Posts Tagged ‘film reviews’

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: Like Crazy

December 6, 2011

One blonde reviews a movie and mostly rambles about herself.

Jessica says:

“Wise men say, only fools rush in…”

Before I talk about the movie, Like Crazy, I need to talk about the trailer for it.  It’s possible that I became a little obsessed with Ingrid Michaelson’s cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” that is heavily featured in the promo.  I recommend you buy it, but here is a live version on YouTube so you can become obsessed too:
Ingrid Michaelson “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Kudos to the marketing person who matched this movie up with that song.
Now for the movie.  Much like that song, Like Crazy is sweet, romantic, heartbreaking, and wistful.  It is the story of a Brisith girl, Jones, who, while studying in California, falls in love with an American boy, Yelchin.  She then decides to overstay her visa, gets caught, and subsequently banned from reentering the US.  Our lovers then struggle with whether to move on together or apart, and boy are they in love.  They spend a lot of time gazing into each other’s eyes and writing poetry.  Somehow though, the story seems to delicately balance on the line between romantic and sappy.  I guess what I’m saying is I have personally spoken to heterosexual male friends who saw and enjoyed it, so don’t be scared off by the romance.
 
Like Crazy is full of so-called up-and-coming stars (whew, that was a lot of hyphens):  Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence.  All are pretty great in this movie, especially since, according to this article inEntertainment Weekly, all the dialogue in Like Crazy was improvised.  Completely improvised.  That kind of blows my mind, but it does explain why there are so many shots of long, lovey-dovey, wistful looks between lovers – they just didn’t know what to say.
Like Crazy is worth seeing in the theatre, but would still be good if you waited to watch it at home.

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: Water For Elephants

June 15, 2011

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:


ALISON SAYS:

I really, really, really loved this book, so I went in not expecting much, since movies often  don’t live up to the books they’re based on. But I was happily surprised. I thought it was a really beautiful adaptation of the book. Not perfect, but a good adaptation. They left out some of the most touching parts of the book (I highly, highly recommend reading this book), but I understand the choice to leave them out, and thought it did help the movie to flow smoothly. The three main actors (Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz) did a great job of giving these characters life.

It’s a gorgeous film and I loved seeing Reese’s hair and dresses from that time period. And it made me wish I had a personal hair stylist to curl my hair that way on a daily basis. I also really wish I had a pet elephant.

LA Viewers: Read the book first, and then go see a matinee, especially if you love animals.

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

JESSICA SAYS:

This review is going to be short.  I saw Water for Elephants weeks ago, when it came out.  I didn’t think we were going to review it for this here blog, but then my cohort decided to see it this past weekend.  Now I am desperately trying to remember what I thought of it.  What I’ve come up with so far was…I thought it was OK.  You know, not bad, not awesome.  OK.  Romancy (it’s a word.  Yes it is.  Look it up.).

I remember thinking the movie was very pretty and I was envious of Reese Witherspoon’s depression-era hairstyle.  I spent a significant amount of time in the movie wondering if I could pull off that look (silky pin curls) in 2011.  What do you think?

Also, RPatz is still hot.  Remember Cedric Diggory, you guys.   I’ve been on that bandwagon since 2005.

Elephants are awesome.  They figured out how to use tools on their own and probably have their own language (not counting the Polish that the elephant in the movie understands).

Wait for it On Demand/DVD.

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 Go to a Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1

December 1, 2010

Alison says:

This may hurt my street cred (Jessica is shaking her head at me for thinking I have street cred), but I love the Harry Potter books. Love them. I think JK Rowling is amazing. Just had to say that. But I will admit something. Despite being a HUGE fan of the Harry Potter books, I hadn’t really kept up with the movies. I’d seen the first one in the theaters and hadn’t been too impressed and was upset at how disappointing the movie felt in comparison to the experience of reading the book. Then I think I saw the 2nd and 3rd movies, but didn’t feel the need to keep up with the movie series after that. I just loved the books too much. Then a couple months back, I saw the trailer for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” and was like “Wow, that looks really good.” Then a few weeks ago, Jessica asked me if I wanted to get tickets ahead of time to go see the new Harry Potter movie. I mentioned not being caught up on the movies, and thus she lent me her DVD collection. And yes, the movies did get better with each one. And then I got really excited to see Deathly Hallows (and Jessica’s excitement was also somewhat contagious as well).

