Sunday, April 18, 2010

Movie Madness Weekend

This past weekend was filled with movies and television-- I was most certainly in heaven!  And I really think I set a new record for myself: 4 movies in 3 days and also countless episodes of 5 TV shows I had to catch up on. Lets start with the movies:

Thursday Night:
1. Date Night.  I have been keeping up with all the hype these past few months by watching Youtube videos of filming in Times Square (so exciting! It would be a miracle dream to work on a movie set) and all the trailers, cutting out articles and pictures from magazines and posting them on my wall (this is scary when I hear wall I think Facebook, but I literally mean my bedroom wall), and other spots and interviews.  And I cannot forget Tina Fey's hosting appearance on last weekend's SNL with Justin Bieber. After all of this prep work, I was definitely not disappointed after the movie.  I almost cried laughing at parts; Steve Carell and Tina Fey are one of the best comedy couples ever made.  Their humor feeds off of each other and only gets better as the movie progresses.  Like any good comedy the plot droops at parts, but "Date Night" definitely coasts over these moments with more humor.  I don't want to ruin any of the surprises, but I will say that the strip club scene is very impressive.  As a team they work that pole like no one has seen before. Lastly, the bloopers round out the movie with a few last laughs. 
This film definitely is a must-see for an easy and laughable night at the movies! 

Friday Night:
2. Greenberg.  I was not too thrilled by spending the first half of my Friday night at this movie.  The trailer did not overly impress me, even though a few of its jokes did bring a few chuckles.  If you haven't yet heard of "Greenberg", Noah Baumbach's ("The Squid and the Whale") latest release, I am sure in time you will hear about Ben Stiller's highlight performance.  Ben Stiller being cast as Roger Greenberg was the perfect move because he really fits the middle age part. Playing a character that turns 41, Stiller begins to sprout a few grey hairs himself (where has time gone "Mystery Men" and "Happy Gilmore"?).
Greenberg finds himself in a tight spot as he house sits for his brother for a couple weeks, but wants to start a relationship with Florence, played by Greta Gerwig.  Constant bickering and sexual relations continue intermittently; I was not expecting to watch some third and 'fourth' base action.  
"Greenberg" is not for the action-packed moviegoer, as this has a deeper meaning than the next entry.  I found   "The Squid and the Whale" more impressive, but "Greenberg" may be for an older audience that can relate.

3. Kick-Ass.  Kick-Ass was so kick ass!  From the personal intro with Aaron Johnson narrating, I knew this was a film I would find worthwhile.  Twenty years ago this movie would not have been accepted by any critic, and possibly could not even be created with such a technological dependence (Youtube, live video feeds).  However, this film could not be more now.  The obvious connection is to relate with the nerdy and unattractive high schooler (later to be a turned-straight-lover who "fucks his brains out").  But with his incessant pleading to help rid the world of violence and change his own life, he quickly becomes Kick-Ass, the "green condom."  A not entirely happy story makes "Kick-Ass" more likable and realistic because you sympathize for Dave Lizewski the first time he tries to bring down two muggers, but fails.
The performances were very strong, from Nicholas Cage's crazy Big Daddy Batman, Chloe Moretz's gruesome Hit Girl and Christopher Mintz-Plasse's weak Red Mist.  Only Cage could comically pull off shooting his own daughter, three times over.  
Controversy obviously engulfed this film opening night, dissing the vulgar content and the cliche storyline.  Roger Ebert called the film "morally reprehensible", and his opinion is respectfully his own.  As seen strictly as a satirical vision of adolescence and violence today I believe that opinion goes a little over the top.  This movie is rated-R for a reason, so as long as you keep your 10 year olds away, they will not be influenced.  The movie does go too far when they represent Moretz as a very young teen, 13 in reality, who kills with no moral guidance.  This is very unlikely but I find it as part of the humor-- not many kids can fire rounds, jump like Jackie Chan combined with "The Matrix", and still have the energy to cuss someone out (I won't ruin the classic quotes).  But then again, childhood is changing rapidly and 13-14 year olds of today are attracted to way worse than I was only a mere 5 years ago.
Part of this film is true to life- the dialogue, for one- and I think it is defintely a film for any typical crazed teen or adult in for a wild ride! Highly recommended

Saturday Night:
4. Man on Fire.  I have seen this before and it was already on my top 10 or 20 movie list.  I am surprised how much I forgot, but that made it so much more exciting to experience the movie like my first time.  Denzel Washington gives an outstanding performance as Pita's (Dakota Fanning) bodyguard and reminds me of all his films that never let down. "The gunshot holds no fear!"  This is a quote from Pita as she works with Creasy (Washington) to improve her swimming time. 
Raw terror envelops the audience for the entire film, focusing on the hardship of losing a child and bringing yourself from a life-long addiction.  As the movie progresses, the impeccable score leads the audience on a journey definitely worth taking.  And despite the 2.5 hour length, the movie could have lasted another hour and I still would have been on the edge of my seat. 

