Friday, April 24, 2009

out Friday, 4/24/09

The Soloist - 2 stars

The movie started out well. Robert Downey Jr. is one of my favorite actors, and he does a lot of little things that made me laugh. If the movie were about his character, I think I would have liked it a lot more. Jamie Foxx does a decent job playing a crazy homeless musical genius, but the movie just didn't make me care about him at all. The movie could have lost a good 20 minutes, because it really started to drag in the 3rd act.

I didn't like Joe Wright's last movie (Atonement), so I guess I can say I don't like his movies.

Fighting - not screened for critics

Obsessed - not screened for critics

Earth - didn't see

Gigantic - 1 1/2 stars

This was trying so hard to be a quirky independant movie, and it didn't really work. It had some funny moments, but overall it didn't work for me. Paul Dano's character wants to adopt a Chinese baby, and he has since he was a kid. I was annoyed that no one tried to talk him out of it. No one questioned whether it was a good idea for a single 28-year old guy to adopt and raise a baby. Not to sound too conservative, but ideally a kid should have two parents. If he wanted to adopt a baby just because he always wanted one, isn't he doing it for purely selfish reasons?

Zooey Deschanel is adorable but I didn't get her character. She claims she has never had a boyfriend and never been in love, but she is bold enough to ask Paul Dano's character to have sex while they are waiting for her father at the doctor's office. I don't buy it that someone that aggresive has never had a serious relationship. John Goodman had some funny lines and I think I would have liked the movie more if he had more screen time. The crazy homeless guy that stalks Paul Dano made no sense at all. And why didn't he ever tell anyone about it? If I had some crazy homeless guy attack me even once, I would tell everyone and report it to the police. At the very least, it would make for an interesting story.

Hunger - still watching

I got about 30 minutes in and I was not able to finish it. I plan on finishing the movie and posting my full review this weekend. So far, I was not impressed. The movie looked good, but I got really bored.

Informers - didn't see

Delightful Water Universe - didn't see

I will confess one reason I have a hard time getting to all the independant movies. They are sent as DVD screeners so critics can watch them at home at their leisure (as opposed to press or promo screenings, which are scheduled). The problem with this is that there is a limited number of screeners available. Basically all the critics have to share them. And since I don't work for a newspaper, I am just about last when it comes to getting the screeners. Once I confirm that the major local critics have seen the movies, I will attempt to get my hands on the screeners. That means that the more independant movies that are released on a Friday, the less likely it is that I have seen them all.

I just say that in case anyone wonders why I do a better job of catching all the major releases while skipping the independant movies. Its not because I don't like them. Its just more challenging to see them in time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friday, April 17th

State of Play - 3 stars

I really liked this movie. Its smart and you have to pay attention, but its not as ridiculously complicated as, say, Duplicity. I'm always happy to see Ben Affleck in a movie. Seriously. I know a lot of people give him crap, but I enjoy him as an actor, and now that he is actually reading the script before signing on to a movie, his movies are generally good.

I really liked the stuff about old fashioned print journalism vs. online bloggers. The sequence over the end credits is almost like a love letter to newspapers.

17 Again - 3 stars

I really thought this movie would suck. And during the first 15 minutes, I wanted to walk out. But as soon as Matthew Perry becomes Zac Effron, the movie comes alive. The fight between him and Thomas Lennon is hilarious (especially the lightsaber duel!). Even though the story is corny and cliched, it was funny enough that I looked past its flaws. I think I would even see this again. Oh, and its clean and good fun for the entire family. I think it should have been rated PG.

Crank: High Voltage - not screened for critics
Phoebe in Wonderland - didn't see
Secret of the Grain - didn't see

Sunday, April 12, 2009

out Friday, 4/10/09

Observe & Report - 3 stars

Very funny and very offensive. Don't go see it if you are easily offended. If you are a prude, stay the hell away! But if you have a good sense of humor and kind find the funny in possible date rape, full-frontal male nudity, a protagonist who beats up cops and skateboarders, you may like this movie. I laughed. A lot.

Hannah Montana - didn't see

Are you surprised? Does anybody give a rat's ass what I thought of Hannah Montana? Exactly. That's why I didn't bother to go see it. Well, that and I really didn't want to go.

Dragonball Evolution - not screened for critics

... so it probably sucks.

The Cake Eaters - 3 stars

Another week, another Kristen Stewart movie. This time she plays a girl who has a neurological muscular disease of some kind. It means she can't walk without help and she slurs when she talks. As one character comments, she talks like she's drunk.

While her mother the photographer exploits her by taking scantily clad photos of her and selling them at the local flea market, she meets Beagle. Beagle works at the cafeteria of her high school. She likes him right away and invites him over to her house. When they are at her house, she starts trying to seduce him despite the fact that her parents are right downstairs. What is she doing, trying to get him killed???

