Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: A Serious Man (2009)

I saw this weeks ago. And I'm getting to writing this at 7 AM after staying up all night why? I dunno.

Those Coen's are quite the masters of modern-day Film Noir. So skilled are they at the art of dark humor, sometimes it's hard to tell whether we, the audience, are viewing a funny film, or a serious film.

"A Serious Man" is, as the title may indicate, very serious. But it's labeled as a comedy. There are comedic elements, most certainly--this is a Coen Brothers' picture after all, and when have they never been tugging at the corners of your mouth? But you feel bad for laughing. Pardon my schaudenfreude. This is a film about a man who has a good life; he has a family, a prominent position at a University... He is a serious man, until suddenly, and without warning, every single fucking thing on earth that could happen to him DOES.

What the Coen's do so brilliantly is keep you wringing your hands, wondering what could possibly happen next? How much worse could it get? By the end, I am literally terrified at what the next bit of bad news will mean.

Much like (almost) every one of their films, they have crafted a remarkably dark and humorous script with dynamic characters. They have photographed a 60s Minneapolis suburbia with pristine nostalgic quality, and they have further proved themselves to be unstoppable. Their finest blend of Noir and Comedy.

Recommended? Most Def

Grade: A

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trailers: A Serious Man (2009)

Yeeah. I'm finally putting this up. Comes out Friday.

Trailers: New York, I Love You (2009)

Super HD.
I'm kinda excited for this. I mean, I love New York, and there are a few good people in this, but when you had all those amazing directors for Paris, Je T'aime, it's a hard act to follow.

I guess I'll see in two weeks.

Trailers: Young Victoria (2009)

Look! Paul Bettany!
Also look, another period romantic drama. I swear. They'll make anything!

Review: The Informant! (2009)

Steven Soderbergh has once again solidified himself as one of the industry's most stylish directors (It's hard to pick just one, though, when you have about a dozen to choose from).

The Informant! is based on the true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), who was the President of Bioproducts at Archer Daniels Midland, a company that, in essence, sticks corn syrup into food products. He turned informant for the FBI when he discovered a fair bit of corruption within the company. It should be quite dramatic, but it's presented as a farce.

Matt Damon is hysterical, and honest. He gained some weight to portray Whitacre, but where he truly resembles him (or rather, how he resembles someone who isn't himself) in in his performance.. Like any good actor does. There is a stream of ridiculous inner-monologue voice over throughout the film, seemingly about absolute nonsense, but is actually, in a roundabout way, entirely related to the plot.

The story portrays Whitacre as bumbling, though it's clear that he's actually brilliant, another credit to Damon's performance.

And the style. The style of the film is fab. I've been told that natural light sources were used, i.e. regular lightbulbs. It gives the film a yellowish tint, which actually perfectly captured the early 90's for me. It really set the tone nicely.
Not that I would ever expect Soderbergh of anything less.

Brilliant film.

Recommended? A must see.

Grade: A

Review: Bright Star (2009)

O, woe is me..
The period romance always feels the same to me. It's... Sweeping, it's weepy, and it's indulgent. Bright Star is no different. It is largely dramatized from the true story of John Keats, the poet, and his lady love, Fanny Braun, the fashion designer. They dance around some sort of love affair for like 10 years then become estranged, then become engaged, then she's really depressed, and he's sick or something, and she's really happy and wistful, then she's really angry. She's incredibly weak-willed. Like I said, it's a weepy film.

But it is beautifully shot. It takes place in the sprawling green landscapes of the English countryside. It's definitely pleasing to the eye. And it's pleasing to my lady parts. But otherwise, the film was boring.

I feel like they'll make a movie out of anything these days. (Stay tuned for the "Young Victoria" trailer)

Recommended? If you like period romance dramas, you'll definitely love this movie.

Grade: B-

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: Taking Woodstock (2009)

I apologize for being away for so long. I have, like, 4 other blogs, and all my children were suffering equally.

Also I completely forgot that I saw this movie, and therefore forgot to write a review. Because, as I have said, I hate writing them.

But, let's see. This is an odd film. In 1969.. Woodstock happened. We know about that. That's not really what this film is about. It's about the guy who brought Woodstock to his hometown, and the hijinks that ensued for those couple weeks. Demetri Martin is that guy. He plays the part very quietly, but it's a good performance. The supporting actors (Imelda Staunton, Eugene Levy, Liev Schreiber...) are all spot on, but nothing spectacular.

That's how this whole movie felt. Good; not great.

In fact, in a movie where everything is going on, nothing is happening. So, I felt confused as to why I was even watching. It's not too memorable. But it's finely made. I'm completely ambivalent. Bleh.

Recommended? Do what you want...

Grade: B-

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

I've stated previously in this blog that I hate writing reviews. It's still true. And I feel that any attempt to sound smart here would only result in bringing zero justice to the film. So I'll just say this: Quentin Tarantino has constructed a masterpiece. His script is dynamic and camera work immaculate. Go see this glorious film and you shan't be disappointed.

Also I couldn't decide on whom I was crushing harder; Daniel Brühl or Michael Fassbender.

Recommended? Hell. Yeah.

Grade: A

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Review: In The Loop (2009)

DEATH by British Comedy.

Recommended? Absolutely.

