Monday, March 29, 2010

Deliverance

* * *

Let's deal with the squealing pig in the room right away: Yes, this is indeed the movie best (or perhaps exclusively) known for the scene in which poor, porcine Ned Beatty gets roto-rootered at gunpoint by one backwoods Georgia hillbilly, as the second compliments Jon Voight on his "real purty mouth," and secondarily known for that little twinkly refrain of banjo music, which has become shorthand for "hillbillies who will hit your dirt button." What hasn't sunken into the public consciousness is that the dueling banjos scene is actually the one early moment of connection between blithe and arrogant city people and their backwoods rural guides who admittedly seem to be a little, ah, what's the polite word? Inbred.

But as the central river-shooting trip, taken on a lark by survivalist-type Burt Reynolds and his three totally unprepared friends, spins out of control, it's a promise kept by these backwoods folks that might mean salvation. The portions given to the expedition itself can drag, and the movie pads itself mercilessly with unexciting shots of middle-aged guys paddling canoes. However, the ideas stick. The deeper meaning of this movie can be found in the often heavy-handed dialogue about the thin skein that civilization stretches over the remorseless Darwinism of The Wild, and the human animal that yowls beneath the surface. It's about two good 'ol boys who decide to rape a couple city slicker, because they can, sure. But it's also about the excited gleam in Reynold's eye as he realizes he finally got a chance to hunt man. It's a story that is more about The End of the World as (I suspect) a movie like 2012 would be. This isn't about things blowing up during the end. It's about the way it will be after the end, and more to the point, it's about the fact that there are some people who long for that day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Zodiac

* * * *

David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, The Game) is one of my favorite modern directors, but nothing he's done so far prefigured this exacting, measured, balanced procedural about the serial killer who menaced San Francisco from 1968 through 1969, and the journalists and detectives, who, through professionalism, obsession, and meticulous and scrupulous attention to detail, utterly failed to catch him. It's a neat trick, and rare in crime movies. Fincher ably piles on the dread, and then . . . nothing. It is caught with nowhere to go, nagging, irritating, a paper clip lodged in the stomach lining.

Much has been written of the parallels between these characters and the obsessiveness of Fincher's own meticulous nature, which, while observable, interesting, and laudable, don't resonate as much as the parallels between the Zodiac's desire for the fame and attention of media sensationalism, and the public's own zeal (cinema-driven, in the case of a screening of ersatz Zodiac-killer Dirty Harry) for a sensational and retributive resolution. The entire cast does compelling character work, but Mark Ruffalo stands out as real-life detective David Toschi, the real-life inspiration for Steve McQueen's Bullitt and, yes, Dirty Harry. In Fincher's vision, however, Toschi's similarities with his loose-cannon vigilante cop doppelgangers goes no deeper than the way they holster their guns. Toschi is a man more concerned with justice than catharsis, and his journey is a mass of dead ends, paperwork, and hunches that can't be followed without sacrificing the rule of law. Toschi suspects, then Toschi knows, but Toschi can't prove. In his failure, Toschi provides Zodiac with something more important than catharsis: a moral center. This is a first rate thriller, but it's also a love letter to due process, shortcomings and all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pineapple Express

* *

A surprising amount of meant-to-be-taken-seriously type violence muddles this already fairly muddled stoner buddy comedy about a server of legal papers and full-time slacker (Seth Rogan) who is forced into an undesired friendship with his server of rolling papers (James Franco) when blah blah blah gang war intrigue case of mistaken identity unlikely heroes. Franco is a lot of fun as a sweet wannabe civic engineer who has gotten lost in Shaggy and Scooby Land and forgotten that he even wants to find the exit, while Rogan is surprisingly inert (and not in a stoned way). Interesting in that, for some reason, the thirtysomething dating a high school girl trope is presented as being a desirable relationship that we're meant to hope lasts, which is not something you typically see outside of the occasional Woody Allen flick. The Office's Craig Robinson is funny in this, but I think that TOCR is probably funny when he's ordering pizza, so there you go. George Washington's David Gordon Green directed this, though there is little evidence of his typical striking imagery and composition here. It's like they hired Akira Kurosawa to direct Porky's 4. The saving grace (or, depending on your tolerance level for these sorts of things, the final straw) is an extended and stoned recap of the events by the heroes that lasts about three minutes too long to be funny, and then lasts another eight minutes or so after that until it achieves a kind of dada hilarity. For my money, it was funny just for existing. You might want your money back.

