Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar-it lived up to the hype

I am just going to say it: I absolutely loved Avatar. I heard an interview done by Writer and Director James Cameron.and in it he had talked about how he had dreamed of making this movie since his childhood, but wanted to wait until the special effects were in-sync with his vision for the movie. Well, I am so glad that he waited. I found myself lost and enwrapped in the Avatar world. Even after the movie I kept thinking 'how did he come up with this?'

To be honest I didn't know much about the plot before the movie, just knew that there was going to be some blue people in a really crazy new world. That's how I would like you to see it, without really much knowledge before hand. I loved seeing it that way because then I wasn't expecting much or anticipating anything.

Two great and upcoming actors are Sam Worthington(Jake Sully) and Zoe Saldana(Neytiri). I love Worthington in the latest Terminator movie, his buzz head and military like acting came out again in Avatar. Zoe Saldana's voice as Neytiri was absolutely perfect. Neytiri held a goddess like aura and Saldana nailed it.

There are two side notes I feel that I should make:
1. I saw this in 2D and am hoping to see it again in 3D, when I do I will let you know the difference.
2. There is a hint of a political agenda in the plot of this film.

Honestly, one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Don't wait to see this, because everyone will be talking about it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 10 Movie Trailers

I don't think there's anything in this world that gets me jazzed like a movie trailer. Here are the top 10 trailers of 2009 and I must say, I agree with most of them (aside from 2012) and totally agree with number 1. By far that was the best trailer of the year, too bad the movie just couldn't deliver...

Your thoughts? Any movie trailer left off?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New York, I Love You

New York, I Love You took the concept and idea of Paris, Je t'aime to American soil. The premise is the same, vinettes of various inhabitants of the city going about their day. Each story is written and directed by different people, making the film jump around on topics. I personally enjoy this; however, my fellow movie goer was not a fan and found the lack of fluidity between the stories frustrating.

To truly understand this film, know it's not about a hard plot per se, but rather the overlying journey of people in the city. A few of the vinettes were a bit odd, particularly the one with Shia LeBeouf, and others just hilarious such as the prom story of "Brett Ratner".

And the old man from The Holiday is in this film, so what's not to love?

Note: I'm waiting for the "I Love Chicago" film now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

*Seen at the Chicago Film Festival*

I have never felt so great of a high then when this film started. It was "Mystery Film" night where you just walked into the theatre, sat down and waited for the credits to start so you could figure out what was playing.

It opens and the words: "London, England" appear. Chatter amongst the crowd, "Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes!" "I can't wait for Jude Law!". Then it happened, the words in script: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. The crowd erupts in applause and euphoria. I myself felt a shortness of breath as I excitedly tapped the random movie goer next to me and my festival friend.

This film was nothing short of brilliant. There were slow parts, but the times spent in Dr. Parnassus's mirror are just so wonderful, you never want them to end.

For those of you who aren't aware, this is the film Heath Ledger was filming before his untimely death. This left the director and writers scrambling to finish the production without its main character. Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp assumed responsibilities to finish the film in Ledger's place. I thought this bit would be confusing seeing as Farrell and Depp don't really resemble Ledger; however, the production crew wrote this perfectly. I really could not imagine the film with Ledger continuing on with the character after seeing this.

I felt like I was in a grown-up Alice & Wonderland that would return to reality ever so often. Definitely one you should see on the big screen to truly enjoy the imagination of Dr. Parnassus.

You see how people of all ages and genders would fork over any amount to enjoy a few moments of excitement in Dr. Parnassus's imagination. You also learn the "joy" of everlasting life isn't usually all that great, which teen girls wrapped in the Twilight saga will already be fully aware of.

Note: A few scenes were trippy and quite reminiscent of Bono's scene in Across the Universe


*Seen at the Chicago Film Festival*

After seeing some comedies at the Fest, decided a drama was in order. However a drama of this nature was not in order. I particularly like the film choices of Michelle Williams (Wendy & Lucy, Syncedoche, New York, Brokeback Mountain) and just love Gael Garcia Bernal, but this film was a mammoth of a disaster.

The story seems simple enough, a "perfect" family faces small choices with big reactions. You see Bernal leave to go close a deal with his internet business across the globe while Williams stays at home with her job in the ER and the couple's daughter. The daughter is cared for by the nanny which leaves Williams character feeling useless on a daily basis.

But that was it. That's all that went on. And the crises the characters faced never fully connected. And for a film harping on the fact of dealing with consequences, some conflicts are left unresolved. No ending ever really happens besides when the credits start rolling.

If this is something you simply must see, wait for the DVD.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Couples Retreat-take it or leave it

You know when you see a movie preview a few hundred times and you anticipate the funny parts and can repeat them over and over again? Well Couples Retreat was like that for me. Since, I am a HUGE Vince Vaughn fan, I figured that I would see it anyway. Surprinsgly enough, there were more funny parts to the movie than the 30 second previews!

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock over the past five months (because thats the only way you wouldn't have seen a preview for this movie), I'll bring you up to speed. Couples Retreat is a comedy centereted around four couples who take a vacation to a tropical island. The conflict arises when they find out that their vacation has now become a week long therapy session.

Of course with any movie staring the comedic line up that Couples Retreat had its bound to be comical, yet sometimes the story line can get lost. I felt that that happened a few times here, where a character was thrown in or a line was said and I kept thinking "hmm...that could have been edited out." (I hate to say this since it was written by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn and I have loved there past work-hello Break Up and Swingers, but it was just true).

The one liners from Vaughn and cast were hysterical and had me slapping my knee(literally) and overall it was a feel good movie. I would recommend this for maybe a Netflix, not sure its worth the $10 plus popcorn fee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are-not what I expected

After finding out that I was going to be out of town on the opening day of Where the Wild Things Are Hanna and I made the management decision to see the midnight showing. In the past this type of decision making is usually a success, this time it was a let down. Not only was our crowd unexpected(De Paul kids sneaking beer into the theatre), but the film just didn't deliver.

