Friday, February 26, 2010

IT'S COMPLICATED

Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin
Lake Bell, John Krasinski


"Divorced ... with Benefits!"


Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex



Despite nursing a bad cold, I found myself inside a cold cinema and enjoying a rom-com for middle aged couples. It is really not that complicated. It is entertaining. It's pure, simple fun, with a great cast of talented actors who are well established in the film industry.

Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) have been divorced for a decade. While attending their son's graduation in New York, they reconnect and rekindle a spark in their estranged relationship. But there are issues. Jake is now married to Agnes (Lake Bell) a much younger woman while Jane has recently started dating her architect, Adam (Steve Martin).

I could sense that Jane was really in a dilemma yet at the same time she couldn't bring herself to end the forbidden relationship. It seemed like an addiction for them as they are now both free to explore each other without worrying about their children (who are all grown up with their own lives), mortgages and their careers. Jake was stuck in a loveless marriage with a younger woman who was obsessed with having another child. A situation where he has lost any form of control over his wife, his son and his miserable life. Thus providing him with a good excuse to cheat and find solace in the arms of a woman who has known him for years.

But I kept telling myself - Jane should instead fall in love with Adam who had no strings attached and 'excess baggage'. He was a decent professional with a thriving career. They shared a lot in common and had a good foundation on which to form a healthy relationship. Although the affair between Jane and Jake was presented in a fun and funny fashion, I still felt bad every time they met for their illicit romps. I don't want to sound prudish but I guess I prefer relationships to be based on mutual trust, not secretive as they are hard enough to sustain on its own merit.

Having said that, this well directed film from Nancy Myers was a refreshing change from the average young couples love story genre. It has a great cast who all portrayed their meaty roles with aplomb. Meryl Streep is in her elements as Jane. Although, I thought that Alec Baldwin seemed a bit young to be a father of 3 grown up children. I totally adored Steve Martin as Adam. His serious demeanor added some elegance to his divorcee role. As most romantic comedies go, the plot was pretty predictable with its loose ends nicely tied to ensure a happy ending for all the characters.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga, Amber Beattie, Jack Scanlon


"A timeless story of innocence lost and humanity found"


Star Movies



After a hearty lunch and desperately trying to fend off sleep, I was sorting through the different channels when I came across this touching film on Star Movies.

On theory this film during the second World War looks simple enough yet it deals with a rather heavy subject matter - the Holocaust. A unique friendship is formed between Bruno (Asa Butterfield) a young German boy and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon) a Jewish child. Well the thing with Shmuel is that he is a prisoner in a concentration camp which is under the command of Bruno's father (David Thewlis) a high ranking Nazi officer. They are both 8 years old and their friendship although forbidden is pure and unadulterated. In the afternoons, they play checkers and toss ball between the barbed wire fence. Bruno also sneaks in food for Shmuel who is visibly famished and quite thin given the tragic circumstances.

This heartbreaking film succeeds with grace as the leading characters are portrayed brilliantly by the young actors. Their meaningful facial expressions were spot on! The rest of the cast put in excellent performances as their characters behave and react differently towards the situation unfolding right within their door step. I just found the fact that they spoke with thick British accents very distracting as they are supposed to be Germans in the film.

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is a deeply moving yet tragic movie with an overwhelming climax which still sends chills down my spine. It is an astonishing narrative about the wholesome friendship and bond between two innocent children amidst such a devastating crime against humanity.

Monday, February 22, 2010

NEW MOON

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner,
Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning, Michael Sheen, Ashley Green


"The next Chapter Begins"



The second installment of the "Twilight" saga begins with a nightmare. Then for the rest of the film you got Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) pining, pining and pining some more for her lost love. It hurts so much that she believes she now has a hole in her chest. Awww. Poor thing! Even the presence of her childhood bff (best friend forever) Jacob (who in turn is pining for her) doesn't mend her broken soul. His well toned muscular body with killer abs doesn't even make any significant impact because she is still pining for a pale faced vampire named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). He utters "You're not good for me" to Bella then vanishes from her life. A supposedly heroic sacrifice he must make since he refuses to make Bella, a vampire.

Still set in bleak undertones in a town called Forks, the film is a lot more darker yet more edgier than "Twilight". Brilliant computer generated scenes of guys evolving into menacing werewolves and hologram like apparitions of Edward Cullen add credence to the plot. But I did find the soundtrack a bit intrusive. Loud songs blasting the eardrums inserted during the 'pining' moments gave me a headache.

