29 April 2008

There will be Blood


The latest from Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis was a monstrous 158 minute epic about the oil boom of the 1800’s. The preview was misleading. I was not prepared for 158 minutes of awkwardly long scenes and long-drug out storylines.

The movie centers on Daniel Plainview, Day-Lewis, and his quest to be the biggest oil tycoon. He is a man that will do next to anything to be that person. Throughout the film, we are shown how ruthless and unscrupulous he can be when something or someone gets in the way of his dream. This is the only aspect of the film that I thought was well done and that I enjoyed.

It opens on Daniel searching for an ore-like rock in a hole signaling that oil is there. He then finds it and so starts his mission mentioned above. After an unfortunate accident killing his friend, Daniel takes in his baby boy and calls him his own, HW Plainview. They travel west to drill for oil. They proposition towns and villages offering cuts of the profits, jobs, and instant production. He makes his way out to a little village after a mysterious meeting with Eli Sunday, portrayed Paul Dano. Upon arrival in this village, Eli welcomes them, only his name is Paul. I am not quite sure what this was all about. My thoughts are that Eli/Paul has a multiple personality disorder. Paul is the pastor at the church and that is his motivation for everything that he does. Daniel is not a religious man, so this causes some conflict.

As for the rest of the film, Daniel’s son loses his hearing in an accident, sends him away, is found by his old lost brother, becomes rich, and then the ending occurs. The ending still baffles me to this day. I feel like I missed something, but at the same time, I feel like I just was not meant to get it. Paul comes back from a mission trip. H.W. leaves the family business to start his own company. Daniel is a crabby old man.

Verdict: If I hadn’t seen the SNL skit making fun of this and No Country for Old Men called “I Drink Your Milkshake,” some of the scenes might have been more powerful, but instead they were lost on me as I was trying not to laugh. If you are an avid Academy Award Nominee watcher like me, you will see this movie no matter what I say. But, I do not recommend this movie if you were a fence sitter. It is extremely long and loses focus in the end. There is no climax per se. It does not have any closure, but then again I feel that the movie had no need for any. It was weird. I did see this on an early dismissal from work due to snow instead of sitting in stopped traffic. But I do not think that affected my reaction. It did not grow on me in time. I’M FINISHED!


Best Feel Good Movie of the Year

Wow! That is an understatement. Juno has been the best movie going experience in a while. I don’t even know where to begin. This movie has it all. Acting, directing, script, characters, and music. There is nothing that this movie is missing. It will top Fox Searchlight’s highest grossing movie, last year’s surprise hit Little Miss Sunshine. So, I am not sure

Juno opens with the namesake, portrayed by Ellen Page, walking drinking Sunny D. She arrives at a convenience store and buys a pregnancy test. Of course, she is pregnant. Or in the words of the convenience store clerk, The Office’s Rainn Wilson, “Your egg-o is preggo.” Poor Juno, being high school student, she has to break the news to her father, played by JK Simmons, and mother, played by Allison Janney. The scene is comedic genius. The whole movie is comedic genius. Juno informs them that Paulie Bleaker, Arrested Development and Superbad's Michael Cera, fathered her baby, to which Mac, her father, replies, “I didn’t know he has it in him.” She tells them that she has decided to keep the baby and put it up for adoption. The only catch being she wants to pick the family. So, Juno and her friend search wanted ads for the perfect couple.

Enter the Lorimg family, Vanessa and Mark, played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. They seem to be the rich professional type that just cannot have kids. Juno then decides this is the family. But as with every family, the Lorings have their flaws. The remainder of the film follows Juno through her pregnancy, the Loring family in their preparation for the baby, and Juno’s relationship with Bleaker.

For a first time screenwriter, Diablo Cody captures the youth of this time and the dialogue proves that. After her win at the Academy Awards, she is going to have to overcome the sophomore-slump. This is unfortunate. Many Oscar winners have had trouble after winning the coveted statue. Jason Reitman captures everything that Cody’s script is intended to have. Verdict: This is the most feel good movie of the year. That fact alone dooms it on Award night. The Academy does not like a feel good flick. If it bleeds it leads seems to be the mentality. This is a must-see for anybody and everybody. If you can’t see it in theaters, this is definitely queue-worthy on your Netflix. Personally, I am going to buy the Blu-Ray if it is released in that format.

28 April 2008

Hot Rod

Hot Rod is not Cool Beans

In the preview when he asks if they reinforced the ramp and they say no, then he wrecks horribly made me laugh so hard. Sadly, that is all that is funny in the whole entire movie. Andy Samberg leads a cast of misfits in this horrific “movie.” It is basically a Jackass movie that is scripted. Well, more scripted.

Where to begin on this piece of trash is hard to tell. It is the story of Rod Kimble who thinks he is Evel Knievel style stuntman, who for some reason wrestles his stepfather to prove he is a man. When said stepfather, Deadwood’s Ian McShane, has heart problems, Rod decides to do a stunt for a fundraiser to buy his stepfather a new heart. So, his team of stupid friends set out to do just that. This movie is ridiculous. I can understand why Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Chris Parnell would do a movie like this. They have nothing better going on in their “careers” at this time. By why would Academy Award Winner Sissy Spaceck, Golden Globe Winner Ian McShane, and Isla Fisher do such a bland, stupid movie? I just don’t get it.

