RSS Feed

Tag Archives: 2011

Review: The Future (2011)

I’m a fan of weird, quirky movies. People I know, know this. So when a co-worker suggested a film that was narrated by a cat with a creepy voice, I didn’t bat an eyelash. Instead, I went out and watched The Future.

Jason and Sophie are a quirky couple with their own flaws, but they love each other. During the course of adopting a rescue cat, they come to the realization that the month they must wait for the cat are their last days of freedom to do what they want with their lives before responsibility gets them tied down. Soon enough, their relationship is tested, time and space is threatened, and the future is continually unknown.

My thoughts after this film: What?

My thoughts during this film: ZZZzzzzz

Seriously, I’ve heard great things about Miranda July’s previous film “Me and You and Everyone We Know”, but The Future was absolutely horrible. The plot is flimsy at best and the watching it develop is about as fun as watching paint dry. There is a brief window of curiosity when the story takes a turn for the supernatural, but just like that, it’s back to snoozefest. It wasn’t too weird for me, or too unrealistic, it was just too boring.

My Rating: D

Review: Thirty Minutes or Less (2011)

Typically movies that portray real world tragedies are going to be dramas and moving Academy Award-like films. Comedies trying to get laughs out of other peoples horror aren’t generally common. So when news leaked out that the plot of 30 Minutes or Less was eerily similar to a real life disaster, not many people still wanted to see the movie.

Jessie Eisenberg again finds himself in the awkward, fast-talking, going nowhere in life, in a minimum wage job (see: Adventureland). This time around he is a pizza delivery driver, who harbors feelings for the sister of his life long best friend (Aziz Ansari). The story also follows that of Danny McBride in his usual role of crazy loudmouth with a harebrained idea to have someone rob a bank in order to pay a hitman to kill his father so he can inherit his fortune early (Wouldn’t it just be easier to just rob the bank?). McBride along with his minion played by Nick Swardson, come up with the plan to strap a bomb to the pizza man and make him rob the bank. Cue crazy bomb-themed hijinks!

The key part of any kind of buddy comedy, is that the characters are genuinely buddies. However, it seems as if everyone in this movie hates each other. Eisenberg is about as unlikeable as ever, Aziz is in anti-Tom Haverford mode (unfunny), and McBride is just crass and obscene without getting laughs. There were a few chuckles, but they were all covered in the trailer below. If you want my advice, just watch the trailer. You’ll be none the wiser.

My Rating: D+

Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Posted on

I had consistently seen and heard about the Swedish Millenium trilogy based off the best selling novels. After all, a lot of talk hyped up the performance of Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Then late last year, the trailer for a new American version came out. And it blew me away (Seriously, one of my all-time favorite trailers). David Fincher. Daniel Craig. Christopher Plummer.  Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. And it created a star out of a bit player in The Social Network: Rooney Mara. I had never seen the Swedish films, nor read the books, so Fincher’s vision of the story would be my first introduction into the world.

While the weight of the movie rests on Mara’s Salander, the plot focuses on journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig). His claims on a powerful corporation were not research enough, and he is sued with slander. His problems take a back seat when he gets a call to visit the house of a wealthy industrialist (Plummer) to solve the unsolved disappearance of his niece decades prior. To help him out, he enlists the services of hacker/social outcast/ biker, Lisbeth Salander (Mara). Her story takes on a whole other part of the movie filled with rape, revenge, and top notch detective work. Together, they get to the bottom of what turns out to be a messy, sick, and dark tale.

The story is not for the squeamish or most people for that matter. Salander’s journey is deeply disturbing, violent, and gruesome. But it is what makes her. She turns out to be one of the most odd heroines in cinema history. Who else can pull of the bleached eye brows and micro bangs and still seem so cool and distant? Rooney Mara’s performance is definitely one to be admired and I really hope they can pull two more movies from this franchise. What else is there? The music, from the same guys who did The Social Network, is pitch perfect. The setting, is perfectly chilling. Even Daniel Craig is his James Bond-ish self, but is a normal person. I won’t spoil the mystery, but the movie isn’t even about that. Instead I got caught up with the journey Blomkvist and Salander take. They might be one of the oddest couples in recent memory, but it just is perfect. It’s never going to be a rainy day movie or be put on any of my all time favorites list due to how difficult at times it can be to watch, but Fincher did create a near perfect film.

Also: be on the lookout from one of the most unique and one of my favorite title sequences ever.

My Rating: A

Review: Melancholia (2011)

Posted on

Unfortunately, I have never seen a Lars Von Trier film. From what I’ve heard he has been one of the more, let’s say interesting, directors this decade. So with a beautiful trailer for Melancholia, I was determined to make it my first.

