Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Thoughts on 9 Recently Released DVD's

I have been trying very hard to catch up on all the films that I missed seeing in the are my thoughts on some recently viewed DVD's...

1. Up - Super cute film, unique characters and plot - however I am still not a Pixar film fan. I think the biggest reason that this film has such high reviews is that it is an impossible film to hate. The dog was obviously the best part - "It's funny because the squirrel dies". Hilarious.

2. Drag Me to Hell - Another film with an impossible high rt rating (92%) - it is actually one of the best reviewed films of the year. The film is definitely creepy and quite disgusting - I am sure it probably is scary as hell if seen in a theater. Unfortunately, I don't think it translated well on DVD - it was never really scary at all. I absolutely hate Justin Long - no particular reason, I just think he is really bland. The acting was saved by Alison Lohman (loved her in Big Fish and Matchstick Men) - she did a great job at creating a distinct and grounded character in such a non-believable film. Was it really necessary to kill the cute, innocent kitten?

3. Extract - Jason Bateman and J.K Simmons must have it written in their contracts that they only do films together (Up in the Air, Juno and this film) - no complaints from me. I just wish this script served their combined comedic talents justice. This is a mostly forgettable film, with no character or plot developments worth remembering.

4. The Ugly Truth - I can't believe that I would actually admit this, but this film is not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong - it was dumb and predictable but it was also very cute and watchable. I hate Katherine Heigl, but Gerard Butler is delightful - he is very natural on-screen and macho (but in a good way). I also loved him in that awful film with Hillary Swank.

5. Adam - It was a decent film, but I expected it to be much better. The trailer was actually really quirky and funny - which is misleading because the film is not funny at all. Hugh Dancy did a respectable job as someone living with Asperger's Syndrome - although I don't know anyone with it so I guess I can't compare it to anyone. I liked that it was a love story where there was an actual "difficulty" to overcome (and not just he lives with his parents or he is a womanizer but love will change him - I am pretty sure I just described 2 Matthew McConaughey films...).

6. The Burning Plain- So my favorite films are 21 Grams, Babel and Amaros Perros. The writing and directing collaboration between Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was one of my favorite partnerships in film history. I was really sad when I read a few years ago that they would no longer be working together. I hope that they get over their difficulties and re-team soon. That being said Arriaga’s film (that he wrote and directed) was incredibly disappointing. Anyone educated in his writing will immediately be putting the pieces of the films together – and unfortunately it isn’t hard ( I think I figured it out after about 45 minutes) and once you know the story, there really is no point in watching the film. However, Charlize Theron is amazing (I am surprised that she really hasn’t received any recognition for this or her performance in The Road).

7. The Taking of Pelham 123 - I was right about the over-acting. I was right about the predictableness (is that a word?). I was really hoping for a surprise ending, but it never happened. It is a complete waste of time.

8. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - Oh Jennifer Garner – you can do so much better! Ditto for Emma Stone! Why would they participate in this absolute piece of crap film? This was one of the films that my mother forced me to sit through and even she thought it was pretty bad. And speaking of Matthew McConaughey, I actually liked Matt’s attitude in the beginning (the idea of love and marriage is ridiculous) but of course by the end he realizes the errors of his ways and changes his entire personality for love.

9. 9 - I didn't even do that on purpose - I swear. This film was absolutely awful and boring with absolutely no character development. The plot has been done several times before (humans vs machines) and it offered absolutely nothing new.

4 New Shows to Watch

It's that time again....mid-season pilots are here! Last year, I failed miserably at picking new shows to watch (out of the 6 shows only 2 are still on the air - "Parks and Recreation" and "Southland" - which was thankfully saved by TNT). This year I decided to narrow my choices - it's exhausting watching shows that keep getting cancelled! Hopefully my picks will be more successful this year...

1. Parenthood, NBC 3/1 - It is almost a shame that this series didn't debut last fall like it was supposed to because now it almost seems like a rip-off of Modern Family. Although seemingly more serious, it still deals with the dysfunctionality (is that a word?) of "real" families. I will forever be a Peter Krause fan, as for the rest of the cast I am a little nervous. I honestly was looking forward to Maura Tierney in this type of role (she sadly had to drop out because due to breast cancer - which is why the show was delayed). Lauren Graham is a satisfying replacement - although I never got into the whole Gilmore Girls obsession, people seem to like her. My biggest complaints are Dax Shepard (really? on the same show as Peter Krause? really?) and Erika Christensen (the girl from films like Swimfan). I guess we will see if they actually have any talent or not.

2. The Deep End, ABC 1/21 - This premiered a few weeks ago and so far it is a little weak, but I can see it developing into something great. The producers describe it as a "reboot" of the law shows - which admittedly have been a little stale lately. Watching Tina Majorino play an adult makes me feel especially old, but that is just something I am going to have to get used to. Could this be the next Grey's Anatomy or will ABC cancel it before it has a chance to develop?

