Posts Tagged ‘film review’

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: Choke

October 3, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:
Here is what I knew about this movie going into it: It’s based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. That’s it. Sometimes that’s a really nice way to go into a movie (or book for that matter) because it prevents the sentiment that my mother utters after every single movie when you ask her what she thought–“Well, it wasn’t what I expected.” I have read Fight Club, which is also by Palahniuk, but haven’t read Choke. So, I expected it to be dark and twisty, with a little social commentary added in for good measure. To borrow from Mom, “It wasn’t (totally) what I expected.” It was dark and twisty, but I missed the social commentary. Side note: anytime I quote my mother, be sure to read it with a pretty strong Midwestern accent (specifically Saint Louis).

A quick plot summary–Sam Rockwell plays a recovering sex addict, Victor Mancini, who works at a colonial reenactment site. His mother, played by Angelica Houston, is a patient in a mental hospital who no longer recognizes her son. Victor begins to fall for his mother’s doctor, played by Kelly MacDonald, as he sets out to find out who his father is.

Kudos to the casting director of this film. I don’t think there is another actor out there that plays sleazy, but likeable as well as Sam Rockwell. I’m kind of in love with Anjelica Huston now. As I left the movie, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of her movies before. I am in the process of adding her films to my Blockbuster queue right now. This film was filled with scenes that turned on long, silent close-ups of her face as she processed emotion and information. I was in awe. Plus, I got kind of mesmerized by her looks–she’s attractive, but not in a traditional sense and I could never quite put my finger on what made her striking. It’s like the individual parts are kind of odd, but the sum of the parts works. Last but not least, I was so pleased to see Joel Grey, star of Broadway and father of Baby Houseman (a.k.a. Jennifer Grey–“Dirty Dancing”). He’s such an odd little man and he worked that beautifully as one of the recovering sex addicts in therapy with Victor.

Have you ever seen a movie and thought, I bet this is a really good book? That’s how I felt with “Choke.” That’s not to say I didn’t think the movie was good; I did. I just felt like the book probably said things the movie didn’t even attempt to (the missing social commentary I referenced at the beginning of this). I laughed out loud several times, which is how I judge how funny something is. Even better, it was pretty moving, too.

Just a warning: I was unprepared for how much sex there was in this movie. After reading this, you will already be aware it’s about a sex addict. I was not. All the sex scenes felt appropriate and were relevant to the plot, just…you know…this isn’t one for the kids.

This is worth seeing for the full Friday night price. Just don’t see it with anyone whom you might be uncomfortable watching people do the ‘around the world.’

ALISON SAYS:

Who knew broken, depressed sex addicts could be so funny? I sure didn’t until I saw this movie. I have never read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books, though after reading some of his info on Wikipedia, I’ve just added some of his work to my library account (yes, I have a library card and actually use it). Here’s a few choice pieces:

When Palahniuk “attempted to publish his next novel, Invisible Monsters, publishers rejected it for being too disturbing. This led him to work on his most famous novel, Fight Club, which he wrote as an attempt to disturb the publisher even more for rejecting him.”

“Palahniuk would also become a member of the rebellious Cacophony Society* in his adulthood. He is a regular participant in their events, including the annual Santa Rampage (a public Christmas party involving pranks and drunkenness) in Portland. His participation in the Society inspired some of the events in his writings, both fictional and non-fictional. Most notably, he used the Cacophony Society as the basis for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.”

“Choke” is the latest film adaptation of Palahniuk’s work, and it’s definitely worth seeing. It has a stellar cast, all talented and all funny. There’s a depressing realism to the misery that is their lives, but you still love being along for the ride and keep hoping they’ll find some semblance of happiness. Sam Rockwell dazzles as a guy you sort of want to hate, but can’t help being charmed by. I can’t believe I just wrote “dazzles.” Brad William Henke masterfully portrays the sweetest, most cuddly chronic masturbator you’ll ever meet. Clark Gregg should be proud of himself for his directorial debut with this film, not to mention his hilarious performance as Lord High Charlie and the fact that he wrote the screenplay.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at The Grove or Sunset 5.

Translation for non-LA natives: It is worth paying money to see this movie in the theaters. It will make you laugh and you get to see boobs (if you’re into that).

Sidenote: This is not the movie to bring your small children or your mom to. Or to bring anyone who might be weirded out by somewhat explicit sex scenes.
*Jessica has no idea what the Cacophony Society actually does, but you had her at “pranks and drunkenness.”

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Burn After Reading

September 22, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

I am a Coen Brothers fan for one reason… “The Big Lebowski.” It is my favorite movie ever. I have been to Lebowski Fest three times. I even won “Best Maude.” And yes, I am very proud of that. And yes, I would call myself a Coen Brothers fan and not just because of my love for the Dude. But I didn’t love “Burn After Reading.” I liked it, but no, I will not be attending any festivals dedicated to this film, though I would attend a fan club for Richard Jenkins or J.K. Simmons after their performances in the film.