This film is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak's childrens story where a little boy Max is sent to his room without any dinner, here he creates a forested in-habited world full of creatures three times the size of him.

With only 10 sentences in the book, writers Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers had a blank canvas to create this story from. I think with that sort of creative freedom, too many ideas can come to life. In the film, when Max enters the world of the Wild Things he finds them in total conflict. This conflict or even there way of life is never explained. I was confused for most of the movie and kept looking for clues to tell me why the characters were acting the way that they were. Where the Wild Things Are was originally suppose to debut last year, when Warner Bros pulled it and told Director Spike Jonze that it had to be more kid friendly. Since this wasn't his original plan for the movie, the final product came across misunderstood with child like aspects and special effects, with an adult centered story line.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Be All and End All

**Seen at the Chicago International Film Fest**

Note: This was the first time American audiences got a taste of this film. And at the start of the film, the director gave up his seat so an older couple could sit next to one and other. I love Brits.

Imagine being a 15-year-old horny kid who gets the grim news death is waiting right around the corner. Enter Robbie. Robbie just wants a shag. That's all he wants. And it's his dying wish. Enter best lad Ziggy. Ziggy tells Robbie he'll help him fulfill the wish. The boys run into numerous problems, as one would imagine. Robbie's in the children's ward, since he's only 15, which means not only does he not have his own room, he's surrounded by a "dykey" nurse and tons of tots.

The film focuses on Ziggy, trying to deal with the fact his best friend is dying, feeling the need to help fulfill his last wish and deal with the trials of being his Mom's "man." Ziggy's father left the scene and his mom hides the fact he still reaches out to Zigmond. Viewers see Ziggy deal with all these different emotional baggage and see how he navigates through it all.

From call girls, to soliciting "help" from school, to visiting a brothel, Ziggy stops at nothing to make sure Robbie doesn't have to die a virgin.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Robbie and Ziggy and seeing how the looming death affected them. They still get angry at one and other, say horrible things and leave the room angry. I feel when someone close to us is sick, we tend to put on an act and ensure we are always friendly and never rude. But when was the last time you didn't snap at your closest friend? That's what your closest friend is there for, to be a punching bag, call you out when you're acting crazy and still be there at the end of the day.

We also really enjoyed the "dyke-y" nurse from the film. She was a real treat.

After this film, we were fortunate to attend a Q&A with the director Bruce Webb, who said he was drawn to this film as he was an adopted kid and from a divorced family. He was drawn to Ziggy's story of searching for his father. The storyline was brilliant as was the directing in this film.

We also learned the boy who plays sex-crazed Robbie got his acting start in a Sex Ed video. Fate much?

As of yet, this film hasn't been well received in the homeland (UK). Hopefully some type of distribution will come for the film as they get ready to head for the Rome Film Fest.

Sex may not be the all and end all of life, but a best lad sure as hell is.

Side note: Sam held in all of her snorts as the director was sitting just a few rows up and the executive producer was right in front of us. Quite the feat.

Looking for Eric

**Seen at the Chicago International Film Fest**

Poor Eric. He's raising two stepsons all on his own, still finds himself fancying his first love and sees, talks and seeks life guidance from footballer Eric Cantona. This story is a hilarious tale of a man just trying to live life while having to worry and deal with all of life's problems and then some.

Looking for Eric, a French and UK film, is directed by the brilliant Ken Loach (The Wind that Shakes the Barley) and he shows he can do a dramatic comedy as well as historical drama that Barley centered around.

Eric is a postal worker who never laughs and he lives his lives life full of regret and confusion. When one of his stepsons finds himself in harm's way, Eric, along with all of his lads from the local pub devise a plan to help the family. You see the stepsons go from teen anguish and immaturity to respectable lads.

After his family problems are sorted out, he's after his Lily, the first girl he fell in love with and left 30 years ago. To get him in tip top shape, Cantona instills boot camp (picture above). These scenes are pretty hysterical as Eric is the only one who "sees" Cantona.

We enjoyed this film tremendously as it dealt with the drama, real world and often scary problems of daily life while peppering the situation with humour. We ended up laughing half the time because hearing an irate British man scream profanities is just funny.

Hopefully this film gets picked up by a distributor and soon. It's a must see.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fame: not your typical dance flick

For those of you who know me this may come as a shock, but I have a dancing background. I know I know, I never said I was any good, but I sure gave it a good whirl for about 10 or so years. Also, my sister is an extremely gifted dancer and even thought of going professional some day, that meant that I had to sit in on a lot of dance rehearsals and competitions even beyond my time at the dance studio. With this exposure to the dance world, great passion has been built inside me for the dancing industry.

I figured I should give justification for what I am about to say. I really loved the movie Fame. I knew that I would probably love it going into it, considering I loved movies such as Center Stage, Step Up and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Yet, Fame wasn't like the rest of these movies. The screen wasn't filled with cheesy one liners and stories that would just never happen in real life. (With that said, this was a 'teen' movie and a dance movie so I'm not comparing this to a Mystic River if you will). It really portrayed the stories of struggling youngsters with a passion for the stage.

For those of you who don't know Fame is a remake of the 1980 musical set in New York City at the High School for the Performing Arts (known as P.A.). It tells the story of the real life Fiorello H. Laguardia High School, where students are trained in such arts that lead to professional acting, singing and dancing.