Jessica and I got tickets for Friday night of opening weekend at the dome at Arclight. As we sat down in our seats with our boxes of Sour Patch Kids, we were pretty ecstatic to see one of our favorite stories brought to life and so was everyone else in the theater. It was palpable in the air. People could not wait to see this movie. And it was a great film. I was thoroughly happy and thrilled the entire time. I’d also like to say for anyone who thinks wizards or spells are nerdy, then go see this movie and see how dangerous magic can be.  Okay, I just re-read that sentence and realized it sounds extremely nerdy, but I’m serious. There’s some scenes with fights between wizards where the effects and the speed of the spells and zaps literally took my breath away. It’s a stunning, exciting movie. And I absolutely love these characters. The minute the movie was over, I was sad I have to wait so many months for Part 2.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at Arclight. Go see this movie. Also worth paying full price to go see a second time. It’s one of those movies that is just a great movie-going experience.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Go see it. Now.

Cute Jessica quote from before the movie started: “Accio Sour Patch Kids.”

 

Accio Sour Patch Kids!

Jessica says:

Warning:  I discuss the plot of this story, so SPOILER ALERT, but I mean really?  The book was a phenomenon that has been out for over three years.

I did not write the review immediately after seeing the movie, which I have vowed to myself to do several times now.  I’m just a procrastinator at heart.  Usually the problem that occurs when I don’t write my review immediately is that I end up forgetting whatever I had to say about the film.  That is not the case with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1.  I remember it easily.  In fact, I’m still in the process of re-reading the book.  The problem is my opinion has been swayed by hearing what others had to say about it.  If you would have asked me right after I walked out of the screening Alison and I went to I would have seem like a giddy schoolgirl, “It was awesome!  I can’t wait for the next one!”  Now, with time, my reaction is a bit more tempered.  It was good, not great and not my favorite of the Harry Potter set.

I’m sure you know this by know, but the book on which the film was based was split into two films.  This is part one.  I’m not sure there is much to be done about any of the possible negatives from this Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  The final book in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a mammoth in physical size and is chockablock full of a combo of action and very important information.  The film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow, Pt. 1, drags a bit in places, but I’m not sure that could be helped.  Most of the very important information you’re given in the book happens in the first two thirds, which just so happens to be the plot for this film.  Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on a mission set to them by their former headmaster, Dumbledore, to find Horcruxes.  I’m not going to bother to go into describing what those are here, just suffice it to say they are very important to the overall plot of the 7-part story.  The section of their journey that is covered in this film is kind of boring at times because they can’t find what they’re looking for (cue U2).

 

There are some really great parts in Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 too.  I will admit that I teared up when Ron destroys the Horcrux after it reveals all his insecurities.  I also got a little emotional in the final scene – the opening of Dumbledore’s tomb.  Ugh.

If you haven’t read the books, but enjoy the films just stick with this and remind yourself to think of it as only part one to a story.  If you’ve read the books and love them to the point of being kind of obsessive (like me), then you have nothing to worry about – you’ll just be so excited that it’s finally here that you’ll enjoy it.

