Saturday, August 29, 2009

Review: Inglourious Basterds

EDIT: I've rewatched it and loved it even more so I'm upping my score from 4/5 to 4,5/5. Best movie of the year so far! /EDIT

I was looking forward to Inglourious Basterds for a long time and now that I've seen it, I want to see it again! I loved it! It wasn't a perfect movie, but I'm also having trouble pinpointing what exactly I didn't like about it.

Christoph Waltz was absolutely amazing. I extremely enjoyed his performance throughout the entire movie. From the first scene at the barn, Waltz was perfect. IMDB tells me that Leo DiCaprio was first choice for the role of Landa, and I think we should all be very thankful Tarantino changed his mind about that and hired Waltz instead. Will go all Basterds on the Academy's ass if they overlook his performance.

More greatness:

The opening scene at the barn was brilliant. Denis Menochet and Waltz played well off each other in the tension-filled scene.

Til Schweiger! I wish Til had a bigger role in the movie. Loved his angry and digusted looks. He was hilarious! Same goes for Brad Pitt with his hillbilly accent when he's trying to speak Italian. Eli Roth's delivery was okay, but I loved his crazy eyes! More Roth in front of and behind the camera is cool with me. BJ Novak is always great. Wanted him to have more screentime though!

Mélanie Laurent and Daniel Brühl also gave great performances. I really felt for Brühl's character at certain points. Too bad he went crazy towards the end. Laurent's scene at the restaurant with Waltz was really well done. Her emotional breakdown at the end of the scene was fantastic.

Tarantino made an excellent and brave decision by casting French and German actors and having them speak these languages for a large part of the movie. It's not something that will appeal to the general movie going crowd, but I guess that can be said for Tarantino's film in general.

Also loved the cinematography. The movie is a visual treat.

Now that I've had some more time to think about the movie, I do have a few negatives. For a movie called Inglourious Basterds not a whole lot of screentime was spent on the Basterds. I think I've only seen Michael Bacall once. Samm Levine had one line? Shame!

Not sure why Tarantino decided to cast Mike Myers. Nothing against Myers, but his character looked and sounded like he just stepped off the set of Austin Powers 4.

Am I morbid for expecting to see more scalping?

I'm having a hard time deciding on my favorite movie of the year so far: Basterds or Star Trek? I can tell you this is my fave Tarantino movie after Kill Bill. A must see if you love movies! A 4/5.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Review: Bride Wars

NOTE: I wrote this unfinished post approx. 2 weeks ago right before I went on vacation. I have very little memory of the movie now, except that it's crap. Didn't want to rewrite the post, because I'm blurry on the details.

Just caught Bride Wars on DVD. And woah.. that was crappy.

I am kinda amused by the lowbudget casting of the grooms: Steve Howey and Chris Pratt. Did Hudson and Hathaway have such high salary demands they couldn't afford say Chris Evans or Mike Vogel? Even Bryan Greenberg would've been a good choice for one of the grooms. Not that Howey or Pratt were bad, not at all! They are just guys I don't see often in high profile films. Props to the casting director for thinking outside of the box.

From the beginning of the movie I felt Hudson and Hathaway were a mismatch. Hathaway is so young-ish looking. I think someone like Liv Tyler would've played off of Hudson much better and the two look the same age-wise. Hathaway does fine though, but I felt she was on autopilot.

I had some problems with the screenplay and (lack of) character development. A big problem for me was that neither Hudson's Liv or Hathaway's Emma are likeable. Who am I supposed to root for here? I was hoping the guys would dump their asses! Especially Liv, who comes off as needy, neurotic and insane before she even gets proposed to. Who announces their engagement when the guy hasn't even popped the question yet?

Howey's Daniel is the painfully nice and understanding guy. Why he puts up with Liv, I have no idea. Then there's Pratt's Fletcher, who starts off nice but for some reason turns into a big a-hole towards the end. You know, just so Emma conveniently ends up with Bryan Greenberg. Of course. Who didn't see that one coming?

Then the war itself.. well, it took pretty long to get to it and then it came and went. They went for the easy laughs. Good lord, they're women. Let them realistically play dirty. I will never believe Emma had the chance to change Liv's hair dye. Mean Girls did it better. A 2,5/5.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poster: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Source: IMP Awards

This is perfect marketing. It's exactly like the book cover, except it's in color and Matt Czuchry is on it instead of Tucker Max. It's easily recognizable for the demographic the book is aimed at. I wouldn't change a thing.*

*So please don't tell me this is the teaser and the final onesheet will be a floating head poster ft. Matt, Jesse Bradford and Geoff Stults surrounded by boobs and beer bottles.

