Thursday, December 17, 2009

Avatar Sneak Peek

Eric got to see a sneak of Avatar. So jealous! Here are his thoughts: his video blog.

Can't wait to see it!

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Monday, November 23, 2009

Twilight Cycles

WARNING: If humor about menstruation upsets you, don't watch this Funny or Die clip. :) If you're ok with it, I highly recommend it since it makes fun of Twilight very cleverly.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pirate Radio (British Title: The Boat that Rocked) - 2 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who like fluffy indie coming of age movies

Best Mood to Walk In With: Relaxed

Don't See This Movie If: You're looking for a heavy hitting plot

Although the movie itself is not bad (so-so, in my opinion), I refuse to write too much about it based on the fact that one scene is intolerable. Although half the plot is focused on the fact that Britain has pretty much outlawed rock-n-roll music, forcing fans to listen to a radio station that is boat-based, the other half of the movie is focused on a young man set on losing his virginity. And although this is not a new story line, it certainly crosses the line in how it is presented.

At one point, a deejay on the boat begins getting intimate with his girlfriend and then turns off the lights to try and trick her into actually having sex with the ingenue virgin. Not only is this scene not funny due to bad execution, but the basic premise is offensive. I'm sick of movies putting disgusting moments like this in films for a cheap laugh (In Observe and Report, Seth Rogen is shown having sex with a drunk girl who is passed out.). What are we teaching people by making these scenes "funny"? Would it be funny if someone tricked your daughter, sister, or female friend into having sex with someone they didn't think was in the room? Obviously not, so why are we making light in film what would be horrifying and illegal in real life?

So Hollywood, clean up your act and stop making violence toward women funny. This is one consumer who is sick of it.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

The Blind Side - 3.5 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People looking for a feel good comedy

Best Mood to Walk In With: Hopeful

Don't See This Movie If: You don't like dramatized films of real life inspirational stories

The Blind Side is surprisingly really good. Although it takes place in Memphis, and obviously was not shot there, I still really enjoyed it. (Big words coming from a Memphian!) And like most inspirational flicks, some impossibilities do occur (like Sandra Bullock's character going into the ghetto and challenging gun carrying thugs and making it out alive). But these things aside, The Blind Side served its purpose of inspiring and surprisingly also made me laugh often.

Despite what Bullock has said about how she's not the kind of actor who does work that wins awards, I think The Blind Side is completely dependent on her best performance yet. Without her remarkable and subtle performance, it would be too sugary sweet and over the top. Somehow, unbelievable, trite lines about how Michael, a boy from an underprivileged background, has changed her life seem less gag-worthy coming from Bullock's lips.

Although other performances are good, they're nothing to write home about. (Sorry Tim McGraw. Keep trying buckaroo.) However, possibly my favorite part of the movie is when the credits are rolling and you see footage of the real life Michael Oher with his family during career milestones. The movie itself is sentimental and moving, but the real story it is based on is heartwarming and a reminder of what open hearted people can do to change others' lives. The Blind Side made me proud to share a hometown with the Tuhoys.

Keep Your Ears Open For: The best line of the movie, "Who thought we'd have a Black son before we knew a Democrat?"
And Stay Aware That: As amazing it is to watch the film version of Oher escaping from the projects, let it be known that real life Memphis projects are much worse than portrayed in the film, making Oher's transition that much more incredible.

All in all, The Blind Side is a refreshingly touching movie that somehow excels amongst its too Hollywood-contrived "inspirational" brethren. Definitely a hit, and definitely a movie for fans of Oher or fans of true life happy endings.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Twilight Saga - New Moon - 3.0 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People that enjoy the Twilight series books

Best Mood to Walk In With: Ready for cheesiness

Don't See This Movie If: You are not a fan of the books

I enjoy the Twilight series as books; however, I was incredibly disappointed with the first movie. The awful effects, the plot gaps if you hadn't read the book, the bad acting...all of it ended in disappointment for me. However, I was overwhelmingly in the minority since most of the people who had read the book loved the movie. I chalked this to obsessive fan power of tweens and let it go. I debated even seeing New Moon in theaters because I still felt so cheated out of what could have potentially been a great film had it not been rushed through production and packaged for those with lower movie expectations. But since New Moon is my favorite of the 4 Twilight books, I decided to go ahead and fork over the $10.

Let me just say, it was worth the money. Please note, though, that this statement is based on a lot of conditions. First, you must already like the Twilight series, whether because you enjoy the books or because you somehow saw the movie on its own and joined the phenomenon. If you don't know what is going on, this movie may slightly confuse you because it relies on your knowledge of past events. Secondly, you must be ready for the corny romance. This is not a subtle love or a slow moving romance, this is an obsessive, over-the-top relationship that says the most ridiculous things every chance it gets. And that is inevitably part of its charm, but you have to be ready for it or the sappiness will get tiresome quickly. And finally, you have to be a good sport. I didn't see it opening night or the night after. In fact, the theater was more empty than full, but still every time Taylor Lautner appeared, girls screamed. Also, some middle aged women sitting in front of me made inappropriate comments about what they wanted to do to this 17 year old boy whenever he took off his shirt (which was often).

Since I can't really speak about the acting (I mean, let's be honest, that's not why you're going to see this movie anyway), I do want to point out that it is unfortunate for Rob Pattinson that he takes his shirt off after Lautner has already stripped numerous times. My friend Sara remarked that Pattinson did not have a great body, but I think it is hard to find Edward attractive when Lautner is undeniably so easy on the eyes. In fact, overall this is the basic issue I have with this movie. The entire movie makes Jacob so attractive and perfect, that it is hard to understand why Bella doesn't fall in love with him. Granted, reading the books, you wondered the same thing, but in the end whether or not you were Team Jacob or Team Edwards, you could understand why Bella did what she inevitably does. However, for the purposes of the movie, it seems completely like she is getting the raw end of the deal.

Thankfully, not only is the acting moderately better (Lautner is much more impressive in this movie than the last), the effects are where you see the biggest difference. From the completely awful running through the forest scene of the last movie to the incredible CGI wolves in this one, the special effects are like night and day. I sincerely look forward to seeing what tricks are in store for us with the upcoming Eclipse.

Keep Your Eyes Open For: The movie theater scene...I was laughing out loud for a good 5 minutes with that one
And Stay Aware That: Billy does not miraculously free himself from the wheelchair he was bound to in the first movie. That's actually Harry, who seems to take over the best friend role that Billy has in the book concerning Charlie.

