Wall-E Review II

26 06 2008

Sorry Travis, I had not seen that you already wrote a review… but since I wrote one too (and cut it short once I realized you beat me too it), here is mine:
Pixar’s latest animated feature film, Wall-E, tells the story of the last operational robot left on Earth traveling deep into space, in pursuit of another robot who had made a brief visit to Earth in search of extraterrestrial vegetation.  Along the way, Wall-E inadvertently teaches humans what it is like to be social and independent again.

Pixar has created some of the best-animated films of all time. From the classic Toy Story to the previous release of Ratatouille, not one film has come weak (some argue Cars to be below the Pixar standard, but that is highly debatable).  So it should come as no surprise that Wall-E is worthy of not only a best-animated film Oscar, but also a best film of the year nomination (a first for any animated film).

Every scene of the film contains such meticulous attention to detail that at certain times it becomes easy to forget that the film is computer generated.   With help from cinematographer Roger Deakins (The Assassinations of Jessie James, No Country for Old Men), the film is able to truly achieve a greater sense of reality than any animated film before it has.  And with so much visual support, it becomes equally apparent that Pixar has invested a lot in to the sound design by employing Ben Burtt (Star Wars, Indians Jones, Munich) to create not only the sound effects, but also the voice of Wall-E.  The voice of Wall-E is also interesting for another reason though, and that is that Wall-E, being a robot, cannot talk past a few simple sounds.  Which is presumably a giant risk for Pixar… but that is what they are known best for.  Each character relies heavily on body language to communicate, and the way this is achieved is beyond many classic silent films from the past, truly remarkable.  In the showing I attended I counted many children and heard even more crying before the film began, but heard hardly a peep throughout the entire film from a single one of them.  After the credits rolled, smiles could be seen on everyone’s face, child or adult.

The Pixar creative team has always been known to not stop at just attention to the feature.  With Wall-E we are given an amazing short film called Presto. Presto is the story of a magician and his rabbit, which is in my opinion, in the top 5 best Pixar shorts. I won’t give away more than that though.   The credits are also a story in their own, they continue telling the story of Wall-E once the feature has ended in several magnificent ways.   And, this has yet to be officially confirmed, but once the DVD/Blu-Ray is released, be on the lookout for a ‘Burn-E’ short film.
Wall-E is truly unlike any film I have previously seen. Each aspect of the film has a unique style, almost like a 1980’s science fiction film, only more modern and with a more romantic feel, but that would still not give the film an accurate description.  I really suggest you catch Wall-E in theatres many times and then again on DVD, just be able to take in everything offered.

– Keith


Wall-E Review

26 06 2008

I got a chance to go to one of the first screenings of Wall-E last night at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood thanks to the mother-of-a-friend’s-friend.

If you have ever had even a light inkling of interest in seeing Wall-E, DO IT! The whole thing is very impressive and possibly even a little overwhelming. Visually it is one of the best movies I have ever seen, especially compared with most CGI movies. The folks over at Pixar have outdone themselves this time, in both style and story. It is about as far from the “everyday” animated film as you can possibly get.

If asked to assign a genre to Wall-E I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. It is equal parts science fiction, comedy, and romance woven together seamlessly with a little bit of satire. Wall-E himself, is a very endearing character with surprising depth, and personality. I found this to be pretty impressive, considering that Wall-E is basically a trash compacter with limited ability to communicate verbally. Most of the film is pantomime with very limited dialog.

If you’ve seen any of the trailers or commercials, you’ll know that Wall-E is a robot left to clean up the planet after humans abandon Earth. After seven hundred years or so of being alone, with only a roach for a friend, he’s developed quite a personality. His lonely existence is shattered one day by the arrival of EVE, a reconnaissance robot who steals Wall-E’s robot heart and begins an epic adventure, meeting all sorts of wild and entertaining characters along the way.

I think they took a big risk with the lack of dialog in the film, and I think it payed off big time. My hat is off to Andrew Stanton on this one. To create a story containing deep, lovable characters, predominantly without the use of words is truly a great feat. I was also very impressed by the choice of the soundtrack for the film.

