Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. To Rome with Love - I enjoy most Woody Allen movies, but there is a distinct period of time where I really didn't care for his movies (everything from Mighty Aphrodite through Melinda and Melinda). This movie reminds me of this time period in Allen's filmography. It's still distinctly a Woody Allen movie, just not one of the better ones. Compared to his last movie, Midnight in Paris, it falls flat. Expectations were a little too high - not just for me, a lot of people were expecting the same magic and were disappointed.  It has a lot of the same themes that run through his films (pseudo-intellectuals, celebrity culture, life-defining moments, love vs lust, etc), but it all felt a little unfocused and cluttered.  I had issues with the cast/characters - none of whom were very memorable, except Jesse Eisenberg (who embodies the same awkwardness as Allen, himself). Ellen Page was miscast (she does pretentious well, but I don't buy her as the "dream girl").  I liked the story-line featuring her and Eisenberg, though; definitely one of the better stories in the movie (the weakest story was obviously the couple that get separated for a whole day (GASP! A WHOLE DAY! How do they survive?? Well, *spoiler* she gets lost in Rome and ends up sleeping with a celebrity, while he hires a prostitute to take her place while she is missing - that's totally natural, right?).  The biggest missing link in the film is that it doesn't make me fall in love with Rome (as Allen's previous film led me to fall in love with Paris - even though I totally hated Paris when I went there).

2. Pitch Perfect - Cute movie but there isn't much to it.  It's basically a copy of Glee's first season (if you set Glee in college and took out all the snark and sarcasm).  It's interesting that it is such a copy, while still commentating on a "post-Glee" world.  The show has created an interest in these singing clubs, that were previously ignored but now are considered popular.  In the movie, the kids in this one A Capella group are actually the bullies, which I guess is interesting.  At least it could be, if it were done well.  It becomes a little over-done when there are 4 A Capella groups on one college campus.  They literally spend most of their days singing, "riffing" and planning their next performance. I'm not sure what world they are living in, because most college students I know are working their ass off to pay for college - time for such shenanigans don't exist. Anna Kendrick is the outsider, who spends her days interning at the radio station, dreaming of her future as a DJ.  She could be likable, but instead she is an entitled, spoiled brat - who treats her father like garbage, for no reason in particular.  She joins an A Capella group out of encouragement from her father, ends up enjoying it and that is the whole movie in a nutshell ("no...this is me in a nutshell. Help! I'm in a nutshell. How did I get into this nutshell?" Still funny).  There are musical performances throughout the movie, none of them were very memorable, aside from Kendrick's "Cups" song.  This performance led me to believe that there would be more awesome songs, but, alas, I was disappointed. I don't mean to take away from the talent that this group of actors have, but all of the songs just had a "been there, done that" feeling (thanks, mostly to Glee).  A lot of people are putting this movie in the Mean Girls category, but I wouldn't even put it in the Bring it on category.

3. Piranha DD - Piranha was awesome; Piranha DD not so much.  There were lots of reasons to enjoy Piranha - the cast is a big one.  Elisabeth Shue (I idolized her when I was younger, still sort of do), Steven McQueen (Elena's little brother on The Vampire Diaries. He's not so little anymore. DAMN.), Kelly Brook (Holy fuck. Gorgeous.), and ADAM SCOTT.  Plus, the final act of Piranha is so over-the-top bloody and gory and soooo much fun.  The sequel had a pretty boring cast, none even worth noting - except maybe, David Hasselhoff, and the only reason he is worth noting is because the filmmakers seem to think they were very clever in utilizing him in the most obvious way possible.  They focused on him (and this lame gag) way too much, especially towards the end taking away from all the tits and gore (i.e the fun!!).  Obviously, films of this nature are supposed to defy logic but this one just went too far (piranha's attacking people in open water - somewhat believable; piranha's attacking people in a water park?? Not at all believable).  And I really thought for a second that they were going to make the girl from 30 Rock (don't care to look up her name) pregnant with a piranha baby, which I thought would be the ultimate height of ridiculousness, but...guess what??? It's actually worse than that!!!  I could go on and on, picking this film apart (Why can the piranha's jump out of the lake, but not out of a fish tank?? Why are there kids at an "adult themed" water park??), but I think you get the point.  It is completely unnecessary to watch this movie - just watch Piranha again, instead.

4. The Paperboy - I am so undecided about this movie.  I don't want to like it, but I honestly can't think of any reason not to.  The cast was amazing - I've never seen Nicole Kidman this sleazy before and honestly, she killed it.   I'm actually surprised this performance didn't get more attention.  Matthew McConaughey was also superb. And John Cusack - probably the best performance he's ever done. This was a nice transitional role for Zac Efron, career-wise; he wasn't as amazing as the rest of the cast, but he is definitely getting stronger.  The plot is interesting from beginning to end, without being predictable (and yet, it wasn't surprising, either).  It was dark, complicated, trashy, offensive and shocking.  *spoilery* I heard about the "controversial" scene with Kidman's character urinating on Zac Efron's character, but the controversy is extremely misleading - it was not sexual, at all.  She pisses on him to help with a jellyfish sting (if it happened on Friends, it ain't controversial).  Yet, there were plenty of gasp-worthy scenes in the film - like the scene where Kidman gives a prison inmate (Cusack) a blow job via mental telepathy.  Seriously, that actually happened. I appreciate a good "shock value" scene, when it is done this well.  I can't think of anything that I didn't like about the movie (except Macy Gray's voice), but I can't come to terms with liking the movie.

5. The Innkeepers - I was in the mood to watch a dumb horror flick, so I chose this one - haunted hotel, a cute actress and a tag line of "some guests never check out". Perfect. Then, as I started watching it, I was informed by several people that it is a "great movie".  I looked it up on Rotten Tomatoes and it has a 79% rating, which is pretty high for a film in the horror genre.  I'm not sure I agree with the praise.  It was exactly what I wanted to watch - a dumb horror flick.  I am not usually scared by paranormal horror, so this film didn't make any sort of lasting impression. The last shot of the film, was by far the most memorable (and the only genuinely creepy moment). I am so confused as to when this film was made, because Sara Paxton looks like she is 13 years old.  She has a young face, but she looks younger here than she did in The Last House on the Left, which was made a few years ago.  I really like her, but she needs to branch out into more adult roles.  She's exhausted the horror movie genre.


  1. Re: The Innkeepers, I think a lot of the praise for this flick, and Ti West's previous film The House of the Devil comes from the director's restraint and patience with the the tone. Both flicks, though thoroughly modern, evoke that 70s/early 80s feel to horror films, specifically the moodier stuff like Rosemary's Baby or The Changeling. It's a style that's really missing these days. Unfortunately, story-wise the flicks don't hold up as well to their 70's counterparts...

    1. Thanks for the insight! I've never seen House of the Devil, but I will add it to my list.