Friday, June 29, 2012

Theater Review: Brave

It seems odd, doesn't it? That the first Pixar film came out in 1995 and this is the first film that features a female protagonist. But, 2012 appears to be the year of the female action star - with The Hunger Games and Avengers already succeeding.

So, Pixar has given us Brave a film set in Scotland and we are introduced to Merida (Kelly Macdonald) a princess with very large, wild red hair. She is the daughter of Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Elinor (Emma Thompson).

At a young age her father gave her a bow and arrow and she was immediately hooked. As she grew up she loved heading out and shooting at targets.

But, she was also a lady and her mother was grooming her to be the princess she was born to be. She is to be fought over by the three first-born sons of the allied friends of Fergus. Being able to choose how the sons fight for her, she chooses archery.

Merida wants nothing to do with her suitors, so she rushes off into the woods and comes across a small hut with an older lady inside who appears to be a wood carver, but she is holding a secret - she's actually a witch. Merida asks that a spell be cast to get her mother off of her back - so she can changer her fate.

The film is basically a mother-daughter tale. A mother who is forcing her daughter to do something she is not ready for, mostly because of a silly tale the kingdom believes in. And, the daughter who wants to remain a free spirit and begins to pull away from her mother for making her do what she doesn't want.

Brave fits perfectly into the Pixar format. A great tale with a ton of heart and lots of comedy sprinkled throughout. The comedy for the most part comes from Merida's father and his three allied partners, MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) and MacIntosh (Craig Ferguson) - and their sons. Plus, Fergus and Elinor have three, young triplet sons who never talk, but do a ton of hilarious things throughout the film.

Is Brave the new standard for Pixar? Absolutely not. But, it fits in nicely - probably around the middle. I love the fact that they continue to try new things - when Toy Story came out it was said hair was one of the most difficult things to create. But, here it looks amazing and you get a lot of it.

Plus, it is great that they finally came out with a female-led film. Pixar has had some great female characters over the years (Jessie, Dory, Elastigirl and Violet) but none of them were ever really the main character. Here, Merida is the focal point and it's wonderful.


Top 10: Songs That Remind Me of Movies

This Top 10 list could technically be a Top 100 list. But, I did a quick run through of songs and the first 10 that popped into my head I put down. Sure, there are probably others that are out there, but these were fresh in my mind.

My only criteria, and hopefully I didn't miss any, was that the song not be written specifically for a movie. So, 'Footloose', 'Eye of the Tiger', 'My Heart Will Go On', 'Lose Yourself', and about a million others could not be used for this list.

A movie that can use a song the right way can actually make that song its own. Some films have done that with a multitude of songs. But, I have selected 10 songs that when I hear them - anywhere - I immediately think of a certain movie. As I said above, there are probably more, but this is the list for now. If you have any - drop them in the comments. Would love to hear them.

10) The Shins - New Slang (Garden State)

As a huge Scrubs fan, I was obviously interested in checking out Zach Braff's films Garden State. Braff has been a large fan of The Shins, and they were also featured in several Scrubs episodes. This one song, from what music of theirs I have heard, is my favorite and every time I hear it I immediately think of this movie.

9) Jamiroquai - Canned Heat (Napoleon Dynamite)

Just a crazy scene to top off a crazy film. When I first saw Napoleon Dynamite I didn't know what to think. Where was this film coming from? It was so over the top crazy. I didn't even know if I enjoyed it the first time I saw it. But, on repeat viewings it gets better and better. And, the dance scene with this song is downright hysterical.

8) Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody (Ghost)

I have not seen Ghost in a really long time. I remember it being an okay movie when I did see it though. The scene that sticks with most people, though, is the pottery scene where the Righteous Brothers belt out this song. It is so iconic now that it is even being parodied or mentioned - like in the pottery class of Community.

7) Elton John - Tiny Dancer (Almost Famous)

This is a film I had not scene in its entirety until a few years ago. But, the one thing I knew going in was the song Tiny Dancer being sung by the band. After seeing it, though, within the film it stands out even more.

6) Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes (Say Anything) 

Okay, how's this for a song that reminds me of a movie. In Your Eyes reminds me of Say Anything and I haven't even seen the movie yet. Crazy, right? Anyway, with some research, I guess this song wasn't even originally chosen for the boombox scene - John Cusack, who is a big Fishbone fan, used a Fishbone song when filming. Not until post production did Peter Gabriel's song get inserted into the film. I think they made the right choice.

5) Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode (Back to the Future)

It's funny, but this film actually has a few songs that remind me of it. Of course, a few of those are Huey Lewis' power ballads mostly written for the film - and of course who can forget about Mr. Sandman? But, the song that rocks the hardest, so much so that these '50s swinging cats aren't even ready for it, is Johnny B Goode being rocked out by Marty McFly.

4) Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the Middle with You (Reservoir Dogs)

A pretty creepy scene when you think about it. But, Mr. Blonde dances to this song when he holds the guard hostage and decides to do a little torturing all by himself - just for the fun of it, really.

3) Aerosmith - Sweet Emotion (Dazed & Confused)

Pick a song from this film and it pretty much reminds me of it - Bob Dylan's Hurricane comes to mind - but the one that truly sticks out to me is the very first song of the film, Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion. It sets the tone for what is about to happen. And, it begins what would late be the topper of the film - driving into the city to score Aerosmith tickets.

2) Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (Wayne's World) 

Despite probably being one of the lone standout films to come out of an SNL sketch, Wayne's World will probably always be remembered for the amazing sing-along, head banging that they pulled off to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in their car.

1) Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me (Breakfast Club) 

I thought long and hard, but there was just no getting past it. This song brings me right back to that library and I see the five high schoolers stuck in detention on a Saturday, which is immediately followed by the final still of Judd Nelson's John Bender walking across the football field and raising his arm into the air.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday's With Movies: 6/26/12

The Artist: One of my least favorite type of film. I am definitely glad I wasn't brought up during the era before the 'talkies'. Sure it won the Oscar, because it was something different - I am sure it is a good film for those that enjoy it. But, I watch movies for entertainment and these type of films lack in that department.

21 Jump Street: At first I was totally out on this film. I never watched the television series, but then again these movies never really follow the series anyway - so that shouldn't matter. I think I may have been Jonah Hill-ed out. But, early reviews of the film and some later trailers got me hooked again. I'll definitely be checking it out.

Wrath of the Titans: Still have yet to check out the first film in this franchise (the remake from a few years ago, not the original). I am seriously doubting anything spectacular out of any of these films, but I will eventually check them both out. Just not sure when.

Mirror Mirror: I am not really a fan of Julia Roberts. There is just something about her that usually throws me off - but there are some of her movies that I am able to enjoy despite her performance. With the Snow White films were coming out I was definitely more interested in The Huntsman, but Mrs. Kano wanted to check this one out, so I will as well.

A Thousand Words: I hate to admit it, but when I saw the first trailer as ridiculous as it sounds I actually thought this movie may be somewhat funny. Besides the Shrek films it looked so much better than almost anything Eddie Murphy has been throwing out there. But, it currently has a 0% on rottentomatoes. I never listen to reviews when watching films, but a 0% definitely has me worried - that means everyone hated it, there is no wiggle room. I guess we'll see at some point.

The Decoy Bride: A famous celebrity is about to get married and in order to get past the paparazzi, the bride hires someone else to to be her decoy and throw the paparazzi off of her scent. Not really sure if I will watch this one - may be a date night movie in the future, so I cannot say a definite no or yes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

HOT: Apollo 13

Space has always been very interesting to me. I would have loved to be an astronaut and fly through outer space. But, it has also been pretty scary as well - and this film really didn't help that fear.

In Apollo 13 Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) is astronaut with the American space program, or NASA. He, his family and friends are about to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing with Neil Armstrong on television at his house.

Lovell is scheduled, along with Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise), to fly in the Apollo 14 moon mission and land on the moon himself.

Around a month before the Apollo 13 launch, Lovell is called into his bosses office and is informed that he and his crew would be bumped up to Apollo 13 due to illnesses throughout the original crew. With just a little time to train, Lovell, Haise and Mattingly throw themselves into the simulators and train for their mission.