Friday, August 14, 2009

All About Steve poster

Bradley Cooper plays the titular Steve and gets third billing? THIRD?! Don't get me wrong, I've loved Thomas Haden Church since his Ned & Stacy days, long before Sideways fans hopped on the bandwagon. But Sideways is 5 years ago. What's with the 2nd billing? Bradley Cooper is one of the hottest actors working in Hollywood today thanks to The Hangover. Good Lord, 20th Century Fox, try to bank on that! The movie looks awful, the poster is awful. I don't look at this poster and think it's ALL ABOUT STEVE. I'm wondering why Sandra Bullock looks crazy. And if I didn't have any knowledge about the movie, I'd be wondering which of these guys IS Steve. Step it up, 20th Century Fox.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I liked it! It was exactly what I expected it to be: a fun and entertaining action-adventure-y popcorn flick. I'm not getting all the negativity. It's a movie based on a toy. It's G.I. Joe. It's not trying to be The Godfather. Or The Shawshank Redemption. Or even The Dark Knight.

Plot: "From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar ice caps, the elite G.I. Joe team uses the latest in next-generation spy and military equipment to fight the corrupt arms dealer Destro and the growing threat of the mysterious Cobra organization to prevent them from plunging the world into chaos."

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is directed by Stephen Sommers, the man behind the very entertaining Deep Rising and The Mummy. Both are flicks I could watch over and over and still be entertained. I don't think I will be able to say the same about Joe, but I can tell you I enjoyed it a hell lot more than Sommers's previous two films: The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing.

I really enjoyed the cast and I say that while I don't even like certain castmembers very much.

I squeed like a fangirl whenever Christopher Eccleston appeared onscreen. Then again, I always squee like a fangirl whenever Eccles is onscreen. I've loved that man since I saw him in Shallow Grave over a decade ago. For some reason, the whole idea that Eccles is in a move called G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra amuses me.

Not a fan of Sienna Miller, but I loved her as The Baroness. She was my favorite character! I want her glasses! And seriously, if I was the kind of person that celebrated and dressed up for Halloween, I would go as The Baroness this year.

Scarlett was okay. Rachel Nichols didn't have much to work with. That motorcycle scene was there to look cool, but was pretty pointless as it only led to her needing to by saved Ripcord. At some point Scarlett was crying that she lost a fight (with the Baroness) and that was the first time she ever lost, while at the beginning of the movie, the only reason she doesn't die when she's on the ground reaching for the gun when the baddy steps on it is because someone saves her! Girl is part of the Joe team and still needs a man to save her. Didn't like that.

Nichols has nice chemistry with Marlon Wayans though. Wayans is a good actor with the right material (watch Requiem for a Dream). I would've liked to see him less joke-y here, but obviously, he's just following the script and does well doing it.

Channing Tatum has this quality that makes me want to root for him, so instant win here as we're supposed to root for Duke. Ray Park was amazing as Snake Eyes. The man had mad skills. Same goes for Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt amused me. Looked like he was having fun with his role. As for the rest of the cast.. Arnold Vosloo didn't have much to do. Shame. Dennis Quaid didn't have much to do either. Losties Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Saïd Taghmaoui did fine, but Ceaser had much more to work with than Mr. Eko. Ceaser was funny!

I must've been the only person who squeed when Kevin J. O'Connor appeared onscreen. I was waiting for his cameo! Loved him in Sommers's earlier work. Great to see Brendan Fraser stop by too.

As for the movie itself, well it all went by real fast. Like blink and you miss something fast. I appreciated the occasional flashback that slowed things down a bit. I also appreciated scenes where Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

They could've taken the first scene out. I thought I was watching The Man in the Iron Mask or something, not G.I. Joe. Plus, Eccles kinda repeats the same info later on. At one point during the movie, while watching all the explosions, I was worried I missed Michael Bay's producing credit. I guess a little less action and a little more story would've been better. And the the CGI was weak at times.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The cast was fun and Stephen Sommers did his best. It's not like he wrote the screenplay. People should give him a break. Lower your expectations and just enjoy the ride. A 3,5/5.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Least Favorite Final Girls

I grew up watching the Halloweens and Elm Streets, but never paid much attention to the Final Girl, our female lead, the last chick standing. I was interested in Freddy, not Nancy or Kristen or Alice. It was only after the release of Scream and the resurrection of the (teen) horror genre that I became aware of the 'Final Girl' principle and began rooting for her.

However, there are a few Final Girls I just cannot stand. I was rooting for the killer to you know, kill her. I'm going to present you with my top 3 least favorite Final Girls. Problem here is that I'm not entirely sure it's the characters I hate or the actresses portraying them. I dug up my old (unpublished on this site) reviews and I'm mostly hating on the actresses and their awfulness. I will post these snippets for your my entertainment.

