50/50 = 100% Awesome!

Balance.  That is a tricky feat in Hollywood storytelling.  Many films struggle to find the right tone or direction–and sometimes you find it–the perfect balance.  50/50  sounds like a downer–a young man is diagnosed with cancer and we get to watch his experience.  Woohoo!  Fell good movie of the year–right?  Actually…yeah, it is!  I laughed out loud, cried a bit and LOVED every minute of this film.

I should also tell you that I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He continues to impress me.  From 3rd Rock from the Sun to Inception.  His young career is filled with memorable, wonderful performances and 50/50’s Adam is another one to add to the list.  If Joe doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination I will be upset because his Adam is layered and nuanced.  An everyday guy faced with a difficult roadblock on his life’s  journey.

A nice surprise is Seth Rogen.  Who I like, but can be a bit annoying sometimes.  Not this time.  As Adam’s best friend Kyle he shines.  All his strengths are highlighted and he very funny.   Add a fabulous Angelica Houston,  the adorable Anna Kendrick  and a getting good at being nasty,  Bryce Dallas Howard and you have a strong supporting cast.

The biggest credit must go to screenwriter Will Reiser, who was inspired by his own battle with cancer and has created this lovely, heartfelt, funny and realistic story.  His timing is perfect.  Just when you think it is too deep or serious, the tone changes smoothly and you find you are laughing–even if you don’t think you should be.  I will keep an eye on this guy.

Not to be overlooked is the director Jonathan Levine.  He directed the little known gem titled The Wackness back in 2008 (if you haven’t seen it–check it out–it is quietly good).  He deftly tells this story by showing details rather than telling you.  It works.  You learn more about these characters by these actions, than by anything they could have said.  I will definitely be watching his career.

Dez and I were lucky to get to a preview screening of 50/50 and we both agreed it is one of our favorite movies of the year–so when it goes wide on September 30th–put it on your MUST see list!  You will not regret it!

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Contagion will freak you out a bit, but that’s it…

A montage of six characters, each with a different response, mostly related to the pandemic.

I had high hopes.  The trailer was very effective.  I was wiping down my shopping carts with those handy sanitizing wipes–something I’ve never done.  I was trying not to touch my face.  Why?  Because I was suddenly aware that germs and viruses were all around me.  I was  surrounded!!!!  Yet, Contagion was strangely unsuspenseful and unemotional for me.

Steven Soderbergh is a gifted storyteller.  He is hit and miss with me, but I can not deny his talent.  Soderbergh has created a tense, realistic story about a pandemic that just happens to be lacking in human connection.  There are too many characters and storylines–some that are abrupt and unfinished–and though it is well acted, you are unable to form any emotional attachments.   Yeah, it sucks that virus is wiping out humanity, but I should care about some of the humans being wiped out,  right?

As stated, the cast is great.  All fine actors.  But none of them are on-screen long enough to make any kind of impression.  So, what you are left with is an interesting tale about how a virus could kill us all!! It is scary, but not terrifying.  And by the way,  I did love all the science geeky stuff (which I wish there was more of).

The  movie that Contagion most compares to is  Outbreak.  And although Outbreak tends towards the Hollywood-version of viruses gone amuck, by keeping it centered around a small town and only a handful of characters, it is more successful in generating a connection and therefore creating a more satisfying movie experience.

At the end, I walked out thinking that it is amazing that there are doctors and scientists that deal with this stuff on a daily basis–all I want to say is thanks guys! Thanks for keeping us safe.  And I will still try not touch my face!

Colombiana is just okay…

 

I wanted to like Colombiana.  A strong woman.  Badass action.  What was there not to like?  Well, what started off strong, with some good foundation and interesting possibilities, turns into a predictable, shallow action movie.  You will be entertained, but will forget about it as soon as you leave the theater.  Bottom line?  It’s okay–but could have been better.  With some attention to character and some time to build story it could have been great!   Too bad.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark–Trust me…you won’t be!

I love Guillermo Del Toro!  He has a creative imagination and a talent with the macabre and strange.  So, although I heard mixed reviews (mostly bad) about Don’t Be Afraid of Dark, I still wanted to see it.  Plus, many times I enjoy movies others do not–well…I should have stayed away.  What started off as a promising premise with a nicely troubled little girl in the center turned into a predictable, silly BOO fest.  (Boo is my way of describing a movie that is not genuinely scary and resorts to pop out and BOO tactics.  Dark hallway, turn the corner and then…BOO!)

I was not impressed with the cast.  Katie Holmes annoys me and even as the smartest person in this film, I still wanted to punch her.  Sorry–I can not help it!  Guy Pearce is a great actor, but has nothing to work with here.  In turn he is left with talking on phone and thinking his kid is crazy.  Bailee Madison is a little one note as the little girl–and that is the biggest mistake, because she needs to be the heart of the story.  Instead she has only one facial expression and she emotes the same emotion.  Would it have killed someone if she cracked a smile?  The house is pretty interesting with lots of intricate wood work and requisite creepiness and could have been utilized more to create atmosphere.  The creatures–that we should be afraid of–are well rendered, but not truly scary–they end up being more like a rat infestation–which actually would’ve been scarier.