During the final week before the mission, Lovell is informed that one of the NASA crew members has developed measles and could have infected all those around him. Lovell and Haise had both had measles so are in the clear, but Mattingly is forced to stay behind having never had them - he is replaced at the last minute by Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon).

On the day the astronauts broadcast from space, Marilyn Lovell (Kathleen Quinlan) and the rest of the astronaut's loved ones head to NASA to watch. She notices that none of the television stations are covering the show and is told that none of the networks thought it was interesting enough to broadcast.

After the show, those in Houston helping the astronauts on their mission ask Swigert to stir the oxygen tanks. During the process, something horrible goes wrong and the shuttle explodes and begins leaking oxygen into space.

Forced to use their lunar module as a life boat, the astronauts soon realize that going to the moon is now out of the question and even returning home could be difficult. Flight Director Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) and the rest of the guys in Houston must now figure out a way to keep the three astronauts alive and get them home safely - including bringing Mattingly into the simulator to find the best possible way to save electricity and still use everything that they need.

Though it may have scarred me for life from wanting to head into outer space - I think I will wait until we have the U.S.S. Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon to make that trip - the movie itself was amazing and told the story of Apollo 13 very well.

Most of the acting in the film was top-notch. I still am up-and-down on Paxton. Compared to the other actors like Hanks, Sinise and Harris, he really stood out as below par. But, that didn't affect my thoughts on the film. One of my favorites.


Friday, June 22, 2012

HOT: Toy Story

Did you ever wonder what happens when you shut your door as a kid? Perhaps those toys you have been spending so much time with actually have minds of their own.

In 1995's Toy Story, those questions and more are answered. I have always been a fan of cartoon films, especially Disney films - but this new kid on the block, Pixar, was seriously about to blow our minds.

It was the first film ever to be totally created through computers and CGI, which in itself would make this film groundbreaking. But, Pixar didn't stop there. They actually made an amazing story to go along with it - something that would become the norm with Pixar films.

So, Andy (John Morris) is a young child who really gets into playing with his toys. Woody (Tom Hanks) is a sheriff doll with a pull string that has been Andy's favorite toy since he was in kindergarten.

When Andy heads out of the room and leaves his toys by themselves, they all come to life and interact with each other. Some of the main toys throughout the room are Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles).

Andy and his family are about to move into a new home and it also just so happens to be close to Andy's birthday. A surprise to the other toys, they find out that Andy's mother has moved his party up so that it can happen before the move.

Woody dispatches a team of Army soldiers led by Sarge (R. Lee Ermey) to stake out the birthday party and report back with what Andy receives for his birthday. After thinking they had escaped the party without Andy receiving anything big - Andy's mom pulls a large box from the closet, and out comes Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).

Buzz is a toy with all of the bells and whistles and soon takes Woody's place as Andy's new favorite toy. But, Buzz is also a bit confused as he believes he is the real Buzz Lightyear and not a toy - so he tries to fix his broken spaceship in order to get back to outer space.

Woody becomes depressed when he is replaced by Buzz and on a night when Andy is allowed to bring one toy with him to Pizza Planet - Woody tries to knock Buzz behind a dresser, but instead knocks him out of the window.

Blamed by the toys for trying to get rid of Buzz, Woody tries to find Buzz and get him to come back to the house. But, both toys are discovered at Pizza Planet by Andy's neighbor Sid (Erik von Detten) and brought back to his house - Sid is a deranged child who enjoys torturing toys and Woody does all he can to get Buzz and himself out of the house and back to Andy before the moving trucks leave.

Again, just an amazing film. Pixar is the new standard for animated features and it all started with Toy Story in '95. It is also the film that all new CGI films will always be compared to. It's not often that something so new and groundbreaking can also produce one of the best animated features ever as well.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

HOT: Forrest Gump

Here we reach the second of Tom Hanks' Academy Award wins in the lead actor category. Unlike Philadelphia this one I have seen a ton of times - including in the theater.

