Archive for June, 2010
Posted by will on June 20, 2010
Director: Michael Clancy
Runtime: 91 minutes
Plot: A black comedy that follows three generations of a family, who come together for the funeral of the patriarch – unveiling a litany of family secrets and covert relationships
Several times Brittany and I will receive a movie in the mailbox and both instantaneously deny adding it to the queue. Eulogy was more than likely a result of a Netflix suggestion one of us (probably Brittany), impulsively added. I’m not sure the last time either of us bothered to look at our list as we have been busy streaming television shows on the Wii ever since we harnessed the powers to do so. So, there was a mild surprise when this movie arrived.
Eulogy is supposed to be one of those off-beat, black comedies depicting a dysfunctional family, a tome we have seen many, many times in the form of movies (i.e. The Royal Tenebaums, Rachel Getting Married, Margot at the Wedding), television (Arrested Development, Married with Children), plays (insert any Shakespeare work here) and so on and so forth. Suffice to say, we’re well acquainted with the premise, elements, and stereotypes that comprise the relations and story. Because of this, I think most of us come into these new tales with certain expectations and clichés in mind. That is when a movie must really break from these preconceived molds we’ve cast and shine it its own light.
While you might say the casting is somewhat a B and C-List ensemble (Ray Romano, Zooey Deschanel, Hank Azaria), the acting leaves a lot to be desired. The characters are flat, they are predictable, and there is nothing remotely interesting about any of them.
The plot is based on the funeral of the family patriarch (Rip Torn) and the actions and consequences that result in bringing together an estranged family. There is nothing inventive, witty, or off-kilter about the story. Even the end is not shocking and almost seems forced. While some points were slightly laughable, I was left wanting to see further character development and a deeper narrative.
Posted by benjamin on June 19, 2010
Director: Peyton Reed
Runtime: 104 minutes
Plot: A man signs up for a self-help program based on one simple principle: say yes to everything… and anything. At first, unleashing the power of “yes” transforms his life in amazing and unexpected ways, but he soon discovers that opening up his life to endless possibilities can have its drawbacks. — Yahoo! Movies
For an impulse watch on a late weekday night, I have to say that Yes Man provided what I needed, a few simple laughs and not much thought.
Jim Carrey’s career has showcased all extremes in comedy and some drama. However, Yes Man seemed to be a phone in film where he just couldn’t decide where he wanted the character to be. He was too much of a mix of extreme comedy and some drama. I needed his character to have a softer mix in order to believe and care about his journey to only say yes, instead of just laughing at the random mix of scenes.
And the random mix of scenes were exactly that. Sure, the premise is around saying yes to anything and everything but the movie needed to have better transitions and direction of the story. It seemed that at one point the jump to the serious theme and conflict (what happens when those he loves find out he only says yes because he has to, not because he wants to) is too jagged and random.
Even with the jagged nature and Jim’s not so hot performance, overall the movie was good for a rental. The musical number alone made me laugh pretty hard because I just didn’t see it coming.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians – The Lightning Thief
Posted by benjamin on June 13, 2010
Director: Chris Columbus
Runtime: 118 minutes
Plot: It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy adapts to his newly discovered status as a demi-god (his father is Poseidon), he finds himself caught between the battling titans of Mt. Olympus. He and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves. — Yahoo! Movies
Let me begin this review by stating that I am a sucker for mythology. Doesn’t matter if it is Greek, Roman, Norse, or other. There is just something about it that draws me in to each and every story. Maybe that’s why I chose to take a look at Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightining Thief. It’s just a real shame that all adaptations aren’t as good as the initial stories.
The start-studded staff should have given me a quick clue of the path this movie was going to take and take quickly. Its quite rare that a cast of this caliber will pull off something better than below average, especially when being led by a rag tag crew of new thespians. I found myself rooting for more gods and centaurs in order to see something that was at least believable and less cheesy than the early special effects.
As the movie progressed to a story that was at least accepting more than “get me out of this,” I learned two things. First is that the one you think is behind the entire theft is accurate. If you don’t see this one coming, then I believe the United States government will list you as legally blind. Glasses and contacts couldn’t help you at this point. The second item is that the production crew must have thrown away the initial effects team half way through the movie because it just seemed that the graphics increased visually to the point that it wasn’t reminiscent of the early 2000′s and actually could have been created in the same year as the film that sported music (Gaga and Ke$ha) and jokes (recession) that were ahead of their time.