Otherwise, the story line is basically well executed. With the action really picking up during the last interval of the film. I like how the director (Chris Weitz) added some hue towards the final scene with those red capes flowing in a picturesque Italian town. Acting wise, I still believe Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are rigid as marble and have no onscreen chemistry. But I'm glad Taylor Lautner really pumped (literally) it up to give his character Jacob more smiley appeal and charisma.

I'm still not going to read the books in the Twilight series so I will just wait patiently to be entertained by the movies adaptation of this intriguing saga.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MARLEY & ME

Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, Eric Dane, Alam Arkin


"Heel the Love"


Star Movies




This feel good film focuses on John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) Grogan and Marley, their rambunctious dog. Soon after they get married, John decided to 'fend' off Jenny's biological clock by getting a dog which they name after reggae pop star, Bob Marley.

The dog is quite impulsive, wreaks havoc all over their place but nevertheless the Grogans love him. Marley also features prominently in John's syndicated columns in a local newspaper. Shortly after, they decide to start a family and as their priorities (in both their career and lifestyle) start to change, Marley still remains a playful and faithful part of their growing brood.

The film starts out with a narration from John which vanishes throughout the film then resumes towards the end. It also gives a glossy view of a happy family existence where sacrifices and compromises abound. Decisions concerning career moves and what is best for one's family are explored as well. It is a nice family oriented movie which will cater to both pet and non pet lovers (like me!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

UP IN THE AIR

George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman


"The Story of a Man ready to make a Connection"



I felt the need to watch most if not all of the nominated movies for Oscars Best Picture category. This year they decided to go with 10 instead of the usual 5 nominees. So far I've seen "Avatar", "UP", "The Hurt Locker", and "Inglorious Basterds". "District 9" doesn't fit my preference. "The Blind Side" and "Precious" are based on true stories, a genre not to my liking. I have yet to find copies of "An Education" and "A Serious Man"

"Up in the Air" was a delight to watch. If you do much traveling either for business or pleasure, you can identify with Ryan Bingham's (George Clooney) hectic lifestyle. He is a HR consultant whose main function is to fire people from their jobs. He travels all over America to perform this unpleasant task. But for cost cutting measures, his boss decides to cut back on travel by hiring Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), an arrogant young woman who believes in the power of technology. Her theory - instead of traveling they will simply fire people via video conferencing. But Bingham who has becoming rather stoic in his job prefers the up close and personal approach. So he decides to prove that Natalie's method is the wrong way to fire people. They embark on a whirlwind trip of different cities.

The main characters are well developed with quite interesting personalities. They all work together really well. They totally immersed themselves in their realistic characterization. No wonder then that George Clooney (best actor), Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga (best supporting actress) are all nominated for their engaging roles in this film.

The film unfolds like a Google map commercial what with all the different destinations. Mostly well edited shots of airport terminals, hotel rooms and the accumulation of frequent flier miles. But it also broaches on the subject that is currently very 'trendy' in these recession filled times. Downsizing or the act of being let go from a company where they devoted most of their precious time. The film records several 'firing' moments with real people's reactions to the lost of their jobs. But the movie isn't merely about downsizing because as they go about performing their duties, both Natalie and Ryan comes to terms with the pitfalls of the job. They both realize eventually what is really important both in their careers as well as in their personal lives.

An insightful movie about traveling, downsizing and everything else in between.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VALENTINE'S DAY

Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Julia Roberts, Jaime Foxx, Hector Elizondo, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Shirley Maclaine, Emma Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Swift, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lutner, Eric Dane


"A Love Story. More or Less"


Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex




This star studded romantic comedy unfolds on Valentine's Day. It is a smorgasbord of love stories whose characters intertwine with each other. It deals with the pressures of celebrating one day where it is almost a sin to be single and alone. It also follows the lives of several couples and their way of dealing with a highly commercialized 'holiday'. Heartbreaks, breakups as well as happy endings are the normal topics for romantic comedies. More so for a film whose title alone denotes a day associated with hearts and all the various aspects of Love! It is a film that caters to every age, shape and sizes. From lovestruck teenagers, lonely single ladies, newly dating couples to a pair who have been married for decades.

A flower shop pretty much serves as the hub for much of the action in the film. Characters pop in and out to order bouquets for their loved ones and as well as for their extras (aka mistresses). Dialogue is light, sometimes funny which deserve a chuckle or two. Other times it is silly and mushy as Reed, (Ashton Kutcher) a florist dispenses pieces of love advice. But the best part are the end-credit outtakes where they show scenes of the actors fumbling their lines which proves they are just human and can make mistakes while taping.