Also, Danny McBride is very funny and should be in more things.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hurt Locker - My take

So much has been written about this movie. Liked, loved, despised, disappointed. Earning Best Picture will do that. Bring on the critics!

I don't know really if it deserved Best Picture. I don't know how that is judged. I don't care either. After reading some blogs about what people thought about it, I wanted to give my take. That is from someone who actually served in the Marines.

What most people don't get (that is those who never served) is how different being in the military really is. From my perspective, it truly is like walking into Oz. It's a different world, not just lifestyle. It's like L O S T (for those of you who follow), having, or living in two different time parallels. You do what you have to to survive that world, even excel.

I can see someone watching this and thinking that the main character is nothing more than reckless, trying to be a hero, etc., and being put off by it. But what this really shows, is how this person decided to cope during his time in a war zone.

There are three main characters here, and each offer their own view on how they see their time serving their country. Jeremy Renner plays the gritty staff seargent who is God of gods when it comes to disarming bombs. Anthony Mackie plays the kingpin (not boss) of the group who sees it as his charge to keep everyone safe, and in line with protocol to be sure the job gets done right. Brian Geraghty plays the kid who is to help carry out those protocols that he learned and is directed by his superior.

The three of these guys comprise a team charged with handling disarmament of IED's that are suspected to be live. The dynamic here is that Renner's character is the new guy, replacing someone of great respect who was axed in the first scene of the movie (which really sets up the strife battled by Geraghty's character).

First, let me explain the logistics of any unit within the combat engaged armed services. First, everything you are ever taught is geared toward getting the job done efficiently, without error, and withing defined protocols. Whether that is to fix a truck, a meal, or whack a battalion of insurgents. Nothing is hap-hazard. Nothing is by the seat of the pants. That is of course, unless something terribly goes wrong. Then it's time to improvise, overcome, adapt.

You see that in in Renner's character several times. The dynamic is Mackie's character realizing that Renner, although very good at his job, makes it harder for Mackie to do his. Which is first and foremost to protect Renner. It's also shown that Mackie's concern about his new team members antics put all three at risk. Undo risk as Mackie sees it and he battles with himself on how to handle it.


Staff Sergeant William James:

He seems to go about his job with such confidence that it is almost defined as reckless. You get the feeling that it almost shows his apathy towards dying. I don't think that is the case at all. He is a hot shot, no doubt. But his willingness to die, as perceived by the way he approaches his job, is nothing more than a belief in his training and the abilities brought about by that training. He is there to do job. He has to be there. Dying is a risk associated with that job. He goes about it as efficiently as he can, all the while, abusing the privileges that serving during a time of war allows. Yes, protocol eases quite a bit during war time. His relationship with the little vendor boy shows me nothing more than the characters recognition that life is precious. A paradigm of sorts within his own character. His adamant attempt to keep that boy safe. To mourn him, to honor him. It's what little redemption he could muster and would do so at any cost to feel human once more. He did things knowing he was wrong at times, but never apologized, and accepted the consequences with great restraint, but never relenting. His confidence defined him, but showed that there was much more behind his expertise, and just being able to complete the job. He built his character through the knowledge of being at war and what that meant for himself, his peers, and his country.

Sergeant Sanborn:

Sanborn is the prototypical Soldier. A true professional. Showing a restrained fear, mostly based on his realization that he was short (little time left on this tour of Duty). He knew he'd be back, but survival is based on tours. Survive the first one. Then worry about the second. He knew any mistake could threaten that. His care for his team members. The respect he showed them, and the respect he demanded. He wasn't playing the reckless hero, nor was he there to win awards or earn money. He was there because he had to be. And by accepting that choice he made in life, he did it to the best of his abilities, through his training, and his overall contempt for the situation he was in. It's what drove him.

