Friday, April 17, 2009

State of Play

Title: State of Play
Directed by: Kevin MacDonald
Starring: Russel Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck
Genres: Drama, Adaptation and Politics/Religion
Running Time: 1 hour.58 minutes
Release Date: April 17th, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG - 13

Review: I love a good, old fashioned political thriller, and that is very much what 'State of Play' is, but with a more current reality. This one has a smart story, full of fairly somewhat unpredictable twists and turns, and quite a bit of edge-of-your-seat-tension. Of course, I love Rachel McAdams, and Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren are always brilliant in their work. Ben Affleck even managed to keep his usually atrocious acting (I like him much more as a director) in check, and did not ruin the film, which I totally appreciate, thank you Ben. All in all, a entertaining thriller, perfect for a couple of hours in the movie theater.

Grade: 8

Sunshine Cleaning

Title: Sunshine Cleaning
Directed by: Christine Jeffs
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Clifton Collins Jr,
Genres: Drama, and Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour.32 minutes
Release Date: March 13th, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I saw this movie yesterday, by myself. If there is one thing people find weird it is loners at the movies. Since I go to solo movies all the time ( I see A LOT of movies) so obviously it is not weird to me. However, during the previews, my lonesomeness was deeply disturbing to the two chicks sitting right behind me. Since the theater was basically empty I could clearly hear their every theory of why I was there alone. It was quite hilarious, and I had a hard time keeping my laughter properly muffled.What is weirder than someone sitting solo in the theater watching a movie, while everyone else is in 2's and 3's? The solo someone laughing by his/her lonesome (crying is even worse).

'Sunshine Cleaning' is funny, touching and sweet movie. I totally liked it. The characters are flawed, their life after high school did not turn out exactly as they had planned, they have scars they did not expect, but they also have hope. I would definitely recommend this feel-good film, that totally put a smile on my face.

Grade: 7.5

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Observe and Report

Title: Observe and Report
Directed by: Jody Hill
Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Ray Liotta, Jesse Plemons
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour.26 minutes
Release Date: April 10th, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I absolutely adore Seth Rogen, and I'm a huge fan of his work. Clearly, after this, not all of his work though. I am so bummed, but this movie seriously suck. The first half was tolerable, just not that funny, and then it quickly spiraled out of control, but still not funny. It had a few laughs here and there, but nothing like what I've come to expect from a Seth Rogen film. Bummer. I would say skip this one.

Grade: 3

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Title: Twilight
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Cam Gigandet, and Nikki Reed
Genres: Drama, Romance, Thriller, Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hour.0 minutes
Release Date: November 21st, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I really wanted this movie to be great, especially after loving the books so much as I read them for the first time just a few days ago. Unfortunately, I was incredibly disappointed with the film adaptation. It is always tough, adapting a fantastic much-loved book into a film, for several [fairly obvious] reasons: One is the individual vision of the story created by the reader, which is not always compatible with the vision of the movie maker. Then there is the limitations of reality, as well as budget. Another challenge is to keep faithful to the source material, which seem to be a challenged for some movie-makers, since it would require said person to resist their urge to "mark their territory" and make the story ever so slightly their own creation. And then there is casting; properly catching the characters are one of the most essential ingredients of any book-to-film-adaptation. And of course, the movie making craft itself, including directing, acting and cinematography, all of which drastically alters the end result.

The film was not all bad, certain scenes and aspects were well created, such as the ballet studio scene, the green environment of Forks, as well as a some of the casting, especially when considering the characters strictly visually. Both Edward & Bella, as well as several of the other characters, are [visually] fantastic, with a few exceptions. The vast majority of the divergences from the source seemed to have been made mostly for the purpose of film adaptation, straight up lack of skill (directorial, as well as acting-wise), or in an effort to hide budgetary constraints leading to lack of other, truer-to-the-story options.

Before I watched the film, I not only read all of the books, but I also read the Director's Notebook, which was interesting. Being able to see the film-making process, and the thoughts and inspirations behind the movie made the film a bit more enjoyable. It was evident (from the Director's Notebook) that the director wanted to capture the essence of the story, but unfortunately, those intentions often fell short, making for a very unsatisfying book-film-adaptation.

I had more than a few complaints with this film. Some issues, such as the laughable special effects, more suitable for a home made movie, as well as the inability to properly re-create every part of a fictional world in reality, are at least comprehensible for a low(ish) budget film. Those issues are [somewhat] forgivable. Other failure are harder to reconcile, such as the frequently atrocious acting (and over-acting), which never should have been allowed by the director, nor should the frequent alterations and additions to the storyline, or the choppy, border-line incoherent, resulting film.

I'm glad I saw it, but I really, really wish it would have been better. I regret that I cannot give this film a better grade. All I thought as the credits rolled was "It's a damn shame", and I still think that sums it up. I'm hoping the next installments, with a new director and a bigger budget, will be much better.

Grade: 4

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Love You, Man

Title: I love you, man
Directed by: John Hamburg
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, Sarah Burns, Jaime Pressly
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour.50 minutes
Release Date: March 20th, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

Review: This movie is awkward, awkward, awkward, mostly really funny, and sometimes straight up hilarious. I'm always cautious to listen to comedy recommendations, because comedy is so subjective, but almost instantly both Hubby & I were laughing out loud in the theater, like we couldn't help ourselves. Not something that has to be seen in the theater, but definitely entertaining enough to be worth the time.

Grade: 7