There were two great finds that I took from this movie. First was the dancer Kherington Payne. Payne was a contestant on season four of So You Think You Can Dance. I feel in love with her and her partner Twitch while watching the season a few summers ago. It was so fun to see her blossom as a dancer and actress on the screen. After doing some research, I read that she is going to start stretching her career into dancing on screen in the future. My second find was the singer Asher Book. His adorable smile and sweet character brightened up the silver screen and my heart. For his audition he sang Ordinary People originally done by John Legend. Needless to say I've listened to it on iTunes about 50 times. (you can listen to it on imeem here:

The Messenger

The Chicago International Film Festival has landed in the Windy and will continue throughout the next week. Volunteers receive free passes for movies, so Sam and I are taking full advantage of my volunteer hours. Side note: A full review on the Film Fest will be available when the Fest closes. Believe me, it will be quite the doozy.

So Sam and I ventured to The Messenger one night. A film with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster playing Army soldiers who deliver the news to families when their soldier has died. I was surprised that the movie didn't focus completely on this. I assumed we'd be going from door to door, knocking and telling families their loved ones are dead. Instead, this movie offers a glimpse into the lives of soldiers who aren't off fighting.

Woody Harrelson does a fantastic job portraying the soldier who never saw much action and just can't seem to walk away from his new family. Ben Foster plays a decorated hero after a terrible accident while he was in combat and is quickly finishing up his time with the Army.

The film focuses a lot on Foster's character, showing viewers a glimpse of life as a wounded soldier carrying around guilt. He does a fantastic job and viewers will quickly fall in love with him. Jena Malone also stars although, I wasn't all that much of a fan of her performance.

This film has already been picked up by a distributor and will be out in theatres within the month, though it might be select.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Boys Are Back

A wonderful adaptation of a widower's story in raising a son without a mother and a son which he abandoned years before. Clive Owen, the father, loses his wife Katie and is left with their young son Artie. Owen struggles to find a sense of purpose and meaning in the world all while trying to help Artie deal with his mother's death. So Owen decides to bring in his eldest son, Harry, whom he left in England when he married Artie's mum. Harry, going through the turbulent teen years jumps at the opportunity to get to know his father.

As always, nothing turns out as one would hope. We see the constant struggle of raising a family, holding a job and maintaining a household. I couldn't help but see each of my parents in the role as they began the journey of single parenting.

What really makes this film come alive is the idea of fun. Owen has few rules in his house and tends to follow an every-man-for-himself daily routine. This film is an adventure through loss, grief, coping, trust and love. Elements I think films tend to over look when they have a traumatic grief story line.

Favorite scenes would be the "dangerous" things Owen lets the children do. While driving down the beach with his son on the hood, my movie goer partner promptly whispers "That's so dangerous!" as I sat there green with envy and wishing I knew someone who could drive me down the "beach" of Lake Michigan come 10 months from now when the weather is above 60. These scenes remind us all that life shouldn't be made to be lived in all seriousness and that sometimes, the only way to move on is shed a few tears, then go do something exhilarating.

This film will cause you to well up with a few tears if you're cold and dead inside like myself or sob like Ms. Zeller did, especially when you see Clive Owen put down his tough and rough guard. Bring the Kleenex either way.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The September Issue-Documentary

The September Issue is a documentary, filming the behind the scenes process of publishing the September issue of American Vogue magazine. There are a few facts about this subject matter that I think you all should know.

1.Anna Wintour, the Editor-In-Chief at American Vogue.
- is said to be 'heartless and tough'
2. The month of September is the year end for the fashion industry, this is when everything changes.
3. The 2007 September issue of Vogue magazine weighed five pounds.

Director R.J. Cutler did an amazing job of getting behind the fur and glitz of Anna Wintour and the rest of the people at Vogue to tap into what their thought process is, in life and at work. I admired the honesty of Ms. Wintour when speaking about her life and the journey that she has been on to get where she is today. She doesn't seem to carry the celebrity persona that I thought she might have, yet she just spoke as if this is what she was meant to always do and it is the only thing that matters to her.

My love for fashion and its industry is what drew me to see this documentary. Yet, with most things in life I found a gem in this documentary. That would be a one Ms. Grace Coddington. In this film she is portrayed as the only one who fights with Wintour, but I saw her as so much more. Her crazy red hair and terrible clothes were only the beginning of the greatness that exuded from this woman. Her role as the Creative Director allows her to focus her creativity in a way that celebrates design and art and has helped give Vogue the reputation that it has today.

If you are a 'Fashionista' then I shouldn't have to talk you into seeing this documentary. But, if you aren't, I would still recommend this to you. For nothing else but to peek into subject matter that you don't know much about. You never know what you will learn or what will spark an idea in you when you open yourself up to an unknown world.

Hurt Locker-accidental greatness

Let me set up the scene for you in how I ended up seeing this movie. It was a lovely September day(yes I realize this is late), the sun in shining, fall is still a few weeks away and I am trying to soak up the last great 70 degree days here in Chicago. I decide to reward myself with an afternoon movie and put on my favorite cotton dress, flip flops and sunglasses and walk the grand mile to the local independent movie theatre. Popcorn and a Diet Coke are in my future along with the romantic, feel good comedy called My One and Only. I buy my ticket and stroll up the stairs to the next movie theatre patron that tells me my movie is playing up the stairs and to the left. I go in and find my perfect seat-center seat, about midway up the staircase. I find that there are a few men in the theatre(which of course I found strange), but figured I wasn't here to judge. About 15 minutes after the movie should have begun the previews start, same as always(the independent movie theatre doesn't exactly do genre selected previews). Then, BAM! The opening scene to The Hurt Locker comes on. And it's grotesque. You know when you think you are taking a sip of water and it is really vodka? Well that's how this felt. Realizing immediately what has happened, I do the awkward grab my purse and decide to make the theatre switch. As I stand up the screen goes into slow motion. I was mesmerized by the cinematography of this film and immediately sat down. Setting my popcorn and DC aside (this really isn't a movie for props) I drop my purse and am enraptured by the story that is folding out in front of me.