The story of Forrest Gump is an incredible story of a man named Forrest (Hanks), who has an IQ of less than average, but leads the most fascinating life.

While he was young he was picked on a ton by the other children in school due to his lack of intelligence and because he had to wear leg braces to straighten out his spine. He was rescued on a number of occasions by a girl in school named Jenny (Robin Wright) and the two of them become very good friends - Forrest quickly falls in love with her and she becomes the only girl for him.

As they grow up Forrest and Jenny's lives go in completely different directions. As Forrest is running away from bullies one day he is discovered by a football coach and he uses his ability to return kicks and gains a scholarship to Alabama.

He uses the scholarship to gain a degree and after college is given a pamphlet to join the Army, and he does.

Jenny meanwhile starts at an all-girls college near Forrest at Alabama, but eventually she gets mixed up in some odd situations - most likely due to the trauma she received from her father when she was a child. Forrest does all he can to protect her when he is around, but she pushes him away each time he does.

In the Army, Forrest heads to Vietnam and becomes best friends with Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), a man from Louisiana who wants to be a shrimp boat captain. He is led in the Army by Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), whose entire family (at least the men) have been killed during wars - and he is looking to take his place among them. Unfortunately, Forrest saves his life and takes that away from him - and he loses his legs in the process.

Basically to sum up, Forrest Gump, despite his limitations, made the most out of his life and was never held back. He used his speed to go to college, he received a purple heart in the Army, he met numerous presidents, started a great business and helped many people out along the way with his strong heart.

The entire film is told through a flashback as Forrest sits on a bench waiting for a bus. He tells his story to the people that come and sit next to him - all because a nurse has a new pair of shoes. The only part of the film not in flashback is the glimpses of Forrest telling the story - and the end as he is on his way to see Jenny and make a remarkable discovery.

Though the film is rather long, it is an incredible story and very fun to watch. Great to see the many different things that happen to Forrest, most of which happen by chance, including him having a hand in many different historical events.

Hanks was top-notch as always. I also really enjoyed Williamson as Bubba and Sinise as Lt. Dan. I am still on the fence about Wright's performance. There were some parts of the film where I really enjoyed her and others where she really didn't seem up to par with Hanks' performance.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

41/50x2: Domino

I love when Keira Knightley does movies that are not period pieces. I enjoy her, and she is one of those extremely skinny looking girls I actually think is good looking - yet, I still think she should eat a sandwich.

Anyway, here Knightley stars as Domino Harvey the titular character in Domino. She is a former model living in LA that notices an ad in the newspaper about bounty hunting - so she heads to take a class from Ed Moseby (Mickey Rourke) and bail bondsman, Claremont Williams (Delroy Lindo).

This is one of those films where a bunch of things happen and three different groups of people end up in the same place with guns pointing at each other.

Apparently, a DMV employee who is also the mistress of Williams, Lateesha (Mo'Nique) is trying to secure $300,000 to help her granddaughter Micah receive a surgery.

Her and two of her friends look to rob a billionaire, Drake Bishop (Dabney Coleman) of $10 million to help pay for the surgery.

The entire film is told in flashback because Domino has been arrested by the FBI and is retelling her account of the situation to FBI agent Taryn Mills (Lucy Liu).

This wasn't the greatest of films - sure a pretty decent ride, but not amazing. The funniest part of the film was when a tv crew led by Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken) follow the group of bounty hunters around for a television reality series. And the hosts of the show are former 90210 actors Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering.


HOT: Sleepless in Seattle

I pretty much knew the entire story of this movie before even watching it. Yes, this was the first time I had ever watched it - but it was still good to get to finally watch it.

Sleepless in Seattle opens at a pretty depressing point. Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) had just lost his wife, Maggie, to cancer and he and his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger) pickup and move from Chicago to Seattle.

Baldwin had lost his soul mate in Maggie and the loss of her has really hit him hard. One night, Jonah calls into a late-night radio station and talks about his dad's predicament and how he wishes that his dad would get back out there. Then, he forces his dad to talk about his loss and his feelings over the airwaves.

The radio host nicknames him Sleepless in Seattle and women all over the world fall for him over his story, including Annie Reed (Meg Ryan).

