Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Help

The Help -- 4/5

To be honest, nothing about this movie really screamed interesting to me. I usually skip out on films like this, because they really feel generated towards a certain older female audience. It doesn't really help either that the poster has this awful yellow that is unappealing to the eye. Actually, the only reason I was remotely interested in this movie is because I remember my madre reading the book a while back, and if she read it and liked it maybe it's good. I honestly never saw a trailer for this movie because the movies I go out and see wouldn't be advertising this one to their audience.
Well, after good reviews and this movie being at the top of the box office, I decided to switch it over from the "maybe I'll go see it if I have time" list to the "I want to see this pretty soon" list. It had Emma Stone in it at least, and she's been in the spotlight as of late. So I found someone who was interested in it too, and that's when I found myself in a theater watching this movie rather than Final Destination 5 (which I still want to see).
Oh gosh, the trailers leading up to this movie were dreadful, and if I hadn't read raving reviews about this movie, I would have been very much skeptical about the movie I was about to see. The trailers were so bad -- each one I had never heard of and there was a reason for it. It was torture. But finally the movie started and things were starting to look up.
First and foremost, this movie had some spectacular acting. Emma Stone really showed off what she can do outside teen-type roles, but other than her everyone else was spectacular too. Who knew Bryce Dallas Howard of Twilight fame could really act? I honestly wouldn't have bet on it. But all the actresses are solid, and it is so much more than a girly movie (referring to its dominant female cast). I also wouldn't be surprised if there was a best actress nomination in store for Viola Davis who plays Aibileen Clark. So there's one reason for seeing this movie if you think it's honestly not your thing.
And it's not just the actresses that make this movie work. It's a really great story, that brought a little tear to my eye at the end. It's funny, it's heart-warming, it's sad. It doesn't stay at one note the whole time. The movie has a depth to its story that's historical, but it doesn't stop you from thinking about racism that still exists. Not everyone's crying the whole time, but everyone isn't giggling uncontrollably either. Even the shallow characters appear to have some depth to them in the end, which is something I really enjoyed viewing.
Watching the movie makes me wish I had just stolen the book from my mom's bookshelf and read it, but sadly I never did. Maybe someday I will get around to it, because the movie has convinced me it is probably a great book (because all books are better than the movie).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes -- 4.5/5

One word: brilliant. I'm not going to pretend that I've seen all the previous Planet of the Apes movies in full, nor will I pretend that I remember them because I watched them on TV when I was so much younger. I remember those movies as much as I remembered Star Wars, which I realized 6 months ago when my boyfriend forced me to watch a marathon of the older movies I had only retained bits and pieces of the films. I blame my sleepiness and my short attention span for movies on TV that weren't The Wizard of Oz :). But I digress.
This movie was just so well done. And dare I say it near perfect. This movie is one of the few summer films that really delivered what they promised (much like X-Men). The perfect trailers told no lies -- this movie was worth the long trudge through the under-preforming summer remakes and reboots. It flowed with such an ease, and it felt so effortlessly good. This movie delivered what it promised, which is something so many movies struggle with.
And it's not doubt who stole the show in this movie -- Andy Serkis. The other day I read an article that was about how he felt that he didn't get as much respect as an actor, because his CGI characters sort of steal the show from him. I can see where a lot of people would overlook him, for sure. He never looks like himself in movies, and always looks like something else, whether it be Gollum or Caesar. It's a shame that he's so far down the cast list on Internet Movie Database, really. He not only stole the show, but he really was the main actor in the movie. He's fabulous. There was one specific scene where Caesar is communicating to his fellow monkeys without any words or subtitles and it's beautiful. When an actor doesn't need words to keep an audience engaged, that's when you know he's among the great. Andy Serkis was much of the reason I went to see this movie, and he is very much the reason I fell in love with this movie walking out. Like Boris Karloff, Serkis brings life to his characters that are not necessarily human; A monster-actor like no other*.
If my rambles about Andy Serkis don't convince you to got out and see this movie, then please go see it for the quality. It's beautiful, it's wondrous, and it's ever so fabulous. The story is so well paced, the movie is edited so well, and I really want to go out and see this movie again before it leaves theaters. This movie does not fall short on writing. Do not miss this greatness on screen please :).

