Posts Tagged ‘Arclight’

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Going the Distance

September 8, 2010

ALISON SAYS:

I was slightly anxious about going to see this movie.  A friend wrote the screenplay and the main female character is based on my old roommate’s best friend.  So I was worried about going to see this movie, not liking it (I was not in love with the trailer) and then having to write an honest review.  Luckily, I didn’t have anything to worry about and really enjoyed this flick.

I’m also not a romantic comedy kind of girl, but Going the Distance is not a typical romantic comedy kind of film.  First off, it’s a lot funnier than those types of films and it’s not forced humor like you usually see in chick flicks. And it’s not just for the ladies. Guys will like this film too, I swear.  The jokes are dirty, mostly smart and darn funny. It’s one of the more honest portrayals of what it’s like to date in this day and age. And also what’s it’s like to try and keep a relationship alive despite having 3000 miles keeping you apart. I also loved the relationship between Justin Long’s character, Garrett, and his guy friends. Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis were hysterical as Garrett’s disgusting, intrusive, loveable pals.

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are really great in this film.  They make a cute couple, are funny together and brought a levity to some of the “sadder” scenes that I did not expect to find seeing this movie.  But for me, some of the best parts were what the supporting cast brought to the screen. I was so excited to see people like Kristen Schaal (in a minor part), Jim Gaffigan and Rob Riggle. This was also probably one of my favorite roles for Christina Applegate since The Sweetest Thing.  Kudos to the casting director.

Overall, I laughed a lot.

LA Viewers: I paid full price at Arclight and think it was worth it.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Wanna laugh?  Go see this movie.  Ladies, need a date movie your dude won’t hate? Go see this movie.

JESSICA SAYS:

I can tell before I even get started writing this that this review is going to be pretty short.  Between seeing Going the Distance last week and writing this review I came down with a bad case of some kind of stomach flu.  I’ll spare everyone the details, but I’m just now coming into the clear.  My post-flu haze is making it hard to remember the details of what I really thought of the movie.  What I do remember is it was one of those movies where you walk out and go, ‘That was enjoyable.  Not really challenging on any level, just an enjoyable story to watch.’  As Alison said in her review, I, too, know Alison’s old roommate—the girl who was the basis for one of the supporting characters in this movie.  I was a bit nervous of how to handle this review, if I ended up not liking the movie.  Luckily, I liked it.

My main thought coming out of Going the Distance was – it seems like it would be fun to hang out with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long.  They seem fun.  Plus, Jim Gaffigan and Christina Applegate are pret-ty funny.  There is a scene on a dining room table that made me laugh out loud, but I don’t want to ruin it for you (it’s in the trailers though).

Going the Distance is worth the full ticket price.  It would make the perfect date movie.

Advertisements

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Star Trek

May 13, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.


JESSICA SAYS:

 

I’m pretty much on board for anything involving J.J. Abrams. I have also been a closeted Star Trek fan (I will avoid use of the word I hear some Trek fans find offensive) for close to 12 years now. So you can imagine my delight when I heard J.J. Abrams was tackling a new Star Trek movie. There are a couple of caveats I should note to my love for Mr. Abrams and Star Trek before we go any further: 1.) I did not love Armageddon, nor did I love Cloverfield. I didn’t hate them either. Fringe took a bit to grow on me, but I’m hooked now, so it’s not a blind love I have for Mr. Abrams; 2.) I’m really only a closeted fan of Star Trek: Voyager. Yes, I know Voyager gets malinged by many, but I like Capt. Kathryn Janeway, Seven of Nine, etc. Judge me if you will. I have only ever seen a handful of the other various TV incarnations and none of the films.

 

So, I was very excited at the mere idea of a J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek retooling, but I tried to keep my expectations in check (I learned my lesson from Cloverfield). Then I saw the first preview and was filled with joy, much like a child who desperately wants a new bike and sees a bike-shaped present under the tree on Christmas Eve.  Even still I resisted allowing my expectations to inflate to unrealistic heights, but, as any fan knows, ‘Resistance is futile.’