Reed lives in Baltimore and is engaged to Walter (Bill Pullman). Walter is quite possibly the nicest man in the world, though he suffers from about every allergy known to man. Although she is comfortable with Walter, Annie feels there just may be something missing. And, she writes a letter to Sleepless in Seattle.

The letter, however, was not mailed by Annie. Her friend, Becky (Rosie O'Donnell) mails the letter without her knowing. But, Annie continues to be what I can only classify as a stalker. She hires a P.I. to take pictures of Baldwin, and she herself even travels to Seattle and tries to track him down.

After discovering him and thinking he has moves on with another woman, Annie heads back to Baltimore and tries to move on with Walter. In her letter, though, she had mentioned that on Valentine's Day she would meet Baldwin on the top of the Empire State Building.

Not liking his father's current girlfriend, Jonah has become infatuated with Annie after reading her letter. He begs his father to go to NYC for Valentine's Day to meet her - but Baldwin refuses. Jonah's friend, Jessica (Gabby Hoffman), breaks into her mother's computer (her mother is a travel agent) and books Jonah on a flight to NYC.

I found it pretty darn fascinating that a movie that stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and the two of them are in pretty much two scenes together throughout the entire film. There is a small scene (which is basically two scenes) where he sees her at the airport, and then they see each other when she is stalking him. Then, at the conclusion of the film - and that's it.

The movie to me was, adequate. I don't really think this movie was made for me. I love Hanks and Ryan is cute - and I can take a love story or girly movie with the best of them, but even this one was far too sappy for me. But, it totally worked for a lot of people and it is brought up as one of the greatest love story movies whenever those are talked about. So, for some people it works - and it setup one of Hanks' other films which I will talk about shortly.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

40/50x2: Platoon

This film has one of the most robust casts I have seen in a long time.

Platoon follows Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he drops out of college and volunteers to fight in Vietnam. He is dropped near the Cambodian border and immediately is thrust into combat.

Exhaustion overcomes him one night while he is supposed to standing watch. He asks another soldier to take over for him and he falls asleep - but so does the soldier who has taken over for him. And, the enemy is able to sneak up on them and ambushes them.

Taylor is yelled at by Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), but he is taken under the wing of Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who doesn't get along with the more crazed Barnes.

The film follows Taylor through his experiences and also shows the other troops and how they are dealing with the war. Some are able to handle it, while others show the effects of war and each one deals with it in a different way.

The movie itself was decent, but not the greatest of war movies I have seen. Still, it was pretty much non-stop action, and the characters were very interesting.

It was also cool to see some of the bigger stars of the day like Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon and Keith David - some of which were very young and had very small roles.

Overall, enjoyable. And with most war films coming in rather long, here it is just two hours, which was nice. The ending of the film was also pretty powerful - something I was not expecting, but also understood.


Tuesday's With Movies: 6/19/12

Big Miracle:  "Captain, there be whales here." So, this is I believe based on a true story of a couple of whales trapped under the ice in Alaska. A group of people do all they can do get the whales help and show them the way to water outside of the ice. May check it out.

Project X: Nothing about this has interested me in the least. So, I will not be checking it out.

Wanderlust: Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston get trapped at a nudist camp - and I am sure hilariousness ensues. Yeah, I'll be checking it out.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home: Though this is being billed as a comedy, it looks a lot like an indie film that is more dramatic than comedic. But, I will have to take a look to make sure. Interesting to see Jason Segel in a more dramatic role.

Seeking Justice: Or, Nicolas Cage continues to search for paychecks. But, this one may have at least some redeeming qualities. I may check it out at some point.

Cat Run: No real idea what this one is about. But it was rated pretty poorly. Only real name I recognized was Shooter McGavin.

Monday, June 18, 2012

39/50x2: Million Dollar Baby

I am beginning to get the Clint Eastwood treatment. There weren't many films of his I have seen, whether it be acting or directing. And, as I said before, despite my lack of love for the sport of boxing, films about them are always pretty darn interesting.

