Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two newish releases and two DVDs: The Good, the Bad, and the Meh...

A week of vacation thankfully brings lots of movie viewing, not much of high quality though. I saw Valentine's Day and Crazy Heart in theaters, and Post Grad and The Boys are Back on DVD. I'll start with the good, and then you can skip down to the others you're actually interested in.

Crazy Heart was really terrific. Jeff Bridges is definitely going to win his long-deserved Oscar and in my opinion totally deserves it. I really liked this movie, though my movie-viewing partner wasn't convinced. Bridges plays Bad Blake, a semi-washed up, boozy, greasy, charming, talented country musician. He's playing in Santa Fe, and as a favor to the piano player he agrees to an interview by the local music reporter, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Since he puts the moves on everything, he flirts with Gyllenhaal, who seems attracted to him, but is smart enough to know what a one-night stand she'd be. She also has a young son she's concerned about leaving for long. However, Bad Blake is incredibly charming beyond his former star status and she succumbs. However, Blake has to keep touring as he's mostly broke. His former protegee, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) asks him to open his show, and to write some new material for him to record. They obviously have a tumultuous relationship, but Farrell does a good job seeming sincere in his admiration for his former mentor. This is definitely a cliched movie about what happens to an alcoholic while he attempts to hit bottom, and the people who love him and watch him go down trying not to go with him (Gyllenhall does the best job I've ever seen of the woman in these type of movies - she stays strong and only gives him the single chance he deserves to change his ways and then she leaves). However, because Bridges is so charismatic and charming, I loved watching every minute he was on the screen. And finally, the music is absolutely fantastic. In general, I don't care for watching long scenes where a pretend character sings the pretend songs that made him famous that he sings forever (Walk the Line and Ray were different because I already knew the music and it was the representation of the real artist that was interesting). However, probably because these songs were written or produced or influenced by an actual amazing musician, T-Bone Burnett, the music is a joy to hear and watch performed by Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell and unknown others. It's great music. There's a line from Bad Blake in the movie that goes something like: "All the great songs sound like you've heard them before" and that basically describes the music. They're good because they resemble the greatest songs of country music. I really liked this movie, 4.5 stars/lambs (missing the .5 for being really cliched about addiction and famous people).

However, Valentine's Day just barely lived up to the hype created around it. While there were some story lines I really enjoyed - Julia Roberts and Bradly Cooper, both on the airplane and on the ground; Anne Hathaway as an adult entertainment provider (by phone) and Topher Grace; and Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner as friends and the final scene of the movie. The others were either boring, terrible acting, or both. I hated Taylor Swift every time she was on screen (she's a terrific musician, but NOT an actor), and you could see Taylor Lautner (not an oscar-contender himself) cringing in all their scenes together. The other teenage couple were just boring in their attempt to have sex on Valentine's day. And the Mcpair of Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane were just boring, cute but boring. Jessica Biel's story line about hating Valentine's Day came across more pathetic than empowered, but her relationship with Jamie Foxx was interesting. This ensemble rom-com is MUCH better than last year's He's Just Not that Into You", but it's not as perfect as the casting would suggest. Removing some of the stories and increasing the depth of others would have made for the perfect Valentine's Day treat. 3 of 5 lambs/stars

So you've had the Good and the Meh for this post. There's not much to say about the bad, particularly Post Grad which I actually fast forwarded because NOTHING happened and it was incredibly boring. The cast is pretty impressive with Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford (I love Friday Night Lights so I'll forgive him this attempt to hit the big screen), Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch and J.K. Simmons. Sadly, Bledel graduates from college, has trouble getting a job, is too arrogant to take anything that will make money and lives with her parents. Gilford is in love with Bledel and doesn't want to go to law school until she loves him too, but his dad, Simmons, is forcing him out. Keaton is crazy and Lynch is funny, but that's the entire movie. 1 lamb/star

The Boys are Back is slightly better, just not great. Clive Owen plays a recently widowed sports reporter father in Australia who has to figure out how to raise his 5-year old son. However, he's also got a 14-year old son from a previous marriage that he realizes he's abandoned. His attempts to be a working father are heart felt and well intentioned, but of course don't work. This movie has been done in other place and in other ways where child-rearing is left to the children and the dad's theory of no rules always back fires. The actor who plays Owen's older son Harry, George MacKay, could have been Ron Weasley if he'd been older when they started. Totally looks the part so I had trouble taking his angst seriously. However, it's not terrible, just Meh. 2.5 of 5 lambs/stars


Castor said...

I enjoyed Crazy Heart but my biggest beef was the phony relationship between Bad and Jean which pretty much came out of nowhere. What kind of person would be attracted to Bad especially after you get to know him a little like she did.

Casey said...

I really want to see Crazy Heart but it isn't showing in any theaters near me. Do you think Bridges will get the Oscar?