Grade: A

Review: Julie & Julia (2009)

Meryl Streep is the greatest living actress. Period. It's not an overused cliché, it's just simply true. She disappears into every role, transforms with each new challenge. I love Meryl Streep.

Here is no exception. I seriously forgot a few times I was watching her, and not Julia Child. She plays the legendary chef flawlessly.

Apart from that, this film is so-so. It's a glorified cooking show with at least one Talking Heads song in the soundtrack. Amy Adams is a tad bland as Julie Powell, a girl stuck in a depressing job and a creaky apartment but saved by her lovely husband (Chris Messina) and cooking. She loves cooking. And she's good at it, so she decides to start a blog (because that's what people do nowadays. They start blogs) cooking her way through Julia Child's cookbook.

On the other side, we see Julia struggle to write the first ever french cookbook in english. Both women go through similar plights but it ends up fine, predictably. It's a film with some sweet moments but not much weight. I'd say if for nothing else, see this for Meryl Streep and delicious looking foods.

Recommended? Are you a woman?

Grade: B-

Review: Funny People (2009)

Being a product of the late-eighties, I grew up on Adam Sandler. He was my absolutely favorite actor as a kid. I think I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for him.

So I guess it was kind of fun to see a film where he plays a distorted version of himself, complete with archive footage of his younger years as a comedian. Instead of playing a man-child jackass, as he is prone to do, he's a fully grown asshole. Okay, backup. In the beginning George Simmons (Sandler) finds out he's dying. So, he decides to shake things up in his life and meets Ira (Seth Rogen), an aspiring stand-up comic, and hires him to be his assistant and help him write jokes.

People are calling this Judd Apatow's "serious movie." It's sort of true. It's got more serious issues, but it's still funny. ALTHOUGH. The humor seems more forced than usual. It's a movie... About stand-up comedians. I have to say most of the footage at comedy clubs is dull. I was... disappointed.

Seth Rogen is at his most endearing, though. Instead of playing a lovable slacker who's always screwing up, he's an earnest, sweet-minded guy who's trying to get himself out there, but finds himself frustrated constantly by his roommate (Jason Schwartzmann, in a role not far off from Max Fischer) who has a well-paying job on a pitiful network TV sitcom.

After about what feels like 2 hours of becoming closer with his friends and family (and beating cancer), George finally gets back in touch with his ex-girlfriend (Leslie Mann) who is now married (To Eric Bana) and has two kids (The Apatow children). Some shit goes down and it all gets rather uncomfortable to the point where I lean over to my sister and say: "I'm trying to imagine how this is going to end well..."

I'm not sure I like the serious side of Judd Apatow.

Okay, and one last thing. It's over 2 hours. No comedy should ever be longer than 2 hours, and Apatow has always had a problem with editing. It really feels like a lot of stuff packed in. Like they couldn't bear to cut some stuff because they liked it, but it really had no place in the film. Eh, what am I saying?

The movie is too long and not funny enough. There I said it.

Still, Apatow is Apatow and he's always present.

Recommended? May as well

Grade: B-

Review: The Ugly Truth (2009)

Poor Katherine Heigl. She CAN act. We've all seen her. But for some bizarre reason, she chooses to be in utter shite.

And I'm not, you know, proud to say I saw this film. I naïvely thought that since it was rated R it would be fairly decent (as in, no restrictions on certain topics). I was right, in a way. It is completely jam-packed with sexist generalizations, (really) crass humor, and vulgar language with seemingly no merit. And Gerard Butler, who can be a charming guy, was uncomfortable and had a weird Jersey-ish(?) accent. Ugh. Bad characters, worse writing. Altogether a terrible movie.

Recommended? No.

Grade: F

Friday, August 07, 2009

R.I.P. John Hughes 1950-2009

See Edgar Wright's lovely obituary HERE.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Review: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Two of the cutest indie actors today; Joseph Gordon Levit and Zooey Deschanel. JGL in his earth-toned woven shirts and sweater vests, and ZD in her precious one-of-a-kind vintage dresses. Romance, quirk, The Smiths.. Totally set up to be as pretentious as they come, and even worse they bill themselves as "the anti-romcom."

Too bad that's exactly what it is. It's romantic comedy with a few dark corners. Still, I adored this film. I wanted to hate it because it looked, like, too indie to be good. But it was just delightful.

Both actors delivered insanely sincere and earnest performances. Even though I didn't like the eponymous character, Summer, I thought Deschanel played her perfectly. It wasn't the character that was bad, it was what the character represented, which is a completely different beast. I didn't like her in a good way. Joseph Gordon-Levit was a tiny bit heartbreaking and he sold me on the deliverance of one word; "Yeah."

I felt the story structure was really interesting without going over the top (as in, trying too hard to be interesting). The film didn't take itself too seriously and kept me totally engaged the entire time. I really felt for these characters, no matter how quirky or free-spirited they may have been. They were real kids, maybe in love, maybe not. It doesn't glorify relationships or even give the audience what it wants. It's kind of a reminder to us all "hey man, sometimes love sucks, and sometimes it stays that way." but with always the promise that life goes on after a broken heart, no matter how we hate to think about it.

I was definitely one of the cynics, and if I could be warmed by this film, I think anybody could.

And The Smiths rock.

Recommended? Yep.

Grade: A-

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Basically, I hated everything about this movie, and I'm too exhausted to rant about it anymore.