The Hurt Locker is an amazing film that tells a story of young soldiers who are Bravo's bomb disposal unit. 39 days are left at their station in Baghdad and become their countdown to going home. Yet, each day this three member team is asked to step into the most dangerous scenario's in order to protect civilians.

Jeremy Renner plays Sergeant Will James, the new leader for unit Bravo. Saying that he is 'rough around the edges' would be quite the understatement. He doesn't seem to mind getting right up in the mess of the war and taking off his gloves while doing it. His life is the war and being a solider in it and doesn't seem to know life outside it. While watching Sgt. James and his unit fight through their internal struggles, the chaos of the war reveals itself that changes life for them as they know it.

Even though this isn't what I had signed up for on that sunny September day, it ended up being a great surprise. I would recommend this movie and put it on my must see list. Jeremy Renner's performance is outstanding and was even mentioned to have the acting skills of "a young Russell Crowe." Don't let this film pass you by, make it an accident in your life as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

All About Steve: thumbs down

All About Steve is one of those movies that made me want to throw rotten tomatoes at the screen and boo at the characters that can't even hear me. Wow, that was harsh. Sometimes the truth it though. I wouldn't bother seeing this movie in the theatre or in your living room in the future. I was very disappointed with Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church and Bradley Cooper's choice to do this horribly written film. I mean I know you have to pay the bills, but they could have used a second opininon in this matter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Julie & Julia--It's like butta...

After Sam and I joined the Five Buck Club, we finally made it to the theatre to see this treat and for only $5 (didn’t even think that was possible these days….).

We both read the book before going in and the character of Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) is a lot more gritty, has a few chips on her shoulder and is all around bitchy on the pages, but on the silver screen, she’s a little bottle of AndrĂ©: so bubbly with a little tart.

For those of you who don’t know, Julie, decides to cook for an entire year through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogs about each recipe and each disaster along the way. This was back in 2002, when people still received their news from newspapers and watched television shows on the t.v. The blogging aspect was a big deal for Julie as she continually wonders, is anyone reading me?

The film cuts to Julie’s life and Julia Child’s life back in France. We see how Julia Child came to be Julia Child. Watching Meryl Streep take on this role is fantastic. Be prepared to laugh at any and all things that come flying out of this woman’s mouth (bonus points if you can pin her accent, we debated at length, but did not rest on a firm decision).

You see Julie not only struggle with the recipes and the cooking, but also with her life both personal and professional. She uses her blogging and cooking as a therapy for life’s daily frustrations. Imagine working all day then having to come home and prepare some insane French dish, which takes hours to cook, it would make anyone go crazy.

But the film is much more than just cooking and eating and eating and more eating. It’s about doing something you truly want to do. Julia wanted to write a French cookbook for Americans and wasn’t going to stop until it was completed. Julie wanted to be a writer but couldn’t figure out the avenue on how to become one, but found her answer by writing about her passion and hobby (sounds a bit familiar to Sam and I…).

After this movie, you’ll leave full, happy and content; but a part of you can’t help but want seconds.

Bon Appetit!

Taking Woodstock

A film about Woodstock would mean six words: drugs, sex and rock & roll. Wrong. I think WayneStock in Wayne’s World 2 had more musical acts than Taking Woodstock. It was like Titanic without the ship or Rudy without football.

I love Demetri Martin and found myself highly anticipating this film especially since Liev Shreiber and Ang Lee were in the lineup. So imagine the disappointment I felt sitting in the theatre. It was like I arrived on the wrong day for Woodstock. You just keep sitting there wondering when the show will start.

There were a few fantastic opening acts for this film. Demetri Martin’s character was honestly, just a wet blanket I couldn’t wait to dry up. Granted the story is about him finding his way and exploring his homosexual tendencies, but unless old women or his parents were in the shot, he just did not deliver at all.

The old ladies: fantastic. Demetri Martin’s parents: hilarious. It made me want Russian Jews for parents. Emilie Hirsch plays a war vet who just can’t shake what he did and saw. His scenes are few, but he really takes hold of you as a viewer.

Schreiber’s character Vilma was funny, but then the schtick got old. And seeing big, burly Victor Creed from X-Men dressed in a dress didn’t really ring true for me. Love Liev in nearly everything else he’s done, but just couldn’t get comfortable seeing my big, strong man wearing a dress, lipstick and panty hose.

One particular scene really confused me as well. We see Elliot heading up to see Woodstock and when he’s nearly there, he befriends VW Guy and VW Girl who pull them into their VW van and give him drugs and they have this psychedelic, acidic and trippy fifteen minutes. It was like looking into a kaleidoscope someone threw up in. I had to look a few times away from fear of nausea. Screw D.A.R.E. classes, make fifth graders watch this. Scene is very reminiscent of the Bono scene in Across the Universe, hard to understand and the perfect opportunity for a potty break.

Bottom line: No storyline, great cast. Wait for the DVD as I’m sure the extras would include concert acts, but then again, it’s never safe to assume.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inglourious Basterds: not sure why it took me two weeks to see this

I always feel pretty badass when I leave a Quentin Tarantino movie. It's almost like I believe that his world exists and I just have to be a part of it, all of a sudden a dagger ends up strapped to my ankle and I have a list of enemies thats written in sharpie in my back left pocket. Even though I've never wanted to be called a basterd, I would compromise.

A very short synopsis: Inglourious Basterds is a film that displays an alternate history lesson on how World War II actually ended. Now I could go on, but lets be honest most Tarantino movies are best when you just let him do his work.