 

I had big expectations and guess what? I was not disappointed. I loved every minute of this movie. I can’t remember the last big tent-pole, summer movie I have seen that I enjoyed this much (that includes The Dark Knight). My mom was in town visiting from Missouri, so Alison and I took her to see Star Trek at the Arclight’s Cinerama dome in Hollywood. When I told mom that was the plan, she seemed less than enthused. Unlike me, my mother is not the kind of person who has the patience nor desire to devote countless hours of her life to watch shows about time travel (Lost…and Alias and Star Trek, but more on that in a sec.) or super spys (Alias). Felicity is more Mom’s speed. Guess what? Mom loved it too! I believe her quote at lunch afterwards was, “It was one of those movies that is so entertaining that when you have to go to the bathroom, you just hold it because you don’t want to miss anything.” I laughed, I cried (well not technically crying, but a little glassy-eyed), I was on the edge of my seat, I cheered.

 

Kudos to Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for a great script. I loved the casting with two excetptions: Winona Ryder and Tyler Perry. It’s not that either of them were bad or wrong for their parts, it’s just that they both played relatively small roles. Their roles were so small that it was distracting to have such famous people playing them. All of the sudden you go, “Hey, is that Tyler Perry?,” and you get pulled out of the story for a second. The main cast was great (Chris Pine, welcome to stardom). I can’t wait to see the next two films in which they are all contractually obliged to appear. One more tiny criticism. There is a fight scene that is so reminiscent to the scene in Empire Strikes Back where Luke loses his hand that even my mom noticed and commented on it. Was that an intentional homage? Why?

 

In conclusion (which, by the way, is how I started the conclusion paragraph of every essay in high school AP classes), I recommend you go see this movie right now. Don’t even bother to shut down. I will probably be going a second time.

 

p.s. Any other J.J. Abrams fans out there notice that he is apparently really into all-powerful, red swirling balls (Alias and Star Trek)? Time travel too (AliasStar Trek, and Lost).

 

ALISON SAYS:

Star Trek made me happy.  Like insanely happy.  Where I was clapping with glee and at times looking at the screen with my hand under my chin, intent and thoroughly entertained.  It kinda reminded me of meeting a really cute guy you click with.  And then later whenever you think about him you smile and/or giggle.  And yes, I realize the irony of comparing something as nerdy as Star Trek to dating. 

Jessica and I watched Star Trek at the Arclight Dome in Hollywood with her lovely mother, Phyllis.  Right before the movie, I ran into about 500 friends in the lobby and realized I know a lot of film nerds, myself included.  I ran into some of my friends after the movie as well and everyone seemed to have the same level of excitement and happiness as I did.  It was one of those rare moviegoing experiences, where you feel the entire theater’s enjoyment.  Everyone had a good time and was moved (Sidenote: there may have been a part in the movie where I may have teared up a little…).

   

I was not a Star Trek fan in the past.  I’d seen the TV show a few times as a kid, but was never a dedicated viewer.  So I may have been more open to a new interpretation of it than some Trekkies.  Also, I’m a huge J.J. Abrams fan.  If I didn’t think fan mail was creepy, I would write him a letter every week saying how much I love Lost.  I think J.J. Abrams is a master storyteller and Star Trek is just one more example of what will continue to be an amazing career.

 

I think Jessica’s mom’s quote sums it up best:

“It was so completely entertaining, that when I had to go to the bathroom, I wasn’t going to get up to leave.” 

LA Viewers:  Go see it now at the Arclight Dome.  Hurry!

Translation for non-LA Viewers: Why haven’t you seen it yet?

 

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Watchmen

March 10, 2009

Two Blondes (plus a guest “Blonde”) review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:

We have something special for you folks today.  Today we have guest “Blonde,” Jim Campolongo, weighing in on Watchmen along with Alison and Jessica:

 

ALISON SAYS:

Jessica and I went to see Watchmen at the dome at Arclight Hollywood.  Before the movie started, Jessica turned to me and said: “I love movies.”  I agreed and we sat back contentedly (not sure if that’s a word) into our theater seats ready to watch a movie, even one that was 2 hours and 45 minutes long.

I had not read the comic book series before seeing this film. I didn’t have the same expectations that some of the diehard Watchmen fans might have.  All I really knew was what I had seen in the trailer and I heard there was going to be a lot of blue dong in the film.  I had warned Jessica that I might giggle when the naked blue man appeared on screen, but some semblance of maturity must have taken over, cause I watched the movie like a grown-up rather than the twelve-year-old girl who lives inside my heart.

