(Drugstore Cowboy, Wild Things, Crash), Douglas(Game, Falling Down, Traffic) and even Hudson(Almost Famous) in the past, I couldnt buy into their hollow nature here. I was grateful when the film had ended, but cursed knowing Id have wanted another hour were it done right.
Interestingly, the director had worked on a handful of episodes of Arrested Development. For the very reason that show worked, this film does not. The off the wall antics of Arrested Development could not sustain a theater going audience. With such derivative scripting, Me You and Dupree couldnt get us to care enough. Feeling detached in a 22 minute sitcom is appropriate, but when devoting over 100 minutes certain expectations must be met.… Expand