To keep with tradition Inglourious Basterds is written into five chapters giving the audience an understanding of Tarantino's multiple stories going on at once. I love how he does this, not only to help me follow the story, but the title to the chapters are always comical. (This makes me wish that he would write novel's, I have a feeling they would be pretty entertaining.) Another Tarantino signature is guest appearances. There was only one that caught me by surprise for this film and they give it away in the opening title's, but I just hate ruining any fun for a movie goer so you'll have to go and find out who it is. Finally, his last signature is violence. It isn't always the typical type of violence that every action movie has, but bright red blood squirting everywhere is usually a must. With it being a war movie I guess you would probably think that there would be a lot of violence in it and there is. There were more than a handle full of scenes where I had my hands covering my face, but it wouldn't be a Tarantino film if I didn't.

I absolutely loved the cast for this film. I will admit that I am still quite in love with Brad Pitt and his role as Lt. Aldo Raine was pretty hysterical. His Tennessee accent was never short of red neck and the scar across his neck gave him that 'you don't want to mess with me' attitude. He was supported by an eclectic group of gentlemen(I use gentlemen loosley) that made up the rest of the Inglourious Basterds. Office star and writer B.J. Novak was one of them. (Now, if you aren't an Office fan then this will mean nothing to you.) Novak's writing and acting style is never short of surprising and dry and his role as the temp gone bad was one of my favorite stories to follow on the last couple seasons of The Office. I was very excited when I found out that he would be a character in this film and even though I knew his role would be minor, I had no idea that he would be given such a great scene with actors Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz. In this scene there is the final show down between the two rival countries and Novak's character is a silent one at best for the whole film. Yet, in this scene is given dialogue that not only supports a pivotal scene, but a bit of Novak's humor shines through. I can only wonder if he was casted as Smithson Utivich for this scene only, a girl can dream.

*I guess to really appreciate a Tarantino film I should have "tarantinoed" this post, well just read it backwards, that should do the trick.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Created by Mike Judge, Extract was fine, forgettable, and certainly failed to deliver on the "Office Space 2.0" hype. What is a bad movie? No. Would I recommend rushing to catch it in theaters? Definitely not.

The film is centered around Joel, the owner of an Extract plant (Jason Bateman) and his contention with myriad personal and professional problems, such as his potentially unfaithful wife (Kristen Wiig) and employees who want to take advantage of him. When a factory employee suffers an agonizing injury to his (ahem) manhood, a looming lawsuit and pending buyout weigh heavy on Joel's mind.

With a seen-it-before plot and an average cast, Extract was never expected to win awards. However, it's especially disappointing when you know a movie is promoted to under-deliver. Because of its everyman relatability and working-class storyline (and not to mention a shared creator/writer/director) , it's natural to compare Extract to Mike Judge's 1999 darling Office Space. The problem is that Office Space became a cult-classic, a perfect mixture of relevant comedy and respectable buzz. Cut to 2009's smarter humor, compliments of Judd Apatow & crew, and it seems as though comedy of the 90s has fallen by the wayside. And even if the comedic landscape isn't to blame, we all know that the second coming is never as satisfying as the original.

As for the cast, the big names delivered as you would hope and expect. Bateman was his usual, hilarious self, Ben Affleck was great as Joel's free-spirited and underachieving companion/pseudo life advisor, and J.K. Simmons and David Koechner offered their standard slapstick humor. Despite portraying a dishonest and disloyal con-artist (far from the adorable girl-next-door Rachel we fell in love with in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Mila Kunis still did her best to win us over. And Kristen Wiig was a pleasant surprise for me, as she deviated from her standard SNL approach and actually showed glimpses of moderate acting ability. But the supporting cast was a huge disappointment! (and the primary reason why Extract underachieved). While you obviously need actors that are believable as factory workers, I thought the casting need much improvement. The sole supporting standout was unfamiliar face Dustin Milligan, who provided numerous laughs as Brad, a part-time pool boy, part-time gigolo, and full-time idiot. I wouldn't bank on Milligan becoming the next king of comedy, but his bonehead persona certainly was a highlight.

Here's the bottom line: take Office Space, with it's relatable plot and irreverent humor, and sacrifice Milton, Michael Bolton, Samir, and Smykowski to the God's of humor. That's exactly what you get out of Extract. The foundation is there with Bateman, Affleck, and even Wiig, but the all-important supporting cast did nothing memorable to make you want more. Packed with hit-or-miss humor, I checked the 'Miss' box far more often than 'Hit.' But give it a few months, pop it in the DVD player, and check it out for yourself...

Written by: David Christeson (dear friend and movie goer)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art & Copy: Creativity can solve anything

Art & Copy was a surprisingly funny and thought provoking documentary. This story tells of the big names in the advertising industry, everyone from Hal Riney to Mary Wells and Dan Wieden were interviewed and carefully researched by Director Doug Pray. Their stories were told through personal interviews and examples of their work that intertwined the round table discussions each commercial or print ad went through before hitting production.

Since I have a strong interest in advertising, I knew that I would enjoy this film and learn more about the history this industry has lead over the past 30 years. Yet, I had no idea that I would fall in love with most of the faces behind each of these great companies.

The honesty and wittiness of most of these guys was pretty remarkable and at times a bit shocking. I am so sad to know that Hal Riney died in the Spring of 2008. I would have loved to have had the chance to meet this man. His relaxed posture and at times goofy attitude had me laughing even when he wasn't saying anything.

I believe that Doug Pray really had the chance to see into the lives of the great ad people over the past 50 years and truly captured the genuine motivation behind most of their work. All in all a great documentary that allows you a backstage pass into the advertising industry.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Proposal

The Proposal was a surprisingly funny and great romantic comedy! Even though you think that the previews have given it all away, it hasn't. Once again, I went and saw this movie for my roommate's sake and was surprised when I was the one who was laughing the loudest(okay not that surprised).

