Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, 12/18/09

Avatar - 3 stars

This is Ferngully mixed with Dances With Wolves. I really wish there was more to the story. There really aren't any big surprises. The effects were incredible. I was able to believe in this world. It didn't look like actors just acting in front of a green screen. The action scenes were great. The big battle at the end is exciting. But the unoriginality of the story coupled with the blandness of Sam Worthington just disappointed me a lot. I still recommend the movie, but just because of the visual aspect.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? - 2 stars

Avatar is not the only unoriginal movie out today. This is a typical fish out of water story. A couple from NYC hide out in Ray, Wyoming. They've never shopped in a Bargain Barn. They are vegetarians and apparently have never had a breakfast that wasn't a bagel and grapefruit. To blend in, they wear cowboy hats and go to a rodeo.

Hugh Grant used to be funny, but everything he does in this movie just feels tired. The one bright spot in the movie is Wilford Brimley. It's nice to see him in a movie again.

Up in the Air - 4 stars

One of the best movies of the year. George Clooney is great as usual, but the real standout performance is by Anna Kendrick. She is really good in this movie.

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) works as a guy who fired people for a living. When a boss is too chicken to fire his employees himself, he hires Bingham's company to come in and do the dirty work for him. Ryan spends so much time traveling that he is uncomfortable in his apartment. He would rather be on the road. There are some funny montages showing him packing, arriving at the airport, and going thru security. He travels so much that he always knows which security line is the best one. He has airport travel down to a science.

The movie is really about Ryan and his relationships, one with a woman (Vera Farmiga) he meets in an airport, and the other is with his sisters. They hardly know him because he is not a part of their lives. His sister is getting married and all she wants him to do is get a picture of a cardboard cutout in front of a hotel in Vegas, and he isn't sure he will get around to it.

A big part of the movie focuses on the firings. Director Jason Reitman edits footage of actual people who have lost their jobs into the movie. These people talk right into the camera about how they felt when they were fired, and it's heartbreaking. But as depressing as it is, the movie is still uplifting. One of the best movies of the year.

Antichrist - 2 stars

This is a tough one to watch. A husband and wife are busy having sex in the shower and not watching their young son, who falls out the window to his death. In order to help his wife get over her grief, the husband - a therapist - takes her to their cabin in the woods for some therapy. What follows is both husband and wife torturing each other, first verbally, then physically. Don't see this movie if genital mutilation freaks you out. Well, it should freak you out, but don't go if you can't handle it.

The Road - 3 1/2 stars

There have been a lot of movies set in a post-apocalyptic future. Usually they are action or sci-fi movies. This is the first one I can remember that felt totally believable. It really makes you feel what it would be like if civilization came to an end. There is very little food and you can't trust anybody, because there are a lot of cannibals around. Viggo Mortensen and his son are just trying to survive in this world. There is a scene of Mortensen showing his son how to shoot himself, just in case. This is a powerful movie.

Me and Orson Welles - 4 stars

Another great movie. Zac Effron is a kid in the 1930s who one day stumbles across the Mercury Theater group, led by Orson Welles. He gets a role in their production of Julius Caesar and learns a lot about life and betrayal. The reason to see this movie is Christian McKay. Orson Welles was a fascinating man, and McKay gives one of the best performances of the year as Welles. Every moment he is on screen is electric. Even though you hate Welles at times, you want to see more of him. I have never been in a play, but I have been involved in stage productions as a musician. So I can relate to the work that goes into a big show. Watching them rehearse and make changes to the show, all leading up to the big opening night, was exciting. It is one of the best movies about the theater I have ever seen.

Utah Film Critics Association announces 2009 awards winners

Up in the Air was recognized with two awards at the annual meeting of the Utah Film Critics Association, including Best Picture of 2009. The film’s director, Jason Reitman, also won for Best Achievement in Directing.

In the Male Lead Performance category, Viggo Mortensen was recognized for his work in The Road as a father leading his young son through a post-apocalyptic America. Carey Mulligan took Female Lead Performance honors as a teenager involved with an older man in An Education.

Two awards went to Fantastic Mr. Fox: Best Animated Feature, and Best Screenplay for Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Supporting Performance awards went to Mo’Nique as an abusive single mother in Precious, and Christian McKay as Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles.

In the documentary category, The Cove was recognized, while Park Chan-wook’s Korean vampire thriller Thirst was honored in the non-English language category.

The Utah Film Critics Association is made up of film journalists from print, online and broadcast media based in the state of Utah. Members include: Luke Hickman,; Jimmy Martin, SLUG Magazine; Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune; Andy Morgan, Logan Herald-Journal; Ryan Michael Painter, In Utah This Week; Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly; Steve Salles, Standard-Examiner (Ogden); Mike Thiriot, KTHB 94.9 FM; Missy Thompson, Tooele Transcript-Bulletin; Tony Toscano, Talking Pictures; Jeff Vice, Deseret Morning News; and Doug Wright, KSL Movie Show.

The complete list of winners and runners-up follows:

2009 Utah Film Critics Association Winners

Best Picture

Up in the Air

(runners-up: The Hurt Locker; Inglourious Basterds)

Best Achievement in Directing

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

(runner-up: John Hillcoat, The Road)

Best Male Lead Performance

Viggo Mortensen, The Road

(runner-up: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker)

Best Female Lead Performance

Carey Mulligan, An Education

(runner-up: Maya Rudolph, Away We Go)

Best Male Supporting Performance

Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles

(runner-up: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds)

Best Supporting Performance by an Actress

Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

(runner-up: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air)

Best Screenplay

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox

(runners-up: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer; Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds)

Best Animated Feature

Fantastic Mr. Fox

(runner-up: Up)

Best Documentary Feature

The Cove

(runner-up: Anvil! The Story of Anvil)

Best Non-English Language Feature


(runner-up: Sin Nombre)