Archives For Brave

It’s July, the seventh month of the year, which means we’re officially into the second half of 2012. WHAT A HALF-YEAR IT’S BEEN! Okay, enough of that. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that 2012 so far has been particularly good in film releases. It doesn’t help that things get confused as to whether a film is from 2012 or 2011. Anyway, there were some good ones, and supposedly it’s the job of film bloggers to list said good ones.

Let’s get this straight once more. I don’t like ranked lists. Reading them is fine, but I don’t like holding myself to them. I don’t like crafting them. But screw it, I’m doing it anyway! So here’s how it’s going to go: I’m going to present a list of ten movies, unranked, and you all will look at that list and see it in all its glory and come to your own conclusions about which film I liked more than another film. Deal? Good. On with the show! Click to see the list.

In the grand scheme of things it’s good to remember that Brave is just a movie. That’s not to dismiss it, rather it’s a statement of fact. The film’s purpose is, like almost any film, to stimulate its audience. In this case it aims mostly to entertain, as well as illicit and emotional reaction. It’s possible to judge the film on this level alone. Does it achieve these basic goals? How well does it achieve them? This is the level most people will settle on in terms of their appreciation for the film.

There’s another set of criteria that gets attached to certain films, though. The first is a placement within a group, in the case of Brave this would amount to a measurement against other Pixar films. For other films it might be a comparative evaluation within a director’s body of work. Or a writer. Or an actor. Or anything. This sort of judgement is both fair and not. Judging Brave as “not up to par for Pixar” means very little for the film itself despite what it may say about the film within the given grouping and from the critic’s perspective. I have issues with judging a film this way, though I do acknowledge the usefulness of this sort of comparison. More problematic is burdening a film with a weight of necessary importance. The way I see it, Brave has struggled greatly with this kind of unfair weight. Click to read more.

The modern movie age has become a cycle of hype more than an appreciation for film itself. I chalk it up to the mainstreaming of the nerd class and the ubiquity of the Internet. Film culture online is rarely about the films themselves, but the industry and hype surrounding them. I fall prey to it, as well. It disturbs me, though. For about half the year, all anybody cares about is how the films of the Summer will stack up. Once that’s over it’s just a big race to see which films get the most acclaim and awards. If any of these two seasons is better, it’s the awards one, mostly because the good films tend to stick around in the consciousness more, giving them more time to find an audience. The Summer season is altogether a different story. Almost the opposite, really. Months—sometimes years—of hype lead up to one short weekend, the discussion explodes for roughly a week, petering off through the next week, and nearly disappearing after that.

Take a look at this summer, for example, which arguably began early in the Spring with the release of The Hunger Games. In fact, we can start even earlier, with John Carter. Pretty much since that film’s release, the two or three-week cycle has played out like clockwork. It’s partly a sign of a year with many big releases, but it’s also an illustration of how Internet culture works. There are several stages, but essentially they come down to: The Hype, The Pre-Release Buzz, Release, Taking Sides. Click to read more.

I was a bit more productive in my movie-watching this week. And by productive, I mean I watched some more movies. I think the big help here was that my mom likes watching movies, too, so we sat down to watch two together. That said, both films were re-watched for me.

I do plan, this coming week, on finally watching some classics. I now have a region-free Blu-ray player, and with it I’ve ordered Sunrise, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Lifeboat. All films I’ve seen before, but ones I’m very much looking forward to revisiting on Blu-ray. I also plan to finally find the five hours to consume Fanny and Alexander, but I guess you’ll find out in the next ‘Staring at Screens’ post whether I accomplished the task. Anyway, it’s time to tell you about the movies I’ve been watching. Click to read on.

Movie Review: Brave

June 15, 2012 — 7 Comments

A good, constructive mother-daughter relationship is hard to come by in film. They crop up here and there. Terms of Endearment comes to mind. But they just aren’t done that often. More common is the Carrie/Black Swan variety of horribly destructive relationships between mothers and daughters. So, in comes Pixar, producing the company’s first ever film centred on a female protagonist. Brave, conceived by Brenda Chapman and co-directed by Chapman and Mark Andrews, brings to the screen one of the most affecting mother-daughter relationships I’ve seen in quite some time.

Brave is a bit of a schizophrenic movie. It’s an uproarious slapstick comedy surrounding a very tender fairy tale about a mother and daughter coming to terms with each others’ views. Amazingly, the two tones work harmoniously almost all the time. (I’ll get to the “almost” a bit later.) Merida is a feisty Scottish princess who wants nothing more than to shoot arrows and climb cliffs. Her mother, Elinor, is Queen of the land, and particularly due to the boisterous nature of her husband, Fergus, she’s left to actually run the show. Part of that responsibility is teaching Merida to be a proper princess and to have her betrothed. Of course, Merida wants none of it. She just wants to live freely and take things easy. Classic conflict; a simple and effective set-up. Click to read more.

I have long had my misgivings about the future of Pixar. My apprehension really began back in 2006, when Disney acquired the independent studio for a cool $7 billion. It wasn’t just that Pixar was being folded into a larger corporation; that wouldn’t have to be a big deal considering the actual studio would remain far away from Hollywood, in the beautiful Emeryville, in Northern California. No, the real problem was John Lasseter being spread thin, and the creative integrity of the studio going away as a result. Now, with Cars 2 being a critical failure, a Monsters Inc. prequel on the way, and reports of a Toy Story 4 being cooked up, I have come to terms with the fact that we are headed into a New Age of Pixar. But maybe that isn’t such a horrible prospect. Click to read more!