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Moneyball: Solid and Entertaining, Brad Pitt really shines
Pretty good. Probably a little over-rated; I found the whole thing too "level" throughout- there was no point where I really felt a connection to the story or characters. Yeah I wanted them to succeed but not for any particular reason other than I was watching the movie; it all felt a bit mundane with it being a movie about sports' economics and statistical analysis; but then it does say something about Aaron Sorkin and the director that they were able to take such a boring topic and turn it into something entertaining and easy to follow on film.
Brad Pitt definitely carries the film and he does a great job in the role; at this point in his career he really can't go wrong- he consistently picks interesting characters and quality projects and Moneyball is no exception. I usually can't stand Jonah Hill but I thought he was excellent in this and he and Pitt had great chemistry together- there were a lot of funny moments between the two of them, and Pitt in general was pretty funny throughout the movie, eliciting some big laughs from the crowd. The guy is one of the most charismatic actors in the business. Also it's nice to see Chris Pratt in another high profile project, I thought he was great in his supporting role in Wanted.
While I don't have any complaints about the movie, I can't quite call it "great", so for me it gets a strong B+ .
Drive is quiet, tense, and extremely violent. In another word- fantastic.
Ahhh. I have to let this simmer for a little while but I simply loved this film. Refn made a movie that was high on style and beautifully shot, the way the colors and lighting complemented each other, it's not something I usually notice when watching a movie but there were some seriously nice photography in this film. I loved the score- it was musical and pretty unique and for me it helped take the film to another level- it coddles the viewer and makes you feel secure before the story turns around and b**slaps you right in the face. The way the film transitioned from quiet love story and self reflection to extremely violent crime heist movie, and back again, was seamless and pretty shocking. I was so not expecting any Tarantino-esque violence and then all of a sudden I'm asking myself "Did I just witness Ryan Gosling 'out-curb-stomp' Ed Norton?". Speaking of, Gosling continues to establish himself as an excellent actor and held your attention without saying much. Loved the cameo from Christina Hendricks, too. But what a great effort overall and has shot right into one of my favorite movies of the year.
Battle Los Angeles (2011)
Terrible script, cheesy dialogue, filled with every bad cliché from the genre, and most offensive of all- BORING!
I was really looking forward to this but missed the chance to see it in theaters, got it on rental last night and wow my first question is "Was this supposed to be a spoof?". It contained just about every bad disaster/alien movie cliché that they could have fit and the script was terrible with some really cheesy dialogue throughout, I was rolling my eyes for half the movie. None of the characters were likable as the script gave us no reason to invest in them so I did not care if they lived or died. There was so much more they could have done with this but the plot was so narrowly focused on one group in one city, even though they made a point to show that the invasion was totally global. So if they succeed in LA, then what? They've already shown the devastation in Paris, Shanghai etc. All that aside I usually can appreciate movies like this for some cool FX and battle scenes but I thought the filmmakers generally failed here as well as there was nothing new, or exciting. Also and I hate to be one of those "realism" people but if the aliens can wipe out the entire FOB full of soldiers then why can't they kill 6 isolated soldiers when they had multiple opportunities? Bad aim all of a sudden? My friend and I both said to each other that the whole film felt like an advertisement for the US Marine Corps. Very lame and disappointing.
D "Maybe I can help... I'm a veterinarian." Seriously?!
Good Intentions, but Poorly Done
I am both fascinated and infuriated by the subject matter and I appreciate any effort to draw attention to the issue and expose the greedy Big Oil executives, but I thought this was just poorly done. Very amateurish. It felt like they spliced together a bunch of the same clips and used lame old cartoons to make jokes and get their points across. It almost reminded me, quality-wise, of a video I made in college using Windows Movie Maker in which I pretty much just mashed up a bunch of different YouTube videos. It did not feel very tightly focused, and it was very repetitive. Still need to check out Gasland, which I'm sure is better.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)
Really makes you feel sorry for her
Very depressing look into the life and career of 75+ year old Joan Rivers who is so clearly starving for attention and acceptance but more often just gets crapped on by the industry, her fans, the press and public. It's pretty sad to see what the business will do to someone and how even nearing 80 years old she is still willing to take any booking, even a roast of herself where people call her a the c word and say things about her vagina, just so she can stay relevant. It was very sad when she got bad reviews for her play because you can tell it hurts her so much that people generally do not respect her or take her seriously. I would recommend it because it is an interesting look at the business and shows how addicting it really is for the people that it chews up and spits back out.
The Tourist (2010)
Unfairly bashed by the critics- The Tourist is a fun, throwback caper
The critics are completely off base with their treatment of The Tourist.
