Archive for the ‘Directors’ Category

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

January 17, 2012

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

Jessica says:

Whenever I see a movie with my mom, she always seems to say the same thing as we’re exiting the movie, “Well, it wasn’t what I expected.”  Always.  She says this after every movie.  I am always baffled by it.  I mean first of all, that is not an answer to, “Did you like the movie?”  Secondly, what does that mean?  And where are you getting these expectations?  And maybe that is your problem…but I digress.

Mission:  Impossible – Ghost Protocol should be exactly what you’d expect it to be – fun.  (Do you hear that, Mom?  Expect a fun, popcorn flick.)  It was a really fun movie to watch.  My only complaint was that it was about 20 minutes too long.  However, if you’ve been keeping up with our posts on this site, you will know that is a common complaint of mine.

Now let’s get to the scene everyone will be talking about:  Tom Cruise (and/or some stunt guys) hanging off the outside of the world’s tallest building in Dubai.  Holy cow.  The film, as a whole, looks really cool, for lack of a better word (Warning:  it may not be so cool, if you suffer from vertigo).  However, this scene, in particular, is incredible.  If you haven’t seen the behind-the-scenes footage on YouTube yet, watch it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8hNKp7D3e8.

I’m not really going to go into the detail of the plot because, well, I don’t really think that’s really the point of this kind of popcorn flick – they’re spies trying to catch someone before he sets off a nuclear bomb, a.k.a. the plot of 99.9% of spy movies.  The point of this movie is…coolness (Did I just make up a word?  Oh well.).  Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team (Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Paula Patton) are just really cool – they have cool gadgets, they go to cool locations, and they’re pretty darn attractive (Hello!  Paula Patton in that green dress).  This movie also reminded me of something I had kind of forgotten after all of Tom Cruise’s couch jumping, etc. antics – he is a really good movie star.  He is handsome (still…29 years after The Outsiders and Risky Business), charismatic, and likable.

I recommend seeing Mission:  Impossible – Ghost Protocol in theaters, but maybe as a matinee.

Alison says:

I did not see Mission:  Impossible 3 and I can’t remember if I saw Mission:  Impossible 2. I’m totally a fan of action movies, but usually sequels can get a bit repetitive, and while I respect Tom Cruise as the epitome of a movie star, he’s not necessarily what draws me to a movie the past few years. But my interest was piqued first by the video online of Tom Cruise hanging by a rope on the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (Jessica pasted the link into this blog). Scientology and Oprah couch jumping aside, that is just f#cking badass and there are very few people in this world with Tom Cruise’s smile, charm, and balls. There are many reasons he’s a movie star and many reasons he’s still a movie star after a 30-year acting career. The guy is almost 50 and he looks amazing. I could not get over how tiny his butt is. I don’t mean to sound creepy, but it was something that I could not avoid noticing throughout the movie. So if you’re into tiny butts and badass, doing-their-own-stunts action stars, well I think you might just enjoy this movie.

The main reason I decided to shell out money to see this movie was Brad Bird, the director.  I loved The Incredibles, which he also directed.  He comes with the Pixar seal of approval and has directed some of my favorite animated films.    Plus, he worked on The Critic, a show I watched a bunch in my youth.  Most importantly though, he wrote the script for one of my favorite movies from my childhood, *batteries not included.  I loved that movie when I was little. There are so many things from his résumé that I love, but they don’t really add up to make him the obvious choice to direct the next Mission:  Impossible movie.  He was an interesting choice and my interest was officially piqued.

And I was happy I went. As I’ve already mentioned, Tom Cruise is a perfect movie star. He was great in this movie, exactly what you would want from a super spy. I’m also a big fan of Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg, so seeing those two made me happy. And after seeing this movie, I am now also a big fan of Paula Patton. A picture of her should be placed in the dictionary next to the word gorgeous. All in all, it was a fun popcorn flick to watch. It was a bit on the long side though, but still an entertaining way to spend 2 hours plus.

