Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Flyboys" and "Confetti"

There aren't nearly enough movies made about World War I. There have been some very good ones in recent years ("A Very Long Engagement," "Joyeux Noel"), some masterpieces for the ages ("The Grand Illusion," "Lawrence of Arabia"), and even a TV comedy classic ("Blackadder Goes Forth") on the subject. But it's still a war that's been given the cinematic short shrift, especially when it comes to aviation. It was the first war to ever be fought in the sky yet few films about the air war come to mind. There's "Wings" (the first ever Best Picture winner), but that was a silent from 1927. Then in 1930 Howard Hughes released "Hell's Angels" with aerial sequences that are still enthralling to look at today. But after that there's pretty much just been "The Blue Max" (which I still haven't seen- sorry Mike) and whatever movie Peter O'Toole's character was filming in "The Stunt Man."
So when I heard about "Flyboys" I got very excited. I became even more excited when I heard it was to star James Franco (he was on "Freaks and Geeks" thus making him automatically awesome) and Jean Reno (he was the star of "Leon" a.k.a. "The Professional" thus making HIM automatically awesome). I really wanted to like this movie. Director Tony Bill could have gone two ways with this: 1) Make a serious war film, or 2) make a throwback to war movies of the forties and fifties. Either way he could have made a great movie. Instead he made one that's somewhere in the middle and just doesn't click the way it should.
It's based on the true story of the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron comprised of American pilots fighting on the side of the French before Woodrow Wilson decided to commit to the fray. Franco's character, Blaine Rawlings, is a man in his twenties with nothing to stay home for outside of a possible arrest. When he arrives in France he's assigned with a group of men who embody virtually every war movie stereotype: the rich snob, the black guy who no one takes seriously at first except for the main character, the religious guy who the other guys constantly kid, etc. Now obviously these sorts of people are involved in any war and were probably a part of the real Escadrille. However, the script never makes these people characters. They just end up being broad stereotypes. The actors try but other than Martin Henderson ("The Ring"), as a disillusioned veteran pilot (the one fully developed character in the film), and the criminally underused Reno, they have little success.
There are things in "Flyboys" that work. The air combat sequences are well executed, but it's just a shame that there is such a reliance on CGI. The sequence involving a dirigible (officially tied with "mustachioed" for greatest word in the English language) is especially exciting, and there are some fun bits here and there.
Overall I was let down by "Flyboys" but I've definitely heard compelling arguments for it from a number of people (Mike for instance). So while I don't recommend it, I certainly won't try to talk you out of seeing it if you desire to. And maybe it's one that I should give another look sometime. For now though I'm giving it 5.5/10.

I also saw "Confetti" a couple of nights ago. It's an unscripted mockumentary about three couples in a contest to plan the "Most Original Wedding of the Year." (Think "Best in Show" but with grooms instead of grooming.) It's not hilarious but I was smiling an awful lot. Martin Freeman (Tim from BBC's "The Office," Arthur Dent in "Hitchhiker's Guide") proves once again that there is no one better at earning an audience's sympathy as a put upon Englishman, and there is a lot to enjoy here. It's only in limited release right now and will probably be gone very fast. If you miss it, catch it on DVD. In the meantime, watch "This is Spinal Tap" again, because it will always be the greatest unscripted mockumentary ever made. 7/10 for "Confetti."

I saw "The Science of Sleep" recently as well. I promise I'll do a write up on that in the next day or two.

1 Comments:

At Tue Oct 03, 12:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mike the Marine said...

With regards to Flyboys, they wouldn't call them stereotypes if they weren't at least a little true:

There really was one black pilot and they really kept a lion as the squadron mascot (TWO, actually).

The only sad part of the film for me was that they went fictional with it. It seems to me that there were more than enough FACTS to make a damn interesting movie.

 

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