3. Life Unexpected, The CW 1/18 - Also premiered a few weeks ago - so far so good. I really like the dialogue (although nothing like the wittiness of Juno as described) and the character's relationships with one and other. It is a sweet show with a unique storyline and a great cast. I think that the girl is actually kind of annoying but I enjoy Baze (Kristoffer Polaha - does anyone remember that show Miss Guided? Another great cancelled show...) and of course Dawson's Creek alum Kerr Smith - but I get the feeling he might not be on the show for very long. Hopefully producers will make him a series regular...

4. Archer, FX 1/14 - I guess I am a little late with this post because this show has premiered as well and it is absolutely fantastic. The first episode was actually really bland but the next 3 have been pee in your pants funny. I am always amazed at what animation can get away with (it follows the footsteps of Family Guy and South Park in that it is completely crass and politically incorrect). Also, some of the voice talent are actors from Arrested Development ( Judy Greer and Jessica Walter) which is a plus.

5 Reason's Why I Recommend "Avatar", Even Though I Didn't Love It

1. Technologically speaking, It is a Masterpiece - When you look back at film history, it is very hard to pinpoint specific films as a "the one" that changed the way films are made. This film will. While watching the film I thought to myself this must be what it was like for film goers to watch "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time. James Cameron didn't just create a film, he created an entire world and anyone with the slightest interest in film making or film history should be a part of it.

2. IMAX 3D - It is the ONLY way to see the film, so if you are planning on waiting for the DVD - don't bother. The film was specifically made for this type of screen, so watching it any other way is almost a disservice to the genius behind it. I personally, find 3D films very difficult to watch - Avatar gave me a 48 hour headache and yet I don't regret watching it this way.

3. Giovanni Ribisi & Sam Worthington - There is a lot of discussion over whether Cameron's "performance capture" technique should really be considered "acting", whether or not you say yes or no - there are still great "traditional" acting to be seen. Ribisi is awesome (as usual) as the films antagonist, while Worthington was just as awesome as the films hero. I am quite excited to see where their careers take them after this film.

4. The story is classic - It is a weird phenomenon that a film this gigantic is better liked by the critics than my friends. Most people I know claimed to hate the film (some even walked out) - most of the complaints being that the story was generic and boring. Most of the critics that I follow praised the film - noting that the story, although generic, is largely overcome by the special effects. I find the latter to be true. The story is not original - but neither was Titanic. Whether you love or hate James Cameron, you can't deny that his specialty is turning a mundane story into a spectacle. My biggest complaint is that he presented a world that was very black and white - not the many shades of grey that make life complicated. This was also represented very literally by it's racial overtones - the evil in the film was represented by Caucasian, male American soldiers who blindly kill on command, while the only soldier who questions the morality of it all is a Hispanic, female soldier.

5. It is not "Titanic" - I think that the only reason people that I know are so disappointed by the film is because they were making this comparison. It is nothing like Titanic. Here is why:

1. I would never watch it again.
2. Sam and Zoe are no Leo and Kate.
3. There is no depth to any of the characters.

So, while the film has the creative mind of James Cameron it is still missing the 3 key ingredients that Titanic had. Titanic had this "coolness" to it that made you want to watch it over and over (and over and over...). The dialogue was witty, the characters were multi-dimensional and Leo and Kate had instant on-screen chemistry. They made the world fall in love with Jack and Rose.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Golden Globes: 11 Best Moments; 6 Worst Moments

I actually think that the Hollywood Foreign Press did a decent job at picking their winners for this years Golden Globes- I don't have any major complaints (although...while I agree that James Cameron deserves the win for the hard work that he put into "Avatar," I was secretly rooting for his ex-wife Katheryn Bigelow and I do believe that "The Hangover" is the funniest film of the year - however, I feel that "500 Days of Summer" was a better quality film). Here are my best & worst moments from last nights show....


1. Best Quote - It is a tie between Paul McCartney's "animation is not just for children... it is for adults who take drugs" and Meryl Streep's "I want to change my name to T-Bone. T-Bone Streep."

2. Best Dress - also a tie between Olivia Wilde's super sexy low cut number and Emily Blunt's sweet pink gown (which was accented perfectly by her beach wavy hair - perfect for a rainy day).

3. Best Win - Michael C. Hall finally won! His was definitely the most well-deserved win of the night.

4. Best Surprise Appearance - Did you ever think you would see Mike Tyson on the Golden Globes stage? Twice?

5. Best Genuine Speech - Drew Barrymore who made fun of her own "lisp and paralysis".

6. Best Speech - Robert Downey Jr. (a completely unnecessary win) "not thanking" anyone.

7. Best Host Ever - Most critics are bashing Ricky's performance, but I thought he was pretty funny - he did seem a little nervous and not all of his jokes worked - for the most part he did a respectable job. My favorite joke? " I like a drink as much as the next man...unless the next man is Mel Gibson." as Mel entered the stage the camera flashes to the audience gasping. Brilliant.

8. Best Fashion Risk Takers - Chloe Sevigny and Anna Kendrick - I can't say I actually liked either of their dresses, but I respect that they actually took risks. That is what fashion is about!!

