Jonathon Demme has described this movie as a home movie and that a great description. It has a lot of great, real moments, some awkward interactions which people which didn't happen, and is also a little too long at parts. While I did shift in my seat at times, the film is nonetheless riveting when it's on and is one of the better films of the year. The script is honest but not cloyingly so. The moments are troubling rather than agonizing. Jenny Lumet's script is superb with one moment in particular that is completely priceless.
In my last post (about Sex Drive), I wrote about well made films that don't connect and aren't as enjoyable. Rachel Getting Married is not one of those films, for me at least. It's definitely an art film and doesn't have broad appeal and I could see many people really not connecting with the characters and their struggles. I did. It's a film that, in the end, is touching because, along the way, it wasn't trying to be so. Anne Hathaway does a great job playing the anti-hero and Rosemarie DeWitt is superb as the wronged (but possibly wrong) sister.
I don't think this movie is one that people will remember for years to come but that doesn't mean that it isn't one of this year's finest.
Sex Drive is funny. It's not a groundbreaking comedy or anything you haven't seen before. It's completely juvenile. But it's funny. James Marsden does his best Stifler and Clark Duke is great as the lothario. Honestly, there's not much else to say. It's not a great film but it's one of the few times this year that I walked out of the theater and was happy that I had paid to see the movie and had no real complaints. It looks like it's tanking at the box office but I'd be surprised if it's not one of those films that people discover on video.
As for my list, I think it mirrors something that audiences feel and Hollywood doesn't get. Yes, In Bruges and The Bank Job were better films than Sex Drive. Sex Drive is ranked higher because it was a more enjoyable filmgoing experience. Personally, I feel invigorated when I walk out of a good film. Even a flawed film like Body of Lies has my head working overtime and thinking about some of the intriguing parts of the film. With a film like In Bruges, I respected the quality of the film but I wasn't all that taken by it. It's like a pretty girl that you just don't find attractive. There's nothing really wrong with her; it just doesn't click.
In the end, I'd recommend this film if you like juvenile teen comedies. If American Pie, Road Trip, Meatballs, etc. don't float your boat, this isn't the film that's going to win you over.
When I first saw the write-up for the new movie "Push", I was scared that someone was going to take my superhero movie idea. Fortunately, it's not the same thing as mine and it's really just a rip-off of "Heroes". You have people painting the future, moving things with their mind, and they have to save the pretty girl in order to save the world. It's kind of like Jumper meet Heroes, which isn't a good thing since Jumper was bad and Heroes is corny.
Then again, my superhero idea really isn't all that new or fresh either so I'm not sure why I was worried that someone would steal my unoriginal idea.
If you don't like insider Hollywood movies, this film will be a complete bore. You should avoid it like the plague. If you do like those kinds of movie, you should add it to your Saved queue on Netflix because the movie is solid, has some great moments, but never really rises above the status of rental.
If you're Barry Levinson or a suit at Showtime or HBO, you need to try to get a series or mini-series of this film into production. There are a lot of interesting pieces in this film but Levinson and writer Art Linson only give them a cursory glance. The film would make for an Entourage meets Sopranos type show in which the producer tries to maintain his tenuous grasp on his questionable power. He's a man who people respect... only until they disagree at which point they lambast him as just a producer. He's struggling with an ex-wife he hasn't gotten completely over and a 17 year old daughter from a previous previous marriage. And instead of the "other" family being the Mafia, it's the world of Hollywood: childish actors and directors, power-crazed studio execs, back stabbing assistant focused on climbing the ladder instead of helping out/doing their jobs. There's also the issue of a Jewish producer working with rabid Arab financiers (and worrying where exactly the money is coming from). It could be an amazing show.
As a movie, everything is rushed. You get a couple of scenes with the 17 year old (played by Kristin Stewart) but there isn't much there. The relationship with his latest ex, Robin Wright-Penn, is solid but not that deep. There's some great work put in by John Turturro, Bruce Willis, and a dog (and Moon Bloodgood is her usual ravishing self in a small role) but the film never really comes together to amount to anything. Rather than being involved with Robert DeNiro's main character, you are just kind of disconnectedly sitting back and watching the mayhem.
In the end, it's a so-so movie with some great moments and a superb premise that could make for some terrific TV. Again, I'd recommend it as a rental.
I'm not going to waste a whole post on Max Payne. Plain and simple, it's the worst movie this year. Worst direction. Worst Screenplay. Worst Score. Mark Wahlberg might have even trumped his performance in The Happening because at least in that film you could laugh at him. Aside from new Bond girl Olga Kurylenko's sexy but small role, the film is a complete waste.
The film did inspire me to make a quick list of the worst scenes so far this year. This list could include some spoilers although how can you really spoil a bad movie?
So without further ado, here's the bottom 10 scenes of the year.10. Wanted: The Truck/Car Chase
Maybe it's me but if you're trying to legitimize your new fangled way of distributing major motion pictures, it might be a good idea not to go with something that seems like porn on just your second go-around. Steven Soderbergh and Mark Cuban have teamed up to try to revitalize the Hollywood distribution game by releasing films simultaneously in theaters, on DVD and Pay-Per-View. The first film was Bubble which nobody saw. The new film is called "The Girlfriend Experience" and stars porn star Sasha Grey. I'm not really sure what her deal is besides the fact that she was recently in the video for Birthday Girl, a Roots song that I believe was left off of their latest album.