Recommended? Not personally, but every single person on the planet seems to love it. Your call (though you've probably already seen it).

Grade: F (yeah that's right. Ever seen that on here?)

Review: Whatever Works (2009)

Woody Allen's latest venture brings us back to his roots; New York (duh). Essentially he wrote the main part for himself, but instead chose a different neurotic, misanthropic Jew (Larry David). You can see how that kind of character can get a little tedious after a while. Still, the film was about as decent as I think anyone could've expected. It's hard to follow up Vicky Christina Barcelona (because that was awesome), but he did alright. It's got to be hard to keep writing screenplays and not recycle (there was essence of Manhattan here and there). But Woody Allen, he continues to show he's still relevant.

Recommended? It's worth checking out.

Grade: C

Review: Moon (2009)

*I am like a month behind but thank the lord I only have four movies to review. Go me.*
Moon is a really interestingly psychologically and physically plot-driven. Does that make sense? I totally expected this odd mind-bend of a journey about a guy who is stationed at the Moon for 3 years and starts losing his mind a lá The Shining. But it's more 2001: A Space Odyssey than the former. Still there is a (nicely done) heavy influence of Kubrick, complete with serene A.I. companion (sadly not named HAL). Great work for first-timer Duncan Jones, and I tells ya, this was really hurting for some "Space Oddity" or "Star Man." Would that have been just too obvious?

I will say: It would've done great with a Brian Eno score. I defy anyone who says differently!

Recommended? Well it's probably too late to see it anywhere now, but definitely.

Grade: B+

Friday, July 03, 2009

Review: Public Enemies (2009)

Since I've started this blog, there has not been a movie with Johnny Depp for me to review. So this is the first time I can point this out; Johnny Depp is singularly responsible for my love of film. I had once been a lover of movies, but somehow they got away from me. Then I saw Pirates of the Caribbean when I was 15 and remember thinking that his performance was the first one where I actually thought "that was an amazing acting performance." Thus, my love affair with Johnny Depp and the need to see films emerged.

So. That said, on to Public Enemies. I had a few issues with this one. First of all, I don't know much about the story of John Dillinger. However, the film was presented as if everybody should have a decent amount of knowledge going in. Essentially, I was lost a lot of the time and it was really difficult to absorb information. There were so many characters that were never properly introduced and some that never saw the end of their story line. For example. Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover comes into the story with somewhat of an introduction, gives a great performance for a few scenes, but then fades away into the background and is never heard from again. Even Christian Bale who is supposedly a co-lead on this one, was sort of missing half the time and the other half he wasn't doing it for me (although, I don't think he can be blamed for that.)

The film's biggest problem was the writing. I really felt it lacked depth. It's over 2 hours but I still don't quite know if I got anything out of it. There was hardly any character development or a commitment to themes. I was under the impression that this film was more about the beginning of the FBI's crack down on local law enforcement (all established because of John Dillinger). And was it about that? Maybe. It was touched upon briefly but again, I got the impression that the film was mocking me for my lack of knowledge.

In terms of technical problems, there was something wrong with the sound mixing, because a lot of the dialogue was lost on me. Either the actors were mumbling or those audio tracks were not deemed important enough in the editing process. To sum up; this film missed the mark.

All disappointment aside, the camera work in this film is phenomenal. Honestly some of the best hand-held camera work I've seen. I love Johnny Depp and he always delivers. Always.

Recommended? Eh...

Grade: C

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: The Hangover (2009)

Ridiculously over-the-top and delightfully witty. No but really, it's quite funny. And I'm sorry to Bradley Cooper for doubting you for so long.

Recommended? Yep

Grade: B

Random News: Oscars to nominate 10 for Best Picture

Official Press Release:

Beverly Hills, CA (June 24, 2009) — The 82nd Academy Awards, which will be presented on March 7, 2010, will have 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis announced today (June 24) at a press conference in Beverly Hills.

Read the full story here.

Okay, most of us know that Oscars don't really mean anything, but to those in the industry, it's still a pretty nice thing to be nominated. So on behalf of them, I offer this opinion:

First of all, I'm struggling to see how they'll even be able to find 10 films worthy of a "best picture" nomination. The five up for it last year weren't even all the best ones. But even so, 10 films up for best picture. It's ridiculous. It completely cheapens the whole honor. It will cease to be a big deal for people. The ones who say "It's an honor just to be nominated." Yeah well, you and everybody else in the room. I just think it loses something. Credibility, perhaps.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Review: Wolverine (2009)

What a stupid, stupid movie.

Recommended? Wait for the DVD.

Grade: C- (only because Ryan Reynolds is quite enjoyable in his 5 minutes of screen time)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Review: Up (2009)

As if anything Pixar does is ever less than great. I admire that they address adult issues to add some gravity to a film that is otherwise silly and whimsical. Really touching, really funny, really worth it.

Recommended? Yes. But I don't know if you really need to see it in 3D.

Grade: A

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random News: "Paul" gets a cast!

From the A.V. Club:
Paul, a new comedy starring and written by Shaun Of The Dead, Spaced, and Hot Fuzz co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost has announced some casting choices. Variety, which inimitably describes the film as a "road trip laffer," has revealed that the cast will include Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Seth Rogen, the lattermost providing the voice an alien. This is the first Pegg / Frost pairing on which Frost has a writing credit, the previous films having been co-written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright. It's also the first such team-up with another director. Greg Mottola of Adventureland and Superbad fame will be taking the helm.