But the film has good entertainment value with hardly any major conflicts for dramatic effect. Each story would have been more interesting if there was more in depth development of its characters. It is light and breezy just like the feeling of discovering something new about someone you just started dating. But it doesn't really make such of an impact as far as date movies and chick lit flicks go. There is major eye candy galore though as you have hunks like Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane playing significant roles.

In conclusion, I still believe that "Love Actually" did a much better job in depicting what L.O.V.E encompasses albeit it was set during the hectic Yuletide season.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2012

John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Amanda Peet,
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover


"We were warned"



This disaster movie with an ensemble cast does well in the special effects department. There are plenty graphic scenes of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and major earthquakes wreaking havoc all over the world. According to a team of geophysical scientists, the main cause - the sun's radiation is overheating the earth's core/crust. Naturally, the rich countries through their leaders pull their resources together to develop giant 'arks' which surprisingly can survive this impending cataclysm. Of course, the main characters somehow through some miracle make their way to the arks after going through really sticky situations which no one in his right mind would ever survive. But they make it just in time before the whole world tumbles and self destructs.

I don't know what it is about disaster movies but even good actors turn into amateurs as they utter corny and silly dialogue. People pining for each other, saying their farewell amidst such destruction. Throughout the film, I kept trying to figure out who among the cast will survive, who won't make it, how and when they will die. It was suspenseful in the sense that the element of time slowly running out for some of the characters.

Just like any other disaster themed films which don't offer any lessons to the audience, it was entertaining in a mindless form of way. I had set my mood not to expect too much from it anyhow except to be blown away by the well edited computer generated scenes!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

THE UGLY TRUTH

Katherine Heigel, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, Cheryl Hines




Opposites attract is normally a good topic to showcase in romantic comedies. This film set in Sacramento presents Abby Richter (Katherine Heigel) who is a producer of a lackluster morning news show. She is a hopeless romantic with a checklist of the traits of her ideal man. To boost ratings, her boss hires Mike Chadway, (Gerard Butler) a local cable host of a program called "The ugly truth". On his program he preaches that men only want sex in a relationship, they only respond to positively attractive women and men can't and won't ever change! His prejudiced and sexist attitude is totally offensive so Abby despises him. But he makes a deal that if she listens to his pieces of advice on love and relationships, she will be able to snag her neighbor Colin (Eric Winter), a hot looking doctor who seems too good to be true. The rest of the film unfolds on two story lines: the main plot with Mike and Abby teaming up to snag Colin, and the subplot of Mike breathing new life into the morning show. His presence ultimately boosts the ratings of the show, much to Abby's chagrin.

This film understandably has a R rating since most of Mike's dating advice tend to border on the crass, raunchy type. The dialogue was sometimes funny and often times a bit offensive to women but delivered with great comedic timing from Gerard Butler. Butler's public image as a "bad boy" type suits his role. Perhaps next only to Colin Farrell who I think would have been a good substitute for the Mike Chadway character. I noticed the good flirtatious chemistry between the two main leads. Their rapport was palpable even though they do have contrasting personalities. Mike is crude, sexist and chauvinistic while Abby is endearing, refreshing and romantic.

This being a romantic comedy, it is practically a given that Abby and Mike end up together. So that was quite predictable. But it was done realistically where they first get on each others nerves before becoming love birds. So for that matter, the film succeeds in becoming an enjoyable rom-com!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cine Brasil

The Embassy of Brazil in the Philippines presents Cine Brasil at the PowerPlant Mall, Makati City from February 10 - 12, 2010



February 10, 7 p.m. - A Dona da Historia
February 10, 9 p.m. - Bossa Nova
February 11, 9 p.m. - Abril Despedacado

Venue: Power Plant Cinemas

Admission is free. Tickets may be claimed at the cinema ticket booth during screening days on a first come first served basis.

Or call Power Plant Cinemas at 898-1440/41 for more details.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS?

Sarah Jessica Parker, Hugh Grant, Mary Steenburgen, Sam Elliott


"We're not in Manhattan anymore."


Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex



The movie is angled towards how a separated couple react to their new but temporary surroundings (Wyoming) after they are abruptly transported out of their comfort zone (New York City) as part of the witness protection program.
Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) must not only learn to adjust to their new environment which I'd have to say was pretty panoramic, they must also cope with each other as they slowly start to play the blame game. The game where they both enumerate the numerous flaws in their marriage and why it miserably failed. Well sad to say they got on my nerves!