I thought the film rocked.  My favorite part was the amazing opening sequence.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself for all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it.  I was blown away by the cinematography, the effects, the and by the sheer spectacle of it all.   There’s a part of me that wonders if I would have enjoyed watching this film as much as I did if I hadn’t seen it in a theater like the Arclight.  I’m not sure if it would have struck the same chord.  Despite my enjoyment, I don’t think every plot point would stand up under close scrutiny.  I wasn’t that into the ending, but was so happy to be watching a movie like this in a big, beautiful theater, that I didn’t care.  Also some of the music was a little heavy-handed, but once again I was still happy and thrilled to be along for the ride.

And now for some fun random trivia regarding the people who created Watchmen.  The director, Zack Snyder, turned down a chance to direct S.W.A.T., because it wouldn’t be rated R.  I gotta give the guy props for knowing what he wants to work in. The film 300 would not have been the same if he had been forced to make a PG-13 film out of it.  And one of the screenwriters, David Hayer, played a role on the show Major Dad.

LA Viewers: If you’re into violence and comic book movies, go see it at Arclight.

Translation for non-LA natives: It’s a really cool movie to see in the theaters, but it’s long, so don’t buy a large soda.

JESSICA SAYS:

I would like to start this review out with a warning to my mother:  Mom, this is not a movie for you.  You know how you don’t like any violence or sex in movies, much less gratuitous sex and violence?  Yeah, don’t see this.  It’s not your average PG-13 comic flick.  The costumes alone would make you blush.  I’m not even going to mention the full-frontal naked blue man because I’m sure Alison has.  She couldn’t stop talking about it before the film started.

I don’t know a whole lot about comics (or graphic novels).  Maybe that’s because I’m a girl, but I think I would probably enjoy them.  I was just never exposed.  I don’t know where you would have found comic books for sale in the tiny town I grew up in.  I sort of feel like there is a whole pop culture world out there of which I’m not a part, by not knowing comics.  So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t expect any, “It doesn’t match the glory of the comic,” kind of reviews from me.

I see most of the comic-based movies when they come out, and I must say, this is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.  All of these heroes are dark, twisty, and above all flawed.  They are almost flawed to the point that it’s hard to root for any of them.  Almost.  I was pretty won over by Patrick Wilson’s Night Owl.    It didn’t hurt that he’s pretty, besides playing the lone nice guy.

Most of all, what won me over about this film was the visual look.  It somehow manages to be slick and gritty.  It was, in a nutshell, exciting.  It probably helped a little that Alison and I saw it in the Cinerama dome at the ArcLight in Hollywood.  For those of you who don’t live in LA, the Cinerama dome is awesome.  The experience there is how movies are made to be seen.  It feels like an event.  There are ushers who come out before the show to give a little talk that is half audience warm-up and half ‘please shut off your phone’ reminders.  The screen wraps completely around your field of vision.  The sound system is overpowering (almost a little too overpowering).

I recommend you go see this move, but only if you’re old enough that all the violence and sex in this movie can’t corrupt you any more than you have already been corrupted by rock-n-roll and cable TV.  You should try to see it in IMAX or the Cinerama.

JIM, OUR GUEST “BLONDE,” SAYS:

Before we get into this review I have to admit something: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a blonde. There was one misguided attempt in seventh grade to streak my hair, but even then, the hydrogen peroxide shaded my locks a less than lovely pumpkin-vomit orange, leaving no trace of blonde anywhere except maybe within the act itself.

I will say this, though — I, like any red-blooded American male, love blondes. In spades. And I thank Alison and Jessica for the honorary club membership. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I bought those Green Day and Offspring CDs in middle school.

So without further ado, let’s get to the reviewin’…

Like a good chunk of our moviegoing public, I too saw Watchmen this weekend. And I’m baffled by my reaction. Why? Because I’m a nerd.  Before we get all accusatory here on the interweb, trust me, I’ve got the nerd cred to prove it: I still hit the comic shop every Wednesday, own multiple Batman shirts, and did not see a girl naked in real life for several years longer than I care to admit. I’ve owned the graphic novel of Watchmen for over a decade now and revere it.

So imagine my surprise when I walked out the theater thinking the movie kinda sucked.