Why.... Has this suddenly turned into a Judd Apatow film?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

Trailers: Year One (2009)

Michael Cera playing Michael Cera in yet another role would probably annoy me, but for some reason, I cannot wait to see him in this film.

Trailers: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

I'm having a hard time getting a grasp on the story, and the characters... But this definitely looks like a Guy Ritchie movie.

Review: Terminator Salvation (2009)

Thrilling and incredible. Had me on the edge of my seat.

Recommended? Yes.

Grade: A-

Review: Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2009)

*From now on I'm going to just post a few words and a grade about the movies I see. I completely hate writing reviews.

Surprising, interesting and engaging. A fantastic documentary.

Recommended? If it comes to your city, go!

Grade: A

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek already at #62 on IMDB top 250

Don't get me wrong, I loved Star Trek. Just seems a serious flaw in the system.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Trailers: Taking Woodstock (2009)

Doing catchup.

Trailers: Paper Heart (2009)

Not sure how this is going to be.

Review: Observe and Report (2009)

I think I had a lot of smart things to say about this movie when I saw it nearly two weeks ago. But it's all gone.

I enjoyed Observe and Report for the most part. It's very angry. Seth Rogen's character Ronnie is the head of Mall Security and he believes his dreams may be realized when a Flasher attacks the parking lot. Ronnie suffers from Bipolar disorder, making him unstable and aggressive. It's only funny if you're amused by mostly morbid stuff. Luckily I was able to see the humor in most of it. I really felt like the film wasn't going anywhere. It was only 90 minutes but it felt like 2 hours. Very meandering. When I mentioned this to someone else, he said that it seems like that's Jody Hill's style. I suppose The Foot Fist Way was also a wandering film, but it did more for me.

Still, the end was awesome, and that's what matters: End strong.

Recommended? That's your call.

Grade: C+

Review: Star Trek (2009)

I wish, going in, that I had some basic knowledge of the original Star Trek series. I feel like it would've been more special. Even so, the minute this film started, I was engaged, and already very much emotionally invested.

Star Trek is a blast. Each actor (except maybe Zoë Saldana) brings something different to the table. Chris Pine (Capt. James T. Kirk) had his looks against him for me. I thought for sure his prettiness would overshadow the weight he needs to carry, but he's actually really charismatic. Zachary Quinto, apart from having Spock covered in looks, just nails his calm and measured demeanor. Karl Urban's performance as doctor Leonard McCoy is at times campy, but it works. Delivering lines like "Dammit man, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" in our modern times can be tricky. Luckily it added just the right amount of humor to an otherwise tense situation. I've been an Eric Bana fans for years, but I thought his performance was slightly ridiculous as Captain Nero of the Romulans.

I needed me some Simon Pegg, and with 40 minutes to go I finally got my first look at him as Scotty. I could be biased, but he absolutely stole the entire movie. He takes what he's best at and integrates it into a small role to make a lasting impression. I made sure to check right away to see if a sequel is planned, and there is. So thank god Pegg doesn't end up being criminally underused.

Then there were themes of time-space continuums, alternate realities, parallel universes... Sounds like J.J. Abrams. I didn't necessarily follow all of it (it was really damn confusing), but I was still in the movie the whole ride and I didn't want it to end. I think I need to see it at least 12 more times before the Summer is out. Definitely one of the best of the year so far, and you would be unwise to miss it.

Recommended? Absolutely.

Grade: A

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Photo from Iron Man 2

So, this is pretty exciting I guess. I think I was more excited at the mere idea of it and now I'm kinda like "eh."

Anyway. I've been super bad at updating lately. I have a review to write still for a movie I saw nearly two weeks ago. Not to worry, not to worry. I haven't forgotten about my first love.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review: 17 Again (2009)

This is definitely not the movie I thought would end my movie-going drought. Just a couple things:

1. It was stupid, obviously.


2. Thomas Lennon= Should be in more things. With bigger parts.

Recommended? Don't pay for it. In fact, I'm so glad I didn't have to pay for it.

Grade: D

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Review: Adventureland (2009)

Adventureland is a movie that took me by surprise. I expected it to be funny--and it was, very much so--but I didn't expect it to tug at your heartstrings and leave you in awe by certain scenes that are so simple and so beautiful it makes you want to shout your love from the hilltops.

Forced to scrap plans that involved a post-college graduation sabbatical around Europe with his pals due to money issues, James (Jesse Eisenberg) finds a job at the local theme park Adventureland. He doesn't mope like a petulant teenager like I probably would've if I had to give up Europe for a shitty Summer job. Instead he takes it in stride, being a guy who tends to find the romanticism in everything.

Naturally, there are an assortment of oddball co-workers, but never over the top or exaggerated. Martin Starr, Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig offer clever and subdued moments of comedy genius. Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds play up the darker and more serious roles, but it never seeming unnatural or out of place. All the performances are completely dead on.

Greg Mottola showed us he could direct with Superbad but who the hell knew he could write? The film is based on his experiences working at the real Adventureland as a young college grad, so no wonder it's filled with humor as well as emotion, not to mention one of the best soundtracks I've heard since Trainspotting.

