Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review: Cloverfield

I finally got to see my most anticipated movie of 2008: Cloverfield! And it was great! I was afraid the hype would lead to disappointment, but I really enjoyed the film. I've already seen it in theaters twice, and it holds up really well in its second viewing. It tends to happen that I like a movie but get bored during a second viewing and end up disliking/hating it (examples: the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, LotR: Fellowship of the Ring). I think Cloverfield really benefits from a second viewing.. at least you know where you need to focus your attention. I have no problems with the camera work at all, it's just that sometimes the action happens really fast and I feel that if you blink, you'll miss something important.

I was really into the Cloverfield hype when it began. I was following the news and trying to figure out what Slusho! had to do with everything. At some point I kinda lost interest in all that. Not in the movie itself, though. I just didn't want to spoil it for myself so I didn't watch the new trailers and commercials, and didn't look at new pictures etc. I'm glad I didn't, because when I look at those things now, they do spoil a lot!

Our main dude Rob (played by the charismatic Michael Stahl-David) is moving to Japan for his fancy new job as V.P. of Marketing and Promotions for Slusho. His brother Jason (the always great Mike Vogel) and friends Hud (T.J. Miller) and Lily (Jessica Lucas) throw him a surprise goodbye-and-good-luck-in-Japan party. The fun doesn't last long when a monster attacks the city and a mandatory evacuation takes place. Rob, however, goes on a mission to rescue his true love Beth (Odette Yustman), who got injured during the rampage across town, and is accompanied by Jason, Hud, Lily and Lily's friend/Hud's crush Marlena (Lizzy Caplan).

I don't know what else to say. The cast is good and appealing. I feel for our hero Rob, but my favorite character was the little seen Hud. T.J. Miller did a great job at making his character memorable. Mike Vogel was a bit underused IMHO, but that's the Mike fan in me talking. The writing and pacing were pretty good as well. A part of me wanted an explanation about the monster, but I think it works for the better that we didn't get one (if you don't count the viral marketing). I heard they want to make a sequel.. I'm really not up for one. I think it might ruin this movie and they should leave it for what it is.

Like I said before, I had no problems with the camera work and I really liked the flashes to the Coney Island tape. It helped the Rob/Beth back-story. The CGI was pretty damn great.. I didn't get that annoying 'aarghh it looks so fake' feeling from the monster, which is really important for a movie like this.

Overall Cloverfield is a great thrill, but one that will not be appreciated by the masses. And that's a shame. A 4/5.

Remembering Heath Ledger

April 4, 1979 - January 22, 2008

Rest in peace, Heath Ledger!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Box Office Buzz: Cloverfield & 27 Dresses liven up January

Who says January is a slow month? I think it's only slow if studios etc. make it a slow month by releasing crap. Let me applaud J.J. Abrams for releasing a potentially big monster movie called Cloverfield in January! And lookie.. it grossed $40 million in its opening weekend! See, if you release quality, the people will come. The movie looks great, I loved the initial marketing, Mike Vogel is awesome and I cannot wait to see this opening day here in The Netherlands.

But what I'm really happy about is 27 Dresses opening in the second spot with a pretty damn great $22 million. Yes, Katherine Heigl is able to open a movie! I knew she could do it! I know people wanted her to fail after what she said about Knocked Up in her recent Vanity Fair interview, and that she should be thankful to Judd Apatow. I defended her here, and like I said in that post, Katherine Heigl is a star. People will go see a movie for her. And it helps that Prince Charming himself James Marsden co-stars of course! Considering 27 Dresses cost only about $30 million to make, it's a hit for Fox already!

The other big release, Mad Money, did not do as well as Cloverfield and 27 Dresses, but that was to be expected as it stars Katie Holmes. Need I say more? Though the $7.6 million it grossed in its opening weekend is already more than I had anticipated. Ellen Page's Juno is heading towards the $100 mark, while those cute Chipmunks are heading for the $200 million! I will never doubt your movie making decisions again, Jason Lee. I take back everything bad I've said about making a Chipmunks movie. I Am Legend is heading towards the $250 million mark.. people sure love Will Smith!

