Monday, July 27, 2009

Review: I Love You, Beth Cooper

Grade: C

I Love You, Beth Cooper is a movie about a boy, Dennis Cooverman, who is the valedictorian of his graduating class who, at his graduation, decides to give a slightly offensive speech about some of his classmates and also decides to proclaim his love for Beth Cooper, the prettiest girl in school. Has he ever talked to her, no, but he’s apparently sat behind her in almost every class since 7th grade. She does actually talk to him after the ceremony and he invites her to his party he and his friend are having at his house. Much to his surprise she actually shows up with two of her friends. Shortly thereafter, her boyfriend shows up and, of course, threatens to kill him. The rest of the movie is one adventure after another all the while Dennis and Beth get to know each other a little better.

This movie wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t really all that good either. The concept is nice and it has its moments where it’s genuinely honest and at times can even pass as sweet. There are moments where Beth realizes that Dennis isn’t a total weirdo like she thought and where Dennis realizes Beth isn’t this sweet girl he somehow thought she was. This movie will unfortunately give false hope to many geeks, nerds and overall unattractive guys everywhere. No girl, especially one that looks like Beth Cooper, would ever let something as embarrassing as the nerdiest guy in school proclaiming his love for her in front of the whole school, much less actually show up to his party and even less actually continue to hang out with him for the rest of the night. I hate to say it, but that’s the truth. This movie would never happen in real life.

Relative new comer Paul Rust plays Dennis Cooverman, he did an alright job as the quirky, nerdy guy but overall, not a good actor. Also, once he gets too old to play the odd high school/college student I really don’t think he’ll have a career. Hayden Panettiere (TVs Heroes) plays the titular Beth Cooper. She did a pretty decent job portraying the typical high school cheerleader who is afraid to leave high school because she thinks that those really are the best years of her life. She did a pretty good job portraying all the different aspects of her character. Relative new comer Jack Carpenter plays Dennis’ best friend Rich and did a good job with that. Lauren Storm and Lauren London play Beth’s friends. Shawn Roberts plays Beth boyfriend and does a good job playing roid-rage. Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) plays Dennis’ father who should get an award for father of the year.

This movie was alright, probably not worth rushing to the theater to see but might be a good rent if you want a cheap laugh and some entertainment.

Great quote: “You’re not alive unless your living.”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Review: The Ugly Truth

Grade: A-

The Ugly Truth is a new romantic comedy about a romantically challenged television morning show producer, Abby, who is currently having troubles with her program and needs to find a way to get more people to watch the show. One day her boss hires a very crass and chauvinistic man, Mike, to do a new segment called "The Ugly Truth" where he very bluntly talks about dating, what men like and how to get into a relationship. Abby then meets a doctor who is seemingly the perfect man for her but doesn't want to scare him off, Mike makes a bet with her that if she does everything he tells her to he will quit if she doesn't get into a relationship with the guy. Mike then proceeds to teach her what "all men like" with some pretty hilarious results.

I was pretty wary about seeing this movie, most romantic comedies are just the same joke told in a slightly different way. This one breaks the mold a little bit by being a little more adult. The Ugly Truth is rated R which allows for more adult humor and language. This really helped the movie in my opinion. If they had tried to take this movies concept and make it into a PG-13 movie, it would have truly sucked. The humor is great, I was laughing through the whole movie, from the initial showing of Mike's show "The Ugly Truth" where he's telling women that if they want to be in a relationship they need to get on a stair master to a hilarious scene with Abby, her new boyfriend and Mike are having dinner with some network executives while Abby is wearing a certain kind of underwear that has a remote. This movie really took me by surprise and was genuinely funny and brilliant.

Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy, Knocked Up) plays Abby, a neurotic and somewhat desperate for love TV producer. I normally don't care much for Heigl but I felt she did a great job in this movie and really made me laugh. Gerard Butler (300, RockNrolla) plays Mike, a chauvinistic and bluntly honest TV correspondent who discusses how to land a boy friend in his segment. I've always liked Butler and he does not let me down in this movie, he was hilarious and he did a great job portraying this character, I really could not stop laughing at the things he did or said. The only thing I didn't like about his performance was that they made him force an American accent, but I pretty much hate it when any actor has to do that. The rest of the cast is rather impressive and includes Eric Winter, Bree Turner, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins and even includes brief appearances by Vicki Lewis and Craig Ferguson.

