Catch-Up Post: Mini-reviews

I have been seriously behind for months!  So, again, a compilation post is in order.  I will be caught up with all seen movies with this post–woohoo!  Until I fall behind again…hey…it happens! 😀

Most of these are mediocre or just plain bad–with a few good ones sprinkled in.   I will start with the positive…

 

The Sessions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This a wonderful film.  I procrastinated because I thought it would be too heavy (emotionally), but I was so pleased that although the topic may be “serious”, it was lighthearted and enjoyable.  Writer/Director Ben Lewin makes smart choices and is helped by the fine performances.

John Hawkes was denied an Oscar nod, but Helen Hunt was deservedly acknowledged.  It is an accomplishment, for any movie, to allow you to understand and become empathetic with its characters–and with that, The Sessions succeeds in spades.   It is incredible what some humans survive–and how full a life could be, even with limitations.  Very cool.

 

Celeste and Jesse Forever

I was very impressed with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack–what a clever script!  I love realistic rom-com and Celeste and Jesse Forever goes down as a good one.  This film is funny, truthful and poignant.  Everything about it feels genuine and  grounded.  The chemistry between Jones and Samberg  is so honest, that you want them to be together–but being real means that some things may not always go as we want.  Well played.

 

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Yeah.  Awesome, ugly witches.  Misunderstood trolls.  Kickass weapons.  Badass brother and sister team.  Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is exactly what I expected.  And it was fun.  Sometimes you just wanna turn off your brain and enjoy blood, guts and special F/X.  I will also give them a few extra cool points for a solid mythology, but if you expect more than this–you will be disappointed.

 

The Man with the Iron Fists

Okay.  I love Kung Fu!!  I even watch the ones with subtitles.  The Man with the Iron Fists is a fun homage to the genre.  It’s over the top–outrageous–and unrealistic…WOOHOO!  Yes.  I enjoyed it.  I laughed–shook my head at silliness–and admired some cool fight scenes.  That’s not bad for writer/director RZA‘s first attempt–maybe it will get better…maybe.

 

Trouble with the Curve

This movie is the perfect example of mediocre.  It’s forgettable.  No one is horrible, yet at the same time–I did not care for any of the characters. Clint Eastwood is grumpy (again).  Amy Adams is long-suffering.  And Justin Timberlake is nice.  So, best word I can find for the film?  Lackluster.

 

People Like Us

I wanted to like this.  With a solid cast and an interesting premise, it seems like it would be easy to like.  Nope.  I could not get over the very contrived plot devices and the stupid choices the characters kept making.  So, it ends up being…meh.  Chris Pine has yet to live up to his potential.

 

The Bourne Legacy

WHYYYYYY!!  I was so excited!  Tony Gilroy–Jeremy Renner–Rachel Weisz–the Bourne…Legacy??   How could it go wrong??  I do not know…I do not know.  But somehow–nothing works.  How sad.

 

Premium Rush 

Okay.  It looked bad.  But, hey…it was a fresh-enough idea, it had my boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon as the baddie…c’mon…it could be fun–right?  WRONG.  It was as bad as it looked.  JGL gotta get paid and eat (I guess).

 

This is 40

No.  It is not.  And it is disappointing.  I love Apatow’s style and up to this film, I’ve enjoyed all of his films.  I was really looking forward to this and it only adds to the dislike I now feel towards it.  I did not find it insightful or funny.  I hated everyone on-screen–except for the awesome Ryan Adams, who shows up in the last few minutes to sing some songs.   Too little, too late.

 

Odd Life of Timothy Green

I was not charmed by this film.  I wanted to be, because I like the two leads, but I could not get past the painfully simple form of storytelling.  Everything is shallow and easily fixed.  They learn lessons too quickly and react a bit too sweetly.  Oh, well.

 

Alex Cross

BAD. BAD. BAD.  Lazy screenwriting.  Uninspired direction.  Horrible acting.  WOW.  I guess Tyler Perry needs to stay in a dress and Matthew Fox needs to let his hair grow out.  Just sayin’.

 

There you go–from good to BAD.  😀  Let’s hope I can keep up from this point on–I will try.

Later!

 

Advertisements

Another night with Oscar–The 85th Academy Awards Wish List

In a year full of wonderful films, the Academy seems to have missed the mark in a few areas (as usual)–especially for Best Director where 4 of the top were snubbed.  Matthew McConaughey was ignored 3 times–Bernie–Killer Joe–and Magic Mike–wow!  The Dark Knight Rises–not even a tech nom?  Cloud Atlas?  No love. At all.  Oh, well–I can go on and on.

As I’ve mentioned to a few of you, I have a love/hate relationship with Oscar–yet, it’s a tradition now (been watching since I was 8) and I can’t imagine not watching.  It is more for the ceremony–the outfits–the speeches–and my favorite, all the special clip reels, then for the actual awards.