Here's a short synopsis just in case you are one of the few that hasn't seen a preview yet. Margaret Tate, played by Sandra Bullock, is an editor-in-chief at a huge publishing company in New York. When her deportation is at stake she black mails her assistant Andrew, played by Ryan Reynolds, into marrying her. What would a romantic comedy be if he didn't agree, of course with a few conditions of his own. When the couple heads up to Alaska to see Andrew's family, the real story starts to unfold.

I am sure you are already predicting what is going to happen next, but if you can stop yourself. You will enjoy this movie more when you just let everything happen before you. The Paxton family is full of great actors that help support the quirky relationship Margaret and Andrew develop. There are amazing one liners from the ever so funny Ryan Reynolds and an almost Lucille Ball feel to Sandra Bullock's high strung, with an undertone of craziness, character.

You may want to wait and redbox this since it will soon be out of theaters, but be sure to put it on your list of movies to see.

The Ugly Truth

I'll be honest, I went to this movie only because my roommate wanted to see it. Usually I will see just about anything and love just about everything, so when I say I didn't like a movie I wouldn't take it very lightly. To make it short and sweet I am going to copy and paste my tweet review that I sent into the Chicago Redeye last Thursday.

The Ugly Truth is, the movie is terrible. It's more exciting to wait and see if Katherine Heigl shows up on this next season of Grey's.

Time Traveler's Wife

Bring your two best friends and a box of tissue's to go see this movie. You too fella's!

This romantic story tells of a Chicago librarian that suffers from a rare genetic disorder that sends him traveling through time; despite the fact that he vanishes frequently and at times lengthy intervals, he attempts to build a future with the woman he loves.

Last Spring the novel that this film was based off of was recommended to me by a good friend. When I picked up the 536 paged book, I figure this would last me until Summer. Needless to say after four days of kleenex and page turning I was finished. It was then that all I could dream of was Henry and his piles of vanishing clothes.

The anticipation I had for this movie was high and it seemed to deliver in every aspect. Even if you haven't read this book(by the way you should read this book) I feel that you will still really enjoy this movie and dig into the characters emotions right from the beginning.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Relationships are tricky for anyone to decipher, but throw in a character with Asperger's and it's a little more than tricky. Adam follows the relationship waters for the Adam (Hugh Dancy--hottie from Confessions of a Shop-a-holic), a 29 year-old who suffers from Asperger's (a form of autism). He may not have the social skills to strike up a conversation, but he knows everything about space and telescopes.

Enter the girl: Beth (Rose Byrne) from 3A. Adam doesn't divulge his disorder until after a few dates, so we see Beth deeply confused during the couple's first few interactions. The couple then starts to move through the treacherous waters of dating. It's easy to relate to as we've all been there where we look at someone and have no idea what's going on through their head or what they're feeling. It's just another day for Adam.

We see Adam's character grow and change throughout the film all because of Beth. Adam slowly begins to figure out how to be in this world and it's so uplifting to watch the transition. Favorite scene is the raccoon one in Central Park. I, like Beth, became more and more intrigued with each second that passed.

This film actually made me cry. Not sob, but definitely had a few tears roll down the cheek. It's so beautifully written and Dancy does a fantastic and completely believable job as an Aspie. He offers a glimpse into the life of this unknown lifestyle. He doesn't just show awareness, but also how to adapt to individuals who are just different.

I really enjoyed the character of Harlan (Frankie Faison). He reminded me of Fortune from Rudy- that older black man who befriends the outsider and imparts life wisdom. Harlan is an old friend of Adam's father and helps Adam navigate the world.

Found myself pausing at Clark/Diversey after leaving the theatre and staring up at the black sky. Saw a few twinklers and smiled. It's the little things that count in this world and all of us can relate to that.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Paper Heart

Is it a movie? Documentary? Rom Com? That's for the viewer to decide. My personal feel, a little of all.

In this film, we see Charlyne Yi begin a journey to discover what love is and whether or not everyone experiences it, because as of yet, she has not. She solicits advice from normal Americans from all across the country, children at a playground in Atlanta and her friends. It's very "When Harry Met Sally"-esque. And apparently, Charlyne has the best social circle as her friends include Demitri Martin, Seth Rogen and even that guy who played the elf Bernard in "The Santa Clause" (though his name is never revealed in the film or on the film credits...he's the host at the party Charlyne and Michael Cera meet at).

So we see Charlyne and Michael meet and eventually, fall in love. The beginnings of their relationship are all too true. Feeling the waters of a new relationship (whether pleutonic or romantic) is always tricky. And it's nice to see the awkwardness most of us tend to feel over the things we say portrayed in this film. Michael Cera plays himself, which is a lot like any other character he has ever played. If I wasn't so inlove with him, I would complain.

Note: If your name is Sali Sumer, you will fall more madly, deeply in love with Michael. Especially when you see what he wears at the bowling alley as I'm 100% positive that shirt (courtesy of a Mr. Grant) is hanging in your closet.

We see Charlyne deny her feelings for Michael and eventually succumb to them, which is what most of us in this world do anyways.

The paper scenes were a little much for me. And not needed. It was very Von Trapp like if the Von Trapp children were trapped in the STL's Laumier Sculpture Park Art Camp for a summer.

What I really loved in this film: the director/friend Nick played by Jake Johnson. He reminded me so much of my best pal in this world Jeremy (Jem). Jem, just like Nick in this film, is there to analyze all of my deepest darkest fears about boys, egg me on on what to do (which I usually do the opposite of) and help me see the errors of my ways (which he's always a little too eager to point out...). But it is because of Nick that Charlyne begins to sort out her feelings for Michael and act on them. Everyone in life deserves a Nick/Jem to help them sail the seas of love.

Don't see this film if you've recently broke up with someone or are in the on deck circle of a potential relationship.