All in all, Twilight lovers will be pleased that the movie franchise has upped the ante, but New Moon is still only a frothy dessert compared to the much more filling entree of the book itself.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Christmas Carol - 3.75 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Adults that enjoy the gritty original story of A Christmas Carol

Best Mood to Walk In With: Ready to be spooked

Don't See This Movie If: You prefer a feel good version of this story that is more commonly shown in media

Probably the most important thing to know about Disney's A Christmas Carol is that, despite the animation, this is not a movie for children. At times I was actually frightened, and the theme of death and sin is very strong in this film as it was in the original Charles Dickens novel. If you're looking for a kid friendly version, rent the Muppets Christmas Carol instead.

So once you get past the fact that this is not an overall feel good movie, the film is actually wonderfully executed. Although I did not see this film in 3-D, good friends have told me it was one of the few 3-D movies that actually utilize 3-D in creative and ongoing ways. However, I did not need to even ask them, because the animation was so vivid, it was easy to tell where the more dynamic 3-D effects could be placed to enhance already rich images. The creativity of the animation is quite outstanding, particularly with the way the ghosts are presented.

In addition to the wonderful presentation, Jim Carrey proves his relevancy in today's filmography by lending his voice to all the major characters. He does a really great job and it is creepy to see parts of his face represented in all the people he brings to life. Additionally, the underlying soundtrack of noises and music blend so perfectly with what you're watching that you're drawn deeper into the story than with most animated features.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: The passing of the Ghost of Christmas Present...scary!
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The emotion-invoking animation of the horses drawing the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come's carriage (that emotion also being fear)

All in all, A Christmas Carol would win a 4 Star rating from me if it weren't for the fact that I walked in expecting a more feel good movie. It's time for studios to start marketing films as they really are, rather than how they think will sell the most tickets. Shame on production companies for not giving us realistic expectations, particularly when the reality is much better than what you advertised.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Box - 0 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: I find it hard to believe anyone would find this movie worth $10

Best Mood to Walk In With: Ready to walk out

Don't See This Movie If: You have better things to do with your clip your toe nails or watching any other movie

Donnie Darko fans are going to be disappointed, because The Box is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Seriously though, don't waste your money. I know Donnie Darko is a bit out there and not for everyone, but filmmaker Richard Kelly steps it up a notch this time and made a film that no one will likely enjoy.

I've decided that film names that consist of a noun explaining what the movie is about is always a bad idea. For instance, last year's Fighting. What was the movie about? Fighting. What was the movie named? Fighting. Was the movie good? Decidedly not. Now let's repeat those question but insert "The Box" for "Fighting". Not only was the script convoluted, but there seemed to be no motivation for the characters acting as they did. Additionally, there was no resolution, no explanation for the mysteries that had been presented for the entire time.

To be honest, even if the movie did make sense, The Box would still be difficult to watch because of Cameron Diaz's atrocious accent. I just felt all over bad for Frank Langella who made an awful decision lending his talent to this horrible film.

All in all, don't waste 2 hours of your life on The Box unless you feel the need to punish yourself for something.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Friday, October 30, 2009

But I'm a Cheerleader (on DVD) - 2.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who like social satire and don't mind clumsy filmmaking

Best Mood to Walk In With: Prepared for the mixing of both cynical and heartfelt humor

Don't See This Movie If: Clever humor is not enough for you to deal with trite, predictable storylines

But I'm a Cheerleader is not a bad movie if you like campy-ness and are in an easygoing mood. Folks who tend to be critical of indies not being as good as Hollywood should probably not see this movie.

Basically the premise is that a cheerleader is suspected of being a lesbian, and after being shipped off to gay camp discovers that everyone else was correct. Although not a fairy tale by any means, the storyline is as predictable as one and the acting is flat. However, there are moments of humor that kept me watching.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: The awful use of stereotypes
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The surprise scene after the credits start rolling.

To be honest, I have little to say about this film, because everything was pretty mediocre. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. All in all, But I'm a Cheerleader is not awful, but I wouldn't spend money on it. Try catching it on TBS or HBO on Demand if you feel the need to see it.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Away We Go (on DVD) - 3 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who like indie romances

Best Mood to Walk In With: Laid back

Don't See This Movie If: You want something fast-paced or unrealistic

Sadly, I missed this critically acclaimed indie when it appeared in art house theaters and had to wait for Away We Go to arrive on DVD. Although it proved to be an original and entertaining movie, I did not find it to be the best film of the year. While last year's indie smash Juno was fast paced and sarcastically witty, this film is much more realistic and finds humor in the every day ridiculousness.

You never know what to expect out of Sam Mendes content-wise, but no matter the story, you know you get quality. American Beauty showed us the depravity of the suburbs, Road to Perdition focused on revenge, Jarhead took us to war, Revolutionary Road exposed a self-destructive marriage...Surprisingly, Away We Go shows us the beauty of the ordinary and the freedom of creating our own life. Is this a turning point for Mendes? It's doubtful. Instead, I believe his array of works just shows that every thorn has its rose as well.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are cast well, but it is Maggie Gyllenhaal I fell in love with. Toni Collette had originally been slated in the role of LN, and although Collette is brilliant, the role was perfect with Gyllenhaal. Tons of big names cameo, Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janey...the normal cast of quirky characters in a movie about misfits.

Please Don't Miss: It may seem like an excellent bathroom break when the couple enters the hotel, but the scene with the kid talking about babies is hilarious.
You're Sure To Laugh When: Gyllenhaal's explanation of why she dislikes strollers.

All in all, Away We Go is fun, but fluffy. Not a bad way to spend an otherwise uneventful evening, but certainly not something that can't wait.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paranormal Activity - 4 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like movies that are scary but without large amounts of blood and gore

Best Mood to Walk In With: Prepared to not sleep

Don't See This Movie If: You want a big effects thriller

Paranormal Activity proves itself as the little movie that could. With a budget less than $15k, this film manages to pack in the creepies while also finishing glossier and more Hollywood than its Blair Witch predecessor.

The beauty is surprisingly found in the simplicity. It doesn't take big time effects, terrifying monsters, or scenes of carnage to give you the willies. Instead, the film shows you every day life. Things that all of us have had happen around us before...flickering lights, rumbling noises, swaying doors, nightmares...they all take a more ominous tone with the insertion of a demonic explanation. Perhaps it is the normality of so many of the situations that begins to haunt us, so that when the really supernatural occurs we are ready to jump.

The fact that this movie is a "documentary" and begins with an acknowledgment of the victim's families and ends with no credits is one of the cleverest things I've seen a horror movie do. Even while you're reminding yourself that it was just a movie in your car ride home, you're still able to doubt. The actors in the movie are natural, Katie in particular. And unlike Blair Witch, the "guerrilla" footage won't make you motion sick.

Paranormal Activity also expands on the fears almost everyone has as a child and turns them into reality. Who wasn't nervous about your foot coming out from under the covers and the monsters that lived under the bed getting you? Also inventive is the way the filmmakers make use of the concept of time. Simply watching the timestamp fastforward quickened my heart, because I knew something scary was about to happen. I was like Pavlov's dog, my body trained to react in fear even if nothing was coming.

