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Flash Movie Review: Annie

It seems as if more people and companies are playing some type of angle with their actions. For example take a look at the larger containers of juice that go on sale at the grocery store. They have those big, bold sale tags that draw customers to the product; but if you look at the cost per fluid ounce, the juice on sale is still more expensive than the smaller containers. Get a load of this; with two of the movie chains I frequent, I am a member of each one’s rewards program. One chain gives you $10.00 back for every $100.00 you spend on tickets and food items. The other one also returns $10.00 to you, but after you have see 100 movies. Now granted I may not be the best example since I see a ton of movies, but which rewards program do you think is the better deal? The thing I find most annoying is the 2nd movie chain example shows advertisements for their rewards program before the movie starts; touting it as if it were the greatest thing to come along since penicillin. As I said earlier, everything has to have some type of angle these days.  UGLINESS may have been all around her, but it could not bring down her positive attitude towards life. Annie, played by Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave), was convinced good things would come her way. Her accidental meeting with businessman Will Stacks, played by Jamie Foxx (Law Abiding Citizen, Dreamsgirls), would prove her point; even if Will did not know it yet. Between stage, screen and television I have seen several versions of this classic story. This Golden Globe nominee had the most radical changes done to it in my opinion. For this comedic drama there was more of an emphasis on material things as Jamie’s character had all the trappings of a big time company’s CEO. My favorite character was Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Insidious franchise) playing Grace. And that is all I liked about this utterly lifeless film. In the worst case of miscasting I have seen in a long time, Cameron Diaz (The Holiday, The Other Woman) as Miss Hannigan was so dreadful; she had none of the wicked fun of past actresses who played the iconic role. The dance numbers were stale and poorly directed. I was so stunned by the dullness of this film. The new songs they inserted at the cost of some original ones were unmemorable; it was somewhat hard to think of this film as a true musical. I cannot recommend this picture because it felt like the producers’ angle was to play on people’s memories of the story, to get them into the movie theater.

 

1 3/4 stars

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Flash Movie Review: Sex Tape

More than likely it is not its intentions, but life’s daily requirements can put an added burden on living. It can be tough on one person; however, if there are more people involved it can be harder. I have seen and been a victim to the aftermath of a relationship that suffered under the weight of life’s pressures. Some people can lose motivation and become lethargic. They may become depressed, feeling as if they are running on a torturous racetrack without an exit ramp. No matter how in love two people are, there is always a big adjustment when they form a union and begin to share responsibilities. It is similar to living in a balloon where the two of you are working hard to keep it inflated with your dreams, aspirations and hopes; but the outside world keeps demanding too much time from you and with you being occupied, your balloon begins to show signs of soft loose wrinkles. I now know going into a relationship my hectic schedule presents an immediate challenge. My class time depletes the finite amount of free time I have available to socialize. This is why I feel it is extra important to communicate and make sure I setup down time where the two of us can come to a place where we can talk, share, express and experience life in a way that adds to our growth.    ANNIE and Jay, played by Cameron Diaz (There’s Something about Mary, The Other Woman) and Jason Segel (This is 40, The Muppets), were at a similar place in their relationship in this comedy film. The energy they wanted to devote to each other was being used towards their jobs and children, leaving little time to be romantic. To help in that department, Annie and Jay came up with the idea to film themselves being romantic; but a screwup made their lovemaking public on the internet. The mortified couple would have to go to extreme measures if they wanted to keep their dignity. Here is an instance where the movie trailer tells it all. Though the setup to the movie was good, nothing else was offered but a series of stunts to garner a laugh. I chuckled at a couple of things, but I did not find anything different or original to make me laugh. Rob Lowe (The Invention of Lying, The West Wing-TV) as Hank was the most fun character out of the cast. If you feel this movie will offer you some relief from your daily grind then by all means go see it; personally, I would find a better diversion.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Other Woman

There are two kinds of lies, the good ones and the bad ones. Before you tell me there are no good lies, let me explain. A good lie is telling your friend you need them, just to get them out of their house long enough for their spouse to decorate it for a surprise birthday party. Or a friend asks you if they already told you about their business meeting and you tell them no because you know how proud they were of their recent success; so, it was worth hearing again to see how excited they got by telling their story. To me these are acceptable lies or what some people say are “white” lies. They are not meant to hurt or deceive someone for personal gain. Now the bad lies can be hurtful and drastically alter a person’s life. Your boyfriend or girlfriend telling you how much they love you while they sleep around with other people; I consider this a bad lie. Meeting a date for the 1st time who showed up 20 years older and 30 pounds heavier than they claimed would not only be a bad lie, but an ignorant one. Why would anyone do that and what did they think they would gain? How about you be the judge as you watch this romantic comedy. Cameron Diaz (The Counselor, Bad Teacher) played high powered lawyer Carly Whitten, who felt she finally found the right one when she met successful businessman Mark King, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mama, Game of Thrones-TV). Everything was going well until Carly showed up at Mark’s house to surprise him and was greeted by Mark’s wife Kate, played by Leslie Mann (This is 40, Knocked UP). That was not going to be the only surprise the two women would encounter when they decided to join forces against Mark and his cheating ways. I was stunned at how quickly this film went from bad to worse. Sitting in front of me were at least a dozen 10 to 12 year old girls with a few mothers. Though the movie was rated PG-13, I thought the mature subject matter was inappropriate for these girls. The only reason I could think of these mothers taking these girls to see this film was to show them what not to be when they grew up. The script with its humor was predictable and infantile. An example would be the scene that involved a powerful amount of laxatives being consumed. Do I need to say anything further to you about this crappy film? I am not lying when I say the trailer was the only thing I liked about this movie.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Bad Teacher

