1. Wish You Were Here - For some reason, I thought Amber Heard was in this movie, but it is actually Teresa Palmer. I was a little disappointed at first (super huge crush on Amber Heard), but I like Teresa Palmer, so I got over it rather quickly. The plot seemed interesting, although a little unrealistic - two couples vacation in Cambodia, one of them suddenly disappears without a trace and the other 3 are left to continue on with their lives as normal as possible. You get the sense early on that one or more of them know more about the disappearance than they are willing to tell. As things unravel, the plot gets more and more annoying but the movie is held together by Joel Edgerton's performance. I love that he has his natural Australian accent (sexy), and that even though his character is hard to root for, he still convinced me to. I didn't care about any of the other characters (including the one that is missing), which is clearly a problem. The "twisty" ending seemed a bit out of place (and ridiculous), but overall, the suspense was evenly paced.
2. Oblivion - Very beautiful to look at and towards the middle, it starts to actually get pretty interesting. It's too bad that I already lost interest by this point. I got distracted by other things (my phone, the internet, my cats...) and my mind started to wander. I fully admit that had I seen it in the theater, where these distractions wouldn't exist, my opinion may have been a different outcome. Watching a film like this, for a first viewing, at home, has plenty of disadvantages, however, I do think that the story and characters were too boring to really grip my attention. As I said a few months ago when I saw Welcome to the Punch, Andrea Riseborough has a great screen presence and she was definitely the highlight of the movie. I waited in anticipation for her to answer "no" to the question that is asked over and over again ("Are you an effective team?"). It's ultimately frustrating that a big plot point is boiled down to a beautiful woman's jealousy over another beautiful woman (dumb, dumb, dumb). I can't say that I enjoyed it, as a whole, because I was just too bored, but it does have some interesting aspects.
3. The Kings of Summer - I was really anticipating this movie once I saw the trailer and read several great reviews (I didn't read the whole reviews, but the gist of most reviews seemed tobe positive). It's a cute, indie movie about boys being boys. It's not even close to being what I expected. I guess my biggest problem is that I can't relate - obviously, I can't relate to what it's like to be a teenage boy, but I really can't relate to spoiled kids who have childhoods I've only dreamed about. They have parents who actually care about them (you know....like make them dinner, play games, remember that they exist, etc), yet they run away because they consider their parents "annoying". I get that the main kid is having trouble after his mother died and his father is starting to date someone new. Sure, I think that would be tough for a child to deal with, but running away still seems like something a spoiled brat would do. I do think that some of this was intentional - it's a coming of age story about boys who haven't quite figured out that they aren't the center of the universe. It just didn't work as a whole, for me. There were some entertaining and memorable moments - like the "boy who cried wolf" moment with Ron Swanson and the young cop. Also, the line "he's like the Zodiac killer", made me laugh out loud.
4. The Bling Ring - I long for the day when I love a Sofia Coppola movie. Really, I do. She has such a great sense of style, always tapping into a younger generation, and extracts out ugliness in a really beautiful way. Sadly, I always find her movies to be really empty. This movie is focused on the obsession of celebrities and really, that's all. It's all on the surface. The plot revolves around true events based on a group of thieves called the "bling ring", a group who invaded the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson and others, and stole items totaling over 3 million dollars. It's a hard concept to wrap your head around - a group of amateur (and mostly drunk) idiots were able to enter millionaire homes over and over (and over) again before being caught. You would think these celebrities would take precautions to protect their belongings (and themselves - imagine if these were actual evil people instead of just vapid, materialistic thrill-seekers??). I remember the story about the one girl who had a reality show on E! (because I remember The Soup making fun of her and her mother), and I was fascinated as to how these people were able to secure a show just by being "around" other celebrities. Also, the mother is an interesting character - she teaches her own religion based on the book The Secret (no joke). Aside from Leslie Mann (who plays the mom), I didn't find the cast very convincing. I love Taissa Farmiga (from American Horror Story), but she seems too timid for the role, and Emma Watson just looked like she was playing dress up in her mom's clothing (and she clearly struggled with an American accent. It was painful to watch. Poor girl.). The movie just presented us with these characters but never follows through with telling us anything meaningful about them. It was all sort of pointless. Fantastic soundtrack, though, as expected.
5.Upside Down - This is the type of movie where it is absolutely necessary to "just go with it". If you start to think about the plot, your brain will explode with questions and the movie becomes background noise. The concept is absolutely fantastic; I've never seen anything like it. Visually, it is incredibly beautiful. Everything else about it is a disaster beyond belief. It feels like the creators started with this mind-boggling original idea but realized (while making it) that it won't work, so they just started to make things up as they went along. So, let me try to explain the plot: there are two worlds that literally sit on top of each other - so when one looks up, instead of seeing the sky, they see an upside down world. They explain this as "double gravity" and the people stay in "their" world because of "inverse matter". Jim Sturgess plays a guy living in the "poor" world, who falls in love with someone in the upside down world (Kirsten Dunst), which is the "privileged" world. The clear problem is that it's love story; if they took this "upside down" concept and made it into a thriller/adventure type movie it would have worked really well. The other clear problem is that scientifically, none of it works. Physics isn't my strong suit (it's the only class that I received a solid "C" in, but I blame the teacher more than anything else), but even my brain was screaming out "HELLOOOOOO.....THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE". First, there is only a small sliver between the two worlds where the sun comes in, so technically it would only be light for a few minutes a day. Second, the only way one world could be on top of another world is if both worlds were flat! Otherwise, there would never be light. There are a million more problems like that, and none of it is addressed. If you're going to create a crazy concept then you have to really go for it. It's a shame, really, because I would have loved to see a movie like this on the big screen - some of the images will remain in my brain forever (if you're curious, just google some of the images from the movie. Breathtaking.).