Specialist Owen Eldridge:

Eldridge is defined by his understanding of his job. Several times he is asked to make the decision. "Best decision man" was a line uttered by Sanborn when asked by Eldridge on what he should do concerning taking out an enemy. In the first scene he couldn't bring himself to taking out the enemy and it cost the life of his team member. His struggle to make that decision eats at him through obviously a personal test of morality and the training he has been provided to execute the job he is in. It tears at him throughout the whole film. You can relate to him and understand that his dilemma is probably representative of most of the young soldiers over there. He makes you want to reach out and help him. It's easy to want to pull the trigger for him from behind the screen but thinking about it, you also feel the moral challenge. Not so much as whether or not to kill the bad guy. The movie makes it easy for you to grasp the necessity in doing so, and it makes it easy for you to reconcile the fact that you must kill before being killed. The moral issue that Eldridge faces is pulling the trigger on the right guy. And right there defines his struggle. His training is complete and thorough. He knows his job and knows how to get it done. His personal moral demon is surety before pulling that trigger and ending the life of an innocent even before one of his own is put at risk. I get the feeling that he does all of this with the forethought of knowing that someday, he will be a civilian again, and will have to live with himself making those decisions forever. What's most dynamic about this guy is the fact that even after he was wrong to the extreme where it cost him a team member, he still shows restraint, whether it be from fear, or moral indecision, about still pulling that trigger correctly.

You watch this movie and gain the sense that things are done by each and every character that crosses the screen to perform their duties as they were charged to do without letting down their peers, their leaders, their team mates, and their country. They do this in their own way to the best of their abilities all the while with their own personal flare in order to cope and survive a world to which they were willingly thrown into. These are choices they made, and the movie depicts that thoroughly, without restraint, and without undue flair or entertainment. The film makers accomplish what they wanted. That is, being able to make you believe that you see in this movie is truly how it plays out every day, in real life, throughout our military.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Country For Old Men

* * * *

Whatever you think of the Coen Brother's reach for deeper meaning at the end of their dark meditation on chance, fate, death, and the dangers of simple goodness in the face of a chaotic world (for my money, they hit more than they miss here), there's no way to deny that this is one of the better-designed and executed thrillers of the last decade. From the moment Josh Brolin's good old boy Lewellyn Moss swims frantically away from a murderous Rottweiler, the tension rarely ratchets down until it rather shockingly implodes in a meaningless offscreen "climax" -- a structural irregularity the movie shares with Cormac McCarthy's source novel. Perhaps it is the influence upon the Brothers Coen of McCarthy, Authorlegendarious Americanus, but No Country is shockingly pared down and rough, and a marked tonal departure from the duo's efforts, both previous and subsequent. Aside from a few trademark funny rubes, this is the least arch Coen Brothers movie since Blood Simple, their debut, and the straightforwardness probably helps explain the shower of awards that came their way. I like me some straight-up Coen, but the filtered variety is savory, too. More adaptations, please, Joel and Ethan.

Of course it is Moss' eventual pursuer, Anton Chigurh, who has entered the cultural lexicon. Chigurh, whose name suggests some kind of Lovecraftian demon, is both a hired gun and death personified, a man who kills not just because it is profitable or enjoyable, but because he seems to feel that murder is simply the right thing to do. A pageboy bob framing his head like death's hood, Chigurh kills impassively, but according to his own strict moral code. Flipping a coin, he lets the universe decide if you live or if you die. (Unless, that is, he's already decided that you have to die. Then he just shotguns you before saying "howdy.") He's also creative; he picks up a cattle stunner with a connoisseur's interest, as if to say, "Huh, never killed anybody THIS way before." Death will get you, and you can't stop what's coming, but maybe death will get you in an interesting way.

