Archives for posts with tag: Kirsten Dunst

Grade B

 

Set during the American Civil War, Colin Farrell plays a wounded, Union soldier who is taken in by Southern women and girls who reside in a girls’ school.  First treated as a captive, Farrell slowly charms his way into the hearts and minds of the ladies.  As his wounds heal, Farrell becomes a friend to the girls, and a potential lover for one of the teachers (Kirsten Dunst) and the headmistress (Nicole Kidman).  But his conniving ways may trap him into situations that will reveal his true nature and bring an end to his respite from the war.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Beguiled” is the scene when **SPOILER ALERT**Farrell wakes up after having fallen from a stairway and discovers that something irreversible and cruel has been done to him.

From an aesthetic point of view, “The Beguiled” is a beautiful movie; but when it comes to the story, the original movie is superior.  **SPOILER ALERT**Gone is the female, slave character who was significant to the story; the scene when the young girl’s turtle is savagely thrown by the soldier was played out better in the original, and therefore was crucial to the girl agreeing to help poison the soldier; and in the original movie, the soldier (played by Clint Eastwood) mentioned to the ladies that he will put in a good word with the Union soldiers about the ladies so the soldiers won’t harm the them — this was another important part that was left out of the remake, as this made the death of the soldier more tragic.

So which version is the best?  It’s a tie.  Director Sofia Coppola made numerous mistakes removing vital elements from the first movie, but her direction outshines the original; and credit has to be given to cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd for this version’s exquisite visuals.

— M

 

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Here’s another review of a movie starring my favorite, wise-ass comic book character (not to be confused with my favorite comic book character) wearing my favorite 2 colors.   Director Sam Raimi gives us the darkest of his Spider-Man trilogy in “Spider-Man 3.”  We get 3 villains: Sandman, the new Goblin, and Venom!  “Wow” you say?  “Eh,” I say.   Superhero movies that put too many new villains in a movie tend to suffer from lack of character development of those characters and/or lack of focus.  This is partly true of “Spider-Man 3.”

The Sandman was given enough backstory so that we feel some sympathy for him: he wants to make money to give his sick daughter the proper medical care.  The new, Green Goblin has been slowly introduced to us in “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2,” so that character is already fully developed by part 3.  No problem there.  Venom, on the other hand, takes full form in the last third of the movie, and it felt rushed to me.  And let’s not forget the new, black, Spidey costume that Venom came from.   There is too much going on here for one movie.

The black costume by itself could be the storyline for one movie.  For those who aren’t familiar with Spider-Man comics, Spidey and a bunch of superheroes left Earth to fight bad guys; and Spidey came upon this black costume and decided to take it back to Earth and use it.  Well, the new costume turned out to be an alien creature that formed a symbiotic relationship with Spidey, and at some point Spidey ditched the alien.  The alien got angry and joined with a jerk named Eddie Brock, turning Brock into Venom: basically a large, evil version of Spider-Man.   Sounds like a big story for a movie, right?  It is.  Maybe for 2 movies.   But to have all this mashed into one movie along with the Sandman and the new Green Goblin and Gwen Stacy and who really killed Uncle Ben and problems with Mary Jane…it’s like trying to take in as much of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan in 2 hours.   The rush doesn’t do the art justice.

So is it a bad movie?  Oh, no.  This is a good movie.  I give it a 7.5 out of 10, with 10 being the best.   But it could have been much better had it not had too many stories going on.  So what was going on?  Well, let me tell you about it by giving you some of my memorable, movie moments of “Spider-Man 3.”

Numero uno: when Spidey kisses Gwen Stacy while he’s upside down hanging by his web.  Yup, that same kiss he gave to M.J. in “Spider-Man.”  Their special kiss.  Their first kiss.   And he did that knowing M.J. was in the audience watching.  This is a prime example of what women talk about when they say men are clueless.  I know deep down, Parker is still feeling like a geek and he has little experience with women, but damn, dude!   He should’ve know better.  This leads to a big fight and break-up of Spidey and M.J.  I remember taking a special woman to the same restaurant many times.  A restaurant that we both found during one of our days together.  It felt weird taking another woman there, even though the first woman gave me her blessing to take others there after our romantic relationship was over.  After all, that was “our place.”  But at least I waited until it was over, and I got the go-ahead from the first woman, and we both had an understanding that we could take others there.   Not Spidey!  He just gave away that special kiss to another while he was still with M.J.  And, oh, he paid for that lack of insight.

For the second memorable, movie moment, I give you the sequence where the new, Green Goblin chases and tries to kill Spider-Man for the first time, early in the movie.  It’s memorable for how badly it was done.  It reminded me of those “Back To The Future” movies where McFly is being chased by big, bully Biff.   The tone of the sequence was wrong.  It came off as comedy/action instead of being serious and suspenseful.

