Thursday, November 10, 2011

Horrible Bosses

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kill your psycho, slave-driving, horrible tool of a boss who treats you like dirt?" That, my friends, is the question that this movie dares to ask.
"Horrible Bosses" is a comedy that not only tackles this potentially dark subject-matter creatively and humorously, but also generates the knee-slapping, ROFL-inducing yuk-fests that I've missed so much in the movies I've been seeing lately.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Today, my goal will be to prove to you that the following "movie-math" equation is true:

Woody Allen.

A movie-making force of nature: for over 60 years he's been writing, directing, and starring in dozens and dozens of different films, some of which have been hailed as the greatest films of all time ("Annie Hall", "Radio Days", and "Zelig" being some of my favorites).
Paris, France.

One of the largest culture, fashion, cuisine, and artistic hubs of Europe, Paris is well-known by all who don't live under a rock as one of the most magnificent, beautiful cities in the world, whether you pronounce it par-ee or rhyme it with heiress.

"Midnight in Paris"
What I love most about this movie is that every part seems to have been made with great care and attention. It features gorgeous footage of the city of Paris and captures the things that make it great: people, landmarks, streets, shops, all the things that make it such a special place. It pulls you in right away.
Then you've got the main character: the protagonist is played by Owen Wilson, who is a fine example of a Woody Allen stereotype: slightly neurotic, pseudo-intellectual, yet at the same time likable with a dorky charm.
The story is fantastic: without giving away too many spoilers, it involves the main character meeting some of his greatest heroes by way of some magic time-travel plot that doesn't have to make sense to be enjoyed.
The background music, ahhhhhh. 2 words my friends:
Accordians. Rule.

One of the reasons I love to watch great movies is that by the time the movie is over, I'm left feeling smarter than when I came in. Great movies teach me something, or remind me of something I forgot, or show me something I never thought possible.
When I left the theater after watching "Midnight in Paris", I felt great. A good sign that this movie just might be remembered for being one of the modern-classics. In my humble opinion at least.

Even if you've never seen a Woody Allen movie or been to Paris, France before, I highly, highly recommend "Midnight in Paris". Happy viewing!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love

This movie was absolutely hilarious. No beating around the bush about it, this was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen in my (relatively) short life. It is also one of the most romantic movies that I've seen in 2011 so far (I haven't seen "Friends with Benefits" yet, which incidentally was playing at the same time as this movie did at the theater I went to).

What makes this movie so laugh-out-loud worthy, and simultaneously so painfully sweet, cringing-ly realistic (yet obviously fictional), and unthinkably sexy? Is it the stellar acting performances? Yes. The polished, crackling dialogue? For sure. The story of heartbreak, discovery and rediscovery, and yes, love, that even the most diverse audience can relate to? Absolutely.

I mean yeah, it's got divorce, it's got way too much alcohol, and the plot seemed pretty contrived at times, which are usual turn-offs for me when it comes to movie-going, but what kept me figuratively glued to my seat was the desperate desire to find out how every single plot-thread ties itself up in the end.

The laughs that this movie got, I have to say, were well-earned and timed perfectly. There was this one scene where all the characters in the movie get together, and because of all the complex relationships that were present (Steve Carell & Ryan Gosling, Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo & Analeigh Tipton, Analeigh Tipton & Steve Carell, Julianne Moore & Kevin Bacon), the plot comes to a high-boil and the guys are all at each other's throats while the women are all, "What the heck is going on here?"
Hands-down, the best part of the entire movie. You have to watch everything that came before in order to really get it, though.

In the end, you've got real character development, resolved issues, and a strong finish that ties up the whole movie in a big, beautiful bow.

An extra thing that I really admired about "Crazy Stupid Love" was the high production value. The sweeping panning shots, the thoughtful framing of each scene, the subtle yet distinctive background music that gave extra flavor and punch (trivia fact: one of the guys who wrote the music did "Little Miss Sunshine" and the other guy did "The Hangover" and "Date Night"), and again the abundance of talent from the main cast.

Oh my god, I haven't even mentioned Marisa Tomei! What a bombshell! Her part in this movie is so freaking hilarious I even had trouble breathing from laughing so hard! 5 words folks: Funniest, Parent-Teacher-Conference, Ever.