The premise sounded pretty good on paper. Yet somehow this romantic comedy doesn't sit well in my list of rom coms to remember. There was hardly any chemistry between SJP and Hugh Grant. There were several boring scenes of SJP's pasty face ruminating about their failed marriage and her adoption plans while Hugh Grant tried to look remorseful about his past indiscretions. She looked really haggard without makeup and felt like a fish out of water in Wyoming. Debonair yet ever so charming Hugh Grant did have some funny dialogue to redeem his romantic lead part but after some time it was painfully pathetic to watch him try so hard. At first I figured since they are an estranged couple naturally there should be a certain degree of awkwardness between them. I assume it was their way of projecting their roles.

But after a while, I simply stopped caring about the Morgans, really! So what if they witnessed a murder? So what if there is a menacing bear on the loose just outside their 'hiding' place? So what if there is a supposedly dangerous hired killer on their trail? It simply didn't make much sense to torture the audience for 103 minutes with their inane shenanigans.

The only good thing about this movie is that it was filmed in such a scenic place with alot of rugged appeal. The mountains, the lake, the small town vibe provided a gorgeous backdrop to such a dismal film!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS

Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth,
Daniel Bruhl, Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender


"Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France ..."




So the thing is people either love Quentin Tarantino's films or they can't stand his filming style. Me I'm indifferent. I know his films are peppered with violence and silly storyline with many side plots all culminating with a twist in the climax. It has quirky characters and an eclectic soundtrack. But I also do know he has to be given credit for making films that no one in his right mind would think of directing. He doesn't care if he offends, if he serves up stereotypes and if the film is full of cliches. He is clearly clever, has a good directing eye and can definitely present a good narrative no matter how silly it may seem.

So his latest war themed caper set in German occupied France had all the right ingredients. It has eccentric characters and a great cast (Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl) to portray them. Kudos to Christoph Waltz! He was brilliant! His character was a delight to watch. The dialogue is funny, witty and vulgar. The languages used were French, German and of course English. Naturally there were English subtitles for the foreign languages. It was quite realistic to watch characters speak in their native tongue. Violent scenes abound (but not that many) with the musical score adding much impact on the flow of events. Some scenes played out like a bad B movie while other sequences were well executed. It includes references to cinematic icons like G.W Pabst and Leni Rienfenstahl who are some of Tarantino's theatrical influences in film making.

For better or worse this are Tarantino times. Whether you like his style or not, I'd simply say watch "Inglorious Basterds" then form your own conclusion. Me? I found it highly entertaining in a nonsensical sort of way.

Blog Purpose

I love to watch movies. There are various reasons why I choose to see a film. It can be an escape from the drudgery of life or to be entertained. It can also give a spectrum into the lives of people across the globe. The art of cinema encompasses a wide scope of genre.
I also love to blog about a vast number of topics and everything else in between. That's why I decided to start this blog. I wanted to document the films I've watched. Either on the big screen or the boob tube. From old time favorites to the latest blockbusters in different formats. They all feed my cinematic experience.
It is basically a personal blog with movie reviews where comments are appreciated. This web article presents some informative tips on how to make our blogs more 'readable'. It is well written and offers some details which can be quite helpful. Although I still believe in the blogging adage ... content is king! So I like to keep it simple and express my opinions direct to the point.

Friday, February 5, 2010

THE HURT LOCKER

Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty,
Guy Pearce, David Morse, Ralph Fiennes


"You'll know when you're in it"




There are war movies that are filled with explosive actions, brutal killings and float by on the we.hate.each.other.thus.we.kill.each.other theory.

Then there are war movies like "The Hurt Locker" that simply narrate and present war in its ugliest form and do so by being direct to the point. It is a raw look at the lives of an elite bomb disposal unit assigned in Baghdad, Iraq. A battlefield teeming with explosives and where your instinct tells you not to trust anyone or anything that moves in that chaotic country. They have only 38 days left in their tour of Iraq, but with each new mission comes another deadly encounter and it is only a matter of time before disaster will strike.

The film is a great character study of 3 different army personalities. You have Staff Sgt William James (Jeremy Renner) born with a fatalistic attitude. He likes to take risks and is reckless yet he's an expert in defusing bombs. Sgt JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) approaches everything in his duty and his life in general with extreme caution bordering on the it is better to be safe than sorry attitude. And finally, Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty), a young kid who is haunted by nightmares of dying in the streets of Baghdad. As the fiery chaos of Baghdad swirls around them, the men struggle to understand and contain their new leader long enough for them to make it home.