Please Don't Miss: The ending. It is a true culmination of the entire movie. (After Steven Spielberg saw the original footage, he suggested the ending that made the widely released version.)
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The Ouija board scene terrified me
You're Sure To Laugh When: The expert booking it out. LOL.

All in all, for a movie that was filmed in one week, Paranormal Activity is incredibly effective and one of the best scary movies I've seen. After a sleepless night of trying to keep every body part in the direct center of my bed, I'm still excited about the sequel. :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are - 4 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Older children of any age

Best Mood to Walk In With: Prepared to re-enter childhood

Don't See This Movie If: You have no concept of imagination

I am in love with Where the Wild Things Are. Spike Jonze said, "I didn't look at it as trying to make a children's movie. I just wanted to make a movie about childhood." It is this concept that haunts every scene, every moment, and every frame of this epic movie. Where the Wild Things Are successfully does what The Wizard of Oz also accomplished 70 years ago, it translates a wonderfully vivid book into an even more tangible and fantastic world of imagination and childhood fantasy.

Adults will connect with Where the Wild Things Are because it reminds us what it feels like to be a child. Everything Jonze does is from the viewpoint of a kid named Max, and his remarkable attention to detail will make this film a classic. One of the best things I noticed concerning this immersion into Max's point of view is how in the real world every person is seen from a lower angle. When Max is in a scene with his Mom or sister, the camera is looking up at them. But once Max enters the land of the wild things, even though they are monstrously tall compared to him, the camera shows them at the same level. Max is never looking up to them, because they do what the real world so often neglects, validating the worth of a child's viewpoint as equal to their own. Upon Max's reentry to normal life, Jonze does not condescend to imagine that the world has drastically changed to recognize Max as an equal. Instead he keeps the angles as they were, but shows the way the adults stoop or sit to join Max on his level. Once Max and his Mother are reunited, you never again see her as taller than her son. It's a lyrical symbolism that credits Jonze's directorial talents.

Although this film is fantastical, the emotions are raw, powerful, and very real. Because of this and the beautiful way they are portrayed, I believe this is what Spike Jonze will be remembered for. Max Records who was last seen in The Brothers Bloom astounded me by acting so naturally and charmingly as Max. He is a youngster to keep your eye on, and I hope more evolves from his career than the unfortunately short-lived one of Haley Joel Osment. However, it is James Gandolfini who I believe will be recognized by the Academy for his startlingly touching and nuanced translation of Carol, the focal point of the wild things. For an actor who has long played thugs and villains, Gandolfini does a remarkable job of showing vulnerability, false bravedo, and longing simply through his voice. Of course I don't want to forget the CGI animators and puppeteers that tackled the mammoth task of giving body and facial expressions to the voices. And don't miss Catherine Keener, Catherine O'Hara, and Forest Whitaker who also move the audience with their passionate performances.

Please Don't Miss: The opening scene where the Warner Brothers logo and a fun romp with a dog fully characterize Max within 30 seconds
Keep Your Ears Open For: The incredible soundtrack that harmonizes so perfectly to the action, you almost forget it is there
You're Sure To Laugh When: The comment about eating off feet appears

I've read that Where the Wild Things Are is being considered an indie arthouse flick. However, I would disagree and say that this film is exactly what every movie should aspire to be. It is both entertaining as a movie, but executed with the beauty and thoughtfulness to make it art. And it reminds us of the important lesson that whether you're mournful or triumphant, the emotion can always be captured with a good, loud HHHHOOOOOOWWWWWLLLLLL! :)

Movie Are Life. ~ K

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fame - 2 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like America's Got Talent-like talent revues

Best Mood to Walk In With: Easily entertained

Don't See This Movie If: You want a musical with a storyline

Fame has no storyline and moderate talent. I say this not because there are no extremely talented characters, but because they are countered by some actors who would have been laughed out of American Idol auditions.

I know musicals are not known for their incredible plots. In fact, most of them are loosely bound by storylines that simply link the songs to each other. However, if shows like Les Miserables and Rent and Wicked are happy exceptions to this rule, then the remake of Fame is a sad exception to the standard. The stories of the characters keep you less interested than an episode of a reality tv show (e.g. The Bachelor or Charm School), so it is the raw talent that you should go see this movie for.

Unfortunately, with the exception of Naturi Naughton, who plays Denise (the pianist singing the song featured in all the ads for this movie), there is little talent to speak of that you wouldn't find at a high school talent show. Specifically Kay Panabaker makes it difficult to even believe her character Jenny could have made it into this school of performing arts, much less succeed at it.

However, two things made this movie enjoyable for me. The first was obviously Naughton who got loud applause from the entire theater after she finished singing her first song. This young lady is talented and I hope to see her in a better vehicle for what she has to offer. The second are the incredible cameos of Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Charles Dutton as the school's teachers. Without a doubt, these Broadway veterans have talent, and there is a fantastic scene where Megan Mullally belts it. Had there been more of that and less of the students, I would have enjoyed Fame much more.

Feel Free to Go to the Restroom During: The contrived scene where Mr. Dowd asks Malik about his father
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The hilarious audition in the opening montage of the guy doing a Chicago number

All in all, if you're looking for a good musical, rent my favorite movie Meet Me In St. Louis or, if you need a more modern one, Chicago. Fame just isn't going to make the cut.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Couples Retreat - 3 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like typical romantic comedys

Best Mood to Walk In With: Good natured

Don't See This Movie If: You are wanting a more hard core Vince Vaughn comedy-centric movie like Swingers or Old School

Couples Retreat has gotten awful reviews, and although I did not think it lived up to its potential, I did think it was a fun way to relax with some friends. If you're comparing the movie to Old School or Sex and the City, of course it will come up short because those are in an upper echelon of pop-coms or pop-roms. (Yes, I made up those words, but hope you understand their meanings...)

However, when comparing Couples Retreat to the typical trash that comes out, it fares much better than an All About Steve or Imagine That. Which leads to an important question: Why do some reviewers judge a few actors against themselves (Vince Vaughn) and not others (Eddie Murphy). True, Couples Retreat is not something that will be a timeless classic, but it made me giggle even if it was predictable, and it certainly did not deserve the awful reviews it has received.

To play off a comment made in the movie, think of Couples Retreat as a screen saver. It can be really cool and interesting, but it's still a screensaver. This movie has funny and cute parts, but it is still a typical romantic comedy. Nothing too special. And to be honest, that's all I have to say about it.