Tommy Lee Jones, as a world weary sheriff too honest to deny that he's too afraid to take on what men like Chigurh represent, is near a career peak here, but I think that the real standout is Josh Brolin, who makes his welder/Vietnam vet/resourceful everyman an indelible doomed hero, a tough guy who just isn't quite tough enough in a world where greed can draw you in, but an act of kindness can cause your ruin.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Double Indemnity

* * * *

It's odd to watch a movie that is the DNA source for such widely-used noir tropes, but Double Indemnity earns its distinctions. Fred MacMurray's conflicted insurance rep Walter Neff has what Mike D'Angelo dubs a "meet hot" (as opposed to "meet cute") with Barbara Stanwyck's scheming wannabe widow, and plan what they hope is the perfect murder/life insurance scam, which binds them to each other in doom. The (unfortunately typical of the era) framing device gives away the ending right at the start, but the trope forces our focus on the How, as the lust of illicit lover curdles into the grim disdain of two caged dogs gnawing each other's legs off, and, since there are huge dividends paid just in watching the picture, I won't fuss over-long about the frame. The dialogue is pretty much perfect, the performances from the leads (including Edward G. Robinson as Neff's mentor, nemesis, father figure, and conscience) are iconic and perfectly realized. This is essential viewing.

The Hangover

* * *

Respectably funny Bromance about a quartet of man-children, fully invested in Vegas' "douchebags welcome" marketing strategy, who lose their friend the weekend before his wedding after a roofie-fueled romp through Las Vegas involving an only-in-the-movies stripper mom with a heart of gold, a stolen cop car, Mike Tyson's pet tiger, an extracted tooth, and a kidnapped crime boss, leaves them with no memory of what happened in Vegas, and no idea of how to keep what happened in Vegas from staying in Vegas. Bradley Cooper is pretty much a dud in this, and the Ken doll that plays the lost friend is a total cipher, leaving the heavy lifting to colorful walk-ons, and to deft individual performances from Ed Helms as a henpecked dentist slowly finding his backbone (scenes with his cartoonish harridan of a fiance are less successful) and especially Zack Galifiankis as Alan, half Manbearpig, half Lenny from Of Mice and Men, who squeezes unbelievable amounts of pathos and hilarity out of a simple mispronunciation of the word "retard." Overall, the movie is kind of a mess -- a surprisingly dark tone really never materializes into much, and these particular people don't seem like they'd be friends -- but it's a forgivable mess*, and I suspect this will have staying power as a quote engine at parties.

Oh, and if you don't know where they find their friend, I won't spoil it for you, but come on. He'd have died.

* Forgivable, at least, until Galifiankis becomes the next Will Ferrell, and is in every single comedy of the next five years until you want to saw your eyes out of your head with a sharpened severed Barbie doll leg every time you see him on screen. What? Just me?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Judge NOT! Lest you be judged.

Ok, a woman with any semblance of dignity or self-respect would NOT be posting a review of fifteen movies, less than two weeks, after her last post reviewing about a dozen movies. Such a woman would pretend to have friends or interests or, a job. Lucky for you guys, I have none of these things! What I do have is a Blockbuster membership, bitches!

12 Rounds
I was in an explosion mood this day. This was the first of a bunch of gratutious violence movies I rented and it hit the spot. The Marine is a New Orleans cop, he catches a super bad terrorist for the feds, but when superbad escapes, he comes looking for REVENGE! He kidnaps the Marine's girlfriend and orchestrates a title match to get the girl back alive! Guess how many rounds there are? Go on. Guess! It's silly fun.

The Surrogates

This movie? Not at all what I thought. Apparently, in the future we all get avatar suits, but they're human shaped, and not blue. All "isms" are eradicated because everyone just gets a hot size 2 white, blond avatar. Badabing! And then something goes terribly wrong! What? No way! People start dying back in their pods when their avatars die in real life! Bruce Willis has to stop being plugged in and start being real as he tracks down the killer AND repairs his broken marriage. It's decent.