If I subtract my bias for the material, I’m left with a film that doesn’t engage me, plain and simple.  Despite a well done set piece or two, the story lacked a sense of pace. There was no rhythm. No forward momentum. For example, just as we get an interesting helping of plot progression, the movie would pause for ten minutes to tell us how the character of Dr. Manhattan came to be. Or how anti-hero Rorschach lost his moral compass when confronted with a panty sniffing pedophile. This kind of non-linear presentation may be structurally sound in the novel, but it sure as shit doesn’t work in this film. While non-linear storytelling can be well executed in cinema, Watchmen’s dense source material plays as though its been compressed in all the wrong parts. As an average viewer, the character moments feel tangential, while the story’s mystery crawls at a snail’s pace, leaving me indifferent to both. I’m watching this thing from the POV of a dude wanting to be stimulated, but I’m feeling every second of the near-three hour runtime instead. And not in a good way.

watchmen-scream-awardsPetty stuff like plot and character work aside, I also had massive problems with the music. Every song cue, from the opening Dylan track to the closing “Desolation Row” cover, felt so damn bush league. I’m still not over the crazy laughable sex scene set to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (Note to the baked film school undergrad who compiled the soundtrack: I’ve seen more subtlety on Cinemax after dark.)

All right, all right…  So I’m ragging on the flick pretty hard. But I do think it’s warranted. Remember, I’m a nerd. When I add in my bias for the source material, I remember Watchmen is supposed to be a commentary on the comic book medium itself, demystifying the idea of the superhero and showing him as a possibly psychotic, flawed, and maybe less than average being.

So why does the movie treat us to delicately choreographed fight scenes in which our heroes emerge unscathed? Where they can perform daring feats of martial arts wire trickery set to amped techno music? In presenting these guys as bad-ass crime fighters, the film becomes the antithesis of the novel’s primary themes. Leaving the geek inside of me pissed enough to order more porn on my mom’s credit card, even though I know she’s gonna see the bill and ground me again.

I guess I can only blame one person for this inevitable exile: director Zack Snyder. To be fair, I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy.  His Dawn of the Dead remake lost a lot of steam after the first ten minutes, and his follow-up 300 played like a vapid Lexus commercial for guys who won’t admit they subscribe to the Here! network. Snyder’s perception of cinematic cool has never been cerebral.  It’s always been sex, violence, and rock and roll. Which may explain why the only thing he brings to this film is excess; excess in gore, violence, and even misogyny. The attempted rape of Silk Specter, for example, is far more brutal in the movie than the novel (check out the panels if you don’t believe me). It’s unnerving to me that this is where the filmmaker decides to step in and expand upon the source material.

Truth be told, the only thing I can’t accuse Zack Snyder of is being insincere. I truly believe the guy set out to make the most faithful adaptation of Watchmen possible. I just don’t think he understood a damn word of it.

And there you have it, a nerdy non-blonde’s review of moving picture. If you liked it, hurrah. If you hated it, blame Alison and Jessica.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

January 30, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

My mother is known for two constant comments, when it comes to movies:

“Well…it wasn’t what I expected,” and, “You know, I’m just such a Pollyanna…”  So it was no surprise that when I asked Mom what she thought of Slumdog Millionaire, she said, “Well, it wasn’t what I was expecting.  T (one of my other sisters) said it was going to be uplifting and I guess there was just too much abuse of children for me.  You know, I’m just such a Pollyanna…”*

*Please note:  To be accurate, any quotes by my mother need to be read with a strong Midwestern accent.

As it turns out, both Mom and T are right.  There is a lot of horrible abuse of children (and adults) in this film, but it still manages to be uplifting.  I think the beauty of this film is that really horrible things happen to the characters, but the hero doesn’t let it change who he is as a person and in the end (and I don’t think this is giving anything away), he triumphs.

The child actors in the movie (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Rubiana Ali, Tanay Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, and Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar – and yes, I had to copy and paste those) are fantastic and totally lacking in all the saccharine precociousness most child actors have that makes me squirm.  I listed all their names because each one of them was remarkable.  They will break your heart.

I am fully aware that this might sound a bit corny, but I don’t care.  It’s true.  This film reminded me that movies have the magical ability to transport you to a world you’ve never seen before.  This scenery was rich and beautiful and so much credit must go to Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan (directors), Anthony Dod Mantle (cinematographer) and Mark Digby (production designer).

I loved this film.  I recommend you go see this movie right now.  Seriously, go!  Also, if you like this movie I recommend Cidade de Deus (City of God) and Tsotsi – both similar films set in Brazil and South Africa, respectively.

ALISON SAYS:
Some of the reviews make this look like a feel good movie.  And I guess by the end, you do feel good about watching this film and feel uplifted by a tale of triumph over impossible odds and a story of love.  But be warned, this is not an easy film to watch.  The slums of Mumbai is not an easy place to be, either as an orphan on the run (like our main character) or as an audience member viewing a world that is harsh, dirty and dangerous.

