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So...I finally saw this.

And I got a kick out it.

The Coen Brothers craft an absurdest comedy masterpiece, taking the tried and true film noir and turning it on it's head in a way only they can. Every trope that possibly existed in the genre, from the unnecessarily complex schemes to embezzle funds to the femme fatale to the detective trying to figure everything out to the seemingly endless twists and turns throughout the story is all parodied in a way that is simply genius.

The direction is top notch as always, mixing the surreal with the mundane in a way that is quintessentially Coen Brothers. The screenplay, a wonderfully quotable affair that deliberately and wonderfully shatters any conventional genre, and then picks up the pieces to assemble a genre all it's own. On top of that, the plot is an insanely absurd parody of the classic hard boiled detective film, deconstructing it in a way that honestly can only be done by an expert (and if Fargo and No Country for Old Men told us anything, it's that the Coen's know neo-noir).

The acting is excellent across the board, with everybody turning in ionic performances.

Jeff Bridges is hilarious as the laid back, hilariously in over his head pot-addled bowling fanatic slacker Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski. He is able to simultaneously play the Dude's sheer ineptness in a self-deprecating, and yet supremely relatable way. More often then not, he serves as an audience surrogate, mirroring our own confusion and general sense of bafflement at the path his life took. Almost every line he says is a quotable one, and Bridges pulls it all off with a breezy sense of self-awareness that is wonderful.

John Goodman is equally hilarious as the unhinged, supposed Vietnam war vet/fellow bowling fanatic Walter Sobchak, who resolves his issues by yelling, screaming and threatening to shoot/beat with a crowbar anyone he has altercations with. In a manner not unlike the final moments of Barton Fink, he's a constant, hilarious ball of rage, dragging the bedraggled corpse of his Vietnam experience into every conversation, regardless of context, much to The Dude's chagrin.

Julianne Moore gives my personal favorite performance of hers as avant-garde artist/radical feminist who creates 'art' that in her own words, is "strongly vaginal". She plays as a hilarious parody of the entire radical feminist movement, which is made even funnier by how straight Moore plays the part. She's so overwhelmingly pretentious and self-righteous that it makes her utterly hilarious to watch.

The rest of the cast, including Sam Elliot as a laughably genre blind cowboy known only as The Stranger, David Huddleston as millionaire Jeffery Lebowski (aka The Big Lebowksi), Peter Stormare, Torsten Voges, and Flea as the trio of German nihilists/euro-pop musicians, Steve Buscemi as the perpetually confused Donnie, and John Turturro as Jesus Quintana and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt, all create wonderfully memorable characters out of their screen time, and are all obviously having a ton of fun. It helps make the film even more enjoyable, as every performance is up to par, and they all handle the wacko material flawlessly.

The use of music, ranging from The Gypsy Kings to Bob Dylan to Creedence Clearwater Revival, is simply brillant, with my favorite use being the absurdest masterpiece of a Big Lipped Alligator moment known as 'Gutterballs', where the Dude, having been drugged by Ben Gazzara's weathly pronographer/loan shark, hallucinates a sequence that is best described as a 'bowling ballet', all to Kenny Rogers' off-kilter quirky Sixties hit "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)". It's all completely insane, yet in the most wonderful way.

And really, that's the best way to describe this movie: Wonderfully insane. Forgoing any sense of importance or greater meaning, the film simply wants to take you a strange little ride through the life of The Dude, and, in doing so, make an affectionate parody of the noir genre and general slacker culture. In way, it's like a more absurdest Barton Fink. Where's Barton Fink played as a disturbing look at a man loosing his sanity, The Big Lebowski takes the absurdities of life, turns them on their heads, and spins them around until they form one of the most enjoyably insane films I've seen in quite some time. I actually don't remember laughing so much in a movie for quite some time.

Five out of five for me.
Okay, you know what, this is the most adorable little film I've seen in eons.

Like....Winnie the Pooh level adorable. But cuter.

Anyways, time for the critical breakdown.

First off, the animation style is simplistic, yet supremely beautiful watercolors that softly caress the eyes with a gentle swath of pastels and colors that are simply beautiful to look at. More often then not, it looks like an actual moving watercolor, and yet is vividly alive and fluid in it's motion, giving the film a manic spark that's truly infectious.

The story itself, a disarmingly simple story of building friendship in spite of society's prejudices, is able to deliver it's moral with the simplicity of a storybook, without ever feeling like it's talking down to the viewer, or trying to make some sort of social statement. It's just a moral founded on the simple truth that true friendship can transcend any prejudice, and, by extension, do so for others. It's actually quite deep, and it really surprised me how well the film handled it.

