Category Archives: Comparison

“Stardust” (2007) – 5-Obstructions Review

Click on image to be taken to overview.

Click on image to be taken to overview.

Nostra at “Myfilmviews” is continuing his 5-Obstrucitons blogathon, and I have waited to the absolutely last possible minute to post my entry.  For this interview review I have asked my husband to be the interviewee, Edwin Scharlau.  I first thought about conducting an interview about his documentary, Unfit:  Ward vs Ward,  but I felt I would be cheating since I had such easy access to the filmmaker.  When I asked Edwin which film he would like to be interviewed on he said Stardust.  I first I said no since I recently reviewed it here, but after a lackluster Hugo interview I relented.  So, without further ado,

VMR:  Why Stardust?

ES:  Because it is the only movie in my memory that I can recall going back to watch in a theatre a second time the following day.

VMR:  What made you want to watch it again?

ES:  Everything about that movie was so perfect that I wanted to see it again to validate that feeling from watching it the first time.  I’m not normally a fan of fantasy, but something just really spoke to me about that movie. I don’t know if it was the great mix of the time period, or the whole mystical aspect, the visuals, the music.  Everything just seemed to come together perfectly for that one.

VMR:  What about the music did you like so much?

ES:  I liked the epic feel of the music.  There was something about the music that made my heart race.

VMR:  What were you favorite scene involving the music?

ES:  When Michelle Pfeiffer is on the cliff and walks away with the whole landscape in the background.

VMR:  You said the movie “spoke to you,” in what way?

ESI think it had a really good message.  The way Tristan went out on this adventure to search for something for this girl he had a puppy-dog crush on because she seemed like the perfect girl for her—though we know she is not.  But then he goes out on this adventure and he realizes something about true love.  You can find true love in the least likely places or people.

VMR:  Do you see a little of Tristan in you?

ES:  I think Tristan is probably more adventurous than I am, and a bit more of a hopeless romantic.  But I did find him relatable.  He does tend to see the good in everyone, and I feel I do the same in most cases.

VMR:  Even though you think the movie is practically perfect in every way, is there something you would change?

ES:  There is nothing I would change about that movie.

I think another reason way I liked it, though it was fantasy, was that it made sense to me.  It seemed much more realistic to me then some other movies…like science fiction movies.  There is something really human and relatable to it.  I also really liked that they took Michelle Pfeiffer–who is arguably one of the most attractive women ever–and turned her into an old ugly witch, and she was wiling to do that.  And that they could take Robert de Niro—a badass tough guy—and put him in a dress, and he was willing to do that.

VMR:  Have there been any other movies that spoke to you in the same way?

ES:  No, not fantasy movies.  Thinking about it, Big Fish also spoke to me.  It was similar in that there is something real about it, but there is the fantasy element in it.  The Narnia films as well.  There is something incredibly sweet about Stardust.  It had everything in it:  greed, honesty, love, beauty.

VMR:  Where you surprised to learn this was only the director’s second film?

ES:  Yes.  It did surprise me he was able to do such a big movie with a big cast.

VMR:  Did you enjoy his third film Kick-Ass?

ES:  Yeah, I did.  It was surprisingly funny.

VMR:  Final question.  What numerical and alphabetic score do you give Stardust?

ES:  A+ and 10

VMR:  Thank you.

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

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“Fahrenheit 451” – Book / Play / Film

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Fahrenheit 451 is novel written by Ray Bradbury about a dystopian near-future where books are banned, and if discovered burned by “Firemen”. Bradbury himself wrote an adaptation for the stage, and Francois Truffaut & Jean-Louis Richard wrote and adaptation for the screen.

I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time in September, 2012 while on vacation. I cannot remember the last time a book so affected me and caused me to think. I vaguely remembered a film was made, and while researching the film I discovered that Bradbury also wrote the play. Soon thereafter I bought the play and ordered the film. What follows is my comparison of the three.

The protagonist is Guy Montag, a “Fireman”. His life is changed after meeting and befriending his young neighbor Clarisse. Slowly waking from the apathy of his life, Montag starts to save and read books. He decides the society that he lives in must be challenged and changed.

The near-future of Fahrenheit 451 is a familiar one. More accessible now than when the book was first published and film released. The world presented is one in which everyone is numb and people only care about their immediate pleasures. No one is really connected with each other, even if they are husband & wife. This is represented most clearly through the character of Montag’s wife, Mildred in the book and Linda in the film. She takes pills to sleep, pills to wake, and spends her days in distraction with her “parlor walls” interactive television–where everyone will get their chance at fifteen minutes of fame. Her friends, actually convenient acquaintances, are equally vapid.

Books became banned not through the act of an over reaching government, but through the growing apathy of the citizenry over decades. As the population grew and the pace of life accelerated people wanted their books to be shorter and easy to read. As time went on and the books were abridged and then reduced to bullet points, people wanted only those that made them happy and did not challenge them to think. And still later with the rise of minorities & special interests and the need not to offend becoming prevalent, the people further abandoned and then banned the books.

Compare this future to our present. This is a time of shrinking newspapers and one page internet articles, a time of the two-minute news piece and fluff entertainment interview, a time of hundreds of celebrity articles/posts to one thought-provoking essay. We live in a time of no talent “celebrities” getting their fifteen minutes of fame. A time where the “parlor walls” of Fahrenheit 451 are the smart phones & tablets of today. How many times have you been to dinner and eyed a family across the way where everyone at the table is obsessed not with the conversation between themselves–because there is none–but what they are doing on their smart phone and/or tablet?