Away We Go

If you're like most 20 somethings in the US, you love "The Office." While John Krasinski hasn't had all that much success with movies ("License to Wed"---ouch), he's stunning in this film. Yes, it is a little Jim-esque, but he has a beard and really doesn't hold back what he's feeling or saying. It's hippie Jim.

This movie is so much more than the leading characters Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph). This pair, in their 30s, are about to have a baby and live in a home with a cardboard window. As someone who's fearful of turning 30, it's good to know that not everyone out there as the maturity and financial stability of a 60-year-old couple. Some of us may still just be fuck ups.

The true essence from the film comes in the writing, direction and supporting cast. I didn't anticipate this movie to be as funny as it was. One of Sam and I's favorite scenes is this goodie too shoes little boy Verona and Burt come across while in Tucson. His line about babies is priceless and totally unexpected. Needless to say, Sam snorted. And some guy in the back row was in hysterics.

When you see Sam Mendes' other works (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Jarhead, Road to Perdition), you can't help but be amazed he was the man behind this film. It's such a spin from his previous credits. He makes it work, taking the viewer on a sporadic journey across the North America continent. His character development is awe-inspiring and you sit there wondering why this cast hasn't appeared together before.

The supporting cast....was just magnificent. I can't even decide who I liked better. Allison Janney had me laughing every time she opened her mouth. Think her Juno character, but pop in some PCP, Zanex and a swig of Everclear: that's her character Lily.

Maggie Gyllenhaal's portrayal of a hippie, earth loving, extremely liberal mother-rearing ways were hilarious. I'm fearful if any of my friends ever turn into that type of character. I doubt I could bite my tongue. Burt standing up to Maggie's husband at the dinner table is one of my favorite scenes.

Verona and Burt come across couples madly in love and those who are not. It's real in the sense every relationship and circumstance is different. Life isn't always hunky-dorie, but it's how you make the most of it that determines the joy and happiness.

Important to note: the soundtrack. Alexi Murdoch really delivers in this film. I don't think any other artisit out there (except for maybe Nick Drake) has the sounds to properly convey the messages behind this film.

There are few films Sam and I walk out of where we both totally feel the same way. But as of lately, cinematography has really stepped up its game and delivered some true wonders.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Funny People 8.5.09

Well if you have been reading our page for a while, it might be obvious that I would be waiting in line at midnight to see this movie. Unfortunately, it took some talking into of the bf to go and see it with me. After the four hour ordeal(we were early, so we spent some time in the arcade) I would have to say I'm not sure its worth making the trip to the theatre.

The previews did a little disservice to the film. I was hoping for some great classic lines, some heart strings being pulled and some great camio's. Even though the camio's were ridiculous, the classic lines were few a far between and the heart strings barely got pulled.

There were a few aspects of this movie that I really enjoyed. One was Seth Rogen's character, Ira. He was adorable as a struggling stand up comedian who sleeps on a pull out couch. Another was Jason Schwartzman. I am a huge fan anyways, but his protrail of a semi famous TV star was absolutely hysterical.

All and all I would wait to redbox this one.

Friday, July 31, 2009

500 Days of Summer

We saw this movie on its opening day, what, three weeks ago now. And we simply loved it. Just utterly fantastic. Couldn't say enough about this film, so here's a top five list of the 500s of things we loved.

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Where have you been hiding? You stole our hearts and breath in "Angels in the Outfield" with your angelic call in the big game. You simply shine in this film. Your portrayal of Tom in the film makes us love you and hate you at times, just like the real guys in our lives.

2) The soundtrack: I mean, in this day and age, no one can walk down the block without being plugged in. So when a movie delivers a great mixtape/playlist for our lives, we love it. There's some oldies thrown in there along with some newer, lesser-known acts. Regina Spektor's "Us" has won a spot on my coveted "Walking to the El" playlist.

3) Truth: How many rom-coms show life exactly how it is? Umm not many. In fact, as I sit here staring at the embarrassing amount of DVDs I own, the only realistic movies I find are Rudy (based on true story, so it has truth to it), Monsters Inc (your friends will always love you) and Saving Private Ryan (nobody lives forever). So imagine my excitement when I find a rom-com I not only relate to, but feel like I've lived in, and am doomed to live in for awhile. Honesty, it's brutal, but it's needed.

4) Don't date your co-workers: No matter what people say, it will end badly. And you will inevitably quit your job, or hate being there more than you already do. This only works on the Mad Men set and that's because they regularly drank throughout the day and women bit their tongues instead of speaking up (cough, Joan, cough).

5) Youth: Tom seeks relationship guidance from his much younger sister. As someone who has a sister 14 years younger, I pray I never have to call her when I'm 30 and she's 16 telling me that so and so was a total tool and she knew it all along. But there's something to say the youngsters. They sure bring a new view to situations and I'm glad Tom's sister got to share her candid views.

So go see it already.

And if you're a guy, and an artist, and need a canvas to draw the Chicago skyline on, my arm's ready. Although I'm not sure if I have the patience for you to color in the windows, but we'll see.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince

After six movies and seven books, we still get excited for this wizarding lot. We attended the Midnight Premiere and off the bat, befriended a group of gals who came prepared with lawn chairs. We played rounds of Crazy 8's, laughed way too much and headed into the theatre.

The special effects in this movie were outstanding. Gliding and whipping through the streets of London made you feel like you were flying. This opening scene set the tone for the rest of the film: unbelievable.

In their sixth year at Hogarts; Harry, Hermonine and Ron finally give into their teenage hormones. The direction of this sexual tension was spot on. I remembered all the awkwardness of young love and the confusion that came with it.

For myself personally, I loved seeing the transition from child to adulthood. We see Draco Malfoy struggling with the pressure of trying to please the family as he wears suits in every scene. My favorite cast character from here on out will be Ron Weasley (sorry Oliver Wood). Seeing Ron on screen with his ripped arms reminded me of the scene in "Goblet of Fire" when Harry slips into the bathroom and the whole movie audience erupted into shrieks.

