You see what I put myself through for you all? I subjected myself to 108 minutes (about 106 of which were filled with singing) of ABBA inspired entertainment. I should preface this review by saying I hate ABBA but I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I love musicals! I wanted to be enchanted by Greece. I was rooting for Meryl Streep. I hoped desperately to not hear "Dancing Queen". Alas, none of my dreams came true. This was a painfully good example of good actors mixed up in wrong doings (Colin Firth? What happened?). Some people aren't meant to sing and dance. Some stories are best left untold. Perhaps the Broadway show is more enthralling, but as a film musical "Mamma Mia!" simply falls flat on most counts. One would think that the basic plot-line (the bride not knowing who her father is and inviting the 3 candidates to her wedding without her mother's knowledge) would be cause for endless moments of hilarity. Wrong! Someone should have hired some SNL writers to take a crack at this. It needed stronger humor, solid singing chops from its leading stars, and a little less ABBA!!! I know, it's all about ABBA songs but it was just too much. We needed at least 5 fewer songs to make this movie even remotely acceptable. Thumbs down. Most definitely.
Posted by D at Monday, December 22, 2008
Ah that Will Smith. Is there a single mistake he has made in his career? Okay, besides "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "Wild Wild West" (in his defense, I can see why he'd want to team up again with Barry Sonnenfeld (at the helm of "Men in Black") and work with the great Robert Redford). The thing that I love about the guy is that he's solid. He makes wise career choices and never stoops to the lowest common denominator to sell more albums or get more butts in the theater seats.
In "Seven Pounds" he plays Ben Thomas. Here's where my ability to review effectively comes into question. See, I want to tell you all about his character and how superbly he played him, but I don't want to ruin one single solitary moment of this movie for you. It requires a giant question mark in your brain upon entering to fully appreciate it. What is this movie all about? Who is this guy? What exactly is happening? These questions, while all valid will be answered slowly but surely throughout the course of this eye-watering, hand squeezing, love fest. If it seems like I'm being vague...I am. Just see it. It will make you question and more importantly - it will make you feel something - whether it's sadness, hope, joy, or pain - this film is chalk full of it all and what you take away from it will likely vary dramatically from the person in the seat next to you. It's a conversation starter for certain. Make time after to have coffee to discuss it.
I tip my hat off to you Mr. Smith. Your range continues to surprise and impress me as your career continues forth. I don't see The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the movies you make, I see the wide array of often complicated and complex characters you portray.
Posted by D at Saturday, December 20, 2008
Do you like the Flight of the Conchords? If you don't know, you should probably stop reading this post as it will likely mean nothing to you. Fun loving New Zealander (and co-star of Conchords) Jemaine Clement stars in this bizarrely off-beat comedy that resembles a kiwi version of "Napoleon Dynamite" with a dash of Wes Anderson-like flair. Our main protagonist, Lily has her heart set on Clement's Jarrod - a man on a mission of revenge for all his high school beatings by the school bully. Along the way, we meet a myriad of unhappy, dysfunctional, and quirky characters that could use a little extra...something to really get this film jump started. If anything can be taken away from this flick it's the delightful stop motion sequences that pepper the action. In fact, I wish there were more of them - way more. They were sweet, funny and accompanied by perfect musical selections. All in all, I was left feeling as awkward as the characters who go about their lives in a remarkably uncomfortable state of being. This film might need a couple more viewings to fully appreciate - in much the same way as cult classics like "Office Space" suddenly become brilliant the more you watch them. Time will tell. For now, I'll stick with the next season of Conchords - brilliant upon first viewing.
Posted by D at Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sometimes a film comes along that I just can't shut up about. This is one of them. This gem of a movie is blessed with phenomenal performances by John Leguizamo & youngin' David Castro. In fact, if their relationship doesn't bring you to tears at some point during this film I would venture to say you are heartless, cold and quite possibly inhuman. The film follows a family going through homelessness. Yes, there are parallels to "The Pursuit of Happyness" but trust me - it's far from the same flick. I liked Happyness but for whatever reason, this story grabbed me more. There is a certain 'honesty' to the writing & performances that give it some added punch. It's touching and heartbreaking and all the while director Salvatore Stabile is sneakily developing incredibly interesting characters without an ounce of preachiness or pity given their situation. The storytelling is so beautifully successful and also remarkably eloquent & simple - it's hard to realize how difficult such a thing is to accomplish without being cheesy. If you want to be moved by the human condition...go see this movie. I know, it's not playing everywhere. Well - you've heard of Netflix I assume. Put it in your queue this instant. You won't regret it. If this film doesn't compel you to hug your friends and family and be thankful for all that you've been given - I really don't know what will. It's a reminder to us to love, to embrace others, to help others. Now more than ever - we need films like this to take us away from all things impersonal and bring us back to one another.
Okay truth. Honestly, I've had a crush on Keanu Reeves since I was about 16 years old. There's no denying it. I think the man is handsome, and I really really don't care that he isn't that great of an actor. Additionally, I love Sci-Fi. Aliens coming to earth? I'm in. Already, this movie has two things going for it. Jennifer Connelly - solid actress - check. Cute-as-button-like-charm in Will Smith's son Jaden? Check. John Cleese? Already laughing. Check. Jon Hamm (dreamy/a-hole ad exec from AMC's "Mad Men")? Bring it Jon. Check. Now we're up to 6 things...the movie has barely made it through the opening credits and I'm happy. Cut to about 15 minutes in where Kathy Bates attempts to portray the fierce-fisted pushy American top dog and I'm bored. The giant robot-like alien GORT brings the most excitement to this party - and believe me, it was a crappy party. If I could compare it to a kegger I once went to in college, I would say GORT was the linebacker everyone was trying to hold up for a keg stand and you just couldn't get him upside down not matter how hard you tried. Some things just don't work...like taking the 1950's vision of the future and cut and pasting it into 2008 with some CG. Not good. Poor guy, it's not his fault he was so lame. While the cinematography was glorious (there's a beautiful scene in a foggy forest), the rest of the film left much to be desired (sorry Keanu) and while I didn't hate it - I really didn't love it. For now, stick with the '51 original. You'll leave more satisfied.