Archive for August, 2009

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#10: Taking Woodstock

August 29, 2009

takingwoodstockWell, it’s August 28 which means two movies came out that I’ve been waiting for what seems life forever to see:  The Final Destination (don’t ask) and Taking Woodstock.  Well, since today my mom wanted to see a movie as well, and would go see G-Force before seeing a purely popcorn horror flick, we saw Taking Woodstock.

So what’s it about?: Based on Elliot Tiber’s memoirs, Taking Woodstock is basically the story of a man who decides to host the Woodstock concert in order to pay the bills.  Chaos ensues.

The Good: Well, the main reason I was looking forward to this film is because it basically contains all of my favorite actors in one film: Jonathan Groff, Emile Hirsch, Skylar Astin, Paul Dano.  That list alone would get me into the theater even if this was a film about reading from the phonebook.  And for the most part, the acting was awesome.  And mad props to Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman, who played Elliot’s parents, for being the hands down best part of this film.  Seriously, if the movie had been solely about them it would have been amazing!  And there was one really cool continous shot a little over halfway through the film, but honestly it wasn’t near the amazingness that is the Beach Scene in Atonement.  But still pretty cool.

The Bad: Sadly, Demetri Martin, while doing an admirable job at a somewhat boring character, was the weakest in a group of stellar actors.  Honestly, somebody else could have done a better job, and Demetri Martin needs to stick to Important Things (which are def not this film).  But he definitely wasn’t the biggest problem with this movie by a long shot.  Frankly, Taking Woodstock was like watching a movie made by a kid with serious ADD.  It was ALL OVER the place.  A character would show up for five minutes, create chaos, and then leave.  And in a way I can see where this was possibly the point.  Because afterall this was a movie about Woodstock: a huge event that showed up for three days, created chaos, and then left seemingly overnight, but leaving a huge impression on history, almost (I guess) like how the characters left a huge impression in Elliot’s life.  Yeah, okay, I get that, if that was the intent.  But it results in a very choppy and disengaging film.  I had no time to connect to any of the characters except for Elliot, who was just plain boring, and his parents, who there just wasn’t enough of.  And for a movie about Woodstock, this movie had sadly a pretty lame soundtrack.  There were seriously times when I was like “Does there really need to be music here right now?”  I mean, it got to the point where it was distracting from the action.

The Verdict: Maybe this movie just wasn’t for me, but honestly for a movie about Woodstock it just didn’t seem epic enough.  It definitely leaves something to be desired, and frankly if you are really wanting to see this film, then save your money and rent the DVD (because, hey, it’ll be at a redbox oneday and then you can see it for a dollar!)

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#9: Sunshine Cleaning

August 27, 2009

sunshineOkay, so in yesterday’s post I mentioned seeing a slew of chick flicks and kid movies today.  Thankfully, I changed my plans and no such thing happened.  Instead, I did the unthinkable and discovered the greatest thing on earth: redbox movie rentals!  That’s right, I actually rented a movie today!  But, frankly, when I passed the redbox in the market and saw Sunshine Cleaning for only $1, how could I refuse?

So what’s it about?: Two sisters decide to start a business together cleaning up after dead people.  Chaos ensues with their lives and their business.

The Good: The main biggie that makes this movie amazing from the get go is the cast.  Amy Adams and Emily Blunt with Alan Arkin?  How could you go wrong?  I mean really?  But it only gets better from there.  This movie makes you actually feel something, which is such a great contrast to the last movie I watched.  And while these characters were as fictional as My Little Ponies, you actually felt as if they were more real than the real life characters of Hollywoodland.  But the greatest part of this film is how it sucks you in.  After the first scene you are already hooked, and that to me is the second most important part of the film.  The first being a good ending.  Because nothing can ruin a movie faster than a crappy ending (case in point: Collateral).  And this film not only had both, but kept stringing you along all through the middle with no gimics, no special effects, no contrived scenarios.  And after this film and Little Miss Sunshine I officially want Alan Arkin to be my grandfather, because he is awesome.

The Bad: Um?  It had to end?  Okay, I guess if I had to pick something it’d be… um… the whole plotline with Mary Lynn Rajskub’s character, because it didn’t really seem to fit except to give Emily Blunt’s character a little more meat to it.

The Verdict: If you’re willing to step away from the Popcorn Fluff and the Award Contenders, go rent this film, because it’s definitely 2 hours out of your life you won’t regret.  Can’t wait for Award Season, because I could def see this pic being a possible Indie dark horse.

