Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Burlesque" - in theaters

"Burlesque" is another film not getting a lot of love with the critics. A lot of the complaints stem from the mediocre plot line and the performance of Christina Aguilera. While I agree that the plot line is a bit lacking, it doesn't mean that the film isn't anything less than a whole lot of fun.

The film revolves around Ali (Christina Aguilera), a small town girl with big time dreams, who leaves behind her crappy life to make a go of it in Los Angeles. There, she stumbles upon a burlesque club, owned by Tess (Cher), who is soooooo not interested in hiring her for anything. But the bartender, Jack (Cam Gigandet), takes pity on her and hires her as a waitress.

The story is very "Coyote Ugly" from there. One of the girls has to leave the club, so Ali auditions and nabs a spot as a dancer. Of course, there's the headliner, Nikki (Kristen Bell), whose arrogant and an alcoholic who eventually tries to foul up a performance of Ali's by knocking out the sound system. Because the girls don't actually sing at the club; they just lip sync. But when Ali starts belting out the song from memory, everyone goes ballistic, and Tess decides to revolve the whole lineup around Ali.

There's a subplot where Tess is behind on her bank payments, and Marcus (Eric Dane, playing the ever-present slimeball) wants to buy the club and blah blah blah.

Stanley Tucci is also in this film, and let's face it, he is the most fabulous thing about it. He plays Tess's go-to gay guy who handles everything from costuming to shepherding the performers.

You don't go to see this film for the plot. You go and watch it to see the singing and the dancing and the pretty costumes that only .0001% of women can wear. And apparently that's enough to garner a Golden Globe nomination!

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 6. It's frothy, fun, and light, and the characters' problems aren't so much problems as they are cracks in the sidewalk. And amidst the award season offering of films with heavier fare, I found this to be more refreshing than I expected.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Love and Other Drugs" - in theaters

This movie isn't getting as much love as I thought it would. The critics are saying that it's just "okay", and I find myself disagreeing with them. But of course, I like pretty much every movie that I see, so this isn't too big of a surprise.

The film centers around Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), who when we first meet him is a salesman at a small electronics store. He's also banging his manager's girlfriend and when he gets caught, is chased out of the store with his pants down. Later that day, he goes over to his parents' house for dinner, where we find out that his two other siblings are wildly successful, while Jamie is an ADHD-diagnosed, med school drop out. When his younger brother, Josh (Josh Gad), suggests that Jamie become a drug rep, Jamie enrolls in a program quickly.

He's assigned to a Midwestern area, where his supervisor Bruce (Oliver Platt) tries to give him some tips on how to get doctors to use the drugs (in this case Zoloft) that they're pimping. The main guy they're trying to woo is Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), whose the big man in town. It is during one of the visits to Knight's office when Jamie first meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a new patient, who is in dire need of some medication for her early onset Parkinsons (and don't worry, because this is hardly a spoiler as you find out about this in the first scene with Hathaway).

From there, the two begin to have a very physical affair, until Jamie, surprise, surprise, starts to have feelings for Maggie. It's a basic formula for a film, but when you throw in the whole disease angle, it gives a fresher feeling.

Both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway spend an extraordinary amount of time without their clothes on, which really gives them a chance to flaunt their perfect bodies in your face. But their relationship is far from perfect, so that makes us ordinary Joes feel a bit better about ourselves.

The performances were pretty good. Jake and Anne have great chemistry (and they've worked together before, which helps), but I thought that the relationship between Jamie and Josh was the most interesting. My roommate believes both of them to be sex addicts, so to add that spin on things really makes their relationship even more twisted than it should be.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 7. Not the best, but definitely not the worst. I laughed, I cried, I cringed - all the ingredients for a good cinematic experience.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Tangled" - in theaters

"Tangled" is Disney's version of the fairy tale of Rapunzel, a girl with golden hair that is a zillion feet long and undoubtedly full of split ends. This Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is actually a princess, whose hair is magical, her mother having been imbued with a magic flower during pregnancy, and if her hair is cut, it turns brown and isn't so special anymore. The magic in question involves Rapunzel singing, causing her hair to glow, and anyone whose injured/old/etc. and holding it to be healed. Not bad, eh?