Crank

I saw this on Kat's observation that Stratham was hot. Grin. Gotta say Crank is bloody brilliant! He chops a guys arm off! And then snaps a dude's neck in midair...OH and drives a car up the mall escalator! Dude!! DUDE!

Crank 2
FUCK YOU, CHELIOS!

ExIsTEnZ

Sorry, I couldn't remember which letters were capitalized. "Death to the bloggess Dawn Summers!" So, this movie stars Jude Law and the woman who is NOT the woman in Weeds. It's a Sci/Fi flick about reality videogaming through back sex and spinal cord injury. There's a whole meta meta storyline about where the game begins and reality ends. But basically, it's about back sex.

2012

This movie is the single greatest film of the 21st century. You know, what? OF ALL TIME. Big up to Kanye. The premise is that the sun's neutrinos have heated up the core of the Earth to such an extent that it's evaporating and the Earth's crust is collapsing in on itself. It stars Amanda Peete and John Cusak. Also Woody Harrelson and a bunch of kids. But never mind all that: things explode, crash, drown, freeze and melt so fast and so often, you will STAY on the edge of your seat! You NEVER know what's gonna happen or who will live or die. When the bad guy turns bad, you don't even see it coming! Dude, the movie is incredible! It's like 3 hours long and I watched it twice. (Shit, not helping with shame that I have not only seen all these movies, but the three hour one, twice.)

Moon

Okay, here's the problem: as I was watching Moon, I was all "wow! This movie is AWESOME, holy crap! I can't wait to write a review about for film chaw!" (Um...shut up!) And then the very next movie I saw was 2012. Twice. So, um...I don't exactly remember Moon so much... Okay, but 2012, Oh MY GOD! I didn't even mind the little blond children who typically annoy and frustrate. Sorry...Moon...um...it's set on the Moon. It's about an astronaut working for a private company that is mining the moon for something mineable. He discovers a terrible secret. And Kevin Spacey plays a talking robot. I really did like it. It just got unfortunate positioning in my movie watching order.

Motherhood

Who stole Uma Thurman's money? WHY is she making these kinds of movies? IT'S HORRIBLE! Poorly acted, written, directed, the sets sucked. Boooo. Two toes down!! It's about the "frazzled" stay at home mom of two children, who has to throw a birthday party for a 6 year old AND write a 500 word essay for a contest about what motherhood means to her. Oh MY GOSH! However will she manage? Fuck outta here. I spent the whole movie hoping Uma would be killed. Like when she takes a rickety bike to the party supply store instead of a cab. Please get hit by a car! When she all playing music for hot Indian delivery guy? Please have an affair with him, so your husband comes home, finds you and shoots you both! But nope. She lives. The only funny part was how little girls end up with old lady names because the moms name them after their favorite grandma. You're welcome. Now do something else with that 88 minutes. Like watch the first 88 minutes of 2012.

My Life as a House

No clue how this movie...oh, yes I do! I went through a Kristin Scott Thomas phase where I wanted to see all her movies...meh. Kevin Kline and young Anakin are in it. It's basically a Lifetime movie of the week about a terminally ill dad who decides to reconnect with his estranged son by renovating their old house. The lesson was "Stop and smell the roses"...no, tell the people you love that you love them!

Zero Day

A mockumentary about two Columbine style teen killers with plans to shoot up their high school on "zero day." The first day when the temperature in their town is zero degrees. Disturbing. Especially when you think it's real for the first hour.

Stepfather

This movie is such a predictable formulaic "horror" movie, that it's laughable. Sela Ward, the Nip/Tuck guy and the Gossip Girl boy come together for this cheesy stabfest. I mean, so cheesy that people get repeatedly stabbed but there's never any blood! Oh, it also reaffirms the old movie adage that you should never criticize your best friend's boyfriend because you're either totally wrong or you end up drowned in your own pool.