The voice acting in the English dub is amazing, being some of the most enjoyable I've ever seen in a movie dub since Castle in the Sky and Howl's Moving Castle. Forest Whittaker, who plays the bumbling yet kindhearted Ernest, and Mackenzie Foy, who plays the spunky yet ridiculously adorable and innocent Celestine, have impeccable chemistry, and their voices match the animation to a T. On top of that, the supporting characters and cameos are all excellent. From the late, great Lauren Bacall (in her last role) as the head of the orphanage in which Celestine lives, to the creepy dentist voiced impeccably by William H. Macy, to the hilarious candy-maker/tooth saleswoman father/mother duo voiced by real life husband and wife Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, to Paul Giamatti's hilarious cameo as the over the top mouse judge which is delightfully contrasted with Jeffrey Wright's more noble (yet more threatening), bear judge. It's all great, and it really brings the film to life in a wonderful way.

Additionally, the world building is wonderful, with the mouse and bear worlds being both total contrasts yet mirror images of each other. The underground world of mice is carved out of the rock, and has giant gears and cogs to run such things as elevators or dams, while the bear world is basically our world....with bears, yet still has a charm to it, if only because it's that beautiful, small French village look that I simply adore.

The music is ravishing, being an emotive, wonderfully gentle accompaniment to the emotive, wonderfully gentle images. You watched the film without music, it would be a crime, as often the film is told through the music and visuals engaging in an elegant dance of beauty.

In the end, this is simply a wonderfully adorable, unending sweetnatured film about a wonderfully pure and innocent friendship, coupled with a wonderfully zany and madcap sense of humor that fits the film perfectly. It's a disgustingly overlooked gem of a film, and honestly, should have won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, which it WAS nominated for, but lost to Frozen. And the less I say about that frozen atrocity, the better.

Simply put, go seek out this movie. You won't regret it.

Five out of five.
So, out my sudden apparent urge to watch Oscar nominated non-Disney animated movies of foreign origin, I watched Perseoplis, a low-key biopic meditation on the Iranian Revolution and its affects on Iran as seen from Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel.

Now, I will say I expected something that was very emotionally raw experience, but instead, the story is told in an emotionally reserved, restrained manner, more akin to a daydream then an emotive experience. This, in a way, fits the narrative, as the film is also framed as Satrapi's flashbacks while she ponders going back to Iran. Born into a well to do, leftist activist family, the film shows in a sympathetic way, the almost frighteningly blind idealism and naivety of those who constantly spout political philosophizing and complain about the current (terribly oppressive) Shah-based government, only to have no real solution to the nation's problems, and then suddenly be faced with an even worse, far more brutally oppressive replacement government.

The voice acting is rather solid, with Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve giving the best performances (bonus points for playing daughter and mother, while being daughter and mother in real life). I saw the English dub, as it was the easiest available to me. The rest of the cast is pretty good, but I do wish they gave more emotive performances (looking at you Sean Penn). But luckily, the animation is very evocative and emotive, bordering on the surreal at times.

Overall, it is an effective film that abily does what it set out to do, which is to tell a quiet, subdued look at a girl (and later, a woman) trying to find her identity. The film has a suprising amount of humor, which helps both make the darker parts more effective, and keeping the film from falling into needless pretension. More often not, the film favors the visual to show the drama, which, when shown in the borderline surreal black and white visuals, pays debt to its graphic novel origins.

A part of me wonders if this would be more emotive if it where live action, but then I feel it would loose its dreamlike quality, and therefore its uniqueness. I still wish it was more emotional, but I don't feel like I wasted my time. Instead, I feel like I saw something worth watching, even if it isn't something I'll be returning to dozens of times over like, say, The Secret of Kells or Song of the Sea.

Its a film that I respect, I say one should seek it out and give it a shot.

I'm gonna give it a 4 out of 5, with the caveat that its not as emotionally frank as I hoped it would be. But still worth watching.
Well, Tomm Moore, I can now safely say that you, my friend, are a bloody genius.

In Tomm Moore's second feature, he crafts yet another gentle, gorgeously crafted and extraordinarily heartfelt love letter to Irish lore in Song of the Sea. It's probably one of the most tender and angelically sweet films I've seen in quite some time, breathing life into what is, at it's core, a gentle tale of a brother and sister growing closer together through a wonderful adventure through the rich and wondrous world of Irish legend.

Words cannot express how beautifully rendered this film looks. Taking the trademark, supremely unique style that Moore first crafted on The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea now builds upon it, enhancing it ways that are varied and simply wonderful to behold. The colors are gentle yet rich, perfectly embodying the already ravishingly beautiful landscape of rural Ireland in a way that has to be seen. The motion is smooth and the character expressions are emotive, something that is only enhanced by the sincerity of both the voice acting, and the story itself.