I was also really impressed with Brad Pitt’s performance There’s no question about Brad’s movie star quotient. It’s big, the biggest. But my favorite BP performances don’t involve him being a super star. It’s his “smaller” side performances that are truly awesome. Let’s rewind to 1993. Brad plays a small role as an LA stoner named Floyd in “True Romance.” He’s hilarious and perfect in this role. Another favorite “small” performance is his role of a crazy guy in “Twelve Monkeys.” He commits to that role fully. Then, there’s his portrayal of Mickey in “Snatch.” And of course we can’t forget “Thelma and Louise,” where the world first learned about Brad’s charm and abs. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for movies from the early 90’s, but I love seeing Brad playing more than just a hot guy. And he does that in “Burn After Reading,” In a scene with John Malkovich, he’s trying to act tough and mysterious. He does these little eye movements that cracked me up. There’s an earnestness and blind optimism that shines through in this character and shows Brad’s got comic chops. I also want to give a shout out to whomever did hair on “Burn After Reading.” Brad’s horribly tacky blond tips were stupendous.

With a lot of movies and TV shows, I usually find myself predicting what’s gonna happen. But I was happily surprised with some of the narrative and the violence in this movie. It felt really good to not know what was coming. But overall the film felt a bit disjointed to me. The whole didn’t always seem to match its parts and I also just didn’t care enough the characters to get super into the movie. I found myself wondering more about who Tilda Swinton’s dermatologist is, rather than being invested in what was happening to the characters.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove.
Translation for non-LA viewers: If you can catch a matinee and go half price, go see this movie.

Jessica says:

How do the Coen brothers manage to get such attractive people to agree to look like such…dorks, for lack of a better word, in their films?  It’s impressive.  Brad Pitt actually seems to revel in his character’s dorkiness.  Well, let me back up.  I should probably explain that I am not a huge Coen Brothers fan.  I don’t dislike their work; I’m just not a fan.  I’ve seen Fargo and The Big Lebowski (but only once—I’ve been told I need to see it about three more times to really ‘get it’)*.

So, back to Burn After Reading, for the most part, I thought it was pretty funny.  John Malkovich was as creepy as always, but the performances I enjoyed the most were J.K. Simmons and Richard Jenkins.  I love J.K. Simmons in everything I’ve ever seen him in really.  They are both character actors, so let me help you out with where you might have seen them before:  J.K. Simmons was the dad in Juno and Dr. Skoda on Law & Order and Richard Jenkins was Nathaniel Fisher on Six Feet Under.

Now, I knew I was watching a Coen brothers’ movie and I knew that meant dark comedy and the possibility of some surprising violence.  Yet, somehow I got lulled into a relaxed state by the comedy/spy plot and then BAM you see someone get shot in the head with brain splatter.  That was mildly startling compared to seeing a character get axed in the face in the middle of the street.  I literally jumped and covered my face with my hands when the axe came down.  I’m afraid I really am my mother’s daughter.  She’s been complaining about violence in movies and TV for as long as I can remember and now apparently, so am I.  Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.  Was I supposed to say that at the beginning?

Something about the whole film was just not quite right.  I had issues with the score.  It was written as if the movie was an actual spy thriller.  Imagine the score to The Fugitive and cut to Brad Pitt with frosted highlights sucking from a water bottle.  I’m sure that was supposed to be ironic, but it made me a little uneasy.  I was trying to decide if I was supposed to be horrified that I just saw someone get axed in the face or amused.  The feeling I ended up with was uncomfortable.

I recommend seeing it as a matinee.

*Alison vows to remain my friend, despite this fact.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: The Dark Knight

September 6, 2008

Two blondes review movies and ramble a lot about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

Warning:  This review is going to sound like Andy Rooney, but…

Has anyone else noticed that movies have gotten really, really loud in the last couple of years?  Alison and I went to a double feature yesterday, Pineapple Express and The Dark Knight.  I was fine in Pineapple Express, but man, The Dark Knight was literally painful.  I had to plug my ears during any action sequence (which is approx. 96% of the movie).  Even after plugging my ears, I left the theatre slightly shouting everything I said.  I had the same problem a couple of years ago at one of the Bourne movies.  Is it just me?

You know it’s bad when you walk into Forever 21 and think, “Yes, this music seems to be playing at a reasonable volume,” as I did after the movies.  On a related note, on the way into the movie I told Alison I had made my first purchase at Forever 21 just a couple days prior.  She asked why that was my first.  Me:  “Because that store gives me an aneurysm.  The music is too loud, it’s messy, and there are teenagers everywhere.”  Her:  “OK, grandma.”  So maybe it is just me.

I recommend seeing this movie in the theatre, but bring industrial-strength earplugs and don’t sit on the aisle under a speaker.