9. Best Couple - Sandi B & her husband Jesse James. He never comes to awards shows with her, so you know this was definitely a special night for her - good thing she won! We just might hear her name come Oscar nomination time.

10. Best Kiss - And one of the best moments of the night...As Julianna Marguiles is making her way to the stage to accept her win she runs right into her old E.R co-star George Clooney and gave him a quick smooch. Best Television Couple Ever.

11. Best Unexpected Win - Glee! I am so happy that it stole the award from 30 Rock! I really didn't think it would. The cast looked amazing. Leah Michelle is gorgeous.


1. Worst Presenters - Tie between the pairing of Zoe Saldana/Sam Worthington and Jen Aniston/Gerard Butler - all of whom looked bored to death and literally just read the nominees and winners without any charming interactions at all. At least they are all hot...

2. Worst Upset Win - Tie between RDJ winning over JGL and Mad Men winning over Dexter. As much as I love RDJ and Mad Men - I just can't support them for the win this year.

3. Worst Dress - 3 way tie - Lauren Graham and Diane Kruger both wore hot pink prom dress disasters, while Penelope Cruz wore an off-the-shoulder lace and satin get-up that was very unflattering (yes, I didn't think it was possible either!).

4. Worst Pre-Show Interviewer - Gulianna DePandi/Rancic seriously needs to be fired. Not only does she look like an alien, she continuously makes a complete ass of herself every time she does an interview. Her questions were lame (what is your diet? seriously, it is the golden globes!) and she gets flustered when George Clooney walks by her - screaming out his name in hopes he would wave to her?! So unprofessional. Plus she looked like she was wearing tin foil - Ryan even referred to her dress as "balloon boy dress".

5. Worst Person to Present the Best Film of the Year - Seriously, they couldn't find a more substantial actor than Taylor Lautner to present Best Picture nominee 500 Days of Summer?

6. Worst Moment of the Whole Show - Seeing Michael C. Hall looking so sickly -it just about broke my heart. I hope his recovery (from Hodgkin's Lymphoma) continues to go well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

3 Reasons Why "Youth In Revolt" Should Have Been A Better Film

I was really looking forward to "Youth in Revolt" - but unfortunately it was a very disappointing film - not a bad film just not as good as it should have been. Here are reasons that it should have been a better film.

1. The premise - it is based on a book (one that I actually want to read) about an awkward teen (Michael Cera) who falls in love with an unattainable girl. In order to get the girl (and compete with her "perfect" boyfriend) he decides to go to extreme measures - with the help of his alter ego (Michael Cera with a mustache). I expected a cute, coming of age comedy - similar to Nick and Nora, but the film never really developed into anything worth remembering. I didn't really find myself laughing or falling in love with the characters.

2. Michael Cera - I am getting a little nervous about Cera's career - this is his third film in a row that I didn't like (Paper Heart & Year One are the other 2). had an article about Cera's future career stating that he really needs to stop playing himself, while I sort of agree that he needs to step outside his little box - I find comfort in his past films because Cera is an awkward guy in real life and therefore he usually portrays this awkwardness amazingly onscreen (like he does so well in Nick and Nora, Juno, Superbad & of course Arrested Development) - so really why should he stop? I love watching him, even if I know his acting skills aren't being stretched to its limits. But after seeing this film I did feel like his character felt a little repetitive. I don't know what the answer is - maybe he should do a reality tv show and just play himself? Ooooh and maybe he can get Adam Brody to join him? Now that would be a celeb-reality show worth watching.

3. The other actors - Ari Graynor (love her!), Fred Willard, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart and Zack Galifianakis are all great comedic actors - but were severely underused in the film. Newcomer Portia Doubleday was terrible as Michael's love interest - she was a poor version of Emma Stone. I also hate the never funny Justin Long.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

4 Reasons Why "Sherlock Holmes" is a Mediocre Film

I didn't hate "Sherlock Holmes", but it definitely wasn't as good as it could have been. It is a film that I will most likely forget about in a few months. Here is why I would describe it as a mediocre film -

1. The actors had more fun than the audience - a'la the Oceans Trilogy - the actors were definitely having a ton of fun, however in the Oceans films I felt like it translated well for the audience (maybe not as much in the second and third). In Sherlock Holmes the witty banter between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr was probably the best part of the film (both of them were spectacular), but it wasn't enough to really carry the whole film. It almost felt like they didn't want to let the audience in on the joke.

2. The story wasn't memorable - I couldn't even really tell you what it was about. The plot didn't really have a point or have any real depth to it.

3. Typical Guy Ritchie style - It is not necessarily a bad thing (I actually really like Guy Ritchie's films - especially Snatch) it is just that it isn't anything new. His action sequences were intense, but I felt like i have seen it a million times before.

4. It felt long - It was 2 hours & 14 minutes, which isn't that long for this type of film - it should move along quickly seeing as it is filled with action, yet after the first hour I kept hoping for the conclusion and checking the time...not a good sign for a film.