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)