Posts Tagged ‘Law & Order’

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.

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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.