Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Recent Movie Viewing

     At the picture-palace: Saving Mr. Banks, a very nice piece of story-telling about a very difficult person who I quite liked -- but I would; I like curmudgeons.  Half told in flashback,the story's two arcs meet in an understated, thoughtful manner.  And -- surprising for a Disney film -- Tom Hank's portrayal of Walt Disney himself is refreshingly human.  Perhaps not entirely accurate, as Disney had learned hard-edged business practices at the same time as he learned animation; but he's not the star of this picture and his depiction is not without nuance.  Nor is it without Tom Hanks, for all he is working hard to be the role and not himself.  P. J. Travers is another matter, coming across on the screen as, simply, Travers.  A good film and worth seeing -- and it made me want to take a look at the books, something seeing the film (and singing most of the songs from it, the theme of the Big Musical Presentation of my second-grade class back when the Giant Sloth and Wooly Mammoth roamed) never managed.

     On video, on demand: Elysium.  Um-  It's an action pic.  Nice sets, interesting concept, silent-film melodrama characters and plot.  Really, it's a couple of moustache-twirls short of a Vitagraph melodrama.  Wonderful sets and the actors do a fine job with the script they were given -- but the story is spread thinner than a miser's margarine.  Also, huge downchecks for Plain Bad Science.  Fun to watch, but you'd be better off for content with a comic book.

     Conversely -- and despite a trailer so misleading I won't even post it here -- Europa Report mostly gets the science right and tells an actual story, largely in found-footage style. A lot of it bears a striking resemblance to video from the International Space Station[1].  This could easily have been a horror film but it's not.  Nor was it a big-budget film and sometimes it shows; but Europa Report is one of the best near-future SF films I have seen.  Aside from a wrong-for-visual-drama sequence near Jupiter[3] and another one landing on Europa[2], there aren't any holes in it.

1. Am I the only person who remembers the first crew named it "Space Station Alpha," to much shushing and head-shaking on the part of both Mission Controls?
2. But it's very pretty.
3. No, no, no: lander is seen landing from the rest of the spacecraft, which is in orbit around Europa, and the two stay synched while the moon's surface rolls below.  C'mon, darn it, how clever do you have to be to know that's not gonna work when lander touches moon?


LCB said...

Saw Saving Mr. Banks with my better 1/2. She was bored at first, but enjoyed the last 2/3.

I enjoyed all of it. I had read complaints that Hanks didn't portray Disney because he was never shown smoking. But...the smoking WAS mentioned...and every time he coughed the smokers cough I felt a stab inside. Disney was very much a part of my childhood and I remember when he died.

I also remember being confused that he was still on TV after he died. I was 6 at the time and didn't understand "taped TV"...reruns in other words. :-)

Have not heard of the movie Europa. I'll have to check it out.


Roberta X said...

At least once, Disney is shown fumbling madly for an ashtray in a small billow of smoke--

I thought he portrayed a lot of the feeling of the man but he was, somehow, "Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney." I don't think that's even his fault; he did his darnedest. It's just there's an awful lot of Tom Hanks around Tom Hanks.

LCB said...

Yah know, if they had wanted to be historically accurate, ALL of the characters would have been smoking. The room with the piano would have been so smoky they could have filmed a Smokey Bear ad: Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.