Feel Free to Go to the Restroom During: the Kristin Davis storyline...any of it
Keep Your Eyes Open For: Vince Vaughn's explanation in the woods about why he prefers married life to single's an "Awww" moment for the ladies

All in all, Couple's Retreat is a completely acceptable rental. And if you need a rom com that's in theaters now, it is the only truly viable option at the moment.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Invention of Lying - 2.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who liked Ghost Town

Best Mood to Walk In With: Gullible

Don't See This Movie If: You can't stand illogical premises

The Invention of Lying doesn't know if it wants to be social commentary or a romantic comedy. Because of this, the script is disjointed and not thought through enough to be truly clever. While there are moments of humor, overall this movie is a disappointment and not a good vehicle for Ricky Gervais's enormous talents.

If you're like me and cannot buy into a film with gaping plot holes, you will not enjoy this movie. The general interesting idea about society's approach to organized religion is overshadowed by inconsistent logic and bad explanations. It is also fascinating how this film has been packaged as a comedy, when it actually has several quite poignant scenes and an overarching theme that will get the Southern Baptists rioting in the streets.

Although the plot is not the best, Ricky Gervais really gets to showcase his talent in a much broader format than The Office. He is truly moving in this movie, and it is nice to see him in a more full role, even if it is the same bitter, cynical character he always is. Jennifer Garner, however, falls flat in trying to recapture the endearingly charming in her flaws character we saw her play in Juno. However, blame the script which only provides stock female characters who are not very interesting.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: The contrived scene where Mark delivers the explanation of the Man in the Sky
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The surprisingly tender scene between Mark and his Mom

All in all, if you still really want to see The Invention of Lying, wait til it comes out on video. It's neither inventive nor worth your $11.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (on DVD) - 3.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Any little girl...even the ones who are 26 :)

Best Mood to Walk In With: Light-hearted

Don't See This Movie If: You are looking for something thought-provoking for adults

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is the film that the more recent Nancy Drew movie should have been. It is sweet, enjoyable, and surprising at the mystery's conclusion. It is truly family friendly, not only because it is suitable for children, but also because it is not bad entertainment for adults.

It's no secret that I love Abigail Breslin, and I should note that I also think her handlers pick great and age appropriate roles for her. The character of Kit Kittredge is both. The cute and upbeat nature of this movie is expected, given that it is an American Girl movie; however, the intelligent plot and easy charm are a much appreciated added bonus.

Part of this refreshing movie charisma comes from excellent performances by an all-star cast, including Stanley Tucci, Jane Krakowski, and Joan Cusak. But a lot of it comes from the cute additions of characters like Grace the dog and Willow Smith (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's daughter).

Although my expectations were that an American Girl movie would have to rely on gimmicks like dogs and adorable children, the script is well-written with both a historical perspective and a moral lesson. Taking place in the 30's, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl takes the subject of the Great Depression seriously, while also not making it overwhelming for a child audience. Compassion and optimism are the mainstays of this script, but not without recognizing the reality of homelessness and greed.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: The soup kitchen scene is pretty contrived.
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The tender Thanksgiving brought tears to my eyes!

All in all, I was very surprised by how enjoyable Kit Kittredge: An American Girl proved to be. Kit is a wonderful role model for young girls, because her allure is not the fame of Hannah Montana or the glamor of Barbie, but reliant instead on the integrity of a do-gooder.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whip It - 3 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who like coming of age movies

Best Mood to Walk In With: Good-natured

Don't See This Movie If: You need more substance than charm

Whip It is a fun romp on wheels. What it lacks on depth, it makes up for in plain old likability.

Ellen Page brings her normal energy to the main role of Bliss, the indie high school outcast. For those that liked her in Juno, you'll enjoy her as this less trendy talking, more endearingly sweet version of the misfit stock character. If you preferred her in the darker, more disturbing film Hard Candy, you'll notice the same easy acting in a much more mainstream setting.

It's also easy to see how Drew Barrymore selected this film as her directorial debut after producing movies like the Charlie's Angels remakes. These films and Whip It are all feel good movies with an underlying themes of girl power. Whip It, however, is much less silly than Charlie's Angels, and with a broader audience that can relate to concurrent themes of wanting to make your parents proud and staying true to yourself.

Marcia Gay Harden steals many of the scenes as Bliss's good meaning, but uncompromising mother, and Juliette Lewis and Kristen Wiig are wonderful additions to the cast per usual. You'll definitely take more note of the relationship-driven storyline than accumulate any roller derby knowledge.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: Nothing. It's an easy watch.
Keep Your EARS Open For: The incredible vocals of Landon Pigg who plays the love interest Oliver.

All in all, Whip It is a charming piece of formulaic fluff with good intentions. You'll easily be able to guess the ending, but like life, Whip It's enjoyability is more about the journey than the destination.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Zombieland - 3.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who like funny movies about zombies

Best Mood to Walk In With: Ferociously ready to kick butt during the zombie contamination period

Don't See This Movie If: You're part of the legion of the undead or don't believe this could actually happen

Some people were not sure if Zombieland would be stupid or great. However, I walked into the theater fully prepared to love it. Sometimes having high expectations leads to big disappointment, but Zombieland was everything I wanted it to be. It was funny, it was gross, it was a comedy, it was a romance, it featured actors I already enjoyed, and it introduced me to actors I hadn't seen before. Basically, it was a really fun way to spend 2 hours.

Woody Harrelson was great in this film. In fact, in my opinion, it was his best movie since No Country for Old Men. (Semi-Pro, really Woody?) Even better, however, is the surprising cameo by Bill Murray. As usual, Abigail Breslin's performance is solid. And this is a much better vehicle for Jesse Eisenberg than Adventureland was. (Now, if he can only find movies where theme parks are not the main focus...)

But let's be honest. You're not going to watch Zombieland for the acting. You're watching it for the zombies! And they are awesome. They are gross and ravenous and creepy and funny...everything zombies should be in a comedy. The script is clever and even zombie enthusiasts will enjoy its attention to detail.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: The puking zombie is nasty
Keep Your Eyes Open For: The final zombie at the amusement park...HIGH-larious!

All in all, even those that don't like zombies will probably like Zombieland if they are looking for a comedy. You just can't take it too seriously...or can you? ;)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jennifer's Body - 2 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who want to pay $10 to stare at Megan Fox

Best Mood to Walk In With: Silly

Don't See This Movie If: You didn't like the snappy hipster phrases in Juno

The script of Jennifer's Body makes a reference to The Evil Dead, and it is not hard to see why. Although the movie may have aimed to be an iconically over the top scary movie with a surprising cult following, Jennifer's Body falls short...very short. Basically, take the cheese factor of the 1981 horror flick, add in the patented Diablo Cody vocabulary, and you have yourself a movie that is neither scary nor overwhelmingly funny.

While phrases like "Honest to blog?" were clever and catchy in Cody's Juno, comments about characters "tampooning" themselves makes Jennifer's Body feel a bit too contrived and over the top. Same can be said for the now signature indie rock soundtrack that seems to be underlying Cody's scripts. While angsty teen songs fit well into a comedy, they do not exactly inspire the creepiness that normally goes with the horror genre.