Anyway, Wall-E is a great movie for everyone, kids and adults, and is a must see for any Pixar fan. SEE THIS MOVIE


In Bruges

6 02 2008

In Bruges was not the typical mainstream crime comedy I expected. The film surpassed, by far, anything I expected of it. Not only was it hysterically funny, it was also very dark and emotional, touching on subjects such as murder and suicide. In 2004 Martin McDonagh wrote and directed a short called Six Shooter that was well recieved for its over the top dark humor and witty script. In Bruges displays that this success was not just a fluke.

Colin Farrell, is finally given a chance to act in this one. In what I think is one of his greatest performances, he plays Ray, a London hitman who is sent to hide out in the Belgian city of Bruges after a horribly botched job. As his accompanying mentor and partner, Ken, Brendan Gleason gives a fantastic performance as usual. The first act of the film is almost entirely driven by quick, witty back and forth dialogue between Ray and Ken, in which Ray makes it clear that he is not happy to be in the medieval city of Bruges and Ken assaults him with historic facts about the city. Ray is finally given some relief when he meets Chloë on the set of an art film. Chloë played by French actress Clémence Poésy may have some dark secrets of her own. The depth of insight that we are given into the characters early on in the film sets us up for an emotional ride as the story begins to twist and turn its way into a full blown action film. These twists and turns are set in to motion when Ken and Ray recieve an expletive ridden telegram from their boss, Harry, played by the fantastic Ralph Fiennes, and an equally hilarious and vulgar phone conversation between Ken and Harry.

Farrell is given a lot room to work in this film, he’s given room to not only play Ray as the complaining loudmouth we’re introduced to, but a real human, frought with real human grief and human emotion over is actions in the recent past. We see that the character is human as he tries to cover his grief by complaing and chasing women.

For fans of the gangster comedies of Guy Ritchie or the dialogue heavy and violent Tarantino crime movies, this is a must see. With one of the most original approaches to the genre I have seen in a long time, Martin McDonagh has presented an instant classic in my mind. I will see it again when the opportunity presents itself, and I reccomend the same for anyone else.

Originally posted here.

The Band’s Visit (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, Eran Kolirin, 2007): Israel

4 02 2008

What a wonderful way for me to start off the SBIFF (not including the opening night festivities). In his first feature writer-director, EranKolirin, presents a poignant, well paced, dry comedy. While The Band’s Visit addresses several prevalent cultural issues, including the state of Arab-Israeli relations, the story and characters are never outweighed by them. This film, Israel’s official submission for the best foreign language film Academy award, was disqualified due to the fact that more than half of the dialogue was in English. This is unfortunate, not only because the English used in the film would be very difficult for any native speaker of the language to understand without subtitles (don’t worry, they have them) due to the actors’ heavy accents, but because language and miscommunication is a major issue in the film. English is the only language the characters could efficiently andrealisticly communicate.

The eight piece Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, led by the straightlaced, tight lipped Lieutenant-colonel Tawfiq Zacharya, played impeccably by Sasson Gabai, have been invited to Beit Hatkiva to play the opening ceremony of an Arab cultural center in the Israeli city. They arrive in the country to no welcoming commitee, or even a ride to the event, and it is immediately apparent they have been forgotten. Rather than appeal for help from the embassy,Tawfiq insists on making their own way to the cultural center. Charged with the task of purchasing the bus tickets for everyone, ladies man and bad boy of the band,Khaled (Saleh Bakri ) is distracted by a beautiful woman at the ticket desk and purchases bus passes to the wrong city. Stranded in a bleak backwater desert town that seems almost deserted, with no bus until the morning the band seeks refuge in a small restaurant. They are taken in by Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), the beautiful, straightforward owner of the cafe, who first offers them lunch and later, a place to stay for the night. Dina also seems to take an interest inTawfiq right from the start, which unsettles the very traditional man. Each member, still clad in their hideously wonderful, powder blue uniforms, embarks on his own one night adventure.

Rarely do you see a film depend so much on silence for it’s comedic presence. This is displayed perfectly during both an awkward exchange at a pay phone, as well as an almost too awkward to bear seduction tutorial scene. Action is minimal tononexistent in this film and the set is almost completely barren and devoid of life outside of our main group of characters. It is a simple story, droll comedy where not all that much happens, and that is perfectly fine.

Writer-director EranKolirin is one to watch in the future, as he has taken virtually no set, and virtually no action or major plot twists, and created an absolutely enjoyable, and genuinely funny film. His first feature posses an underlying wisdom in regards to larger issues in the world. If the opportunity presents itself, this is a must see film.

This review was originally posted here.