Check this movie out. You'd have to be "crazy" to pass it up. ^_^

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Review: "Zookeeper"

This review comes to you by request from my friend A. You know who you are. ^_^

What did I think of this movie? Well...
There were a few things that really, really bugged me, and kept me from enjoying this movie. In this post, I will give you my reasons for not liking "Zookeeper", and then I will list the few redeeming values that this movie has. Please take my review with a grain of salt, my opinions are my own and nobody has the obligation to share them.

First of all, I came into the theater with the expectation that it couldn't possibly be as lousy as the trailer made it out to be. It's happened to me before that a movie that had horrible trailers actually turned out to be a film I highly enjoyed, like "Arthur", the remake with Russel Brand. Also I'd read on the blog of Leonard Maltin (famous movie historian and reviewer) that he thought "Zookeeper" was pretty good. (To see what I mean, click on this link: Leonard Maltin's "Zookeeper" review.)

Anyway, when my family went to the theater to see it, we were unfortunately a little late, so we missed the opening scene and came in at a part where Kevin James is putting his hand up a lioness's mouth in order to reach a lodged Red-Bull can stuck in her throat.
Lovely; the audience gets gross-out humor and product placement.

Basically the premise of this movie is a romantic plot we've heard somewhere before, "mild-mannered guy tries getting ex-girlfriend back by becoming something he's not, only to realize that being himself is what makes him happy and he falls in love with his best friend", with the "hilarious twist" of talking zoo-animals. They try and give Kevin James' character advice on how to win back the girl, and incredibly, even though the things they tell him to do are totally ridiculous, they seem to work.

One of the things that really, really bugged me was the casting choices for the animals' voices (hey, a rhyme ^_^). When I see talking animals, I expect voices that match the animals themselves somewhat, not just a bunch of celebrities thrown at a microphone. I'll admit, some voices were good, like Nick Nolte's silver-back gorilla and Cher's lovely lioness, but other voices just grated on my ears, like Adam Sandler's wise-cracking Capuchin monkey, and Judd Apatow's nervous and neurotic elephant.

Another thing that kept me from giving the movie a thumbs-up was the fact that my suspension of disbelief was constantly being betrayed. When I go to movies like this, sure I expect there to be some crazy stuff, but there has to be good reason for it. Take for instance the fact that the animals keep their talking abilities a secret at first, because humans would freak out if they ever found out. But then in the very next scene after this is revealed, the lion flat out breaks the rule and starts talking to Kevin James, who then proceeds to have a "freaking-out montage". What the hey, movie?! Didn't you just tell us that animal-human communications was a big no-no?

One last minor detail I had against this film was the indecisive background music. This is a matter of personal taste, but I like soundtracks to be more-or-less consistent throughout the movie, not just have random contemporary popular songs with a few manipulative orchestral movements that tried to make me feel sorry for Kevin James' character here, and then happy for him there.

Despite it all, I can still see why people enjoyed this movie. Here are some bullet-points of "Zookeeper"s redeeming values:

  • It's full of slap-stick, which means easy, uninhibited laughs.

  • Kevin James is a pretty likable actor and his character goes through some real development.

  • The kids in the audience seemed to get a real kick out of the talking animals.

  • The running time is only an hour and a half, so you don't have to wait too long for it to be over.

All in all, I would say if you can help it, don't go to see this movie, unless you have some kids watching with you. Sorry Kevin James. I love ya, but I don't like "Zookeeper".

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Jaws" Movie Review

Duuh-dun, Duuh-dun.

And so begins the iconic 1975 summer blockbuster that is "Jaws". Today was the first time I've ever seen the movie, which was so incredibly awesome that I'm only sorry I haven't given it a chance sooner! Oh well, better now than never.

Not only was I altogether impressed with how thrilling "Jaws" was, I also loved the musical score by John Williams (same guy who composed the themes for "Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", "Jurassic Park", and "E.T." among others), the acting from the 3 main guys on the poster as well as the countless extras, and the amazing cinematography. (Trivia Fact: director of photography was Bill Butler, who also was cinematographer for the movies "Grease", "Rocky 2", "3" and 4", and "Hot Shots!")