Please note that this blog is written from a Young Hollywood (circa 1997-2003) viewpoint. I miss those days when Freddie Prinze Jr. was in every other release, the American Pie cast was a breath of fresh air and Scarlett J. wasn't overexposed yet, but I digress. Therefore I'm going for post-Scream teen horror Final Girls and not from more obscure flicks. But feel free to post your own 'favorites' from any horror movie in the comment section.

3) Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt) in Urban Legend (1998)
This one pains me, because I actually really like Alicia Witt. It took a few years after Urban Legend for me to like her though. I honestly think she grew into a pretty wonderful actress. But no matter how much like I have for her, I will always hate her character in Urban Legend. Every other character is more interesting than Natalie. She's just kinda there. The rest of the cast seems to be having so much more fun with it: Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Tara Reid, Josh Jackson, Loretta Devine, Robert Englund. Even Jared "I don't want to be here" Leto.

An excerpt from my original review after its theatrical release:
'Leading lady Alicia Witt is a bit disappointing. While other films had the likes of Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt heading up the cast, Alicia isn't able to keep her character interesting. Her co-stars Rebecca Gayheart, Tara Reid and Michael Rosenbaum are much more entertaining to watch.'

Looking back, I was being kind. Also, why was I giving Jennifer Love Hewitt props for I Know What You Did Last Summer? Her character, Julie James, could be on this list! Anyways, there's a line that always makes me cringe. Natalie says something like 'Someone is taking all these stories and making them reality.' The delivery of that line is just awful. Is it the screenplay? Is it Witt? I don't know, but I know enough to put Natalie on the third spot of my list.

2) Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) in Soul Survivors (2001)
I have only seen Soul Survivors once, a long time ago, when it was a new rental at my videostore. While time has softened my hate for the movie a bit, I only have to look at my original review to stop me from checking it out again. It's starts with the following sentence: 'Sorry, but this is just crap.' And then I think of Melissa Sagemiller as Cassie and I'm totally cured of the thought of watching Soul Survivors. 'Sagemiller is a terrible actress, who isn't interesting enough to carry a film.' I didn't go into detail in my review and I don't remember Cassie very well, but my strong dislike has remained over the past 8 years.

I also hated Sagemiller in the comedy Sorority Boys, but was kinder when she did Get Over It: 'Melissa Sagemiller as Alison is okay. She seems less bland than she was in movies like Soul Survivors and Sorority Boys.' So I guess that's it. Sagemiller was bland in SS and that's not the kind of quality you want in your Final Girl. She has to be the kind of girl you want to root for!

1) Julia Lund (Laura Regan) in They (2002)
To see how deep my hate goes, you really have to read my original review:

'When Billy (Jon Abrahams) and his friend Julia (Laura Regan) were little, they used to be afraid of monsters, which they called, well, They. Years later, Billy’s still afraid. He calls Julia, they meet up, and he kills himself. Julia starts seeing Them again, and when she comes in contact with Billy’s friends Sam (Ethan Embry) and Terry (Dagmara Dominczyk), she finds out she’s not the only one. Will They get her?
For the love of GOD I hope the answer is YES! Laura Regan has to be the worst actress EVER. And I’m not the kind of person who would say that, but people who are claiming that Tara Reid is awful, have obviously not seen this movie. Laura Regan is the worst actress EVER! I thought Alicia Witt was cringe-worthy, but this is horrible.'

I have never softened up to Regan or her performance. Regan also happened to be the Final Girl in My Little Eye (Bradley Cooper! Kris Lemche!), a movie I have rewatched a couple of times, and it just reinforces my hate for her in They.

I was checking reviews for They and I had to laugh when I read the following over at DarkHorizons: 'Weaker still are the performances. Laura Reagan is as bad as that chick from "Soul Survivors" - overacting and not very convincing at doing the hysterical "seeing things" routine.' I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Tell me, who are your least favorite Final Girls?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fave Movie Moments... Beautiful Girls

I will never stop loving this scene from the 1996 feel good movie Beautiful Girls, starring Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Natalie Portman and Uma Thurman.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Review: Blindness

I have this urge to write about Blindness. And I need to tell you that I have no clue whether or not this movie is any good. I feel like I have to like this movie. You have the critically acclaimed director, the critically acclaimed novel on which the movie is based and acclaimed actors like Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. If I strip those things away, what's left, I think, is a flawed film with an interesting premise.

Blindness tells the story of a man (Yusuke Iseya) who suddenly turns blind. He inadvertedly infects others he comes in contact with: his wife, the eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) and the other patients in the waiting area. Like an epidemic, blindness (or White Sickness as they call it in the film) sweeps the city. The infected are quickly quarantined. The doctor's wife (Julianne Moore) mysteriously remains immune, but pretends to be blind and joins her husband in the quarantined wards. Shit starts hitting the fan as the ward quickly becomes overpopulated. Then it's not so much about blindness anymore as it's about society going downhill.

A thought: Is society blind? Doesn't society see its going downhill?

