Monthly Archives: July 2012

Flash Movie Review: The Watch

If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?  Oh, excuse me; I just had a flashback after watching this movie about a neighborhood watch group. Though this comedy vaguely reminded me of the movie Ghostbusters, there were some big differences. And they were not good. In this movie we had Evan, played by Ben Stiller (Tower Heist, Greenberg), a husband who was the manager of the local Costco store. Keeping active in his suburban town; Evan started a community watch with fellow neighbors Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus, played by Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Dilemma), Jonah Hill (Moneyball, 21 Jump Street) and Richard Ayoade (Bunny and the Bull, The IT Crowd-TV). During a nightly drive, the patrol hit a large foreign object in the road. Did you like the way I wrote that last line? Yes, the neighborhood boys struck down an alien, discovering the earth was soon to be invaded. What a group of heroic, brave neighborhood watchmen! Now if they could have only found a better script, this would have been a better movie. If you like jokes about male and female anatomy, this film has a plethora of them. Not only was I bored silly with the old, stereotypical humor; I could not believe the mundane acting from Stiller and Vaughn. Could these two actors have put in a little more effort in their roles?  It may have helped; but honestly, the script did not provide anything worthwhile. If I were you I would not stop by for a visit to this neighborhood.

 

1 3 /4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ondine

Maybe it was magic or a belief, even a mythical character; whichever you decide to choose will enhance this sweet movie. I am sure there have been times where you could not explain something with simple logic. The time I was working on a weight machine and my eyes began to hurt. A reasonable person would have stopped lifting the weights, but not me. I turned my head away to the side just before a cable snapped, missing my turned face. I could never explain it. In this imaginative film Irish fisherman Syracuse, played by Colin Farrell (Alexander, Pride and Glory), could not explain the nearly drowned girl he captured in his fishing net. Adding to the mystery were the changes that began to occur around him since this female came into his life. Syracuse’s daughter believed the woman who called herself Ondine, played by Alicja Bachelda (Trade, Stealth), was a Selke (water nymph). Filmed along the beautiful coast of Ireland, this movie was an enchanting blend of mythology and stark reality. Colin put in an impressive performance as the fisherman who was a recovering alcoholic and a father to an ailing daughter with failing kidneys. I found Alicja to be wonderfully mysterious in her role. Could Ondine really be a Selke or was she something more real. Bring a touch of fanciful thinking with you and find out the answer for yourself, in this curious film.

 

3 stars — DVD 

Flash Movie Review: Ruby Sparks

What are the keywords or qualities you use to describe what you want in a perfect mate? Ones I have heard from different friends have been funny, sweet and smart. But I have also heard people say they are looking for someone blonde or tall, with facial hair or without. My keywords have been trust, humorous, kind, along with the ability to say a sentence that begins with the words “I feel.” Imagine if you could simply order your perfect mate; think of all the time that could be saved through the dating process. This was the idea behind this movie’s story. Calvin Weir-Fields, played by Paul Dano (There Will be Blood, Being Flynn), was a famous writer being plagued with writer’s block. Not until a mysterious woman appeared in his dreams, did Calvin finally have his muse and the stuck words inside came out, flooding his anxious typewriter paper. As a writer, I know the characters inside of me feel completely real. In Calvin’s case, the special woman from his dreams called Ruby Sparks, played by Zoe Kazan (It’s Complicated, Me and Orson Welles), actually came to life. Real life couple Paul and Zoe were ideal for their characters; they should be since Zoe was also the writer of the screenplay. I loved the way the characters grew through the film, giving the audience several things to think about regarding relationships. The supporting cast was solid, adding humorous spots throughout the story. Because I enjoyed this movie, I forgave it for the predictable ending. This was an interesting movie that was not only fun to watch, but made me think about what was really important to have in a relationship.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Me and Orson Welles