The suspense was incredible. I was little more than Silly-Putty in the movie's "hands" whenever it was even hinted that Jaws would make an imminent appearance. For instance, there's a scene where first it shows the undersides of swimming children. I thought, "No, not the kids!" Then when the camera held for a few seconds on an old couple floating together, I thought, "No, not the old couple!" Then when the dog runs into the water to fetch a stick, I thought, "O.K., the bet is on. Who can guess the next victim?"

There were so many great parts in this movie that if you asked me what my favorite part was, I wouldn't be able to decide whether it was when Roy Scheider said the famous line, "We're going to need a bigger boat", or when Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw are comparing battle-scars, or when I found myself yelling at the crazy tourists to "GET OUT OF THE WATER!" only to find out it was a false alarm afterwards.

I've heard rumours that seeing this movie will make you never want to go swimming in the ocean again, but take my word for it: you can enjoy the movie and go to bed without having nightmares if you just remember that the shark is faker than Monopoly play-money, and the red color in the water is not real blood. That's what got me through the film anyway.

Also, thanks to this movie, I've decided to come out of hiding and return to blogging. "Jaws" was just that good. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Megamind" Movie Review

Megamind is a mega-hit!
Megamind, self-proclaimed "incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all villainy" is Dreamworks Animation Studios' latest, and greatest (imho/in my humble opinion) original main character yet! This blue-skinned wonder has captured my imagination, put it in a cage, locked it up and threw away the key. Why is he so irresistible to fan-girls such as myself? Is it his gravity-defying always-taunting raised eyebrows? Is it his giant black capes, his skin-tight leather costume, his foot-loose dancing? Is it the fact that his voice is played by Will Ferrel? Or is it the fact that he's my favorite primary color? The answer is "all of the above and more". The movie of the same name has it all: action, comedy, romance, aliens, robots, supermen in supertights, a contemporary 80's/90's soundtrack, and an all-star cast that deserves 4 out of 4 stars!

Take it from me, this animated film has got some good laughs, a lot of heartwarming moments, and the greatest animated facial expressions I've ever seen in my life!
Do yourself and me a huge favor and go see this movie. 
You won't regret it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The King's Speech" Movie Review

Last night my family and I went out to see the Golden-Globe/Oscar-winning film, "The King's Speech", with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.

I was absolutely blown away, and yet glued to my seat all in the same moment. The acting was, in a word, powerful. The story, compelling and truly inspirational. The film as a whole, well, it was a splendid piece of work that I predict will stand the test of time.

Rather than giving a scene-by-scene retelling of the story in my own words, as I more often do in these sort of posts, I'd like to point out a few things that I noticed, admired, and enjoyed during the movie:
  1. The Rule of Thirds: As someone who appreciates the visual arts and from time to time practices photography and graphic design, I realized that the "rule of thirds" played a substantial part in establishing the tone and style for the movie. Almost as if when watching it, the audience feels trapped in the same fears and constrictions that keep Colin Firth's character, King George the sixth, from overcoming his stammer. On the other hand, it also gives the film a great deal of balance, an air of being regal, civilized and traditional through and through.
  2. The Time Period: I love it whenever a movie takes me someplace I've never been before, and "The King's Speech" has definitely done that. If/when you, the reader, watch this movie, notice the big, black, lovably bulky cars; the costumes and fashions of the royal and the countrymen alike; the antiquated technology (radios, typewriters, the like) that was all that was available at the time; and perhaps most of all, the language and vocabulary of England in the 1930s.
  3. The Cinematic Experience: By this, I mean the atmosphere and mood of the audience in the theater where my family and I were sitting in. I can't speak for the rest of the audience that night, but I felt that most everyone was really enjoying themselves. After the scene where Colin Firth delivers the titular speech (while Geoffrey Rush silently coaches him through the whole thing beautifully), there's a triumphant shot where King George, his wife Queen Elizabeth the first (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and his two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth II and Margaret, are triumphantly waving from the balcony to the adoring, cheering public below. It looked like so much fun to wave just like royalty, so some of my family and I started waving like the characters were. Then I noticed a couple more people in the theater audience waving too, and it just made me smile. That little gesture, one that you might miss if you blinked at the wrong second, was a clincher for me that "The King's Speech" had earned it's awards and accolades. Positive audience participation is a huge bonus!
Thank you for reading this review, and sorry for the long wait in between blog posts. I've just been working a lot, and going to sleep late. I'll try to blog more often though, so keep an eye open for upcoming reviews and opinions soon.