Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Reviews

A few movie recommendations today, as well as one to caution against. Spent Friday enjoying a few Netflix. Two great movies, one less than superb. Also found a treasure at the used bookstore.

First, my treasure. State & Main. A whole $11 at Bookman’s, totally worth it. There’s something about movies that revolve around making a movie that entertain me.

So we have the cast and crew of this film, “The Old Mill,” being forced to leave their location because of the lead actor’s (Alec Baldwin) indiscretions with a young girl. You’ve got William H. Macy as a producer that you hate, trying to get this production put together while cutting corners. Their budget has been drained and the change of location hasn’t made things easier. First time screenwriter Joe White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is sweet and a bit na├»ve about the business still. He confronts the usual issues of compromising his integrity, changing his story, and adapting to life with these film people.

Alec Baldwin (Bob) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Claire) are actors playing actors. The locals in the town are fascinated by the film crew and begin to ignore their normal routines to be involved with the process. Young Carla (Julia Stiles) takes an interest in Bob. While the local bookstore owner, Ann (Rebecca Pidgeon), strikes up a friendship with writer Joe. I’ll stop the summary there, if I keep going I’ll end up giving everything away.

A very funny, intelligent movie. Worth renting or buying, you’ll want to watch it a few more times. I really don’t know how this film stayed off my radar for as long as it did. Luckily I’m going through a Philip Seymour Hoffman phase right now. Brilliant cast, great script, make time to check this out.

Finally saw Protocol! (To which I cannot find the trailer)

Goldie Hawn comedy from 1984. The plot is simple enough Sunny Davis (Hawn) is a sweet, straightforward waitress at a failing safari themed bar. One night she prevents an assassination of a dignitary and is shot in the process. Of course the media gets involved, suddenly this struggling cocktail waitress is in the public eye. She is given a job in the protocol department, unaware of the fact that she is being used. It’s a fairly predictable film, but with the cast makes it worthwhile. In smaller roles you’ve got Ed Begley Jr., Jean Smart, Kenneth Mars, Chris Sarandon and Cliff De Young (I have an on going game to see how many times I spot Cliff De Young, he’s like Waldo).

On a whim I added Table for Three (2009) to my queue. The trailer looked funny enough and Johnny Galecki has a small role. It actually turned out to be a really amusing movie.

Brandon Routh plays Scott Teller, a single guy who has just been broken up with and is grudgingly on the hunt for a new roommate. He ends up renting the room to a couple, Mary (Sophia Bush) and Ryan (Jesse Bradford). Not just any couple, the most obnoxiously perfect couple imaginable. They begin to hang out as a group of three, but things are threatened with Scott meets Leslie (Jennifer Morrison). Mary and Ryan take it upon themselves to sabotage the relationship. It’s a very funny movie, full of a lot of those moments where you want to cover your eyes but can’t look away.

Now a less than glowing review for Dr. T and the Women (2000). Richard Gere is Dr. T, a popular gynecologist in Texas. His wife Kate (Farrah Fawcett) has had some kind of mental break, supposedly from being loved too much. His daughter Connie (Tara Reid), a conspiracy theory enthusiast is often busy giving tours of the grassy knoll and book depository. His other daughter Dee Dee (Kate Hudson) is a Cowboys alternative cheerleader planning her wedding. Her relationship with maid of honor Marilyn (Liv Tyler) is called into question, are they friends or more than that. Then there is Dr. T’s relationship with new golf pro Bree (Helen Hunt).

Overall, I was expecting something more from this movie. I only found three of the characters really interesting (Connie, Kate and Shelley Long’s character Carolyn). As usual I was less than pleased with their portrayal of a conspiracy theory enthusiast, for some reason Hollywood seems to think that anyone who has an interest in theories is insecure and unstable.

Farrah Fawcett does a spectacular job as Kate and I ended up wanting to see more about her character. There was just something lacking in the story, it failed to hold my attention and seemed rather lackluster, the ending in particular. Also there should be a warning when a movie is going to show the birthing process. I don’t need to see that, nor do I care to. Just a little heads up would’ve been nice. Less than impressed, I wouldn’t bother seeing this movie if you don’t have to.

I’m going to end up watching State & Main again. Two Netflix should be arriving today: The Savages and Sky High.

And a little reminder that The Hangover is out on DVD today. One of the best comedies I’ve seen in a while. So be sure to check it out.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Theatre Recs

Long time between posts, apologies and bygones to my three readers. With the semester wrapping up now, hopefully updates will be a bit more frequent.
Saw two great movies in theatre these past couple of weeks.

Pirate Radio (or The Boat That Rocked if you're of the UK persuasion)

One of my favorite movies, not just for 2009 but all time. Saw it twice in the theatre, it has to be good for me to go more than once.

First of all the cast. A stellar group of performers that offer something for everyone.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is the incredible DJ known only as "The Count." I am now convinced that he is one of the most talented actors out there and doesn't get the amount of recognition he deserves.
Also in the cast Nick Frost, a delight for those of us who are fans of Hot Fuzz, Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. Bill Nighy, who we all know as the aging pop star from Love Actually. The majority of the cast is British and fans of BBC shows will recognize them as such. Also a small appearance from January Jones, Mrs. Betty Draper herself!
And a very special surprise actor/actress that I will not mention, cause I'd hate to spoil it for those who've yet to see.

The story takes place in the 1960s, when pop and rock music were banned from British radio stations. Because of this pirate radio stations were popping up in the North Sea, Radio Rock the most popular. Young Carl is sent to live with his godfather, Quintin (Nighy) and we go from there. The government is hell bent on shutting them down and the effort is lead by Kenneth Branagh. It's a brilliantly written script, lots of British humor. The same writer and director of Love Actually, Richard Curtis, guarantees a high production value.

Something else to be commented on: The Music. Oh my God. Hands down one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long time. It's the beauty of a period piece, none of those emo, alt rock songs you get today with every independent film out there. The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Who. I actually didn't have to buy the soundtrack because I already had most of the songs. After I left the theatre there was no way I could get my music loud enough. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a great speech about the music and what it represents, how you can try to silence the radio stations but there's no way you can silence the message.

See this movie, even if you have to go out of the way.

The Blind Side

This was really an incredible movie. Perfect for the holiday release.

Based on a true story a family takes in a homeless young man who goes to school with their kids. I think you get the gist of things from the trailer, but it really is a well made, touching movie. It's got moments of cliche, but what movie doesn't. Sandra Bullock is hands down one of my favorite actresses of all time and I think it's time she got herself an Oscar. Kathy Bates and Tim McGraw also do justice to the roles they fill. And of course Quinton Aaron who plays Michael is just incredible as the male lead.

Definitely worth seeing if you haven't already.

Coming up, that I really want to see:

It's Complicated
Holy Cast, Batman! Most excited to see Steve Martin, "Not a great time to be feeling groovy"

The Strip
I'm in it for Dave Foley, shocker I know.

Sherlock Holmes
I'm a Holmes fan from way back, ever since the 7th grade. So I do have mixed feelings on this. Ultimately every reproduction of Holmes can bring something new and incredible but at the same time anger those of us who enjoy the canon. The original text aside, I really like the look of Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, they seem to have a nice chemistry, looking forward to the release.