So Rapunzel's locked in her tower by an evil witch (whom she thinks is her mother and is voiced by Donna Murphy), and on her 18th birthday asks her mom if she can leave so she can go see the "floating lights". These lights are actually lanterns that are released every year on the missing princess's birthday, signifying that she's still gone, but Rapunzel does not know this. Of course, Mom says no, and then heads out for the day (by way of Rapunzel's glorious locks). That's when a thief by the name of Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi) happens to hide in Rapunzel's tower because he's on the run from the king's guards. Of course, Rapunzel knocks him unconscious, hides the crown that he stole and then strikes a deal: if Flynn takes her to see the lights, she'll give him back the crown after he delivers her safely back home.

They set off, and all sorts of circumstances befuddle, delight, and terrify them. Disney has this way of mixing in all sorts of innuendo that will pass over kids' heads, but makes the movie more enjoyable for the adults. They don't disappoint here.

Personally, I was really excited about this film. I've actually seen it twice. And you can judge me for it. Whatever. But I laughed out loud at a lot of different points, the songs are cute and fun, and the horse, Maximus, really steals the show. So judge away, folks. Judge away...

On the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 9. It really was a lot of fun. Of course, I'm a little biased, because let's face it: I really like both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. The movie may or may not have gotten a little budge up on the ratings scale for that...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" - in theaters

First of all, let me say this. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.


So needless to say, I was at the midnight showing, and have seen it again since that time.

The Harry Potter films have become increasingly more dark since the first one was released, and this is as it should be. By the first film installment of the seventh book, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson), are preparing to set off on their search for the Horcruxes (artifacts that contain a piece of Voldemort's soul which must be destroyed before he can be killed). The filmmakers did a great job at sticking to the book's story. Of course, it lacked the detail that the books do, but it would be impossible to fit everything that you needed to fit in within the confines of a two and a half hour movie. (Although, if they made an 8 hour installment, I would totally go and see it. Twice.)

I had dubbed the first half of the seventh book, "Harry, Ron, and Hermione Go Camping", and the movie really sticks with that theme. They spend an awful lot of time in that tent of theirs, and it makes both them and the audience desperate for some form of action. But I think that's the point. They're at their wits end, and so are you and it makes you feel a connection with them. It's good stuff.

There is only one added scene that was not in the book, and it was when Harry is trying to cheer up Hermione by having her dance with him. The first time I saw it, my friend whispered in my ear, "Oh my God! They're gonna make out!" And I have to admit, I agreed with her. There was sort of an odd sexual tension between the two of them. But then I saw it a second time, and the sexual tension disappeared, and all that was left were two friends trying to make it without the presence of a third.

There were a few times when I questioned the director's decisions. For one, Harry never uses his Invisibility Cloak, which is not only totally idiotic, but also very annoying. I doubt that Harry would be dumb enough to walk through the Ministry of Magic without a disguise, and yet he does so in the film. Not to mention that the Invisibility Cloak's origins are a key part of the entire plot, so you'd think it would get a little more screen time.

And don't even get me started on the use of Polyjuice Potion, or should I say lack of use, during the Godric's Hollow scene. WHATever.

Like the other films, the performances in this part have improved. I was happy to see that the Weasley twins had a bit more to do in this part, even if it was confined to the beginning of the film. Ginny definitely got the shaft, but then again, she's only in the first and last portions of the book. But you know who got the worst of it? Dean Thomas. Once again, the poor bastard gets cut out of pivotal scenes, probably because the filmmakers didn't want to have to explain why he was there. I was disappointed, because I have a soft spot for Mr. Thomas, and the fact that he got overlooked yet again (because in the other films, he has had, at most, 2 lines) is upsetting.

But I digress.

The baddies really take the cake in this movie. They aren't featured often, but when they are, your skin crawls. Helena Bonham Carter makes an excellent Bellatrix because she has that psycho-adoring stare down pat. And Ralph Fiennes made his appearances count. And even though you don't see him often, you feel his presence throughout the film, and it gives every scene a menacing quality.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie an 8.5. Not my favorite Potter movie (number 3 holds that title), but it does take the prize of best adaptation so far. It also leaves me hungry for the next film, which should be a bona fide action movie from start to finish. How many days until July??