I hope that this year will be entertaining and fun–and that Seth McFarlane doesn’t choke.  I am sure we will have plenty to talk about tomorrow!

Here we go–as you will notice, I plan to be disappointed most of the night.  😀

Happy Oscars!!

Best Picture

My wish:  Django Unchained

Reality:  Argo  (it has built momentum and seems to be possible–which is solid)

Glaring Omission:  Moonrise Kingdom (My #1 of 2012)

Ah, Hell NO! : Les Miserables

Best Actor

My wish and Reality:  Daniel Day-Lewis

Glaring Omission:  John Hawkes (The Sessions)/Liam Neeson (The Grey)

Ah, Hell NO! : Denzel Washington (not for this one)

Supporting Actor

My Wish:  Christoph Waltz

Reality:  Robert DeNiro (sentimental vote)

Glaring Omission:  Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom)/Leonardo DiCaprio (Django)

Ah, Hell NO! :  None–all worthy

Best Actress

My Wish: Quvenzhane Wallis

Reality: Jennifer Lawrence (worthy performance)

Glaring Omission: Emily Blunt (Looper)

Ah, Hell NO! : None.  Solid picks.

Supporting Actress

My Wish:  Helen Hunt

Reality:  Anne Hathaway (for one song–really?)

Glaring Omission:  Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas)

Ah, Hell NO! :  None.  All good.

Animated Feature

My Wish:  Wreck-It Ralph

Reality: Brave (Pixar tradition to win)

Glaring Omission:  Rise of the Guardians

Ah, Hell NO! :  The Pirates! (good but not Oscar worthy)

Cinematography

My Wish:  Skyfall (Deakins is a genius and overdue)

Reality: Life of Pi (haven’t seen it yet, but hear it is the one to beat…)

Glaring Omission:  Masanobu Takayanagi (The Grey)

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina–uh, no.

Costume Design

My Wish:  Snow White and the Huntsman (Very cool and creative)

Reality: Les Miserables

Glaring Omission:  Django Unchained/The Avengers/Moonrise

Ah, Hell NO! :  All good.

Best Director 

My Wish:  Steven Speilberg or David O. Russell

Reality: David O. Russell

MAJOR Glaring Omissions:  Wes Anderson (Moonrise)–Quentin Tarantino (Django)–Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

Ah, Hell NO! : I am still upset with the omissions 😀

Documentary Feature and Short–Do not know any of them

Film Editing

My Wish:  Argo

Reality:  Argo (I hope)

Glaring Omission:  Django  Unchained/The Avengers/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Silver Linings Playbook (really?)

Makeup and Hairstyling

My Wish:  The Hobbit

Reality:  Les Miserables

Glaring Omission:  Moonrise Kingdom/Cloud Atlas/Snow White

Ah, Hell NO! :  Les Miserables

Music–Original Score

My Wish:  Lincoln (John Williams is brilliant!)

Reality:  Skyfall

Glaring Omission:  Beasts of Southern Wilds (my favorite)/Cloud Atlas/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina

Music–Original Song

My Wish:  None–not invested in any

Reality:  Skyfall (duh.)

Glaring Omission:  Safe and Sound (Hunger Games)

Ah, Hell NO! :  The silly rules keeping more songs from being nominated.

Production Design

My Wish:  The Hobbit

Reality:  Les Miserables  or Life of Pi

Glaring Omission:  Django Unchained/Moonrise Kingdom/TDKR/Cloud Atlas

Ah, Hell NO! :  Anna Karenina (yeah…I did not care for it)

Short Film (Animated)//Short (Live Action)

Only one I’ve seen is Paperman and it is beautiful!!

Sound Editing

My Wish: Django Unchained

Reality:  Zero Dark Thirty 

Glaring Omission:  The Avengers/The Grey/The Dark Knight Rises/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  All good.  

Sound Mixing

My Wish:  Argo

Reality: Skyfall

Glaring Omission:  Django/Avengers/The Grey/The Dark Knight Rises/The Hobbit

Ah, Hell NO! :  Les Miserables (yeah…didn’t like this either.)

Visual Effects

My Wish:  The Hobbit  (One word. Gollum.)

Reality:  The Hobbit (may be the only one it receives)  

Glaring Omission:  Looper/Cabin in the Woods

Ah, Hell NO! :  Prometheus (it may be worthy, I just do not want to reward it) -_-

Writing (Adapted)

My Wish:  Lincoln

Reality:  Argo or Silver Linings (both worthy)

Glaring Omission:  Perks of Being a Wallflower/Cloud Atlas

Ah, Hell NO! :  No objections.

Writing (Original)

My Wish:  Moonrise Kingdom

Reality:  Django Unchained (will be happy, too)

Glaring Omission:   Looper/The Master

Ah, Hell NO! :  Flight (No.  Should not even be here.)

