Movie Madness

My movie reviews and rants at your fingertips.

Monthly Archives: August 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Zooey Deschanel is the kind of actress that can break your heart and piss you off and make you fall in love with one simple look. In this movie, you get all three. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man who is recounting his relationship with a girl he met called Summer. He falls for her quickly as she says she isn’t looking for a relationship. And what ensues (not chronologically) is the ebb and flow of his love and hate and heartache. The idea of having the movie enfold is genius. Seeing happy moments and sad moments back to back lets us into the bipolar nature in which we remember our past relationships.

I really enjoyed this movie, but it was overshadowed by another recent gem of Zooey’s (Gigantic). Both dealt with the complexities of unclear relations, and both in a manner both quirky and realistic. In fact, I recommend those who see (500) Days of Summer to watch Gigantic right afterwards. A one-two punch of independent genius.

4 out of 5 stars.

**Gigantic 5 out of 5**

 

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Inglorious Basterds

Once again Quentin Tarantino has crafted a film that stands alone. Brad Pitt’s accent as Aldo Raine is one of the many facets that make Aldo a three dimensional figure. Set in France during the German occupation of World War II, the film follows “the basterds” as they navigate behind enemy lines killing and scalping Nazis. Alternately, it follows Shoshanna as she hides from the Nazis only to inherit a movie theater that becomes many of their tombs. Quentin’s knack for sharp dialogue is back, something not so apparent in Death Proof. The sets bleed authenticity as much as the principal actors do. Is Raine a bit over the top? Yes, but in a way that isn’t a distraction but an addition to the journey that this movie takes.

The supporting characters range from the vivid to the underdeveloped. Seeing Paul Rust (I Love You, Beth Cooper) and B.J. Novak gave me a slight chuckle. Seeing Eli Roth and Til Schweiger were neat, and of course Diane Kruger and the Landa character almost leap off the page.

I was concerned in the amount of talking in proportion to action in this film. I felt a bit cheated on the ad campaign that billed it as an action epic. Epic it is (It’s Tarantino!). The action is similar to The Hurt Locker, in that the absence of action doesn’t take away from the movie, but actually build suspense from scene to scene. As if the action itself is nothing more than more dialogue.

Another great film by Tarantino. Watch and enjoy the historically (intentionally) inaccurate ending and admire the nod to Charles Manson. 4 out of 5 stars

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

     This movie is just plain dumb.  I found myself grudgingly giving a chuckle or two, but nothing to merit watching the whole movie.  Jordana Spiro played a character quite different than her silver screen alter ego (but I still looked at her as if she was PJ). Jeremy Piven is continuing his one dimensional acting career.  Another Ari Gold clone.  He’s becoming the poster boy for the Nicolas Cage School of Acting. 
     The plot moves quick but still feels laborous. Katherine Haun has an almost unbelieveable character. I only wish her and Jordana would have been put in a movie worth seeing. 1 out of 5 stars. I’d give less, but damn netflix won’t let me rate movies with a goose egg, so I adapt.

G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra

       First off, let me tell you I hate CGI. I also hate dating, but that’s off topic (I’ve got issues).  The CGI in this film is highly noticable, which makes it worse for me.  Independence Day had excellent CGI and didn’t look it had been drawn in like a Demetri Martin stand-up.  But enough about that.
      This is a popcorn movie in every sense of the word.  Mindless and highly visual with acting being an afterthought.  For what is was, it was enjoyable.  Seeing Brendan Fraser in a cameo was refreshing, even if I knew ahead of time it was coming.  The plot is paint by numbers.  I’m surprised at the length however. Part of me was expecting longer and part of me was expecting shorter (it’s about 2 hours). 
      Dennis Quaid is great. As is Sienna Miller (what’s with everyone’s obsession with her?!).  I personally went because of the aforementioned cameo and Rachel Nichols (P2, Star Trek).  I enjoyed the film as a popcorn movie.  The car chase through Paris had me on the edge of my seat (to my surprise).  If the trailer appealed to you, you’ll like this movie. If you have any hesitation, wait for the DVD.  3 out of 5 stars.

The Hurt Locker

I was curious about this movie ever since it was nominated at the most recent Independent Spirit Awards (Indie oscars). What I saw was nothing short of amazing.

The film revolves around a bomb squad as they complete their last days of their tour of duty in Iraq. After losing the team’s previous IED (bomb) tech, a new man joins their team. Only, this man is more at ease with the situation than they believe. The man appears to addicted to the rush of adrenaline his job entails. This leads to many scenes that show the character underneath the uniform. He may thrive on the calamity of his assignment, but he has an almost connoisseurship of the eccentricities and attention to detail of a man without danger looming over his head. His joy seeking leads to friction with the rest of his team.

The ability of Jeremy Renner in his lead role to show the inner workings of the character without all the dialogue grabs you. The movie as a whole was a masterpiece. The ebb and flow of the plot felt realistic and moving. It successfully transplants you to a world and you feel immersed. I felt like I had completed a tour of duty thanks to precision of the sets and the atmosphere.

One thing that I relished in is that the movie isn’t a war movie in the same way most movies are today. Though it takes place in Iraq, it never gives an opinion on the war, it serves as nothing more than a setting. An indie movie and a war movie to boot, I give The Hurt Locker 5 out of 5 stars.

 

Orphan

First of all, why hasn’t Peter Sarsgaard given more mainstream attention. He is becoming an actor that may one day win that oh so precious actor accolade. But enough about that.

Orphan is horror movie that actual scares you. The whole idea of adopting a child and finding out they are not what they seem is truly a worry many parents have (even the biological offspring illicit this too. J ) The story is about a tidy family of 4 who lose the latest edition by being stillborn. After a few years, the parents decide to adopt. That is when they come upon Esther, a mature little girl who spends most of her time alone at the orphanage. They bring her home where she makes her new younger sister her closest friend (and accomplice). As the story enfolds, the mom becomes suspicious of Esther after accidents start occurring. Which continue to escalate and make the mother look more crazy, regardless of whether her intuition is right or not.

The movie builds to a climax that is almost unexpected. Though there is a clue here and there, it doesn’t lend itself to a good enough foreshadow to ruin it. The film builds slowly, but effectively, as it pulls you along. Leaving you to feel the same exasperation the mother feels as the story enfolds.

If you’re a fan of horror and/or not a fan of adoption, this is for you. Effective without being extremely graphic, relying more on the psychology of the mother and adopted daughter. 4 out 5 stars.

The Ugly Truth

I went into this movie knowing that is was going to be formulaic, what I didn’t expect is how well it executed said formula. Gerard Butler continues his cultivation of the man’s man image while Katherine Heigl does so much more than exist (like ended up happening in Knocked Up. But that’s not her fault, nor the point).
It all starts with a failing news show on the verge of cancellation. The network ends up hiring a crass and chauvinistic night talk show host. What ensues is a battle for the upper hand between the producer (Heigl) and Butler. He picks up on her trouble with the opposite sex and offers to assist her in landing her dream guy. With her meticulous list of criteria and topic lists for dates, he has his work cut out for him. So despite her hatred of him, she allows him to help.
Now the rest of the movie unfolds as most in this genre do, albeit with a lot more crude humor that shocks at first and then adds to the film with laughs. Instead of implying a notion about sex, the characters end up with creative and quite clear descriptions of their thoughts.
I expected it to only be a three out of five, but what ended up was a movie living outside of the rules its genre and relishing it. If the trailer appealed to you, than this movie is for you. And if you’re curious, give it a go. So, I give it a 3 ½ stars out of 5.