It was great to see Chris Columbus, director from the first Harry Potter films, attempting to take a new collection of stories to the same masses. Please note that I said attempting and I meant it. The element of fantasy was always evident and most scenes presented an attitude that didn’t allow any emotion that one might have seen in any Harry Potter film, whether it was Columbus’s or not. I need to feel bad for all of the demigods for never having known their parents instead of just saying “who cares?”
Overall, I’m not even sure this film was worth the time I used for it to pass my recent cross-country flight. At least it probably did poorly enough that we will not have to be subjected to a sequel….or will we.
Posted by will on June 3, 2010
Director: Scott Cooper
Runtime: 112 minutes
Plot: A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.
The story has been told a million times in about a million different ways. It’s formulaic, it’s classic. But, with Jeff Bridges portraying washed-up, alcoholic, has-been country music star Bad Blake, the character becomes a little bit more authentic.
The story elements are there (failed marriages, signature whiskey brand, anonymous grown-up son, new muse, etc.) but they all seem to fall flat. I found some of the scenes intriguing but for some stretches, the movie seems to drag (as in my mind begins to go other places). If it weren’t for Bridge’s acting chops, I probably would have been inclined to turn this one off. The actual movie itself reminds me a little bit of Collateral which gave us great acting performances from Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx but unfortunately, the actual narrative was boring.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance was greatly overshadowed by Bridges’. And I think that’s being a bit kind. Another thing that struck me as odd was Colin Farrell playing Bad’s protegé, Tommy Sweet. I think I did a double-take when I first saw him on the screen. Initially I thought this was a huge miscast but props to him, Bridges, and Robert Duvall for showing off their pipes. They all hold their own quite well.
If anything, watch this movie for Bridges and T. Bone Burnett’s awesome compositions and music production.
The Taking of Pelham 123
Posted by benjamin on June 1, 2010
Director: Tony Scott
Runtime: 106 minutes
Plot: New York City subway dispatcher Walter Garber’s ordinary day is thrown into chaos by an audacious crime: the hijacking of a subway train. Ryder, a criminal mastermind, leads a highly-armed gang of four, threatening to execute the train’s passengers unless a large ransom is paid within one hour. As the tension mounts beneath his feet, Garber employs his vast knowledge of the subway system in a battle to outwit Ryder and save the hostages. But there’s one riddle Garber can’t solve: even if the thieves get the money, how can they possibly escape? — Yahoo! Movies
Looking back on this movie, I find myself constantly wishing it actually was a train ride as that would have taken me somewhere other than my living room seat in front of the TV. Even against my better judgement, I chose to select this movie off my current instant queue thinking it would be a decent rental. Oops.
The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake the similarly titled 1974 film starring Walter Matthau and Jerry Stiller. Here’s hoping that it is added to Netflix shortly and turns out to be another on the wide ranging list of “why did they try to remake this” or “how did they fail at the remake”. One would think that the likes of Denzel Washington, John Travolta, and John Turturro could provide something that is worth watching but again we’d be sadly mistaken.
Now those close to me would tell you that I’ve never been a Denzel fan, but I would like to say that his part was one that I actually enjoyed and couldn’t say he’s being the same angry man that he’s played so many of his last several roles. Travolta interested me here because he plays a villain and I think he does much better on that side of the law than the opposing, but much like his last two “villians” (Wild Hogs and The Punisher), Mr. Travolta phoned this one in early. Where’s the same guy that gave me a decent bad guy to hate in Basic, Swordfish, and yes Broken Arrow. For the final John, Turturro that is, I’m really ashamed. For someone that had so much potential (O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski), he’s really fallen off with his selections of Transformers, Transformers 2, and now this.
Tony Scott leads the charge of this group so I guess I need to hold him the most responsible. Sure, he’s no Ridley Scott, but after Top Gun, Spy Game, Man On Fire, he deserves his own mark of some sort. However, once a director or actor has been around the scene for a while they seem to become complacent. The opening credits seem too similar to parts of Man on Fire which could have been nice, but when you use that technique continuously within this movie it just seems choppy and rushed than seamless to help the transition of shots.
Going into the film I was told that the “twist” would be interesting enough to save the movie but again, another lie. Whatever you are thinking within the first 20 minutes of the movie are correct and nothing changes from there. There I just saved you about 80 minutes of watching the rest of the film. Go find something else to pass the time on a long holiday filled weekend.
At least now my reviews won’t seem to all just be positive.