Starting off with a series of ridiculously slow motion shots that show our planet being destroyed by a rouge planet known as Melancholia, the prelude also shows the characters involved and some of their final actions. Part One, “Justine” begins after the destruction. The formerly mentioned Justine has just gotten married to a polite and quiet Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). They seem happy enough, but as the night continues, Justine gets more and more unhappy. Her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland) who are hosting her grand reception party grow continually dissatisfied with her, and the proceeding events. Tensions grow, and the oncoming potential of demise only makes everyone more on edge. Part 2 “Claire”, contains Justine coming back to live with her sister in a deep depression. And why not? The planet is going to be destroyed, right?

There is no doubt that this is not a “Hollywood” movie by any stretch of the imagination. If you were expecting The Day After Tomorrow, you’ll be very disappointed. Melancholia, for most of the second half, is a four person act. In fact we have no clue what is going on in the world, outside of the mansion Claire and John call home. John (Sutherland) works as our news reports, being a leading astronomer and gives us all the information we need. From here, Von Tier doesn’t make it a disaster movie, but a study on depression and how people react to extreme consequences. The opening sequence is one of my favorites and is absolutely jaw dropping. Think of it as The Tree of Life with more of a plot. However, once the real story began it was hard not to get bored. There are moments when you just want the planet to crash already, but make no mistake, it is a wonderfully constructed film. Dunst and Gainsourg carry the film, and give some amazing performances. Really didn’t see this coming when I first saw her Spider-man.

I would really like to give this one a higher grade. The film is shot beautifully, and is well acted. But it is a chore to watch at times. Know what you’re going into before hand.

My Rating: B

Review: Sherlock Homes- A Game of Shadows (2011)

Posted on

Our favorite wise cracking Englishman, Sherlock Holmes is back. But it is still a sequel. Can it overcome the “sequels are never as good as the original” curse? Why, the answer is elementary my dear Watson.

Yup, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are back, and this time, the girl is different! With Irene Adler leaving the scene early on, all the two hero’s attention is on the villain this time. This time they face an adversary (Professor Moriarty) that can match wits with any one, including Holmes. With the villain set, all we have to do is sit back and watch the next edition of Monk meets The Bourne Identity.

Yes, the plot isn’t quite the best thing in the world. In fact, I don’t really remember a whole lot of it. But the reason you’re watching Sherlock Holmes is for the action scenes, the humor, and the wit. Robert Downey Jr. is at his charismatic best as Holmes, and Law plays the straight man to perfection. Yes, the chemistry between RDJ and Rachel McAdams is missing from the majority of the movie, but Noomi Rapace is no slouch. And adding Stephen Fry as the other Holmes is a stroke of genius. It doesn’t beat the original, but A Game of Shadows comes awfully close to matching it. Hopefully the third will complete the possibly excellent trilogy.

My Rating: B+

Review: J. Edgar (2011)

Posted on

I’m a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan, and there is no doubt he does a great Edgar Hoover. But how much do we need a love story between DiCaprio and Social Network breakout Armie Hammer?

J. Edgar is the biopic of J. Edgar Hoover looking back on his life for his biography. In his early career we see Hoover start off in low ranks, but through his dissatisfaction with how the police handle crime scenes, he quickly rises in Washington. In the several decades he served as head of the FBI, we see several high-profile cases, and the manipulation of his public persona that quickly dominated his life. We also see the gentler side of Hoover, with his possible homosexual relationship with number two man Clyde Tolson (Hammer).

The first half hour of this film was a complete struggle to watch, and while it did get better, there was no doubt I wouldn’t be watching J. Edgar again. To start off, the performances really didn’t have anything wrong besides some bad old age makeup (Tolson was old, he was not a cadaver). But the story just seemed to lag without any real drive in the plot. My biggest “what?” moment was any scene involving Naomi Watts’s character Helen Gandy. The first quarter of the film, she is prominent, and is even proposed to by Edgar. However, the rest of the film, she is still in, but hardly given any notice. No doubt DiCaprio gave a usual stunning performance but it wasn’t enough to get this film re-elected for a second viewing.

My Rating: C+

Review: Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (2011)

Posted on

Like listening in on people who are unaware? Enjoy hearing the arguments that happen everyday across this country? Do you like the sounds of homophobic slurs and incessant swearing? Go ahead and enter, if not, I’d pass on this “misadventure”.

