Rob Reiner, Richard Linklater, Michel Gondry

So I have watched a slew of films in the past few days, and now I must continue my custom of talking about EACH AND EVERY ONE of them.

I watched Stand By Me, an amazing film, on Sunday. Rob Reiner directed this film, an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “The Body”. Stephen King has written a gazillion stories it seems: Carrie, The Shining, Misery, The Dead Zone, The Shawshank Redemption, Thinner, The Green Mile, Apt Pupil, Hearts In Atlantis, Dreamcatcher, Secret Window, the list goes on. And they’ve all been made into movies! However, Stand By Me is unique in the fact that it is (loosely) based upon Stephen King’s childhood growing up in 1950’s Maine. Narrated by Richard Dreyfuss and featuring such famed celebrities as Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Cory Feldman, Keifer Sutherland and Jerry O’Connell, this film was amazing in the performances that it eked out of the four main kids who take up better than 90% of the screen time. And the shots are sustained. The cuts a few, and the takes are long. And these kids nail it, every time. River Phoenix is especially good. He died in the Fall 7 years later from drug-induced heart failure, dying on the same day that Federico Fellini died. He died outside of a club in Los Angeles, The Viper Club, owned by Johnny Depp. Wil Wheaton, as you all know, was Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: TNG. He is the focal character of the story, essentially a young fictional Stephen King. Cory Feldman is good in his role as a kind of crazy/kind of emotional kid. They all smoke cigarettes in the film. Jerry O’Connel you may know turned up later in such films as Scream 2 and Kangaroo Jack.

Stand By Me

lead acting: 9/10

supporting acting: 9/10

story: 8/10

directing: 7/10

production design/value: 9/10

overall score: 8.2

Before Sunrise was an eye-opener for me. I realized that both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy were in a small portion of Waking Life, having a very similar conversation and bringing up some of the same philosophical ideas as they did there. BS (haha, look, I made Before Sunrise into a funny acronym!) was basically a film about two people who randomly decide to spend a day together in Vienna. Hawke is an American guy traveling Europe just to see it, Delpy is a French student bound for Paris. They hit it off on the train for a few minutes and then arrive at Ethan’s exit point, at which he puts down the headphones, gets up quietly and inconspicuously as the title theme begins to swell and we see smoke rise from the tape player in the side of his chair where he just recieved his secret mission details. No, that’s Mission: Impossible. In this film there are no explosions, no special effects, no sweeping vistas of otherworldly landscapes, no award winning performances, no real story or plot or anything for that matter. Just the two of them, talking and finding out about each other and wandering around the streets of a very pretty Austrian city.

Before Sunrise

lead acting: 7/10

supporting acting (there literally was NONE): 7/10

story: 7/10

directing: 7/10

production design/value: 7/10

overall score: 7.0

Charlie Kaufman is a talented screen writer and so it stands to reason that right off the bat, I loved Human Nature. The beginning is really the beginning of the end, with each of the three main characters telling their version of the story to somebody. It really is rather humorous to see Tim Robbins explaining his position, because of the condition that he’s in. It’s a distinct Kaufman twist. Rhys Ifans, Patricia Arquette and Miranda Otto provide the core cast for this film, which is equal parts hilarious social and moral commentary, and a sad, serious look at the human condition. Also, I totally disagree with the philosophy of the film, which is starkly humanistic and practically devoid of conventional logic. The premise is rather strong, the actors are great, the dialogue is witty, and the construction and direction is very well executed. But the way in which this story pans out and the things that happen become a little more outrageous, a little more absurd, and a little more obscene as the film goes on. Until, at the end, you find yourself (by which I mean: I found myself) really not esteeming this film as being all that great. However, a great portion of the film is really cool, offbeat and very creative. But there is plenty to dislike. Watch it if you desire, but I will say this: the film’s focal premise rests a great deal upon the sex act and the impulses that go along with it.

Human Nature

lead acting: 7/10

supporting acting: 7/10

story: 7/10

directing: 8/10

production design/value: 8/10

overall score: 7.4

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