LA Viewers: Worth seeing in the theaters, but maybe go for a matinee.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Same goes for you.

P.S. Tom Cruise, if you are reading this, I hope you took the tiny butt comment as a compliment. And I hope you do another role sometime like in Magnolia. Loved you in that movie, but also was blown away by you in MI4. By the way, why are you reading this? You’ve really got much better things to do.

P.S.S Sorry for the f-bomb in my review (especially to my mother if she’s reading this), but hanging around on a rope thousands of feet in the air while waving and smiling at tourists is fucking badass. That is the definition in the dictionary of such an activity.

One Blonde and Two Guest “Blondes” Go To a Movie: Hugo

December 21, 2011

One blonde and two guest “blondes” review a movie and sometimes ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:
The movie revolves around Hugo, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station. I saw Hugo with Nate and Pete (our guest “blondes” for today) and all three of us came out at the end of the movie in awe. I loved Hugo, absolutely loved it. It’s probably one of my favorite movies of the past ten years. It’s hard to put into words the wonder this movie inspires. I’ve never seen anyone do with 3D what this movie did. Sure, there’s been some pretty 3D movies, but sometimes while watching a 3D movie, it can just feel like a gimmick rather than an important element of storytelling. But in Hugo, the 3D isn’t just a gimmick, it helps tell the story and it’s absolutely beautiful. It feels like you’re in a storybook. You get to soar over the streets of Paris. It ignites your childhood wonder and makes the audience feel completely immersed in this world. I can’t think of a better example of movie magic. It really did feel magical watching this movie.

Besides being a tale of wonder and of finding one’s path in life, this also felt like Martin Scorses’s love letter to filmmaking. There was such a passion and love of film evident in every frame of the movie. I think this is Scorsese’s best work. It’s a beautiful film, both in story and in visuals. Did I mention yet that I really, really love this movie?

LA Viewers: Go see this film! Immediately. And pay the 3 bucks for 3D. Even if you’re not a sap like me, you’ll still find yourself believing in magic.

Non-LA Viewers: You want to be transported to a world of magic and filmmaking wonder, don’t you? Get your butt to the theater now! I said now!

Our two guest “blondes” today are Nate Winslow and Pete D’Alessandro:

NATE SAYS:

I associate Martin Scorsese with a lot of things: De Niro when he still cared about things, Daniel Day-Lewis’s mustache in Gangs of New York, gangsters, really long Steadicam shots, death-by-stabbing, a
liberal use of the word “fuck,” and being, in general, disgustingly talented.

Something I don’t associate him with: fairy tales about innocence and discovery.

And then I saw Hugo. And now I don’t really want him to make another movie where Joe Pesci stabs someone—I want him to make PG movies about the power of storytelling and the discovery of cinema by a mismatched pair of child adventurers in a magical, secluded train station.

Walking in to Hugo, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard the rumblings that it was Scorsese’s ode to cinema and to the power of storytelling and that it was the best use of 3D since the invention of that Grand Gimmick, but then I also couldn’t get past the fact that something about the trailer reminded me of The Terminal.

It’s something hard to pin down, though—I can happily report it’s nothing like The Terminal—and it’s honestly something I never expected from Scorsese. I wouldn’t say it’s whimsical, exactly, but it really is his shot at a fairy tale. The train station where the majority of the film takes place isn’t your standard Grand Central: it’s an entire world, heightened, not-quite-connected-to-reality. Its inhabitants are enlarged and exaggerated, the look and feel of it almost surreal. The tone, the pacing, it’s grounded somewhere outside of our real world.

