The Mechanic provides mindless entertainment

Sometimes you want to check your brain at the door and enjoy some loud, violent action.  It’s fun!  No emotion.  No thoughts.  Just the moment. 

OH! DAMN! OUCH!  Yeah…good times, good times. 

The Mechanic, a remake of the 1972 film, is directed by Simon West and is that kind of mindless entertainment.  It helps that I am of fan of Jason Statham (The Transporter ROCKS!) and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma//The Messenger).  Although it is not their finest performances–it is solid work–especially since the plot is predictable and a bit shallow.  It is the story of a seasoned assassin, who takes on an apprentice.  They sprinkle in some plot devices and twists.  But that is it in a nutshell.

But, of course, that is not what I expected when I signed up.  I came in for the action and even that department was pretty standard.  A few gun fights, some hand to hand combat, and some cool kill shots–but nothing creative or original. 

I love action films.  And I elevate their awesome-ness quota by their originality of theme and their creative use of violence.  Kill Bill, V for Vendetta, Die Hard, Equilibrium, Watchmen, Sin City, etc.  Those are films you watch over and over again to revisit those unique moments.  Super awesome-ness!

The Mechanic does not merit a high awesome rating or repeat viewing, but it is fun.  If you want to lose yourself for a few hours it won’t hurt you.  You will forget about it soon enough because there is no substance to merit a return visit. 

Hope all is well on your side of the world. 

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SAG Awards Winners!

Screen Actors Guild

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WOOT!  The King’s Speech received some love from the Screen Actors Guild!  Gives me hope that Social Network may not run away with the Oscar…maybe…we’ll see!

You must “Exit through the Gift Shop”…

I love hulu.com — it allows me to catch up with my TV shows and try out new things–it’s pretty awesome!  So, it was extra awesome when I found Exit through the Gift Shop waiting for my free viewing pleasure. 

This is one documentary I had a heard a lot of positive buzz about and it was worthy of all of it.  All I knew was that it was about an amateur filmmaker that was trying to find and film graffiti artists at work–the ultimate score being UK infamous artist Banksy, who then turns the tables and decides to make a film chronicling  the filmmaker Thierry Guetta’s story.   I actually do not want to tell you more than that because it is wonderful to discover.

It is truly a fascinating piece.  It makes you question what is considered art in our society and why some are willing to exploit it. 

That is all I am going to say…go check it out!  You won’t regret it!

Hope all is well on your side of the world!

A Night with “Indies”

Enter the Void

Image via Wikipedia

For the last few days my world has been spinning, due to a viral inner ear infection.  It hasn’t been fun.  All I could do was sit up and watch movies (and play some Little Big Planet)–I know–how horrible for me!

I took advantage and watched some independent films that were on my must see list and let me tell you, it was interesting.

Enter the Void, directed by Gasper Noe is very strange.  I can appreciate the first person POV use of the camera and the unique, original story, which is the story of an addict drug dealer whose story doesn’t end with this death (you’ll understand), all in all it’s just a bit too weird for me.  This is definitely where I differ from other “art house” movie lovers–there is such a thing as “too artistic” for artistic sake.  I felt detached and distant (which could very well be the point of it ) and never once cared for the characters.  (You will find that characters and my emotional attachment to them is very important to me.)  Watch at your own risk.

Dogtooth 

Dogtooth is a greek film directed by Giorgos Lanthimos.  This too is a strange tale, but I liked this one.  I often complain about the lack of creative originality in Hollywood and it is refreshing when I find it.  It is odd and disturbing, yet a slow burn character study and social commentary.  I do not want to tell you too much–so if you don’t mind subtitles and eclectic storytelling–you have to check it out.

 

Solitary Man is the Michael Douglas small film, written and directed by Brian Koppelman, that is an interesting look into an unlikable character–with no redeemable qualities.  The director is courageous enough to not try to make Ben Kalmen a misunderstood, diamond in the rough–he is an asshole–and it is sad to watch his descent into ruins.  Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, it is worth the viewing.

Somewhere is Sophia Coppola’s latest film.  I loved Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation and enjoyed Marie Antoinette–but I could not love or enjoy this movie.  The performances by Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning are subtle and lovely, but the overall slow and depiction of boredom and lack of feeling, permeates the story for me.  I was emotionless and bored.  Not the effect intended.  Sigh.  Who knows, you may feel differently.  

After a day of sad, weird and intense movies I was a bit low on my happy meter.  So, I ended with a revisit to the How To Train Your Dragon universe.  AH! Lovely music, wonderful characters, breathtaking affects and cool dragons!  Happy meter fully charged!

Hope all is well on your side of the world!

There were strings in No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached could have been a good movie. 

If it had focused on all of its strong points. 