Jesse Eisenberg plays James in such a way that he redefines what it means to be an awkward nice guy (you know, the Michael Cera role). He's smart, yet a hopeless romantic who obsesses over Shakespeare sonnets (and also makes a mixtape of "The Best Bummer Songs" for Kristen Stewart's troubled Em).

The film doesn't ever linger on scenes too long. It simply lets things play out between the characters to illustrate a typical crappy Summer job, and I could relate in more ways than one.

The first really great movie of this year.

Recommended? Yes. Lord yes.

Grade: A

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trailers: Observe and Report (2009)

Trailers: Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

I must admit, it's been a very very long time since I've read this. I remember just about nothing. But, the trailer is amazing, and I approve 100% of the use of Arcade Fire.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Review: Sunshine Cleaning (2009)

Sunshine Cleaning is that kinda movie. You know the one, with the dysfunctional family, totally down on their luck, trying to make it on their own. Rose (Amy Adams) and Norah (Emily Blunt) play sisters who decide to start a "Crime Scene maintenance" business, per a tip from Rose's married cop boyfriend (Steve Zahn), and call it Sunshine Cleaning. They struggle through school payments for Rose's young son (Jason Spevack), social acceptance, the demons of their mother's suicide more than 20 years ago, and their eccentric father (Alan Arkin) who can't find a calling in life.

The film at times is extremely affecting. Obviously with a film that centers around death, it makes light of most situations, but when faced with the families of the victims, it gets really heavy really fast. I think all the performances are great. Amy Adams has always been effortless in everything I've seen with her. Of the three movies I saw this weekend, I felt the most from this one, despite a couple loose-ends.

Recommended? Yes

Grade: B+

Review: Duplicity (2009)

Oh, this is one of those blasted movies where you have to pay attention to every single bit of dialogue, but then, maybe not, because they reveal all the tricks and plot holes in the last 10 minutes. The film follows two very skilled ex-government agents (Julia Roberts and Clive Owen), who meet, hook up, then decide to start a grand heist that takes an ultimate two years to achieve. We see them all over the world. Rome, London, Dubai, Miami, and New York. They work a few odd jobs until they find the ultimate prize. I think the film is very clever. It jumps around a lot, but it's not too hard to follow. However, the way the trailer made this look, I thought it was going to be more fun (think the Ocean's movies), but it wasn't terribly entertaining.

Like Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy's previous outing), in my opinion, this was well made, well told, but a tad forgettable.

Recommended? Maybe...

Grade: B

Review: I Love You, Man (2009)

What we have here is a very form-friendly bromantic comedy. Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, two of the most likable comedy actors today, meet and "fall in love", suffer some ups and downs, but make it work in the end. Aw, precious. It's got the makings of an Apatow Comedy.

But it misses the mark with the comedy. It's cute, I guess. The two actors have great chemistry together and there's plenty of material, but the laughs were just not coming. Usually with these guys my face and my gut are hurting in the first 20 minutes. I laughed out loud once in the whole 2 hours. Still, it's not bad. I think that Paul Rudd (Peter) is terribly endearing and also painful to watch as a guy who has zero knowledge of how to interact with other men while trying to find a permanent friend to be his best man. While Sydney (Segel) has his oddities, he is a great complement to Peter's awkwardness.

While I thought this wasn't quite on par with the pair's previous works and collaborations, I think it's still worth watching, if just for the "aw"-inspiring moment when Peter finally says "I love you, man."

Recommended? If it's cheap!

Grade: B-

Public Enemies (2009)

I can't believe I haven't put this up yet! I didn't realize I was missing Johnny Depp. I love the look of this.

Trailers: Away We Go (2009)

I'm curious about this. It's definitely looking like that movie. You know.. The Juno of this year? But, Sam Mendes? How very curious.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review: Two Lovers (2009)

Two Lovers begins with a shot over the shoulder of Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix), but it's mostly the sky you see. And it's an early evening, cloudy sky, which pretty much sets the tone for the film. This movie is is quite dark, aesthetically, and has a bit of darkness in its subject matter as well.

It begins with Leonard, who's living with his parents in New York. Some family friends (who are also planning to merge their laundromat business) come for dinner and Leonard meets their daughter Sandra (Vinessa Shaw). She admits that she wanted to meet him. Leonard seems unfazed. The next day, Leonard meets Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) who's new in the building, and whom he falls in love with instantly. Awkward. Turns out, Michelle is really unstable. She's dramatic, does drugs, and is seeing a married man, who keeps promising to leave his family for her, but never does.

This awkward love triangle made me uncomfortable about the whole movie. I hated the idea that the honest people were getting screwed over because of Leonard's selfishness. Pursuing a woman who, not only is involved with someone else, but is involved with someone who's involved with someone. It's best to stay away. I have a very hard time sympathizing with Leonard. Despite his personal past. He can seem standoffish in some scenes, but a complete clown in others. He's shy around a lot of people, but when he tries to impress, he becomes a different person. This makes for a great performance from Phoenix (who, I guess, this is his last film, right?), but a frustrating character in Leonard. You want to be on his side, but it's almost impossible. It seems his biggest vice is dishonesty, which the film has in spades. And, it just bothers me.

Still, the film is very poignant and pretty... In a darkish way.