There is something magical when the lights dim and the audience settles into momentary silence. The heavy curtain purrs as it takes flight and there standing before you is a scene that wakens into life. I love the experience of live theater (such an odd term that suggests there is dead theater) with actors claiming their parcels of stage land. My close friend, who was a theater major, has the most fascinating stories about theater life; I love listening to them whenever the subject comes up. Finding this treasure of a film was sweet, since I backed away from it when I saw Zac Efron’s (The Lucky One, 17 Again) name attached to it. But gratefully the story captured my attention by combining two of my favorite things: movies and theater. Zac played Richard Samuels, a boy who skipped a school day to venture into the heart of New York City and the lights of Broadway. As a 17 year old Mr. Efron was okay for this role, even with his somewhat thin acting abilities. I will cut him some slack here; since he, along with the majority of the cast, had to go up against a tour de force performance by Christian McKay (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mr. Nice) as Orson Welles. I was riveted to my flat screen by Mr. McKay’s performance. The movie was set in the 1930’s when young Orson was opening up his Mercury Theater, with a modern version of Julius Caesar. There are thousands of stories about Mr. Welles’ ego and character; they all got played out with Christian’s amazing acting. He dominated every scene, every line, every actor; he even looked like the real Orson. Everyone was a pawn to this bombastic man, even Zac’s character who was hired on the spot to be in the opening night production. I will say Claire Danes (Stardust, Temple Grandin) did an admirable job playing Orson’s ambitious assistant, Sonja Jones. This was an excellent movie to watch; that combined my love of theater and movies into one decent production.

 

2 3/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Trishna

How many of us as little kids fantasized about whom we would share our life with when we grew up? I am sure there were a multitude looking for their Prince Charming, Princess Jasmine, Superman or even their Wonder Woman. I have a cousin who used to insist she was adopted and that she would return to her royal birthright when she found her prince. There are some people who believe they can rise in status by marrying the right individual. But what if you belonged to a culture where there was a strong divide between the classes? This film’s story was an updated version of Thomas Hardy’s novel, Tess and the d’Urbervilles, set in India. Trishna, played by Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Immortals) came from a poor rural family. As the movie started I was surprised with the opening scenes showing a group of guys partying, wondering where the writers were taking this tale. One of the friends named Jay, played by Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, The Road to Guantanamo), happened to notice Trishna. From this chance meeting began a slow transition into the beginnings of a love relationship. Jay, the son of a wealthy Indian businessman, was the perfect gentleman at first; however, as the movie progressed the budding romance between the two took on a sinister flavor. Freida was lovely in this role as her rural upbringing clashed with Jay’s upper class sensibilities. I was lost though on Jay’s character development, never fully understood his motives. The story broke apart halfway through for me and I lost my interest in the unfolding events. It was a good idea bringing the story into a modern setting, in an exotic locale; but it needed more drama and explanation to make it a good movie.  There were a couple of scenes that showed blood.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Fast Five

Something happened to me when I was in South Dakota. Driving on roads that stretched all the way to the horizon, with no speed limits; I transformed into a race car driver. At 103 mph it felt like I was flying, giving me a rush I had never experienced before in my life. When I returned home, my driving was forever altered. As long as there was no one else in the car, I took the posted speed limit signs to be mere suggestions. The faster I could drive, the more exciting it was for me. This movie was strictly an adrenaline rush. I felt like someone slapped a testosterone patch on me; I wanted to get behind the wheel of one of the cars in this thriller of a movie. I did not remember the movies that came before this installment and it did not matter. The story was written to allow maximum driving time. Vin Diesel (The Chronicles of Riddick, xXx) was given a minimum vocabulary for his role as Dominic Toretto. Having been broken out from a prison transport bus, Dominic and his group got involved in a car heist that went wrong, down in Brazil. Not only did the group have to battle corrupt crime boss Hernan Reyes, played by Joaquim de Almeida (Behind Enemy Lines, The Conspiracy); but they were also being pursued by federal agent Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson (Tooth Fairy, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). The acting was minimal; this film was made for crashes, bloody fights and speed. Knowing that ahead of time, just fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride for it was damn good.

 

3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Farewell, My Queen

“Let them eat cake” is a famous quote that we attribute to Marie Antoinette. Actually there is no record of her really uttering those words, but the quote has come to symbolize the disconnect between the wealthy upper class and the impoverished lower class. Many of us were taught about the French Revolution in our high school European history class. This movie dealt with the final days of Louis XVI’s monarchy. What fascinated me about this wonderful film was how it was seen through the eyes of Marie Antoinette’s reader.  This was way before there were electronic readers and books on tape. Sidonie Laborde, played by Lea Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, Robin Hood) was the servant assigned to read to Marie Antoinette, played by Diane Kruger (Unknown, Inglourious Basterds). I found the concept of a reader a bit odd, but I so enjoyed the way this version of the monarchy’s downfall unfolded. Diane was beautiful in this role as the remarkable queen holed up in the opulent Versailles castle, carrying out her daily desires, keeping her female confidant close by; while word of an uprising in Paris spread throughout the gossiping servants. With tension building among the members of the royal court, chaos sputtered into life through the castle. We had the beauty of Versailles on display, the consistent pacing and fine acting which made this film a fresh version of French history. No readers will be allowed into the theater; you will have to do your own reading, since the film was done in French with English subtitles.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The City of Your Final Destination

