Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenenbaums, were all penned with co-star Owen Wilson, but Wilson’s subsequent acting success left him little time to write. Anderson’s first film with his new screenwriting partner, filmmaker Noah Baumbach, was 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and critical response was somewhat muted—it wasn’t panned, by any means, but it was certainly seen as a drop after the steady build of excellence in his first three pictures. For Darjeeling, Anderson teamed with Rushmore co-star Jason Schwartzman and filmmaker (and Schwartzman’s cousin) Roman Coppola to write the tale of three estranged brothers on a journey for spiritual enlightenment through India. Light, airy, and somewhat slight, it didn’t quite live up to the hopes of Anderson’s fans. But freed of its release date expectations, and accepted and digested as a “lesser Anderson,” it offers some modest diversion.
Mitchell: "She's going to be all judgmental and condescending."
Cameron: "She's your family. Of course she's going to be all judgmental and condescending."
Steven Leviathan and Christopher Lloyd's Modern Family may not be the most innovative comedy on television, nor (Emmy notwithstanding) the best. But it may very well be the most likable one. And yet, it never sops for easy emotion or sympathy--it's a show with edges, though they're soft ones. It assembles a large cast of charming characters, assembled into nuclear and non-traditional family formations, and lets them bounce off each other, often with explosively funny results. Many episodes end with a little lesson learned, but the show's writers are skillful enough to quietly puncture those moments of solemnity--a slick way to have their cake and eat it too.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Dreamworks Animation tends to get treated like a second-class citizen by connoisseurs of computer animation, and not without reason. While their rivals at Pixar are turning out pictures that transcend the limitations of the form and rank among the best of all recent cinema, Dreamworks has turned out a steady stream of profitable but formulaic efforts like Bee Movie, Shark Tale, and the endless, witless Shrek and Madagascar franchises. But their latest effort, How to Train Your Dragon, is a step in the right direction; there's no mistaking it for Up or Wall-E, but it's a good-natured, low-key charmer.
Tim Blake Nelson's Leaves of Grass is an honest-to-God American original; I've never seen a film quite like it, with the possible exception of some of the Coen Brothers' more far-out pictures. This is not to say that everything in it works--some of the story threads are half-baked, and the tone is all over the place. But have to admire its gumption; they're going for something off-the-wall and unexpected here, and the resulting product more than fills the bill.