I would love to pick Danny Boyle’s brain (the director).  Here’s a man who made Trainspotting and 28 Days Later and now this film.  These are three terrific, riveting films, but all so completely different.  I am happy to see him being showered with accolades, and while he is obviously is responsible for this film being so incredible, I also think a lot of credit should be given to the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and to A.R. Rahman, who composed the music.  The directing and acting in the film is superb, but what stayed with me were the images, the colors of this world I know nothing about.  And the amazing soundtrack.  According to IMDb, A.R Rahman is known as the John Williams of the Indian Film Industry.  I will definitely be (legally) downloading the music from Itunes.

Jessica and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Arclight in the dome with my mom.  We paid full price on a Friday, dealt with huge crowds and it was well worth it to see a film like this on the big screen, especially in such a spectacular theater.  And I must thank Fox Searchlight for putting a film out there that both my mom and I could enjoy.  She tends to love romantic comedies, while I tend to hate them.  And usually any film that I love, she will call “interesting,” (which means she didn’t like it or enjoy it).  So it was nice to bring Mom to a fancy Hollywood theater, to a film that we both really enjoyed.  Mom used the word “exciting” a couple times when asked what she thought about the movie.  She also loved the dancing and said she “would recommend it.”

LA Viewers: It’s worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight.

Translation for non-LA natives: Find a theater near you on www.moviefone.com

Check out this interesting article on Slumdog Millionaire:  http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0„20254915,00.html

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.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Twilight

December 17, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

I called dibs on Robert Pattinson years ago, but when I say ‘Robert Pattinson,’ I really mean Cedric Diggory.  I first noticed him in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the role of Cedric required him to be charming and heroic without saying much and to keep his hair at a reasonable level of unkemptness.  Now yes, I know that at the time he was only 17 and I was…older than that.  However, I knew if I just had a little patience, one day the world wouldn’t judge us as harshly.

These days, his hair has reached ridiculous levels.  Have you seen this: http://www.tmz.com/2008/12/04/robert-pattinsons-internal-hair-war/? I mean honestly.  We can’t go out now because I feel certain that he does not meet one of my dating requirements—that he take less time to get ready than I do.  I can only imagine the effort that goes into getting one’s hair to do that. Even with the nonsensical hair, he is still v., v. pretty.

When I heard Robert Pattinson was cast as the beautifully heroic, beautifully sullen, beautifully tortured, beautiful vampire, Edward Cullen, I have to say I was v. pleased.  (That’s just a small taste of how often Stephenie Meyer points out how beautiful he is in the book, but we are not here to review the book.)  I should point out that I was about halfway into book three from the Twilight series when I saw this movie.

I read the first book in two nights and I am not a fast reader.  It’s not really that the book was that good, but more so that I wanted to hurry up and get to ‘the good stuff,’ if you know what I’m saying.  My inner teenage girl was constantly screaming, “Ooh!  Kiss her!!”  Then I realized when I got to the end of the book that there wasn’t going to be any ‘good stuff.’  I had heard Stephenie Meyer is Mormon, but I never really thought about what, if any, effect that might have on her writing, in the same way that I never considered what John Grisham’s religious beliefs might be when I read The Firm.  I was just enjoying a fun, light read.  It turns out I was probably underestimating what it means to be Mormon, since *SPOILER ALERT* the whole saga turns out to be a morality play about the value of virginity.

When I see a movie after having read the source material, I really try not to make nitpicky comparisons over stuff like whether Bella’s truck looked like it was described in the book or not.  No one wants to be anywhere near the person in the theatre whispering loudly, “That’s not how it is in the book.”  Since the movie was already cast and publicized by the time I finally got around to reading the books, Bella and Edward in my head looked like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

There were some plot changes, but they didn’t bother me.  I was really too distracted by other issues.  It was only moments into the movie when I discovered that unless guided by experienced hands (with a large budget), all those pieces of the vampires-are-real plot that were totally logical and not hokey in your head while reading the book, will look completely and utterly absurd on the big screen.  I didn’t flinch at all when I read that Edward, being a vampire, sparkles magnificently in the sunlight.  However, when I saw that in the movie, I convulsed into what I like to call the ‘church giggles’ (you know, when something funny happens in a situation where you are not supposed to be laughing, which only makes it harder not to laugh).