Back to topic.. The movie started out promising, then became bleak real quick. I kept thinking throughout the movie how the story would play out. They took the easy way: have the first blind man magically regain his sight. This leads to hope that the others will regain their sight too. The end. Seriously, watching the movie you witness the most horrific things and they you get the Disney ending. I know this movie is based on a book so I can't really blame the screenplay, but I can say it cheapened the whole experience for me.

At times I felt I was watching a zombie movie without the zombies. 28 Days/Weeks Later without the infected. It made me appreciate (the symbolism of) zombie movies even more. It also made me wish I was watching a zombie movie.

The origin of the White Sickness is never explained. We never see attempts made to find a cure. I suppose we don't need an explanation. But with this ending, the sudden regain of sight, it would've been nice.

I didn't care for the cinematography. Were they trying to make me blind, because I think they almost succeeded. It seemed they filtered the hell out of the movie. It's too damn white! I get it. Blindness. White sickness. Yes yes, very clever. While it fit the bleakness of the story, it got old real quick. Certain other scenes were too dark. It came across to me as if the filmmakers were trying too hard to make an artistic movie.

The cast was great, but what do you expect with Moore, Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Alice Braga and Gael Garcia Bernal? They do their best with what they have to work with.

I could rant about Moore's character and her (lack) of actions, but I'll spare you. A 3/5.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Proposal is a success?

I continue to be puzzled by The Proposal's box office success this summer. Box Office Mojo tells me the romcom is currently sitting on $145 million domestically! That's the 13th highest grossing movie this year, sitting right between Paul Blart: Mall Cop at #12 with $146m and Liam Neeson's Taken at #14 with $145m (but a few thousand less than The Proposal). Since the film is still in theaters it's more than likely the movie will surpass Mall Cop.

I saw the movie weeks ago, didn't have time to write/post a review and now I barely remember the movie. I mean, I liked the movie, I'm just not sure what I liked about it. Well, besides Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock.

Or maybe that's just it. People really like Reynolds and Bullock. According to Box Office Mojo, The Proposal's opening weekend gross of $33 million is Bullock's highest opening ever. While Bullock is one of America's sweethearts and most of her movies end up doing pretty well or at least decent, her openings are not that strong. Her previous career best opening is 2007's Premonition with $17m. It's been a while since Bullock starred in a romcom like The Proposal. Romance The Lake House was released in 2006 and comedy Miss Congeniality 2 was released in 2005! Her last true romantic comedy was 2002's Two Weeks Notice with Hugh Grant! Were people suffering from Bullock withdrawal and en masse flocked to the theater when The Proposal was released?

Then there's Reynolds, who has turned into quite the capable leading man since his days on Two Guys, a Girl, & a Pizzaplace. People generally like him and his supporting role in Wolverine was well received. Excluding Wolverine (which clearly wasn't about him), Reynold's career best is also The Proposal. His previous highest opening was for 2005's The Amityville Horror, which grossed $23.5 million. Reynolds seems to be one of those actors that appeals to both females and males. I never hear guys say they like that Orlando Bloom guy. But Reynolds has appeared in a lot of guy flicks, such as Van Wilder, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Blade: Trinity and the aforementioned Wolverine. Has his casting helped The Proposal? Would guys rather take their girlfriends to a romcom starring Ryan Reynolds than, say, Matthew McConaughey?

Take McConaughey's latest romcom, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (awful title, btw). The movie opened only a few weeks earlier than The Proposal. It grossed $15 million in its opening weekend and ended up grossing $55 million domestically. To be fair to McConaughey, his previous three romcoms (Fool's Gold, Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) all grossed between $20-$25 million in their opening weekends. Nothing to be ashamed about at all!

So what I really have been wondering lately is why is The Proposal a big hit and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past came and went without much notice? I wasn't too kind to both movies when I reviewed their trailers, but I gave kudos to GOGP for being less generic than The Proposal. Though it seems pretty obvious how both will play out, yes? I didn't want to see either on the big screen, but ended up seeing The Proposal just because a friend wanted to go see it. She thought it looked funny.

Maybe The Proposal is just the better movie. Maybe people were tired of McConaughey's romcoms and were waiting for Bullock's instead. Maybe Ghosts of Girlfriends Past just isn't an appealing title. Who knows?

Bullock & Cooper in All About Steve

I'm hoping to figure at least part of this out when Bullock's next romcom, All About Steve is released on September 4. She plays an eccentric crossword puzzler who think CCN cameraman Steve (sexy Bradley Cooper) is her true love and follows him around the country. I've seen the trailer and the movie looks awful. But both Bullock and Cooper are at career highs at the moment so I expect the movie to do well despite its awfulness. If so, it seems it doesn't really matter how awful or generic a romcom is, as long as you have two appealing leads, the movie will do well at the box office. To be continued...