I am always playing catch up with films that I missed watching in the theaters. Here are a few from 2008 that I finally watched.
1. The Vicious Kind - This was one of those indie films that I kept my eye out for - hoping it would land in the one independent theater in my area, but alas it never did. I finally watched it on my instant Netflix. I was intrigued by the casting of this film - I have never seen Adam Scott in a dramatic role and have never seen Brittany Snow in a "mature" role. They both nailed their parts perfectly (plus it features the always perfect JK Simmons). The story is interesting from the start - it is about Caleb (Scott) who has obvious f***ed up feelings towards women (they are all whores) and his steps towards reconciling those feelings. He becomes infatuated with his brothers girlfriend (Snow) while warning his brother that she will inevitably break his heart. It doesn't help that the girlfriend strikes an amazing resemblance to Calebs ex (who I assume cheated on him and is the reason for his hatred of women). Another reason for his hatred of women is that he believes that his mother cheated on his father and then abandoned him (by dying of Cancer). I absolutely love that the main character is completely unlikeable and complicated (and contradictory - he treats women like garbage but then defends a random woman who is being disrespected by 2 strange men). I love that he believes that the only way to protect his brother is by hurting him. Finally, I love that his theory inevitably rings true - the girlfriend cheats on her boyfriend with Caleb (the same night she takes her boyfriends virginity) - what a whore!! Overall, I enjoyed this film - it had a great simple plot, the acting was subtle and dramatic - plus it didn't try to teach any sort of lesson (other than the simple message that "life is messy").
2. Nothing Like the Holidays - At first glance, this film seems like another family oriented holiday film - yawn. But, I remember seeing the trailer - and being really excited for it. First of all, you don't see many Hispanic families represented in films. Second, I love Jay Hernandez (ever since 2001's Crazy/Beautiful). Third, the rest of the cast is fantastic (and what a huge cast that is!). The film wasn't really anything special or memorable. I love seeing a "real" family - only because my family dynamic is rather small, however - I think they tried to tell too many stories at once - and none of them were at all interesting (and mostly predictable).
3. Lakeview Terrace - Patrick Wilson became a favorite actor of mine with his work in the Angels in America mini-series (one of the best mini-series on tv. ever.). However, Samuel L. Jackson usually over-acts and plays the same bad-ass character (plus I can't see him without picturing him on the witness stand yelling out "Yes they deserve to die! I hope they burn in Hell." - greatest quote ever). The film was directed by Neil Labute - which is the only feature of the film that peaked my interest. As a Drama studies major - I am familiar with Labute more as a playwright than film maker (although he has turned some of his plays into films). He mostly deals with darker side of human nature - and while his plays usually fall short in plot, the characters are sure to be complicated. This is exactly what happens with this film - the plot is ridiculous and quite stupid, however - it speaks a lot about human nature, stereo-typing, racism and interracial relationships. Plus it is another film featuring Jay Hernandez (what a nice coincidence..).
4. Incendiary - I admit that Michelle Williams has grown on me (I absolutely hated her as Jen Lindley on Dawson's Creek - she was the weakest link on that show), but now I see her as a decent actress (and a pretty down to earth person - she could have used her relationship with the late Heath Ledger to her advantage but instead kept mum and prioritized protected their daughter instead. I have a huge amount of respect for that alone). That being said - I do not like her in this film. Her British accent is embarrassing - plus the fact that she just oozes "all American girl" - she is just plain awkward trying to fit in as part of London's working class. So, the films big "lesson" is: Bad things happen when you cheat on your husband. In her case, things went particularly awful (her husband and child were both killed in a terrorist attack at a Football game as she was in the middle of adultery - I can't say it could possibly get any worse than that). The irony of the film is shoved in your face (her husband is a bomb diffuser and is killed by a bomb). The plot is predictable (her husbands co-worker tries to get with her after the tragedy and *spoiler alert* he knew there was a terrorist threat at the game). The only interesting part of the film is her downward spiral of craziness that turns into delusional seclusion. It asks the question - how does one possibly survive such a tragedy (and is it even worth surviving)? The answer is a resounding NO - that is until we realize that she is pregnant. The writers obviously knew that there is no way to give this woman a reason to not kill herself without introducing a "new beginning" of sorts. I can't say that I liked this film, but it kept me interested and kept my emotions stirring.