However, those who go to pant over sexy Megan Fox will not be disappointed. Although the flick does not deliver on the jumps and screams, it certainly does bring lots of gratuitous half-naked shots of (what else?) Jennifer's body. The only comment on the acting I will make is to say that if you don't go in with high expectations, you won't be disappointed.

While this is the type of film I would expect Fox to move onto after Transformers, I was a bit surprised that the sweetheart from Mamma Mia Amanda Seyfried played the other main character. I know young actresses don't want to be pigeonholed, but this movie was a bad move for Seyfried, who could have done much better.

Keep Your EARS Closed For: The derogatory phrase about Asian nail salon workers
Keep Your EARS Open For: The surprisingly catchy song that appears over and over in the movie

All in all, if you want to see Jennifer's Body, wait to rent it. It's definitely not worth theater prices.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Monday, September 28, 2009

Absence / Inglourious Basterds

So I had not written in a while because I started a new job and did not have time to see movies for a few weeks. Then, once I started to see movies, I didn't have time to review them. Now that I have time to both enjoy and write, I began to feel overwhelmed on catching up.

Therefore, I decided to start anew and review the movies I see from this point on, and not try to catch up on the ones that I saw during the above mentioned interlude. However, one of those needs to be heralded even if I am not writing a full review.

Inglourious Basterds is now my favorite movie. It is brilliant and wonderfully executed, and if you can handle the few gory parts, you should see it. :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Read in order to Live

So not only do I love movies, but I also love books! I had been wanting to get a new blog off the ground to review novels I picked up, but worried I did not have the time to make it an interesting blog. So I enlisted my friends Courtney and Corey, two people whose tastes in books are exquisite, and together we have created a new blog called Read in order to Live. If you enjoy reading, you should check us out at I've linked us up on the sidebar of this blog, too. :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I have to credit Eric with sending this to me. Even if you aren't a fan, you will enjoy this accurate and funny take on independent v. indie films. I especially like the parts about the hand-drawn title sequence and the title of an indie movie.

Sadly, I can't embed the video, but it is only a few minutes long and definitely worth the click. Check it out here.


Movies Are Life. ~ K

A Good Idea

I have a small bladder. How does this piece of information relate to movies? Well, it often causes me to have to guess about good timing to run to the restroom.

Although I do not necessarily agree with everything on this site, I do think it is a good idea and thought I would share. Let me know if you found it helpful or not.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Friday, August 14, 2009

I forgot one!!!

I didn't realize Ponyo was coming out today, too! I recently saw Spirited Away and LOVED it. (The Academy loved it, too, because it won best Animated Feature in 2003 over Ice Age, Lilo and Stitch, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Treasure Planet.) Ponyo is another Hayao Miyazaki film and looks awesome. I've never been into the anime genre (which is maybe odd, since I love American animated movies), but I am definitely into Miyazaki's amazing storytelling.

I'll actually write a review for Spirited Away later this weekend in case any of you are looking for a good rental. It is equally good for children as it is for adults, which makes it fun for anyone. And hopefully I will get to see Ponyo soon, too! :) If you get to see it before me, let me know what you think!

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Although I am excited about District 9 opening tomorrow, the movie I have really been looking forward to see is The Time Traveler's Wife. Not only is it one of my favorite books ever, but it also features Rachel McAdams, who I think is fabulous. Can't wait to see it this weekend! :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Aliens in the Attic - 3.5 for kids and 2.5 for adults out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Kids under the age of 10

Best Mood to Walk In With: Giggly

Don't See This Movie If: You want a realistic plot or something cutesy

The trailer pretty much says it all for Aliens in the Attic. A fun, fantastical romp for kids that features silliness as well as slightly deeper undertones that show the importance of being who you are and being a part of a family.

While there is not much to say about this movie, other than that kids will like it, there are moments that I thought were funny as an adult. Most of them are technology references that have always been a part of a child's life, but definitely was not present when I was a kid. Examples include the fact that aliens have blue tooth and a comment one of the children makes about how the situation "isn't like xbox, it's wii." Also, the kids in the movie don't recognize what a rotary phone is, which made me laugh out loud. Sometimes I forget how many experiences from my life, children today will never have simply because things like rotary phones and the original NES are relics to them.

Other things of note, there is a very tender moment where the main character tells his father, "I don't want to be like you, I want to be cool." This comment reflects the deeper nature of the movie about normal adolescent struggles to balance being a family member and a "cool" kid among peers. As you might guess, the character eventually comes around to realize that both can be a part of his life and that family is the foundation of everything else.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: Aliens eating a rat
Keep Your EARS Open For: The funny description of kissing that the aliens give when watching The Mask of Zorro

All in all, Aliens in the Attic is maybe not a movie that adults should see whether or not they have a little one (like Up was), but definitely a life action flick that younger kids can enjoy. My 6 year old companion gave it two thumbs up. :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Movie Review I wrote in 2007: The Black Dahlia - 1 out of 4 Stars

Despite all the early Oscar hype, The Black Dahlia is a pale imitation of its film noir predecessors. Even with an interesting performance from two-time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank, the actors could not get past the horribly convoluted script, confusing editing, and overall bad directorial decisions by Brian de Palma.

Aesthetically, the characters, sets, and cinematography create the right atmosphere for this crime drama. However, the director and cast seem to get too caught up in their ambitions for the movie to take care of the first order of business--telling the story.

The first three quarters of the movie tries to develop the characters of do-gooder detective Bucky (Josh Hartnett), his corrupt partner Lee (Aaron Eckhart), former prostitute turned homemaker Kay (Scarlett Johansson), and bed-hopping trust fund baby Madeleine (Hillary Swank). Unfortunately, the lackluster performances of Hartnett and Johansson give the audience little reason to care what happens to them, while the character of Lee is so confusing it is easy to write him off, also. As always, Hillary Swank does not mind getting gritty with her hard-to-like character, but even her solid performance is lost in the needlessly elaborate entanglement that this movie becomes.

The final quarter of the movie reveals the "whodunit" stage. Sadly, it is done so quickly and confusingly that it is impossible to follow or care. All in all, this movie does not live up to the widely successful Scarface or L.A. Confidential and becomes another typical Josh Hartnett film, perhaps not in genre, but certainly in execution.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Movie Review I wrote in 2007: Black Snake Moan - 4 out of 4 Stars

Black Snake Moan is practically perfect in every way. The gritty drama about two abandoned people, crippled by their self-destructive emotions is both raw and captivating. Marked by two incredible performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci, the audience is drawn into the world of sin and redemption.

