Monday, October 27, 2008
Past Commentary (1)
Rachel Getting Married O~O
Cathie decided that she would like to see a movie tonight so I agreed to see Rachel Getting Married. After all what better way to prove to your wife you love here than to sit through a long movie about a wedding. Even though I probably have a wedding phobia I felt I could suck it up for two hours. Besides, it was billed as a "Comedy, Ensemble" film so how tough could it be.
Man, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. Although the movie had comedic moments it was not what I would call a comedy. More like a calamity which is defined by Webster as: a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss. Yea, this movie was dripping with all of that. Ok, let's agree that every family is dysfunctional from time to time. Now think back to your families dysfunctional "Greatest Hits". How would you like to relive all of them in a two hour period, nonstop. Now that sounds like fun doesn't it. On top of that the movie was shot like a documentary to some extent with the camera following around the actors just like you would film your daughter's wedding if you were doing it yourself. You know that real home movie feel. Now that contest to see whether the bride's Father or the groom could unload and reload a dishwasher full of dirty dishes was quite the entertainment. They even shot the contest in real time so you don't miss a minute of the action :<( I will say Hathaway's acting was excellent and her role was the polar opposite to the one in "The Princess Diaries". This movie got great reviews and I can see why it's critically acclaimed but I don't recommend seeing it unless you are a masochist. I'm going to be stubborn and only give it two O's. Just too darn depressing and because Cathie didn't like it I probably didn't get any brownie points.
Role Models O~O~C
I promised myself I would just wait until "Quantum of Solace" came out next week but then I read three good reviews of "Role Models". For those of you who live in San Antonio that equates to: two thumbs up and three jalapenos. I can see why the movie got good reviews but little did I know it would resemble "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" meets "American Pie". Why they thought to mix a family movie with a juvenile comedy I'll never know. Nothing like a Disney film with a lot of inappropriate language throughout. Had they toned it down the movie could have dropped from an "R" to a "PG 13" easily doubling it's target audience resulting in more money at the box office. Seann William Scott (American Pie) and Paul Rudd (Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin) both were very likable and did a very good job of acting. They weren't vulgar at all. 70% of the obscenities came from a 10 year old boy Scott was mentoring due to the fact both Scott and Rudd were ordered to do 150 hours of community service. The other notable in the movie was actress Elizabeth Banks. Apparently someone in Hollywood has dubbed her the next big thing as she has been in 4 movies just this year. Either that or she works cheap. The most notable are the just released (Zack and Miri make a Porno) and her role as the blond divorce in (Definitely; Maybe). By the way if you haven't rented Definitely; Maybe I think you will really enjoy it. Three and a half O's in my opinion. I think I"ll break form the trend and only give Role Models two and a half O's but only if you are an American Pie veteran, which I am not.
Changeling is a quality movie in every respect. Clint Eastwood is maturing as a Director and when his career is over we may remember his directing as much as his acting. Eastwood did a magnificent job catching the look and feel of Los Angeles in the late 20's. Although the movie has some disturbing scenes most of it was extremely tranquil. The characters moved methodically and spoke gently while a soundtrack of soothing piano music played in the background. The piano cords were basic and uncomplicated similar to those in the song "Color My World" by Chicago. Changeling was a throwback to the way Bogart movies were made in the 40's. I couldn't help but think that maybe Eastwood could have gotten away filming this movie in black and white. Adding the line "play it again Sam" might be a little much though. Although Changeling was well cast there is no mistake this movie was tailor made for Angelina Jolie. She put in her strongest acting performance to date and not only should Angelina get an Academy Awards nomination for best actress I will be surprised if she doesn't win. If you are a mother with a son be forewarned. You may feel your emotions carry you away as you empathise with Angelina's predicament while imagining how you would feel if in her place. I could hear women in the audience gasp every time Angelina's character was mistreated unfairly by the LA Police Department. Of course being blinded by Jolie's bright red lip stick on those Jaggeresk size lips will snap you out of it if and when the grim movie scenes get a little much for you. You might want to throw some sun glasses in your bag just in case. You don't think Mick knew her mother do you. I thought long and hard about giving this movie four O's but decided that although the acting and directing was terrific the story line just didn't get it there. Then again the writers are a little restricted when they are dealing with a true story. Let's go with three and a half O's but be sure you are up for a two and a half hour movie that is about a serious event. O~O~O~C
RocknRolla will be of interest to any of you that enjoyed Guy Ritchie's (Dec 2000) release "Snatch". Nothing like a British made (Action/Comedy/Caper/Crime) movie. Only the Brits can weave their wonderful British humor (Sarcasm/Irony/Self-Deprecation) throughout an Action/Crime movie and lighten it up enough to be able to laugh at the brutality. Be honest now, how many of you would have recognized Guy Ritchie's name if he hadn't been married to Madonna. The cast of characters (and I mean characters) were great but Gerard Butler really stood out in this movie. Gerard is a Scottish actor that spent a number of years in theatre before becoming a movie actor. I believe his role in "RocknRolla" will be his launching pad to many more lead roles much the same way the movie "Snatch" launched the carrier of Jason Statham (Transporter movies & Italian Job). Gerard has a unique quality of being able to play a tough guy while still being sensitive and self-deprecating. Some of you may remember him as Angelina Jolie's love interest in the sequel to "Lara Croft Tomb Raiders", "P.S. I Love You", and his role in the blockbuster movie "300". Part way through the movie I began to subliminally think "Hey, I'm watching another guy that reminds me of Andy Garcia, this is weird". A little later it dawned on me the actor (Mark Strong) was the same British actor that played the Jordanian Head of Intelligence in the movie "Body of Lies". His real British accent had been throwing me off. Glad to see someone else figured out that he was cut out to play a gangster similar to Andy Garcia's role in Godfather III. If you are into British humor as I am then you will enjoy this movie. I give it three O's. By the way rent the movie of Snatch if you haven't seen it. I think it's a 4 star movie and really showcases Brad Pitt as a great character actor. Benicio Del Toro is also in the film.
