Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm Not Dead

The last few weeks have been crazy, and the few movies I've had a chance to see I haven't had a chance to write up. I'll be playing a little catch up this weekend, and my apologies for the delay. 

As an aside, is there any other movie that splits people down gender lines more then Monty Python and the Holy Grail? I havent met a girl who likes it, or a guy who doesn't

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blindness (#27)

I’m really surprised that this one didn’t get any Oscar buzz this past year, either for its exceptional and creative direction,  adapted script, or several outstanding performances. Julianne Moore is easily the most overlooked actress of last year. Fernado Merielles, directs the adaptation of the acclaimed Jose Saramago , and does so with subtly, with a beautiful use of texture. The premise immediately creates a barrier for a film adaptaion. How do you film the story of a epidemic of blindness, when for the vast majority of the movie only one character can see? Smartly, Merielles uses a great deal of restraint, and suggests much more then he shows. The story, and plight of the characters is devastating, and many times very difficult to watch. The film raises questions about the fragility of the social contract, and very structure of our daily lives, but does so with out lecturing. See this, but see it with some one who will want to discuss it with you afterwards.

State of Play (#26)

A decent movie that had a stacked cast of actors and actresses kind of sleepwalking through their roles.  A political thriller, that is a pretty overt love letter to newspapers and the way “real” reporting is done.  There are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, but nothing remarkable.


Adventureland (#25)

Did you ever have a summer that totally snuck up on you? The one between your college years and adult hood, when you though you had a plan,  and were in total transition. Adventureland captures that really well. After the movie my wife nailed it by comparing it to the great book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The cast here, does great and memorable work. Ryan Reynolds turns in a likable performance for a unlikable character.  The movie felt like it was written with Micheal Cera in mind for the lead, and whne they couldn’t get him, go a Micheal Cera like actor instead and told him to act like Michael Cera. Doesn’t matter though, because it worked.  Martin Starr needs to be in more movies, he ably plays the best friend here, and damn near steals every scene he’s in. The director Greg Mottolla, made Superbad, and although I liked that movie, this one is is more mature, with humor coming from a realer, less outrageous place.

Quantum of Solace (#25)

I’ve never been a huge James Bond fan. The tongue in cheekness of the Connery and Brosnon versions always made me role my eyes.  I was pleasantly surprised by Casino Royale, as it seemed to be more influenced by the Bourne franchise, then any Bond before it.  (never mind  the irony that Bourne franchise being a spin on the Bond movies, the thought just made me go cross eyed) Quantum of Solace plays like Casino Royale Vol. 2 picking up directly after the confusing but fun events at the end of the first Daniel Craig Bond. While it’s successful as a brief, intense, fun popcorn movie with some unbelievable action sequences, its lacking on characterization and plot. Am I supposed to know why Bond is so devoted to M? The great Jeffrey Wright is teased as a CIA foil to Bond, but is given almost nothing to do, and perhaps the worst sin of a movie like this, the villain was week, and given almost super powers at the end to physically hang with our hero, in a showdown that had very little suspense.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let the Right One In (#24)

I remembered reading about this one as it appeared on a few best of lists at the end of the year.  One critic I like also threw a tantrum when it didn’t get Sweden’s support as its best picture nominee for the Oscars.  I was eager to see what all the buzz was about. This movie was a little bit of a slow burn, but absolutely worth it. It’s a really beautiful movie about friendship, but wrapped up as a genre movie. The plot follows Oscar, a young Swedish boy, tormented by bullies, a mysterious young girl neighbor, and series of murders across the city.  I won’t ruin the movie by spoiling the connections here, but I will say that I recommend this one highly. 

I Love You, Man (#23)

The day after I saw this if for the first time, Berto asked if I wanted to see it again. I was game, and can report that it holds up on a second viewing.  This isn’t an Apatow production, but that’s definitely the vibe, maybe a little sillier though. 


I Love You, Man (#22)

Paul Rudd and Jason Segal have great chemistry, in this bromantic comedy. The premise is clever. Rudd plays a newly engaged real estate agent, whose fiancé gets weirded out by the fact that he doesn’t have any real make friends. The role is a little bit of a different flavor for Rudd, who I feel typically plays snarky dudes. Here, he plays a nice guy with a lot of earnestness.  Segal is really enjoyable, and plays the Oscar to Rudd’s Felix.  It’s great to see Rashida Jones, but the script doesn’t give her that much to do.  The rest of the supporting cast is great with a couple of familiar State players putting in funny turns, and Andy Sandberg not being annoying. The plot moves in funny but predictable ways, and really embraces the conventions of a romantic comedy, right down to the relationship crisis at the climax of the movie.

Australia (#21)

Baz Lurhman was able to reign in his excess after the first half hour, and save his movie.  The movie opens at a frenetic pace, and felt like Moulin Rogue without the music. I was confused. But after the first half hour of confusing set up, the movie really settles in and finds its groove as an epic tale that’s a throwback to the Gone with the Wind style of filmmaking. The movie works on a couple of levels. It’s a bit of history lesson on Australia, which I am admittedly ignorant of. Its also a satisfyingly well acted romance between the two lead. Kidman and Jackman have a great chemistry. The third lead, in his first role, plays an mixed race aboriginal boy whose coming of age story really ties the whole movie, thematically and plot wise together nicely.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Changeling (#20)

Not a big fan of this one. The movie centers around Angelina Jolies character, and it really is a one woman show. The premise is interesting enough, a single mother in 1930s Chicago is devastated when her son is kidnapped, only later to  be replaced by another boy at the haste of a corrupt police department looking to avoid a scandal. The movie lacked a lot of characterization. Jolie’s character is the only one that isn’t quite a cardboard cut out, but everyone else is. There are few suprises, which makes its almost three hour runtime insufferable. 


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