I have to say, I’m going to lay a lot of blame at the feet of Catherine Hardwicke, the director, here.  I expected the movie to be cheesy, being that it is a romance about vampires marketed to teenage girls and a lot of the time I like cheesy, but this went beyond.  I don’t know what direction, if any, the actors were given, but whenever someone was supposed to be brooding (which happens a lot in the film) they looked either like they were trying to telepathically communicate the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Robert Pattinson) or they were suffering from a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome (Jasper played by Jackson Rathbone).  Oh, and the music!  Ugh.  I felt like there was a constant, overpowering score that was trying to make up for the drama or tension that wasn’t happening on the screen.

Let’s just suffice it to say:  Robert Pattinson—still pretty, but please stop it with the hair.  I’m not ready to write him off as a bad actor yet because he has some upcoming roles that sound intriguing, but if I had to judge only off his performance in Twilight he wouldn’t be getting very high marks.  I was not going to waste money seeing the sequel until I heard the studio changed directors, so wise move on your part, Summit Entertainment, et al.

I don’t recommend seeing this movie, unless you could make some sort of Rocky Horror/Showgirls-like drinking game out of it.

ALISON SAYS:

I just want you all to know that I am breathing very heavily and looking at the computer with brooding eyes as I type this blog. Okay that joke may be a couple weeks late, but some of us aren’t thirteen and have jobs and may have been too busy to go see Twilight opening weekend.  Speaking of opening weekend, I heard a funny story from someone who did actually attend a Twilight screening that weekend. As we all know, lines were long and full of teenage girls.  And apparently before letting lines in, movie ushers would instruct the crowds not to scream, run, or squeal as they entered the theater.  I love that this had to be stressed.  Those poor theater employees must have their ears pounding by the end of opening weekend with all the screaming fans.

Overall, I found this movie hilarious.  I laughed a lot, I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I did.  All the jumping and sparkling and lingering looks and angst.  I also learned that apparently when vampires go into direct sunlight their button down shirts suddenly open up, revealing perfectly carved abs and pecs and they become sparkly.   I am a huge fan of sparkles (huge), but I don’t understand why the undead would be sparkly.  I realize the target audience for this movie are big fans of glitter, so what could possibly be better than a dreamy, glittering hunk of a man/boy, but still it seems to go against every conception of what it is to be undead.

A lot of the movie felt like an overly dramatized music video.  Lots of heavy guitar twangs underlining what’s happening in the story and the oh so deep emotions of Bella and Edward.  But it’s definitely still an entertaining flick to watch, even if you’re not a thirteen-year-old girl or a die-hard fan of the book series.  Let’s just put it out there, Robert Pattinson is hot.   Any red-blooded woman probably felt at least some kind of twinge in her lady parts from his appearance on screen, even with all the white powder.

Dear Robert Pattinson’s cheekbones,
We get it.
Alie

I’ve had some of my less good looking male friends complain about how they can never tell what a girl wants.  And they’re right.  You could have a guy show up with a dozen roses, and if you don’t like him, you’d find it weird or creepy, but if you like him, it’s a grand, sweeping gesture.  Someone like Robert Pattinson can tell a girl he likes to watch her sleep and it doesn’t register on the creepyometer, because you’re too entranced by his perfectly messy coif or his dark, searching eyes or the way the light catches his beautiful skin. So to my less handsome male friends, don’t tell a girl you watch her sleep or stare at her from across a room while breathing heavily.  Unless you look like Pattinson, it’s probably not gonna go the way you had planned.

LA Viewers: It’s worth catching a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, but I wouldn’t pay full price unless you are 13.

Translation for non-LA natives: A matinee is the way to go.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Changeling

October 25, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

WARNING:  This film is TWO HOURS AND TWENTY ONE MINUTES LONG.  That is a really long time to sit without fidgeting too much.  I’m always afraid I annoy the people who sit next to me in movie theaters because I fidget.  It’s just not comfortable to sit that long.

In case you hadn’t yet noticed, Angelina Jolie is beautiful.  I mean truly, truly beautiful.  She owes the DP and editor a cut of her salary.  Throughout the entire film she was lit to highlight just how stunning her face is.  Sometimes the focus was the color of her eyes, sometimes those amazing lips.  We get it, she’s beau-ti-ful.  You could have cut out at least 30 minutes of the film if you just spent less time admiring how pretty she is.

For a quick synopsis, Changeling is the true story of a single mother, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), who loses her child in 1928 Los Angeles.  In her efforts to find her son, she is forced to deal with the corrupt and incompetent LAPD.  The police tell her they have found her son.  When the two are reunited, Mrs. Collins realizes the boy they found is not her son.