The Ugly Truth is a very funny and at times brutally honest movie that I think most people would enjoy. Yes, some women would probably be offended by some of the things said and done in this movie, but I still think you'll enjoy it once you see the whole thing. This movie is by far the best romantic comedy of the year so far.

Great quote: "We like women for their tits and ass and stay with them for what they are willing to do with them"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Review: Bruno

Grade: F-

Bruno is Sasha Baron Cohen's follow up to his first movie, Borat, the worst movie ever made. Bruno follows Cohen's "gay fashionista" character Bruno as he tries to show how absurd the fashion business is by setting up scripted interviews. The whole movie is apparently setup interview after setup scripted interview where we watch as Cohen "shocks" his "unsuspecting" interviewees. He makes a couple outrageous remarks that are meant to cause chock and maybe a little horror. This caries on for close to an hour and a half.

I have nothing to say about this movie as I don't want to give it anymore attention than it should ever have. I only saw the first 30 minutes before deciding there were better things I could be doing with my time like watching professional poker on TV, stabbing myself in the leg with a rusty spoon or even doing headstands until I become lightheaded and pass out. I recommend everybody with a brain and soul stay as far away from this piece of garbage as possible.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Grade: B-

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth movie in the Harry Potter franchise based, of course, on the sixth book in the Harry Potter series. Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts is about to start and there are beginning to be more and more attacks by Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort’s followers, in both the muggle and wizarding world. Dumbledore shows up and takes Harry with him to help recruit a new potions teacher, Horace Slughorn. Then, soon after it, is back to Hogwarts with Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger. At school Harry finds an old potions book labeled “property of the Half-Blood Prince” with many scribblings that help him succeed in class and has mysterious unknown spells written in it as well. On top of this Dumbledore is trying to teach Harry more about Voldemort’s past by showing him memories so that he has a better understanding of who Voldemort is and might have a better chance at fighting him. This is when we learn why Dumbledore was so determined to have Professor Slughorn return, he has a very important memory that Harry needs to get to get a full understanding of Voldemort’s powers. We also see that Draco Malfoy is on a mission from the dark lord himself and his mother is fearful of his life because of it. While all of this is going on there are budding romances going on all over the school amongst many of the characters.

I know, there is a lot going on in this movie, as there was a lot going on in the book as well. The writer’s and director had their work cut out trying to condense down the content of the 672 page book into a 153 minute movie. They did a decent job but I feel they could have done better. I’m going to try to keep the comparisons to a minimum but some stuff is kind of important. I mean, after Order of the Phoenix when Voldemort makes a come back with a vengance, this movie should have been awesome but they somehow and for some reason turned it into a romantic comedy about witches and wizards and all the Voldemort stuff is kind of background.

Director David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) did a decent job depicting the dark tones of the story. The movie looked great and the sets were beautiful as they have always been with these movies. Steve Kloves, who adapted the first four movies from the books into screenplays, I feel, did not do his best job adapting Half-Blood Prince. The book was riddled with dark overtones and focused mostly on Harry learning the secrets of Voldemort’s past and trying to convince everyone that Draco Malfoy was now a Death Eater and that he was up to something and that Professor Snape was evil. The movie, however, focuses mostly on the lighter side of things, showing Ron’s new relationship with Lavender Brown, Hermione being upset by this, Harry’s new found interest in Ginny and the overall romantic and comedic events that take place in the book. While the movie was still enjoyable, I feel that they were focusing too much on some of the less important material, I get it, Ron and Hermione like each other and Harry and Ginny like each other as well, but does it have to be the main story. We also never really see some of the other characters that we grew to love in the past movies, Neville has maybe one line and Luna Lovegood only shows up briefly as well. They took out most of the excitement from the book (the biggest tragedy being the end) because, as I found out from an interview I read with David Yates, they felt that the movies based on the seventh books were going to be full of action that this movie didn’t really need it. On top of all of this, the movie was almost confusing, and this is coming from somebody who read the book, I can only imagine how people who have only been watching the movies feel. There are several new characters that show up in this movie but they are never really introduced, unless you pay very close attention and are reading every newspaper article they show and looking closely at the posters in the background. Also, some random events occur with little to no explanation. Overall it’s just a packed and at times confusing movie.