An Oz. A Neverland (not the ranch). And much like both of those realms, the world that Scorsese paints is infused at every turn with magic: the magic of adventure, the magic of innocence and most of all, the magic of cinema. When you think about it, coming from a man who stands for so much in the preservation and praise of filmmaking, two of those things suddenly seem like no-brainers. It was the powerful feeling of genuine childlike innocence that took me by complete surprise, though. That’s something I associate with Spielberg in E.T. mode, not The Departed-era Scorsese. Consider me blown away: I have seen very few movies more powerful and simply affecting in theaters this year than Hugo.

Hugo, at its core, is a story about discovering the magic of movies. Two children discovering the literal power of cinema and visual storytelling for the first time—and it’s beautiful. Every frame is luscious,
every frame is bursting at the seams with the very thing Hugo is about. If this is Scorsese turning over a new leaf in the latter stages of his career (something without Leo?? Perish the thought!), I support this
leaf with every ounce of my being. Bring on Scorsese’s Pixar movie.

PETE SAYS:

Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” If that’s true, Hugo was filmed on a new format called “You-Forgot-What-Special-Effects-Were-For.”

It’s about a young boy who lives at a train station. He has a mission to rebuild a machine, even though he has no idea what it does. If that’s not a terrible pitch for Hugo, I don’t know what is.

It’s really about a young boy trying to do what he’s meant to do. Purpose, destiny. Thematically, all well and good, but the real reason to talk about Hugo is what it says about filmmaking.

Hugo is a movie of few explosions. (Sorry to those Michael Bay fans.) But the “effects,” for lack of a better word, do something no 3D film has done to date.

3D can be used to add a new set of storytelling tools to a movie, just the way that cinematography and editing added elements the theater could never provide. Hugo is the first movie to take advantage of
those tools.

I can use a lens to achieve a separation between two characters at the ends of a long hallway. I can edit between that distance and the characters reactions to highlight how they feel. I can zoom out to drive it home further. And, as of Hugo, I can separate these characters using distance in a third dimension.

If you’re going to bring something new like 3D to a movie, make it say something. Another quote this movie drives home: “Writing about art is like dancing about architecture.” Hugo demonstrates that film
can deliver a message in a way no other language could.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for those pieces that examine themselves. But when it’s done right, I feel a little smarter for having gone along for the ride.

Now that I have done no justice to previously unimagined cinematic techniques by writing about them, go see Hugo in the theatres, and pay extra for the 3D experience.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Super 8

June 16, 2011

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

Jessica says:

I think I have made my affection for J.J. Abrams clear on this blog before, but just in case not – me *heart* J.J. Abrams.  I am particularly a sucker for his television programs (Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe).  His blend of science fiction and character dramas is right up my geek alley.  I also adore Kyle Chandler.  I’m not in high school and (obviously) never played football, but I wish Coach Taylor was my coach.  That being said, before I dive in to my criticisms of the film, I want to be clear that I liked Super 8 and I think you should see it in the theatre.  Soon.

Now for the criticisms.  What is up with the lens flares, J.J.?  Too many.  In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here is an example:

And another…

And another…

They are those bluish streaks across the screen that were nearly constant in Super 8.  Mr. Abrams used them so often that if you google, “lens flares in film,” the first three articles are about J.J.  For the record, having a lens flare in a shot is traditionally considered bad or a mistake.  However, I kind of like them as a stylistic choice…BUT IN MODERATION.  In my brief googling I mentioned above, I came across this article about his use of lens flares in Star Trek.  He admits to overusing lens flares, but says that it was because, “I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn’t be contained in the frame.”  OK, then why use so many in Super 8 when it is set in 1979?

My personal preference in monster suspense movies is that I don’t want to see the monster.  Whatever I’m imagining in my head is way scarier than whatever CGI thing you can draw, especially if it just looks like a giant bug.

Now it’s time for my weird, petty issue:  Elle Fanning is a terrific young actress, but I wish they would have dyed her eyebrows to match her hair.  It distracted me for about 20% of the movie and sparked a debate between Alison and I over just how much someone’s natural hair and eyebrow color can differ.