Pride and Glory
I can't say I went to this movie thinking it would be more than just another cop movie but I began to realize I was watching something special about a third the way through. I find movies usually fall into one of two categories: 1. Entertaining movies that ride above the surface focusing on laughs, or special effects, or how many bad guys a Kung Fu artist can defeat in 60 seconds. Nothing wrong with these when you are semi brain dead from a rough week and aren't up for much else. 2. Serious movies that dive deep below the surface. They engulf you creating several hours of true escape from your daily lives. If done well you begin to start feeling the same emotions the characters feel as they grapple with complex moral issues and how to resolve them. Pride and Glory is everything you are looking for in the second. Brilliantly acted and directed with a solid plot. The acting isn't surprising as Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight have put in some pretty strong performances in the past. I think this is Voight's best performance since the 1969 movie "Midnight Cowboy" or "Deliverance". Even Noah Emmerich (one of those actors that you never know his name but you recognize when you see him) held his own. Jennifer Ehle had a riveting performance as Noah's wife who was dying of cancer. Had her role been larger she may have gotten some Best Supporting Actress buzz but I doubt she logged enough minutes. I can see her landing a nice gig based on her performance in this movie. The Director Gavin O'Connor has not directed a film of this magnitude before but is sure to get a chance at another major film based on Pride and Glory. So, in the spirit of all these wonderful TV election ads "I'm Craig O and I approve of this movie" ... to the tune of three and a half O's. Just make sure you want to be in a serious mood after watching.
Max Payne is a good name for this movie as Mark Wahlberg is in "Payne" for the entire movie both mentally and physically. Come to think of it I was in "Payne" a good portion of the movie. Being the #1 rated movie at the box office over the weekend got me there but I must not be the right target audience. Billed as an Action/Thriller it had plenty of both but unfortunately masqueraded as a quasi Sci-Fi movie. It wasn't until the end of the film you realized there was a rational explanation for the appearance of winged creatures. Ok, does Mark Wahlberg remind you of Matt Damon or is it just me. They are similar in looks and stature and are becoming two of the better action male leads. I would have to say Mark is more of a Matt wanna be at this point but is steadily getting better. Looking back at "Body of Lies" I feel Mark or Matt would have been a much better selection than Leonardo DeCaprio. I only give this movie two O's but there is a good size demographic out there that disagrees with me based on the box office numbers. If you know who you are go ahead and watch this movie.
I've got to say Samuel L. Jackson makes a great "Villain". I wouldn't want him living next door to me. Patrick Wilson is an up and coming actor. This is his first co-lead role and I think we will see him land more. (OK, so Sony Pictures probably doesn't intend Patrick to be Jackson's co-star but I feel Patrick acted his equal) The movie methodically works its way towards a resolution to their dispute so make sure you are in the right mood when you see it as it does not move fast. Might be best seen on DVD when you have plenty of time to kill. Lakeview Terrace is every bit as good as the recent DeNiro/Pacino movie "Righteous Kill (which I gave three O's) but due to the movie moving a little slower I'll give it two and a half O's.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Play List
So, I went to see "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People". After about 30 minutes Simon Pegg managed to alienate me. The movie actually got good reviews even though the previews were so/so at best. Make sure you can handle Simon in the previews because he gets twice as obnoxious in the movie. Didn't feel like asking for my money back so I slipped into the movie next door, "Nick & Norah's"long, long night". You know the movie was not bad if you are somewhere between 14 and 28. I guess this means most of you will be recommending it to your sons and daughters (uh, maybe just your daughters). Norah (Kat Dennings) is on the quirky side just like Ellen Page from "Juno" and Nick (Michael Cera) is just like ... well ... Michael Cera in "Juno". It's amazing how Hollywood can take a homely, but sensitive kid and turn him into the leading man (boy child) in two movies. Maybe it's time for nice, sensitive guys to get their due even if they run like a little girl as he does. Hey, more power to him. OK, I'm going to rate this for the younger set, not us older folks. I could be wrong but I think they will enjoy it to the tune of threes O's.