Daniel Radcliff returns as the boy who lived, Harry Potter. He does another great job portraying the intricacies of the character, showing that Harry just wants to be normal but he never really can be because of his past. Rupert Grint returns as the lovable Ron Weasly. In this movie we really get to see a different side to his character as he both becomes a star on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and gets into an almost bizarre relationship with Lavender Brown. Emily Watson returns as the brilliant Hermione Granger and does a great job as well. In Half-Blood Prince we see her true feelings for Ron. Michael Gambon (Layer Cake, Sleepy Hallow) returns as the great Professor Dumbledore. Many people seem to have preferred Richard Harris as Dumbledore in the first two movies but I really prefer Gambon, he has more of a presence and a powerful voice, much like how I feel Dumbledore should. Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Love Actually) is back as Severus Snape and does a wonderful job. I feel that this has always been perfect casting for this role. Rickman really does well with Snape’s personality and gives perfect delivery. Jim Broadbent (Inkheart, Hot Fuzz) is brought in to play Horace Slughorn and he does a great job. Horace is drawn towards greatness and is very weary of his past relationship with Tom Riddle, who later becomes Lord Voldemort and Broadbent does great at portraying this. Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeny Todd, Fight Club) returns as Bellatrix Lestrange. Her performances as this character are brilliant, she truly does a wonderful job portraying just how insane the woman is and I can't wait to see more of her in the final movies. The rest of the regulars from the previous movies are back as well but unfortunately we don’t really see much of them in this movie.

I did enjoy this movie I just felt that it could have been much better. I just feel that they were focusing on the wrong parts of the story. I understand that they want it to be lighthearted but the previous movies were lighthearted while still maintaining the serious aspects of the story as well. I liked seeing the interactions between Draco and Harry as you really see their hatred for each other grow, but I would have liked to see more of it. After everything they showed and set up in Order of the Phoenix my expectations for this movie were very high and I just feel a little let down. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter franchise go see this movie, you will enjoy it, but don’t let your expectations get too high and if you’ve read the book really don’t let your expectations get high. It was good and will serve as a great transition into the seventh and final chapter of the saga, that’s been split into two movies. The movie is rated PG but as a fair warning it is still dark when it needs to be and there is a fair bit of violence and blood.

Great quote: "Potter, take Weasley with you. He looks far too happy over there. "

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review: Moon

Grade: A

Moon takes place in the near future. The energy crisis has been solved when it was discovered that Helium-3, found on the moon, could be used as an energy source and currently powers more than 70% of the planet. The corporation Lunar has set up a base on the far side of the moon to harvest H3 and people work the base, alone, in three year shifts. Sam Bell is the current worker on the moon and is nearing the end of his three year contract. The satellite link to earth is broken so Sam has no direct contact with people, the only companionship he has is with the robot helper GERTY. Two weeks before Sam finally gets to go home and see his wife and daughter he starts hallucinating, hearing things and feeling strange. When a routine extraction goes horribly wrong he discovers that Lunar has their own plans to replace him and that his replacement is a little too familiar.

I'm going to give fair warning that there may be some minor spoilers in this review as there is no way around some of the facts in the movie, most of my spoilers can be figured out from the trailer however. This movie is just too difficult to write about without giving away major plot points as most of them start rolling out early in the movie and the majority of the film is based around one major point. The studio has done a great job keeping the secrets of this movie.

This movie was absolutely fantastic, one of the best of the year so far. This is the writer/director Duncan Jones first feature film and it was great. Jones shows amazing talent in his story and direction and could have a great career ahead of him. He does a wonderful job showing and displaying the isolation that Sam Bell is living in for three years. He did a great job making a top notch Sci-Fi movie on an "indie" budget and making all look real as most of the movie is based around one character. The special effects were great and seamless, which could be explained by the fact that this was shot during the WGA strike so Jones managed to get some of the best special effects guys in the business to work on this film.