If Omar Razaghi, played by Omar Metwally (Rendition, Munich), rang my doorbell; I would not answer the door. To tell you the truth, unless I am expecting someone, I never answer the front door. In this intriguing movie, Mr Razaghi traveled all the way to Uruguay without giving any prior notice. Having received a grant to write an autobiography of Latin American author Jules Gund, doctoral student Omar was hoping to get approval from the deceased author’s family. Showing up unannounced at the author’s estate, Omar was met by the resistant widow Caroline, played by Laura Linney (The Savages, Mystic River). Besides her, living at the house was what Omar believed was Jules’ mistress Arden Langdon, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (Melancholia, I’m Not There). The third person Omar had to convince was the author’s gay brother Adam, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Hannibal). But as the student, Omar learned more than what he expected. The cast played well off of each other, each putting in a strong performance. Laura Linney stood out for me playing the bitter wife. Her steely stare could easily send a shiver down one’s spine. Beautifully filmed, this drama played out like a slow steamy day, perfect for one’s emotions to brew and steep.

 

2 2/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Before I taught my 1st fitness class, I made the conscience decision that my classes would be filled with fun and laughs. With no political or religious discussions; I only focused on light, humorous subjects. This was what I decided my collection of movie reviews would be on my blog. However, under the circumstances with today’s review; I know in my heart, I must acknowledge the horrific act that took place at this movie’s premiere in Aurora, Colorado. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims. The movie viewing experience will never be the same. I never imagined my life’s timeline would include such a life altering, heinous act. And now for my review of the final installment of this Dark Knight trilogy. It has been 8 years and a reclusive Bruce Wayne/Batman, played by Christian Bale (The Fighter, The Prestige) has aged, including having bad knees. When Gotham is threatened by the evil anarchist Bane, played by Tom Hardy (Warrior, This Means War), Batman returns to Gotham’s defense. There were brilliant scenes in this nearly 3 hour movie. The fight scenes were intense and well orchestrated. I loved Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs, Rachel Getting Married) as Selina, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Michelle Pfeiffer. Michael Caine (Harry Brown, Sleuth) as Alfred had a more emotional role in this film and carried it off beautifully. I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 50/50) was his usual excellent self in this new role of Blake, Commissioner Gordon’s assistant. On the downside, I had a hard time understanding Bane’s voice at times; so, I felt I never really understood his motives. In a way, I would have to say the same about Selena; I was not sure how she got mixed up in all of the chaos. Even with some confusing parts in this action thriller, I did feel like I was at a special event. Also, pay attention in the last hour for a couple of hints of what the future may hold for all of us.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Station Agent

I have mentioned in previous reviews, that I spent a good portion of my life trying to fit in. My goal was not to stand out and once I had my weight loss, I felt my chances became better at being just average. You can see I was not known as an overachiever. At least in my world I had the option to change myself, but what if a person had no opportunity to blend in with the majority. That is exactly why Finbar McBride, played by Peter Dinklage (Death at a Funeral, Game of Thrones-TV), decided to leave the life he knew behind after his only friend had died. Having been stared and talked about due to his dwarfism, Finbar moved into an abandoned train station on a plot of land that his friend had left him, to begin a reclusive life. But that did not turn out to be the case when he encountered Olivia Harris, played by Patricia Clarkson (Easy A, Larts and the Real Girl) and Joe Aramas, played by Bobby Cannavale (Win Win, The Other Guys). This charming movie was a joy to watch as Peter, Patricia and Bobby were wonderful in their roles. What I appreciated most about this story was the affirmation it gave me, regarding my belief that people should not be judged by how they look. This indie flavored movie came with a big heart.

 

3 stars — DVD

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