Recommended? I guess so.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Review: Watchmen (2009)

I must preface this review with the statement WATCHMEN is meant to be read.

Now that that's out of the way, I should mention that I didn't have high expectations of Watchmen as of late. I was excited like everybody else when the first trailer appeared those many months ago attached to The Dark Knight. Then, I don't know. I lost sight of something positive.

Then I saw it, and it wasn't bad. In fact, I thought it was kinda good. Even at 2:30, it's slightly bare, and I expect the director's cut will be more satisfying, but even so, the film delivered as much as it could've, and did it very well. I think there were quite a few unnecessary additions that took up time that could've been dedicated to the source material, but alas. So it goes.

Performances: Malin Akerman, who I have seen in exactly 2 movies, and hated in both of them, was not bad. She played Laurie Juspeczyk with the same kind of jaded, worn out irritation that I imagined the book version to be. Patrick Wilson reminded me why I'm ever so in love with Dan Dreiberg. Jackie Earle Haley nearly did justice to my favorite, Rorschach, but maybe his grumbly monotone was too Batman for me? Jeffrey Dean Morgan, I think, was pretty perfect as Edward Blake/ The Comedian. Mathew Goode did both a great and a horrible job at portraying Adrian Veidt, who, to be honest, is the least likable character anyway. He definitely had poise, but his accent was constantly changing. Is he American? English? German? Lastly, Billy Crudup plays Dr. Manhattan. I guess I never thought about what he sounded like, so I can't quite say how I felt about his performance. And considering most of him was encompassed in CGI, it's even trickier to judge. I found his performance... Serene. Which is probably perfect.

I think Zack Snyder at least shows he's a competent director. Though he is apparently a "die hard" Watchmen fan, and some of his choices were (really) questionable. Some of the song choices threw me, and there was a lot of gratuitous sex/profanity/violence. But, that's just his dumbed down style I guess. Still, I didn't find anything HORRIBLY wrong with this. But I must reiterate: it is redundant to make a Watchmen film.

I cannot speak for the Watchmen fans. I haven't been one terribly long, but I do love the book very much. I think it's an incredible piece of literary genius, and a fantastic graphic novel on top of it. But, I can't say for sure this is good or bad. I think it's one of those that will either excite the fan boys, or severely piss them off.

Recommended? Yes

Grade: B

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trailers: I Love You, Man (2009)

Not sure why I haven't put this up yet. But, I'm excited.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Video: Pineapple Express sketch from The Oscars

Video: Academy Award's 2009 Movie Preview

In case you missed it.

Music is Beck covering Bob Dylan's Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Rant: Awards Season

When Kate Winslet accepted her award for Best Actress on February 22, she didn't look thrilled or particularly surprised. (Her speech was still on the cringe-worthy side). When she won the Golden Globe for her role in The Reader, she DID seem taken aback and genuinely shocked. Before that time, she had a very long losing streak. So, she broke it, but at the Golden Globes. And, as everybody knows, no one ever mentions Golden Globe nominations not won when talking about an actor or actress. Kate Winslet won the SAG, The Golden Globe, The BAFTA, Several critics awards, and now an Oscar.

But by the time we get to the climax of Awards season, I'm pretty sure everyone is burned out on getting dressed up, going to sit in an uncomfortable theater for 3 hours and watch montages and listen to actors and actresses deliver painfully awkward speeches. And Kate Winslet didn't seem to revel in her glory of finally winning an oscar after going 0-5. In fact, she seemed to accept it pretty easily, and for someone who's wanted her to win for a long long time, it wasn't that exciting.

At the Golden Globes, nobody had an idea about who might walk away with the Best Drama award, as it was still pretty up in the air at that time. When Slumdog did, and then it won a slew of others, there was absolutely no surprise or excitement on Oscar Night. People only want oscars and stupid award season is ruining it.

So why the ceremonies? Why the Golden Globes? Let Television have the Emmys. Film can have the Oscars and the Spirit Awards, and the rest can go away and celebrities can get their awards mailed to them.

But, if they're going to keep doing all these award shows, I might as well watch them.

2009 Oscar Winners

Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Christian Colson
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): Ceán Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall
Frost/Nixon (2008): Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Eric Fellner
Milk (2008/I): Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
The Reader (2008): Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti, Redmond Morris

A few thoughts:
-Yay, Sean Penn
-Yay best original screenplay, Dustin Lance Black
-Boo Jai Ho
-Yay Man on Wire

The Ceremony:
I watched it with my sister, and before it started we were really thrilled with the prospect of Javier Bardem presenting the Best Supporting Actress oscar to Penelope Cruz (they ARE still dating, right??) but then STUPID thing with the winners past probably added a good half hour to the show. I hope they never do it again.

Too many musical numbers. I know, Hugh Jackman is a hollywood actor who has been in broadway musicals and he hosted the Tony's that one year. But really, it's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed for the Oscars.

The Judd Apatow directed/Seth Rogen written Pineapple Express parody was the most inspired moment of the night.

I liked the set. And the theme was interesting. Other than that, I didn't care much else what happened. It was a night of very minimal surprises... Except the only category anybody cared about: Best Actor.

See the full list of winners HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Trailers: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Hey, don't watch this, because Ingourious Basterds is in glorious HD over at Apple. So, go there.

Can't wait.