What are those points, you may ask?  Let us begin with Natalie Portman.  Again, she gives us a great performance.  Strong, believable and pretty funny.  The problem is that Natalie has little to work with–since the writer (Elizabeth Meriwether) and the director (Ivan Reitman) decided to make her bit more neurotic and quite frankly, stupid than she should have been.   No matter how independent, career-centric, and emotionally detached you are–one is smart enough to see a good thing when you see/feel it! (I know I did!)  There was never an explanation of why Portman’s Emma is such a commitment-phob and after a while I was not believing it.  C’mon!  You like him! DUH!

Another missed opportunity was with the supporting female cast.  Greta Gerwig (who was wonderful and unnoticed in Greenberg), Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby and Mindy Kaling (Kelly from The Office) were all underused.  It could have been interesting to see how different woman with the same goals handled relationships and casual sex. 

Kevin Kline.  You were able to cast him in your movie and then you do nothing with him.  Poor choice.  Again, it could have been interesting.

Now, for the weaknesses. 

First and foremost, Ashton Kutcher.  Poor Ashton.  He is very one note to me.  Every movie I have seen with him has been the same performance, only its mega watt or low watt–this one was low, since he was basically playing the forlorn puppy.  Not horrible, just flat.

The male supporting cast.  Jake Johnson and Ludacris.  Wasn’t feeling it.  Not funny.  Sorry.

The plot.  Okay. I was lead to believe this was about “best friends” becoming “fuck buddies” (once the original title).  Nope.  They barely know each other, which makes me long for the movie I was expecting–a real look at that scenario–not a one day stand that turned into a lot of casual sex.  Sigh! Oh, well–maybe Friends with Benefits (being released in the summer) will truly explore the topic.  (I think it looks pretty funny!)

So, go ahead and check it out if you know what you are getting into–a mediocre romantic comedy. 

I hope all is well on your side of the world!

Oscar Nominations 2010

Oscar icon

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The Academy Award nominations are out!  Not too shabby!  EXCEPT Christopher Nolan was totally snubbed for Best Director!!  -_-  Switch him for Tom Hooper–EASY!!  Otherwise, it looks like it is going to be a good race…25 days to Oscar coming soon!

The Green Hornet has no sting!

Green Hornet 2011

Every great comic book franchise takes its self seriously.  There may be humorous incidents and well-timed delivery of jokes, but on a whole they are serious about their universe and characters that occupy their space.   They have to be if they want the audience to buy the incredible premise.  And let’s be honest–they are all based on incredible premises–Watchmen, X-Men, Iron Man, Batman and Spiderman–but they sell its plausibility and you believe it.

I never believed in The Green Hornets universe.  Not for one second.  It was too playful.  Too cliché.  Too cheesy.

I was expecting a new version of the Green Hornet. Why?  Because I think the premise is too socially backward.  Everyone knows that Kato (Jay Chou) is the real hero–he builds the gadgets, kicks all sorts of ass and makes a mean cup of coffee–and yet he remains silent and nameless in the public’s eye.   Understandable in a pre-civil rights society–minority side-kick stays in his place–but now, in a more (one would hope) socially progressive world, I want to see Kato’s name front and center. Even though in this version Kato is a bit of an egotistical douche.  “I am a genius!”  A bit more modesty would have served Bruce Lee’s memory better. (side note: I LOVE BRUCE!)

The worse part is that would not be such a glaring injustice if Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) wasn’t such a useless moron.  Really.  Maybe Seth was the wrong choice here.  I was not against it at first.  I have seen Seth Rogen , successfully, play the serious yet funny card (Funny People) and thought it was going to come across here.  I was wrong.  He plays the “I am an idiot who wants to run around, do stupid stuff and get all the credit for doing nothing but crack stupid one-liners.”

Christoph Waltz as über crime boss Benjamin Chudnofsky, who later adopts the most dreadful villain name ever (won’t spoil it for you), is sorely misused.   This guy has the potential of chewing up the screen–he did it in Inglorious Bastards–and he is flat here.  It starts with promise in the opening scene, then goes nowhere.  He was given nothing to chew!

Cameron Diaz as Lenore Case is fine I guess.  Sorry, Cameron annoys me (Knight and Day was surprisingly the exception).   She plays the role straight and there nothing wrong with her performance–she just bothers me.

Edward James Olmos is barely there–except to say a few words–sad.

The action was typical and predictable.  We watched in 3D and the jerky movements were distracting and headache inducing.  (GH will not lose its blandness in a 2D print–save yourself the headache.)

There are a few chuckle moments and the two leads have good chemistry–but it is wasted and lost amidst the corny dialogue.

Bottom line–if you want to kill 2 hours and do not have high expectations–sure, go ahead, if not–skip it and wait for DVD release.