The most interesting character is Captain Beatty. The strength of the book and play, and weakness of the film is him. Beatty is a bizarro surrogate for Bradbury. His monologue of how and why books were banned is Bradbury ranting about things to come. It is implied by the book and made explicit in the play that Beatty is not only well read, but also an owner of books. The book leaves you wanting to learn more about him. Bradbury either knew this or wanted to learn more about Beatty himself, because he delivered in spades with the play. On the opposite side, the film reduces the character and the movie surfers for it.

Another key difference between the book and other adaptations is the fate of Clarisse. Bradbury so liked what Truffaut did with the character he emulated it in the play. Also, whereas the book and play have the hound, the film does not–most likely due to the budget and special effects technology at the time.

Experiencing Fahrenheit 451 across three mediums was interesting and proof positive each one must be treated uniquely. The book came first and is a triumph of literature. The film followed and was flawed. And though it was the weakest interpretation of the story, it still had some good take-aways. Having Julie Christie play both Montag’s wife and Clarisse was an inspired choice, and brought into sharp contrast the rot in Montag’s society. The play was last and focused the story to its key components, while at the same time adding new information about the characters.

Book = A
Play = A
Film = C- (you can read my review here)

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“Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy” (2012) – 5-Obstructions Review

Click on image to be taken to "Myfilmviews"-the originator of the Blogathon

Click on image to be taken to “Myfilmviews”-the originator of the Blogathon

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Director: Tomas Alfredson

Writers: Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan

Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberpatch, John Hurt

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film based on a John le Carre novel of the same name. Instead of starting my review with my own synopsis I will present the description from Amazon. I do this not out of laziness, but out of the belief that you would need at least a Master’s in English Composition to successfully summarize the plot in one or two paragraphs. That being said, here you go: “The man he knew as ‘Control’ (John Hurt) is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley (Gary Oldman) isn’t quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla-his Moscow Centre nemesis-and sets a trap to catch the traitor.” The story is set in the 70s during the Cold War and involves the British and Soviet Intelligence Agencies.

The film is impossibly slow and obtuse. A cold-war thriller has never been this dull. The story would lead you to believe the only spycraft that occurred during the 70s was the spies watching themselves within their own agency. These “spymasters” are more worried about their own pecking order within the organization then actually spying on the enemy. And when an enemy is finally revealed, their motivation, “the West has become so ugly,” is so ridiculous it is almost comical. The admittedly impressive cast of British thespians is brought low by the story.

Gary Oldman, normally a dynamic actor, walks like a zombie through the film. His one singular moment to shine, the scene in which he tells of his meeting with the present head of the KGB, allows a brief glimpse of the fine actor we know him to be. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, and Colin Firth are fine given the material they had to work with. As for John Hurt and Mark Strong, John Hurt plays John Hurt and Mark Strong continues to prove he is the Ted McGinley of film.

The only positives for the film are its music and set direction. The choice of songs and score works for the setting, and the same can be said for the art design. But alas, when the best thing that can be said for a film are its choice in music, then you have a poor film

Grade = D

P.S. My real grade for the film is an “A”. You can read the review here VMR’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer


“Rock of Ages” (Broadway Show) vs “Rock of Ages” (Movie)

This past weekend I watched the first Broadway Across America show in Miami, Rock of Ages.  Having watched and reviewed the film version, I found myself constantly comparing the two.  Here is my comparison:

VS.

The overall story is the same.  The Bourbon is owned by Dennis Dupree with help from his assistant manager Lonny.  Sherrie is a young aspiring actress fresh off the bus.  With the help of Drew, a young bar-back with talent and rock-star dreams, she gets a job at the Bourbon.  There they develop feelings for each other, but their growing affection gets thrown off  track once rock-god Stacee Jaxx arrives.  Soon after Sherrie is out of a job and working at the local strip joint; Drew gets a contract with a sleazy manager who changes him from rock-n-roll to boy band; and the Bourbon is heading for ruin.  Will Drew become a rock-star?  Will Drew and Sherrie get back together?  Will the Bourbon be saved?  Being these were both a Hollywood film and Broadway Musical, the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

There are a number of key differences between the Show and the Movie.  First is the character of Stacee Jaxx.  In the Show Stacee is an overindulgent rock-star who gets knocked-out by his guitarist in his final show at the Bourbon, knocked-out by Sherrie after a lap-dance at the strip joint, runs off to Mexico after he discovers he had a one-night stand with underage Constance, and ends up performing in small tequila bars South of the border.  In the Movie Stacee Jaxx is Tom Cruise.  His character has a redemptive arc, and you understand why women want to be with him and men what to be him.

Another key difference is the threat to the Bourbon.  In the Show the entire neighborhood is threatened by a German developer who wants to build a large retail mall.  In the movie the threat is from a conservative family values group lead by the mayor’s wife.  Whereas in the Show the developer succeeds in gaining control of the Bourbon and only saves it after a ridiculous epiphany, in the movie the Bourbon is able to maintain its independence under more believable circumstance.

The last major difference is the talent manager.  In the Show he is a minor comical character; in the movie he is Paul Giamatti at his smarmy best.

The amazing thing about the movie and film is the similarity in what worked best and least.  The weakest part of both were the young leads, Drew and Sherrie.  The best part of both were Dennis & Lonny.  Both actors who played Drew gave weak performances and were easily overpowered by other cast members.  As for Dennis & Lonny, the team of Baldwin & Brand had a slight edge over the actors in the Show.

The Movie is a solid B-Film with some great performances; the Show is at best average and with performance that will not stay in your memory.

Edge=The Movie

You can read my movie review here.