Monday, November 30, 2009

3 Reasons I Wouldn't Recommend Watching "The Road"

So after waiting a year for the release of "The Road", I was very excited to see it this past weekend. I have mixed feelings about the film because on a whole it was a great film (the acting was intense, the story was epic and the cinematography was beautifully bleak), yet I would never recommend it to anyone. Here is why.....

1. It is the most depressing film ever - I guess it is a given considering it is about a boy and his father trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I just would have preferred not to sit through it - watching the worst of humanity. I would like to think that if the world ends, the survivors would unite rather than form gangs where they rape and eat little boys. It's not exactly an up-lifting or heart-warming film, instead it is about the darkest days of humanity - where there is no hope, no empathy, no reason to live...

2. "A curiously unmoving experience" - This is a quote from which sums up my feelings on this film. I think it was supposed to be an emotionally captivating experience, but for reasons beyond anything that I can explain - it wasn't. I didn't care about what happens to this boy or his father - possibly because I already knew it wouldn't be a happy ending, so why bother investing in the characters? I had absolutely zero emotions during this film, which really made me question the point of the whole film. I never read the book and especially have no interest in reading it now.

3. I would never watch it again - It would be torture.

The only reason I would say that this film is worth seeing is if you want to see some amazing acting. Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron are superb (as usual) and the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is one of the best acting performances I have seen from a kid in a long time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Thoughts on 5 Recently Released DVD's: Part 5

1. Orphan - So, with the marketing around this film focusing on "There is something wrong with Esther" I spent the entire film trying to figure it out - only to be shocked at what is actually "wrong" with her. I have to admit it was definitely a twist ending that I could have never guessed, which is quite an impressive feat. However, it didn't make the movie good. It has been compared to The Good Son, which is a great film about an evil child, but I don't feel like it was quite as intense. It was a decent horror film, it had all of the right creepy elements - yet somehow never reached "horror" status and it was a little slow moving. The acting was superb as I expected, especially Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther (it was a very difficult role to play). The biggest thing that I didn't like was Peter Sarsgaards character - he was very linear and one-sided and frankly- an idiot.

2. Whatever Works - This is the Woody Allen that I remember. This is his pretentious and unamusing 90's work that I found irritating and overbearing. This is the Woody Allen that I can't stand. I hope that this Woody Allen disappears from film making forever! I have also never been a Larry David fan (although I have never seen Curb Your Enthusiasm, I have watched plenty of Seinfeld episodes to know that I am not a fan). Right from the beginning I knew I was going to hate this film, with Larry David talking into the camera with his pretentious curmudgeon shtick. Then the film got even worse when Evan Rachel Wood appears as a naive vagrant with an awful southern accent. The film is not a love story, instead it is a story of an old man (a native New Yorker) emotionally abusing a vapid, bright-eyed girl new to the city. It stereotypes New Yorkers as superior and corrupting, while southerners are ignorant and uncultured (and apparently love to wear scrunchies). What decade is Allen living in? The film could have easily been about 2 complicated people divided by culture, age and status finding love in the uncommon - instead it was a complete mess of a film. There are so many things wrong with this film, but I will narrow it down to three: 1. It wasn't remotely funny. 2. It lacked any sort of chemistry between the two main characters. 3. It didn't even feel like it was set in NY, it was all too "staged".

3. The Merry Gentleman - I enjoyed this film, although a little slow moving - I think it was a great character study about two very emotionally guarded people. I am impressed with Michael Keatons directorial debut - he did a great job at creating a film about complicated and realistic relationships. The story revolves around an abused woman who decides to flee her life and start over. She struggles with keeping her past behind her while avoiding drama and keeping to herself especially when she is witness to a murder. She connects with a hit-man who is also struggling (with the fact that he kills people for a living...). Kelly Macdonald continues to be delightful and I hate seeing Bobby Cannavale as a bad guy (only because he did it too well...). The only thing that I didn't like about the film is that it pretty much sends the message that you shouldn't trust men (the three men that she involves herself with -her abusive boyfriend, a cop and a hit man are all liars). I think it sends the wrong message to women who are in abusive relationships.

