Sunday, July 31, 2011

2 Movie Reviews: Another Earth (2011) and Captain America (2011)

Another Earth (2011)
Director - Mike Cahill
PG-13; 92 Min
Brit Marling - Rhoda
William Mapother - John

Another Earth, winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival's Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, brought more than a few looks from moviegoers who often expect that prize to go to a film that deals primarily with themes of science and the like, and though this film clearly does involve some science-fiction, it is actually a very well put together drama about two people who are connected through tragedy.  The science, though integral, takes a back seat, and it is for this reason that I hope people do not venture into this film with misconceptions of what they are about to see - there are no aliens flying in from the other earth to shoot at us - there are a lot of slow moving scenes with great build up between two regular people with regular problems who just happen to live in a time when another earth is visible in the sky.

I'm just going to come out and say that this is one of the best films I've seen this year.  I loved almost every aspect from the casting to the story to the way it was shot on a shoestring budget.  I absolutely hated one part of the story, but I;m able to overlook the total cop out for the greater good of the film and will not even raise my issues with it in this review.  I am actually reminded quite a bit of a wonderful British film from a few years ago - Fish Tank - in which the female lead (a young girl) is shot in a gritty, dark, realistic way as she walks to and from locations, almost begging us to spend time wondering what she is thinking as her life spirals out of control.

In this movie we are privy to the life of Rhoda, a promising 17 year old girl who finds herself accepted to a prestigious science program at MIT.  After a night of celebrating and heavy drinking, Rhoda finds herself driving home alone when the news on the radio changes the world at large and her personal world.  Hearing the news and looking into the sky she sees the distinct outline of what appears to be another earth in the night sky, next to the moon.  At the exact same time a promising college professor and composer, John, is at a red light with his wife and young child also listening to the news.  When Rhoda's car smashes into theirs, killing the wife and child and sending John into a coma, both of their lives are forever connected by both tragedy and earth shattering revelation.

What transpires over the course of the film is the aftermath of Rhoda's 4 years of jail time - a wonderfully written part of the story in which we don't see a single second of her life behind bars, just her getting out and starting to deal with the reality of her situation.  John has become an alcoholic and sits alone depressed.  Through a series of events these two become connected once again and that is what this story is all about.

Except for that pesky earth int he sky.  What the hell is going on there?  The discovery of a second planet just like ours and close by is a constant background theme.  It is not discussed in to much depth, but enough for intriguing theories and possibilities to be heard on the news.  Will we try to make contact? Will we try to visit? What kind of hopes and possibilities are out there?

I loved this film.  And yes, it has a creepy factor to it that you have to get over.  This is about people with problems and possibly a second chance.  It is also about another earth, and it's up there, and it's going to change everything.

**** and 1/2 out of 5

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Director - Joe Johnston
PG-13; 124 Min

Meh.  Just another in an endless line of comic book genre films that I simply lack the emotional depths to enjoy.  Things blow up and people shoot at things with ray gun things and shields fly around and strike things and more people get shot by ray guns and a guy's head turns all red and he is evil and the scrawny kid who can't bench 50 pounds becomes the greatest superhero in the world during the war against Nazis or something. 

I'm angry because I was told that this one had a great story line and a great director and I actually really enjoyed the first 30 minutes - a lot - and was into the story.  And then, like so many before, it becomes 60 straight minutes of cgi gun fire and a lot of running around. 

It isn't the worst and it isn't the best, but I sort of almost fell asleep at one point.

It makes no difference what I write - just see it if you like these kind of movies. Don't, if you don't.

** out of 5

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