Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Repo Men" - in theaters

I wanted to see this film after viewing the trailer a couple of months ago. And after seeing the film, it really wasn't what I expected. The trailer indicated that there would be frequent splashes of humor throughout the movie, but just like a bad romantic comedy, all the funny bits were in the preview.

This movie was violent and bloody, which I don't mind so much. What I DO mind is when you can't understand the characters when they speak. This happened a lot, with the culprit usually being the fact that the actors spoke in voices that were too low, or their speech was slurred because they were talking too fast and failed to enunciate properly.

The film itself revolves around Jude Law's character, who is a Repo-Man for "The Union". This company seems to pedal everything from new livers and eyes to newfangled sensory machines that claim to be the ultimate experience for your brain. Anyway, "The Union" tends to promise things to it's customers, like an easy to follow payment plan for your new esophagus. What they fail to tell you is that if you fall behind on payment, the way most people do, Repo-Men, like Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, will break into your home in the middle of the night and rip said esophagus out, leaving you bloody and gasping on the floor, and inevitably dying a grisly death. But everything goes wrong when Jude himself gets a new heart courtesy of "The Union" (albeit against his will) and starts falling monetarily behind himself. Suddenly he has a conscience, and can't do his job, and hence, can't pay his bills.

This movie attempted social commentary, comparing purchasing a new set of lungs to the crumbling housing market and credit crisis that has recently befallen our country, but it sort of falls flat. It's really more of an action movie where Jude Law can take a couple of knives and slice some people to bits. There's also a love story that comes about with Law and a newly sober drug addict (who has more fake parts in her than real ones I think) that leads to an interesting scene at "The Union" HQ at the film's climax, but the focus is more on their attempts to get their names out of the system.

So, on the CWeave scale of 1 to 10, I give this film a 6. And let's be honest here: it only gets that high of a rating because Jude Law is shirtless throughout much of the film, and I'll give him credit for buffing up. Plus, I'm a shallow creature, and it takes little to make me happy. A shirtless man with nice abs is the way to go.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"She's Out of My League" - in theaters

The main reason that I wanted to see this film is because I have a sort of crush on the lead actor, Jay Baruchel. I loved him in "Tropic Thunder" and in "I'm Reed Fish", and thought he was absolutely disgusting in "Knocked Up". But that's all beside the point.

"She's Out of My League" centers around Kirk (Baruchel), your average, run of the mill, skinny guy who works airport security in Pittsburgh. Then, a gorgeous woman named Molly accidentally leaves her cell phone at security, and before you know it, the two are an item.

I didn't find this movie totally unbelievable the way some may. I occasionally notice how some very attractive women are with not-so-attractive men, and always attributed it to the "beauty on the inside" argument. But in this film, Kirk doesn't seem to have any beauty on the inside, or at least, none that he can tell. This idea is only reinforced by his friends (who I found extremely hilarious), who constantly tell him he's not good enough for Molly. Throw in an extremely macho pilot ex-boyfriend, and voila! You have a character plagued in self doubt and insecurity and we all know what that means: movie magic.

This movie is R-rated, so you get some really good R-rated laughs out of it. There's a particular scene involving semen that literally had me squirming in my seat. In fact, Kirk is so awkward in most of his scenes with Molly that it's impossible not to squirm through those as well. But I found it all to be part of his charm, and I totally dug it. Plus, any guy that uses the expression "Raw-dogging some randoms" takes the cake in my book.

I also enjoyed Patty (played by Krysten Ritter), who is Molly's extremely bitchy best friend and business partner. Krysten seems to be carving out the "Judy Greer" niche for herself, perpetually playing the best friend and comic relief. Patty's relationship with Kirk's best friend, Stainer, is humorous simply because of their mutual hatred for the other. It's good times.

So, on the CWeave scale of 1 to 10. I give this movie a 7.5. It was offbeat, touching, and had many "guffaw" moments. And I believe that you can't ask for more than that when you purchase a movie ticket.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" - in theaters

I think I'm going to add Tim Burton to the list of directors whom I don't trust directing movies based upon books that I love. So far that list only has Christopher Columbus on it, but it's a growing list, dammit.

I knew going into "Alice in Wonderland" that it wasn't going to be like the book at all. I had read enough articles about it in my Entertainment Weekly to know that. But I feel as if Tim Burton just took the characters from both "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass", not to mention Lewis Carroll's poem, "The Jaberwocky", threw out the story-lines, and just came up with a plot that involved all of them.