The third memorable, movie moment is the sequence dealing with Peter Parker’s new, cocky attitude thanks to stress and the effects of the alien costume that he wears under his street clothes.  With cheesy, 1970s style disco/porn music playing in the background, Parker struts the streets of Manhattan like John Travolta (“Oh, my god, Spider-man — where?”) in “Saturday Night Fever.”  Snapping his fingers to music only he can hear, Parker disco points, thrusts his pelvis, and smiles at all the ladies, creeping them out.  It’s funny and a bit scary, like preachers who wear fancy suits and wear too much cologne, sweat too much, and always ends sentences with “hah!”

My most memorable, movie moment takes place near the end of the movie.  Even though this movie is old, I will be careful of my words so I don’t spoil it for people who haven’t watched this movie.  It deals with forgiveness, which I think is the spine, or theme, of “Spider-Man 3.”  Most of the main characters come to an understanding of what they’ve done, and why; and we get the feeling that from here on, they will try to be better people with whatever time they have left in this world.

That’s what I try to do every day.  I don’t always succeed, but I do make the effort.

M

It’s rare for the second movie of a trilogy to be better than its predecessor.  “Spider-Man 2” joins that rare club.  I really like this movie.  I’ve already stated most of my reasons for liking Spidey in my “Spider-Man” blog; but I forgot to add one more thing.  Spider-Man and I are built almost the same way.  Wait, why are you laughing!  I’m serious!  Well…I’m much shorter than Spider-Man, but proportionately, we’re very similar.   If there was a mini Spider-Man suit, I’d look pretty awesome in it!  Unlike Peter Parker, I didn’t get help from a radioactive bug — I had to work out.   For 27 years to be exact.   But it’s worth it, because I’m healthier than the average guy my age, and I look good in Under Armour compression shirts.   Hey, it’s not bragging if you can back it up!

Back to Spider-Man.  In this movie, we experience the strains that Peter Parker goes through as he saves the world while his private life falls apart.   Now living on his own in a tiny, broken down apartment, cash is more important, and usually elusive.  He works as a pizza delivery guy!  Can you imagine a guy who can rule a small country working a job like that!  He barely sees those whom he loves, has a hard time holding down even menial jobs, and is failing his classes — because he’s too busy fighting crime.  It’s no surprise that he has some kind of mental breakdown that manifests itself as the loss of his powers.

In one memorable, movie moment, Parker looks out of his apartment window and asks himself why should he have to sacrifice what he wants, what he needs.  This is a young man who is in a lot of mental anguish.  He wants to do the right thing and use his powers for good, as his dead, uncle Ben would’ve wanted.   “With great power comes great responsibility,” Ben once told him.  But should he spend the rest of his life being an unpaid public servant (who is sometimes hunted down by the law) and let his dreams die?

In another memorable, movie moment, Spider-Man — his mask removed — uses all his strength to stop a speeding train full of passengers from crashing through the end of the line barrier.  At the end of this effort, he passes out, and is caught by some of the passengers, who gently lift him over their heads, passing him along from hand to hand until they can lay him down safely in one of the train cars (it reminds me of paintings of Jesus being carefully taken down the cross by the ones who love him).   The passengers look at his face while he’s still passed out, and one remarks that “he’s just a kid.”  Yes, and he has the whole world upon his young shoulders.

Adding to that weight upon Parker’s shoulders is his realization that his Aunt May — who raised him as a child — is about to have her house foreclosed by the bank; and Parker is unable to help her financially.  He finds out about May’s money problem during his birthday party held in May’s house.   To make matters — and his guilt — worse, May gives him $20 as his present.   Parker is about to refuse, and May screams at him to take what little she can offer, so…he does; and allows his Aunt May to preserve a little bit of her pride.   This is the most memorable, movie moment for me.  What must it feel like to be the most powerful, unique human in the world and not be able to help the woman who raised you keep her house?

I know a woman who is as generous and beautiful as Aunt May.  It’s my mom.   And if her house was in jeopardy of being taken away by the bank, and I had Spider-Man’s powers, I wouldn’t let it happen.  If I had to rob that same bank that wants to take her house, then that’s what I would do.  It would make me a criminal, and it would bother my conscience greatly.  But I can never repay all the things my mom has done for me, so if I have to sacrifice some of my ethics and stoop to the level of a common criminal in order for my mom to keep her house, then that’s what I’ll do.  With great love comes great responsibility.