Oscar, My Oscar! Try to guess them all! Check out Olly Moss’ brilliant poster.

oscars

Perfect as a pre-ceremony game, this beautiful (and clever) homage to 85 years of Oscars by artist Olly Moss, is incredible.

Have fun trying to guess (and remember) all the Best Picture winners.  I did very well, until I got to the olden days.  😀

I first heard about it over at Collider (so will give them a shout out) and they link you to the Oscar site that has the guessing slide show.

Enjoy!  And Happy Oscars!

Surprise. Surprise. Warm Bodies is not as bad as it could’ve been.

And it could have been really bad.  A zombie love story?? Really?  Well, yes, and the best part is that it works!  Warm Bodies mixes romance, comedy and a bit of action in a refreshing-fun way.  Although it borrows from standards in each genre–together it creates a whole new experience–and scores high marks just for its cleverness alone.

My first draw was Jonathan Levine.  I loved 50/50 and had to give Warm Bodies the benefit of the doubt, since he adapted the script (based on  Isaac Marion’s novel) and was directing it.  And I must say, Levine does not disappoint.  He takes his time and makes the right choices here.    By keeping it light and poking obvious fun at the mythology, he is able to allow you to accept the premise and even start to care for the characters.

It also helps that the cast is perfect.  I think a zombie protagonist is a hard sell, but Nicholas Hoult makes it look easy.  In the hands of a lesser actor, it could have been stiff or unbelievable–instead he is charming and funny–this guy has talent.  Teresa Palmer is less talented (let’s be honest)–yet, she warms up to you and you can’t help but cheer for her and understand her choices.  I credit Levine for that.  Add the wonderful Rob Corddry (zombie best friend), Analeigh Tipton (human BF) and a restrained (and awesome) John Malkovich and you have a solid cast.

I enjoyed Warm Bodies way more than I expected.  It’s light and fluffy–but also creative and unlike any movie other movie out there.  Even with the Romeo and Juliet overtones–Levine is able to find a fresh approach to…well…everything.  😀   Original–fun–unique twist?  Hey, that’s better than most.  I will take it.

Warm Bodies Official Trailer #1 (2013) – Zombie Movie HD – YouTube

 

 

Zero Dark Thirty earned the top 10 spot for 2012 I saved for it!

Finally.  I have seen the film that has eluded me for months and it was worth the wait.  Zero Dark Thirty is an honest, matter of fact look at our years searching for Osama bin Laden and our fight against Al-Qaeda.  Yes, it is fictionalized and the main character is a composite of several female CIA operatives, but none of that takes away the suspenseful efficiency of the narrative.

Kathryn Bigelow is a deft director.  She had proven, over and over, that she can balance intense action with introspective character development.  Bigelow is not afraid to take her time.  As in the incredible Hurt Locker (one of my favorite films of 2008), this is a military thriller that allows an intimate look at what motivates persons that have dedicated their life to service.  As with Argo, it’s a testament of fine film making when the result is widely known and yet, it does not take away from the nail-biting tension.

I was quickly swept up in the passion for justice.  (I thought the first few minutes were very effective in setting  a tone–it was powerful and emotional.)  That righteous call for vengeance makes it easy to explain the use of torture and other techniques–but Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, bravely show you the process without judgement.  And they also show how it did not really reap the results that were expected.  It is left to our own interpretation and in the end, I had to respect that.  I will say it is hard to watch and does begin discussions about the morality issues surrounding such acts and tactics.

The cast is perfect.  Every role, big or small, is portrayed by a talented actor.  The two stand outs are Jason Clarke  and Jessica Chastain.  Clarke had the right presence and strength to play his CIA operative, Dan, but it is Chastain, who again validates her acting prowess.  She is wonderful.  Dedicated, stubborn and with a vulnerability that allows the audience to connect to her.  My only minor complaint, would be that I wanted to know more about her Maya.  I felt like her “personality” was non-existence.  Yes, I learned how she operated and that she became obsessed, but I wanted more details of how and why.  Though this was not enough of a factor to ruin the experience–I still wish I could have gotten to know her more intimately.

 

Zero Dark Thirty deserves all the accolades being given and I was very surprised that Bigelow was passed over in the Director category.  Another typical Oscar snub.  Oh well, in the long run it does not matter.  This film will stand the test of time and will remain an unflinching, honest look at an important part of our American history.  Good or bad, Zero Dark Thirty promotes conversation and is an excellent, masterfully crafted thriller that will grab hold and not let go until it is over.  Well done.  Well done indeed.

Zero Dark Thirty Final TRAILER (2012) – Jessica Chastain Movie HD – YouTube

 

Finally, I post my Top 25 Films of 2012!

