Thursday, July 11, 2013

50x3: Erika's Picks

First, let me explain. When I first decided to do this I originally wanted to do a film from each person's list and write a review on each, and so on.

But, I found myself with a bit of a block on writing larger reviews - so I decided to watch all 10 of a person's selections and do one larger post (sort of like my Quick Shot posts). Hope that explains it. Anyway - here is the first set.

Title: Rent.

Starring: Anthony Rapp, Rosario Dawson, Jesse L. Martin, Adam Pascal, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms, Taye Diggs.

Original Post: Read It Here

Title: The Notebook.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kevin Connolly, Rachel McAdams, Heather Wahlquist, James Garner, Gena Rowlands

Original Post: Read It Here

Title: P.S. I Love You.

Starring: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Dean Winters.

Synopsis: Holly (Swank) and Gerry (Butler) get married despite their families not quite agreeing. They fight quite a bit, but there is definitely love there. Gerry, though, dies of a brain tumor and Holly soon realizes just how much she did love him. After withdrawing from her family and friends, Holly is pulled out of her apartment on her 30th birthday when she begins receiving notes from her dead husband - and is forced to get out of her doldrums. Holly's mother (Bates), doesn't agree with her daughter continuing to live in the past, but she grants Gerry's wishes. Soon, Holly is out living her life again - and has the ability to finally move on.

Opinion: This wasn't an amazing movie, but I think I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to. Though I think most of what Gerry did was sort of selfish, he knew his wife and it ended up working for her. If that ever happened to me, reliving everything about my loved one would tear me apart, and I don't think it could help me move on. Though, I did love seeing Ireland - I really want to go there sometime.


Title: Waitress.

Starring: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Eddie Jemison.

Synopsis: Jenna (Russell) works as a waitress at a small diner and is a wizard at making pies. She is also in an abusive marriage with Earl (Sisto). She is looking forward to a pie contest in a nearby town with a top prize of $25,000 and with what she has been stashing away - she hopes to flee town and get away from Earl. But, she gives into her husband one night and has sex - and gets pregnant - and has no feelings toward her baby. So, her plans sort of change - but she is still determined. She meets her new physician, Dr. Pomatter (Fillion) and the two hit it off. Despite the two of them being married an affair begins.

Opinion: I have never wanted pie so much in my life than after watching this movie. There were many that she made that I would never even think of eating, but boy I was craving some. The movie was actually pretty good, but honestly I don't think there was a single good person in this movie. Jenna's husband was horrible and everyone else was having affairs or being stalkers. But, somehow you still like them - except Sisto's character. He was just horrible.


Title: Elizabethtown.

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Badlwin, Bruce McGill, Judy Greer, Paul Schneider, Jessica Biel, Paula Deen.

Synopsis: Drew Baylor (Bloom) has been working his tail off on a brand new sneaker that will change the world, and has been reaping the benefits with a new girlfriend, Ellen (Biel). But, before the shoe even hits it is deemed a flop and Baylor is fired. As he is about to kill himself he gets a phone call that his father has died in his hometown of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Baylor flies in to bring his father back - on the flight he meets a flight attendant, Claire (Dunst) and she makes an impression. So much so that he hangs out with her while in Elizabethtown - and also learns about the other side of his father.

Opinion: There is an Elizabethtown that is not far from me - when this first came out I was saddened it wasn't about that town. Odd it took me so long to watch it, but I am glad I did. What happened to Bloom? He should be a much bigger star now - even I thought he looked good in this movie. Hopefully he gets another chance to return to the A-list with The Hobbit trilogy. As for this movie, I actually really enjoyed it. Again, I was not expecting to - I think it might have something to do with Bloom's performance.


Title: The Crow.

Starring: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Rochelle Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Sofia Shinas.

Synopsis: On Devil's Night - or the night before Halloween - Detroit becomes a scary town and Sergeant Albrecht (Hudson) is at a crime scene involving a woman, Shelly (Shinas) who has been beaten and raped, and her fiance Eric (Lee) who was stabbed, shot and tossed out a window. Sarah (Davis) is a young girl that has been neglected by her mother and was taken care of by Shelly and Eric - and Albrecht takes over that role. A year later, Eric awakens at his grave and takes it upon himself to track down the gang that killed him and his fiancee.

Opinion: Wow. I definitely should have watched this before. It was probably the real death of Lee that might have kept me away. It is too bad too, because he was truly outstanding in this movie. He could have done big things. I was also very impressed with Davis - though her acting career sort of stopped after this movie until recently. I have read that she took Lee's death hard - which I understand with her being so young. Great film, very dark - and very exciting right from the start to the end.


