I am so happy that I finally saw some great films in the theater this past week. "The Town" and "Easy A" both lived up to my expectations. Here is why you should see these films ASAP.
1. Ben's Redemption - The "director of Gone Baby Gone" is fantastic in this film. Not only did he create a beautiful, suspenseful and complicated story - he acted the hell out of his role in the film. It was like watching the 1997 Ben Affleck that America fell in love with.
2. Oscar nominations all around - Seriously, one of the best ensemble acting I have seen all year. Jeremy Renner (who I totally feel like I discovered - I have been a fan since he was in S.W.A.T - 7 years ago and have been following his career ever since) proved that last year's Oscar nomination was not a fluke. His character is dangerous and unpredictable, yet he embodies this on-screen presence that just forces the audience to root for him. The most unbelievably great performance comes from the least likely candidate - Blake Lively. When I saw her in the trailer, I had my doubts - dismissing her as the obvious weak link of the film. I am still in shock by her gritty performance as a drug dealing single mom. I don't understand how she did this so well, yet can't express a single emotion on Gossip Girl. She has suddenly jumped to the top of my list of Hollywood it-girls. I have always found her to be astonishingly beautiful, so I am pleasantly surprised that she can actually act. Jon Hamm and Rebecca Hall were also satisfying - but that was expected.
3. Rooting for the bad guy - Jon Hamm was on Jimmy Fallon recently to promote this film and he spoke of the premiere (that was fittingly in Fenway Park - which is heavily featured in the end of the film. Boston must heart Ben Affleck for letting him film in such a sacred space) in which the audience ferociously booed every time his character (a cop) appeared on screen. It is totally true - the audience identifies with the bank robbers yet not in the same vein as Oceans 11 where the robbers were charming, sexy Robin Hood type heroes. The bad guys in The Town are actual bad guys - they shoot at cops and steal from innocent people. Why on earth do we root for them?
4. I'm not the only one - So far critics are raving - it currently has a 94% RT rating. While I don't think this film is the greatest crime thriller ever, it is certainly my favorite film of the year so far.
1. Emma Stone - Right from the beginning it is clear that she is awesome. But then she becomes even more awesome when she sings and dances to "Pocket full of Sunshine" - a song that she loathes. It is one of the best dance sequences ever (and a whole lot better than the unnecessary one at the end of the film). She is officially a movie star.
2. It's quotable - I know I will be saying "let's bucket list this bitch" at least a few times in the next month. I laughed out loud several times and I can't wait to watch it over and over again. It's not as great as "stop trying to make fetch happen", but it certainly had some memorable moments and some great one-liners.
3. Never underestimate the power of an amazing supporting cast - Hands down best part of the film were the parents - played by Stanley Tucci (who has never been funnier) and Patricia Clarkson. I also enjoy Dan Byrd (who is outstanding as Courtney Cox's son on Cougar Town) and I thought Aly Michalka was very funny (from the new series Hellcats). I didn't even mind the usually annoying Amanda Bynes and Penn Badgley (who once again appeared shirtless even though he is not hot).
4. It actually has a point - It's not just a stupid teen comedy. It's social commentary on the way sexually active teen girls are viewed as sluts while teen boys are applauded for their sexual encounters. Olive, after lying about losing her virginity to seem cool, suddenly is viewed as a "harlot" in the same fashion as Hester from The Scarlet Letter. She decides to embrace her new identity by wearing lingerie (a wardrobe that would surely not be allowed in High School - even a public one) with a giant red A sewn on. She starts charging boys to say that they slept with her (because then they would be seen as "cool"). Oh the injustice of it all...