Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
It's a beautifully shot movie that absorbs the pace of New Orleans from the 30s and which becomes Benjamin's pace of life. It's slower paced, but not slow. It seemed to me a story of magic of a single person living an every day life. Whatever magic touched him and created him the way he is makes him special and able to share some of that magic with others. I didn't love the very end, but I don't know they could have found a better way - you decide. Right now I do think it deserves an Oscar nomination for best picture and for Brad Pitt, but I still haven't seen many of the other acclaimed movies, so I'll reserve judgement on the best picture for a few more weeks. 4.5 Lambs/Stars.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Movies of 2008 I’ve seen:
Be Kind Rewind
Burn After Reading
The Dark Knight
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Horton Hears a Who
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl
Kung Fu Panda
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
My Best Friend’s Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl
Over Her Dead Body
The Secret Life of Bees
Sex and the City
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Then She Found Me
Under the Same Moon
Addendum: As you can see from the reviews I've now see Benjamin Button and The Visitor, so the total became 47. Not bad.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Wanted tells the story of Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), an account manager in a cubicle that is living a life of unfulfilled potential and doesn't know how he can change anything. He suffers from "anxiety attacks" that he can't understand (he doesn't have anything to be anxious about) and his best friend is screwing his girlfriend. Then one day he's picking up pills at the pharmacy and Fox (Angelina Jolie) appears to save his life from a guy who's shooting at them. He learns from Morgan Freeman, that his father has just been killed and he used to be part of a brotherhood of assassins that have spent hundreds of years fulfilling their destinies. They want to train Wesley to be an assassin too, since he already possesses the skills, trying to contain them is what brought on the anxiety. There's lots of fighting and training and hitting and kicking and riding on trains and obviously getting hurt and fixed and learning to be an assassin. He eventually becomes an assassin (you don't want to find out how they choose the people to assassinate, you wouldn't believe me) and works his way up to hunting the man believed to have killed his father. Some ridiculous stunts take place, most of which are incredible and funny, but there are also explanations that make it even harder to believe. Overall, I liked the movie, it embraces its cheeziness to the point where at the end McAvoy looks into the camera and addresses the audience. Light entertainment, great special effects, wholly unbelievable story, but still worthy of watching. 3 Stars/LAMBS
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This is Andie McDowell singing a song she wrote in Michael.
Here's Hugh Grant and Nick Hoult singing at the school concert in About a Boy. One of the most painful scenes in movies, but still a good song, and they try so hard.
And finally, the best scene from 27 Dresses. Singing Bennie and the Jets
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Film: Home Alone
Box Office Gross: $285,761,243
Awards: Nominated for 2 Oscars for best Score and Original Song, "Somewhere in My Memory" (which I don't actually remember)
Actors:Macaulay Culkin, John Heard, Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern
First, I was amazed when I made the list of the top grossing movies in the US for the past 20 years that there was a holiday movie on the list, so I saved it. I'm also nearly finished with this series, so I'll do a wrap-up before the end of the year. Since it's been 18 years, I'm not sure there are many people who don't know the plot of Home Alone, but I know some of my fellow movie bloggers are actually under 18 years old or thereabouts, so I will stop being ageist and give a bit of a summary. Basically, Kevin McCallister (Culkin), 8 years old, is being a brat when lots of his family descends on his house at Christmas en route to a vacation in Paris. Inadvertently, Kevin is left behind when the family leaves. However, Kevin's street has been targeted by two theives who plan to break into all the houses while the families are away for Christmas. Kevin overhears their plans and decides to defend his home. Much of the hilarity ensues as Kevin sets up all kinds of booby traps around his house (ice steps, hot doorknobs, a bb gun, a blow torch, ornaments on the floor, glue, spiders, everything). The story I find funnier 18 years later is Catherine O'Hara's determined attempt to get home to her son as fast as possible rather than waiting the two days until a direct flight is actually available. She pairs up with the late John Candy and his polka band to drive across the Midwest. I just like her line when arguing with the airline lady and insisting her quest must be possible. "No, no, no, no. It's Christmas, the season of perpetual hope." Here's hoping you're still hopeful for Christmas.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"Numb3rs" - Krumholtz plays Charlie Epps, a math genius who uses all his abilities to help solve crimes with his brother Don (Rob Morrow) at the FBI. He lives with his Dad (Judd Hirsh) too (or since he owns the house, his dad lives with him?) and dates one of his former grad students, Amita (Navi Rawat). His former mentor and current colleague is the brilliant Peter MacNicol (so hilarious on Ally McBeal). They solve crimes, try to figure out normal society, how to use your gifts to serve others, and how to be a family. It's a fun show for nerds, and anyone into math. I heard on NPR they even have a module for school kids to better understand the math on the show and have fun learning. Krumholtz is awesome. It's hard to believe one person would know that much math, but he pulls it off.