Shut Up Little Man! is a documentary following the exploitation of two grumpy old men, Raymond Huffman and Peter Haskett by two young men, Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitch Deprey in 1987. The two young men resided next to Ray and Peter, and preceded to record around 9 hours of their alcohol fueled arguments. The cassette tapes would be passed along, and before the internet existed, the world had a meme on its hands. Filled with ridiculous dialogue and sometimes unrecognizable yelling. What it spawned was comic books, a play, and a race to make a major motion picture. However, we also get to see some of the dark side, from the nature of the two men’s relationship, to some of the bitterness still felt, SULM is not all raunchy laughs.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure I started watching this. The main culprit was probably the intriguing poster which kept showing up on Netflix. Whatever the case was, I wish I hadn’t started it. Besides the questionable nature of the recording without permission, at the end of the film I just felt dirty and felt really bad for these old men. The rest of the film seems to go nowhere, with many of the same clips being played over and over again. Although it was already a short 90-minutes, Shut Up Little Man could really be condensed to a 20-minute short.

My Rating: D+

Review: Contagion (2011)

Posted on

It’s a zombie movie minus the zombies. It’s Jude Law with screwed up teeth. It’s Gwyneth Paltrow looking like death. However you want to describe it, it’s Contagion.

Contagion is not for the germaphobe or the hypochondriac. It follows the spread of a deadly virus, and the race to create a vaccine to stop it. Several stories are pieced together, each taking on a different aspect of the affect the virus is having on the world. Matt Damon and his family make it personal, Jude Law tries make a conspiracy theory, Kate Winslet and Lawrence Fishburne try to find out how it all started.

While Contagion takes a look at some of the behind the scenes stuff that were to possibly happen if something of this scale were to break out, it also takes a look at how the population would react. It’s not quite a horror movie, but it makes it worse, knowing that something like this is not too far out of our imagination. Soderbergh uses close ups of phones and handrails to show off how easily something can spread, taking our everyday lives and throwing some danger in it. You can’t complain about the acting with the caliber of those involved. Even comedian Demetri Martin makes a surprise appearance and doesn’t botch it up. Some people hated the movie, but I loved it. The old school video game like music only furthered the on-edge feel Contagion has.

My Rating: B

Review: Drive (2011)

Posted on

I may be wrong on this, but in my mind Ryan Gosling is one of today’s most versatile leads in film. Chick flicks? Got it. Bizarre and kinda creepy? Yup. Slimy Womanizer? Yes. The one role that has been noticeably absent from Gosling’s resume has been the gritty action star. And while Drive is plenty gritty, it isn’t your run of the mill shoot em up popcorn movie.

Ryan Gosling is the driver, an unnamed Hollywood stunt driver who, on the side, becomes a wheelman for hire. Soon he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan), his next door neighbor (whose husband is in prison), and falls for her. On the other side of things, Albert Brooks and company are starting trouble with money, gangs, and the like. It gets even crazier when Irene’s husband is released from prison, and the driver tries to help him out.

What Drive lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. The film is a lesson in slow-paced, stressful atmosphere that leads to a violent end. The unique music choices, a Tron meets 1980’s feel, only adds to the very much dialogue-free film. Gosling has never been better, and my first look at Carey Mulligan only makes me want to see her in more. Of course, the bad guys are bad, but the good guys are just as violent, showing that kicking a skull in can never look so beautiful.

My Rating: A-

Review: The Artist (2011)

Posted on

A throwback. An ode to a bygone era. A love letter to cinema. The Artist has been called all of these things, but would it be enough to match my combined excitement/skepticism? As a lover of the silent film, I was looking forward to a modern version of the lost medium. I think the 5 Oscar wins answer that question nicely.

The Artist follows in the footsteps of Singing in the Rain and shows the life of silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). He is at the top of his game, but the invention of the talkies is the start of his impending doom. On the other side of things, there is Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a young go-getter who starts off as a background dancer and works her way to the stop. A chance encounter near the beginning of the movie shows the chemistry the two have. As the film progresses, the two stars careers rise and fall in opposite directions. You see the slow destruction of one life and the one time starry eyed fan become a star herself.

No one can claim that The Artist came up with an original plot, however you can accuse it of being a gimmick. Before seeing it, I too wasn’t sure if this was worth all of the hype surrounding it. But after proper viewing, I can say that the Artist is a legitimately great film worthy of the awards heaped upon it. It was reminiscent, not corny. Funny, not cheesy. Melodramatic, but in a good way. It takes a very original way of telling its story, and is a once a decade type of movie, just for the originality of the idea. I went to see it with 4 others who couldn’t tell Chaplin apart from Keaton, but they all loved it. No words necessary.

My Rating: A