J.J. Abrams made a great 1980s Steven Spielberg movie (and that is in no way an insult).  Unlike a lot of science fiction, you actually like and care what happens to these characters.   Go see it soon.

Alison says:

Watching Super 8 made me feel like a kid and reminded me of some of my favorite childhood movies, but with a twist of modern edge and awesome digital effects. The train wreck was incredible (I don’t think I’m giving any spoilers away by saying there’s a train wreck since it’s in the trailer). And the monster (I won’t say what kind of monster in an effort not to give away the story) was very well executed. I loved that you didn’t get to see it completely till the end. You were left mostly with glimpses, thus being forced to use your imagination as to what this thing is

I watched Super 8 at the Arclight Dome and it’s a really great movie to watch with a large audience. It’s one of those films where you felt everyone was excited to see it and enjoyed the movie going experience. It’s hard to go wrong when a film has both JJ Abrams and Spielberg attached to it.  Not to mention, the very handsome Kyle Chandler (cue Jessica and I both sighing) and also a cast of kids that I thought were perfect casting choices.

I’m not gonna argue that some cynics might say parts of the ending felt a bit heavy-handed, but if you can put away your cynical side, and watch this movie with some childlike wonder, you’re in for a great ride

LA viewers: Very worth paying full price at Arclight (especially the Dome).

Translation for non-LA viewers: Did you read the part about an awesome train wreck scene or Spielberg, J.J. Abrams and Kyle Chandler being attached to this movie? Go see it!

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Win Win

April 24, 2011

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.


Alison says:

While first thinking about writing this review, I was tempted to write “watching the movie Win Win is a win-win for a moviegoing audience,” but I knew such a terrible pun  (is that a pun?  I’m fuzzy on the details of what makes it a pun) would make Jessica shake her head at me and knew I couldn’t do such a thing.  I will say this movie is more proof that Fox Searchlight makes great movies.  I’m a big Paul Giamatti fan and loved watching this movie.  He’s spectacular in it.  It’s one of those movies where you’re grateful they found such a talented ensemble cast and are happy to be along for the ride.  You’ll laugh a lot and you might even cry a little too (depending on how much stone your heart is made out of – mine is 63% so no actual tears, but felt some human empathy).  Giamatti plays a struggling lawyer/wrestling coach who stumbles upon a star wrestler in the form of one of his client’s grandson who has run away from home and from his drug addict mother.

Amy Ryan (yes from The Wire, one of my favorite shows ever.  If you haven’t seen it, go watch it immediately, but be sure to start from the first episode and go in order), plays Paul Giamatti’s endearing but tough wife. Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor are guaranteed to make you laugh, especially in their scenes together.  Alex Shaffer plays Kyle, the troubled teen, whom the movie revolves around.  This was his first movie role, and according to IMDB he was a successful high school wrestler.  He gives a shining performance, especially considering his young age and lack of experience.  The hair stylist should be given a special shout-out for giving him the terrible bleached blonde hairdo required for the character.

Thomas McCarthy was the writer/director of Win Win. He also wrote and directed such films as The Station Agent and The Visitor and according to IMDB has a story credit on Up. For me, anyone associated with Pixar gets a gold star.  This is what I would call a smaller movie (not an action film, no Brad Pitt), but it’s a great film and I promise you’ll have a good time watching it.

LA Viewers: Worth going to the theater for. Support great filmmaking!

Translation for non-LA viewers: The same goes for you.

Jessica says:

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to send you a message?  Oprah tells us that when the universe is trying to give you a message, first it whispers and then gradually gets louder, until the universe smacks you upside the head with whatever the message is.

Well, I’m not entirely sure what plan of action the universe was trying to get me to take, but I certainly felt like I was getting a message from the universe when I saw Win Win.  It seems like it might be something about foster children or adopting kids, but I can’t imagine that the universe is telling me to take in a foster child right now.  I mean, I am single, I share an apartment with two roommates, I possess a staggering amount of student loans, and I was only able to keep my most recent houseplant alive for a year.