Jackson’s portrayal of Lazarus, a man whose wife left him for his brother, is possibly the best of his career. A large leap from his last movie (Snakes on a Plane) and a very definitive turn from the action roles he normally takes, Jackson gives his character a believable and artistic blend of strength and vulnerability, compassion and anger, and faith and cynicism. Jackson is so convincing as Lazarus, that as he runs from his house terrified and clutching his Bible, I felt fear and pity for a man chased by such strong emotions. This is no small feat, as it proves Samuel L. Jackson was able to lose me in his character and forget his real-life branding as a “bad ass.”

Although some people may have a hard time believing the basic plot (a chaste and enraged Christian who chains a young, half-naked hussy to his radiator), if you can get past the situation and see the intention behind the actions, then the beauty of the film and its characters becomes evident. Even more interesting are the religious undertones of the movie. Like Tyler Perry movies (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Daddy’s Little Girls), the faith of the characters range from those who never waver from God to those who never seem to have found Him. However, unlike Perry’s movies, the audience never feels like Black Snake Moan is trying to convert them or convince them. Instead, Christianity, although an important part of the movie, is simply motivation for the characters rather than being pushed as motivation for the world.

Christina Ricci’s character Rae was characterized early in the movie by a simple image of her walking in the middle of a country road in a Rebel t-shirt that barely covers her chest and daisy dukes that leave little to the imagination. Behind her is a large tractor that wants to pass her. As she continues walking in its way, she shoots the driver the finger and the screen is frozen as “Black Snake Moan” is stamped across it. Welcome to Rae’s world at the beginning of the movie – sexual and defiant. Christina Ricci’s performance definitely has erased my previous thoughts of her from Casper and Now & Then. From the child actress has evolved a woman who can dive so deeply into a character, it is difficult even now for me to divorce the characteristics of Rae from Ricci herself. At one point, she is standing in a field and gives Lazarus a glance so smoldering with its lustful invitation, I actually gasped out loud. Even after Rae meets Lazarus and begins her ascent to the way of truth and light, there is no immediate transformation into a saint, which lends an honesty to the movie and a realness to the character. Instead there is a scene in a bar, where though her change is evident at the end of the night, the audience still sees her sensuality and inner demons as she dances. On a personal note, although Christina Ricci’s body was undeniably sexy and role-appropriate, after watching her for 2 hours I was overwhelmed with the desire, as a woman, to feed her a loaf of bread and a porkchop.

One thing I found particularly interesting, whether or not it was intentional, was the way the film mimicked the Bible. If Lazarus represents God and Rae stands for an imperfect humanity, then you can easily see the movement from the Old Testament to the New Testament in their relationship. When Lazarus tries to inflict his purpose for Rae by chaining her, I found it not unlike the wrath that drove God to bind the Israelites to him through captivity in the Old Testament (particularly seen in Isaiah). Once Lazarus releases Rae, he shows an understanding that he can only hope his teachings will guide her in her freedom to make the right decisions and fight the good fight. This part of the movie seems to transition to the New Testament stories of God binding mankind to him through love rather than fear or judgment. Also, I found the ending a great example of how faith in God does not remove the reality of life’s harshness or cause you to never stumble, but rather comforts you through your trials and motivates you to fight temptation because of the importance of your relationship with Him.

I only have one complaint with the film. At times the editor ended scenes by fading to black and letting the audience have a moment or two before cutting to the next scene. This gives the movie a “made for tv” feel since you find yourself wondering if a commercial is about to roll. Although Black Snake Moan is very thought provoking, it is not so fast paced that the audience needs a second to catch up to the action.

Also, I had to feel a small amount of pity for Justin Timberlake. If you took his performance as Ronnie and put it in another movie, you would walk away impressed with the pop star. Unfortunately, because he is sharing the screen with Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci, their smooth performances make Timberlake’s own seem choppy and less than natural. Also, his character’s history is not well-defined, and you can’t help but wonder how he acquired the problem that haunts him through the second half of the movie.

All in all, I would have to give a standing ovation to Craig Brewer. Although he shows promise as a director, I am more in awe of his excellent writing. Not only are you drawn to love a character that you would possibly cross the street to avoid in real life, but his sense of conversational rhythm is spot on. Due to the religious undertones of the film, it could easily give way to long, preachy monologues as either Lazarus or his friend try to help Rae; instead, Brewer avoids this and keeps the movie realistic with all actors verbally participating.

I also am impressed with Brewer’s ability to so realistically capture pockets of Black culture in the South. In Hustle and Flow, we cheered on a rapping pimp in the inner city as we are drawn into his daily life and aspirations. This time around, he portrays black culture in the countryside of the Deep South. From the relationship between Lazarus and his friend to the infiltration of faith in their daily lives and conversation, I find it remarkable that a white film maker can so accurately capture different types of Black Southern culture as shown through both of his films. Movies that use the “N” word off handedly (even by black characters), usually make me cringe, yet even this word in Black Snake Moan seems natural when coming out of Lazarus’ mouth and gives a closer look at the life he was born into.

I also really love Brewer’s continued theme of redemption in music. Although it is not as overt in Black Snake Moan as it was in Hustle and Flow, Brewer uses it effectively to set the tone of the setting and draw you into Lazarus’ world. The incredible selection of the soundtrack also evokes a sense of irony at critical parts of the movie. The music paired with faith acts as a savior to the two main characters as it draws Lazarus and Rae to an inner peace that belies the problems in their lives.

Not to detract from the immense talent shown in Hustle and Flow, but Black Snake Moan definitely shows Craig Brewer’s growth as a film maker and a screenwriter. Hopefully he will continue to hone his talent and produce even more remarkable movies in the future. I, for one, will be waiting in line to see his next film on opening day.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Movie Review I wrote in 2007: The Queen - 3.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Many times when you think Oscar, your mind drifts to a showy performance that consists of an actor dramatically changing their appearance (Charlize Theron, Monster; Nicole Kidman, The Hours) or pushing conventional limits with edgy plots (Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry; Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball) or showing a dramatically different side of their talents (Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line; Cher, Moonstruck).

Helen Mirren employed none of these tactics in The Queen. She played an aging British woman from the most respected family in the UK and furthered her acting resume with another royal role. Additionally, the film represents a real life occurrence that my generation cared little about – we were too young to idolize Princess Diana’s life and too old to study her death in history class. Yet when Mirren took home Oscar gold, the movie goers of Generation X took interest.

Mirren’s portrayl of Queen Elizabeth II is neither warm nor comfortable, but this evolves into the strength of the movie. Although few people would link a British monarch and a Southern Belle, Mirren’s performance captivated me for the same reasons Vivien Leigh captivated hearts and the Academy with Gone with the Wind. The audience does not agree with the actions of either Queen Elizabeth II or Scarlett O’Hara in these movies, and that is not the filmmakers’ intent. Instead the beauty is that the actresses allow you to understand a character which society is so quick to judge.