Gamer

Is it me or is Gerard Butler in EVERYTHING these days? Oh, he's in this too. Apparently Dexter has invented a reality game called "slayer" where gamers get to control their avatars in a battle of the death! The twist? Avatars are real life death row inmates whose only chance at freedom is to win 30 straight Slayer matches! The movie opens with gerard butler at 28 wins! Will he survive? Watch to find out! (He survives. Shh)

Planet 51

Animated movies are so hit or miss. This one is a miss. It's set 20000 years in the future, but we're so far in the future it's the 1950s again. Meh. Oh, plot is an Earth astronaut goes to claim the planet in the name of America, but discovers the alien inhabitants. But to them, *he's* the alien! Did I say meh, already?

Cold Souls
Arrgghh. I avoided this movie for months! I KNEW it would be bad! But I watch so many damn films, eventually, you just pick the one you haven't seen yet. Plus, the New York Times said it was "laugh out loud funny"! The New York Times is a damn hell ass lying liar that LIES! Fuckers. The premise to this movie is that Paul Giamatti (for real, he plays himself, I'm not just being lazy) puts his soul in storage so he can be less depressed while playing Uncle Vanya. Then the company loses his soul. So he flies to Russia to get it back. Yawn.


Love Happens

You see how the title of this movie sounds like that popular phrase "shit happens"? Yeah, that. Someday I wanna do a filmshaw meme about "scenes all really shitty movies have in them" - Love Happens will be my template.

Good Hair

Chris Rock pulls a Tyler Perry. Ok, ok, it wasn't THAT bad and I learned a lot about the hair weave industry. But I do find it curious that he only shames black women and not the many white women, and possibly Fabio, who also follicly enhance. Some of it is funny, most is horrifying.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Or something like that. Michael Moore is back being Michael Moore in this documentary polemic against Capitalism. There are lots of shots of assembly line workers and sad foreclosed homeowners. I assume that if you hate Michael Moore, you'll hate it. If you love Michael Moore, you love it. I think it's better than his healthcare one, though as an African-American is tough for me to co-sign his "bring back the way things were in the 50s"! Sorry, Dawg: I like voting. And education. And the not getting lynched.

Precious: the sad story of a really fat black girl pushed by Sapphire

Or something. So, I broke my Tyler Perry boycott because I also have an Oprah obedience chip. Fortunately, Oprah is the woman for a reason! None of Tyler Perry's typical woman hating appears in this film: though Monique is straight up batshit crazy! I was a little worried about this movie because when I clicked it "The Blind Side" and "Dangerous Minds" came up as "if you like this movie you should see suggestions." You know how I feel about white people save, black children movies, right? But in Precious: we have Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys saving Precious! And together they so make a "one black person"! Premise: Girl has the saddest most miserable life ever, then she has her second baby by her daddy at 16. And she can't read. Oh, also, Alicia Keys is a lesbian. Monique WAY earned that Oscar.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mean Disney Girls

This made me laugh and laugh and laugh...

Creative Video That I'm Posting To Disguise My Lack Of Original Content!

Introductory statement.

Over-dramatic declamation of excellence!


Monday, March 1, 2010

March Movie Madness

I like the movies, movies. I like the movies movies. I like the...MOOO-VIES!
Well, new month, new snow days and regular programming killed by the Olympics means...

Evil Dead 2

How weird was this movie? My overall impression is that Raimi was trying too hard to make a comedy and not putting enough effort into the horror, but when people are dying and things are coming out of graves, you're much more in the horror genre. So I don't think it worked on either level. I prefer the first one. Oh, I did wonder though, did they think they were good actors? Or did they realize they were the worst collection of actors ever in a movie that didn't go straight to video? Oh, for One Life to Live fans: Blair is in it!

Army of Darkness

I am a HUGE XENA fan. This movie is obviously a precursor to that show, complete with Xena's ullalating (is that the right word? You know, her tongue scream sound.) It was okay, but very weird and how does he get a shotgun and why doesn't his arm slip right through the pillory since he has no hand? Details, details. Just get the Xena series, it's way better AND Autolycus is in it too! AND Joxer. I mean...Ash and "Salesman #2"

Sorority Row

This movie was AWESOME. Okay, I know you're not gonna think it would be awesome because it's about sorority girls who play a prank on this guy by making him think he poisoned his girlfriend, but really she's just faking; he panics, kills her for real, they all swear secrecy, dispose of the body and think they've gotten away with it...until they start getting killed one...by...one! But it is awesome! It gets my best compliment for a horror film...well, two of my best compliments 1) I didn't figure out the killer and 2) I had to close my eyes for most of the killings. You're welcome Sorority Row.