ALISON SAYS:

As someone who wanted to be a super hero, but was deterred by bad arches and a fear of heights, it was fun to live the life of one for 150 minutes. I saw The Dark Knight twice in the theater and both times thought it was awesome. During my second viewing, I felt bad for Jessica as she held her right ear and winced at the impressive surround sound provided by Pacific 15 at the Grove. But despite her discomfort, I loved the music, explosions, action and awesomeness.

However, in the land of two blondes, there is no perfect review. I was really distracted by Two Face. Rather than looking like a guy who’d been burned, he looks like half a zombie. Also, in any moments where I lost my suspension of disbelief, I was a little thrown by the way Batman talked. It was so guttural, almost to the point of being silly. I think this YouTube video sums it up perfectly: 

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying full price at Arclight.
Translation for non-LA Natives: Go to the theater to see this movie, but if you’re concerned with hearing loss, don’t sit near the speakers.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Pineapple Express

September 6, 2008

Two blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

My view on marijuana has changed over the years. As a teenager, I totally drank the Nancy Reagan Just Say No Kool-Aid (but only when it came to drugs—I was more than happy to overindulge in alcohol as a minor…and still am). I made it entirely through high school and college without ever lighting up, or toking, or whatever the kids are calling it. It wasn’t that hard to resist because unlike what they told us in the Just Say No club, if you say, “No thanks,” people don’t really pressure you. I was an officer in the Just Say No Club; media relations officer, which meant I went to the local radio station and recorded Just Say No ads (I also played the keyboard in the Just Say No jazz band). Vanity was my main reason for never smoking it, as it turns out. I’m horrible at inhaling. It’s embarrassing. I choke, cough, turn red, my eyes water, etc. Not what you want to happen when you’re trying to get the boy next to you to kiss you.

By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. In grad school, I decided to try it, just to say I had and to see what all the fuss was about. Again, unlike what Ms. Reagan told us, I was not automatically addicted. Like I had feared, my inability to inhale kept me to a one joint minimum and it had barely any effect on me. I became only slightly more giggly than normal.

My major concern going into this movie was that I didn’t have enough weed experience to get all the jokes. That wasn’t a problem. In the end, my main critique was that it was too long. I know this is not a novel critique for a Judd Apatow et al movie, but it was 1:52 and would have been much funnier at 1:30. The pot jokes were legitimately funny. It’s the action sequences that were way too long, and at risk of sounding like my mother, too violent. When I signed up for a stoner action adventure, I wasn’t expecting to see so many people meet their bloody demise.

So, I recommend renting this movie to watch as the second film on a staying-in night with friends. Pick something shorter as the main attraction.

ALISON SAYS:

Dear Seth Rogen,
Do you remember driving by me on Crescent Heights and 3rd six months ago? I furiously waved at you from my Blue Scion and may have even honked a couple times. No, it’s totally cool if you don’t remember.
Alison

Here’s my background, or lack thereof, when it comes to pot. In elementary school I was a star pupil when it came to Project Charlie (a drug education program). The teacher loved me, because I was and still am a nerd. She would repeat the mantra “You are special” over and over to make sure we knew we didn’t need drugs to be special. Being an only child, I was already aware of how special I was, but it was nice to see it confirmed in colored chalk up on the board.

At age thirteen, when I found out two of my friends were rowing out to the middle of our lake to get stoned, I was convinced every after school special I’d seen was about to come true. Certain that they were going to drown, I tried to save them by yelling from shore, “You’ll die out there!” My heroic efforts were mocked as they rowed farther away from me. Of course in the end, they didn’t drown. Nothing much happened at all, besides them probably enjoying the clouds more than usual.

In high school my sophomore year boyfriend, a former honors student and captain of his lacrosse team, started smoking weed after we broke up. He ended up getting kicked off the team and failing out of school. It only confirmed my every fear of the fall one takes when one experiments with drugs. Even at age 16, an age where you might not want to broadcast just how drug free and straight edge you are, I was running stop smoking programs in the student center at my school. I would shake pictures of darkened, damaged lungs at fellow classmates.

So, yeah, I was THAT girl. But despite my lack of experience with marijuana, I found Pineapple Express to be mostly hilarious. I laughed loud and often. Seth Rogen and James Franco were awesome together, and I have a newfound respect for James Franco after his performance as the ultimate pothead. My only criticism would be some of the violence at the end. Violence doesn’t bother me (two of my favorite movies are Die Hard and True Romance), but it seemed like overkill. It kind of felt like someone just wanted to throw in a shitload of blood and crazy stunts, but then again blood and stunts are super fun. But the ending felt long and overly bloody and not as funny as the rest of the film, in my sober and nerdy opinion.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove, but may not be worth full price at Arclight.
Translation for non-LA Natives: I’m happy I saw it in the theaters, but I wouldn’t call it a travesty if you waited for one of your stoner buddies to rent it from Netflix.