I had a little bit of time on my hands - so I decided to check out some films from 2009 that have been sitting on my list of films to see (it is a ridiculously long list). Here are my thoughts:
1. It's Complicated - so, in short - it's not very complicated. It's rather dull, lacking any unexpected twists or memorable moments. It also has a lot of old people sex (ew - haha). I usually am a fan of Meryl Streep, but I just think she should focus on more intelligent films than this. The best part of the cast, John Krasinski and Hunter Parrish, were severely underused. John has proven that he is a movie star with films like Away We Go and Leatherheads, so this film was a step backwards in his career. I'm not sure why he would choose such a small role (perhaps he was enticed by the other actors involved) but at least his role was a significant one - as opposed to Hunter who could have easily been replaced by a card board cut-out. I think he may have had like 3 lines in the whole film. Usually playing Meryl Streeps son is a step in the right direction (think Leonardo DiCaprio in Marvin's Room. Anyone?) but this was a misstep for Hunter. Also, I never realized how annoying Alec Baldwin is - don't get me wrong I enjoy him on 30 Rock and a few essential SNL skits but I realized with this film I don't like him as a film actor.
2. The Unborn - This film was a horror movie disaster - but it did have 3 redeeming qualities that made it watchable: 1. Kids are always creepy - no matter what the circumstance - just throw in a creepy looking kid and some jolting music and you have yourself a horror film. I jumped a few times in the beginning, even when I anticipated the scary moments - so in that way the film was a success. 2. Odette Yustman & Cam Gigandet - not really household names yet (although Cam might be recognized from the first Twilight film), but they have both been on my "it" list for up and coming actors for a little while now. I first noticed Yustman in Cloverfield. Not only is she gorgeous, she also bears and uncanny resemblance to Megan Fox. I think Yustman has more of that "girl next door" thing going for her, especially since the short lived television drama October Road. I am pretty sure she will be around for a while. Cam Gigandet will always be Ryan Atwoods arch nemesis Volchok from The O.C. - and therefore my arch nemesis as well!! Unfortunately, he is also undeniably hot (both physically and career-wise) so I will have to try to forgive him for being a douche to one of my favorite t.v characters ever.
3. The fear of losing your mind - I pretty much lost interest in the film after 45 minutes (something about a twin and the holocaust??), but I did find it super unsettling when Yustman's character starts losing her marbles as she hallucinates creepy children and even creepier bugs. That would be just about the worst feeling in the world.
3. Against the Current - I was really excited about this film because I worked at Ambush Entertainment while this film was being made. I was in love with the script – it was probably my favorite project of theirs (aside from a film that was just released in limited theaters called Everyday - such a great screenplay - but it is not getting very good reviews). I saw a rough cut of Against the Current while I was there– but it was very choppy editing and I can't say that I was impressed. I did think they did a great job at casting - Joseph Fiennes, Justin Kirk and Elizabeth Reaser (aka "Jane Doe" on Grey's Anatomy). I was disappointed that the final version seems just as choppy. I don’t really feel like you understand the pain that he is in – until the graveyard scene, but that is not the case in the screenplay. It is actually a really amazing story about a man who experienced something really tragic - something that he just can't live with so he decides to swim the Hudson river (GROOOSSS) and comes to a decision about his life that his friends have a hard time dealing with. It was written really well, in that it is incredibly depressing yet it is light and entertaining with lively and complicated characters. It is a shame that they weren't able to pull that off on-screen.
4. Mammoth - I love Gael Garcia Bernal and I sometimes love Michelle Williams – I liked the synopsis of the film – it was compared to Babel about three intersecting stories. However, whoever wrote that synopsis must have been watching a different film. Absolutely nothing happened the first hour of the film. I had no idea where the film was going, what the point was and why I was wasting my time. The story was about a wealthy and successful couple (a doctor and a website creator) who don't have a lot of time for each other. They have a daughter who is basically raised by their nanny. The nanny starts teaching her daughter her own culture (Filipino) and language and is longing for her own son that still lives in the Philippines. I felt a little sorry for William's character - having her daughter grow closer to the nanny than to her while her husband is off on some "business" getaway where he bonds with a prostitute. I get the whole appreciate what you have aspect but it just wasn’t done well – nothing bad happens to the rich couple. It was almost offensive in how pointless it was if you think about it.
5. Zombieland - Emma Stone? Love. Woody Harrelson? Love. Zombie flicks? Love. So, explain to me why I didn't love this film? My theory is that it tried too hard to be ironic and self-reflexive - something that Shaun of the Dead excels at but this filmed seemed to fail miserably. It just didn't strike me as clever or memorable in any way. I enjoyed the whole "rules" on how to survive a zombie attack - like "always shoot twice". It also had some comedic moments - none that are actually memorable but I do remember laughing. I really have nothing else to say about this film - other than it was an incredible disappointment.
6. The Boys are Back - I really liked the story (although depressing), the strongly developed characters and the acting - Clive Owen is usually fantastic. However, I can't say that I enjoyed the film as a whole. It was slightly boring and forgettable when it should have some sort of impact and an emotionally stirring experience. The story was of a man whose wife passed away and now he is struggling as a single father. Even though it is obviously sad - the story had a lot of uplifting father and son moments that provided some lightness to the film. I can't quite put my finger on what went wrong, but I know that I should have felt something - anything but I didn't. I would still recommend it to anyone that likes quieter films with strong acting.
7. The Messenger - See my above review of The Boys are Back - Quiet. Strong acting. Not a lot of impact. It's a "war" film but more about soldiers than actual war. It is about the soldiers that fight their internal demons and the impact that being a soldier has on one's life. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster play soldiers that play a different part of war - they are not the ones fighting they are the ones that are sent to comfort the loved ones of dead soldiers. Except they are not supposed to "comfort" anyone instead they are supposed to be cold and distant. This proves impossible when Samantha Morton enters the picture. The film was predictable and slow (I actually found my thoughts drifting to other things - which is never a good sign), but again - see it for the acting. Ben Foster is fantastic.