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#8: Hollywoodland

August 26, 2009

hollywoodlandConsidering tomorrow I’m seeing a slew of chick flicks and kid movies (stay tuned, it should be an awesome blog day) I figured today I’d go for something a little more… rough around the edges.  So I chose Hollywoodland.

So what’s it about?: Investigator looks into the controversial suicide of former Superman actor George Reeves at the request of his mother, as we simultaneously see George Reeves adult life play out on screen.   Chaos attempts to ensue.

The Good: The best part of this film was sadly not any of the main plot points but rather the scenes involving children and their struggles with seperating the actor from the superhero.  If they had made the whole film about that, it would have been good.

The Bad: The plotline seems played out.  Investigator gets suckered into looking at a case surrounded by controversy and consequently becomes obsessed, leading to his self distruction until he either succumbs or is pulled to his senses.  The fact that this is actually based on a true story doesn’t make it any better.  And while some of these stories may actually draw you in as well, this one is not one of them.  Ben Affleck was so uncharismatic as George Reeves that frankly I didn’t even care how he had died (and he was nominated for a Golden Globe?  WHY?).  This is too bad, because potentially this could have been a great movie.  Just not with the angle it took.  But instances like these where celebrities kill themselves or die tragically and leave the public so shocked that they must create ellaborate plots to explain what happened.  This has happened since the beginning of Hollywood and continues to happen to this very day.  And why George Reeves?  I mean, okay, maybe if this film was made over 20 years ago it would have made a bigger impact, but I’m 21 years old and had never heard of George Reeves until this movie.  Maybe that makes this film all the more tragic had it elicited any emotion from me, or maybe that allowed the screenwriters to add in plot points and nobody would know or care to know if they were true or not, but for me it just gave me one more excuse to care even less about this picture.  In fact, I’m pretty sure this film made me even more apathetic than I already am.  Joy.

The Verdict: Unless you want to become a more cynical version of yourself in the span of two hours, pass on this film.  If you want celebrity death controversy, just go pick up a copy of US Weekly.

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#7: Be Kind Rewind

August 25, 2009

be_kind_rewindSo, in an ultimate attempt to get away from WWII centric films, I decided the safest bet was a modern day comedy and chose from my DVD collection to watch Be Kind Rewind.

So what’s it about?: Guy accidentally erases all the VHS tapes in a rental shop and in order to keep business up and running, him and his friend decide to film all the tapes over using themselves, and whoever they can get.  Chaos ensues.

The Good: The “Sweded” films are kind of hilarious, almost like a live action, longer, less funny version of the Bunny reenactments over at Angry Alien Productions.

The Bad: The whole premise was pretty lame.  Not only are you supposed to make me believe that a man can survive electrocution, or that the human body can become magnetized enough to delete an entire store of VHS tapes, or that said magnetization can leave the body through urine, but I’m also supposed to believe that there is an entire community out there that as of 2008 did not own a DVD player.  HA!  This movie seemed like somebody had a really good idea for a YouTube channel, but instead decided to build a flimsy storyline around it and make it into another cheesy community comes together to save a failing business piece of bull crap that I’ve been fed a thousand times before.  Better luck next time guys, stick to the YouTube channel.

The Verdict: Unless you are a crazy stalker fan of Jack Black or Mos Def, pass on this film.  Instead, go to YouTube and search for “sweded” and basically you’ll get the gist of the film without the cheap excuse for a plot.

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#6: Schindler’s List

August 24, 2009

schindlers_listSo I was inspired by the fact that I just placed the poster to this film in my lovely new header (this is the part where you go “ooooh pretty”) and decided to watch Schindler’s List.  Which turned out to be crazy appropriate because it is literally the anti-Inglourious Basterds.

So what’s it about?: Member of the Nazi party uses cheap Jewish labor to profit from the war only to grow a conscience.  Real life chaos ensues… in black and white!

The Good: Visually, this movie had some beautiful shots, even in black and white.  And it’s probably the most realistic film I’ve yet to see based around the Holocaust, the black and white enhancing this further, as if you were seeing those horrifying photos we’ve all seen over the years come to life on screen.  And the last 50 minutes were suspenseful, emotional, and all together amazing.  Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson did superb jobs in their roles, and their scenes together were definitely the highlight of the first 2+ hours.  Especially the discussion about power.