Title: The Help.

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Chris Lowell, Sissy Spacek, Mike Vogel.

Synopsis: Set in the 1960s, Skeeter Phelan (Stone) who has just moved back home after graduating from Ole Miss and finds out that her childhood maid Constantine 'quit'. Skeeter isn't like many women in her neighborhood, and wants to begin a career as a writer. One of her 'friends' Hilly (Howard), is a local housewife who treats her black staff like they have the plague - and even believes that she can get diseases. Fed up, Skeeter tries to get a few of the maids to tell their story and she can write a book. Reluctant at first, Aibileen (Davis) is the first to begin her story and soon Minny (Spencer) joins. After awhile, a lot of the maids join in to get their story published.

Opinion: I had a feeling I would like this movie, and after seeing it I was correct. Knowing that it was based on a true story only helps that fact. I felt both Davis and Spencer were great, and Stone continues to impress. I have also liked Howard in most of her movies, and she seems to play the villainous bitch rather well. I really don't think I have seen Chastain in very much, but I really came away liking her here. I truly touching story about race in the 60s that I am glad I finally watched.


Title: Memoirs of a Geisha.

Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Samantha Futerman, Ted Levine, Paul Adelstein, Kaori Momoi, Michelle Yeoh, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ken Watanabe.

Synopsis: Chiyo (Ziyi) and Satsu are sisters whose father sells them into a life of servitude. Chiyo ends up in a geisha house and tries to escape on multiple occasions to track down her sister. She was chosen to attend geisha school, but is soon removed by her Mother (Momoi) after her continuous disobedience. But, after meeting the Chariman (Watanabe) and his geisha companions she changes her tune and tries to get back into geisha school. Mameha (Yeoh) takes Chiyo under wing and soon she becomes one of the most popular geishas - and gains the attention of many high-profile men.

Opinion: So glad this was not a subtitled film. As much I liked City of God I think I would have liked it even more if I didn't have to read it. I enjoyed Memoirs but it wasn't outstanding. I liked the look into a culture I am not very aware of. It was very interesting.


Title: Ella Enchanted.

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Aiden McArdle, Lucy Punch, Minnie Drive, Eric Idle. Vivica A. Fox.

Synopsis: Ella (Hathaway) was given the 'gift of obedience' by a fairy named Lucinda (Fox). The gift doesn't really work out well for Ella as she must do absolutely everything that anyone orders her to do. After her mother passes away, her father remarries and brings in two horrible stepsisters, Hattie (Punch) and Olive. Hattie is in love with the prince, Char (Dancy), who will be king soon after the death of his father. He is taken care of by his uncle, Sir Edgar (Elwes). Char, though, soon falls for Ella, who calls him on his crap - but Hattie is jealous and figures out Ella's 'curse'. In order to get her life back, Ella sets out to find Lucinda to rescind her gift.

Opinion: This was a cute movie, but nothing truly special. It was nice to see Eric Idle as the narrator. I felt they were trying to recreate A Princess Bride, heck they even brought Elwes into it. But, it didn't quite have everything that Princess Bride did.


Title: Marley & Me.

Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Alan Arkin, Kathleen Turner, Clarke Peters.

Synopsis: John (Wilson) and Jenny (Aniston) move from Michigan to Florida to get out of the horrible winters. John takes a job at the Sun-Sentinel after being recommended by his friend Sebastian (Dane). Sebastian is the writer John wants to be, heading to different countries and getting front-page stories. John, not ready for children, is sensing Jenny might be ready - so he gets her dog and they name it Marley. Marley, though loved by the both of them, is a difficult dog that never truly was trained correctly. But soon, Jenny is pregnant with their first child - and they realize that having a dog helped prepare them - then she became pregnant with their second child and she decides to quit her job and stay at home. John takes a job as a columnist at his paper and doubles his salary. Though not what he wanted to do with his life - and Jenny begins experiencing postpartum depression, and grows impatient with both John and Marley.

Opinion: That is not really the entire synopsis, but it is good enough. The film itself is not really about Marley, its more about the family and how they learn to deal with all the things that come out them - including marriage, loss of a pregnancy, having children, moving and accepting new jobs. Marley is the one constant, however, and he grows old with the family. My wife had read the book and I knew what was going to happen, but it still pulls at your heartstrings. If you're a pet person, it definitely will.


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