After seeing her stellar performances in Hard Candy and Juno, I had very high hopes for Ellen Page and Smart People. The movie also sounded like it would appeal to an intellectual type like me, because it talks about the culture of highly educated people. Also starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Thomas Haden Church, Smart People talks about the life of some, well, smart people and a misfit adopted brother (Church).
The core message in this movie is that while some people may appear to be incredibly smart on an intellectual or academic basis, they may not be quite as smart when it comes to emotions and relationships. Unfortunately, there were several occasions where it felt like the story was just dragging on. Also, there wasn’t much in terms of a typical plot development involving a climax and a denouement, though you do see the characters finally grow and mature. It’s a decent film, but Smart People was not as good as I was hoping. Intellectuals (and writers struggling to get published) may find some enjoyment and insight here though.
I Am Legend
Here is another special effects blockbuster starring Will Smith, so no one was surprised to see it turn to gold. The story held a lot of potential, because it gave Smith the opportunity to do more acting through his facial expressions and bodily gestures, rather than through the words coming out of his mouth. We follow the tale of Robert Neville, a man that is presumably the last man on Earth after a plague spreads and wipes out the human race. This plague was man-made and was originally meant to be the cure for cancer. Instead, it either kills the host or transforms it into a vampire-like monster.
The cities turn to shambles and Neville must find a way to survive. These vampire-like monsters aren’t exactly friendly and, like vampires, they thirst for blood. The psychological turmoil that happens within the head of Neville is quite the sight to behold. You can feel his strength, his resolve, and his dedication, but you also sense his utter vulnerability. Despite being a special effects blockbuster, I Am Legend can actually be quite complex. Will Smith gives a great performance and that’s enough to make this well worth a rental. It’s thrilling and the tension is thick, but don’t expect too much in terms of a Resident Evil-esque onslaught of battle scenes. Catch I Am Legend on Blu-ray if you have the chance: it’s got some cool “animated comics” as a special feature, as well as an alternate ending.
Son of Rambow
If you’re looking for something completely different and off-the-wall, you will not be disappointed with Son of Rambow. No, that’s not a typo. The name “Rambow” was misspelled on purpose to add to the comedy of this already terrific film. In a nutshell, you get a couple of kids who are putting together an amateur action movie (one of them plays the son of Rambo), but they run into snags from just about every direction.
One of the kids happens to come from the hyper-religious Plymouth Brethren, which disallows any sort of outside entertainment, including radio and television. As a result, Will Proudfoot (played by Bill Milner in his professional acting debut) has one crazy imagination. At times, you get the sense that Will and Lee Carter (the bully-turned-friend of Will) are just playing as regular children do, but you also get touching moments of faith, friendship, and the struggles of growing up. The scene where they become “blood brothers” is particular touching.
Yes, it’s weird, but Son of Rambow is incredibly original and it’ll have you in stitches. Don’t let the child actors fool you; this is not a kids’ movie.