The wonderful Olivia Thirlby, who played Juno‘s best friend and is featured in the current Vanity Fair cover story on the most promising young stars, stopped by for a few seconds when I was interviewing Jonathan Levine, the writer/director of her new film, “The Wackness.”
The most impressive achievement from Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson in this 3D action -adventure is holding our attention as it feels like we are being chased by a drooling dinosaur and squirted with something really ooky. Fraser plays a scientist and Hutcherson is the nephew who joins him on the title journey, and these two attractive and capable performers keep us interested in the story as the (almost literally) eye-popping special effects.
Unlike the the 1959 movie version , this is not based on the pioneering 1864 science-fiction Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth. Instead, it is based on the idea that the book, also about a professor and his nephew who descend into the inside of the planet, really happened, and these two modern-day characters are following in their footsteps.
Fraser plays Trevor Anderson, a vulcanologist whose program is about to be shut down by the university for failing to produce any results. Distracted and upset, he has forgotten that his nephew with the obligatory attitude problem (Hutcherson as Sean) is about to come for a visit. Sean’s father Max, Trevor’s brother, disappeared years before. Trevor looks at Max’s copy of the Verne book and realizes that Max had figured out a system for predicting volcanic activity. He and Sean take off for Iceland to see if they can find Max’s discovery and perhaps find Max as well. Led by a beautiful guide with the obligatory skepticism problem (Icelandic native Anita Briem), they set off for the volcano and are soon descending into the earth’s core, where they find dangerous plants and animals, terrifying terrain, endearing little glow-birds, and many, many things that jump out at the audience.
Fraser is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors. His range is limitless — in drama (“Crash” and “Twilight of the Golds”), romantic comedy (“Bedazzled”), silly comedy (“Encino Man”) and fantasy-adventure (“The Mummy” series) he is always completely compelling and authentic and perfect pitch in calibrating the size and tempo of his performance to the material. Hutcherson is a promising young performer. Both of them make it all believable and just plain fun, whether they are trying to jump across stones suspended in air or trying to stay on board a roller-coaster-ish runaway mine car. Part thrill ride, part video game, part virtual reality, it is a lively and satisfying update of a good old-fashioned Saturday afternoon serial adventure saga.
Kavanah is a documentary production company dedicated to creating films on Jewish themes to be used in educational settings. It was established by Lauren Shweder Biel, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at New York University. The word “kavanah” means “intention,” “concentration,” or “focus” and is an essential part of meaningful action of all kinds, including ritual and prayer.
Beil has made two films so far: Abraham’s Daughters: A Bat Mizvah Story, exploring the multiple dimensions of this life cycle ceremony as it is practiced and experienced in contemporary Jewish life (35 minutes), and 1-800-GO-KOSHER, a day in the life of New York City’s only rapid-response kitchen koshering service (10.5 minutes).
For more information or to order a film, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The chattering classes are already going after that sweet little robot Wall?E. Some on the right accused the film of being leftist propaganda because of its environmental message. As the New York Times points out: Blogland moves at the speed of thought, however, and already the right-wing backlash to the right-wing backlash against “Wall-E” is underway.
Other conservatives are embracing the film as an exemplar of conservative values. Beliefnet’s own Crunchy Con Rod Dreher writes that Wall?E
embodies a traditionalist conservative critique of modernity, one that advocates a more or less Aristotelian view of humanity and politics. Philosophically, this is one of the most subversive movies I’ve ever seen. Crunchy cons, this movie is for us.
Of course the movie is neither conservative nor liberal. If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if all you look at is partisan politics, everything you see has to be categorized as either for or against whatever position you are espousing. This is especially the case if you are on deadline — or if you would like to leverage a hugely popular movie by attempting to appropriate it for your cause.
Like all great art, “Wall?E” is far too nuanced and layered to be used as anyone’s soundbite. And the attempts to do so say far more about the speaker than they do about the message of the film and the views of the people who made it. Those who argue that the film is “leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind” are saying that it is left-wing to point out that human beings have been careless with the earth’s resources in a way that could lead to making the planet uninhabitable and that corporations do not always have the best interests of the community as their top priority. Beliefnet’s Crunchy Con argues that this critique is a fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of conservatism. Technology emerges as a villain here — but it’s a complicated villain, as I’ll explain. Technology allowed for the development of the consumer economy, and the creation of the fantastic spaceship that allowed humanity to escape an earth it despoiled with technology. But technology also shaped the consciousness of the humans. It led them to break with nature (Nature), and to think of technology as something that delivered them from nature. As humanity became more technologically sophisticated, the film argues, they became ever more divorced from Nature, and their own nature…Consequently, they’ve become slaves of both technology and their own base appetites, and have lost what makes them human.
The People and Movies That Inspired "Hail, Caesar!" The Coen brothers love old movies, and we see evidence of that in many of their films, including "Barton Fink," about a hapless playwright who come to Hollywood to write movies in the 1940's, and with their remakes of the heist films "The ...
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