The day before I saw Win Win I had spent the day as an ersatz babysitter for a group of about 30 kids, about half of which were foster kids.  When these kids were turned over to my temporary care for the day, I had been warned that some of them were, “bad,” kids.  Of course, it turned out that these so-called, “bad” kids couldn’t have been more fun or well behaved.  There was a heartbreaking moment however, when I realized that one of the foster kids had been sent to me with no food for lunch (the kids’ parents/chaperones were supposed to have packed lunches for them).  I got a brief glimpse into the multiple of ways life has just crapped on this poor kid – he didn’t have someone in his life taking care of his basic needs, like making sure he has food to eat.

Anyway, my point is, that experience with that kid who didn’t have a lunch weighed on me (and continues to), so I was already primed to be a little weepy about anything involving a child’s welfare, so of course my friends and I decide to go see Win Win, a movie about a troubled kid taken in by a foster family.  I cried.  I cried a minimum of four times in that movie, but surprisingly I enjoyed it.  Even more surprisingly, I wouldn’t consider Win Win to be a downer.  It is, pardon the Hollywood cliché, a heartwarming film.  The characters are pleasantly three-dimensional and flawed.  Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan were both excellent, as always.   It’s worth a full-price ticket.

Two Blondes Countdown to the Oscars: Best Director

February 26, 2011

The Nominees:

Darren Aronofsky Black Swan

David O. Russell The Fighter

Tom Hooper The King’s Speech

David Fincher The Social Network

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen True Grit


WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Jessica:  Tom Hooper

Alison: Tom Hooper

WHO WE WANT TO WIN

Jessica:  I want Darren Aronofsky to win for Black Swan.  The movie takes so many turns and you’re never quite sure what is and isn’t reality in a delightful way.  Even after the movie ended I spent a while in my head trying to sort out what was real and I like movies that leave you still dissecting what went down hours after they have ended.  In Black Swan, those plot pirouettes (Get it?  Because it’s a ballet movie!) are due to Aronofsky.

Alison: I’d be happy with either Tom Hooper or Darren Aronofsky. I’ve always been an Aronofsky fan, and Black Swan is like no movie I’ve seen before. And The King’s Speech is pure filmmaking excellence.

One Blonde Goes to a Movie: 127 Hours

November 30, 2010

Jessica says:

The description you might have heard about 127 Hours is probably something along the lines of, “It’s based on a true story about a guy who has to cut his own arm off.”  Let’s just clear something up right off the bat – to say he ‘cut’ off his arm is a bit misleading.  What actually happens is way more horrifyingly awful.

It is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a 20-something outdoorsman who had an accident while hiking a desert canyon alone.  He fell as a boulder came loose.  That boulder ended up pinning his arm against the canyon wall.  He remained stuck there for the 127 hours of the film’s title.  127 hours.  Just think about that for a second.  Think of how uncomfortable you would be if you just had to stay on your couch for 127 hours, much less be pinned against a canyon wall with no food or water.

Aron does end up cutting off his own arm, but as I said before – ‘cut’ isn’t really the right word there.  He actually hacks his own arm off with a blade the size of a nail file.  I am not typically squeamish in real life, or in movies, but I had to avert my eyes at points.  Bones breaking, cutting nerves, drinking urine – It’s all a bit much after an hour or so.  I actually just looked up the runtime of 127 Hours and was shocked to find that it’s only 94 minutes.  I would have sworn it was closer to two hours.  I was worn out by the end of the movie.  Side note on the drinking of the urine:  I learned from reading Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg that drinking your own urine doesn’t really help you any if you’re dying of thirst.  It doesn’t hurt you because urine is sterile, but it doesn’t help.  I digress…

127 Hours is an emotional workout.  I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about James Franco’s performance.  I expect to see him nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and he deserves the nomination.  If you’ve seen director Danny Boyle’s previous work like Trainspotting or Slumdog Millionaire, then you know his style is a bit frenetic.  I’ll be honest, sometimes I like that franticness exciting and sometimes I find it tedious.  I liked it in Slumdog Millionaire and was irritated by it in Trainspotting.  I ended up on the fence about it in 127 Hours.  The movie did make me question how strong my own desire to live is – would I be willing to break my own bones and slice my own nerves?  Would I have the mental strength to keep myself sane while starving to death?  I hope I never have to find out.

