Friday, April 27, 2012

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. J. Edgar - It's widely agreed that the makeup is offensive, so I won't even focus on it.  Instead, I will focus on the story, which I felt was incredibly disappointing.  I rarely enjoy biopic films - there are a few exceptions, Milk being one of them.  I was hoping that since Dustin Lance Black was writing the screenplay, I would have another exception.  Unfortunately, the film was very unfocused, confusing and cluttered.  In between all of the history, there is a story of a conflicted man that was never fully developed. As the film came to an end, I realized that the only information that stuck in my head was that J. Edgar was an insecure liar.  I doubt that was the intent (or was it?).  Also, Leo = Fantastic.


Don't be Afraid of the Dark - A really shitty horror film.  I kind of new it would be, but I thought since Guillermo del Torro co-wrote it, there would at least be some original content.  It turned out to be a standard horror tale: dysfunctional family moves into a old, haunted mansion and they come to find out the mansion has a dark history.  There were no scares (unless the sound of whispering voices scares you), no interesting dynamic between the characters and very little imagination. 

3. Captain America: The First Avenger - The film starts off promising, but just went nowhere.  It was a perfectly fine superhero film, but it never attempts to push the envelope.  It felt almost like an afterthought as a way to introduce the character.  I was hoping to be swept away by Chris Evans but he bored me to death (still fucking sexy, though).  Hayley Atwell was a misfire, which was not totally her fault - the character was just plain bland and her dialogue was awful.  The only part of the film, where I felt my eyes widen with excitement was the end scene in Times Square.  Even though I saw it coming, it was perfectly executed. 

4. Tyrannosaur - This is one of those rare times when I wish I knew more about the movie, before I started watching it.  I wasn't prepared.  I tend to like films that people would consider "tough to watch", but I admit after the first few minutes, I felt sick.  I paused it, took a few deep breaths, then continued.  I had to do this 2 more times during the movie.  *slight spoilers ahead* Domestic abuse is a sensitive topic for me and honestly, if I knew that was part of the film, I would have avoided it.  As soon as I realized it, I actually yelled out "FUCK!" (Paused the film, took a few deep breaths, continued watching it; I was too invested to stop).  There is a point about 1/2 way through where I knew exactly how the last 20 minutes would play out (I was on point, 100%), which for a film like this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I tried not to focus on the plot but instead on the relationship between these two lost souls, which was absolutely breathtaking.  The acting was impeccable.  Oscar nominations all around. Oh wait.....nothing? Really?

5. A Dangerous Method - I have never been disappointed in a Cronenberg film.  Never, ever.  I've loved everything from The Fly to Eastern Promises and everything in between, especially my favorite Cronenberg film....wait for it....eXistenZ.  And really, to be completely honest, my personal favorite thing Cronenberg has ever done was his brief, but memorable guest spot on Alias as Dr. Brezzel.  Fucking genius.  Anyway, A Dangerous Method is definitely the worst of his films and to say that I was disappointed would be an understatement.  More like horrified.  Never mind the bland performances from otherwise talented guys, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen as Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, respectively.  I can't even comprehend Keira Knightley's attempt at Sabina Spielrein.  I read a few reviews of the film (after I watched it), some describe Kiera's performance as "astonishing", while others declared it "embarrassing".  I would say it's so embarrassing that it became quite astonishing.  I would put it right up there with the worst acting performances of all time (squished right between Mark Wahlberg in The Happening and Zooey Deschanel in The Happening).  The film is heavy on the dialogue, heavy on the history of psychoanalysis and mostly heavy on repetitive nonsense. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3 Thoughts on 21 Jump Street

1. It had some moments of greatness, but is overall disappointing - I was probably one of the few people that actually thought this film would be decent.  I vaguely remember watching the original show as a kid; I wasn't exactly a fan but I found it mindlessly entertaining.  I was excited about the casting of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum (plus the hilarious, Dave Franco!).  The trailer was really fun and action-packed.  The fact that I assumed it was going to be good is probably the reason that I was one of the few people who found it disappointing.  It was consistently funny but I would argue that it was a bit too consistent (and it just kept repeating the same gags over and over and over...).  Jonah and Channing have perfect chemistry, but the whole "bromance" theme was overdone and just plain stupid. 