So, here we have a mixture of both. Eastwood both directed and starred in Million Dollar Baby. He takes on the role of Frankie Dunn, a boxing trainer who is very talented at what he does, but lacks the champions that a successful trainer should have.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is a waitress who has aspirations of making it as a boxer. But, Dunn tosses her aside because he doesn't train girls. She is persistent, though, and Dunn's co-trainer Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman) allows her to train in the gym and gives her an old speed bag to work with until she can afford her own.

Eventually, she begins to show some promise and, despite her age, Dunn finally agrees to take her on and train her. As things progress, she is actually a very talented boxer - or just really good at the initial charge and is able to knock out her opponent rather quickly.

There is also the fact that Maggie's family is a bunch of hillbilly freeloaders. As Maggie gets better she begins to make more money and buys a house for her mother - but instead of being thankful, she complains that now she won't get enough welfare.

I can't really talk about the film much more because it would spoil a rather large plot point, but that was also one of the least convincing things I have seen in film.

Despite that, the film was still pretty entertaining. I still don't really enjoy Eastwood as an actor, I think it's mostly his voice and delivery. And despite how annoying I usually find her, I enjoyed Swank here. And of course, Freeman was excellent as always.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

38/50x2: Cool Hand Luke

Yet another Paul Newman film on the list. Besides cartoon films and some of the old classics like Wizard of Oz and Gone w/ the Wind this is probably one of the oldest movies I have seen.

And, despite the grade at the end of this - I actually enjoyed it compared to its age. I just have a hard time truly loving older films. Sure there are the occasional ones that stand out - but for the most part, they just don't really do it for me.

Cool Hand Luke is about Lucas Jackson (Newman) who has returned from the Korean War and has not really adjusted well. He is found cutting the tops off of parking meters and drunk as a skunk - for his crimes he is tossed into a a prison camp.

Once in prison he immediately gets on the bad side of the 'leader' Dragline (George Kennedy) and when allowed out in the yard the two throw down. Luke gets his butt handed to him by the much larger Dragline, but he continues to get up despite being bloodied up. For this, he earns the respect of Dragline and the other prisoners. That night he wins a poker game with a lousy hand on a bluff - and Dragline bestows upon him the nickname Cool Hand Luke.

For the most part the rest of the film is Luke and the other prisoner's life inside of the prison. What they do to pass the time, their work duties on the roads and Luke getting in trouble with the guards multiple times. Including a handful of times he tries to escape the prison.

As I said, for an older movie I enjoyed it. It was also cool to see some actors that I have come to know like Kennedy and a much younger Dennis Hopper, who played Babalugats. Before this film I was pretty naive on the films of Newman - but he is a pretty talented actor. I look forward to the few more I will check out in the future.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

37/50x2: Lars and the Real Girl

I never understood how Ryan Gosling became such a great actor. In fact, I just did a quick look at his resume and I had seen a grand total of two of his films before before watching this one - Remember the Titans and Murder by Numbers. Believe me, I want to check out a handful of the others, but have not been able to yet.

So, with only those two films as my guide - and he was pretty good in both, just not megastar - I was really confused on where all the fuss was coming from. Then I watched Lars and the Real Girl.

Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, a man who is unable to interact with others very well and is pretty much socially awkward. He lives in a converted garage on his parents land that his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) now live in after the death of his father.

Despite constant tries to help with Lars' issues, Karin is turned down at almost every opportunity - and on the rare occasion that he may accept an invite for dinner, Lars is out of there as quickly as he can. He is a regular at a local church and has a job, where a co-worker Margo (Kelli Garner) has an obvious crush on him. But, he runs from any real interaction with anyone.

One day a co-worker shows Lars a website for lifelike dolls. And, for some reason Lars orders one and names her Bianca. He introduces her to his brother and sister-in-law as a friend. He talks to her as though she is real - concerned about his health Gus and Karin talk to Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) the family physician. They convince Lars to take Bianca in for a check-up, and while she 'rests' he talks to Dagmar.

Though it is obviously odd, because the town loves Lars so much they accept Bianca as one of their own. And soon Lars says she is his girlfriend - and Bianca actually begins to have a social life. Thanks to this, Lars also begins to interact more with the people in his town.

