Sunday, July 22, 2007

what I've seen lately

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - As my work buddies and I filed out of the brand new stadium seating Regal Cinemas in Ithaca, we all agreed that not much happened in the movie. It was fun, it was Harry, but it felt kind of like a mini-movie to hold you over before you get the real one. I quite enjoyed David Yates' directing...lots of great shots, cool nightmare flashes, really stylish newspaper headlines to show exposition and pass time, etc. But it was almost TOO smooth and stylish...the battle scenes weren't grim or gritty enough; it didn't really seem like the characters were in danger. Also, Emma Watson (Hermione) is a terrible actress. Overactress. She's constantly sighing and making alarmed exclamations and though it may have worked when they were all ten and adorable, now it's just distracting.
If you think of the movie as stand-alone and not part of a monstrous film or book franchise (difficult, I realize), it was kind of weak and too simple. We didn't really know until an hour into the movie what Harry was being so emo about this time, or why it was important. Within a simple three-act character-on-a-quest-despite-obstacles construction, it was a little murky. Plus, the Order was underdeveloped. Ron didn't even get a subplot. The amazing Emma Thomspon was underused. And I felt like there were missed emotional opportunities with Cho, the whole dementor craze, and Harry discovering his father was kind of a bully. I didn't hate it...I enjoyed it, to be sure. It just fell short of its potential.

Zodiac - it's out on DVD on Tuesday so I was able to see it a week early. It's extremely long - 157 minutes - and I definitely think half an hour should have been cut. But it was a great combination of interesting detective twists and character flaws. Mark Ruffalo is PERFECT, Robert Downey JR is great, and Jake Gyllenhall is pretty good too. I also enjoyed Anthony Edwards since I hadn't seen him in a while. I think the length problem came about because Jake seems to be the protagonist for the first part, then Mark takes over for about 90 minutes, and then it goes back to Jake. Perhaps sticking to the true timeline of the story was inhibiting, I don't know. I would have liked a bit more suspense, a bit more detail of the crimes. But it was nice to see some good character work amidst a crime story.

Weeds Season Two - Also out on Tuesday. OMG! Like I said in the last post, drug dealing creates automatic life-and-death, high-stakes situations in the characters' everyday lives. But
what I like best about Weeds is how perfectly it combines comedy and drama. The last few episodes are absolutely heartbreaking but still hilarious. There are also some great visuals, like all of the drug free signs and cameras in Silus' room. As for the character work...I loved Zooey Deschanel as the wacky ex. I also love that Peter is an asshole and Conrad is the softie. Another non-stereotype is Silus as the sentimental, dependent one and Meghan as the unromantic opposite. It's also refreshing that the kids aren't condescended to or treated like they're so cute and precious. They're real kids. They swear and manipulate and have real problems just like the adults. I'm excited about the Emmy nods and I hope they win. I watched all 12 episodes in 2 days and I probably will buy it on Tuesday.

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