Summer is drawing near, and I for one can only hope that this year will prove to be more fruitful in terms of good summer movies, both indies and blockbusters, because I wasn’t too happy with how last year turned out.
Babel (2006) - 8/10 Babel was a film I’d heard about ever since its Best Picture nomination (among others) at the 79th Academy Awards, and although it’s been heavily praised that year, I never really found it enticing enough to give it a shot. However, my taste in movies changed over those years, and I do think that I am a lot more open to any film genre now than I was earlier in life. It just so happened that I recently decided to pick up and watch Babel (for some reason I cannot entirely recall), and I have to say that I came out of it quite impressed and I certainly enjoyed it a great deal. Yes, having intertwining storylines in a drama of this type isn’t exactly something new, and I can see it becoming a sort of frowned upon cliché in the near future, but director Alejandro González Iñárritu manages to infuse the film with enough heart and emotional prowess to overcome its slightly generic narrative blueprint. Of course the cast is another important factor in Iñárritu’s success at drawing in the viewer, and actors such as Brad Pitt, Rinko Kikuchi, and Gael García Bernal stand out with excellent portrayals of their respective characters. I found Babel quite thick in terms of narrative content, so I do hope to catch another viewing of it in the future, but I definitely recommend the film, assuming that you’re not put off by heavy-handed dramas.
Planet Terror (2007) - 7/10
I remember catching Planet Terror back when it first hit disc shelves and not being all that taken with it, but that was probably because I was expecting it to be a serious, good movie back then, and not the exploitation homage-slash-parody that it actually is. Ever since I first saw it, though, I’ve been meaning to rewatch it along with Tarantino’s Death Proof in order to adjust my thoughts on the two movies. While I did not catch up with watching Death Proof – a film that I saw some time after first seeing Planet Terror – a second time yet, though, I did finally get to revisit Planet Terror, and I’m glad to say that not only did its good parts hold up, but I found it an even better movie overall this time around. Robert Rodriguez certainly knows how to exploit (no pun intended) the film as a tribute to the exploitation movies of their time, and he strikes a fine balance between comedy and a more dramatic tone, making Planet Terror both an excellent parody and a solid entry into the genre. The composition of the cast was also quite solid, and some of the small role appearances were a treat, particularly Bruce Willis and Quentin Tarantino himself. What I can conclude from my two viewings of Planet Terror is that the film is only effective to an audience who know what they’re getting into and what to expect of it, but everything works out right, Rodriguez knows how to deliver a good time.
Midnight in Paris (2011) - 8/10
I can’t say that I know much of Woody Allen’s movies or his career, but he is a filmmaker whose films I always wanted to get into, and what better way to start my journey in the cinema world of Woody Allen than with his most recent directorial feature, Midnight in Paris. Had it not been for some positive reviews and recommendations, this movie would have probably flown under the radar for me, and I never would have had the chance of even hearing about it. Thankfully that didn’t happen, because Midnight in Paris turned out to be an outstanding film, and certainly one of my favourites of the year. I did not know much about the movie going into it, so I was completely unaware of its fantasy aspect, which pleasantly took me by surprise. Not only that, but the film is also really well written, and boasts some impressive and truly memorable performances (keep an eye out for Corey Stoll in a role that is sure to delight fans of early 20th century literature), with Owen Wilson providing a surprisingly strong lead. It’s safe to say that few movies have captured the beauty and charm of Paris as well as Woody Allen does here, and that alone is reason enough to go see Midnight in Paris.