The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Directed By – Peter Jackson

Screenplay By – Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson

Cinematography By – Andrew Lesnie

Starring Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen & Viggo Mortensen

178 min.

As I had the horrid aftertaste from The Battle of the Five Armies in my mouth I had to wash it out with The Fellowship of the Ring. This movie gets better and better as I get older. The first installment in what is arguably the best trilogy in cinema history is just every fanboy’s (and girl’s) wet dream. Really all three of them are. But what Fellowship has that Jackson forgot about with his Hobbit movies is that The Lord of the Rings has a purpose as a whole, but each individual movie (book) has a beginning middle and end unto itself.

In the Fellowship, Frodo goes from just wanting to get outside the Shire to accepting that it is his duty and his duty alone to take the ring to Mount Doom. The rest is what will follow in Books (and movies) two and three. Fellowship is not an action movie because it is not an action story, it is and will always be a tale of adventure.

But there is the little things like having real humans in “orc” costumes. Sure maybe some of the orcs are CGI but the main ones are actors and this gives a realness to the Fellowship that The Hobbit movies do not have. Also I’m still dumbfounded as to how Jackson was able to make the actors all different sizes depending on their races. It know it is all green screen but that he was able to pull it off at the time he did is still remarkable.

I love this movie and I love the other two in this trilogy. I only wish Jackson would have made something as substantial with The Hobbit as he did with The Lord of the Rings.

God Bless America

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Grand Piano (2013)

Directed By – Eugenio Mira

Screenplay By – Damien Chazelle

Cinematography By – Unax Mendía

Starring Elijah Wood (Post-Frodo) & John Cusack

90 min.

This movie is a sleeper pick. Delivering exactly what it promises with the trailer, Grand Piano is suspenseful, fun, has terrific classical music, and a decently ridiculous story. This Phone Booth-like story, man on the phone with another man in a enclosed space threatening the man to kill him or his wife if he doesn’t play along, works well between Elijah Wood and John Cusack. What I particularly enjoyed about this version is the classical music element of it all, Elijah Wood’s character is a master pianist who is playing a recital with an orchestra when he is contacted by Cusack’s character and told his wife will be shot if he plays one wrong note during the concert.

Visually this movie also delivers. The theater is beautifully shot along with the piano and the terrific red curtain behind Wood and his piano. The cinematography works well and helps move the story along. The only problem is that Cusack’s motivation is rather absurd. It’s a fun and unique motivation, but absurd nonetheless.

Elijah continues to work on interesting movies (i.e. Maniac, not for the light-hearted) and Cusack gives a nice Cusack performance.

I really enjoyed this movie and think that most people who can handle the ridiculous and suspenseful will find it fun entertainment.