Mrs. Collins’ struggle against the LAPD pits her against Captain JJ Jones (Jeffrey Donovan).  I never really thought about the fact that Irish-Americans in the 1920s would have still sounded pretty Irish.  Captain Jones had quite a brogue in the scenes where he was agitated (which were most of his scenes).

At one point, the police have Mrs. Collins committed to a state mental facility.  The phenomenal Amy Ryan plays another mental patient Mrs. Collins befriends in the institution.  I have yet to see Amy Ryan’s nominated performance in Gone Baby Gone, but I have completely fallen in love with her as the new HR manager on The Office.

I felt like the movie had ended, looked at my watch, and realized there was still going to be another forty minutes of admiring how beautiful Angelina Jolie is.  Actually, those last forty minutes felt more like an episode of Law & Order:  SVU, 1928.  The movie took an odd plot turn and began to reveal what actually happened to Mrs. Collins’ son.  Adding to the SVU vibe was character actor, Denis O’Hare, as Dr. Jonathan Steele.  O’Hare is one of those actors that you’ve seen in a million things, but never remember.  For instance, he has been in Charlie Wilson’s War, Law & Order (original, SVU, and CI) Brothers & Sisters, CSI, Michael Clayton, Garden State, A Mighty Heart, 21 Grams, and Half Nelson.

My overall opinion of this movie was…it was OK.  Too long, sometimes too melodramatic, too many subplots, etc., but good performances with a good director.  I recommend seeing this on a Sunday afternoon, but make sure you’ve blocked out the rest of the day on your schedule.

Overall, I still think Clint Eastwood is a master director.  However, this is not his best work.  Mystic River is better.

P.S.  I can recommend a much more entertaining story about a missing child set in the past.  This American Life, the NPR radio program, aired the story of Bobby Dunbar in episode 352:  “The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar” on March 14, 2008.  Along the same lines of Changeling, the police bring a boy back to the Dunbars claiming it’s Bobby, but the parents don’t believe them.  Check it out at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=352.

ALISON SAYS:

I’ve never wanted to be a hat person more than after I finished watching Angelina Jolie’s new movie Changeling.  I don’t usually sound like such a girl, but Angelina’s hats and clothes were absolutely gorgeous.  It made me think I was born during the wrong era, but then again I’m the kind of person who spills everything everywhere, so such beautiful, detailed clothing might have become an issue.

Jessica and I went to see this movie at the Arclight.  Before it started, one of the adorable little ushers announced that the movie was two and a half hours long.  The entire audience groaned.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is amazing, as long as you’re okay with thinking it’s ending on four separate occasions and still having to continue watching for another forty minutes past that.  It’s long.  The directing and acting is superb.  On all levels, it’s a gorgeous, moving, well-made film.  You will be stunned by how beautiful the lighting and Angelina are.  You’ll realize how important a good director is when you see the performances of everyone in the cast.  Yet, there’s still something…

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is well traveled, intelligent, interesting and completely aware of themselves as a well traveled, intelligent, interesting person?  And while you enjoyed listening to their stories, you felt like maybe they enjoyed hearing themselves talk a little bit too much?  There’s a similar feeling in watching this movie.  The film is a little too in love with itself and its star.  But then again, you can’t really blame it.  First off, you have Clint Eastwood directing.  He is the one of the most talented men on the earth, not to mention he’s aging really well.  Then there’s the lovely, hauntingly beautiful Angelina Jolie. It’s definitely one of Angelina’s best performances and I am a huge fan of hers.  During crying scenes, she’s able to create a quiver in her chin to show she’s on the verge of tears.  It almost seems like CGI, because how is someone able to make her chin quiver on cue?  It’s an awesome skill and a perfectly understated way to show the character’s tremendous undercurrent of emotion.  So it’s easy to see why this movie would be a little too in love with itself and then decide that it’s deserved the right to go on for two and a half hours, but for me, it just left me with restless butt syndrome by the end.  And some of the ending(s) got a bit heavy-handed for me.  But I would still watch it again, just to live in that world again and to have the pleasure of watching what awesome talent can create even when there may be too much talent going around.