Body of Lies
Russell Crowe and Leonardo DeCaprio, team up with director Ridley Scott to make a movie about CIA undercover activity in the Middle East. Seems like a recipe for a can't miss movie, right? Well, not as good as it could have been. Casting Crowe as an overweight and obnoxious CIA Director was a waste of his acting ability. There are 20 smaller actors that could have played this role just as well. If you like Crowe in the movie "Insider" you may disagree with me but I can think of many other roles I preferred Crowe in. DeCaprio was just plain miss cast as well. He needs to stick to more refined roles. A tough guy he's not. It was almost amusing listening to DeCaprio try to talk tough throughout the movie. Something tells me he's not in line to become the next Cling Eastwood. Both DeCaprio's and Crowe's accents were a little much. The rest of the movie was cast perfectly. I really enjoyed Goishifteh Farahani (bet you can't tell if I spelled her name correctly or not) who played DeCaprio's love interest. She is an Iranian actress who is acting in her first American film. Goli has a very natural way of acting that makes you feel she is a real person and not an actress. A breath of fresh air that flows through out the film. I also enjoyed Mark Strong's role as the Head of Jordanian Intelligence. Now Mark did a great job with his accent because after the movie I was shocked to discover he is actually an English actor. Watching an English actor play a Jordanian Intelligence agent that looked and acted like Andy Garcia in his Godfather role was quite intriguing. Almost spooky. Good enough to get two and a half O's but could have been much better.
I'll say this about Bill Maher: he has a lot of guts making this film as I'm sure it will come under heavy scrutiny. Bill was raised as a Catholic while his mother was Jewish. Bill's mother admits this created a dysfunctional environment which I assume lead to him questioning and challenging conventional religious beliefs. This movie will challenge what we have been taught about religion. Bill's genius is in the way he pulls this off in a light hearted and witty manner keeping the people he interviews from becoming overly defensive. This keeps the conversations civil an not contentious. The fact Bill simply asks questions an refrains from attacking his subjects also keeps them on confrontational. This allows for the movie to be very humorous as Bill is a funny guy by nature. The religious base interviewed is well diversified as he visits with Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Scientolotists, Mormons, etc. My guess is most in the audience will laugh at the other religious faiths but think he is out of line when he questions their religion. Funny how that works isn't it. Had Bill taken any other approach this movie would have fallen flat on it's face. So here's the deal. If you have a belief system that is set in stone and think you will get offended by being exposed to another point of view then it's kind of pointless going to this movie. You could actually get offended and walk out. That would defeat my purpose of doing reviews to help you save time and money. On the other hand if you are very secure in your belief system and can watch this movie for the comedy aspect without being offended then you could enjoy the movie. Be warned however, no matter what your belief system you will never look at religion exactly the same way again. Not necessarily a bad thing just a fact. Because the movie is extremely entertaining and will get you thinking I give it three O's but "let the movie goers beware.
Nights in Rodanthe
Cathie went to see this with Sister Tricia. The said that although Gere and Lane have good chemistry they did not spend enough time developing the characters. As a result the depth of their relationship wasn't believable as they were only together over a weekend. Cathie and Tricia felt the mother and daughter's relationship was excellent however. They would only give this movie two O's.
Shia LaBeouf is one of the hottest new stars in Hollywood. First Transformers an then a great little movie called Disturbia (which you should see on DVD if you haven't already). It didn't hurt that Spielberg had a hand in the film. Very good action thriller. For those of you with a little attention deficit I recommend this movie as its pretty much nonstop action. Not an Academy Awards type but very entertaining. My son Jack tipped me off as he liked it as well. If you don't catch it at the theatre no problem as it will come across well on TV. It will make an excellent DVD rental this Holiday Season. I give it a very solid three O's
For those of you that enjoy Westerns (as I do) this is a must see movie. Use the 2003 release of "Open Range" as a litmus test. Although the plot is not similar the movie has the same feel. Appaloosa's main characters Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger compare favorably to the Open Range characters of Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner and Annette Bening. What's up with Zellweger's eyebrows. They look like they were painted on by one of Cathie and Tricia's Kindergarten students because they are crooked as heck. Annette Benings got her beat hands down. Al Harris gets top billing and does an excellent job but you will really connect with Viggo Mortensen. They made a terrific team and of course Jeremy Irons is ideally suited to play the villain. Not the typical action packed movie and the shootouts are more authentic than most Westerns. this is a serious movie like Clint Eastwood's Academy Awards movie "The Unforgiven" but it also has many humorous moments. Even the music is a little lighter than the typical Western. If you are a Western fan this is a solid three and a half O's but it's so well done I think you will enjoy it even if you are not.