Beagle just lost his mom to diabetes. At the end of her illness, he was the only one taking care of her. His brother was away trying to make it as a musician, and his father just couldn't handle being around her. The other storylines involve Beagle's father romancing Kristen Stewart's grandmother, and Beagle's brother trying to rekindle his romance with the woman he proposed to before skipping town 3 years ago.

The movie moves a little slowly but I enjoyed it. I was a little creeped out by the idea of not only Stewart's mom taking the 'artistic' photos of her daughter, but also the idea of Stewart romancing Beagle. We aren't told how old he is, but there is a bit of an age difference and I'm pretty sure if they have sex, it will be illegal. But the movie does a good job of distracting you from that by making you identify with Stewart. She wants to have sex because she is going to die soon, and she wants to experience as much life as she can before the end.

Oh, and the movie was directed by Mary Stuart Masterson. Not bad for a first feature.

Everlasting Moments - 2 1/2 stars

This movie is about a family living in 1907 Sweden. The father is a great guy when he is sober. He works hard for little money to provide for his family, and he loves his children. But when he gets drunk, he can get so violent that he puts a razor to his wife's throat and threatens to kill her. He also cheats on her.

His wife (Maria) finds a camera and at first she wants to pawn it. The camera store owner convinces her to keep the camera and try taking pictures. She discovers a new hobby, and even manages to make a little money by taking pictures for her friends and neighbors.

Its interesting the way her husband tries to stop her from enjoying her hobby. When he comes home from World War I and finds the house full of clients, rather than be impressed that his wife managed to find a way to make a little money, he freaks out and tells her to get all these people out of his house.

She also forms a friendship with the camera shop owner. We suspect that they are falling in love, even though they never do anything about it. Watch the way Jesper Christensen looks at her and treats her with such compassion. It is a very moving relationship.

At one point in the movie, he goes to jail for assaulting Maria. When he gets out, we wonder if she will leave him or stay with him. She shows up to the jail and he is surprised to see she came. As they walk home, the neighbors start noticing him. They both realize that the neighbors are going to talk, so she does an interesting thing: she puts her arm thru his. Whether she loves him or not, she has decided to stay with him, and she is making a bold announcement to everyone - this is my husband, or something to that effect.

I did like the movie, but I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. Its a little over two hours long, and you really have to be patient. Most movies get going right away. In this case, the movie stays at the same leisurly pace the entire time. You experience life with this family. If you are interested in movies about other countries and other times, and you have the patience to follow this family thru the years, you may really enjoy this movie. The performances are incredible.

out Friday, 4/3/09

Adventureland - 3 1/2 stars

Easily my favorite movie of 2009 so far. It reminds me of a John Hughes movie from the '80s. The only problem is the advertising is all wrong. It stresses that its from the director of Superbad, and it makes the movie look like a comedy. While it does have some very funny bits, its much more a drama. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are very funny as the park managers, but all together their scenes barely amount to 20 minutes of screen time.

Fast and Furious - 1 1/2 stars

I admit - I haven't seen the original, or either of the previous two sequels (2 Fast 2 Furious or Tokyo Drift). I have no idea how this one measures up. But it bored me to tears. I kept looking at my watch hoping it would end. The acting is terrible. All Vin Diesel can do is furrow his brows and look menacing. And the less said about Paul Walker, the better.

Crossing Over - 2 1/2 stars

Everyone is going to compare this movie to Crash. It does have some similarities. But I was never a big fan of Crash. I think I liked this one a little bit better. This still isn't a great movie. The Harrison Ford storyline was good, at least the part where he is trying to help a Mexican woman take care of her son. I lost interest in the murder myster part of his story. I also liked Summer Bishil's storyline. She plays an Iranian born teenager who writes an essay about the 9/11 hyjackers. But her essay is more about trying to understand their motives than condemning them, and her classmates are so enraged that one of them calls immigration on her and her family.

There are way too many stories that aren't as good. I didn't really care about Ashley Judd's character trying to find foster parents for an orphaned African girl. I also didn't care about Jim Sturgess trying to get jewish people to sign his papers confirming he needs a religuous visa. I thought the Ray Liotta character agreeing to trade a visa for sex with Alice Eve's character could have been interesting, but it was done in such a predictable way. He will give her a visa if she sleeps with him? No way. After its done we see her crying in the shower. Didn't see that one coming! The one part of their story I did like was how it ends. (spoiler alert) When he tells her that he wants to start over and have a real relationship, she tells him how much she hates him. Instead of threatening her or trying to blackmail her, he accepts this and leaves her alone. He honors his part of the bargain and tells her that she will never see him again. For that one moment, he is a stand-up guy.