Hope all is well on your side of the world!

Blue

A Memoir

The once pale blue is darkening and turning purple.  Pink streaks across and blends with the white of the clouds.  It is impressive how the light in the sky can create such works of art. To create—now that is a thought—

“Nedi!”  My sister calls from the opened door.

I turn and look towards my sister.  The light from the apartment is shining from behind her and she appears as only a silhouette.

“You’re going to freeze out there…come on in.”

As I walk closer, the shadows lose their strength and Millie’s features become clear.  She stares at me with concern.  “I’m fine.”  I reply before she can say anything more.

I start removing items from the grocery bags.  Ground beef.  Yogurt.  Milk.  Bread.

“Stop that.”

“What?”  I stop with a loaf of bread dangling from my fist.

“That.  Go do it…I’ll take care of this.”  Millie outstretches her arm and at the end is the box.  It is mostly white, except for the big, bold blue letters that spell out e.p.t. “ Over 99% Accurate—The Error Proof Test”.

“I can do it later.”  Even as I speak the words, the knot in my stomach twists tighter and I feel nauseous.  Millie stares back, set and determined.  “Okay…okay—I’ll go.”

Snatching the box, I walk directly to the restroom.  Although the package is small, it weighs a ton.  The future is hiding in this little cardboard box.  My future.

Entering the small bathroom I lock myself in, walk past the mirror and sit on the covered toilet.  I am afraid to look at myself.  I know what I am going to see—a small, frightened little girl.  Granted, I am not that much of a girl at twenty, but I suddenly feel like I am way too young.             

A baby.  I can not even begin to grasp what that reality would mean and how it will change my life. 

A reel of film begins to play in my mind, projecting all of my hopes and aspirations.  I am walking across the stage to receive my Doctorate degree.  I am a highly successful writer, who travels all around the world.  I have achieved fame and fortune.  As the images flicker, I notice that a child is never in any of the frames.  No baby.  No man.

Yes.  I would need a man for my predicament.  James is his name and he entered my life a mere six months ago.  He is decent and sweet, yet immature and the complete opposite of me.  Our relationship is already showing signs of trouble and now I want to add the extra hitch of becoming unexpected parents.

Do I want James in my life forever?  Whether we stay together or not, he will be the father of this child and will be around one way or the other.  Honestly, I can not answer that question and it scares me.

That is it.  I can not do it.  I am way too young.  I do not even have any money for Christ’s sake—I make minimum wage.  I am terrified.  What kind of mother will I be?  With my mother as an example it can only be a disaster. 

An abortion is the only option.  It is my body.  My choice.  I can live with my decision.  Right?  I can knowingly end a life?  My baby’s life?

A sob escapes my lips and tears fall freely from my eyes.  I am so stupid.  The one time we did not use protection.  It feels so good…don’t stop.  Please, don’t stop.   Idiot! 

Hold on.  I am getting ahead of myself.  What if I am not pregnant?  I have always been irregular.  This is me being super, super irregular.  I am getting all worked up for nothing.  Just take the test.  You’ll see…it will all be all right.

Breathing deeply, I wipe my face and decide to hurry and find out.  No point in any more speculations.  This is it.

A gentle tap on the door makes me jump.  “Hey…how’s it going?”

Opening the door I smile and Millie seems surprised.  “You’re not?”

“I don’t know yet.  We have to wait five minutes and then check for the blue line.  One line not pregnant…two lines pregnant…one and a half line—go to the doctor.”

“That’s not very accurate, is it?”  Millie marches in and starts reading the instruction booklet. 

“I’m just telling you what I read.  Nothing is foolproof.”   Then it hits me.  Life is not foolproof either.  You never know where it will lead, no matter how many dreams you have. 

“So, what time will it be ready?”  Millie asks while holding the cream, plastic stick.

“Is it blue?  Are there two lines?”  I swear I feel my heart stop beating. 

Her eyes glistening with tears, Millie simply says, “Congratulations.”

I am crying.  It is blue.  My life is no longer my own.  There is no decision.  I know.

Knowing and doubting are two different things.  For nine months I doubt.  James is supportive and loving, and yet I doubt.   As my belly grows larger so does my fears.  Can I be the mother I want to be?  Can I be responsible for another human being?  Am I going to ruin its life? 

Before long I am lying in a hospital bed and a contraction stretches my swollen belly tight.  The pain is unbearable. 

“Breathe!”  

An eternity passes.  What am I doing?  I change my mind. 

“Okay…now push!”

Pain rips through me and I cry out.  This baby is going to be the death of me and then when I can not tolerate the pain any more… instant relief.

“It’s a girl!  A beautiful baby girl!”