I will not spoil this movie for anyone. It was just amazing to watch and I loved every minute of it. There is a reason revealed in the film about why Lars has become the way he is and it truly makes sense. Though the doll is creepy, because it actually does look pretty darn real - Lars never uses it for its intended purpose. It is merely there as first a friend, then a girlfriend - and he treats it with respect.

Gosling was incredible in this role and I am now beginning to see just what all of the fuss is about. I realize that around the same time he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Half Nelson. He has become a talented actor and I can't wait to start digging into some of his other work.

The other actors were also great. I have only seen Garner in a few things, but I really like what she brings to the table. In some of the things Mortimer has been in she has sometimes annoyed me, but I liked her in this role. And, Schneider - I don't know I just really consider him a poor-man's John Krasinski. I think his role on Parks and Rec had a lot to do with that image - as he was probably brought in as the 'Jim' character. I just kept picturing Krasinski as the character here, and as good as Schneider was I felt Krasinski could have been better.

A touching and well written story. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you check it out.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

36/50x2: The Ghost Writer

Well, it finally happened. Waiting way too long to write these reviews has finally caught up to me. I admit that on several occasions in writing these I had to look up certain things, but for the most part I still pretty much remembered and understood what had happened in the film.

But, The Ghost Writer is the first film where I believe there was just far too much going on in the movie for me to actually remember what it was about.

So, I will give you a very short, clift notes version of what I can remember. Ewan McGregor stars as the unnamed ghost writer. He has been tasked to help write the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) after the ghost writer before him, Mike McAra, died in an auto accident.

He travels to a small villa that Lang, his wife Ruth (Olivia Williams) and his assistant Amelia (Kim Cattrall) are all staying at. He first stays in a hotel, but after Amelia forbids him from taking the memoirs with him to work with, he decides to take up a room there.

Like the ghost writer before him, he begins to dig up many things about the Lang administration - mostly about capturing terrorists and handing them over to the CIA for torture.

Many other things are uncovered, including a pretty large twist near the end that even I did not see coming - at least I don't think I did, but it has been far too long. Hence why I will never wait this long again or fall this far behind in writing the reviews.

Anyway, from what I do remember about the film it was - decent. I really do enjoy a film about cover-ups and uncovering secrets, but here even the uncovering was done rather - boring I guess may be the word.

I really enjoy McGregor in almost anything he has been doing, and here he was pretty darn good as well. Brosnan is also pretty top notch in the role as the Prime Minister. I guess it was just the writing - and it was just so dark and bleak all of the time. Too many clouds and too much grey.


Tuesday's With Movies: 6/12/12

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: I honestly wasn't that big of a fan of the first Sherlock Holmes film, but there was definitely a chance for something great - it just didn't happen. Hopefully with the sequel they made the necessary changes. I think this could be a fun franchise, if it is done right.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: As odd as it may sound, I may have actually liked the first Ghost Rider  film more than I did the first Sherlock Holmes. But, not a lot more. Not really sure how much they can improve on it, but I will always give it a shot.

Good Deeds: I am just going to continue to say it. Who is watching these Tyler Perry films? I can honestly say the only movie I have ever seen with Tyler Perry in it was Star Trek. But, someone must be watching it and he continues to make bank - so I can't hate on him for that. I will just continue to wonder who is watching them.

Too Big To Fail: I had never heard of this, but it is apparently a made-for-tv film that was on HBO. Boy is it star-studded. It's basically about the 2008 financial meltdown that occurred in America. Not sure I am going to rush out to get this, but it has me interested enough that I may check it out - especially if it goes streaming.

A Little Bit of Heaven: It's on its way from Netflix. Definitely one of those chick-flick movies that my wife enjoys. If she likes it enough I may end up watching it with her at some point in time. Reviews, however, have not been kind. But, I don't get myself too wrapped up in reviews.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quick Shots 15

Title: The Change-Up.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin.