The first major change is the fact that Alice is in her late teens/early twenties when she "returns" to "Underland" (which she mistakenly calls "Wonderland" in her first adventure there). After she falls down the rabbit hole, she finds that she must drink the potion to make her smaller, and then eat the cake to make herself bigger again. But this time, her clothes don't grow with her, and I'm pretty sure Tim Burton just wanted that poor actress to be naked and/or wearing ill-fitting costumes for the entire movie (although magically her shoes remained on her feet...). Once she finally leaves the entryway, she runs smack dab into a whole mess of characters who debate about whether or not she's the "real Alice". The rest of the plot centers around this very debate as Alice must first convince herself that she's the "real Alice".

Overall, I found the performances a bit ridiculous. Johnny Depp couldn't decide if he was English or Scottish, and didn't really come off as mad; simply weird. Helena Bonham Carter was shrill as the Red Queen, and I must agree with Entertainment Weekly when they described Anne Hathaway (who plays the White Queen) as looking like "an Italian porn star".

I also think that the title should have been different. "Alice in Wonderland" automatically makes me think of the animated Disney feature from years ago, and doesn't accurately describe the film that I just saw in theaters. It should have been titled "Alice's Return to Wonderland", as that's really what the film is about.

I saw it in regular 3D and I'm pretty glad that I didn't pay the extra for IMAX, because I would've been disappointed that I spent that much money. Even though the performances left something to be desired, if you are at all a fan of Tim Burton, then I would still go and see this film. The special effects are pretty awesome, especially in 3D.

So on the CWeave scale of 1 to 10, I rate this movie a 6.5. I probably won't own it, but I'm glad I saw it in theaters. But then again, I like Tim Burton's movies for the most part. If you're not a Burton fan, you may rate the movie lower.

Academy Awards Recap

I would like to just quickly say one thing about the Academy Awards:


I'm really ecstatic that Kathryn Bigelow took home the Best Director Oscar, not to mention that "The Hurt Locker" earned the Oscar for Best Picture. It just goes to show that just because a movie makes a zillion dollars at the box office (**cough** "Avatar" **cough**), it doesn't mean that it automatically deserves the biggest award out there. I think it also speaks volumes when a film gets 9 nominations, like "Avatar", but not one of them was for writing or acting. I'm just sayin'....

The acting awards came as no surprise. Mo'Nique definitely deserved her Oscar. In "Precious" she goes to a very dark place, and was rewarded accordingly. Christoph Waltz was PHENOMENAL in "Inglorious Basterds", so his was just.

I never saw the Kevin Bridges nor the Sandra Bullock films, so I can't comment on those.

Overall, the awards didn't disappoint. I loved NPH doing the first number, and Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin did a fair job at hosting (although they could've been funnier). Now that they're over, all I can think about is the batch of movies that will be next year's nominated films. Can't wait to see them!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"The Last Station" - in theaters

First off, I'd just like to state the obvious: Helen Mirren is a total bad ass.

Now that that's over with, let's get down to the business of talking about "The Last Station". As some may know, it features Oscar nominated performances by both Helen Mirren (best actress) and Christopher Plummer (best supporting actor). Both of these nominations are well-deserved, as the parts were played beautifully.

The movie is about the last year of Leo Tolstoy's (who wrote "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina") life, seen mostly through the eyes of his new secretary, Valentin (played by the always adorable James McAvoy). Helen Mirren plays Tolstoy's wife of 48 years, who disagrees with pretty much everything Tolstoy has come to stand for. This includes the Tolstoyan movement, headed by a well-cast, absolutely revolting Paul Giamatti. It seems his character (Cherkov) wants nothing more than to make Tolstoy into an idol, one which would lead the Russian people into a new state of enlightenment. He also wants Tolstoy to sign a new will, stating that the rights to all of his books are to be given to the Russian people as a gift, making them public domain. This is where Sofya (Mirren) and Cherkov disagree the most, as Sofya only wants to secure the welfare of her family through retaining the rights (and the profits) to Tolstoy's work.

While the bulk of the movie revolves around this argument, there are also a number of small, poignant moments that are littered throughout that tell an even greater story about how love changes our lives. And in the end, that's what Tolstoy wants everyone to know: it's all about love.

The only issue that I had with this film were the accents. Most of the actors didn't even attempt to use a Russian accent. Mirren could have been playing the Queen of England (again) with the lilt she was using. McAvoy and Giamatti tried, but didn't really succeed. I just thought that it was funny that this film was about one of, if not the, greatest Russian author of his time, and no one thought about using his native tongue (or at least the twang that went with it). But as far as issues go, I'll let the language slide, since the rest of the movie was so well done.

At times humorous and heartfelt, sad and infuriating, "The Last Station" was nothing that I expected, and I loved it. So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 9. Close to brilliance, but I gotta knock off a point for the accent thing...