June 3rd, 2012

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Snow White and the Huntsman

For the past little while, there's been this hoopla in Hollywood about these "competing" Snow White movies. Is there room enough for both? Do you need to be first to do better? Which cast is gonna draw more people? Then trailers started to appear, and you could see the big difference between the two. One is light and campy, the other dark and epic. Julia's queen was a cartoon, Charlize a fiend. Except for sharing a source and a few basic elements, they're pretty much apples and oranges. Turns out after all the debate, they were both kinda awful.

I talked about Mirror Mirror already, so I'll drop the comparison and just focus on Huntsman. In short, it was kinda boring. Not a whole lot happening. The plot was as minimal as you could get. We all know the basic evil queen/fair princess bit, and from there all that was driving it was "Snow White's gotta run away and escape". We'd see her encounter some interesting people and magical creatures, but the novelty of everything she found wore off more quickly than the previous one. I just didnt have any real reason to care.

If anything, I think I was rooting for the queen on some level. The simple reason is that Charlize Theron was by far the best part about the movie. She was so beautiful and sinister and oozing with delicious evil. There's a reason people questioned why anyone would consider Kristen Steward to be fairer than she. What I was loving about Theron's performance is that she had two modes. One, she was cool and calculating, spoke with a piercing but soft voice that was creepy yet just soothing enough to lull one to false security. And then on the flip side she was as full of rage and so scary and powerful. She's not your Disney queen.

Kristen Stewart annoyed me a bit. It'd be unfair to blame it all on the Bella factor, but I cant exactly ignore that either. It's more that she just really does seem to only have one mode. All the same expressions and reactions, and she kinda looked out of place in her dress she wore for half the movie. Chris Hemsworth also felt a bit underutilized, used as little more than a pretty face. True, he has the prettiest of faces (fairer than our dear dear Snow White I would say) but his story was so cliche and underdeveloped. Alost kind of an insult to use Thor as such.

So there may have been a lot of pretty between the cast and the magic, but it all just went by so slowly. Perhaps they should have paid more attention to the story (or lack thereof) and not the visual

Snow White and the Huntsman - \m/ \m/
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Edward Norton: 25th Hour

I have no idea how long it's been since I've last seen 25th Hour. It's considered one of Spike Lee's superlative works, up there with Do the Right Thing and Malcom X, and it's also thought of as one of Edward Norton's best, on par with American History X and Primal Fear. But anyways, so much of it felt like watching for the first time. I was working on my Snow White write up at the time, but kept being drawn into the goings on on the screen. And some of it felt incredibly familiar. I dropped everything for my favorite scene. I have so much more appreciation for the film as a whole now than I did before.

Norton's performance is just such a nuanced mix of strength and vulnerability, a tough guy brought to his breaking point as he prepares to face the next seven years in prison. I'm always in awe of this guy, but what really struck me this time around was his supporting cast. Specifically his two best friends, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper. This was really when Hoffman started to move up in my list of favorites, and I've always kept an eye on Pepper after this (and Green Mile). Such an underappreciated actor. Anyways, the scenes that involve any combination of these three characters had my undivided each time. Great dynamic between them, really illustrating their unending loyalty despite their different backgrounds. Their final scene together is so gripping. Again, I've seen it before, but I still just felt it right in the chest.

I always felt the girls were a bit of a miscast. However, I did like Rosario Dawson a bit better this time around. I think what's always felt off is that I dont think I ever quite bought the chemistry between her and Edward Norton. Felt a little forced. But paying closer attention to some of the scenes with her and the other guys, it made a bit more sense. I think the thing that also made it feel off was including the scene where her Naturelle first meets Norton's Monty while she's still in high school. Just enough sketch mixed with their age differences didnt quite work. I also never cared for Anna Paquin in this movie or her storyline. I like that it gave Hoffan's character an internal battle, but she just seemed like such a cliche.

I actually had a few delays in watching this, mostly cause I didnt wanna be in a time crunch. Kinda glad I waited since I was actually able to give this movie the attention it deserves this morning. I'll leave you with one more scene that always stays with me. It's actually a deleted scene, but this is back in the day when I had so few DVDs that the special features were a novelty and I'd watch them all. This conversation about "sway" resulted in that word being added to my vocabulary.
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Edward Norton: The Italian Job

The Italian Job is the last overlap of the Edward Norton project with my Top 100 project. The other write up has a lot about why I love that movie. Also worth noting that this is the first movie I went to see in theaters because of Norton. He'd just become my fave, and this being the first release he had after that, I was there on opening day while everyone else was at Finding Nemo.

While I love this movie immensely, Edward Norton did get kind of a bum deal here. Contractual obligations forced him to do it, and he certainly made the best with his role. Alas, as far as evil villains go, this one's not particularly memorable. The goal with heist movies is you want the good guys to be so relatable that you forget they're engaging in crime. Mission's certainly accomplished for our (relative) heroes, but that leaves Norton with the short end of the stick. With what we saw from him in Rounders and The Score, he's got so much more potential. So sad it wasn't fully utilized, which is in no way his fault. This movie was a springboard for so many other careers (Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron), there just wasn't enough attention to go around I guess
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Edward Norton: Kingdom of Heaven

I'm breaking my rule. I'd told myself no more than two project movies in one day, after a few dragged out days on the AFI project. But here I am, with a third Edward Norton movie today. I was good about spacing them out, though. I took a dance and shower break between the first two, and a laundry and This Means War break between the next. Besides, my movie queue is at a rather small size and timing wise this 2+ hour one fits better today. </justification>

Kingdom of Heaven is a hardly registered blip on the Edward Norton scale. I'd bet that if you watched this not knowing he was involved, you would miss him entirely. That's because for his portrayl of King Baldwin (who has minimal screentime to begin with), he's entirely masked. This is also the first time you hear Norton with an accent, so his voice is tough to recognize. I remember not being entirely sure it was him when I saw this at the theater.

Also, on an unimportant ExpDel trivial note, all of Norton's previous films have been grouped together on my movie wall. That's because when the collection first got big enough to label and catalog, I tried grouping like things together. From there I just put new acquisitions at the back of the pile. I actually had to hunt for this one a bit cause I wasn't sure how far along the wall to check for it.

I dont think I've seen this since buying it. At the time, I only knew Edward Norton and Orlando Bloom. Reading thru the cast list now, there's so many other names I recognize: Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Michael Sheen, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons. This was 2005, so I was just starting to hit my groove movie wise. Playing a lot of catch up, figuring out how to get to the theater often. We hadn't quite hit obsession I dont think.

My God, Ridley Scott certainly seems to enjoy his epics, doesn't he? Here's another one for the pile. I remember that being my initial impression of the film. It was long and well, epic. I found the subject matter interesting, but the story too drawn out. We'll see how it goes today. And in true epic fashion, you never really catch anyone's names. I've also never really been a fan of big battle scenes. I'm pretty sure I'll be grabbing laundry to put away soon.