Brief Synopsis: Mitch (Reynolds) and Dave (Bateman) have been best friends forever. Dave has become a pretty successful lawyer who is married to Jamie (Mann) and has three kids, a daughter and a pair of infant twins. Mitch, meanwhile, is an out-of-work actor who goes from one sexual conquest to another. The two envy each other and one night while drunk they take a leak in a fountain and wish for each other's lives.

Opinion: This film is a lot like Freaky Friday where the two individuals switch bodies - where no one else arounds them knows - and the two are forced to live each other's lives. At first believing that the other person's life is better than theirs. As things progress they both begin to actually like the other life - Mitch enjoying the family life, while Dave is finally enjoying having some free-time to himself. It's all pretty generic, and we know what is going to happen, but it was pretty fun watching them get there. And, it was a much more raunchier than Freaky Friday.


Title: What's Your Number?

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Ed Begley, Jr., Eliza Coupe, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt.

Brief Synopsis: Ally (Faris) has just broken up with her boyfriend and while reading an article in a magazine she reads that an average woman has a handful of sexual partners in their life, and those that have more than 20 will most likely never find their husband. As her sister prepares to get married to a man that she broke up with and then got back together with, Ally swears off new men and with the help of her sex-crazed neighbor, Colin (Evans), she begins to track down her former lovers to find the one who may be her husband.

Opinion: I don't know what it is, I never really hated Evans - but I wasn't looking for his films either, but ever since Captain America I have really started noticing him more. I really enjoy him - and here he was really fun. Faris is also someone I like, she is funny and cute, and here it continues. The film itself was pretty funny, and like all romantic comedies the end was pretty much mapped out from the start, but I liked the journey.


Title: In Time.

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Galecki, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Vincent Kartheiser.

Brief Synopsis: In the future, money has been replaced by time. All humans stop aging at the age of 25, but as you hit your 25th birthday a clock on your arm begins to tick down from a year. Time can also be passed on in much the same way as money. You can earn more time at work, but you lose time for purchases. Will Salas (Timberlake) lives with his mother, Rachel (Wilde), in the poor time zone. It seems that Salas goes to bed each night with a day to live, but earns more at work the next day. One night he runs into Henry Hamilton (Bomer) at a bar and helps him out of a jam. Hamilton happens to have over a century of time, and decides he has lived long enough - transferring his time to Salas. With time to spare, Salas heads to the rich time zone - but is charged with Hamilton's murder by the timekeeper (Murphy). Salas kidnaps Sylvia Weis (Seyfried) and escapes.

Opinion: I actually really enjoyed this film. I had heard some bad things about it heading in, but the entire premise was just too cool to pass up. And, I thought they did a pretty good job. It was pretty much a futuristic Bonnie & Clyde film. Murphy and Timberlake were truly great - and Kartheiser, who plays one of the richest men and is Sylvia's father, is just one of the best as playing the schwarmy villain, much like his Mad Men character. And, I really don't mind Seyfried - she did pretty well in this role, in my opinion.


Title: Footloose (2011).

Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Ray McKinnon, Ser'Darius Blain.

Brief Synopsis: An accident after a high school dance claims the lives of five seniors, including the son of Rev. Shaw Moore (Quaid). After the accident, Moore announces that the community needs to take better care of their children - and the town passes laws for curfews, no dancing and no loud music. Three years later, Ren (Wormald) comes to town from Boston and is immediately pulled over for loud music. He becomes friends with Willard (Teller) and Woody (Blain), and joins the football team. Ariel (Hough) is the daughter of the Reverend, and is lashing out due to the death of her brother and her father's overbearing rules. Ren and Ariel begin to connect and Ren takes on the town to overturn the rules so the seniors can have a prom.

Opinion: OK. I really can't hate this movie. But, the main reason why I can't hate it is because I really like the original and this one is almost identical to that one - the final scenes of the film are pretty much shot-for-shot right down to the outfits the characters are wearing. What I am saying is there was no real reason for this to be made - the only real update is instead of cassette tapes, Ren is now using an iPod. But, I did enjoy the performances - and there were a few differences that I did like. Never heard of the main actor until here, but I prefer Kevin Bacon in the role - though I will definitely take Hough, great dancer and, well, yearh.