This film, asides from telling a beautiful fable, also shows a broken family being made whole again, gently and intimately. So much of this is told in a purely visual way, with the way the characters move and react to their surroundings speaking volumes to how they feel. Of course, this would mean nothing if the voice acting wasn't equally emotive, which it is. For one thing, David Rawle does an incredible job making us feel the frustrations and emotions of Ben, our young protagonist who has to bear with loosing a mother. This character, a wounded boy who acts out his feelings of frustration and sadness on his innocent sister, could have easily been a supremely unsympathetic character, but Rawle's voice acting accurately embodies the gentler, truly loving side of Ben, and when coupled with the simple yet effective screenplay, slowly reveals how this adventure heals Ben, and how he really does love his sister, and how his love for her saves them both, while healing the family.

This is also a film that would be nothing without Bruno Coulais and Kíla's ravishing score. In a film where singing is a critical plot point, the songs are wonderful pieces of music, and when coupled with the absolutely perfect score, help give the film an even more wondrous and dreamlike quality.

the ending is also supremely heartwarming, providing a perfect resolution to the themes and conflicts within the story, which has many, being a more richly constructive and developed narrative then the equally beautiful, but more simplistic and fable like Secret of Kells. This film could have easily functioned as a live action drama, without loosing either it's depth or it's gentleness. But since it's animated, it only makes it feel all the more beautiful and tender, as the animation lets the world come alive in a way that live action simply can't do.

So yes, this film is definitely worth seeking out, and really should have won Best Animated Feature. It's innocent and heartfelt, without ever feeling saccharine or false. Instead, it feels like everyone who made it put their soul into it, and it really shows.

Five out of five stars for me, and probably one of my all time favorite animated movies now. I eagerly look forward to what you'll craft next, Mr. Moore.
So, Batman Begins came on HBO and I was bored, and I hadn’t seen it in awhile, so I figured I’d watch it.

And while its certainly a good movie, I do feel it hasn’t aged quite as well as I’d hoped.

Now don’t get me wrong, its still a solid film, one with good direction, good acting and a great overall feel. Where the film seems to weaken is in the emotional center and character interactions. Let me try to explain:

Christopher Nolan is a good visual director. His films, and this one is no exception, always look very professional and well put together, keeping a consistent tone and feel throughout, and, more often then not, using their slightly long run times (usually 2 and a half hours) well in that they don’t lag or drag for the most part. Batman Begins has those strengths, but, the classic Nolan pitfall of a lack of a true, visceral emotional center raises its ugly head once more, making it feel like we’re watching something cool, but not feeling it like we should be. His screenwriting is probably the blame for this, as this screenplay is VERY exposition heavy, and the overall plot that we care about (that of Bruce being Batman) doesn’t really kick in overall until almost an hour into the movie if my memory serves me correctly. Now, I understand the need for a film titled ‘Batman Begins’ to go into the details of what ‘Begins’ means, but much of the backstory could be easily summarized either in the first ten to fifteen minutes via an economical montage (think Up), or sprinkled through the narrative in plot/character development relevant pieces, like the Animated Series or Tim Burton’s first film did. Here, it’s all kinda stuffed into an extended prologue that keeps us from the coolness of seeing Bruce be Batman, and since the film is very emotionally stale, I’m not quite invested enough to watch all the build up to Batman, and end up just wanting Bruce to get his outfit on already.

The exposition is rather clunky, with lots of it being given in info-dumps. This, coupled with lots of monologues from the characters about the film’s themes, often spelling them out for the audience and not letting them figure it out organically through the narrative, make the conversations feel awkward, and the characters feel less then real, which is a real shame. I’m not sure if this is strictly a Nolan thing, or if this is equally on the shoulders of David S. Goyer, who wrote the equally exposition heavy, thematically heavy handed screenplay to Man of Steel, which also had characters that felt strangely underdeveloped even in spite of their constant speech making. But I’m off topic, and this isn’t Man of Steel, so we’ll move onto the other aspects of the movie, both good and bad.