Mirren’s understated performance draws you in with its simplicity. Just as the Queen did not originally feel a need to prove her intentions, Mirren’s portrayal does not try to prove that Elizabeth is good or bad. Instead, Mirren gives a humility and humanity to a royal fa├žade few others have the imagination to see behind. The intentions of the character would have been lost or waylaid with an overly dramatic performance, and Mirren’s naturalness in the role presents a crystal clear view of what she believes the Queen felt during Princess Diana’s death.

There are few other aspects to note in this movie as the only reasons to watch are either interest in the royal family or interest in Helen Mirren’s performance. At times the script assumes the audience needs to be beat in the head with a point, which gives way to a few awkward symbolic moments. Also, Michael Sheen’s performance as Tony Blair is hardly inspiring though his character’s supposed motivations are interesting at times. When all is said and done, it is Mirren who makes the movie.

Those needing fast cars or fast plots should not take the time to rent this movie as they will regret their actions. Those who like elaborate sets or extravagant costumes also need not apply. However, those who watch movies for the truth of the characters and for the originality of a new viewpoint will not be disappointed. If you appreciated films such as Capote or Little Children, I would definitely add this to your Blockbuster list.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Monday, August 10, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - 3 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like action-driven, summer blockbusters

Best Mood to Walk In With: Energetic

Don't See This Movie If: You demand realism or subtlety

You know if you're going to like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra already. Seriously, you do, so if you see it and don't like it, you should have watched the preview. As a summer, mindless, action blockbuster, I really enjoyed this movie. As a lover of fine films, I really enjoyed making fun of this movie. Therefore, instead of one of my normal reviews, I am going to tell you the top 10 ridiculous things to watch out for in this movie. :) Hope you don't mind me deviating from my normal format.

10. Rachel Nichols and Sienna Miller have all the boobies. And you know this, because they never cover them up and wear incredibly "realistic" costumes for espionage and the armed forces.
9. The inspiring acting of Channing Tatum...'s abs
8. Automatic, incredibly violent reaction of the kid trained in martial arts, though all martial arts teach that you never start a fight
7. The fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be in this movie AND (500) Days of Summer AND have them released on the same day
6. The plotline of Sienna Miller having to be married to the scientist...If it makes sense to you, please explain it to me.
5. There is a long explanation of what all the cool things the accelerator suits can do, and then all they use them for is running really fast. Haha.
4. The detailed verbal explanations of the flashbacks, even though the flashbacks easily explain themselves.
3. The Hummer that is indestructible. Seriously, apparently Hummer beats gigantic bus.
2. This wording is stolen from Roger Ebert's review because he explains it much better than I ever could, "At one point the ice cap is exploded real good so it will sink and crush the G. I. Joe's submarine. We thought ice floated in water but, no, you can see big falling ice chunks real good here. It must be only in your Coke that it floats."
1. The dialogue...all of it. Seriously.

Thanks to Eric for helping me remember and compile these for your enjoyment. :)

All in all, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra is better than this summer's Transformers and The Terminator , but definitely a popcorn flick. If you're looking for content, see Gordon-Levitt's (500) Days of Summer.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

(500) Days of Summer - 3.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who don't need a formulaic movie happy ending

Best Mood to Walk In With: Peaceful

Don't See This Movie If: You're looking for a traditional rom-com

Just as the tagline says, (500) Days of Summer is a story about love, not a love story. And because of that, it is believable, relatable, and a story most people can identify with. In fact, the line that struck me the most as I watched the movie was when the manager of a greeting card company said, "Just because I didn't write it, doesn't make it any less the truth." I felt that way about this entire film.

Zooey Deschanel has finally found the perfect conduit for her talent. (Not that The Happening wasn't great and all. GAG!) She is charmingly off beat and the cinematographer perfectly captures her beauty. It was just as easy for me to fall in love with her as Summer as it is for Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And while Deschanel steals the show, Gordon-Levitt proves himself to be back in action with a great performance as well. Although he was alright in G.I. Joe, (500) Days of Summer is a much better vehicle for him to showcase his talent. Don't believe me, check out the look on his face as he and Summer sit on a bench and she covers his hand with her hand with the engagement and wedding rings on it. Immediate emotion that everyone can identify with.

Although a friend thought the film was too formulaic, I would disagree. Perhaps for an "indie" film it is much more predictable than most, but among rom coms like The Proposal and The Ugly Truth it is very uniquely enchanting. And although normally I do not like movies that go back and forth amongst time with subtitles letting you know exactly what moment of time you're entering, I really enjoyed the way this film was pieced together. There were many moments you where you saw the effect first and the cause later, and it made for a much better form of telling this very human story.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: Disaster blind uncomfortably awkward
Keep Your Eyes Open For: Hilariously awkward scene when Summer asks Tom if he needs anything from the supply closet

All in all, (500) Days of Summer is tender and lovely, and a film unlike any other released this summer so far. I believe almost everyone would like it, which is more than I can say about other films I've reviewed. Definitely worth your $10 if you're only seeing one movie.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Julie & Julia - 4 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like movies about relationships or cooking, fans of Meryl Streep

Best Mood to Walk In With: Not hungry! :)

Don't See This Movie If: You want lots of action in place of character development

Julie & Julia is the new The Devil Wears Prada. Not because of the storyline, but because of the way it was put together. You take a so-so book aimed at a mostly female audience, let Meryl Streep work her magic to create an unforgettable character, add a newer but talented actress that can hold her own with Streep, add them to a script that has both humorous and touching moments, and turn it into a film that caters to women but will still be bearable for their male escorts.

Without a doubt Meryl Streep carries this movie. Anyone else in the role of Julia Child would have been either annoyingly grating or amusingly caricature-like. Instead. Streep creates a larger than life character that captures both Child's renowned mannerisms and voice without making them seem like a SNL skit. Streep also successfully shows how not only the people who met Child's fell in love with her, but how she captivated America with both her cooking and her presence.

Without Streep's endearing performance, it would have been difficult to believe why Amy Adams's character could have ever fallen in love with Julia Child. But playing off such a veteran as Streep, Adams gets to reveal why she is one of Hollywood's brightest new stars. Adams had already captivated us in movies like Enchanted, Doubt, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, all of which played up her wide-eyed innocence and amusing lack of understanding for reality. While I loved those movies, I enjoy films, like this one and Sunshine Cleaning, that allow Adams to still be adorable while also giving her more range for her character.

Julie & Julia is a coming of age movie, a genre we have seen often in the past few years in theaters, but for an unexpected audience -- women who have already gotten married and made it to adulthood. Although this movie is somewhat about cooking, the main theme is about women who find something to be confident about and a way to be successful in their own right. And though the focus is on the women, the film also shows how important the men in their life are as well. After all, success's sweet taste is multiplied by the number who you can share it with.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: Meryl Streep sex scenes (PG-style, no skin shows, but still not something I cared to see insinuated)
Keep Your Eyes Open For: Amy Adams's meltdown in the kitchen. Hilarious.