Everybody's Fine


"Everybody may be fine, but this movie SUCKS!" Put THAT on the DVD box, Robert DeNiro! This movie stars DeNiro and Drew Barrymore. It's one of those end of their lives flicks old actors make where they have grown children they don't speak to, so take ridiculous road trips to surprise them in their lives and find out they have terrible problems and unhappy marriages. This movie is so bad, you start paying attention to little details that just makes the movie WORSE. Like, DeNiro's wife has recently died, which is why he realizes he's been alienated from the kids - she used to keep him apprised, so he goes to her grave to talk to her. The dates say 1917-2008. HIS WIFE WAS 91!??!? But *Drew Barrymore* is her kid?? She had Drew Barrymore at 60?? AND all the kids are within a year apart, so she knocked out four children starting at age 56? Uh huh. And then in one of the flashbacks, they show a kid playing Drew Barrymore at age 7 or 8. Problem is WE KNOW WHAT DREW BARRYMORE LOOKED LIKE AT AGE 7! And that aint it. Boo. Movie blew.

Couples Retreat

Speaking of unhappy marriages... this movie is about a couple on the verge of divorce. They want to go to the very best marriage counselor, but can't afford him on their own, so they guilt their five closest friends into going with them and snag the group rate. I thought this movie was going to be dumb. I even braced myself for it by dealing with my Dell laptop issues at the same time. But it wasn't and I had to pause the movie while I dealt with the idiot on the phone! Couples Retreat is funny, unpredictable and touching. Vince Vaughn and the Swingers guy are BACK baby! Yes, the black characters are horrible coonish stereotypes of the fat black guy with bad credit who still is all buying a motorcycle, and the illiterate black woman who is loud with out of control nails...and that pissed me off...but the rest is so good, I am willing to put the racism behind me. You're welcome Couples Retreat.

The Informant


This movie was GREAT! Matt Damon NAILS this performance as a trying to please whistleblower in the 1980s. Actually, the whole cast is wonderful. The writing is funny, the characters are quirky and the twist will surprise you! I don't know why there wasn't more buzz about it or how it didn't get any Oscar recognition. Well, actually, I do know the answer to that part. The Oscars suck.

The Brothers Bloom

I saw this movie on Angela's recommendation. I was very nervous because I like and respect Angela and wanted to keep doing so. Whew! I loved the Brothers Bloom. And I usually don't like that brain tumor guy or the Halle Berry sexual assaulter. In this they play brothers who are also con men. For their final job, they prey on an orphaned heiress. Of course, one of them falls for her and stuff happens. But NOT stuff that you expect! Well, some stuff you expect, but it totally works. The movie is funny and touching and even though the script telegraphs much of the end way ahead of time, you're still surprised. Great job all around!!

The Box

Ugh. FAIL. First off, can anyone who ever starred in the Charlie's Angels franchise please SWEAR never to try to do a movie with an accent? Please, pretty. Dancing around in your underwear, yes. Dramatic features with crazy accents: No. Blah. This movie SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED. I really need a thesaurus. So, the premise? Um. This guy comes with a box to your house. He says if you push the button, someone you don't know will die and you get a million dollars. You get 24 hours. (Who the heck even needs 24 seconds?? PUSH! PUSH TWICE FOR TWO MILLION! Throw box in fire, so it doesn't come back and getcha.) Seriously, Hollywood needs to let me make the movies from now on. Anyway, they push it, feel all bad. Then the movie does what all truly terrible movies do: they blame it on aliens or a government conspiracy. Actually, The Box blames BOTH! For extra suckingness. Push the button and hope this movie dies.