Christian Bale does a solid job as Bruce, but I feel he’s having trouble getting invested with the character, since this Bruce is rather dry and dour for the most part, spending most of the film with a frown or a generally sullen look on his face. Again, this is justified from a purely story based point of view, as this is a Bruce who’s finding himself and therefore probably feels dour and sullen, since he’s an angry man seeking someway to channel his anger and avenge his parents. I will say that the relationship with Bruce and his father is handled very well, helped mostly by Linus Roache’s great performance. The child who plays Bruce is rather stiff though, and when coupled with the emotional stale screenplay, again makes these scenes feel less emotive and poignant then they should be. Meanwhile, present-day Bruce steadily becomes less sullen as the movie as he finds himself, which is good. But really, Bruce doesn’t become fully realized until The Dark Knight, and this film serves mostly as set up for that superior film.

Katie Holmes is really annoying as Rachel Dawes, who was created for this film. I do wonder now why they simply didn’t just dig up one of Bruce’s dozen and a half comic-book girlfriends and just use her, but given that The Dark Knight really improves and fleshes Dawes out, I suppose it’s no skin off my nose from that stand point. But from an acting standpoint, Kaite Holmes doesn’t have the sweet nature and elegance that Maggie Gyllenhaal had, and instead comes across more as a trust-fund baby who became a DA then a genuinely erstwhile woman. This version of Rachel feels petulant and expendable, not really furthering the plot, and serving apparently as merely a damsel for Bruce to save which is a shame, since she had the makings of somebody who was really cool.

Michael Caine is great as Alfred, and his speech making isn’t overwhelming. It’s there for sure, but it’s not the same over-the-top feeling that The Dark Knight Rises had quite yet. It fits with the narrative is what I’m saying. It would make sense that early on on Bruce’s time as Batman, Alfred was his moral compass, and therefore the discussions and speeches make more sense coming from Alfred, who’s more or less always served this kind of role, then from the other characters.

Gary Oldman is awesome as James Gordon, who gets surprisingly little screen time now that I look at it. But he makes his screen time count, and he isn’t an idiot, and thankfully we avoid the protagonist centered morality syndrome his character was sorely hampered by in The Dark Knight Rises. I do really wish they did more with him in the film.

Liam Neeson is absolutely perfect as Ra’s, being both noble and formidable as Ra’s, while using his trademark gruff voice to his advantage to give Ra’s an equal dose of fatherly sage and malignant evil mastermind. Cillian Murphy really makes his relatively brief turn as Dr. Crane memorable, filling his screen time with fiendish glee, and it’s obvious he’s having a great time in the role.

The cinematography by Wally Pfister is understated and effective, giving Gotham a brownish, dark tone that feels right out of a comic book, while still feeling like a real place. The use of shadow and light is very good, especially in the second half of the film. The fight sequences are rather awkward though, with Nolan’s camera being very close to the action, and coupled with the hand-held, making it a tad difficult to make out exactly what is happening. However, the bigger action sequences, namely the iconic Batmobile chase across Gotham is positively epic and really shows what this film is great at, which is giving a sense of scale to the proceedings.

The score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is quite good, with Newton Howard’s contributions carrying the most emotional weight, while Zimmer’s action cues get the blood pumping. It’s well integrated, and it flows nicely.

In the end, my main gripe with this film is the lack of emotion, and the general feeling that this is set for something far more complex, emotional and grand, which we got in The Dark Knight. It’s still a damn good Batman film, certainly one of the better ones, but I still feel that as a first entry in a franchise, Tim Burton did an overall better job with his 1989 film, as that one felt more self-contained and atmospheric, and had the better, more human Bruce Wayne surprisingly. Not that Bruce Wayne isn’t human in Batman Begins, but the emotionally dry nature of Nolan’s film seems to sap from the rich wellspring of ideas, themes and character that the story obviously had to offer.

It is still a solid film, and serves an excellent set up film, if a frustratingly emotionally stale one. The real emotion and scope of Nolan’s Batman would be revealed in The Dark Knight, which is a stronger, tighter and overall better film then this. But this film did what it had to do, which was make Batman work for the overall public again, and help purge the horrible double-disaster that was Batman Forever and Batman and Robin of the public consciousness.

I’m giving 4 out of 5 stars.


Leonard Nimoy, legendary and beloved actor best known for playing Spock on Star Trek, has passed away at the age of 83.

His last words (spoken as a tweet on his twitter) were this:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  LLAP

My heart goes out to his family.

I suppose it's only appropriate that I play Amazing Grace

  • Mood: Sadness
  • Listening to: Simon and Garfunkel



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Ben Miranda
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Born-again Christian, a new being in Christ. And Brony and film-fanatic


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ZoPteryx Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the watch! :)
Bronyman1995 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
DarthWill3 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday!
Bronyman1995 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
DarthWill3 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
No prob!
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Thank you for :+fav:ing my deviation "Leviathan" and "Leviathan"
I really appreciate it. Have a great day.
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Thanks for FAVE.
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