Thursday, May 31, 2012

THE VOW

Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum
Sam Neil, Jessica Lange




"The Vow" centers on Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum), a married couple whose lives change after Paige loses much of her memory in a car accident. Strangely though, she remembers her life before she met Leo. The part when she lived affluently with her prim and proper parents (Jessica Lange and Sam Neill) surrounded by her circle of sorority friends, her former fiancé (Scott Speedman) and when she was interested in attending law school.

Poor Leo! Suddenly he is ostracized by the one person he vowed all those cheesy yet sweet promises to when they got married in an art gallery. Now if this film wasn't inspired on true events, you would probably roll your eyes in disbelief! How can Paige just forget her very happy times with the love of her life, Leo? So even if I knew it really did happen to a real couple, I was mostly dumbfounded during the entire movie.

I guess it didn't help that there wasn't any chemistry between the two lead stars. Rachel McAdams though was and always is quite refreshingly believable to watch in any role. As Paige, you can feel her inner struggle to try to remember as much as she could but eventually giving in to what she felt was the right thing to do.

My main issue is with the very rigid acting of Channing Tatum. He pretty much looked clueless during the entire film. Firstly, he is miscast in the role as a record producer with connections in the music industry. Then as Leo he doesn't seem very helpful in trying to make Paige remember their life together. He just leaves her a note with the word 'evidence' on a stack of home made videos for her to watch. As if by merely viewing these dvds she would suddenly snap out of her temporary stupor.

So yeah I was wearing my sarcastic hat the entire time I was watching this supposedly romantic film. I would probably have gotten more sappy romantic overtones from reading a Nicholas Sparks book. Too bad I don't have any of his novels on my book shelf.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

BEGINNERS

Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent


"This is what love feels like"




The film opens on a quiet note as Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is rummaging through several items to clear in a big house. It is 2003 and his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has recently passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, leaving Oliver with a heavy load of baggage to sort through. Both physical and psychological, that it.

It wasn't that Hal belatedly and proudly came out as a homosexual - at 75 years of age - that threw Oliver so much. It came as more of a shock to realize that someone could keep his true sexuality a secret, most of his life. Hal comes out after his wife of over 40 years dies even though we can ascertain from the film that she knew about his 'secret'. But for Oliver, a taciturn graphic designer, this news is unsettling yet at the same time, he embraces his father's true self. He is in a way glad that his father is slowly regaining his joie de vivre.

As Oliver slowly recovers from his father's death, he has to face his own demons. His somewhat strange and sad upbringing courtesy mostly of his eccentric mother, Georgia (Mary Page Keller) prevents him from truly committing to a budding romance, to his dull job and to life in general. He has the capacity to succeed but he is having difficulty conveying it through the proper channels.

An intricate series of flashbacks depicting the final phase of Hal's life - as witnessed by a confused Oliver - is wonderfully warm and sincerely quirky stuff. Cleverly presented by showing still images from significant periods in both Hal and Oliver's lives, the film is buoyed by a narration from Oliver.

A vital supporting character Arthur, a soulful Jack Russell terrier, would draw all the audience attention away from the human characters. But the award winning performances by Plummer (he deserved the Oscars Best Supporting Award for this role) and McGregor are so superb that everyone is able to share in the glory.

A subtle, sensitive picture about love, loss and loneliness, I'd certainly recommend you watch "Beginners" and be utterly moved by its poignant story.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

BRIDESMAIDS

Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jill Clayburgh
Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd




Backstabbing. Sabotage. Jealousy. Rivalry. These words jump at you as you watch this chick flick. But since it is presented through top notch humor and perfect comedic timing, "Bridesmaids" is a hoot to watch. Dubbed as the "Hangover" film for women even though they never set foot in Las Vegas, it showcases the shenanigans of 5 women from different spectrum of society who are chosen as bridesmaids by Lillian.

But the primary role of maid of honor falls on Annie (Kristen Wiig), who is unlucky in business, in love, and in life in general. But her bond with Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has sustained her since childhood. Upon Lillian's engagement, Annie is poised to assume her role in the wedding preparations, but she is met with unexpected competition from Lillian's new friend Helen (Rose Byrne), a socialite who seems bent on usurping Annie's Maid of Honor duties.

The rivalry consumes a great portion of this raucous comedy. But main focus remains on Annie, whose jealousy and insecurity is brilliantly essayed by "Saturday Night Live" veteran Kristen Wiig. I've never watched any episodes of SNL but from this film alone, I can say that Kristen Wiig is a top notch comedian, par excellence.

Annie is by all means a sad character but you can't help but root for her to succeed. Yes, she is jealous of her best friend's new friend but who wouldn't feel insecure amidst those circumstances. We all do outgrow our friends whom we met in our childhood. As we add up to the numbers in our age, our interests also change so it is only but natural to seek the company of people who share our common interests.

The other bridesmaids are equally 'flawed' characters but all of them, both individually and as a group bring so much amusement to the film. Each actress is given ample opportunity to create big laughs from their unique characterizations, and Melissa McCarthy as Megan basically steals every scene she's in.

It has been ages since I laughed so hard, I snorted out loud and almost peed in my shorts. This comedy has all the key elements of a good film. Great ensemble cast with multi-dimensional characters. A well written plot with funny situations, witty dialogue and throw in a tinge of romance for those swoon moments. And most of all even though the title refers to a bunch of women, kudos goes to the maid of honor, Annie personified by Kristen Wiig. The wedding and this film would be nothing without her effervescent presence.

Monday, May 21, 2012

THE LINCOLN LAWYER

Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Philippe
William H. Macy, Josh Lucas


Star Movies



TV channel surfing can often lead to finding a film that can grab one's attention. "The Lincoln Lawyer" was a legal thriller I wanted to watch when it was shown at the cinemas but as usual I either didn't have the time or simply was too lazy to go out.

So Matthew McConaughey portrays Mick Haller a sleazy yet charismatic defense attorny who suddenly develops a conscience when he takes up a new case. His wealthy client Louis Roulet (Ryan Philippe) is accused of beating and raping a call girl. Haller begins to question whether his rich bratty client is indeed innocent. In the course of his current case, Haller finds clues that might be related to his former case. Things aren't as simple as they seem. Haller needs to work doubly hard to solve his case despite the danger he may have put himself in as a consequence.

Oh and the title comes from the fact that Michael Haller works out from the back of his old Lincoln car. He even has a chauffeur but you have to watch the film to find out the details about his driver. I ain't giving away spoilers.

I was quite impressed with the solid supporting cast who turned up to give this somewhat predictable thriller much needed depth. Marisa Tomei, Ryan Philippe, Josh Lucas and despite his short role William H. Macy all contributed their vast talent to deliver credible performances.

Of course, the main star is Matthew McConaughey who is believable in a role which doesn't require him to take his shirt off. His portrayal of a slick defense attorney fit him like a glove. Coincidentally, I think Matthew McConaughey should stick to playing lawyers. Some years ago, he was quite effective in John Grisham adaptation "A Time To Kill". Now he essays Mike Haller in the film adaptation of Michael Connelly's best selling novel.

The film offers a nice mix of character introduction/development with an intriguing yet somewhat predictable plot complete with twists which you didn't quite see coming your way. Or perhaps I was just distracted by sleep slowly creeping up on me.
 

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