LA Viewers: Worth paying matinee price at the Grove or Arclight, but just keep in mind you’ll be sitting for a while.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Go see a matinee.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

October 18, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

Note: Our review may have some similar sentiments, but we swear we wrote them separately. Great minds think alike sometimes…

ALISON SAYS:

I haven’t loved a cast this much in a long time. First off, I love Michael Cera. Not in a creepy way. I’ve never gone looking for where he might live in Los Angeles and stood outside wondering if he’d walk out, see me and find me as charmingly awkward as I find him. Really, I haven’t. But I have watched DVD’s of Arrested Development and been amused for hours. Clark and Michael has distracted me from doing work many a time. I may have even considered writing a non-creepy and comedic love ballad to express my thanks for there being a boy-man like Michael Cera both on the big and small screen.

Second, there’s Kat Dennings. Can we just talk about talented and beautiful this actress is? Angelina, we have a real contender for “best lips in Hollywood” now that Kat Dennings is on the scene. And Kat is beautiful in a way that’s real and not just good make-up. She was the perfect slightly insecure, but knows who she is teenage girl. Here’s two quotes I read on IMDB from Kat: “There’s nothing else I would rather do, unless there was a profession that involved cuddling bunny rabbits and kittens all day for money.” “I’ve basically made a career out of my imagination.” How cute is she?!

Then we also have Ari Graynor with her portrayal of the drunk best friend, Caroline. I wanted to stand up and applaud her hilarious, spot-on portrayal of what drunk teenage girls act like. She was able to be charming at the same time as being obnoxious. Then I also loved the boys who played Nick’s gay friends. They were funny and sweet, and never felt like a stereotypical portrayal of the gay best friend.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist felt very real to me. Possibly the realest (is that a word?) movie about teenagers I’ve ever seen. Some past teenage movies (like Juno) left me feeling manipulated and like someone was just trying to sound “cool.” Nick and Norah just felt real and left me happy, amused and charmed. It reminded me of being young, insecure and trying to figure out love. And made me somewhat nostalgic for the days of kissing boys in the streets of New York just when the sun is coming up, or being seventeen and asking a boy if “he’s interested” and being so scared of rejection. It’s a movie that leaves you with that attitude of life being full of infinite possibilities, not to mention lots of great music.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight. Yes, I realize what’s going on with the economy, that’s why being entertained is so important right now.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Unless you’re dead inside or hate young love, go see this movie right away.

P.S. The director’s first film Raising Victor Vargas is worth getting on Netflix. A grittier, lower budget look at young love.


JESSICA SAYS:

I like to consider myself to be somewhat of a master when it comes to the mix CD–incidentally, I still feel the urge to call it a mix-tape. ‘Mix CD’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. As of today, my iTunes library has 5,238 songs in it, which is 343 days worth of music, so there is a lot to pull from. There is an art to a good mix. One song needs to lead to the next and you certainly never put back-to-back songs by the same artist. That’s the antithesis of the mix.

So, I was already into this movie, simply from the title. A title that is also, admittedly, a bit clunky. Although this irritates me about other people, I am also someone who is annoyed when my new, favorite, quirky, little band that no one has heard of becomes big, e.g. Vampire Weekend. I have been known to grumble when a song I like is featured on Gossip Girl, or the like. This movie is full of bands to whom this has already happened, or they are dangerously close to it happening. To my point, Vampire Weekend is on the soundtrack.

Two minutes into the movie, watching Michael Cera leave a squirm-inducing voicemail to his ex-girlfriend, and I knew I was going to like it. As we were leaving the movie, I realized what was so familiar and likable about it–it felt just like a John Hughes movie. Instead of Chicago suburbanites, they were New York. Instead of finding the meaning of life at the end of a rollicking day that included singing on a Von Stuben Day float in a parade, they passed through a gay Christmas musical review. And of course, instead of cassette tapes, there were mix CDs.

For full disclosure here, I wrote my Master’s thesis on John Hughes movies. I chose them because I figured if I was going to spend that amount of time reading about and watching something, I had better like them. Plus, I had already seen them each at least five times. As much as I loved Jake Ryan by the end of Sixteen Candles (OK, who are we kidding, I still do love him.), I think I love Michael Cera more. He’s just so funny and sweet and adorable.

So yeah, I really liked this movie. My one criticism would be there were parts that dragged a little bit, but on the whole I really liked it. If there were a competition for best bee-stung lips, Kat Dennings could give Angelina a run for her money. As someone who has had friends that were carbon copies of Caroline, the attention needy intoxicated friend, I can attest that Ari Graynor was perfect in the part.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is worth the full Friday night price. I especially recommend this if you ever had a crush on Jake Ryan, Ferris Bueller, etc.