Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Title: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Jason Flemyng, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond
Genres: Drama, Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hour.47 minutes
Release Date: December 25th, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: It seems everybody loves this film, and when you watch it, it is not hard to understand why. I totally get why people love this film; the story is great, intriguing, and unique; it totally tugs at the heartstrings; the acting is good; and it comes with a great message. I am sure that most people who see it will enjoy it.
However, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' has a couple of flaws that brings it down, just a tad:
  1. 'Benjamin' is a bit too slow, but not the the point of molasses. It is totally bearable.
  2. It is the 2 hrs. 47 minutes that 'Benjamin' runs that is completely unreasonable. A film this long really needs to have you on the edge of your seat, so you do not notice the film's greedy time grubbing. Sadly, that is not the case with this film; and both Hubby & I clearly noted, and were [independently] annoyed by 'Benjamin's' excessive minute-hogging.
Even though the film totally was enjoyable, the excessive length still had us squirming in our seats by the end of it, and that is just wrong. With some more editing this film could have been even better, it totally has the potential to be brilliant, but does not quite reach it. And given the director's message about time, I am somewhat surprised to see him waste it like this. 'Benjamin' still receives a great rating, and I totally recommend this film, but [for once] I would have much preferred to have seen it on my own comfy couch instead of in the theater.

Grade: 7.5

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Title: Doubt
Directed by: John Patrick Shanley
Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Alice Drummond
Genres: Drama, Religion, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour.44 minutes
Release Date: December 12th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Review: I've heard many great things about this film. That along with the incredible cast made my expectations skyrocket. However, I will admit, I was a bit worried since with great expectations, also come great disappointment, but 'Doubt' delivers; it really is every bit as good as rumor has made it out to be. I am a huge fan of Mr. Seymour Hoffman, and he was indeed great in this film (as was Amy Adams & the rest of the cast), but it is Meryl Streep who really shines here. The woman is absolutely brilliant, and her performance alone makes this one worth the 1 hr. 44 minutes of your life.
Also, hat's off to the director, Mr. Shanley, who showed amazing restraint in not giving away more than he should have; this one will have you guessing long after the credits are done. All in all, a great film that comes highly recommended.

Grade: 8.5

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Wrestler

Title: The Wrestler
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Judah Friedlander, Ajay Naidu
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Sports
Running Time: 1 hour.45 minutes
Release Date: December 17th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: Mickey Rourke delivers the role of a lifetime in this film about a wrestling has-been, and I watched it with a sense of pity, sadness and heartache that can only come from a film that is so real you wonder if it isn't. An absolutely fantastic (albeit depressing) film, that definitely is worth watching, but not necessarily in the theater. Do not miss this one on DVD.

Grade: 7.5


Title: Valkyrie
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Biopic, Thriller and War
Running Time: 2 hour.0 minutes
Release Date: December 25th, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I saw this movie in a drive-in theater which, although really fun, it was somewhat distracting (the cars in front of us which smuggled people into the movie in their trunks comes to mind) and it takes something away from the whole movie experience, and, perhaps from the movie itself. There is therefore a possibility that this movie would have received a better review/grade if watched in a regular movie theater.

The biggest problem with Valkyrie is that you know how it is going to end. That is, however, not an excuse (Titanic suffered from the same condition, but it was still a huge success). The difference is that, in Titanic, the storyline goes on from the beginning like it has no clue as to what is going to happen in the end, whereas Valkyrie has a dreary sense of impending failure throughout the whole film. The film has no hope. I found this surprising since I would expect, when you are plotting to kill Hitler, you would be hopeful; hopeful to succeed, hopeful to make a better world, hopeful for a better tomorrow.
But the film is not all bad. It is meticulously created with an eye for every detail, and it looks authentic. I would not waste a theater ticket on this one. If you want to see it, just Netflix it sometime later this year.

Grade: 5

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gran Torino

Title: Gran Torino
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Cory Hardrict, Bee Want, Ahney Her, Brian Haley
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama
Running Time: 1 hour.56 minutes
Release Date: December 12th, 2008 (limited), January 16th (wide)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I love, love, LOVE Clint Eastwood. Nobody does grumpy as well as Clint! He's a fantastic, iconic actor and a brilliant movie maker. So, obviously, I had some expectations for this one. And, I have to say, I was positively surprised. Clint is grumpy, unhappy, rude, and borderline-hateful as widower Walt Kowalski, but even through his familiar squinting growl & frequent racial slurs he obviously cares, and it [surprisingly] turn out to be a really heartwarming film. I laughed, I smiled, and I even shed a few tears... Freaking Brilliant! Easily one of the best damn movies of 2008! Definitely a must see!!

Grade: 9.5 - highest grade so far of the movies of 2008

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wendy & Lucy

Title: Wendy & Lucy
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams, Will Patton, John Robinson, Will Oldham, Walter Dalton
Genres: Drama and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour.20 minutes
Release Date: December 10th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: While running the risk of drowning you in movies, I'm adding another film review to this very lazy day. Wendy & Lucy have had the critics talking for quite some time now, and I've been curious to see it now for a while. Even though, I must admit, I knew nothing about it besides its rave reviews. However, I found the movie to be incredibly beige, mundane, slow, bland, depressive and dull to the point of making me drool out of boredom. The only thing that peaked my interested ever so minutely was the beautiful dog. Without giving away any part of the riveting storyline, I can tell you that there is a turn of events involving the dog that really had me on the edge of my couch cushion. And, due singlehandedly to this dog-related sub plot, I found myself taken hostage by a film that I otherwise would be too bored with to finish. I just had to see the dog part of the story to the end. However, I cannot recommend this film. Especially not on a lazy day like this; lazy day + Wendy & Lucy had me teeter toting on the verge of comatose just now, and I am lucky that I got away with my mental capacity intact.

This also means that I have watched 2 sub-par movies in the same day. Total freak occurrence.

Grade: 3


Title: Defiance
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreibe, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Tomas Arana
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Adaptation and War
Running Time: 2 hour.17 minutes
Release Date: December 31st, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: This is one of the those movies with a really interesting story and tons of potential; a film which could have been fantastic, but if fell short (by [at least] a mile). Some of the acting is fantastic (Liev Schreiber's portrayal of one of the Bielski brothers comes to mind) and this based-on-a-true-story flick really is gut wrenching at times, but unfortunately, a few details make the whole film Fail (oh, yes, I really do mean Fail with a capital F).
1. Daniel Craig - I know, I know, he's everybody's favorite, but about 5 minutes into the film I wanted to slap him. His flailing between accents (from bad Russian, to British, to American, to a few lines of Scottish, back again to bad Russian) had me groaning every time he spoke, and honestly, I do not know why he was not fired a few days into filming for that kind of actor faux pas? My tip to Craig: Speaking coach. And perhaps, a few acting classes while you're at it.
2. Edward Zwick - I really liked Blood Diamond; that film was absolutly brilliant. This one though, not so much. My first obvious point of complaint is that he did not remedy point number 1 (above). Secondly, this movie really could have been fantastic, if not even brilliant. But Mr. Zwick stumbles when he could have soared, and instead of a great film, we get tired cliches. Bummer. I would say skip this one.

Grade: 4