Saturday, May 5, 2007

May 5th Log

2007, Sam Raimi, United States
1st Viewing, Theater

Spider-Man 3 is being talked about for its enormous budget, which is said to be record breaking. While the film will have no problem earning its money back there is certainly a lot of pressure and a lot of studio bosses keeping a close eye on production. This being the third film of the trilogy, Sam Raimi does hold a trust with the studio but when such a large budget is at stake you know there are other hands in control. I guess this may be where the problem lies, as while Spider-Man 3 entertains, it fails to reach the brilliance of the second film of the series most of all because it fails to express a the signature stamp of its filmmaker. The second film has the probably the most freedom Raimi was given with the series and I think it explains why it stands out as the definitive Spider-Man film and certainly the most representative of its filmmaker. Here Raimi seems stuck in the subplots he develops and in an attempt to resolve them all Spider-Man 3 becomes weighed down and overlong. Spider-Man 3 tacks on the usual storylines of the previous two films and adds on some new villains in Spider-Mans way (the new Green Goblin, Sandman, Venom, and even the dark side of himself). The film does offer something in the character of the Sandman that leaves potential to connect on a deeply human level, yet the focus shifts from this potentially dark and moving emotional struggle of the character towards the big-budgeted CGI effects (which are admittedly impressive). The films finest moments (when the darkside overtakes Peter Parker) appears to be borrowed from Jerry Lewis. Raimi’s usual dark humor comes across more forced here (even J.K. Simmons as the cynic newspaper is funny yet still more artificial then the previous films). Raimi did manage to get in some of his self-homages, as again we see an amusing cameo by Bruce Campbell (this time as the waiter of a French restaurant). Overall the film does have a lot of emotional drama and romance to go along with the typical action. Perhaps it becomes overwhelming to handle it all. The second film remains the peak of the series and certainly the most definitive of Sam Raimi’s filmmaking.

1975, Stuart Copper, United Kingdom
1st Viewing, DVD

Overlord is a beautifully shot film the blends documentary and fiction into a World War Two narrative centered around a young soldiers progression from training to D-Day. The film uses real archived news footage from the war to capture a greater sense of authenticity. This is effortlessly combined with a almost dreamlike quality captured through the lens of the great cinematographer John Alcott (who is most remembered for his many collaborations with the visual master Stanley Kubrick). The film truly centers itself around the lead character Tom Beddoes (played by Brian Stirner) and we are taken on his journey through the ranks of British army and into D-Day. Director Stuart Copper gives the film a poetic feel while also attempting to keep it authentic and emotionally involving. Overlord is a very good war film and an underseen gem of a film that can now reach wider audiences thanks in part to Criterion Collections outstanding DVD treatment.


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