Thursday, December 27, 2007
2007 sequel to the 2004 boxoffice hit National Treasure. If I was 10 and had never seen a movie I might have loved this movie, but I'm not and I have. This movie sucked pretty hard. Nothing surprising happened at any moment in this movie. Seriously, you know exactly what's going to happen at all moments of this movie. I just sat there thinking to myself that I can't believe that 4 of the 6 main actors are Oscar winners. The sets were nice, the performances weren't terrible, but the writing and the movie as a whole were wholly predictable and lame as all hell. And to think, I love this director. Oh well, they can't all be gems. If you're looking for mindless fun and someone is going to pay for your ticket, it still wouldn't be worth your time unless you seriously had nothing else to do that day.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
A dark comedy with Mena Suvari, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan and Giovanni Ribisi, it's gotta be good right? Eh, not so much. The Dog Problem tells the tale of Solo, a writer whose down on his luck and cash flow and way up in the problems department. Almost simultaneously, however, he meets a dog and a girl who start steering his life towards the silver lining. But before that can happen a bunch of wacky shit happens that I think is supposed to be really funny. But I didn't laugh much at all. It felt like they were trying to be Get Shorty but really just seemed like a two-hour long Seinfeld episode that really wasn't even that funny in the beginning. And by that I mean that it was very wordy (TONS of dialogue) and wasn't really about anything. The problem is that Seinfeld was a great show b/c it was so witty it didn't have to be about anything. The Dog Problem, on the other hand, just wasn't about anything. I might watch parts of it if it were on television, but I certainly wouldn't pay money to see it. Not a terrible flick, but not all that good either.
Friday, December 21, 2007
2004 movie about the life of Cole Porter. It's written by the guy that wrote Gangs of New York and a director that hasn't directed many movies, but produced some of the best ever, like Rocky, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Cole Porter had a very full and interesting life. Not only was he one of the most successful songwriters ever, but he was bi-sexual and went through numerous tragedies. He is wonderfully portrayed by Kevin Kline and his wife and muse Linda is fantastically portrayed by Ashley Judd. The best thing about this movie though is how it's presented. The idea is that Gabriel has come down to take Cole up to heaven and is allowing him to help put on a play that tells the story of his life, starring the actual people from his past. And so this is how they transition into a really interesting, enjoyable bio pic. Throughout they occasionally go back to Gabriel and Cole. And since Cole is putting on his life story it is of course a musical. But if that turns you off, don't let it too much b/c there are only parts now and then that are musical and for the most part it's not. Good flick, about a fascinating American couple.
I loved the chipmunks growing up, especially the TV show. And when I heard that a movie was being made written by one of my favorite writers from The Simpsons and starring David Cross and Jason Lee, I was optimistic and kind of looking forward to it. But once I saw the previews I was no longer interested. But I saw it tonight w/ my daughter and I gotta say, it wasn't all that bad. It was not like the show, but it was good-hearted and fun. The acting wasn't great and of course it wasn't a great movie at all, but I actually did enjoy myself and the chipmunks themselves were well animated and very likable. So, I didn't love this movie by any means, but I didn't hate it either. Long story short, if you have kids, take them, they'll like it and it won't be too bad for you. If you don't have kids, skip it and go rent The Chipmunk Adventure (it's awesome).
Thursday, December 13, 2007
This 2000 film tells the tale of Cuban poet, revolutionary and counter-revolutionary Reinaldo Arenas. Maybe I should rephrase that, this is the film version of Arenas' memoir of his life, which he wrote mostly in prison and was only able to get published after going to many drastic measures to get the manuscript smuggled out of Cuba (including wrapping it in plastic and trying to ride an intertube to Miami). I so wanted to love this movie. I absolutely love the main actor, I love the story and I totally love the writer/director. This is the second movie by writer/director Julian Schnabel who wrote/directed one of my very favorite movies ever, Basquiat. But I couldn't love this movie b/c it was too strange at times and really dragged at others. There were scenes that I felt like were totally unnecessary. And there were times where they were clearly trying to be artsy but it just came off to me as boring, pretentious and unnecessary. But there were some very good things. Javier Bardem's portrayal was absolutely perfect, spot on. The story was good, the look was good and the message was very good. Arenas was a man oppressed. He was oppressed as a young artist by his family. He was oppressed by his society as a homosexual and he was oppressed by his government as both a homosexual and an artist. If this film does anything it shows the true ugliness of bigotry, a message that everyone should hear and soak in. But as a movie en totale, I just didn't love no matter how much I wanted to.
