Seen "Taking Woodstock" by Ang Lee some days ago. A simple but surprising comedy, with nice characters, and the unique Woodstock atmosphere.
I recommend watching the 'real' Woodstock movie/documentary
before seeing Taking Woodstock though, cause Ang Lee makes many visual references to it, as the way the screen is sometimes splitted.
Ang Lee is *very* versatile. I mean, the guy directed the Hulk, Crouching Tiger, Brokeback Mountain, and The Ice Storm!
I watched both "Into the Wild" and "Taken" this week.
I really enjoyed Into the Wild, I loved it's pacing, characters, and many of it's themes. I plan on micro-analyzing the film below, so please beware of potential spoilers. I also watched Taken, was was pleasantly suprised at how much OOMMPH they crammed into an hour and 25 minutes.
I loved the structure of Into the WIld (ITW), and felt that the "life stages" format, with each of the stages alternating between Alaska and the journey to, was very powerful. In addition, the music by Eddie Vedder was absolutely haunting. I wonder if he wrote that album with this film in mind, like Tom Petty's amazing underrated gem "She's the One"?
As someone who does a lot of outdoors adventuring/survival stuff, I expected to be moved by ITW, and I was. The strange thing is that what should have been a constant flow of inspiration went dry in many ways after he abandoned his car. Sean Penn did such an amazing job of painting the reasons behind Christopher's self-imposed exile, that all I could feel was pity, not jealousy. Sure, I envied his time in Alaska, but it was in the back of my mind that he was doing it for all the wrong reasons, and that he had already had what he was looking for several times over before journeying to Alaska. His abandoning of the hippie couple, the young singer girl, and the old leather working man all foreshadowed his final crippling realization that he had read all his classic texts from the wrong perspective. His scrawling of "Happiness only real when shared" in the margins was to me, the climax of the film.
Taken gets compared to 24 a lot, due to protaganist Liam Neeson's career, mannerisms, and abilities, as well as the plot revolving around him rescuring his stolen daughter Kim. I actually found a stronger link between the Bronson Death Wish films, mixed with a healthy dose of Jason Bourne. The plot was paced wonderfully, the movie only spends around 30 minutes setting up the *entire* backstory. Neeson (One of my favorite actors) is suprisingly believable in an action role, and apparently his stock has risen considerably in hollywood as a result of this role. Boon's sister from Lost plays his daughter, and she is great in this film. Neeson goes on an ass-kicking, but relatively believable rampage through France trying to track down the Albanian human trafficers responsible for her theft.
The movie is an adrenaline rush start to finish, and clocking in just over an hour and twenty, it could easily transpose into a 2-part 24 episode. The movie does succumb to several "big action movie" cliches, and Liam's character is invovled in 1-2 too many car chases, but on the whole, the film works. Compared to Gilroy's amazingly paced Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum, Taken definitely feels more "by the numbers". Looking at past collaborations between screenwriter Luc Besson and Director Pierre Morel such as the Transporter series, or District B13, one can feel the same sense of style coming through.
Overall, I give Into the WIld a solid 9/10 for solid pacing/structuring by Sean Penn, and Taken a 7/10 for being an entertaining, if flawed, homage to past (And present) greats.