4. The Soloist - Robert Downey Jr. has been one of my favorite actors ever since I was 12 and Hearts and Souls was released. I have never seen him in a bad performance and he continues to shine in this film. I am not so impressed with Director Joe Wright's body of work (Atonement was absolutely perfect for the first hour, but then it lost its steam and became almost unbearable to watch - saved by James McAvoy). I found The Soloist to be very pompous really - does Wright think he is enlightening his simple-minded audience about the plight of the homeless population of L.A? Because that is exactly what it felt like. I hated Downey's inner monologue and found it distracting and the story could be a little more cohesive. It is a shame that this film had no real emotional depth because the trailer was incredibly affecting - I almost teared up the first time I saw it. On a side note - I don't really like Jamie Foxx, although I have no particular reason that I can think of.

5. Obsessed - Dear Beyonce, Please stop pretending that you are an actress. You are an incredible singer/dancer/performer - lets just keep it at that. I can't really say I am a fan of this film. It was exactly what I was expecting, except I think it could have been more thrilling and suspenseful. I don't tend to like films that portray women as jealous, male-obsessed sociopaths (as both females were portrayed in this film). I do like Idris Elba and am happy that he is finding success in films (was everyone else as sad as I was when Stringer Bell was killed on The Wire?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

5 Shows That Have Been Great This Season

I have been really impressed with television this season - there are great new comedies (Modern Family, Community), new drama's (The Vampire Diaries, FlashForward) and one amazing new hybrid (Glee!). However, there are also several seasoned shows that have been better this season. Here are shows that have really impressed me so far -

1. Grey's Anatomy - I thought for sure that I would stop watching Greys now that George is dead. Last season, the show was so dull and predictable - I was ready and willing to say goodbye to it. I decided to watch the premiere giving it one last chance to capture my interest and I have to say - it was so well done that I kept watching! And guess what - I have fallen back in love. The premiere was such a perfect send-off to George (Yes, I cried every time they played "Wade in the Water", I sobbed at Baileys response to her favorite interns death and I absolutely wept when they began to laugh hysterically at the funeral). I think it helps that this season the 2 most annoying characters (Izzie and Meredith) have been mostly m.i.a - letting some newcomers shine, and also giving more screen time to Yang who is funnier than ever (she compared the "in and out merger" list to Schindler's list claiming "I'm allowed - I'm Jewish"). I also really like the whodunit episode where they all tell their version of how a patient died to the Chief so he can figure out who was at fault. Every episode has been really well done, I am glad to have one of my favorite shows back.

2. Parks and Recreation - The first season of this show was enjoyable, however like I said - it pretty much was a copy of The Office. Now I feel that the show has grown into it's own. Leslie Knope and the rest of the supporting characters are fully developed and are all really hilarious. Making Chris Pratt a regular cast member was smart, so was giving more screen time to the hilarious Aubrey Plaza as April (I love her boyfriend...and his boyfriend. Genius.). I loved the last episode where they all had to create a mural to show the history of Pawnee. Or should I say murinal? Ohmygod..I almost died. I think that the show is actually funnier than 30 Rock, I guess it helps that I actually like every character...

3. Fringe - Fringe is fantastic. The first season was really good, but the second season is even better. It's clearly similar to Alias with a bit more sci-fi X-Files twist. I am a little upset that they flat out stole some Alias plot lines (my bff is not really my bff anymore, instead an evil force has taken the body of my bff - one of the best Alias twists ever!). However, I love that they have kept every episode intriguing without being confusing, they give us little hints and clues at something bigger, but they focus on each "fringe" case separately. I absolutely LOVE the chemistry between Pacey and Olivia - I will loathe the day when they will inevitably get together, because they clearly share a brother/sister love for one another. I am upset that the ratings are dropping (fast!) because FOX moved it to Thursday night (up against the most watched shows on television). I hope FOX realizes their mistake and they move it back to Tuesday nights instead of canceling it.

4. Mad Men - So there has been a lot of chatter that this season of Mad Men was disappointing, but I feel the exact opposite. So much has happened this season - and that season finale!!! It was amazing. I love Betty Draper and I feel like her character really shined this season, especially towards the end when she finally tells Don she wants a divorce. I did, however, miss Joan - I hated that she left the company - but she obviously will be back. Yes, some of the episodes were a little slow - but overall most of this season has been spot on.