Was this trying to be an Oscar contender? Absolutely not. So why was it reviewed like it was? I thought Johnny and Angelina were perfectly fine and even charming in their roles. I didn't find the film to drag at all and actually thought it was an entertaining and engrossing story that moved along at a good pace. Jolie is the most stunningly beautiful actress of this era and her beauty is even more magnified with the Venice backdrop. Yes if I had it my way, based on my personal tastes, I would have preferred a more serious thriller in the vein of Taken. Because of the tone of the movie I was never really concerned for the welfare of the characters. But it was the film makers' decision to make this lighter fare and it still worked on that level. I thought the subtle comedy in here was actually quite funny and sarcastic in a way and so did the other people in the audience. I know a lot of people complained about the predictable twist at the end but I can't comment on that as a couple of the reviews I read prior to seeing this pretty much gave that away. I will say though that I was more surprised with the twist concerning Elise, Jolie's character. My only real complaint is the score, I thought it got in the way at times and was a little too "sappy fairy tale" if you can understand that. Overall I think this was a fun, harmless throwback crime caper and really, a bit of a modern spoof on the genre. I loved the cheeky line at the end-- was that a wink at Depp's less than perfect looks in this movie? B+
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Jolie Stuns in Solid Story
Angelina Jolie makes you fall in love with, hate, and feel bad for Lisa all at the same time. I loved the scene right at the end where Susana was like "What are you doing? Why are you doing this?" and she goes, full of attitude, "I'm just playin' the villain baby.. just like you want me to".. It was like a nod to her future mega-celebrity self. Winona Ryder did a really good job too and this movie really reminded me of some people in my life who like to create or invent problems for themselves. It lets you know that yes there are some girls in that institution with legitimate problems, but then there are people like Susana who really don't belong there in the first place but try to make themselves believe that they actually are crazy. I think the movie as a whole was pretty good. B+/A-
Angelina Jolie Proves Why She's the World's Biggest Action Star
SALT was a complete adrenaline rush. It's not Bourne but it's not quite Bond- it's got elements of both. Somewhere in between, like Bourne on speed. I don't want to give anything away, but no, the plot is not as complex as Inception. However there are enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied. The story is intriguing and will keep your interest but first and foremost this is an action film. And the action is top notch. There's a lot of new sequences that we haven't seen before in film. No, the movie is not overly realistic but it's not trying to be.
But let's be honest, this is the Angelina Jolie show. Her presence just makes the movie and she is perfect as Evelyn Salt- who is a complete badass. After audiences see SALT there will be no denying that Angelina Jolie is ultimate female action star. Evelyn Salt gets really ruthless as the movie goes on. Look for some cool action sequences, and especially be on the lookout for what she does with a pair of cuffs.
Overall if you're looking for a good time at the movies and nothing too serious, check out Salt. It's not perfect, but I loved it.
Fresh Plot and Amazing Ensemble Cast Help Cement Nolan as Hottest Director in Hollywood
This is exactly the kind of movie I love. Thought provoking but also very exciting and entertaining. Has an absolute dream cast- probably my favorite ensemble cast I've seen in a film. Tom Hardy, this has gotta be a star turn for him. He's one of my favorites. Joseph Gordon Levitt is one cool guy. Marion Cottilard is gorgeous and very talented, gave a great performance in this movie. Cillian Murphy is an awesome underrated actor. I wasn't expecting his role to be so large in the movie but I'm happy it was. I'm normally not a fan of Ellen Page but I thought she was great here, and Leo- what can you say about him? He is the ultimate movie star.
I had some reservations going in. Just based on the pre-release buzz. All of the critics that were beating the "not accessible" drum. Well I went in knowing very little about the plot, I hadn't read any of the reviews and I was expecting the complexity of the plot to possibly interfere with the viewing experience. I will say this was not the case at all. As long as you pay close attention and stay focused from the beginning, then the plot is not very difficult to follow. Yes it is complex, but confusing? Not really. Which is the way it should be!
I don't really want to get into plot details and there's not much more I can say that probably hasn't already been said, but this was just one of the ultimate movie experiences. Captivating from start to finish. Complex but not out of reach. A great cast. Leonardo DiCaprio strikes again. Inception and Shutter Island are 1-2 for me this year. The score was very Nolan. Sometimes I felt like it was a little fast, that it wouldn't let the movie slow down, but I was OK with it. And of course, Nolan seals his place as the hottest director in Hollywood right now. This has definitely lived up to the hype and my expectations. And I loved how the final scene leaves you hanging.
A Mighty Heart (2007)
Angelina Jolie Shines in OK Film
This film was... difficult. I think they had good intentions but it just didn't really work for me. It was very choppy. The plot jumped around too much between present and past which I don't think was all that necessary. The investigation was hard to follow, a lot of times I couldn't really hear/understand what they were saying or what was going on. Hence the whiteboard of all the names.. which didn't do much to help the viewer make sense of it. Plus one of the people helping her to investigate looked eerily like the actor who played Daniel Pearl, so I sometimes confused the two.. especially with the way the plot jumped between time.