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: Morning Glory

November 28, 2010

Jessica says:

I’ve become obsessed with trying to figure this out – is Harrison Ford really as cranky as he appears?  His character in Morning Glory is cartoonishly over-the-top in his curmudgeonly ways.  He literally growls at people.  Then in all the press I’ve seen him do for this…or ever, now that I think about it, he seems grumpy in the interviews too.  Is that actually him or is that the “Harrison Ford” character he plays in the public?  I guess I need to go to someone who knows him to verify, so hang on a sec. while I ring up Calista…

Even though the entire plot of this movie was foreseeable to me and anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  It kind of felt like some marketing executive downloaded all my information from Facebook and made a movie tailored to me – young aspiring television producer works her way up the career ladder, falls in love with cute boy at work, falters in both personal and professional matters, but comes out on top in the end.  This movie played me like a fiddle, but it’s OK because it was fun (like what I imagine it’s like to play “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”).

Rachel McAdams is adorable, but that really shouldn’t come as any surprise.  Diane Keaton is likeable even when she is playing a character that is kind of crazy.  I really wish John Pankow would have had more screen time as the 2nd in command to Rachel McAdams character.  You might not recognize his name, but you would recognize his face from his many, many appearances on TV in character roles (Mad About You, Ally McBeal, Law & Order, etc.).  He was funny and sympathetic – I wanted more.

All in all, I’d say this movie is exactly what you’d expect, but that makes it nonetheless entertaining.  It would make a nice Sunday matinee with a girlfriend, your sister, or mom.

Alison says:

I really, really like Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford, so I went to see this film with Jessica despite being the kind of girl who often prefers movies with explosions or elves. And despite the lack of explosions and/or elves, I really enjoyed the film. It’s charming and cute and funny. I’m really happy to see Rachel McAdams playing this type of character and she does a good job of carrying the film. I thought she was really great playing against Harrison Ford as the crotchety old guy. And there’s just nothing not to love about Diane Keaton. Also, can we talk about how amazing Diane Keaton’s figure is. I’m not trying to be creepy, but her body is rocking.

I found myself laughing throughout the film and did enjoy myself and loved the cast, but towards the later part of the movie, it did start to feel pretty predictable, somewhat “paint by the numbers” (not sure if that works as a description for a script, but I’m going with it). The music got kinda heavy handed and you felt like you were being spoon fed the plot. That said, it’s still a film I’d recommend going to with your girlfriends or your mom. You’ll laugh and be charmed.

LA Viewers: I’d recommend a matinee or Netflix.

Translation for non-LA Viewers: It’s a cute flick.

One Blonde Goes to a Movie: The Town

September 17, 2010

Jessica Says:

I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly where Ben Affleck said; “It’s kind of hard to disavow a movie when you’re the actor, writer, and director.  You’re definitely all in.”  The good news is he won’t have to worry about trying to disavow The Town because it’s great.

The Town is a movie full of actors I enjoy watching:  Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm (both dreamy…I mean, handsome), Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Titus Welliver (the Man in Black from Lost and honestly, is there a cooler name?), and Chris Cooper.  Ben Affleck plays the leader of a gang of bank robbers from Charlestown in Boston.  Charlestown was apparently the bank robbing capital of the US back in the 1990s.  Rebecca Hall plays the manager of the bank the gang robs at the beginning of the film.  They are concerned she might be able to identify them after the robbery, so Ben Affleck’s character tails her.  In the process of following her, they end up romantically involved and that relationship (along with other factors) leads his character to question his life choices.  Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver are the FBI and police agents tasked with catching the robbery gang.  Through the rest of the film you watch him struggle to escape the pull of his community.

One of my favorite little twists (not a plot twist, so not a spoiler) is that the hero’s best friend (Jeremy Renner) is also one of the villains of the story.  Jeremy Renner, along with the entire cast, delivers top-notch performances, which must partially be a testament to Affleck’s directing ability.

Without giving away the ending, I will just say that I approved of it.  I was nervous as the story progressed that I wouldn’t like what the ending might be because the truth is quite a few horrible crimes are committed by the hero of The Town and even though you know he’s struggling to change his life, I also felt like he and his gang should have to pay for their crimes.