2009 Spirit Award Winners

The Wrestler (2008): Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin
Ballast (2008): Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
Frozen River (2008): Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae
Rachel Getting Married (2008): Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc E. Platt
Wendy and Lucy (2008): Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani

Man, I can't believe I missed Steve Coogan hosting.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trailers: Funny People (2009)

There's gonna be a twist in there somewhere... I just know it. That can't have possibly shown that much information in the trailer.
But anyway, this looks great. Some new blood (Jason Schwartzmann?? Eric Bana), and some very old blood (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann). And Adam Sandler. Yay.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Entertainment Weekly posts the stupidest list ever

EW has recently posted their list of the "25 Greatest Active Filmmakers". The results may shock and anger you:
1. Steven Spielberg
2. Peter Jackson
3. Martin Scorsese
4. Christopher Nolan
5. Steven Soderbergh
6. Ridley Scott
7. Quentin Tarantino
8. Michael Mann
9. James Cameron
10. Joel and Ethan Coen
11. Guillermo del Toro
12. David Fincher
13. Tim Burton
14. Judd Apatow
15. Sam Raimi
16. Zack Snyder
17. Darren Aronofsky
18. Danny Boyle
19. Clint Eastwood
20. Ron Howard
21. Ang Lee
22. Paul Thomas Anderson
23. Paul Greengrass
24. Pedro Almodóvar
25. Jon Favreau

From /film:
I could write a blog post on the placement on some of these named alone (Peter Jackson above Martin Scorsese? Zack Snyder over Paul Thomas Anderson and Clint Eastwood?) but I thought I’d take this space to complain about some of the filmmakers not included on the list. Like what about Woody Allen? Surely he is greater active director than Pedro Almodóvar, right? Where is Wes Anderson? Spike Lee? The lack of aniamtion directors is crazy. What about Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter or Brad Bird?

Hear, hear

Review: The Class (2008)

This film is a BIG DEAL. It won the Palm D'Or at Cannes. That means it's a big deal. It's also been nominated for an Academy Award. So, yeah, it's a big deal.

But, I don't really see it. The Class is essentially a documentary, based on one man's (François Bégaudeau, who also wrote it and starred in) experiences as a teacher of troubles students in a French suburb. It starts out strong. It's candide and very real. We see his interactions with his fellow instructors, and his students. But, the scenes drag on for way too long, and there's nothing of real substance happening. The film is too long at 2:08, as I couldn't help but notice when I systematically checked my watch every 10 minutes.

Yes, it's very natural and real. Yes, it IS watchable and at times, enjoyable. It's not a typical inspirational-teacher-enlightens-troubled-students film, as nearly none of the students have made any sort of progress by the end of the year. But, I've been there, I've seen that. I went to public school. I had to live with this stuff everyday. Still, the film is well made and the acting is very good. But, it won't win the Oscar.

Recommended? If you must...

Grade: B-

Posters: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Well holy crap. This is pretty awesome.

Go to EMPIRE to see two other shades of awesome.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Coraline (2009)

Coraline is a movie with a lot of personality. Adapted from Neil Gaiman, the legendary fantasy writer with an attitude, it's witty, pretty, and totally adventurous.

It has an absolute masterful use of stop-motion animation, which is still not widely used in modern cinema. But, that's okay, becuase it makes this film even more unique. In fact, I don't think it could've worked any other way. Director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, obviously), you can tell, had so much fun putting this piece together, and it's fun for the audience too.

Coraline is a lonely girl in a new, creepy house, with apathetic parents and dreary neighbors. But then she finds a portal to an alternate reality where her "other parents" dote on her like a princess. She gets swept up until she finds out her other mother is actually evil and plans to steal her away and essentially make her a slave child. Is it all a dream or not? That part is pretty ambiguous, but a child's imagination is more fun than what we normally have to deal with in average day-to-day life.

I think this movie was charming and whimsical. It wasn't too cutesy or glamorous. It had a very distinct air like that of Lemony Snicket. It's mischievous and fun. Really, truly, a terrific film.

Recommended? Yes. For everyone.

Grade: A

Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

What, you didn't expect me to put all my eggs in one basket with He's Just Not That Into You, did you? That's right, I saw TWO chick flicks today for the price of one. The awesome thing about being a girl is that no matter how refined your taste in movies is, you can still feel no guilt by being completely enamored by a chick. fa-lick.

SO! Omg, this movie made my day. This movie makes me feel the way Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fischer) much feel when she shops. I love this movie because it definitely DOES NOT take itself seriously at all. It's ridiculous but also so FLUFFY and CUTE and ENERGETIC. And everytime Hugh Dancy is on screen I want to die. Men don't get cuter than him. OMG! And he and Isla Fischer have the BEST chemistry of ANY on-screen couple of the last 100 years, for sure.

It's also PG, which is awesome, because younger girls can like it too, and probably grow up more superficial because of movies like it. But, I'm 20, so I'm smarter than that! So, good for me! I've heard things like "Feel good movie" in regards to this film, and it's totally true. I felt so good coming out of it, all bouncy and smiley. It made me feel like Hugh Dancy could fall in love with me, too!! I mean, he probably could, because he's totally dating Claire Danes right now, and people have always said I look like her. But chances are, I'm more interesting than her, so I have an even better chance of sweeping him off his feet. Claire Danes sucks.