2. "Fuck you, Glee" - So the concept of having adults go "back to school" and experience life as a teenager again is obviously not new, but this is the first film that acknowledges the fact that high school isn't like it used to be.  While most films declare the cool kids to be the jocks and the cheerleaders while the smart kids are the losers, this film blurs the line which makes it very confusing for our 2 back-to-schoolers.  Jenko (Tatum), used to be the popular, dumb jock and Schmidt (Hill) used to be the nerdy, loser geek but they find their roles reversed in a post-Glee world.  This was probably the best executed concept of the film.

3. Channing Tatum found his audience - I think everyone expected to trash his performance, like they do with every one of his movies.  The first film I've ever seen him in was, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (a film that I absolutely adore). I think that is the reason I never saw the hatred towards him justified.  He's obviously talented; even with those awful Step Up films you can't deny the guy has talent.  I thought, maybe, he was misguided in his film choices, but in retrospect, his choices are sort of genius because he has won over the female audience with sappy, romantic films like Dear John and The Vow and now he has won over the male audience with this film; looks like he's ready to take over the world. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Summer Movie Preview: 13 Films That I Am Excited About

1. The Avengers 5/4 – Aside from Iron Man, I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of the films that lead up to The Avengers.  The rest of them are ok, but far from spectacular.  So, why am I excited about it then??  Well, since I did enjoy Iron Man,  I am simply hopeful for the same amount of awesomeness.  I was disappointed with the casting of Thor and Captain America (Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans – pretty but booooring) and the casting of Hulk proved problematic so I am looking forward to some new faces; especially Jeremy Renner (more on my love for him later).  I like the idea of all these loner superhero’s forced to work together.  Plus, the trailer is fantastic.  But really the biggest reason for my excitement is: Joss Whedon - I would follow him to the ends of the earth. 

2. Girl in Progress 5/11 – I think I can safely say that I will be bawling hysterically through this entire film.  As the product of an unwanted teen pregnancy, growing up with a single mother whose idea of taking care of a child was to leave the cereal within reach, I obviously can relate to the story (the trailer is disturbingly accurate).  I’m sure my thoughts on the film will be incredibly personal, which is refreshing because I often find it hard to relate to “coming of age” tales.  I’m sure that my biggest frustration will be that I didn’t write it first!!!  

3. Prometheus 6/8 – If you’ve seen the trailer, then you understand my excitement.  It’s FUCKING AWESOME.  Also, the 3D trailer played before Titanic 3D and it looked even more awesome!! I can’t believe I am saying it but I think I might actually opt for the 3D version.  Hopefully, the headache will be worth it this time. 

4. Brave 6/22 – Pixar’s first feature with a female lead!! Blah blah blah.  I want to see it for Kelly Macdonald.  Huge girl crush alert.  I could just listen to her talk all day long. 

5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 6/22 – It looks totally fucking ridiculous, but I still need to see it out of pure curiosity.  I’ve never read the book but am tempted to buy it every time I see it.  It’s kind of a genius concept, it’s just also a really insane concept.  Plus, I am generally a huge fan vampire tales (aside from the Twilight films). 

6. To Rome with Love 6/22 – Obviously.

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 7/3 – Ok, so I was one of those people who was super pissed off that some idiot decided to reboot the Spider-Man franchise so soon.  Although, I do realize that after the monstrosity of Spider-Man 3 something, clearly, had to be done.  My interest started to peak a bit when Marc Webb was announced as the director because of how random and unlikely that choice was.  Then, I got super pissed again when Andrew Garfield was cast.  Who the fuck is he?!  I watched Never Let Me Go out of curiosity and wasn’t impressed – if a guy can’t convincingly portray being in love with Carey Mulligan (because really, what guy isn’t?) then how the fuck is he going to pull off Spider-Man?  But alas, he won me over with The Social Network and a few guest appearances.  My official description of him is “adorable” – not sure if that’s going to help him with this role, but I am interested enough to find out. 