Be prepared to laugh in this film. Laugh at the awkwardness of teenage love and the sarcastic comments out of Ron's mouth. I was completely shocked and loved every minute of it.

Also to note, the ending is a shade different from the book. I won't give it away (unlike that horrible, soulless person did in the RedEye), but I felt it was a pivotal scene in the book and it needed its place in the movie. The ending does point nicely to the two-part finale of this magical tale. We simply cannot wait for the next installations to this fantastic series.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Public Enemies

The hype leading up to this movie made me so ecstatic to see this film. Johnny Depp...Christian robbers...1920s...Chicago. All the elements were there, except for a script and character development.

I must say, thoroughly enjoyed seeing Johnny Depp in a movie where he looks like a normal human being (have you seen the image of him as Mad Hatter?? Terrifying). And Depp's portrayal of John Dillinger was okay, nothing fantastic. Really would have enjoyed this film if they created more of a character build-up. I found it hard to sit there and really feel a connection with any of the actors.

Two strapping young men accompanied me on this outing and loved the movie. So if you liked the Dick Tracy movie with Warren Beatty, you'll like the gun shooting scenes in this film. But sometimes, you need a little more than some pretty faces and tommy guns.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

Rule #1 about this movie: don’t forget your Kleenex. Crying from the beginning to the end I had to put my hood up to hide my wet cheeks.

Based on Jodi Picoult’s bestselling novel, this story takes you through the lives of the Fitzgerald family. First up is Kate, who is played by Sofia Vassilieva. Kate is the oldest of the Fitzgerald children and at a young age was diagnosed with leukemia. After going through trials and tribulations, her parents decide to go through with vitro fertilization to have a third child who will be genetically made to serve has a donor for Kate. Enter Abby, played by Abigail Breslin. Abby is an adorable, loving sister who has been poked and prodded throughout her life to help save her sister. When she is asked to donate her kidney, Abby decides that enough is enough and attempts to be emancipated medically from her parents.

From the very start of this movie I was enwrapped in the story of the Fitzgerald family. I really loved the way that the director and screen writer took the audience through each character, showing the past obstacles they’ve all taken in order to reach the point that the movie takes place.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good tear jerker. Also, I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet, but I’ve heard that it is a bit different. So if you are looking for the exact storyline of the novel, please don’t be disappointed.

Seriously, don’t forget the Kleenex.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Hangover: Must See!

If you haven’t seen The Hangover by now then you probably don’t understand half the conversations that are going on around you. Thinking that this was going to be a guy’s only movie was probably the first of many judgments that I made previous to seeing The Hangover. Not only was it ridiculously funny, it wasn’t one of those stupid comedies that give everything away in the previews.

A short synopsis: Four gentlemen (I use that term loosely) head to Vegas to have one of the most infamous bachelor parties of all time and they did just that. After waking up the next morning they not only find a mess only a tornado could make in their hotel suite, but the soon to be groom is MIA. The remaining three (plus one baby, I’ll let the movie explain that) are set out on an adventure to retrace the night back to where they lost their friend.

Trust me…take the time to see this movie. Guys: I’m sure I don’t really need to talk you into this, seeing as you’ve probably already seen it (maybe twice). Girls: If not for the ab exercise you’ll get laughing, Bradley Cooper’s blue eyes are enough to melt my heart.

Some people just can’t handle Vegas.

UP! Must See

This adorable movie is a must see film for every age group. I was lucky enough to go with my mom and not only did we give each other the “aw” cheesy eyes during the movie, but we spent the next night reliving the movie with my grandparents.

Pixar hit it out of the park with the main character Mr. Fredricksen, who after losing his wife sets himself and his house on a journey to South Africa to a place known as Paradise Falls. Along the way he encounters many hooligans, enter Russell. Russell is a young wilderness explorer who helps Mr. Fredricksen, not only find Paradise Falls but shows him what it means to love again. Besides these two characters, you can enjoy Kevin, Kevin’s babies and Doug!

If it is possible see UP! In 3D, it just adds to the experience of this fun loving movie.

Star Trek: Must See

Not being a trekkie myself, I don’t think that I could fully appreciate the 2009 version of Star Trek. Yet, I was fortunate enough to attend this film with a former trekkie (my mother). She couldn’t stop slapping her legs and turning to me with the “oh my gosh, this is too surreal” look. She told me after the movie that each character played the role to a T and that she loved the film.

Since I am trying to make these reviews short, I will just say this. If you are a trekkie, or think that you could be my guess is that you’ve already seen this movie. If you’re not and you don’t think you ever will be, then you probably aren’t even reading this to begin with. And if you fall into that last category, where I would put myself, as someone who enjoys the entertainment of movies and can go in with an open mind and appreciation for the art, then I would see Star Trek. It motivated me to rent the seasons and see what the fuss is all about.

X-Men Origins, Wolverine: MUST SEE!!!!

One of my favorite movies this year is Wolverine. I am a huge fan of the past X-Men movies and I cannot wait for more Origins to come out. In this film the audience is shown James Logan past, letting us understand where he came from and of course why he always wears that leather jacket and rides a motorcycle.

After a life fighting next to his brother Victor Creed (Liv Schrieber) and many other mutants, Logan decides to leave the group and try a stab at leading a normal life. When he is hunted down by a his bitter brother, now known as Sabertooth, he has no other choice then to join the Weapon X program in order to have a chance against his enemy.

There are many twists and turns in this movie that if you’re not paying attention you can miss a lot of the clues for the future X-Men films. Be sure to see this and the other X-Men movies, I have a feeling that the future origins will be a big part of Hollywood for the next few years.