The 3 main leads are not known actors yet they deliver their roles with a punch. Their contrasting roles are well developed characters. Cameo role appearance by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes and David Morse add some star quality to the film. Although it is not really necessary as the well written script and neat direction (Kathryn Bigelow) more than make up for a tension filled narrative of a day in the life of an elite bomb disposal unit.

There were scenes where I literally held my breath due to the powerfully gripping storyline. Wow. This must see film really blew me away (pun intended!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DEATH DEFYING ACTS

Guy Pearce, Catherine Zeta Jones, Timothy Spall, Saoirse Ronan


"There is no escape"


Star Movies




While channel hopping this afternoon, I caught this film on Star Movies about the magician/illusionist Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) and his romantic involvement with Mary McGarvie (Catherine Zeta Jones) a con woman posing as a psychic.

The film is set in the 1920s during Harry Houdini's tour of Britain. The famous escapologist has announced that he will grant 10,000 US dollars to anyone who can tell the public the last words uttered by his mother before she died. A Scottish psychic and her daughter Benji (Saoirse Ronan) attempts to con Houdini during a seance to contact his dead mother. However all does not go to plan as the two of them end up falling in love with each other.

Although the film is highly fictional, the actors still manage to portray their characters as humane and believable as possible. Complete with a very distracting Scottish accent, Catherine Zeta Jones as Mary McGarvie is a sympathetic character. Her intentions are good (to provide a better life for her daughter) even though she tricks people into believing she is indeed a psychic who can communicate with the far beyond. Saoirse Ronan who was very creepy as the young Briony in "Atonement" gives another solid performance by totally immersing in her role as the daughter/side kick/apprentice of Mary. As expected, Guy Pearce as Harry Houdini is subtle in his portrayal of the flamboyant illusionist. He provided some insights on a complex character. Houdini was a celebrity who was used to the theatrics of showbiz. As well as a media darling who was deeply troubled by his mother's death.

I'm not really sure what to make of this film. It seemed like it took liberties in narrating a chapter (which never happened) in the colorful life of a real person. A celebrity who was quite beloved in his heydays. Then it forcibly turns into a love story between its main characters. It also tried to draw interest into the world of fake spiritualists who feasted on the impressionable minds of people during that era where amusement and entertainment lacked depth. Yet it somehow works but mostly due to the solid acting of its cast!

Articles

Nowadays, we are more conscious of our dietary needs and our physical well being in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are various websites and articles easily available through the Internet which provide us valuable information about nutrition and proper diet regimens. The first step is to make sure we buy the right sort of food at the supermarkets. I found this comprehensive article which can serve as a guide. Of course, the trick is to eat everything in moderation.

And if all else fails plus you got some extra money to spare, you can always opt for cosmetic surgery to uplift your spirits! Heh

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

THE HANGOVER

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha,
Heather Graham, Mike Tyson, Mike Epps


"Some guys just can't handle Vegas"



The saying goes "What happens in Vegas ... stays in Vegas" well unless you totally forget what really happened in Vegas! This raunchy yet engaging comedy narrates the adventures of Stu, Phil, Alan and Doug. They are in the Sin City to throw Doug a bachelor party. The next morning, they wake up in a messy hotel suite with throbbing hangovers but the worst part is they seem to have 'lost' the groom. The entire film concentrates on the 3 guys trying desperately to retrace their drunken stupor steps and to find Doug just in time for his wedding.

Mostly the film is entertaining due to the fact both the audience and the characters are totally clueless to what really occurred the previous night. There are some funny moments where I laughed out loud. But at the same time, I found some of the situational comedy sequences a bit offensive. But thankfully there were no silly slapstick nor toilet humor added in just to draw some or several laughs.

The characters are well developed and they gel well together as an ensemble despite having contrasting personalities. Their camaraderie and rapport was palpable and it worked towards making the film an amusing puzzle piece romp. I am only familiar with Bradley Cooper (I adore him!) and Justin Bartha because I don't watch "The Office" where Ed Helms is part of the cast. Mike Tyson who was portraying himself in a cameo role was surprisingly funny. The best part in my opinion is the closing credits where 'evidence' of their wild rambunctious partying is shown. So be sure to watch till the very end.

In conclusion, I'd say "The Hangover" was a pleasurable viewing experience. I like the way the story was presented - we get to connect the puzzle pieces together - instead of being spoon fed the correct 'answers' to the "Where is Doug?" conundrum!
 

Blog Template by YummyLolly.com - Header Image by Vector Jungle