Serenity - Krumholtz just had a small, but pivotal, part in the movie of the space cowboy story Serenity as Mr. Universe. He seemed to have access to all the electronic media in the galaxy and helped out Mal and others when they needed it, so of course he's a good guy. His wedding with the robot is hysterical.
The Santa Clause (1 &2) - This is a thankless part in a possibly forgettable Christmas series (not in my house, I just watched the first one while decorating the tree, and the next 2 are up soon), but that doesn't mean he doesn't do it well. Krumholtz plays Bernard, the head Elf at the North pole. He guides the new Santa (Tim Allen) through his responsibilities as the new Santa. His quick paced dialogue and no-nonsense business-like attitude give credence to the North Pole as a business AND a magical place.
"ER" - He only guest starred in 3 episodes (in two different seasons) as a schizophrenic law student who has a break and kills Lucy (Kellie Martin) and stabs Carter (Noah Wyle) sending him in a tailspin of drug addiction. He's innocent looking, but once he goes off he's scary enough that you remember him 2 seasons later when he reappears.
10 Things I Hate About You - Probably not his best role, but definitely my favorite. He's the super geek at Verona High School (ousted by his clique when a rumor spreads that he busy his izods at an outlet) who introduces Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's character to the school and helps him win the fair Bianca. He's just a background character, and hardly recognizable today, but I still think he's hysterical.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Get Smart, based on the 1960s TV show, starred The Office star Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway. The supporting cast wasn't bad either, with Supporting Actor Oscar winner Alan Arkin, Dwanye Johnson, and Masi Oka. Carrell longs to be a field agent, his agency gets destroyed and only he and Anne Hathaway can inconspicuously infiltrate the bad guys group and save the world. That's about all I understood of the main storyline, but it didn't really matter. The action is only slightly better than a TV series would put together, kind of like a funny Alias. Mostly it's about silly jokes and Carrell hurting himself with weapons. Decent entertainment, but nothing ground-breaking. 3.5 LAMBS/stars
I rented Kit Kittredge because I like Abigail Breslin (see Nim's Island and Little Miss Sunshine) and I'm kind of a sucker for kids movies, and it got decent reviews in the theaters. Based on a doll (The American girl series, which I had when I was a kid) and the books written about her character, Kit lives in Cincinnati during the Great Depression. She wants to be a writer when she grows up and keeps submitting her stories to the newspaper (edited by Wallace Shawn!) and keeps trying to write stories they might publish. Her father (Chris O'Donnell) loses his job and moves to Chicago to find work and Kit and her mom (Julia Ormond) open their house to borders to help make the mortgage. A mix of people move in, helping create fun stories, quirky characters and a good mystery. It was a strangely pertinent story as our own economy struggles that our society's view of poverty might not have changed much since the Depression. They treat "hobos" as criminals, and since few weren't susceptible to unemployment, anyone could become a hobo. I'll admit while watching it I got kinda nervous as they were echoing things that have been appearing in the papers lately. But since it's a kid's movie, it all worked out in the end and Kit solves the mystery and saves the day. It's still fun entertainment. 4 LAMBS/stars.