I know this is late. I have been occupied with vacationing (an Eastern Caribbean Carnival Cruise–which was wonderful) and other life stuff, which has kept me from watching a few key films before I could make my list. Now, I am back and ready to post my top choices of 2012. I know–most folks list only 10, but I always want to mention #11 and then 12 (so and so on)–so I just go for 25.

First of all, 2012 was a very good year for cinema. There were many excellent films and many were original and fresh ideas. Super cool, because we all know that is a rare thing indeed.

Now, my standards for best film is simple–I have to feel a connection to the narrative (which leads to some unconventional choices sometimes) and I must not want to change anything about it. I have attached links to my full review if you care to visit or revisit my full musings. 😀

I have to admit that 2012 was difficult–I did a lot of shuffling–but, I feel pretty good about this…

25. Chronicle

This film surprised me and ended being a creative, unique spin on supernatural powers and found footage genres. Well played. Dane DeHaan had a breakout performance and now his star is definitely on the rise.

24. Jeff, Who Lives at Home

This solidified my growing love for writers and directors, the Duplass Brothers. Sometimes a simple story about life is all you need.

23. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This is the way romantic comedies should be told! With perfect chemistry between Blunt and McGregor and a realistic approach on relationships, SFITY stands tall among the usual.

22. ParaNorman

I love stop-motion animation! And this a new Halloween classic!

21. Holy Motors

Art on film. To me, this french fantasy is definitely a surreal journey. Denis Lavant gives an incredible performance–actually, several–he changes characters as easily as if he were changing his hat. Wow!

20. Ruby Sparks

A block of text with a blank space forming the outline of a woman. A man carrying a woman over his shoulder.

Yes, I like quirky and unique rom-coms! And this one, is one of the most original, well constructed I’ve ever seen.

19. Perks of Being a Wallflower

A lime green wall with the words 'we are infinite', a boy stands beside a girl, she leans her head on the shoulder of another boy.

Not many “high school” movies get it right. This one does. And the best part? It transcends adolescence and tells a human story.

18. Sleepwalk With Me

This is a clever, hilarious, poignant and most uniquely formatted, realistic story–that just happens to be 100% true!! Wonderful.

17. The Raid

FRACKIN’ BADASS! Enough said.

16. The Hobbit

A wonderful return to Middle Earth. Pure happiness.

15. The Dark Knight Rises

A great ending to one of the best trilogies–ever.

14. Cabin in the Woods

I adore Joss Whedon. This year, the rest of the world came around–this was the beginning.

13. Beasts of the Southern Wilds

This is an honest portrait of a remarkable American community. It is powerful and unforgettable.

12. Wreck-It Ralph

Theatrical release poster depicting the protagonist, Ralph, along with various video-game characters

This is the first time, in many years, that a Pixar film did not make my Top 25! Ralph was my “Pixar” film this time–A wildly imaginative and creative story, told with charm and revealing a lovely tender heart. LOVED it!

11. The Avengers

Uh, did I tell you I adore Joss Whedon? And now the world does too! 😀 One of the best superhero movies–EVER! A big gamble that paid off.

10. Zero Dark Thirty –I have YET to see this one–still, EVERYONE is telling me to save it a spot–so, I put it in #10–once viewed (this weekend) and reviewed I will place it accordingly.

09. Looper

Original. Creative. Badass. Willis. Gordon-Levitt. Yeah…it’s awesome.

08. Silver Linings Playbook

A film that kind of defies a genre. It is just an excellent film. Period.

07. Argo

A tense, suspenseful ride. So well-directed and constructed, that I think it might win big at the Oscars. This is, simply, storytelling at its best.

05. Cloud Atlas

Oh, Cloud Atlas! You were a head of your time. Many did not understand or appreciate your amazing qualities. But, I believe with time they will. One day you will be hailed as the masterpiece you are–one day…

04. Lincoln

Revealing. Thought-provoking. Surprisingly funny. Excellently written, beautifully directed and brilliantly portrayed.

03. The Grey

This started my year as #1 and although 2 surpassed it–the others (for some reason or another) could not duplicate the emotional connection I had with The Grey. A beautiful, haunting portrait of life and our instinct for survival, not only physically–but emotionally and spiritually. Liam Neesom was robbed of a nomination–he has never been better. Powerful.

02. Django Unchained

Tarantino is knocking out of the park–again! There is nothing wrong with this film. Perfect.

01. Moonrise Kingdom

I struggled with the top 3–each perfect in their own way–but Moonrise touched me and stayed in my conscience ever since the first viewing (there has been 5 viewings since ;D) . It is funny, touching, thought-provoking and wonderfully silly at times. An absolute magical delight. This is Anderson’s masterpiece.

Well, I finished! Whew! Now, let us hope that 2013 becomes just a memorable as 2012!