I would recommend seeing this movie, but not if you are prone to fainting, squeamish, etc.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you though.  It’s tough.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Robin Hood

June 25, 2010

Today we are featuring a guest ‘blonde,’ Pete D’Alessandro, and his review of Robin Hood.

Making a good movie is hard work, even when you’re part of a crew that’s gotten it right several times over. Robin Hood marks the first time in my life I have been bored by an epic climactic battle. While the execution of the film isn’t half bad, this is easily the worst script Hollywood has spent big money on.

For two and a half hours (which felt like five), the movie was devoid of likeable or even three dimensional characters who had no real values or motivations. The story threw new tangents out like stray arrows fired by a lesser archer. The audience was pulled in every direction, to no purpose, and to what seemed like a never ending series of rewrites that actually took place while the film was screening.

I wasn’t really bored by the whole movie; just the action sequences. Overall my feeling was shame and embarrassment to be sitting in the theatre watching this movie. I felt I should have left 20 minutes in, but then realized, “This is a Ridley Scott. Give him a chance.” Then, for the next two hours, Ridley Scott proceeded to punish my faith with ultra-slo-mo, silly villains, and a protagonist with the sense of direction of a blind lemming on nitrous oxide.

Pete D'Alessandro

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: (500) Days of Summer

September 11, 2009

JESSICA SAYS:

I moved into my current apartment in Los Angeles just over two years ago.  It’s a v. cute, old building – Art Deco, built in the 1920s, etc.  However, it is in a neighborhood that has its sketchier bits.  It seems that the combination of Art Deco and a slightly dodgy neighborhood attracts hipsters like moths to a flame.

Anyway, I quickly learned that people like to film in my building…a lot.  The first thing that was filmed there after I moved in was (500) Days of Summer.  I looked it up on IMDb when I saw the notice of filming signs and was not all that surprised to find that it seemed to actually be a film about LA hipsters.  It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (the reigning queen of hipsterdom) as two young Angelinos, who meet, fall in love, yadda, yadda.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely anti-hipster (as I’m realizing I might sound).  It’s just that I tire easily of the whole aren’t-I-cool-the-way-ironically-like-things-from-two-decades-ago.  So, I was intrigued by the movie, not only because I knew it would feature my home, but also because I find Zooey Deschanel to be quite charming.  Did you see her sing in Elf?  Adorable!  Here’s a shot from the film of Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt on my roof:

(500) Days of Summer won me over fairly easily.  It’s a pretty charming little story.  The opening narration warns you that, “this is not a love story,” and that is true, kind of.  It is a love story, just not a story of everlasting love.  I’ll give kudos to Marc Webb (director), Scott Neustadter (writer), and Michael H. Webber (writer) for managing to tell the story of a man getting his heart broken without being overly sentimental or depressing.  The title, (500) Days of Summer, refers to the 500 days the relationship between the main characters, Summer and Tom, lasts.

The film has a great soundtrack, even if it does heavily feature songs by The Smiths, a band of which I am not a huge fan.  I have been known to rock out to the blue-eyed soul styling of Hall & Oates on many an occasion, so imagine my joy when there was an entire dance sequence in the film choreographed to their hit, “You Make My Dreams Come True.”  Awesome!