Dangerous OK, tell me I didn't go see this movie. Going to a Nicolas Cage movie is getting pretty risky these days. He either strikes out or hits a home run. Unfortunately he whiffed this one big time. Bankok looks like an interesting city and might remind Kevin of his stay there when he was young but I can't see a reason for the rest of you to see it. Even the romance between Cage and a deaf/mute girl falls flat on it's face. Now don't go reporting me to any of those agencies saying I'm insensitive to handicapped people. There is a young actor (Shahkrit Yamnam) that plays Cage's understudy that kind of grows on you. He may have won himself some upcoming roles from his acting in this movie but wait to see him in something else. Stay away. I only give it one O
What Happens in Vegas
I have to admit this movie looked a little too silly to go see from the previews. Happened to be trapped on a flight to Toronto and watched it because the stewardesses held me down and propped my eye's open with toothpicks. Glad I did. Definitely worth a DVD rental although you chicks will dig it a little more than you guys. Diaz and Kutcher had good chemistry and are both equally wacky. Her friend in the movie (Dennis Farina) and Kutcher's attorney friend (Rob Cordry) were great and their relationship (if you can call it that) was very funny in a sarcastic kind of way. (Is there any other kind of funny) If I was a chick I'd give it three O's but I'm not so it gets two and a half O's.
I love Don Cheadle. He always brings tremendous to his characters. Don't acting didn't disappoint but the character he played was a little dry. The movie did keep you wondering and there were a few good twist and turns at the end. Well worth a DVD rental but one of my big tests is do I think about the movie the next day or would I watch it again on DVD. Not really ...... but I still give it two and a half O's
My Best Friends Girl
Ha, were do I start.... Maybe ... "Something about Marry" - "Wedding Crashers" - "Knocked Up" and "Harry Met Sally" all rolled up into one. I've got to warn you that this movie has more embarrassing scenes than all the others combined. The language gets a little vulgar at times so I wouldn't go see it with your mother. I guess the times are a-changing. The writer worked overtime coming up with witty lines as they just kept coming. I was a little surprised Kate Hudson would play a role this racy but she seemed very comfortable. The lead role was perfect for Dane Cook. That guy can really make you uncomfortable. I will want to see it again when on DVD. If this is your kind of movie I give it three and a half O's
I must have been really board and there was nothing else out. Not as bad as I feared however. Worth renting on DVD if you want a few laughs. Jack Black is his usual self along with Ben Stiller. I swear Stiller is the same no matter what role he's in. I would give anything to see Ben in a serious role. It was interesting to see Robert Downing JR. play a white guy that plays a black man. The sleeper was Tom Cruise playing a bald movie mogul in an UN-credited cameo. Tom's dancing at the end of the movie during the credits was actually worth the price of admission. That also lets me bump it from two O's to two and a half O's
Oh man, what can I say. Twosomes, threesomes, men kissing women, women kissing women ... LOL This was definitely a Woody Allen film. Woody likes to push the envelope. Javier Barden exudes sexuality and I think he's on the way to becoming the next Antonio Bandera. Having a man narrate the movie along with the same French Music playing in the background was classic Woody. How he got Scarlet Johanson and Penelope Cruz to lip lock I'll never know but I guess Woody has his ways. Still I only give it two and a half O's
The acting was magnificent! Who would have thought Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz could have pulled this off. A student in her early 30's falling for a professor in his early 60's, no way right? Wrong. The chemistry between Kinsley and Cruz was off the charts. I believe Penelope Cruz should be nominated for an Academy Award. She was the definition of Sultry. This was also sort of a coming out party for Cruz as she bares it all several times in the movie. Let's put it this way ... if a woman ever wondered if she was Bi Sexual she would have the answer after seeing Cruz in this film. Of course I put my hand over my eyes during several scenes. Ben is in surprisingly good shape for his age and Dennis Hopper was a perfect confidant for Ben. This movie will never do much at the box office but look for at the Academy Awards nominations. I give it a solid three and a half O's