But anyway, this has been, like, the best day ever. I'm totally never going to love a movie better than this. Totally.

Recommended? YEAH! You'll SO fall in love!!

Grade: A!!

Review: He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

This is a serious movie, so it shall be reviewed in a serious manner.

I really have had no interest in seeing this movie all the up until probably this morning. But, I heard some really decent things about it, and figured I may as well give it a try. So, I did. And I actually really liked it.

It's not purely a romantic comedy. It's got some uncomfortable drama as well. Not so much "omg he hasn't called me" as it is "omg my husband cheated on me." We're seeing a lot of different stages of relationships, and how they intertwine. As you can guess from that poster, this is a large cast of well-known actors. Actually one of the things that made me so unwilling to see it at first. It looks like someone's dream cast that they photoshopped together into a movie. But anyway. Yes, there are so many different types of people here. And, I feel, many people can relate to them. I think the characters interact with each other in very real ways. If maybe a bit exaggerated.. For dramatic effect, of course.

I'm usually not too interested in Jennifer Aniston, but her performance was sweet and sincere. A lot of women long to be married, and she's been with her guy (Ben Affleck) for 7 years, and still no ring. Yet, she plays it cool and never does the big freak out. When she finally comes out and says what's really in her heart, it's sad and honest. I could actually feel sympathy for (most of) these characters. I think there was an indecent amount of Drew Barrymore (read: not very much), and an unfortunate amount of Scarlett Johansson (read: too much). Her character was unstable and consisted mostly of making uncomfortable advances on a married man (Bradley Cooper, married to Jennifer Connelly). Whenever she got shafted by him, she went to her dopey and desperate backup (Kevin Connolly), who in the very beginning of the movie, we see on a date with Gigi (Played by Ginnifer Goodwin), who is so desperately into reading signs and overanalyzing everything. That is, until Alex (Justin Long), plays it straight with her and tells her what the guy REALLY means when he says what he says. Whew... Did I get everyone?

I do feel like this movie is maybe too sympathetic towards women. They are always winning in this. Is that just some overly compensated way of showing that not all women are dramatic and whiny and clingy? Well, I don't buy it. Listen, I wouldn't like the movie any less if a girl didn't get her way. Thumbs down on that.

I enjoyed this movie. It had heart and soul, it had some laughs, but also some stressful moments. Definitely worth my time. Yay!

Recommended? If you are a girl, yes. Yes indeed.

Grade: A-

Friday, February 06, 2009

Review: Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy Carroll is a very unlucky lady. She's making the long slow trek from Indiana to Alaska by car to look for work. Think Into the Wild, with more sad and less happening. Wendy is Michelle Williams, and Lucy is her only friend, who is missing half the movie. She's stuck in Oregon with a broke down car, no food, minimal cash, and only a Walgreen's parking lot guard to lean on. It's a quiet character study with an ambiguous beginning and end. It's one of those hard-to-watch films that, when it's over, make me so glad it didn't really happen. It's a trim 80 minutes, which is good, because if it had gone on for any longer, I might've lost interest. Michelle Williams is the perfect Wendy. She shows anger and frustration at the right times, and when she's happy, it's subtle and genuine. We only see her for a few days in her long journey and are left with little closure. It's an interesting choice, but not unwelcome.

Recommended? Sure, what the hell

Grade: B-

Review: Waltz With Bashir (2008)

Innovative, haunting, tranquil, beautiful... Wow, that wasn't so hard.

Recommended? Yes

Grade: B+

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Video: Trifecta of funny

January was a slow month. Though I still do have a review to write. For now, here's some 'hump day' stuff. I lol'd at all three:

(I can't believe I've never seen this guy before. Hi-larious. Makes me want to see the movie)

The Techno remix of Christian Bale's recently unearthed outburst...

Happy Wednesday

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Got Milk?

I watched the SAG awards tonight because I just HAPPENED to be sitting in front of the TV whilst it was on TNT. So, I watched the whole 2 hour spectacle... And just a few thoughts:

-Kate Winslet, I love you, but if you're going to suck so bad at giving speeches, I hope you never win another award again. All the best actors are snubbed away!

-Not movies, but Tina Fey's acceptance speech was great. And Hugh Laurie winning for house? I didn't know anybody besides myself watched that show. But, Hugh Laurie is awesome.

-This "Trailblazers" montage=worst montage ever?

-Heath wins again, Gary Oldman accepts award on his behalf. Best decision ever! I needed a Gary Oldman fix. And he was nice and emotional. God bless the G.O.

-I decided clipping my toenails would be better than the 20 minutes segment for James Earl Jones winning the Lifetime Achievement Award

-Meryl Streep's acceptance speech=the reason I love Meryl Streep. Thank god Kate Winslet didn't win again.

-Sean Penn wins best actor. I still can't decide who I loved more--him or Mickey Rourke. I think it might be him. But it's tough. Anyway, his speech was ridiculous. What the hell was he talking about.

-Best "ensemble" goes to Slumdog. Bullshit. I realize that they won best picture at the GG's and they will win the Oscar, but they were NOT the best ensemble. If there was any award for Milk to be had, it would be this one. That ensemble? Fogeddaboutit.

This award show was better than the Golden Globes in that it delivered less disappointing results and better speeches. And it was an hour shorter. Though, there was a distinct lack of Darren Aronofsky's mustache in my night.