Law Abiding Citizen

Sigh. This movie is okay. It could have been SPECTACULAR. There are some wicked revenge killings, massively cool explosions, I like Gerard Butler and usually like Jamie Foxx. But it just falls flat. Like they're just going through the motions of making an awesome movie. They have the scenes an awesome movie would have and the punchy burn lines before a killing that an awesome movie would have...but somehow came out with an okay movie. Boo. I was particularly mad because I saw this the same day I saw Brothers Bloom and The Informant and I had saved this one for last because I thought it was going to be the surefire "movie I will like" and I wanted to end on a good note. Instead, it ruined my streak of awesomeness. Pout. But, if you wanna see a movie about a father whose family is killed and is then let down by the Philadelphia justice system and then goes a little bomb happy...

A Serious Man


Mary has already reviewed this movie for Film Chaw. Mary highly recommended it. Mary needs to be locked away. And medicated. RUN! RUN AWAY!! Like, don't even go into a videostore that has this movie on the shelves run away! OH MY GOD!! WHAT WAS THIS HORRIBLE HORRIBLE CRAPOLA??!!!!! So it starts with some Eastern European couple speaking some weird language in front of a fireplace and then some old guy comes in and the wife starts to freak out because she sat shiva for this guy and she knows he's a ghost. So she stabs him. And then he laughs and is all "what'd you stab me for"? And she's all telling her husband "look, I told you! It didn't even harm him! He's a ghost!" But then the stabbed guy starts to bleed. He gets up and walks out of the house. AND THEN...
AND THEN NOTHING! THE MOVIE SKIPS TO PRESENT DAY AND WE NEVER SEE THAT COUPLE OR THE GHOST AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
THIS MOVIE IS RIDICULOUS! And not even good clever ridiculous like I dunno something ridiculously good and clever. NO! IT'S JUST PLAIN "guy's wife cheats on him, but he stays with her because her boyfriend dies in a car crash and then everybody is maybe killed in a tornado" RIDICULOUS!! ARRRGGGHHHHHH Oh, but if you're Jewish you might enjoy some of the Rabbi/Bar Mitzvah scenes.

The Traveler's Wife

Usually when I've read a book and then they make a movie out of it, I like to pretentiously say "read the book," because I am a tool. However, in this case, I can say "eh, it's pretty much the same as the book." The movie is about a time traveler and um...his wife. Yep. The trials and tribulations that come from having a husband who pops around through time without warning. The acting is solid. You feel for her plight, but it's not anything spectacular.

Dark Water

Someone told me to rent this movie, but I don't remember who. It wasn't bad. Jennifer Connolly stars as a newly divorced mom, who moves into an apartment on Roosevelt Island. The apartment starts to leak, her daughter starts having imaginary friends and the landlord is super creepy. Turns out there's a ghost. The building has been the site of a terrible tragedy which stirs up memories of Connolly's own tragic childhood. The movie is decent, but I can't say I was very surprised by all that happened. Only a seriously disturbed woman would take a child to live in Queens! No good could come of it.

The Ninth Gate


I thought I'd seen every Johnny Depp movie. Then I saw a box for this and realized I was wrong. I have now though. So there. Um. It's okay. The movie is about a rare book collector (Depp) who is hired to authenticate some devil worship book and he discovers that there are only three copies in the world and they all contain pages written by Lucifer himself (each initialed LCF in case you missed that! Groan.) But, oh no, someone is out to kill him before he discovers the pages' evil secrets! It's like the DaVinci Code, except I think the DaVinci Code was better. And I didn't think the DaVinci Code was all that good.

Prime


WHAT A TERRIFIC MOVIE! It's old though, and I have no idea how I ended up with it in my queue, but whatever. Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, delicious cute guy...what could go wrong! It's about a newly divorced patient (Uma) who is in her late thirties and her therapist (Streep) who discovers the patient is actually dating her 23-year-old son! If the movie was made more recently it would have been called "Cougartown." I like all the characters and the story is touching and believable. It's very sweet.