I recommend seeing (500) Days of Summer, but you should try to go quickly because it’s been in theatres for a while now.  It would make a good date movie.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: The Wrestler

January 28, 2009

Two Blondes review movies and ramble a lot about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

Normally, if you said to me, “Jessica, do you want to go see that new Mickey Rourke movie about professional wrestlers,” I would politely decline and then reevaluate why we are friends. That was until I saw the preview for The Wrestler before The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I was intrigued. It actually looked good. Really good. Guess what? It totally is good.
Nine 1/2 Weeks was the only Mickey Rourke movie I had seen before now and I had never seen a Darren Aronofsky film. I know, I should totally see Pi and Requiem for a Dream and I want to, I just haven’t made it around to them yet (especially Requiem for a Dream; it stars my pretend boyfriend, Jordan Catalano…ahem, I mean Jared Leto. He’s so pretty.). What I did know about Mickey Rourke was, and I don’t know how to say this politely, but…OK, forget polite, the freak show that was his face after too much or just really bad plastic surgery.  But hey, I still enjoy Kathy Griffin even with somewhat distracting plastic surgery. I loved that Aronofsky made the decision to follow Rourke from behind for the first few minutes of the film. It had the combined effect of letting you get into the story without the distraction of Rourke’s face, while at the same time building tension for it’s arrival. mickey-rourke-ba1

The fact that I really enjoyed this movie is all the more remarkable when you consider that I abhor professional wrestling. My grandpa and my cousin, David, used to watch it when I was a kid and it scared the bejeezus out of me. Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage, Jake the Snake, and of course, Hulk Hogan. I would try to watch with them, but I just couldn’t stand it. Even though I knew it was ‘fake,’ I found nothing enjoyable about watching a man hit another man with a folding chair. You don’t have to have any opinion on the WWF to appreciate this film.

Marisa Tomei is great. I never saw My Cousin Vinny, but I know there have always been rumblings that she didn’t deserve her Oscar for it. She deserves any accolades she gets for this part. Not to mention that every inch of her body is on full display in The Wrestler and she looks damn good. It’s fair to say that her performance is naked in every sense of the word, which is a pretty remarkable thing to watch.

I was really moved by this movie. If broke my heart a little, so if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, this is not the film. I won’t give away the specifics of the ending, but I will say I was pleased with it. Not everything is tied up with a little bow for you. For a change, an American film gives the audience’s intelligence the benefit of the doubt. Thank you.

I recommend seeing this film as soon as possible. Mom, if you’re reading, be warned that there are squirm-inducing injuries in this film–think staple gun. *Shiver*

ALISON SAYS:

It took me a while to finally sit down and write my review for The Wrestler. 45% of that may be contributed to procrastination and a new fascination with Hulu.com (yes, I know I’m behind the times, but I had an old computer up until recently that didn’t work well with Hulu). Anyway, my point is besides the 45% procrastination, there was also the 55% (is that math right?) that had to do with wanting to do this film justice and being able to put into words how I felt watching this film. The word “wrecked” comes to mind.
I never thought I’d be so moved by a film about a guy who spends his time in tanning booths and lycra, especially one starring Mickey Rourke. But that is why Darren Aronofsky is a genius (not that I’m not a genius, but on the genius scale, I would put Aronofsky just a tad higher). And that is also why I am saddened that Aronofsky wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Best Directing. I haven’t seen The Reader or Milk yet, and of the other films in that category that I have seen, they were excellent movies and directors who proved why they’re at the top of their game. But nothing comes close to the surprising (some might say shocking) performance that Aronofsky got out of Mickey Rourke. I can’t imagine any other film feeling as real and heartbreaking as this one does. Aronofsky is a master at this, as can be seen in Requiem For A Dream, an amazing film.

leapThe Wrestler is gritty. It seems like a cliché word to use, but it fits. The graininess of the footage and the close-ups of Rourke’s surgery-ravaged face. Every bleak detail of Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson’s life broke my heart. There’s something about a over the hill, tanned, strangely chiseled man with bleached hair putting in a hearing aid or wearing bifocals that wrenched at my heart like nothing I’ve ever felt in a film before. Mickey Rourke deserves every accolade coming his way. I only hope he learns from the tragedy of the character he plays in The Wrestler, and uses some of that wisdom to deal with his rebirth as a movie star. Praise must also be heaped on Marisa Tomei. It took guts and fearlessness to play that role. I’m not just talking about being almost nude in the film. Tomei shows she is an Oscar worthy actress, along with still having an amazing body.