But obviously this film is really just a showcase for the lead actress, which is the reason I watched it in the first place. I thought Angelina Jolie did a good job as Mariane Pearl. It was toned down and understated and not too dramatic as you might expect based on the circumstances. But that may be more a testament to the personality of Mariane Pearl. I was expecting her accent to be annoying but she made it work, and she was believable as this woman. The reason her performance in this film got so much attention is clearly, definitely from the scene where she finds out that Danny has been killed. That was a long, raw, guttural scream which looked very organic. Without that scene it would have just been kind of an average to good performance, as opposed to very good. I don't know who her competition was that year, but she probably was snubbed out of an Oscar nomination as some suspect she was. People who still say she is not very talented are wrong- from what I've seen she is extremely versatile and I think people just have trouble getting past her celebrity.
Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Strong Performance from Anne Hathaway Saves an Otherwise Average Film
Well the movie itself wasn't anything special. I was wondering why every person in the cast had to give a speech, or sing a song, or whatever. The shaky cam as well was not necessary. It's not a documentary so don't treat it like one.
The film's obvious strong point, and really the only reason worth watching is Anne Hathaway's performance. Speaking as someone with a sister who is a (sometimes recovering) drug addict, I think she nailed it in the way her character was unstable yet narcissistic, starved for attention, and over the top emotional. I could really relate to her sister in that sense- how annoyed she gets the way people coddle her sister because she is immature and makes stupid decisions. It was just the little details that I think made Hathaway's performance so realistic- the tone she would use when she would make a joke about rehab, that trying to be sarcastic to get a laugh, but really just saying it to bring attention to the fact that she has issues. It showed that even if somebody is in recovery that doesn't necessarily mean they are recovered- that they have personality traits that are never going to change. I think she really captured the essence of that type of character.
There was also great performances, though, from the actors who play her mother, father, and sister. So bravo to pretty much the whole cast.
Grown Ups (2010)
Great cast creates the perfect summer comedy
I LOVED it. Critics really need to loosen up, this is a perfectly fun feel good summer comedy with some great comedic actors of the day. Kevin James, Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock are the best. The wives all were great too, and Chris Rock's mother in law was hilarious. Even the kids, the whole cast just worked for me. I wish they had given Chris Rock more screen time as opposed to Schneider and Spade but what are you gonna do? The only complaint is that there really wasn't a very focused plot. It was just a bunch of jokes and gags strung together for most of the film. But I didn't care because I wasn't looking for a technical masterpiece. If you want to laugh go see this movie. And yeah, it's got some pretty good eye candy too.
Into the Wild (2007)
Pretentious and Smug. Salvaged by beautiful cinematography and fantastic acting
So I finally got around to seeing this and well, it looks like I'm going to have to disagree with the majority on this one.
First there are several things I did like about it. The cinematography is absolutely stunning. The various shots of nature around different parts of the country are beautiful. I think Sean Penn's direction was great- he really captured the essence of the wanderer's lifestyle and even makes the viewer a little envious of some of those people. I thought the supporting cast was fantastic, and I found myself caring about those characters much more than I did the main character. Especially Hal Holbrook and Katherine Creener. I think she is a very underrated and talented actress. Even Kristen Stewart was OK in her small part.
That said, I thought the movie was extremely pretentious and smug. If people thought The Blind Side was a white-guilt film, then this is a societal-guilt film. It's one thing if a movie lets the story convey the message for you, but Into the Wild jams that message down your throat. After a while it's like, okay, I get it. Society is rigid and restricting, free your spirit, etc. Well sorry Alexander Supertramp, but not everyone can just ditch their responsibilities to loaf around the country and get in touch with nature.
Which brings me to the main character, Chris, who I thought was completely selfish and melodramatic. His "tragic" back story really wasn't all that tragic. So his Dad screwed around and his parents didn't get along. Welcome to life. That kid's parents gave him everything he ever needed and asked for and yet he acts like he's some damaged, abused child. And then he leaves, never contacts them again, and goes and gets himself killed. I don't have any sympathy for that and I stopped caring for the character pretty shortly into the film. The 2 and a half hour run time was a bit long for me, and like I said, after a while I got tired of Chris complaining about society. I did like that in the final minutes the character does seem to feel a little remorse with the "happiness is not true unless it is shared" bit though.
Emile Hirsch for his part did a good job. I wasn't crazy about his performance like others seem to be, but it's a very challenging role and he deserves credit. I don't remember who else was nominated that year, but he probably deserved at least a nomination.
Anyway while there were many positive things that I enjoyed about the movie, I just can't get past the pretentiousness of it all. It is a good message but this just felt like 2.5 hours worth of teen angst to me.
C+ (for the acting, direction, and photography)