The Bad: Where to begin?  First of all, the first 2 hours were sooooo boring.  I mean really.  Half the time I would space out from boredom and come back to reality to realize I had no idea what was going on and had absolutely no care in the world except for the nagging feeling that I am somehow as a film watcher supposed to like and admire this film.  But no, Spielberg managed to make a film about the holocaust where I was in no way emotionally involved as innocent people were gunned down or treated like animals.  And what the hell was with the girl in the red coat?  I mean seriously, I came up with various defenses for her appearance, but honestly she seemed more like a plea from Spielberg saying “this movie is artistic so give me awards!”  And while Ralph Fiennes did a superb job as the required evil Nazi, the character was useless.  He shot some people, had a heart to heart with Liam Neeson, shot some more people and then disappeared from the movie.  Then, ten minutes later, the movie actually got good.  Coincidence?  Possibly.  And the score was good for about five minutes, but after hearing the same theme 500 times, I got sick of it.

The Verdict: If you want to win an Oscar, make a film about a subject matter that no Academy member would dare vote against.  But if you’re looking for a Holocaust picture go rent Life is Beautiful and call it a day.

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#5: Inglourious Basterds

August 22, 2009

ingloriousSo after coming home from seeing Shorts, I immediately get an IM from a friend saying they’re going to see Inglorious Basterds tonight.  Naturally, being a future movie buff and a girl who still has some resemblance of a life, I had to say yes.  And I’m glad I did!

So what’s it about?: A band of Jewish-American soldiers and a Jewish girl who watched her family get slaughtered all want to kill some Nazis.  Chaos ensues.

The Good: Just about everything.  In an ironic twist, Inglourious Basterds was actually of a similar organization as Shorts in that it was broken up into different chapters that ended up working remarkably well, especially for breaking up the movie.  The characters themselves were very entertaining, and some of the details put into the film were frankly just awesome!  I’m not the biggest fan of Quentin Tarantino, being one of about 5 people who detests Pulp Fiction, but in this movie his style (which was plastered all over the thing) only enhanced it.  Only Tarantino could get away with making such gruesome violence so entertaining.  And the historical accuracy of the movie makes for a very entertaining film to say the least.  But this movie, while being so tremendously over-the-top, can actually be quite suspenseful at times, which in turn enhances the enjoyability ten fold.  And while Brad Pitt does an actually amazing job, the real star of the show is Christoph Waltz who plays a great villain.

The Bad: Not much, though this movie is definitely not for the faint at heart.   My only complaint is that it felt a little long at times, but usually when it did it’s just because it hit a natural slowpatch and soon picked righgt back up again.  Also, this may be because this is the first film I’ve seen that was over 2 hours since Harry Potter.  Also, there were a few storylines that just fell flat, but overall quite a good film.  And as a warning there are subtitles for a good portion of the film, which usually don’t bother me, but sometimes they went a little fast.

The Verdict: If you’re over the age of 17 and have a strong stomach, see this film.  If you are a Tarantino fan, you should have already seen it.  Simple as that.

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#4: Shorts

August 21, 2009

shortsWell, today I got off work early (and conveniently enough I work at a movie theater!) so I decided to see the next movie starting: Shorts.  Which, if you didn’t know, is a kid movie.  ‘Nuff said.

So what’s it about?: Boy finds rock that grants the holder wishes.  Chaos ensues.

The Good: For one, the structure was very unique for a kid movie.  The title is Shorts not because the main character is vertically challenged or a fan of the clothing article but because the film is comprised of five (well… six) short stories that tie together into one full length feature.  Which is kind of cool.  And these shorts are told out of chronological order, which I am a huge fan of.  Also, while a lot of the humor is juvenile (an entire “episode” is based around a giant booger) I actually found myself laughing a lot more than expected (and a lot more than the actual kids in the audience, I might add).  But the greatest part of the film was the acting by the adults.  This is often times the downside to kid movies, especially in those Disney Channel original movies, where the adult acting is so god awful it often times makes the rest of the movie almost look good.  But Shorts contained a cast of adults like James Spader, William H. Macy and Leslie Mann who are able to pull off the high energy acting without overdoing it.

The Bad: The shorts of Shorts actually ran too long for me.  They really could have cut them down, perhaps added more, and really made it good.  Episode Zero in the film is the shortest and also in my opinion the most entertaining.  Also, while the ending itself was amusing, the resolution was weak and cringe-worthy, and nearly ruined the movie.

The Verdict: Director Robert Rodriguez also directed the Spy Kids trilogy, and you can see a lot of similarities, so I say if you like them go see Shorts.  Or else just rent it for the kids when it comes out on DVD.