8. Savages 7/6 – Oliver Stone describes the film as a “full-blown epic story of greed, violence, the border, the drugs, the relationships, the values of people”.  That’s a whole lot of story for one film but it is Oliver Stone…right?  I haven’t really liked his past 4 films, so hopefully this film can break the pattern. 

9. Ted 7/13 – I enjoy Mark Wahlberg in comedies (I Heart Huckabees, The Other Guys, The Happening…).  He is one of the few actors that can successfully pull off very different genres (and yes, he has had some major missteps).  I purposely did not watch the trailer for this film yet, because I know that they probably show the funniest shit in the trailer and that makes me very angry.  From what I’ve heard, it is very funny and outrageous.  There’s really not a lot of comedies on the agenda for this summer – at least ones that don’t make me want to vomit (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, That’s My Boy, Neighborhood Watch), so that leaves a lot of pressure on this one. 

10. The Dark Knight Rises 7/20 – How fitting that my most anticipated film of the year comes out on the BEST weekend of the year (my birthday weekend of course)!  I was blown away by Batman Begins and, aside from the length, The Dark Knight, was perfection (and the length thing is just a personal issue I have with films that are over 2 hours long that I am trying to get over….slowly).  If Christopher Nolan pulls this off (which from everything I’ve seen – he does), then this will be one of the very few trilogies in which I adore all 3 films (the only other one that I can think of is The Bourne Trilogy). 

11. Ruby Sparks 7/25 – I’m a sucker for films about writers, and this one has a really beautiful concept.  I just hope it doesn’t get overly cheesy with the romantic stuff. 

12. The Bourne Legacy 8/3 – Speaking of The Bourne Trilogy…..what the fuck?!  This was another film that angered me when I heard it was being developed.  Completely unnecessary.  Then, they cast Jeremy Renner and suddenly, I AM THERE.  I love him more and more with every film that he does.  It started with S.W.A.T  (a terrible movie, but I have watched it more times that I will ever admit to – for him and of course Colin Farrell), then got stronger with 28 Days Later and now I am officially head over heels after The Hurt Locker and The Town.  I appreciate that this film revolves around a “parallel story” to the Bourne story  instead of a re-boot, allowing for Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne if he so chooses (I actually think they should just leave well enough alone…but I don’t think that is ever an option anymore).  However, I am nervous that Paul Greengrass is not directing because he made 3 incredible action films - I just can't see The Bourne Legacy having the same impact without him.

13. Total Recall 8/3 – I’ve never seen the original.  OOOPSIES!  I will correct that soon, hopefully, before I watch this one.  In all honesty, I just want to see it for Colin Farrell.  He’s sexy, no doubt, but I often have to argue with people that he is actually a great actor (Tigerland. Watch it. ). 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts on 4 Films

1. Carnage - I think I would probably prefer to watch the play God of Carnage over this film. It wasn't bad, but I think it would have been more effective on stage with live performances. The acting was impeccable, although the characters were a little one dimensional. The plot was a little simplistic, but relevant to today's "bully" issues - taken from the perspective of the parents. It's basically the parents of the "victim" confronting the parents of the "bully" about their parenting skills. At first, everyone is polite and pleasant but as the film progresses the characters are confined to a small space (for no apparent reason) and everything begins to break - true personalities begin to shine through and it isn't pretty (although it isn't as explosive as it pretends to be - we can tell that these characters are "faking it" from the beginning). The dialogue feels a little forced and the overall film is pretty shallow.