I am not an avid horror/scary movie fan, yet I do enjoy a good scare every once in awhile and sadly this did not satisfy that need.  Oh, yeah–by the way–if all the above was not bad enough…the ending is stupid! **insert eye roll**  Go at your own risk! 

 

One Day is NOT what I expected…and I liked it–a lot!

When I saw the poster for One Day I was “What is that?”  I had never heard of it.  I know!  A movie I do not know about?  Crazy!  Well, it stars Anne Hathaway–who I think is lovely–so I went to check it out.  I was expecting a typical romantic comedy–but instead it was a untypical dramedy about 2 people and the 20 years between them.

Based on David Nicholls bestselling novel (he also wrote the screenplay)–which I’ve not read–the story follows 2 college graduates that share a special day every year–whether together or apart.  Ups and downs–good and bad–the story feels real and genuine. The tone and atmosphere are believable.  You feel like you are peeking into the lives of these people and you start caring and cheering for them.

Anne Hathaway plays Emma as charming and funny, even if she lacks confidence.  I laughed at several witty, throw-away lines.  “I have plans.  Go home.  Cup of tea.  Weep.”   She has great timing!  Jim Sturgess‘ Dexter is the right amount of arrogant and sad.  You do not like him, but Sturgess portrays him with this hidden vulnerability that you end up understanding him and as he matures you do like him. I enjoyed the supporting cast and the dynamics they add to enrich the characters lives.  (Again Patricia Clarkson is lovely!)

Some parts felt rushed–while others felt unnecessary–which makes me want to read the book, because I feel like I am missing out on some details.  I really liked the ending.  It was a refreshing twist, to what could have been predictable path.  All in all, One Day is good and not a bad way to spend a few hours.

 

The new Fright Night is a rare remake-it’s actually GOOD!!

Whoa! I actually LOVED a remake?! This is rare indeed.  But I could not help it.  The 2011 Fright Night is everything the original was–campy, funny, gory–yet it’s also more–much more and all for the better.  More camp.  More funny.  More gore. And this time they added character development and an emotional component that was missing from the first.  Well done.

The 1985 Fright Night is a cult classic.  It successfully blended humor and horror and created a new, unique version of vampires. I loved it!  Chris Sarandon was perfect as the vampire Jerry Dandridge–sexy, confident and evil.  That was my biggest fear–who could match that?  Colin Farrell, that’s who.  Farrell is having a blast and it shows. He plays Jerry with relish and intensity–while still infusing him with creepy sexiness and pure evil.

A nice change is the deeper connection to our hero Charley Brewster and that is due in part to Anton Yelchin.  Yelchin plays Brewster as a “dweeb” who recently became cool–mostly because of his new hot girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots) and now is confronted with this ultimate dweeb reality of a vampire living next door.  He is perfect.  And they did an excellent job of creating real relationships around him–with smart reactions to his behavior.

The best update is David Tennant ‘s Peter Vincent! Wow!  He is absolutely fantastic! (New major crush.)  Still cowardly and reluctant, but now with Vegas style–it is truly hilarious.

Well, you all know I love vampires and here they’re just like I love them–afraid of sunlight! 🙂   There are some truly badass moments and a great final battle.

So if you are a fan of the original–you will not be disappointed–instead you may find it even more satisfying.  Enjoy!

The Help is wonderful! Believe the rumors…

Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that surprises you.  It comes out of nowhere, no hype, no marketing overkill–only word of mouth recommendations–it is just a quiet little movie that delivers.  We call them Sleeper Hits.  The Help is just that–a Hit!   I went in with no expectations or knowledge of the novel.  The trailer seemed interesting and as I have mentioned–I have a crush on Emma Stone–so, I will go see anything she is in.  Well, what happened?  I ended up falling more in love with Emma and with this movie!  So much so that I saw it twice in one day!  I had to take Dezi to go see it–right away!

I was a bit concerned that The Help would be a “preachy” historical drama.  “Racism is bad.”  But, instead it is a funny, touching, entertaining story–that just happens to highlight a specific time in our history.  Check out the trailer to know the premise.

It all boils down to the cast–which is pitch perfect!  There will be some Oscar nominations–especially for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.  (Spencer has brought to life one of the best characters I’ve seen in a long time–Minny Jackson.  She is awesome!!!)  Jessica Chastain is lovely as eccentric Celia Foote and Bryce Dallas Howard is wonderful as the truly hateful, obnoxious Hilly Holbrook.  Then add a strong supporting cast and you have magic. 

I will admit that I laughed out loud and cried a little, well–okay…maybe a lot!  Not all tears were from sadness.  Some tears were from love, compassion and hope.  I loved it!  Sometimes it is nice to see the little movies succeed, even nicer when it is so deserving.  Even you haven’t seen it–go watch it–then you will recommend it to your friends too!