Akiva Schaffer and Pam Brady are to blame for directing and writing this piece of ninety minute hell. It got my movie choosing license revoked by the wife. I will never see another movie by these two lesser beings. I am cutting this review off now. Verdict: Do I even need to say?


Sadly, I was Enchanted

When it comes to movies about princesses and kingdoms, nobody does it better than Disney. So, when it comes to poke fun at the same genre, who better than to do the job? Disney took all their familiar storylines and formulas and pointed out ridiculous they are in real life. This was not my movie of choice, but I do owe my wife two movies after the atrocity that was Hot Rod. I went it wanting to hate this movie. I can sit here and rant on about how trite it was, how childish it was, how predictable it was, but that is what it was supposed to be. Instead, I will pay it the respect it deserves.

The film opens in cartoon form, narrated by Disney alum Julie Andrews. It is a fairy tale about a brave, strong, handsome prince and a tree loving, pretty princess. They are meant to find each other and fall in love. Prince Edward’s step-mother is of course evil and if he and the Giselle meet, fall in love, and get married, she will lose her throne. In her attempt to stop this from happening, she sends Giselle to the “real world” in the form of Amy Adams. Amy was amazing in this role. She portrayed a fish out of water better than I have seen in a very long time. To save her, Prince Edward falls into the “real world” in the form of James Marsters. Of course, Queen Narissa sends her goon, Timothy Spall playing Nathaniel, to prevent them from finding each other.

While trying to find the palace in modern day New York City, Giselle runs into Robert Phillip, Grey’s Anatomy’s Patrick Dempsey. He lends her a hand upon the request of his young daughter. The next morning, he attempts to send her home, but has to stop by his office. It turns out that he is a divorce lawyer, and Giselle accidentally keeps a couple together. The rest of the film follows Giselle trying to acclimate to the “real world” and Robert dealing with her. His daughter falls for her as a person. His girlfriend tries to come to terms with her. Phillip also tries to help her understand “real love” as opposed to her fairy tale love. The story starts to set up the star-crossed-lovers story that is familiar in so many fairy tales.

In true Disney fashion, the movie culminates at a costume ball. Here, Queen Narissa arrives in the form of Susan Sarandon. She has a poisoned apple, which Nathaniel has been unable to get Giselle to eat. Of course, Giselle bites, and falls into a slumber. Then, it of course takes her true-love’s kiss to break the spell. It is all fantastical and Disney. As much as I wanted to hate this movie, I found that I could not. The only negative I have is that the ending seemed a bit rushed. Verdict: Totally worth the time and money. I will be purchasing this one.

14 April 2008

Street Kings

Not Kings of Box Office

Well, I went into this movie with low expectations, and they were met. There were two major problems with Street Kings: the cast & the plot. First, let me lay out the plot for you. It revolves around a Vice squad that is that “dirty” and being investigated by Internal Affairs. Keanu Reeves is part of this squad. He is being investigated because of his old partner “turning” on him. When his partner is killed, he and a detective try and solve his murder. That is the entire plot. Why is it bad? It sounds decent enough, right? Well, I figured it out right away. I kept waiting for the plot to change, or to develop into something else. But, that was the entire plot. This all goes down within the first 30 minutes of the film. I am then sitting in the theater for an additional hour and some change, waiting on a group of cops and detectives to put together what I have already figured out.

Now, this brings me to the cast. Is it sad that the only casting that was decent is Keanu Reeves as down-and-out old-dog cop Tom Ludlow? Forest Whitaker plays Denzel Washington from Training Day. If they wanted Denzel, pay for Denzel. The other cops in the Vice squad unit are John Corbett, Jay Mohr, and Amaury Nolasco. Amaury was the best, but I am not familiar with him. Jay Mohr is a comedian, not really the vice cop type. John Corbett was in My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Sex and the City. Again, not really the vice cop type. So, this vice squad is being investigated by IA by Capt. James Biggs, House’s Hugh Laurie. Again, what a terrible casting choice. He seemed completely lost in his role as a mean cop. The last main character was Det. Paul Diskant played by Fantastic Four’s Human Torch Chris Evans. He was not that bad. The only problem I have with his character was he does not look old enough to be a detective.

Throughout the film, we are assaulted by two rappers trying to act, Common and The Game. How can you take these guys seriously? We also have to suffer through Whitaker’s impersonation of Denzel, Hugh trying to figure out that he is not on the set of House, and the rest of the vice squad to realize that this is supposed to be a real film. Keanu can do no wrong in a role that requires him to be an alcoholic bum with no emotion. Even Cedric the Entertainer also had a little cameo appearance in this film. The entire last hour was spent chasing down the bad guys only to find out that the bad guys are the cops. Surprised? Me either. It was written by James Ellroy of L.A. Confidential fame, a novel/movie about police corruption, and directed by David Ayer of Training Day fame, a movie about police corruption. L.A. Confidential is one of my all time favorite movies. Training Day is only good on the first viewing, but still decent. But, if you mix these two together, you get flat characters overacting roles that they shouldn’t have in the first place with a plot as simple as boiling water.

Finally, I sadly have to admit that it was a guilty pleasure. Ayer did have a few good action shots. He is a respectable director for action, but I put a majority of the bad acting on his inability to gt what he needed from this crop of actors. Will I buy it? Possibly... for really cheap and “used” somewhere. Verdict: wait for a rental if you want to see this. If not, just watch L.A. Confidential and Training Day. You are really not missing a whole lot here.