Friday, July 26, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Oranges - Fantastic cast and an interesting story somehow ended in a mediocre movie.  Two families (who are neighbors and lifelong friends) have their lives uprooted when Nina, the daughter of the one family, begins an affair with David, the father of the other family. It's especially "icky" because the original intent was to set Nina up with David's son AND Nina was best friends with David's daughter when they were kids. It's also a hard relationship to root for, no matter how much they try to spin it.  I simply can't root for people that are completely selfish; unfortunately there are some cases where you have to put your feelings aside and think about how your choices affect other people (especially your children).  There is absolutely no reason David should have ever pursued this relationship. EVER. However, the film remains interesting throughout, due to the amazing cast. While I didn't see any particular spark or chemistry between Leighton Meester and Hugh Laurie, I still love them both.  It was also strangely comforting to see Allison Janney and Oliver Platt as a happily married couple; especially after having just watched a very intense scene with them in an episode of The West Wing right before I popped this movie in (pure coincidence).  Of course, I love Adam Brody more than words can ever express (HUGE fan of The O.C.).  He plays the same role in every project, but I am completely fine with that.  I think the movie could have worked better if it went either in a complete all-out comedy or an intense, complicated drama; instead it straddled the line of being mildly amusing, but not really saying anything meaningful.

2. Not Fade Away - Honestly, I never heard of this movie until recently.  I heard it mentioned a few times during conversations about the sudden death of the great, James Gandolfini.  I added it to my list without giving it much thought, but then I heard it was written and directed by the creator of The Sopranos (David Chase) so I instantly moved it to the top of the list.  While The Sopranos isn't my favorite drama, it is certainly near the top of the list and, more importantly, it paved the way for my favorite, Breaking Bad, and my second favorite, Dexter. Gandolfini is a force of nature as Tony Soprano, a character that will live forever, and seeing that I live in Northern New Jersey, he is a character that I hear quoted on a daily basis. However, my personal favorite Gandolfini performance is from True Romance - where he is both absolutely terrifying and mesmerizing. His performance in Not Fade Away is definitely the best part of this movie. I mean, it's miles above everyone else's performance, most of whom are terrible - especially the main guy. I don't even want to know his name. That's how bad he is. The story takes place in New Jersey (surprise!) in the 1960's, during the rise of the "British invasion" of music. There are some fun clips of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones etc., but the rest of the movie is pretty dull and predictable.  It seems from the poster that it is supposed to be a romantic movie; yet it's horrifically unromantic. The hatred of women is apparent (and appalling - "Once a conceited bitch; always a conceited bitch" is an actual line the guy says to the girl that he is supposed to be in love with.).  I'm not saying that is necessarily a flaw in the movie. If it was done well, I wouldn't have an issue.

3. 21 & Over - If you took The Hangover, set it in college, and took away everything funny about it, you would end up with this movie.  The plot is simple: guy turns 21, celebrates with his friends, gets too drunk, hijinks ensue.  I don't think girls celebrate the whole "turning 21" thing as much as guys do because girls don't get carded as much getting into bars/clubs (at least when I was around that age they didn't. In fact, I celebrated my 21st at my "regular" bar - A bar I had been going to every week for 2 years).  I remember it always being a huge issue when I would try to go places with my boyfriend because he would get carded.  Actually, come to think of it...things have definitely changed because I get carded more now than I ever did when I was under-age.  I guess that's a good thing, however I think the drinking age should be lowered (to 18 at least, but I would even go to 16).  I don't think kids would drink so recklessly if it was legalized. Anyway, back to the movie.  Many of the actors seemed really familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place their faces.  I realized that Miles Teller is in Project X (which is weird because this movie was compared to that movie, but I don't really see the comparison. It's certainly not as excessive).  Then, Skylar Astin is a dead ringer for Dane Cook (also his name is extremely similar to the name that I wanted to name my future non-existent daughter, Skylar Austin. He's lucky that I don't actually want to have kids.) and Sarah Wright looks exactly like Alice Eve, so they aren't actually familiar faces, they just look like other people. All of the actors are really entertaining and charismatic; it's the dialogue and plot that disappoint.  I did laugh twice though, so that's a step ahead of the next two films in this post....

4. Movie 43 - Obviously, I already knew this movie was going to be terrible.  I don't always trust reviews, but I didn't hear any positive remarks for this movie. Not a single one.  In fact, most of the hate seemed really intense.  It was pretty hard to believe.  I mean, how can it be that bad with a cast like this? Is it like Valentine's Day bad?'s worse than that?  Really?  Yes. Really.  It's disastrous. It's an odd phenomenon because it seems like the intent is to be a bad movie. The plot (?) is about a screenwriter, pitching his terrible movie idea to a studio executive. The pitch is told in visual form, so essentially the audience is forced to sit through this terrible movie idea. The irony is spelled out for us, as the executive says "Kate Winslet is not going to make a movie with a guy with balls hanging from his neck." , yet, she is in the fucking movie.  I guess that's supposed to be the funny part, but instead it feels like a really bad SNL sketch. Try to think of the worst SNL sketch you've ever seen and then multiply it by infinity and then repeat it 10 times. That's this movie.  I did laugh once, with the iBabe sketch ("Don't fuck it."), but that is mostly due to my hatred of Apple products.  This movie will be #1 on my worst of 2013 list. I have no doubts in my mind.

5. Identity Thief - I just watched this movie last night. Usually I wait at least a few days before I write down my thoughts on a movie, in order to let it sink in.  I don't need any more time to decide that this is a terrible movie.  It's disappointing because I just saw The Heat the night before last and I really enjoyed it and Melissa McCarthy in it (a post will follow soon, but overall reaction is: surprisingly funny). She is really, truly terrible in this movie, as is Jason Bateman. They have zero comedic chemistry, which is what I blame this disaster on.  The plot is interesting and relevant, but then it just turns stupid. If you're going to go into stupid plot territory, then you need the leads to really sell it and Bateman and McCarthy just don't.  I did love Eric Stonestreet because every time I see him on something besides Modern Family, I remember how good of an actor he is on Modern Family.  

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