M

Do I really need to give you a synopsis of the earlier “Spider-Man” movie?  Okay, for those of you who have never heard of this comic book character because your parents believed movies and t.v. and comic books are the devil’s playground (by the way, the devil’s playground are the bridges and tunnels of NYC; and oh, how that red bastard loves to play with us), here’s the overall scoop: a teenager gets bitten by a radioactive spider and develops superpowers that he uses to fight crime.

Although not my favorite comic book hero, Spider-Man is one of my favorites.  Why?  Because he’s a smart-ass; and I tend to be one.  At work I used to be confrontational when having a bad day or when seeing management abuse us.   Now I make sarcastic, funny comments that aren’t enough to get me into trouble; but still I make my point and it relieves some of the stress that I feel.  Spider-Man likes the colors red and blue, as do I.  I just have to be careful not to get into Crips or Bloods territory!   Spider-Man grew up in Queens, NYC, as I did.  And for the record, NYC is not Manhattan.  NYC is composed of 5 boroughs, of which Manhattan is one of them.   Anyway…

Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, is someone whom most of us can relate to.  He was a bit of a geek/nerd in school, was awkward with the ladies, always had money issues (meaning he was usually broke), and tried his best to do the right thing.   He could have used his powers for his own benefit, but instead he fights crime and usually catches hell for it.  Would I be so generous to the public if I had superpowers?  Hell no!  Are you kidding!  You really don’t know me!  I would rob and maim criminals.  Why maim and not kill?  A criminal with all limbs and face broken beyond repair does greater psychological damage to other criminals than seeing one in a box.   No way I would work a regular job.  I would feed on the criminals — especially the rich ones — so I can get the things that I want.  Once in a while I would give money to organizations that help stray doggies and kitties — a win-win scenario for myself and the public.

“Spider-Man” is a very good movie that I have seen about 5 times already.   One reason is Sam Raimi, the director.  Yes, the same guy who made “Evil Dead,” you know, the movie where the woman gets raped by a tree.  Yes, a tree!  Well, it turns out Raimi is a big Spider-Man fan; and it shows in the movie.   Directors of movies based on comic books who aren’t fans of those specific comic books and never read them usually make bad adaptations, like “X-Men.”  I won’t get into that here, as that’s a whole other review to write later on.   Back to Raimi: he did a fantastic job on this movie, as did actors Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Willem Dafoe.

One thing I didn’t like about the movie was how Spidey’s web comes out.  In the comics, Parker creates a bracelet thing with various cartridges that contains the fluid that turns into his webs when they shoot out.  A trigger is attached from the bracelet to his palm (under his glove); and that’s why he makes that hand movement to shoot the webs out — he’s pressing on the trigger.  In the movie, the webs come out of his body through his wrist.  Now I realize some of you like the movie’s version, especially those of you who never read a Spider-Man comic.  You say, “It makes sense for him to have the webs come from his body, like a spider.”  Oh, yeah?  Doesn’t it make more sense to have the webs come out of his ass, like a spider!  That’s what I thought.

And now it’s time for Manny’s memorable movie moments.   Spoiler alert for the first one!   At the end of the movie, Mary Jane, played by Dunst, tells Peter Parker, played by Maguire, that she loves him, and not Spider-Man.  They kiss, and Parker tells Mary Jane that he just wants to be friends.  He loves her, of course; but realizes that all whom he loves are put in danger if his identity is ever revealed.  So in his mind, he’s protecting her by not being her lover.  Sorry, it doesn’t make sense.  You see, Mary Jane is still very close to Parker, so if bad guys know who Spider-Man is, they’ll still go after her.  Yeah, I know, it was done for drama.  But drama without the logic to back it up is just b.s.  Oh, when Parker is walking away, Mary Jane realizes that the kiss she just had with Parker was the same as the kiss she had with Spider-Man, and she just discovered Spidey’s true identity.  That was really cool the way they did it.  Very, very subtle.

My most memorable movie moment is the scene where the Green Goblin has been knocked off his glider by Spider-Man, and is now surrounded by the NYPD.  The cops — most don’t even have their guns drawn — order him to stop and not move as they close in.   Goblin attacks the cops and gets away.  What the hell!   A few moments ago, the Green Goblin killed people with explosives and caused maybe millions of dollars in property damage.  And the NYPD don’t shoot him when they have the chance!  Is this the same, NYPD that shot a black man dozens of times for holding his wallet!   The same NYPD who illegally went into that same, black man’s apartment to look for anything that can smear his name so that the shooting would seem more justified (they didn’t find a damn thing, by the way)?  Raimi, dude, are you kidding me!

The only possible explanation for the NYPD’s actions that I can think of is…that they knew it was a white guy inside that Green Goblin costume.

M

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