S'Good (fyi, there are some scenes of pretty explicit sexuality in this movie)
Sunday, December 9, 2007
This 2007 film tells the story of Nora Wilder, a thirty-something New Yorker who's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She's so focused on finding love that she's she's almost obsessed. The movie starts with her practicing her smile before going to a party. It's almost hard to watch. She goes on one bad date after another and in one scene is giving up on another party (and seemingly her lovelife) when a young French man named Julian walks into the door. At first he just seems like a flirt but as the night goes on she lets her guard down and he gives up the sexy French guy thing and before she knows it he seems to be turning into just what she's been looking for. He's young, he's only here for a weekend and he's from a different country, but there's something about their connection that she can't deny and has to learn to relax and embrace. But like I said, he's only here for the weekend. When he leaves, she's got to figure out what she's going to do and, really, who she is.
I liked this movie alot, but I didn't love it. Sometimes Nora is hard to watch, but the story and the performances are great and it feels like a very genuine expression of life and the desperate attempts we take to define ourselves through the doorway of love. There are no bad performances in this movie and it plays like an old school romantic flick that should be starring Cary Grant.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio tells the true tale of Evelyn Ryan, a woman whose life work was to make lemonade out of lemons. The film is based on the memoirs of Tuff Ryan, one of Evelyn's TEN children. Evelyn was a typical housewife from the 40's who's life seemed like one sacrifice after another. Not only did she take care of the ten kids but she gave up a writing career to do it. And her husband is no help at all. In fact, he's a major douchebag who does little more than spend money on booze and be verbally abusive to the family.
Defiance isn't just the name of the film, it's also the name of the game for Evelyn. She decides to use her wit and writing skills to enter contests, in an attempt to get some extra money for the family. She wins everything from two bucks to cars and thousands of dollars. She serves as an inspiration to her kids that they can overcome anything with a little bit of hard work and a positive perspective on life. She has a knitted sign above her desk that says, "the harder I work, the luckier I get." If your heart isn't warmed by this film, something is seriously wrong with you. Halfway through the flick I was so frustrated by her. Why won't she leave this a-hole? Why won't she get a career and see the world? But by the end I realized that I may well want to be just like her. It's clear her kids felt the same and it shows in this loving tribute the the writer's mom Evelyn.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I so rarely do this, but if you like Blood Simple you're gonna like No Country for Old Men. This is the latest movie from the writing/directing team of brothers Joel and Ethan Cohen. Most of their movies are quirky and a little odd (even though they're also all great) but their first movie, Blood Simple, was a tense, straightforward, dark suspense film. This is a return to that form. In No Country the brothers create a movie that is a slow boil and a world that is gritty, harsh and genuine. From the first seconds of the film people are dying and things are going very wrong. No Country tells the story of a guy from west texas who's come back from Vietnam only to live a boring life, living in a trailer and doing not a whole lot. Suddenly he finds a bag of money (over $2million) among a bunch of dead bodies in the desert and finds himself in a world of shit. See the money was part of a big drug deal and the people who supplied the drugs want the money and the good ole boys from Houston want their money back (since they never got the drugs). Both parties hire ruthless people to track one thing, that vietnam vet named Llewellyn Moss. A west texas sheriff is also looking for him to save him in an attempt to do one last good thing before retiring. Unfortunately for everyone, one of the people hired to find Moss for the Houston boys is a damn psychopath named Cigur. Javier Bardem's portrayal of Cigur is pitch perfect. He truly embodies this truly scary, heartless man. And his performance is by far the best thing about the film. It's a good flick that is certainly worth a watch and will have you biting your nails from moment one. Again, if you've seen Blood Simple and have been waiting for another movie like that to come along, then this is it.