Tears are flowing as I am given a tightly wrapped bundle.  Gently I pull the blanket away from her face and discover perfection.  All the questions and all the worries disappear as my heart fills with an overwhelming love.  

I have found my life.  I have found my reason for being. 

Nothing could have prepared me.  I had no idea that when I was waiting for the thin, blue line to appear, I was actually waiting for my life to start.

Golden Globes–so 2 days ago!

Signs for the Golden Globe Awards.

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I know! I know!  Sickness.  Work.  College dorm move (back) in.  All legitimate reasons for my delayed observations.  Since, this is old news I will summarize.  And honestly the Golden Globes are little hard to take seriously.  Really.  They are voted by a bunch of journalists that report on films–it’s like  the Peoples Choice Awards, but not, because their journalists. 

Anyway.  The Golden Globes.  The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has hosted this award ceremony for 68 years and it has turned into a dress rehearsal for the Oscars (which is the real big deal because it is voted on by their peers).   I think the Globes are more of an excuse for Hollywood’s élite and not so élite to drink, mingle and party and the bonus, is that we get to watch. 

It is a guilty pleasure to watch award shows.  We can get indignant when our favorites are snubbed or ignored.  We can make lofty, superior observations.  We can woot when our beloved celebrities are victorious.  We can gush over wonderful acceptance speeches.  We can only hope that something unexpected happens (one hand push-ups please!)  And yes.  We can wonder what in hell they were smoking when they got dressed!

For me–it has been a life long ritual.  I try to watch all the movies  and performances that are likely to be nominated.  Can’t yell and be cross if I’ve never seen what was unjustly awarded.  It is yet another motivator that fuels my film obsession–one must have a method to one’s madness. 

So, on to the Globes!  Where to begin? 

How about Ricky Gervais?  I thought he was funny, but I also thought it was awkward.  It’s great when you joke about celebrities in a monologue during your comedy central special, but somehow when they are two feet away from you, it’s just weird.  You laugh and then cringe–“Sorry!”–I felt myself feeling bad for those poor, beautiful people.  Honestly, after last year I was VERY surprised he was invited back– so, in my opinion, they asked for it!

Nominations and awards?  It was a pretty safe, with a few pleasant surprises.  There were all solid choices this year.  I found myself saying, ” I would be happy with this or that.”   Looking at the winners I was quite happy with the results, seeing that most were my picks.  Except for a few. 

Best Picture (Drama) should have been Black Swan.  Although I loved The Social Network and it is worthy of the nomination, it did not have the same emotional resonance that Black Swan did for me.  

Best Supporting Actress (Drama) should have been Jacki Weaver.  Again, Melissa Leo is wonderful in The Fighter, but Jacki was phenomenal in Animal Kingdom (a small little seen film).  She was jaw-dropping good!  It’s a shame.

Best Director should have been Darren Aronofsky.  He directed a masterpiece, not just an excellent film.  Does that make sense?  David Fincher directed a movie–well–but Darren created art!  I hope for the Oscars…

Best original Soundtrack was a 3 way split for me.  I have The Social Network, Inception and Tron (Daft Punk were robbed of a nomination) playing in my car right now!

Best Television Series (Drama) should have been The Walking Dead.  I love Boardwalk Empire–but it has been done before–gangsters during prohibition?Not too original, no matter how well made.  Now, a weekly series about the Zombie Apocalypse that is a brilliant character based examination on the human condition?  C’mon! 

Nice surprises?  Steve Buscemi–yay!  Paul Giamatti–yes!  Katey Sagal–about time!  It was revenge of the under appreciated character actor.  Well done! 

All other results were my picks. 

Christian Bale.  Been a fan since Empire of the Sun and Newsies–this is long overdue–his Globe needs an Oscar to keep it company. 

The Kids are Alright is a beautiful movie and Annette Bening is one of my all time favorites–so strong and amazing! 

Colin Firth is a class act and damn fine actor (he was robbed from his Oscar last year for The Single Man, maybe this year…).

Toy Story 3.  Perfect ending to a perfect trilogy.  I tear up just thinking about it!

Aaron Sorkin can not be denied the brilliance that is The Social Network screenplay. 

GLEE brings me joy!  But Modern Family could have won too! 🙂  Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer (who is the STAR of that show) are very deserving. 

Claire Danes for Temple Grandin (which is a must see!) was a DUH!

And finally Natalie Portman–I wanna just take her home with me–adorable! She is the one that no one can touch–it was a performance of a lifetime-to quote from Black Swan, “It was perfect!”

I will end with that…Hope all is well on your side of the world!

**Reminder: I will be starting a 25 days to Oscar series on Wed February 2, in which I will review my top 25 movies of 2010 (guess which is #1 :)) –leading to Oscar Night February 27,2011**