5. 90210 - Don't ask me why I watched such a ridiculous show last year, but I did. I never even got into the original Beverly Hills, 90210, so I really don't know why I had any interest in a new version. The first season was practically unwatchable, the main character Annie was a bore, the worst actress on television- AnnaLynne McCord's hair was distracting, and none of the guys were attractive. However, the second season is practically addictive. Annie, while still a bore, is featured less - while the focus is on the more complicated Erin and Adrianna. I also like the "surfer clique" that they have going - with new characters Liam and Teddy (both hot). McCord's hair is still ridiculous, but they have made her character really funny. I am not a fan of Rumor Willis or the new guy that is Annie's boyfriend (and a drug dealer) - maybe they will both get killed off before the season finale?

There are some shows that seem to be getting worse as well - Desperate Housewives is a complete bore (Drea DeMateo is an awful addition to Wisteria Lane), Heroes is unwatchable, Project Runway was the worst season yet (mostly due to the limited appearance of Nina Garcia and Michael Kors) and Gossip Girl is not as shocking as it pretends to be (really that was the threesome that the Parents Council was freaking out about? I think we've seen worse on any of those crazy reality shows on E!, VH1 and MTV - why are we not calling attention to how these shows are corrupting our youth?)

10 Films to See This Holiday Season

The Fall movie season was a complete bust, but at least the films coming out this Holiday season look much more appealing. Here are the films that I am excited about...

1. Up In The Air (12/4) - It is already garnering some rather impressive reviews, plus there is Oscar buzz for Clooney, new-comer Anna Kendrick and writer/director Jason Reitman. Add a supporting cast that includes Vera Farmiga and Jason Bateman and you could possibly have my favorite film of the year.

2. The Last Station (12/4) - Is it wrong that the only reason I want to see this film is for James McAvoy? It also has several other impressive stars - Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti and Anne-Marie Duff (McAvoy's wife). The film is about Tolstoy, which could be extremely educational and interesting or incredibly dull. We will see....

3. The Lovely Bones (12/11) - I have no interest in reading this book, nor did I have interest in seeing the film - that is until I saw the trailer. WOW. I know Peter Jackson is supposed to be a film god but I am not really a fan (LOTR's films are simply just too long and boring and King Kong was ridiculous), however this film looks amazing. Plus, Saoirse Ronan is a great young actress and who knew that Stanley Tucci could be that...creepy...

4. A Single Man (12/11) - The directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford could be a complete disaster, but this film looks really strong and emotional- the story is of a gay English professor dealing with the death of his partner. Colin Firth is garnering Oscar buzz (finally!).

5. Avatar (12/18) - James Cameron's first film since Titanic - YES, it has taken him this long to complete this film - so it better be fantastic! So far, I am not really impressed with the trailer and I hate seeing films in 3-D (they give me a headache), but I am excited for Sam Worthington (the hot guy from Terminator: Salvation) and the special effects look outstanding.

6. It's Complicated (12/25) - o.k. so I don't really have much interest in seeing this film, but I know my mom will - therefore I will likely be seeing it this Christmas. At least the cast is amazing - and not just it's 3 super-stars - Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin- it also has a supporting cast that includes Hunter Parrish (LOVE him) and John Krasinski.

7. Sherlock Holmes (12/25) - Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. - need I say more? The trailer doesn't really capture my interest in the way that I was hoping, however I still HAVE to see this film. I do like that they stuck to a dark version of Sherlock Holmes as opposed to a campy version. It also seems action packed and humorous. I hope so anyway.

8. Youth in Revolt (1/8) - I will literally sit through anything that Michael Cera does (proven by the fact that I watched Year One in its entirety..), so him being in this (and playing 2 different characters) is the sole reason I want to see this film. And I like the title. Is that a good reason?

9. Daybreakers (1/8) - Are there too many vampire films being released? Yes. Does it seem to be ending anytime soon? Nope. However, I really liked the trailer for this film. It seems different in that it takes place after vampires have already taken over, so that humans are the minority. I feel like it is a great idea, but will likely be overshadowed by the fact that it is yet another vampire movie.

10. Wonderful World (1/8) - I worked for Ambush Entertainment (the production company that produced this film) for a short while last year, so I was able to see a few different cuts of this film. I am excited to see the final product - it's not a great film by any means, but I like the story plus it has Michael K. Scott (from the fantastic show The Wire) and a great young actress Jodelle Ferland. The biggest downfall is Sanaa Lathan's accent - truly awful.