Sidenote: I found it interesting the script was written by Robert D. Spiegel, former Editor in Chief of The Onion, of which I am a big fan. I was also surprised he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Personal note: I used to watch wrestling on TV with my dad as a kid. Maybe that’s why I was so moved at seeing what some of my childhood entertainers may have turned into.

LA Viewers: Go see it now! It’s worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight for.

Translation for non-LA natives: This a film worth seeing in the theaters.

d_aronoksfy_-_the_wrestler_low_3

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

January 9, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.


ALISON SAYS:

I love David Fincher.  I think Se7en and Fight Club are two of the best movies ever.  Ever! Also, on a personal note, I met Fincher at a premiere a while back.  He was super nice, despite me being a rambling fan who probably reeked of Appletini’s at the time.  And he’s pretty cute.  That said, I really liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.  Is it a marvel and an accomplishment of film making?  Yes.  Am I impressed with what they were trying to do?  Yes.  Is Brad Pitt talented?  Yes.  Was the movie too long and felt a tad too much like Oscar bait rather than just passionate film making?  Yes.

Brad Pitt did really impress me with his performance.  Especially during the times when he was a child/old man at the beginning.  There was a vulnerability to his performance that I haven’t seen from him before and was really happy to see.  Of course as he grows younger, he stunned with those golden boy looks.  But this movie also proved Brad Pitt is still pretty damn hot, even with wrinkles and lanky gray hair.  Congrats Angelina!  Cate Blanchett is stunningly beautiful and talented, as always.  I’m not sure if there’s anything she can’t do.

I was intrigued by the idea of a person growing younger throughout their life and how that wouldn’t be a fantasy scenario.  I will now be much more grateful to grow old with the person I love, rather than growing younger.  I also loved the idea of the clock that runs backwards. There were a lot of parts about the movie that I loved, it’s just the whole that threw me.  I didn’t find myself caring at all about the story in the present with the daughter and her dying mother.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the random shots of the old guy who was continually hit by lightning.  On one hand it was funny and visually interesting, on the other hand, it was distracting from the main story and seemed unnecessary, especially when the movie was already an hour too long.

There’s something about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that made me feel like Fincher decided he needed to make his Forrest Gump.  Despite that, he still accomplished a mood with the movie, a timeless love story, and a connection to the past that is worth going to the theaters for.  Just be prepared to get restless butt syndrome while you’re watching it.

LA Viewers: I’d say to hit up a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, or wait till it hits one of those little cheap theaters on Beverly Blvd.

Translation for non-LA natives: Go to a matinee.

JESSICA SAYS:

I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over Christmas and have been putting off writing my review because I didn’t really know what I wanted to say about it.  The film is long.  2h 47min.  I mean, I feel like I complain about movie lengths a lot on here, but if you expect me to sit still for three hours in a dark room, the story better be pretty riveting.  I can’t say that I thought this movie was.  I feel like I gave them three hours of my time and I didn’t come away thinking anything more than what I went into the movie thinking—it’s a story where Brad Pitt ages backwards.  Aging backwards is an interesting thought, but I didn’t get anything profound out of the story about life, death, aging, etc.  It was just…OK.

I recommend renting this movie, but I bet this will end up being one of those titles you add to you Netflix/Blockbuster queue and when it shows up at your house you keep it for about two months before you get around to watching it.