Two days prior to watching this movie I had to complete an advanced abuse prevention training for one of the health facilities. The subjects I reviewed did not surprise me; it was remembering things I witnessed during my school years and how they would be so unacceptable now. How many of you remember a teacher keeping a student after class or having a pupil sitting alone with an instructor in a room for detention. According to the training module I read it is no longer acceptable, unless there is easy visibility for other individuals to see the teacher and student. I can go down a list of my teachers and find many who would be considered violators now, besides being inappropriate back then. There was one teacher who periodically would be drunk in class; his face turning bright red as he slurred his words. There was another teacher who was living with one of their former students. Oh and how could I forget the teacher who would throw a ball at their students’ heads to get their attention? If you combine all of my teachers together as one, I am not sure they would be the worst teacher ever compared to the bad teacher in this comedy. Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York, There’s Something About Mary) played Elizabeth Halsey; who after being dumped by her wealthy fiance was forced to teach at a middle school. Her motivation had nothing to do with the students; instead it was how quickly she could get money to pay for her breast augmentation procedure. I enjoyed Cameron in this role and thought she was outrageous, doing a decent job. The other teachers were too much like cartoon characters, such as Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz, Stand Up Guys) as Amy Squirrel and Phyllis Smith (Butter, The Office-TV) as Lynn Davies.  Surprisingly I thought Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets) was not used enough as PE instructor Russell Gettis and Justin Timberlake’s (In Time, Runner Runner) character was just weird. This award winning movie was crude in parts, but there were a couple of chuckle worthy scenes. I did not find the ending satisfying with the change that took place. Overall watching this film would be a harmless activity, unlike having to be a student at this school.

 

2 1/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The Counselor

The word “enough” has a different meaning today than it did when I was growing up. Back then the word meant: as much or as many as required; like when I was asked if I had enough to eat. It related more to a personal level. I have always said if I won the lottery there would be little change in my personal possessions. There would be no multiple car purchases or living in a mansion. One of the benefits I could see would be for me to no longer worry how I was paying for something. That would be a nice aspect I wish to experience someday. These days I find the word “enough” is being used more as a comparison to someone else. For example, they have more than I do, I do not have enough. Greed seems to have taken on a more extreme persona in society today. When the news reports on prominent people getting caught for illegal activity, in their desire to acquire even more wealth, I have to wonder what is wrong that they cannot be satisfied with what they have already. An extreme example of this is the premise for this dramatic crime film. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave, A Dangerous Method) played a wealthy counselor who decided to acquire more wealth via drug trafficking. When the deal did not go as planned, the counselor learned there were consequences to the decisions he made. Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men), the script was Cormac’s attempt at being a screenwriter. This was a poor decision because the script was horrendous. I thought the dialog was bizarre while multiple scenes made no sense. Even with a cast that included Javier Barden (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) as Reiner, Penelope Cruz (To Rome With Love, Volver) as Laura and Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher, My Sister’s Keeper) as Malkina; there was no way they could save this film from its bloody boredom. I found it interesting that a film about greed may have been green lighted by individuals who wanted to score again, on par with the fortunes reaped from their previous film No Country for Old Men. It was a greedy ploy that did not pay off. There were scenes with blood and violence.

 

1 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: In a World

I was stunned the first time I heard my recorded voice; it did not sound anything like me. One of my friends received a tape recorder when we were in 7th grade. Sitting in his room we played around with the device, recording a variety of sounds we made with anything we could get our hands on. After listening to the different noises we created, we recorded each other talking. I could not understand why his voice sounded the same yet mine sounded like it came from a different human being. It was not until college that I finally got comfortable listening to my own voice. With all the discussion groups I had to attend in conjunction with my class lectures, I learned to slow my speech down and enunciate each word. Even with these changes I never found my voice to be anything special; nothing like the announcers’ voices on television or in movies. Though a good voice is needed for promotions or reporting the news, I bet many of us do not give a second thought to the person who is speaking. It is for that very reason I found this quirky comedy worked on so many levels. The idea to do a film about the never seen players in the voice-over world was something different and fresh. All the credit had to go to Lake Bell (Black Rock, No Strings Attached).  She wrote, directed and starred as Carol in this Sundance Film Festival winning movie. Making a meager living as a vocal coach, Carol wanted to break into the tightly knit good old boys club of voice-over announcers. Her challenge would not be easy since her father Sam, played by Fred Melamed (The Dictator, A Serious Man), was one of the top voices in the country. Though the story started out slow for me, I found myself being drawn into Carol’s world. The script was filled with satirical humor, drama and romance; similar to many other movies that were done before. However, it felt new and real due to Lake’s skewed observations on relationships. Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust, The Back-Up Plan) and Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies, What Happens in Vegas) as Carol’s sister Dani and her husband Moe were wonderful. I enjoyed how each story line was treated with respect. This being Lake’s debut as a writer and director of a film, she certainly made a point to make herself be heard; I for one was listening.

 

3 1/4 stars

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