The weekend numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo:
1) Cloverfield - $40,037,000/$40,037,000
2) 27 Dresses - $22,750,000/$22,750,000
3) The Bucket List - $14,010,000/$41,569,000
4) Juno - $9,925,000/$85,052,000
5) First Sunday - $7,800,000/$28,466,000
6) National Treasure: Book of Secrets - $7,609,000/$197,492,000
7) Mad Money - $7,600,000/$7,600,000
8) Alvin and the Chipmunks - $6,900,000/$196,280,000
9) I Am Legend - $4,870,000/$247,447,000
10) Atonement - $4,759,000/$31,884,000

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trailer Park: Good versus Bad trailers

I innocently surfed over to YouTube and staring at me on the index page was the trailer for the Prom Night "remake". I wasn't interested in this movie, but then again, I wasn't interested in the remakes for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead and The Hills Have Eyes either, and they turned out to be pretty damn great. Of course, those movies had (besides good scripts and cinematography) excellent casts to carry them. While watching the Prom Night trailer, the only person I even recognize is that Brittany Snow girl in the lead role. And Brittany Snow ain't no Jessica Biel, Sarah Polley or Aaron Stanford.

Trailer starts with the preparations for prom night and it makes me feel like I'm watching a commercial for One Tree Hill or something.. A cover of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time plays. It's not even a completely horrible cover and might just be the best thing about this trailer. Hmmmm... After about a minute we get to the "scary parts" and I come to the conclusion that this in no shape, way or form even resembles the original Prom Night. It looks like another generic, PG-13 teen horror flick. Plus, the trailer gives too much away. I feel like I've seen the entire movie already. Isn't a trailer supposed to leave you wanting more? IMDB reminds me that Johnathon Schaech is in this film and by David-Boreanaz-in-Valentine-logic, he must be the killer.
To be viewed: on TV

Now a good trailer, and one that definitely leaves me wanting more, is the Midnight Meat Train trailer. MMT is based on a short story by Clive Barker and stars Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields and Vinnie Jones.

Cooper plays a photographer who runs into a brutal killer (Jones) on the subway. The trailer looks creepy, doesn't give too much away and leaves me with questions like 'Why does Cooper go after the killer by himself?', and 'Why does his girlfriend (Bibb) go on the subway if she knows there's a killer?' Aaarghh the wait is killing me! Plus, I really like Bradley Cooper and Leslie Bibb, and an appealing cast is always important to me.
To be viewed: opening weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Remembering Brad Renfro

Brad Renfro is dead. I still have trouble believing it. I know there are stages in grief and this must be denial. I feel like I've known Brad for years. I mean, I've been following his career for over a decade! It must be like 13 years by now. I had a huge crush on him growing up. I had a poster on my wall. I still have a scrapbook somewhere with clippings and interviews of him and other teen heartthrobs like Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Devon Sawa (what happened to those guys, anyways?). Yes, I thought he was hot, but I also knew he was a very talented young actor and I've seen The Client, The Cure, Tom & Huck, Sleepers, and Apt Pupil a bunch of times in my younger years. This was all back in the 90s.

Since 2000, I've still followed young Brad Renfro's career. I didn't have the poster up anymore, and I stopped scrapbooking, but I did watch his movies when possible. Brad is such an indie kid, it's sometimes difficult to get his films.. especially living elsewhere than the US. I enjoyed his performances in Ghost World and Happy Campers. While I disliked Bully, Brad was great in it. I still have the July 2001 issue of Movieline that features an interview with him in which he stated: "I don't go out and get arrested anymore. The most extravagant thing I do these days is play golf. I'm like an old man."

It never occurred to me that things would end badly for Brad. I knew his bad reputation. I knew he attempted to steal a yacht ("It was a joke, a joke that went very sour."), and that he had substance abuse problems. I always thought he would overcome his problems and make a comeback. Make people see why there was so much buzz when he made his debut in 1994 with The Client.

I've been sad about it all day. It reminds me of when Jonathan Brandis died back in 2003. Both deaths were so unexpected. It makes me wonder if Brad would have been happier back in Knoxville. How his life would've been if he never did The Client and would never have been in Hollywood. Would he be alive and happy today? The world would have been deprived of his talent, but that would have been worth it, right?

Brad Renfro's death is a great loss for Young Hollywood. A loss that's hopefully been met by a hurricane of love...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Review: American Wedding

It's the first time I've rewatched American Wedding since I saw it in theaters back in 2003. I was pretty disappointed in this movie back then. The original American Pie is one of my favorite movies ever and Pie 2 was nowhere near as good as the first one. Knowing half of the original cast wouldn't even appear in Wedding, I had low expectations so how could I still be disappointed?

In American Wedding, Jim (Jason Biggs) proposes to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). What's left of the original gang (read: Finch and Kevin) prepares for the wedding. Stifler, however, is not invited, but somehow manages to get involved.