2. The Rum Diary - I read the book quite a while ago, I remember enjoying it but I don't remember much about it. The film was not enjoyable at all, it was actually quite boring. There wasn't much of a plot to speak of and Johnny Depp was uncharacteristically lifeless. The best part of the film is Amber Heard. I can't tell if she is actually a good actress or not - all I know is that every time she appeared in the film, my eyes were glued to the screen. Damn, she is sexy.

3. Like Crazy - I had heard really good things about this film, but I don't really agree with any of it. Reviewers described it as a refreshing take on a passionate and genuine love affair, but I would argue that the poster image is much more passionate than the actual film. The biggest mistake is that the narrative of the film jumps forward, cutting out the most important parts. I kept wondering what happened in between the two scenes and that was frustrating. I felt like the stuff that happened outside of what we see is probably the more interesting story. My heart did stop when they went to Catalina Island, one of my favorite places in the entire world - I hope it doesn't get infested with hipsters now. The big lesson of the film to be learned is: Do not fall for someone who lives in another country. It may be too late for me, save yourself!!

4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - I didn’t really like the original, and I like Fincher’s version even less. Aside from the music and the opening credits, it’s not really worth watching. It’s about an hour too long, the plot is drawn out (especially if you already know it) and the actual mystery being solved isn’t all that interesting. So, here is where I begin to vent (*Spoilery*). I have severe issues with the character of Lisbeth. It all started with an article in Entertainment Weekly, written by Libby Gleman-Waxner called “Girl Talk”, where she states that she wants her teenage daughter to look up to Lisbeth and not to those HelloGiggles girls, specifically, Zooey Deshanel. Sure, there are a lot of great qualities to be found in Lisbeth – she is smart, independent, brave, and sure, Zooey Deshanel annoys the fuck out of me. However, I can’t fault the girl for trying to bring a little positive energy into this world. She is still someone who is smart, independent and brave but she is also something called happy and NICE. Why wouldn’t you want your daughter to look up to her? In high school, I was voted “Most Likely to Brighten Your Day” which 10 years later (ok…maybe more than that…) is rather laughable to think about. The world has torn me down and that angers me. I strive everyday to be like the girl that I once was and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. When I am near young girls, I put a smile on my face and pretend like the world is a magical place. I do not want the next generation of girls to be cold, emotionally damaged and closed-off. Why would any mother want this for their own child? This brings me to my next point, Lisbeth as a victim. Let’s be honest, most women have had bad things happen to them at the hands of a man (I hope this isn’t shocking to you) and of course, it is always satisfying when a woman exacts revenge. The way she got this revenge was just way too unrealistic for it to be taken seriously. The obvious flaw in the plot is in fact her size – she can’t weigh more than 90lbs, there is no way she could drag that fairly large man down the hall. In reality, this girl would have ended up at the bottom of a river somewhere. I think this is probably where I would fault the casting – although I think Rooney Mara did a decent job, she is sooo tiny and frail, unless she has some secret martial arts skills, I find it hard to believe her in this role. Also, the fact that she willingly went to his place and taped her own rape is problematic – he could easily go to the police himself and claim she is batshit crazy (which she is already legally found to be not of sound mind) and wanted to act out some crazy rape fantasy and now she is using it to blackmail him. Anyway, my point is that as satisfying as this revenge is – I would hate to encourage it. Going back to the “Girl Talk” article, the writer claims Lisbeth embodies “modern womanhood” because she “takes satisfyingly violent revenge against male criminals,” which is rather disturbing. Is that really what we want as “modern women”? My final complaint about Lisbeth is that she perpetuates the stereotype that lesbian’s are just really girls who have “daddy issues” – all they really need is a good dick to "straighten" them right out. I’m assuming that she is supposed to be seen as bisexual, but that was never really proven. What we are left with (in Fincher’s version) is a very straight girl pining away for the one guy that actually treated her nicely, so the audience can sigh and say “poor Lisbeth,” which really just defeats the entire purpose of her character. Alright, I am done venting. For now.