Friday, July 31, 2009

Funny People

Title: Funny People
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Running Time: 2 hours. 20 minutes
Release Date: July 31st, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I absolutely adore [most of the... err... who am I kidding, everyone except Adam Sandler] people involved in making this film. However, with the huge cancer theme in this film, I was not sure I would want to see it. Cancer is not something I enjoy recreationally, mostly since it plays a very dominant role in my every day life. However, I am a huge Seth Rogen fan, but the last time I saw Seth Rogen on the big screen was in the absolute turd of a movie, 'Observe & Report', which I absolutely depised. I just wanted to give him a chance to remedy that rediculous mistake. And remedy he did.
'Funny People' is just that; a collection of genuinely funny people, and the result is quite funny. The story line somewhat derails, and becomes a lot less likable, around the end, which really is too bad, but all in all, not a bad Friday morning in the movie theater.

Grade: 7

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Helena Bonham Carter
Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation, Sequel
Running Time: 2 hour. 33 minutes
Release Date: July 15th, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG

Review: I have waited so long for this film, and I am so excited it is finally here! Of course, I managed to successfully convince Hubby that the Tuesday night midnight showing was the way to go. Seeing the very first screening of each new HP film is kind of a tradition of mine, usually involving braving incredible crowds and a loudly chattering/cheering crowd during the film, but its usually really fun. As we arrived at the theater one hour before they would start letting people into the theater, and took our disgruntled places at the far back of a line that looked a mile long - and that was only the for theaters 9 & 10! - and settled in for a long wait among throngs of drunk teenagers, fanboys in full Griffindor gear, and parents with small & very excited/exhausted/wired on sugar kidlets usually way too young for this time of night.

By the time they started to let our line into the theater, more people had filled in behind us, and our back-of-the-line position had been made into middle-of-the-pack. Still, as we filed into the theater all remaining empty seats were either "saved" for someone using sweaters, shoes, and what have you, or spaced out one by one in between scores of filled seats. We managed to find two seats next to each other in the front row, aka The Worst Seats On Earth, and settled in for the previews, fully knowing that we would feel thoroughly crippled by the end of the night from sitting completely deformed, necks tilted at a full 90 degrees, in order to see anything at all.

As soon as the movie started, however, I forgot all about the awful seating arrangement, and got completely absorbed in the sixth installment of one of my favorite book series. I do love these characters, and how well they have been made to come alive by these perfect-for-the-part actors, and how true they are to the original material. I love how the films capture their charm, humor, and love for each other. The casting has been brilliant throughout all the films, and veterans and newcomers alike did a fantastic job once again! Visually, as well, HP6 is just as stunning as the previous installments. Stunning!!! For me, these films truly captures the essence of the books, completely bringing them alive, and 'The Half-Blood Prince' is not exception.

However, the deviations from the original material was not appreciated, nor necessary, but really quite disappointing. I would have hoped that Mr. Yates would have known better than that, especially since this is not his first go at the franchise. The deviations really bothered me during the film, even though I have not read the book in a very long time, certain omissions were blatantly obviously absent, particular regarding the end of the film. And, actually, as I drove home and the razzle dazzle of seeing this film for the first time wore off, I realized more and more hugely important details were missing. Today, I'm feeling quite annoyed about those missing pieces that really should have been included.

I am quite puzzled why Mr. Yates decided on these changes. They seem to serve no other purpose than to mark his territory. They only subtracted from the story, in some cases very much so, and I'm sure many fans will be irritated by it. Keeping the integrity of the material intact, especially in a multi-directorial, epic and very loved series like this one, and thus preventing yourself from indulging the need to be different just to be different from your predecessors (Alfonso Cuaron - I'm looking at you), is hugely important! Any & all dick-measuring contests and urine-marking territory battles should be avoided at all costs, and I really wish a contract stating so would have been enforced as Mr. Yates was hired in the first place. I am a bit boggled by his decisions, especially since the majority of the film is superb, as was his previous work with the series.

However, after all that praise & complaining, I will say that I really did enjoy the film. For the most part it is great, and definitely worth both the ticket price, and the wait.

Grade: 8.5

Monday, July 13, 2009

Away We Go

Title: Away We Go
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Carmen Ejogo, Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance
Running Time: 1 hour. 37 minutes
Release Date: June 5th, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R

Review: This quirky, charming, sometimes funny (sometimes so NOT funny), sometimes sad film was definitely worth the trip to the out-of-the-way, artsy fartsy, independent theater - the only place left in the area still offering this film. The film is well acted both by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, who have a very lovable chemistry together, as well as by the often ridiculously hilarious supporting cast.
I have a lot of love for Sam Mendes work, and even though this is no American Beauty, it is definitely worth a look.

Grade: 7

Friday, July 3, 2009

Public Enemies

Title: Public Enemies
Directed by: Michael Mann
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum,David Wenham
Genres: Drama, Crime, Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hour. 23 minutes
Release Date: Juli 1st, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'Public Enemies' has been one of the highly anticipated movies of this summer, and I've been looking forward to seeing this one for a while. And, for the most part, it did not disappoint. At least not very much. The directing was great, the casting is brilliant, the acting superb, and as a whole it is beautifully authentic. It is a good film. I am however, quite puzzled why it is not a great film. The parts are great, some even brilliant, but the sum is less than great. Still, I did really enjoy 'Public Enemies', in particular Mr. Depp and Ms. Cotillard, who are both brilliant, and I would recommend seeing it. And if you figure out the missing piece, let me know.

Grade: 7.5

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Year One

Title: Year One
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Hank Azaria
Genres: Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour. 40 minutes
Release Date: June 19th, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG - 13

Review: Welcome to the review of The Worst Movie Ever Made By Mankind, also known in awards season as The Worse Movie of 2009 nominee and slam-dunk category winner. I had my suspicions going in that I would hate it, since my severe Jack Black allergy usually prevents me from enjoying any film that he has ever even touched. However, I was [desperate for some AC] hoping that maybe Michael Cera would be able to somewhat negate some of the Jack Black suck effect. And he did, to a almost insignificantly small amount, but at least there was something. I even smirked one or two times from some Michael Cera-related humor, and I was happy for those smirks, since I was afraid that 1 hour.40 minutes would be long enough to freeze the look of disgust on my face permanently. I have heard that can happen.
I would not recommend this film to anyone, in fact, it would have been a walk-out if it weren't for the AC in there, and the swealtering heat outside. Seriously.

Grade: 1 - Only because my scale does not have a negative score.