While the inclusion of Grey and the synopsis "life through the eyes of a 10,000 dollar a night hooker" is sure to help the film on the pay-per-view angle, I just don't see how it's the best idea since the theatrical hopes seem to be limited. Granted, Soderbergh did make his name with Sex, Lies, and Videotape so I may be rushing to judgement but it just seems like he's basically making straight-to-video films for the 2929 Entertainment deal. Personally, I don't think the idea works all that well to start with but making these art house films with a questionable theatrical draw makes even less sense. If Soderbergh isn't going to try to make something along the lines of his Ocean's movies, this venture is dead. His experimental films don't have much of an audience in the first place.
Plus the timing is terrible. Even if the film is an absolutely harrowing glimpse into life in the fast lane, most Americans will probably think to themselves, "Yeah but she made ten grand in one night."
Well, actually, there's only one. The show has to revolve around some sort of party. This fact has been painfully obvious from the beginning of the show but in season 1 they had some early non-party-centric episodes. This season? Not only have they stayed focused on the world revolving around nights out but they even managed a way to fit a party into... a campus visit to Yale. Now that wouldn't seem TOO crazy since a lot of people paint the quad red on their visits but this party was thrown by the Admissions staff. I don't care if that really does happen, Gossip Girl needs to do something outside of the typical plot structure of: get ready for party, head to party, hijinks ensue at party, aftermath of the party, battle lines are drawn so let's hope we don't all cross paths at another party next week.
As for Gossip Girl, the producers also showed no fear of past mistakes by bringing back one of their dumber storylines from last year (the guy Serena killed but didn't really kill but who is still dead but who cares about him).
With the storylines becoming more and more blase and the kids seemingly headed to college soon, one has to imagine that Gossip Girl won't be lasting too much longer. Maybe another season. Then again, who knows. One Tree Hill is somehow still on. My new idea for a show is: It's Gossip Girl but with grown ups called "Soiree". It's like Dirty Sexy Money except good. It will be about some well-to-do Upper East Side adults and it will feature a couple of Bride & Tunnel outcasts. I wouldn't mind keeping Chuck Bass in the show and we might add Jenny Humphrey, who can graduate from Little J to Jailbait. (On a side note, it's fun to watch Taylor Momsen grow into a statuesque blonde, slowly dwarfing everyone in her TV family. Pretty soon, she won't be able to wear heels in any seen with Penn Badgley). And yes, those last sentences do make me creepy (but like I wasn't already).
Guy Ritchie is back. And by that, I mean that Guy Ritchie has made another only slightly different version of the films that people know and really like. On the downside, the guy is still a flashy filmmaker but he seems to be stuck in his genre. On the bright side, if you've seen his forays into other genres (Swept Away, Revolver), you'll be happy to hear that Ritchie back swinging at pitches in his wheelhouse.
The movie is "cool" if not forgettable. The actors do strong work with Body of Lies' Mark Strong anchoring the project while Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, and Idris Elba have fun. It's more entertaining than Body of Lies but I found the Ridley Scott film to be more interesting.
This is one of those films that makes me hate making "Best of" lists. For everything good about the film (the acting, direction), there are major weaknesses. Like any and every Iraq/Terrorist movie, the biggest flaw is that it is all means without a true end. Winning or losing this battle doesn't mean you win the war.
All things considered, I enjoyed the movie and thought Crowe and DiCaprio were great while Andy Garcia's lookalike Mark Strong gives a breakout performance. Golshifteh Farahani gives a great performance and is beyond pretty which almost makes the hastily thrown together love story work. The film is about on par with the similarly themed Traitor (a film I liked that also got very mixed reviews). It's a film that drags but is though provoking. It's average but it hits on some points that I don't believe we've seen in films before.
I fully expect "The Express" to be a better movie but "Body of Lies" is interesting enough that I'd recommend it.
"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" will likely go down as the longest 90 minutes of the year. It was a hipster's "Superbad" except with 99% of the jokes removed (and I wasn't even a huge fan of "Superbad"). This film was agonizing to get through. Michael Cera didn't really add much and as much as I like Kat Dennings, she didn't bring much to the table either. Not that you can blame them, there was really nothing to work with.
Just plain bad. If you are going to see a movie featuring Nick and Norah, go rent "The Thin Man". I'm actually astonished right now at the movie I just saw. Wow. Just not good.
Maybe it's the New England pessimism that has me expecting the worst but I really think that Sarah Palin is going to overcome expectations (if you can, indeed, overcome something that doesn't really exist anymore) and do a solid job in the debate. The debate questions should be obvious ground and she won't be thrown on stuff like "What newspapers do you read?" or "Which Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?" And to be fair, the latter question wasn't as bad as the initial reports made it out to be. I couldn't name a Court decision I disagree with off of the top of my head (then again, I also am not ready to be Vice President).
It should be interesting. Palin is going to play the "Change" card and say that Biden is the old guard that needs to be replaced and there's really no way to respond. It's hard to attack a blank slate besides pointing out that its a blank slate and that will seem condescending. It'll be like arguing with a little kid except you aren't able to say "Because I said so" or "Go to your room!"
I don't know. The bar is so low for Palin that it's subterrainian. It seems like a recipe for disaster, especially with Biden on the other side since he's no stranger to stupid comments himself. Color me concerned.