Go see The Town this weekend.  It’s deserves to have a decent opening weekend.  It’s totally worth the full ticket price.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Salt

July 27, 2010

Jessica says:

Angelina Jolie is very pretty, just in case you haven’t noticed.  She’s even pretty when she’s wearing bad wigs and dowdy suits, as she does in Salt.  She also kind of kicks ass.  She is pretty much the only redeeming part of Salt.

OK, so normally, in a review, I start out by describing the basic plot.  The thing is…the plot for Salt doesn’t make any sense, but I’ll make my best attempt to explain (while not giving anything that could be construed as a spoiler).  Angelina Jolie is a CIA agent named Salt.  The question you are supposed to spend the movie asking is, is she also a double agent for the Russians.  Yes, you heard me right – it’s a USA versus Russia spy movie. It seems that, even though reality has moved on and Russia is no longer our number one enemy, Hollywood just can’t quit its addiction to making Russia their go-to villain.  The whole movie turns on the question of is she or isn’t she working for the Russians.

Without going into details, I will say that Salt switches allegiances during the movie.  The problem is the reason we’re given as to why she switches sides MAKES NO SENSE.  I saw Salt with a couple of friends.  As we stood saying our goodbyes in the parking garage, my friend, Rex, just kept saying, “But I don’t understand.  Why did she switch sides?”  Brian would futilely try to explain what he thought the reasons were, but the conversation just kept going in circles because there is no explanation for anything that went down in the movie.

Salt commits a crime against logic that happens in many an action movie, but it was particularly egregious in Salt – why would you bother to fist fight or kung fu kick someone when you have a gun?  In Salt they bother to put in a shot showing us that not only is Agent Salt packing a gun, she has multiple guns (machine, pistol, etc.) and even explosives.  Then about a minute later, we’re supposed to believe that she would waste time and energy running up walls to kick someone in the head.  Just shoot him!

Strangely, the fact that it didn’t make any sense didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie.  Salt is totally a popcorn flick.  If you don’t enjoy violence, don’t bother seeing this movie (I’m talking to you, Mom).  If you’re nostalgic for the 1980’s, slip on some neon-colored jams and jellies and go to a matinee of Salt to watch us stick it to the Russians.

Alison says:

I tend to enjoy movies with Angelina Jolie. What’s not to love? She’s gorgeous, talented and owns the screen. I’ve been a big fan since Gia. Like a huge fan, where it might border on creepy. I’m not gonna walk around town looking for her, but will I buy a magazine just cause she’s on the cover… yes, yes I will. But who wouldn’t? She is seriously beautiful and alluring and… (Jessica is making some kind of hand motion over her throat. I think she wants me to get to the point of my review). Okay, on to my opinion on Salt. I really enjoyed watching it, that is until it got farther into the movie and the plot seemed to unravel into craziness. But before that and for the first half or so, I was sitting there happy to see Angie (yes, she prefers me to call her Angie) on screen kicking ass. Also this movie had originally been intended for Tom Cruise, so I LOVE the fact that they made it with a female star. It’s a huge step forward for women in Hollywood, even if the plot might be a little silly. There were some awesome stunts and fight scenes and those always make me happy. I’m the girl who loves action movies, so for a while Salt made me happy.


And then it didn’t. I didn’t come out hating the movie. Would I watch it again on cable? Yes. Would I pay to see it again? No. My problem was stuff that happened towards the end of the movie. I don’t want to give away the plot, or lack thereof, but it kinda went into crazy town. I went from being fully on board to thinking “Oh, well that just seems a tad far fetched” to “Yeah, that’s just dumb.” The ending reminded me of a mix of an M. Night Shymalayan movie and a Mary Higgins Clark novel. There were just SO MANY twists and turns and “No, this is the bag guy. No, wait, this is definitely the bad guy.”

LA Viewers: If you love Angelina the way I do, go see a cheap matinee.

Translation for non-LA viewers: I leave it up to you with what you do with your money. If you really like movies about ridiculous Russian bad guys and hot ass kicking babes, go see the movie. If you’re “Eh” about all that, wait for the DVD.