United States of Tara  (Toni Collette at her finest)
Flash Forward   (the new Lost; but Lost can never be replaced)
The New Adventures of Old Christine    (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still funny after all these years)
Modern Family   (the best new comedy on TV)
The Office   (classic)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For me, it's the best time of the year. Yes, I know this is WAY overdue, but I still couldn't get enough of this years Oscars.  They were the most viewed ceremony in the last 5 years and the movies have definitely set a completely new set of standards. I thought last year's movies were more impressive all around, but I cannot forget the remarkable performances and incredible cinematographic visions of 2009.
Last year was the first year I really became infatuated with the Oscars ceremony, the hype, the movies, the performances, and the criticism. I hung onto the nominated films like my life depended on it, and i was determined to watch all of them prior to the ceremony. On the morning of February 2, 2010, I sprang from my bed and rushed to my laptop, hurriedly misspelled my password a few times, then finally reached the Oscars nomination page. I printed my ballot and stared in awe for a few seconds before picking each category apart. "OK! YES! Hmm... Interesting. BOO! YAY!"  As you can see I do NOT waste any of the ballot- I highlight, I tally, and I mark the winners with a red dot. (The orange highlight is for categories I have secured my vote and yellow is for the movies I have seen- all the way through.) I have a few corrections because I watched some after the ceremony (The Secret of Kells) and I've only seen part of Crazy Heart and Invictus.
My favorite categories this year were the Short Films. I spent one of my Friday nights at the movie theatre (5:30-9:00) watching the Live-Action and Animated Shorts. Yes! A local theatre- the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, OH- shows an array of movies and this is what I love about it. For $10 I saw all 10 short films (and I was the youngest member in the audience).  The night flew by, and I had left the theatre extremely satisfied with this year's entries. One short from each category stuck out in my mind: The New Tenants and Logorama. The New Tenants should be in a class of its own. It involved a large amount of gore, humor, irony, romance, language, and notable actors.  During the credits when they rolled the recipe instructions, I knew this was a winner. And how do I even begin describing Logorama. If you can name a label not mentioned in this film, you should win a prize because every movie, TV, video game, and business logo is featured in some shape or form. The Michelin men are the police, Ronald McDonald is a convict, the Xbox symbol begins destruction of the world, and Mr. Peanut looses his peanuts. If only the setting were 2012, this short would be perfect. There also is a large amount of strong language which seemed unnecessary and initially lost my vote. And let it be known, even though I have Wallace and Gromit winning, you can see a fainty erased X beside Logorama. Now I know never to listen to 'Critic's Pick' for Short Film because they got them both wrong and I trumped both! I could never be more proud.
The ceremony was note-worthy as well. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were amusing and playful in their humor. Yes Alec Baldwin, you pass this time around but I've got my eye on you. The frequent punches at George Clooney were one of the best, with Ben Stiller making quite a special appearance. He should be a Navi with his impeccable fluency of the language.
Regrets: I would have liked to have seen Inglorious Basterds take home at least one more award in the cinematic sense. Don't get me wrong- Christoph Waltz had every right to win his award, and the opening scene with him pointing his gun at Shoshana will forever be imprinted in my filmmemory.
Relief: The Cove winning Best Documentary. I saw this movie and immediately began supporting their cause.  It is such a captivating story heightened by Richard O'Barry's grief and the sickening Red Cove.  This film deserves the attention it has been getting; O'Barry and his team will not stop until these criminals see what they are doing to the world. I can't wait to see the worldly criticism when the film is released in Japan this summer.
Well Oscar season has come and gone, sadly, but next season is not too far away. My Grand Proposition: Create an ongoing Oscar ballot of nominees as you see deserving films in 2010. Then, come January or February of next year, we can all join the Academy as we pull out our pre-made and finalized ballots.
Let the countdown begin!