Friday, January 3, 2014

DECEMBER 2013: Fruitvale Station, We're The Millers and Saving Mr. Banks

Fruitvale Station

Director: Ryan Coogler
With: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar Grant's experiences on the last day of his life before he was shot in cold blood by a police officer in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009.

I never heard about Oscar Grant's story before the film became prominent but I learned that several videos of the police officer fatally killing Oscar Grant went viral in America, and perhaps, worldwide. It's always hard yet interesting to watch films that break your heart especially if it's a true story. What more to create and direct a film with a sensitive story like this where an innocent man was killed without knowing the full story behind the scenes. Ryan Coogler did that and he gave justice to the film by not only narrating Grant's death, but also making us viewers know Grant's life with his family, particularly with the three women in his life: his wife, mother and daughter. Michael B. Jordan also supports Coogler's brilliance by his portrayal of an imperfect, yet willing to be a better person Oscar Grant. Michael B. Jordan acts with so much charm and boldness that makes us feel close to his character. Melonie Diaz as Oscar Grant's wife is also a good supporting actress for B. Jordan's performance as she showed her distinctiveness by depicting a strong, independent yet loving wife and also made sure that she's worth a mention. But the winner for me is Octavia Spencer who played as Oscar Grant's mother, whom eclipsed her performance as Minnie in The Help. I consider her as the main instrument why this true story drama is touching. There's nothing more sad than seeing a mother mourn for the loss of, what she referred in the film, as her baby. Spencer showed such good control and class with her acting by displaying braveness, calmness and sorrow as a mother hoping to see his young son smile again.

Overall, I thought it's a heartbreaking film. Oscar Grant, who was hoping to change, who was hoping to prove to his loved ones how much he loves them cannot prove it to them anymore. Whether they made a fabricated story, Fruitvale Station shows that this tragic incident may happen to any family like Oscar Grant's nd it would be devastating as hell. Sad film. D:

We're The Millers

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
With: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Kathryn Hahn, Nick Offerman

The rave this film got from my friends piqued my interest into seeing this film. I'm not the biggest fan of comedies so I wasn't really curious about it. It's kind of funny because I actually watch lots of TV sitcoms but there's something about comedy films that don't excite me, something that says they're not worth the money to see them in theaters. Having said that, I LOVE We're The Millers. Huge fan of FRIENDS here! so it certainly benefited from the Jennifer Aniston casting albeit there are many times when I thought that she's bored to tears like she's wasting her time doing the film. But other than Jennifer, her co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and the newcomer Will Poulter brought something fresh to the table. They're all unique so it was a riot of different kinds of personalities, characters and humor. It's a teamwork of great comedy and perhaps, I could go ahead and say that it's the family version of The Hangover and Bridesmaids. It has a lot of vulgar and adult humor but for some reason, they're never offensive (at least for me). With its numerous punch lines and funny scenes, it's also not devoid of unpredictability for I can name some scenes that I didn't see coming and had me burst out laughing. One is the 'Waterfalls' rap scene which I thought was genius, the killing of the baby marijuana is another - thanks to Kathryn Hahn's prim antics and Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Green-like performance in that scene, Black Cock Down is one too, alol. The biggest surprise of all is the swollen penis scene. I never imagined they would show a gross thing like it that I was expecting that the camera would pan on the other characters' reaction upon seeing it, but they went THERE, the swollen penis. LOL

I do think that We're the Millers is a success and with its ending, I definitely sense a sequel. Betting that it would be a fail, I would still support it. They have chemistry and they have a lot of room in improving the Millers family storyline.

Saving Mr. Banks

Director: John Lee Hancock
With: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell

Saving Mr. Banks is inspired by the untold backstory of Walt Disney's negotiation to get the rights for 'Mary Poppins' from the author of the book series herself, P.L. Travers.

There are so many good things about Saving Mr. Banks. For one, it stars both 90s multiple Oscar winners, Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. The film reminds us how great these actors are. Yes, they've always been great but they're extremely likable in this. It is such a delight whenever both of them are on screen together. Emma Thompson's facial expressions never cease to fail and her constant pffts, ughs and tss are masterfully executed. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, is as charismatic as ever especially that he's playing another charismatic character. It's amusing to watch them play their own versions of the extreme opposite personalities of P.L. Travers and Walt Disney. Both are polarizing in their own ways.

The fact that I only have few knowledge about the characters in the film, John Lee Hancock guaranteed that one wouldn't feel out of place with the film even without seeing the real 'Mary Poppins'. Although, I bet it would have been finer if I've seen it for familiarity. Because you see them trying to adapt the book into a film, from how 'Mary Poppins' developed into a musical live action fantasy. Actually, it made me realize that I've watched some of the clips in 'Mary Poppins' when I was a kid, specifically the 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' scene through VHS of 'Disney Sing-Along Songs' and I have COMPLETELY forgotten about it until I saw this film. It's so cool and refreshing to see it and isn't it always nice to connect some of your forgotten childhood film awakenings to the present ones? I feel like I've adapted one of the themes of the movie which is about bringing something from the past into the present that both Walt Disney and P.L. Travers had in the film except theirs were serious and kind of dark and mine's just petty. :3

Another thing that I commend about the film is that it doesn't rest on its great performers and on the main subject of Walt Disney courting Travers for the rights to 'Mary Poppins'. Instead, screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith tell the other tale of where the book series was based. I shan't spoil it for you but it's the source of the sentimentality of the film. Despite this, it never takes away the cheerfulness nature of the film. It's more like a good balance of fun and tenderness. Also, I wouldn't end this writeup without mentioning Thomas Newman's score. I may not like it collectively, but some are magnificent enough for me to like it overall. Film score is important to me because it's one of the main reasons of my intense love for films that's why I'm glad 'Saving Mr. Banks' has wonderful tracks it deserves. It adds up to the many reasons why I'm passionate about it.