Okay, so it's not as bad as I remembered it. BUT, it's still not that good either. The things that annoyed me when I first saw it, still annoyed me the second time around.

1) The absence of the original cast members. Yes, I miss Vicky, Heather, Oz, Jessica, Nadia, even Sherman and Stifler's little brother. I know there's no need to have most of these characters in this movie, as they are not friends of Jim and/or Michelle (except Oz). Yet, this is an American Pie film, and they are part of what made the original so great. I especially missed Oz, and this comes from someone who cannot stand Chris Klein (though he was pretty good in Just Friends). It would have bugged me less if they would have at least addressed his absence with a throwaway line like "It's a shame Oz couldn't be here because he recently moved to Australia for his new job and couldn't take time off."

2) You'd think the writers would spend time developing the remaining characters, yet Thomas Ian Nicholas's Kevin is completely underwritten. It's nothing more than a glorified cameo. Poor Thomas deserves so much better than that. Kevin was one of my favorite characters in Pie, and, along with Tara Reid's Vicky, the heart and soul of the original movie. In Wedding, he maybe has ten lines. I keep waiting for him to say something, but it rarely happens.

3) Stifler is an ass in all three movies, but I found him incredibly unlikable (except for the end) and unfunny in this one. Stifler was another fave character of mine, though after watching Wedding, I have trouble remembering why. Seann William Scott is a good actor, but he is overacting here and it gets tiring.

4) January Jones as Michelle's sister Cadence. She is incredibly bland in everything I've ever seen her in.

5) The gross-out humor is way overboard here. Stifler eats poo. Need I say more?

Of course, there are some good things about this film. Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy are all very good here (Thomas Ian Nicholas has always been good, but he's barely in this) and I really liked watching their characters progress throughout the films. I think they should've made a TV show spin-off at some point. It could have worked with good writers. The ones who did "Off Centre" spring to mind; that sitcom was created by the Weitz brothers (who directed Pie), starred Pie-regulars Eddie Kaye Thomas and John Cho, and featured guest appearances by Levy, Biggs and Shannon Elizabeth. And it was genuinely funny. CHAU RULES!

I liked that there was more heart in Wedding than there was in Pie 2. I loved the original Pie for combining gross-out with heart, but the latter incredibly lacked in the sequel. In Wedding, there are some sweet moments, like the wedding itself and Jim making sure Michelle gets the dress of her dreams. Those things and the cameos by John Cho and Jennifer Coolidge do make this last installment of the American Pie trilogy (I don't count those other "Pie" movies like Band Camp) worth watching. I would love to see American Pie: the Reunion though! A 3/5.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

John Cusack is awesome

Dear John Cusack,

You are awesome. Not so awesome that I would leave your Must Love Dogs co-star and my future husband Dermot Mulroney for you, but incredibly awesome nonetheless.

With love and respect,

Friday, January 4, 2008

Review: Birth

Oh boy.. I feel like posting about this movie is asking for trouble. The ending (or the enitre movie) is open to interpretation, and after browsing the IMDB boards for a bit, I see many do have different takes on the film.

Nicole Kidman plays Anna, who is confronted by a 10-year-old boy (Cameron Bright), who claims to be her dead husband. Anna, newly engaged, doesn't believe him at first, but soon finds herself wondering 'what if?'

Most people seems to either love or hate Birth. I liked it. I like that the movie never gave a clear answer, leaving you to come up with your own satisfying conclusion. *SPOILERS* Personally, I like to think young Sean was actually Sean, and he needed time to put all the pieces together, which is why he couldn't remember his affair. I don't think reincarnation means you have to remember everything in your life immediately. In the beginning of the movie, Sean sees Clara and follows her.. possibly because he recognizes her, but he can't place her. In the end, Sean tells Anna he's not her Sean, after realizing he's not the man he thought he was (read: he cheated on her, thus not loved her). He wants her to move on, and she sorta does by getting married. That last scene I'm not too sure about. Has Anna realized she can't let go of Sean? Has she realized that he did not love her as much as she loved him? The possibilities seem endless here.. */SPOILERS*

I'm not a big fan of Nicole Kidman, but I thought she did a wonderful job here. You could feel how desperate Anna was to believe that Sean was her husband through her facial expressions and body language. Also, I liked her Mia Farrow-ish pixie cut. Young Cameron Bright is impressive, showing off a lot of maturity and determination throughout the film, while expressing vulnerability towards the end. He really makes you wonder whether or not he's the real Sean. I also have to note Peter Stormare's small role. I always enjoy seeing him pop up in movies and TV shows.

