Wednesday, September 23, 2009

State of Play

I've been watching a lot of comedies lately so I was looking forward to a suspense/mystery/thriller movie. A couple things jumped out at me while watching this movie. First of all, I know that some actors spend months getting into a certain kind of shape for a role in a movie. Castaway, The Machinist, and 300 come to mind, so it made me wonder if Russel Crowe spent the last 6 months eating Ding Dongs and growing his hair out to play a veteran journalist.

What really surprised me was the casting. This movie is a fruit salad of actors I never would have imagined being together. When I saw the cast I figured this would be Gladiator meets Good Will Hunting meets The Notebook meets Princess Bride meets Arrested Development, meets The Queen, meets Dumb and Dumber. Despite my prejudiced stereotypes, I really like this movie and all of the performances were good.

State of Play has a sense of realism to it that is often lacking in many movies today and I appreciated that. It may be the typical scenario of a journalist coming across clues and solving a mystery quicker than the police, but there were enough twists and turns in the movie that I didn't mind.

It's not a perfect movie, but it is one of the better ones I've seen this year. I give it 7.4 stars.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Movie Pet Peeves Part 2

Last year I had a post about movie pet peeves. I listed 8 things that drive me crazy that I frequently see while watching movies. I'm not advocating that all movies be documentaries and be 100 % accurate in every way, I'm just trying to weed out some of the repeat offenders. Since identifying the most common ones in my original post, I have picked up on several additional items to add to the list.

Fake Torches-I can't stand it when someone in a movie finds a stick near a cave entrance and then they rip some cloth and wrap it around it to create a perfectly glowing inextinguishable torch yet it doesn't produce smoke or burn down the entire time they are using it. A cousin of this one is when there are scenes with fire, yet there is no smoke, just clean Hollywood flames.

The Little Kid Get Away- I have seen little kids run away from big bad guys by running under their legs to get away. I don't care how dumb and big the villain may be, he should still be able to catch a kid. Not being able to catch Jackie Chan is one thing, but if you can't catch a little kid because he ran under a table or your legs, then you are pathetic!

Fake Computer Performance-I'm sure you have seen the fake scenes where a computer and a programmer talk back and forth in everyday English like instant messenger. I love 24 but I can't stand it when Chloe sends requested building schematics to Jack's PDA before he even finishes the sentence. I'm not asking to see an hourglass or watch people's computers stall or crash, but it would be nice if it happened to someone besides myself.

The Multiple Angle Slow Motion Stunt Montage- If a stunt is really that cool then we can always rewind it when we rent it on DVD. Occasionally a movie will show the same stunt several times from different angles as if they didn't film it properly or they want to get their money's worth for how much they spent on it. Maybe the stunt man's mom is also the movie editor.

Totally Fake Amounts of Police or Swat Team- I can understand if there is a bank robbery or some kind of standoff with the police then there would be a large number of law enforcement officials present, but when a car chase starts and immediately there are 15 cop cars following or if an alarm in a building goes off and and multiple swat teams descend on a location and repel in out of nowhere it drives me nuts!

Get with it Hollywood. Some of these fake details are detracting from some potentially good movies. I can't be the only one who notices these things.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Soloist

The Soloist is a true story about a reporter, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) who comes across a homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). The interesting twist is that Ayers was a cello student at Julliard at one point in his life. For those of you not familiar with Julliard, it is the Harvard of music schools. Downey is intrigued to find out how a talented person with that kind of back ground ended up living on the streets. The movie tells the story of Ayers and how he ended up homeless.

This was a good movie. It wasn't particularly enjoyable to watch. Some scenes were actually frustrating and even painful to watch. It kind of felt like doing community service. The message I came away with was more than a particular story. This film created a greater awareness for the issues of mental illness and homelessness.

The performances were good and I was relieved to see Jamie Foxx had his normal hair back while watching the special features afterwards. By the way, how has Downey transformed from a young punk with substance abuse problems who was always in trouble with the law, to a can't miss movie star? Talk about resurrecting your career. I really like him. I also liked the psychedelic Fantasia tribute during one of the concerts and can't believe it went on as long as it did.

If you are looking for a pick me up movie, this is not it, but it is a good movie with an informative message and the makers were successful in creating greater awareness for the plight of the mentally ill and homeless in America. I give it 7.1 stars.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Transformers 2

I wasn't a huge fan of the first Transformers movie, but I thought I'd give Revenge of the Fallen a shot. I was anticipating a mindless action movie with lots of cool special effects but I got so much more. I noticed a few people walked out of the movie towards the beginning. I wish I would have followed their example. Why? Where to begin? Here are 7 reasons.

1) I knew I was in trouble when all the little Decepticons came alive in his house towards the beginning of the movie. That dumb scene reminded me of a mechanical tribute to Gremlins, which is another movie that thought lots of mischievous and obnoxious creatures would be cool or funny. Wrong.

2) The multiple scenes featuring dogs humping each other, robots humping someones leg, testicle jokes, John Turturo pulling down his pants for no reason to expose a jock strap he was wearing, and farting robots. This film was classy from start to finish and I was the the idiot that took an 8 year old with me to see it!

3) According to this movie, all women who attend college, have perfect figures and are models. I'm just trying to stand up for all the ugly college students who were completely ignored in this movie. Speaking of stereotypes, if you are a guy in the military, then you are a buff dude with rugged features who is also a model. The only ugly people in society are nerds and villains.

4) Megan Fox is totally unbelievable as an auto mechanic and as Shia LeBeouf's girlfriend. She spends the last half of the movie running through the desert in Egypt (in slow motion) being shot at and nearly killed in multiple explosions, yet her white pants and makeup magically repair themselves in each scene.
5) The wanna be drama that is forced upon the viewer is insulting. Are the multiple slow motion montages with dramatic music and American flags waiving in the background really supposed to move me to tears or take this movie seriously despite it's total lack of substance? Did I mention excessive use of slow motion?

6) I'm a guy and I love special effects, cool sounds, and action, but 2 and a half hours of non stop CGI machines fighting each other gets old. It made me appreciate people like Alfred Hitchcock who could make an entertaining movie without having to resort to special effects and action as the only draw.

7) Every single transformer in the movie bugged me. The good ones, with their serious speeches, the evil ones with their cliches, and the annoying little ones. Speaking of stereotypes, they even had some ghetto Transformers who spoke with Ebonics. Another one had a Jersey accent. That makes sense for Robots from outer space.

This movie was obviously targeting 11 year old boys. I don't know what I was expecting from a movie based on toys. I just hope when Michael Bay directs a movie about Legos, Lincoln Logs, or Rockem Sockem Robots, it is not this bad. I am going rate this movie by how many times I checked my watch during it, which was 5. I give it 5.4 stars.
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