And finally, the ugly. Over Her Dead Body is a bad redo of Just Like Heaven (with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo) which wasn't a good enough movie to do again. Basically, a woman dies, can't accept it, haunts someone, and there's a love story. Lake Bell is the main character and isn't interesting enough to carry a movie. That's my first problem with it. The second was that someone convinced Eva Longoria Parker (who I love in Desperate Housewives) that she should both tan extensively and dye her hair blond so she's the same color all over. Plus, half the story is about how Paul Rudd can't get over the death of his fiancee and thus won't smile anymore. Most of Paul Rudd's appeal is his humor and his smile. So basically this movie stinks. The reviews weren't good, but they were kind. It's worse. 1 LAMB/Star. Don't watch this movie.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
1. One movie that made you laugh: Step Brothers
2. One movie that made you cry: Out of Africa
3. One movie you loved when you were a child: The Little Mermaid
4. One movie that you have seen more than 10 times: Groundhog Day
5. One movie you've seen multiple times in the theater: Aladdin (5 times)
6. One movie you walked out on: Battleship Earth
7. One movie that you can and do quote from: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
8. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it: Stuck On You
9. One movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't gotten around to watching yet: Blade Runner (I know, I know...it's in my queue)
10. One movie you hated: The English Patient
11. One movie that scared you: Seven
12. One movie that made you happy: WALL-E
13. One movie that made you miserable: Finding Neverland (very sad)
14. One movie musical for which you know all the lyrics to all the songs: Most of them, but I'd say I know all the lyrics to all the songs in Mary Poppins
15. One movie that you have been known to sing along with: Almost any movie that has music
16. One movie you would recommend that everyone see: Out of Africa
17. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with: George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life
18. One actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie: Robert Downey Jr.
19. One actor that would make you less likely to see a movie: Nicole Kidman
20. One of the last movies you saw: Australia
21. One of the next movies you hope to see: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I expected Nicole Kidman's character to annoy me - her hairstyle mimicked The Golden Compass which was a dreadful role with coldness and dispassion (the opposite of what's required for Australia) but I did believe her falling in love in with The Drover (how you could you not?) and Jackman's acting was terrific. He reminded me of Robert Redford in Out of Africa, playing the disinterested loner who falls in love, but doesn't want to admit that comes with responsibilities. His character has lots of depth, that unfortunately, due to the script, only gets to come up in pieces. When he appears in a white tuxedo jacket at the top of the stairs I kept thinking how much he invoked Humphrey Bogart. However, the absolute winner of the film that makes it a story worth following is Nullah (Brandon Walters). You can feel the yearning for goodness in his eyes. On a personal note, I live in Kenya for a year studying zebras (another life) and lived at a research center where the next youngest person was the three-year old daughter of the manager and she became my best friend. She was Kenyan, half white, a quarter black, and a quarter West Indies, with the creamy skin and dark soft hair and huge curious eyes. We called her Dudu (swahili for little bug) thanks to the look of her eyes. Nullah looked very much like Dudu, so I had a strong connection to his story throughout the movie, wanting people to take care of him and make it all right. But this was a movie, so all kinds of things happened, including using all kinds of magic and aboriginal culture to bring the stories to life from a unique place in history. I really liked the overall effect of the movie, the stories were beautiful, the plot was fine (yes, predictable, but not cliched), and the love story (both between Kidman and Jackman, AND Mrs. Boss and Nullah) was wonderful. Great movie, definitely go see it in the theater, completely worth it. 4.5 LAMBS/stars
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Film: Toy Story
Box Office Gross: $191,773,049
Awards: Nominated for 3 Oscars (before Best Animated Feature was a category) including winning an award for Special Achievement for a feature length computer animated film
Actors:Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger
This movie holds up even though computer animation has made leaps and bounds since this movie was completed. It was an innovative concept as a script even before we were awed by the new techniques behind animation which most people only notice when they're bad, not that they're amazingly new. I just read that Joss Whedon helped write the screenplay, which was nominated for an Oscar which, with Finding Nemo, are the only animated films nominated for best original screenplay. The characters they created were iconic toys, but given voices that seemed totally appropriate (wouldn't you assume that Mr. Potato Head spoke like Don Rickles?) and then sent on an adventure to return to the little boy who loves them. It's a great story, and deserves the accolades heaped upon it. This description of Buzz Lightyear sums it up for me.
Box Office Gross: $217,350,219
Awards: Nominated for 5 Oscars (before Best Animated Feature was a category) including winning 2 awards for Original Score and Best Original Song for "A Whole New World"
Actors: Scott Weingner, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, and Gilbert Gottfried
Aladdin was the first movie I saw in the theater more than once. I think I actually saw it 5 times in the theater (back when movies cost $2 for kids) I liked it so much. Robin Williams' comedy as the genie was terrific and started the trend of big stars voicing characters in animated movies. I'm not sure this movie holds up as well for grown-ups because I've only seen it once since I was a kid, and most of the other animated movies I love I still watch. I'm still surprised this movie was the highest grossing for 1992, even over Batman Returns (the one with Penguin and Catwoman), Home Alone 2, and Lethal Weapon 3. Okay, maybe I'm not surprised.