However, I did not like the pacing of this movie. It was too slow at times. I could have done without the incredibly long shots of people's faces, or that scene where Anna walked down the hill towards the bridge. Nice cinematography, but really, that scene could have used trimming! Overall, I liked the movie. It was well written and well acted, but the direction bugged me. A 3,5/5.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Whatever happened to... Shannyn Sossamon?

New feature time! 'Whatever happened to...' will focus on the actors that were popular during the Young Hollywood craze between 1997-2002. They may have quit acting, or now appear on TV instead of hit movies.. they may have had babies, or just don't get roles in big movies anymore. It's sad, cause I quite miss some of these people around!

pic credit:

The first ever 'Whatever happened to...' focuses on pretty actress Shannyn Sossamon. The TV series "Dirt" premiered here in The Netherlands this week, and I was surprised to see Shannyn. Maybe even more so to see her not being credited as a 'Special Guest Star,' or giving her the 'and' credit. I swear I remember an episode of "Law & Order: SVU" where she was billed as a 'Special Guest Star' along with Billy Campbell. I refuse to believe I'm imagining things!

I know a couple of random things about Shannyn.. I know she was born in Hawaii. She has a son named Audio Science (insert joke here). She was a DJ and apparently she was discovered at Gwyneth Paltrow's brother's birthday party (or something like that). And she has a new movie coming out this Friday called One Missed Call. Hmmm...

Shannyn first grabbed our attention in 2001 in the movie A Knight's Tale, stealing not only Heath Ledger's heart as Lady Jocelyn, but that of the audience as well. She followed it up with starring roles in 40 Days & 40 Nights, and The Rules of Attraction, and was quite popular around this time. I even have a Movieline magazine laying around somewhere which featured her in a 6-page fashion spread.

So why the hell does IMDB inform me that she's now on some kind of vampire show that sounds like "Angel" but is called "Moonlight"? The only thing I knew about that show is that Jason Dohring (aka Logan Echolls!) is on it, and it's not doing very well. Why isn't she is more movies? Why isn't this girl a bigger star?

I know in the meantime, The Order flopped, and she had a baby (that would be Audio Science, yes) and took some time off. Bad movies followed, and the first time I actually heard about her again was concerning Wristcutters: A Love Story (which looks awesome, btw). IMDB reminds me that she was in The Holiday, though if memory serves me right she was only briefly seen as Jack Black's girlfriend.

I'm happy to see her climbing her way back up with "Dirt" and "Moonlight" and that she has a starring role in the new movie One Missed Call (a remake of a J-horror, which looks pretty bad, btw), but I hope to see her in better quality films in the future. Shannyn is talented and has an unique look that sets her apart from all the average looking blondes. We need her in Hollywood!

100 Movies Challenge

I've decided to do the 100 Movies Challenge this year, which basically means watch 100 movies this year. I don't really see it as challenging though. I'll be mind blown if I don't make it to 100!

The list will be formatted as followed:

# on list - title - year of release - source - rating

January 1
1) The Family Stone (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 5/5
2) Identity (2003) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

January 2
3) A Lot Like Love (2005) - TV - 4/5

January 4
4) Birth (2004) - TV - 3,5/5

January 5
5) Snow (2004) - TV - 3/5

January 8
6) Tomcats (2001) - TV - 2,5/5
7) 40 Days & 40 Nights (2002) - TV - 3,5/5

January 11
8) American Wedding (2003) - TV - 3/5

January 16
9) One Hour Photo (2002) - TV - 4/5

January 18
10) Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone (2006) - TV - 3/5

January 19
11) Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991) - DVD (sister's collection) - 3,5/5
12) Mission: Impossible III (2006) - DVD (sister's collection) - 4/5

January 20
13) Must Love Dogs (2005) - DVD (sister's collection) - 3,5/5

January 24 & January 26
14) Cloverfield (2008) - In theater - 4/5

January 31
15) Elizabethtown (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 5/5

February 1
16) Griffin & Phoenix (2006) - DVD (own collection) - 3/5

February 2
17) House of Wax (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 3,5/5

February 3
18) Cruel Intentions (1999) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