* My friend Tasha inspired this line by telling me about an article she read on Andy Serkis a few weeks ago :)

30 Minutes or Less

30 Minutes or Less -- 2.5/5

30 Minutes or Less was...less than good. Though it had a few chuckles and giggles, it felt so formulaic and just not very enjoyable. It was alright, it was okay. If anything it was a rental, not a movie you go to see on the bigger screen for $10.
It was so lack luster, and so underwhelming for me. I really thought this movie could do no wrong. It had the director, it had the actors, and it had the girl from Greek! What more could a person ask for in a comedy?? Nothing! And this is why I shouldn't judge a movie by its flashy big names. It only brings disappointment, really.
The biggest complaint I have with this movie is Danny McBride and everything his character's story brought to the table. I used to have the highest admiration for him as a comedian, and now I'm not so sure. As my friend Tasha said, sometimes crass for the sake of it isn't funny at all. What Danny McBride did in Pineapple Express was refreshing at the time, and now it's just annoying to listen to. I don't want to hear about all the code names for a BJ, I'm not interested! Also, his character had zero development. He ended the way he started -- a loser. Maybe if he ended up admitting he was in love with his best pal it would have elevated the movie a teeny bit, but not by much. Everyone just ran around in circles and learned nothing. It was the result of really poor writing.
One thing I learned from this movie is that Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari are a really great comedy duo and can make an script more enjoyable. They were pretty funny throughout and their energy really balanced each other out. I'd love to see them in more things with another.
And the hugest disappointment of them all was the complete lack of Dilshad Vadsaria, my favorite sorority sister from the TV show Greek. She showed up in maybe 3 scenes, had very little dialogue, and could have easily been cut from the script. I thought that maybe she would end up dating Eisenberg in the end, but the movie left that really open ended. They kissed a few times, but not enough to convince me that after that night they would be together for the long haul.
If you are interested in this movie, I would say wait to rent it :) It would really be the best bet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Barefoot Dream & It's Kind of a Funny Story

A Barefoot Dream (2010) -- 3/5

Awh, how cute. Underprivileged children running around smiling, laughing and crying with their eyes set on one specific goal -- to become soccer stars. It's a movie that can really translate to all cultures alike. Sports just work that way, and that's why we have the Olympics. So even if you were a little weary on watching a film with subtitles, a movie like this would be a good place to start. There are even children with a sports dream! And all children are adorable, no matter what culture.
I'm not a sports movie kind of person. They kind of all hold the same formula and either has one of two endings (they win or they don't). I don't care what sport it is, I get bored. However, this one had its amusing parts thanks to the adult actor (I honestly could not tell you his name). He talks out loud to himself like no one else can hear him, which is a really amusing character quirk and it also helped hold my interest.
There were some rather irking plot holes. The main character has a family he calls via phone every once in a while, but the director really doesn't dive into their estranged relationship. All the audience knows is that he has a son and possibly an ex-wife/girlfriend and neither want anything to do with him. You are also aware that he was a popular soccer player before, but no longer is and after his career he got in a lot of money trouble somehow. Honestly though, I didn't care enough for them to dive and deeper into his personal life back in Korea.
The children were very cute. They reminded me a lot of the kids in Slumdog Millionaire. The little girl was especially wonderful and was very close to bringing tears to my eyes when she was crying for the main actor to stay.
Another issue with the film was the languages. I'm sure this could possibly happen, but when the Korean character could easily have a conversation with the Indonesian guy who only speaks English it's odd to listen to. They can understand each other's languages, but cannot even speak one word of them? It felt slightly off to me.
It feels like every sports film to be honest. So if you like those types of movies, but are a little nervous to watch an international film, one like this could easily be a great segue into watching more of them.

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) -- 3/5

I had this movie forever sitting by my bluray player, waiting for me to watch it. I put my expensive Netflix membership to such great use, obviously. To be honest though, I was going through a Harry Potter obsession that this movie could not break into. I had been wanting to watch this movie for some time, and maybe my hopes were too high, but it just didn't click with me at all.
I feel like I missed the point of this movie. A kid checks himself into a mental ward at a hospital, has some good times with young females and older males, possibly discovers himself, and then after a week leaves because all is well! Oh, but in the end he specifically states that all is not really well, but it's a great start. I don't buy any of this. I also honestly cannot remember, but I'm pretty sure he falls in love with Emma Robert's character at the end, which also feels a little odd. Of course he's in love with her, just like he was in love with his best friend played by Zoe Kravitz of X-Men: First Class fame. Maybe I am jaded. Maybe I've seen one too many teen indie movies like this, but I'm a little tired of them. They have the same formula as Juno, and I feel like they want me to think the movie is oh so original. I honestly don't. And it bores me more than sports films.
Maybe the book is better, and just cannot be made into a movie (like many books!). Maybe I'm a grumpy 21 year old who dislikes romantic-y movies already. Or maybe my Post-Potter-Depression was still working into me and I cannot like anything that's not like Harry Potter. Maybe, maybe. It's all a maybe.
The acting and characters are what makes this movie interesting and worth watching I think. It's not unenjoyable. It's cutesy. The characters are solid. I'm sure the book goes into more depth with them (one would only hope) and all this movie could do was skim the surface with them. At least they could pull a great cast together to bring these characters to life. Great characters can stitch up any plot holes in a film, by making it more interesting and watchable :). It's also a lot better than most American rom-coms out there (please see my review on Friends with Benefits). I'm sure if you're an indie film fan, you will probably go gaga over this film. I can guarantee it.