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