All in all, Julie & Julia is a wonderful movie for a date night with the ladies, but most men will still find it bearable if not enjoyable. Although Nora Ephron is known for her hits like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, this film rivals them in both content and execution, but comes up the winner concerning mass appeal.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Thursday, August 6, 2009

For "Wild Things" of Any Age :)

I'm sure you were thinking to yourself the past few months, "Wow, this blogger is sure into Harry Potter! What will she have to look forward to once Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has appeared in theaters?"


To be more exact, this awesome looking film from Spike Jonze is coming October 16 (as of now anyway, you know these things are subject to change...ahem, Harry Potter). I'm sure you've noticed that I tend to get the most excited about films that cater to children, whether they be in adult bodies or not. :) While many might think it strange for a 26 year old woman to look forward to animated features and movies based on children's books, I would love to take a moment to explain my way of thinking.

Most people are never more imaginative than when they were children. Because of this, it is my opinion that media focused on younger audiences have much richer imagery, more vibrant colors, more exciting visuals, more over the top ideas for symbolism and connections, and just better creativity all around. Why, you might ask, is this awesomeness directed towards children? Because munchkins below the age of 12 don't judge negatively as easily as adults do, so it is easier to take risks.

Think about it. When was the last time you ever heard a child walk out of a movie and say, "What a waste of my time! This movie was horrible! The acting was bad and the plot made no sense!" Please! While kids definitely gravitate more towards quality, they rarely make criticisms of movies or books. Instead, they just stop paying attention. Therefore, it is much easier for film makers to go out on a limb and do something wacky, because even if it is not appreciated by the critics, children will likely still enjoy it because it holds their interest.

That's my theory anyway. :) And that's why I look forward to movies such as Where the Wild Things Are. Because there is incredibly potential. True, Spike Jonze may not fulfill it all, but there is much greater promise that it may happen. And to be honest, based on the trailer, I think Jonze won't disappoint. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!

Whoever put together that trailer deserves a big bonus! :) Also, don't you love the song choice? Makes me excited about the soundtrack!

Movies Are Life. ~ K

"Guest" Blogger

A friend who knows much more about film than I do and is much more aware of non-mainstream flicks has a great blog. I've asked him if I can link it to mine, so hopefully I'll get a go ahead soon. But I just couldn't wait to share one of his entries with you now! He chose what he thinks are the top 20 films of the decade up to now and will be reviewing each of them in his blog. Since I've only seen about a quarter of them and respect his opinion, I'm really excited to see what he has to say about them. Also, I've decided to try and challenge myself to watch each of them. I may not like them as much as he does or maybe I won't like them at all, but I'm excited to open myself up to new types of movies, some of which I've never even heard of. So here's to being open-minded and fun self-challenges! I'll let you know what I think of them as I watch them.

Without further ado, an excerpt from my friend Daniel's blog:

These are the top 20 films of the decade as of now. These will not change. Chosen from just over 2000 films seen from the decade.

* denotes a top 10 film.

* 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, dir. Cristian Mungiu

Almost Famous, dir. Cameron Crowe

* Amores Perros, dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cidade De Deus, dir. Fernando Meirelles

Dancer in the Dark, dir. Lars Von Trier

* Fa Yeung Nin Wa, dir. Wong Kar Wai

Ghost World, dir. Terry Zwigoff

Happy-Go-Lucky, dir. Mike Leigh

* The Hurt Locker, dir. Kathryn Bigelow

* In the Bedroom, dir. Todd Field

* Lost in Translation, dir. Sofia Coppola

Match Point, dir. Woody Allen

* Mulholland Drive, dir. David Lynch

Paranoid Park, dir. Gus van Sant

Requiem for A Dream, dir. Darren Aronofsky

* Storytelling, dir. Todd Solondz

* Traffic, dir. Steven Soderbergh

Wonder Boys, dir. Curtis Hansen

* Up, dir. Pete Docter

Yi Yi, dir. Edward Yang

Honorable Mention: The Shape of Things, Touching the Void, Irreversible, Me and You and Everyone We Know, La Pianiste.

I'm attempting one a month. Game on! :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Funny People - 2.5 out of 4.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Folks who like Adam Sandler's more serious movies

Best Mood to Walk In With: Thoughtful

Don't See This Movie If: You are looking for something more like Knocked Up

Funny People lasts 5 and a half hours. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it seems like it which maybe tells you a little something. In fact, despite its misleading name and cast of actors, Funny People is a drama with a few comedic elements rather than a straight up comedy.

Although I can understand what the movie was trying to chronicle, an aspiring comic who needs to lose his naivete and a debauched, famous comic who needs to find joy in more innocent pleasures, this adds up to only semi-interesting crossed journeys. Interspersed in the storyline are occasional jokes and stand up routines. Unfortunately, most of the stand up is bad (purposefully) and a lot of the jokes get lost in the awkwardness of the characters. Though quirky characters are all the rage lately (think Juno and McLovin), Seth Rogen's character is more uncomfortably different rather than endearingly weird. Honestly, it was difficult to like or be sympathetic to any of the characters. Just when you thought you might start to like one, they go and do something incredibly annoying.

Also, there were just too many incongruencies in the film making for me. First, there is often weird pairings of action and music. Although many films use the soundtrack to oppose the situation you see for symbolism or effect, hearing James Taylor sing beneath Adam Sandler doing stand up was just bizarre. The following scene reveals the link between the two, but it was still a buzz kill pairing in my opinion. Equally strange was the closing shot. The ending was not one I would have chosen for the movie, but it somewhat works. However, the last camera shot made it even more awkward, as you will notice if you see the movie.

Now despite all this negativity, you'll notice my rating didn't completely pan Funny People. Although I did find all of these things to be annoyed with, a lot of it can be marked up to two things. The first is completely misleading advertisements and trailers for this film. The second is my high expectations for a Judd Apatow-Adam Sandler-Seth Rogen-Leslie Mann collaboration. Even if this movie did not meet my expectations after hilarious romps like the 40-year Old Virgin, it was not horrible. In fact, redeeming qualities included the acting, particularly of Mann, and fun cameos by almost every stand up comic in Hollywood as well as Apatow's and Mann's children.

Keep Your Eyes Closed For: Eminem's awkward and needless
Keep Your Eyes Open For: Jonah Hill doing stand up for the first time in his life (for real!)

All in all, Funny People is much more of a rental than a $10 in house ticket. Not only because you're more likely to get your money worth, but because you then have the ability to pause it if you're not ready for the drawn out plot.

Movies Are Life. ~ K