Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toy Story 3 - 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who enjoyed the first Toy Story,teenagers who have grown up with Andy, and kids of all ages...basically, everyone. :)

Best Mood to Walk In With:Sentimental

Don't See This Movie If: You are a parent sending their first child off to college this fall and don't want to cry about it

Toy Story 3 was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was charming and funny like its predecessors, touching when it needed to be, and more sentimental than I was expecting. And although I am someone who has based my career off of parents sending their children off to college, it is a movie everyone can relate to.

That being said, I want to start off with what annoyed me, since they are small complaints. As you can see from the poster above, Bo Peep is featured along with the words "The toys are back in town". However, Bo Peep is not in this movie, and the lack of continuity irks me. Also, the reason B.P. (unfortunate initials given the present oil situation in the Gulf) presumably does not appear is to make room for all the new characters. In Toy Story 2, I got a little bored with the focus being on introducing a new character (Jessie), rather than focusing solely on the characters I already loved. In this third round, the same issue arises. It's not that Lotso (the Bear character) isn't interesting, but I wanted more screen time for Buzz, Rex, and the other beloved gang that I met in 1995. After all, if you attended a dinner party filled with strangers as well as dear friends you hadn't seen in years, who would you gravitate towards?

However, these end up being observations that did not ruin the overall experience. Like the first two, the animation is incredible, the script can reel in children and adults, and the voices continue to be more indelible than some of the celebrities live action roles. Basically, score another hit for Pixar...another BIG hit.

But more important than all of these elements are the lessons that are gently emphasized throughout the movie. The values of loyalty, compassion, and fairness have been showcased in other children's films, but not always as seamlessly. And for those of us who remember watching Andy and his toys as younger versions of our own selves, it is a bittersweet reminder that becoming a grown up is inevitable. And although this sounds depressing as I write it, these tender emotions that the movie evokes are what makes it so wonderful. I have always been impressed how Pixar can make me feel more connected to a computer generated image, than most of Hollywood can make me feel about real people.

Keep Your Eyes Open For: The climatic furnace scene where the characters reflect all the reasons they are known by name, rather than just thought of as toys
Also Keep Your Eyes Open For: The garbage man...does he look familiar to you? ;) (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can Google it. Actually, searching for all the Easter Eggs in the movie is fascinating. Pixar's attention to detail is incredible. Check it out here:

All in all, a touching and funny chapter in the Toy Story series that leaves me wondering if it is finally "The End" for Woody and Buzz, or simply another beginning...

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Complicated - 4 out of 5 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who liked Something's Gotta Give

Best Mood to Walk In With: More ready for comedy than romance

Don't See This Movie If: You prefer coming of age movies like Juno to movies celebrating middle age
There's nothing complicated about It's Complicated. I found it to be a delight despite mixed reviews from other critics. Maybe it's because I had lower expectations, but I thought this movie was a hoot. If you like Meryl Streep, you won't be disappointed, and it's nice to see Steve Martin doing good comedy again (and not The Pink Panther...ugh!).

Although I don't think Streep will be taking home any Oscar gold for this movie, I do think it is another film in a long list that shows why audiences find her so endearing. Her character is real and her interpretation makes her an every woman. Even as a lady half her age, I could imagine myself in her shoes and so laughed all the harder at the ridiculous situations she found herself in.

Alex Baldwin translates wonderfully from the small screen to the large screen and plays a stereotype much like he does in 30 Rock. And although he gets more time in the movie, it is Steve Martin that stole my heart. It is truly a joy to watch pros like Streep and Martin who make acting appear so effortless that it is truly relaxing to watch. Nancy Myers is certainly not new to this type of film, but this would have been a very mediocre movie without the talent on the other side of the camera.

Keep Your Eyes Open For: John Krasinski finds a natural vehicle for his talent, and a great follow up to Away We Go
Keep You Eyes Closed For: There were a few too many semi-nude Alec Baldwin scenes for me

All in all, this is a funny movie, but could be equally enjoyed from the comfort of you own couch in a few months.

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Panique au Village

I've been very excited about this movie for a while and it is making its American debut soon! :)

Movies Are Life. ~ K

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mary a way you've never seen her!

Movies Are Life. ~ K

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - 3 out of 5 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: People who liked the fantasy scenes of What Dreams May Come and people who can enjoy a movie that doesn't answer all the questions it introduces

Best Mood to Walk In With: Alert

Don't See This Movie If: You don't care that this was Heath Ledger's final film and actually want a substantive work
I wish I could know what The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was originally supposed to look like before Heath Ledger died halfway through filming. I have to say, it is truly remarkable to see how the film makers utilized Colin Farrell, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp to finish the film and even a tad creepy when you realize how much they resemble Ledger. (Depp even sounds like him.) However, this was the most impressive feat of the movie, as the film seems to try to do too much and thus does not accomplish much of anything.

To be honest, if you're expecting Ledger to show the immense acting skills he did in The Dark Knight or for Christopher Plummer to show us why he is one of the most casted veterans of Hollywood, you're going to be surprised that it was Verne Troyer who impressed me the most. Perhaps it's because I only have farcical movies like Austin Powers to compare it to, but Troyer did a fantastic job with his character. I look forward to seeing him in more roles that focus on who his character is rather than making fun of his size the entire time. Tom Waits is also delightfully and charmingly sinister as Mr. Nick.

As for the visuals of the imaginings, they are interesting, but there are not enough of them and now that Avatar has changed the game it is difficult to be too impressed. Basically, it reminded me of seeing Moulin Rouge for the first time. Part of me was confused, part of me was intrigued, and part of me was wishing I had tried LSD at some point in my life so I could compare the two experiences. Unfortunately, Moulin Rouge also had a stellar storyline and wonderful performances, things that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus did not have the fortune of possessing.

To quote the SciFi Wire review, "I have no idea what it was about." And although that review continued on to say that the movie was still enjoyable, I found a journey that I expected to be fantastical and imaginative to be a wandering that seemed pointless and forgettable.

Surprised that: even in an uninspired role and with the vestiges of old age written on his face, I still find Christopher Plummer incredibly handsome. Shows how Captain Von Trapp remains imprinted on my heart no matter what form he takes...
My Suggestion: Wait until it comes out on DVD unless you have a big Heath Ledger obsession.

All in all, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was not bad and kept my attention for two hours. However, I stayed tuned in because I kept expecting more and never got any resolution to the plot questions I had. Although we currently categorize the film as Heath Ledger's last, in a decade we will not be calling it one of his best, if it comes to mind at all.

Movies Are Life. ~ K