February 6
19) 13 Going on 30 (2004) - TV - 4/5
20) Gothika (2003) - TV - 3,5/5

February 10
21) The Butterfly Effect (2004) - TV - 4/5

February 14
22) Valentine (2001) - TV - 3/5

February 16
23) Knocked Up (2007) - DVD (own collection) - 4,5/5
24) The Mist (2007) - In theater - 3/5

February 20
25) 27 Dresses (2008) - In theater - 3,5/5

February 21
26) Deep Blue Sea (1999) - TV - 3,5/5

February 28
27) Legally Blonde (2001) - TV - 3,5/5
28) Clueless (1995) - TV - 4,5/5

March 1
29) Dick (1999) - DVD (own collection) - 3,5/5

March 6
30) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - DVD (own collection) - 4,5/5

March 8
31) Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004) - TV - 3/5

March 12
32) Cube (1997) - TV - 4/5

March 13
33) About a Boy (2002) - TV - 4/5

March 14
34) She's the Man (2006) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

March 15
35) Josie & the Pussycats (2001) - TV - 3,5/5
36) Mean Girls (2004) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

March 20
37) Vacancy (2007) - DVD (rental) - 4/5
38) Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007) - DVD (rental) - 1/5

March 21
39) It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006) - DVD (rental) - 3/5
40) The Plague (2006) - DVD (rental) - 3/5

March 23
41) Zodiac (2007) - DVD (rental) - 3,5/5
42) Hostage (2005) - TV - 3,5/5

March 26
43) John Tucker Must Die (2006) - DVD (rental) - 3/5

March 29
44) Untraceable (2008) - In theater - 2,5/5

April 2
45) Sweet Home Alabama (2002) - TV - 3/5

April 19
46) Without a Paddle (2004) - DVD (own collection) - 3,5/5

April 21
47) The Wedding Date (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 3/5

April 23
48) Crash (2004) - TV - 4/5

April 24
49) A Cinderella Story (2004) - TV - 3,5/5

May 2
50) American Pie: Band Camp (2005) - TV - 2,5/5
51) American Pie 2 (2001) - TV - 3/5

May 4
52) Planet Terror (2007) - DVD (own collection) - 4,5/5

May 9
53) Red Eye (2005) - TV - 4/5

May 10
54) Below (2002) - TV - 2/5

May 11
55) Enchanted (2007) - DVD (own collection) - 4,5/5

May 15
56) The Mummy (1999) - TV - 4/5

May 17
57) My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) - DVD (own collection) - 5/5

June 5
58) Runaway Bride (1999) - TV - 3,5/5

June 8
59) Made of Honor (2008) - In theater - 3/5

June 9
60) Urban Legend (1998) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

June 11
61) Lucky 7 (2003) - TV - 3,5/5

June 12
62) Waiting... (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 3,5/5

June 14
63) Sex & the City (2008) - In theater - 3/5

June 15
64) National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets - DVD (rental) - 3/5
65) The Devil Wears Prada - DVD (rental) - 3,5/5

June 16
66) 1408 (2007) - DVD (rental) - 3,5/5

June 18
67) Georgia Rule (2007) - DVD (rental) - 2,5/5

June 20
68) The Flock (2007) - DVD (rental) - 3/5

June 22
69) A Night at the Museum (2006) - DVD (rental) - 3,5/5
70) Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) - DVD (rental) - 2,5/5

June 23
71) License to Wed (2007) - DVD (rental) - 3/5

June 26
72) Waitress (2007) - DVD (rental) - 3,5/5

July 9
73) Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) - In theater - 4/5

July 10
74) Prime (2005) - TV - 3/5

July 12
75) Confessions of an American Bride (2005) - TV - 2,5/5
76) Mamma Mia! (2008) - In theater - 4/5
77) Jason X (2001) - TV - 2,5/5

July 13
78) Dogma (1999) - TV - 4/5

July 16
79) Poseidon (2006) - DVD (sister's collection) - 4/5
80) The Glass House (2001) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

July 17
81) Standing Still (2005) - DVD (own collection) - 4/5

July 18
82) The Village (2004) - TV - 4/5

July 19
83) Garfield (2004) - TV - 3/5
84) Wrong Turn (2003) - TV - 3,5/5

July 26
85) Stir of Echoes (1999) - TV - 3,5/5

July 27
86) Rambo (2008) - DVD (rental) - 4/5

August 3
87) The Dark Knight (2008) - In theater - 4/5

August 16
88) Starsky & Hutch (2004) - TV - 3,5/5

August 19
89) Get Smart (2008) - In theater - 3/5