Sam Rockwell (Frost/Nixon, Choke) plays the main, and practically only, character in the movie. Rockwell does an amazing job. I have always like Rockwell and felt that he had great potential and this movie proves it. He does such a great job portraying Bell, a man who has been in isolation for three years, his only companion is a robot that helps out around the base called GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey. Here comes the spoiler as I can't help but talk about it: when he discovers his own (still living) body in a wreck at one of the harvesters, we see a dramatic change. The interactions of Sam talking to himself are amazing, especially given the differences in the two, one has been on the moon by himself for three years, one thinks he's just arrived on the moon. Rockwell deserves an Oscar for this performance in my opinion, simply brilliant performance.

This movie is amazing with twists and turns and emotional changes every couple minutes. The movie moves pretty quickly and keeps you interested the whole way through and the ending is an excellent conclusion that leaves you feeling good. I must insist that everybody go see this movie. If you want to see an amazing performance that drives a beautiful and emotional story, go see this as soon as you can.

Great quote: "Hey, we made a beautiful daughter, high five."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review: Whatever Works

Grade: A-

Whatever Works is about a New York resident, Boris Yellnikoff, who will rant to anybody who will listen (including the movie audience) about his dim views on everything from religion to politics to relationships to the randomness (and in his opinion worthlessness) of life. One day a young runaway from Mississippi, Melodie St. Ann Celestine, shows up by his apartment and somehow manages to convince him to let her stay with him for a couple of days while she tries to find a job and get on her feet. That couple days turns into a couple weeks which turns into a couple months, all the while the reclusive Boris begins to form a very unlikely friendship with her while his ideologies are rubbing off on her as well. When it comes to love for Boris "whatever works" is his motto which complicates his already complicated life when Melodie's parents show up in New York looking for her.

Whatever Works is the latest movie written and directed by Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point) and his movies are always very hit and miss with me. I loved Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Sex and Manhattan Murder Mystery but his movies of late, like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Anything Else, I have really hated. This movie was great though, very funny and entertaining the whole way through. At the beginning of the movie Boris is talking, alright more griping, about religion to his friends, he then gets up and starts talking to the camera, this is great because everybody else sees him doing this but they all think he’s basically talking to himself and is therefore crazy. The movie goes through how Boris and the city of New York really change Melodie, and more so her parents in some very bizarre and hilarious ways.

Larry David (TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) plays the main character Boris Yellnikoff, and he does a spectacular job. Boris is a genius (he says he was nominated for a Nobel Prize and has an IQ of 200) and was a professor in physics and taught string theory, it seems that because of all of this Boris feels that life is meaningless and can therefore come off as very abrupt sometimes. He now teaches kids to play chess and seems to hate that as all the kids are moronic zombies to him. Then again, he seems to feel everybody is a moronic zombie compared to him. Larry David is absolutely hilarious in this role, I could not stop laughing at just about everything he said. Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across the Universe) played the young Mississippi debutante Melodie St. Ann Celestine. Evan Rachel Wood did a great job with this role and further proved that her career is going to go far. She does a wonderful job portraying the young woman’s naiveté at the beginning of the movie and showing her evolve into a smart independent woman. The vast majority of the movie revolves around these two characters but we do also see appearances by Michael McKean, Samantha Bee, Ed Bagley Jr. and Patricia Clarkson.

This movie was fantastic and well worth watching. It kept me laughing from start to finish and actually had a very intriguing story line. I recommend Whatever Works to all fans and non fans of Woody Allen’s movies.

P.S. I think I have discovered why I like this movie so much given that I tend to hate Woody Allen’s recent movies. I found out that he wrote this script back in the mid-seventies (when he was at the top of his game) but decided not to make it when the actor he wanted to play Boris died. He kept it and when the writer’s strike was about to start he pulled it out and decided it would be his next movie.

Great Quote: “What? You didn’t know that you have to sing Happy Birthday twice to get all the germs off your hands?”

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Review: Public Enemies

Grade: B+

It's the fourth year of the great depression and there is a crime wave sweeping across the country and public enemy number one is John Dillinger. J. Edgar Hoover is setting up the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to catch many criminals who will rob a bank than run out of the state so the state's jurisdiction can no longer pursue them. Hoover assigns his top agent, Melvin Purvis, to track down John Dillinger who keeps robbing banks and breaking people out of prison. John Dillinger and his crew are extremely smart though and keep slipping past the police and the FBI. Also, John Dillinger meets a woman by the name of Billie Freshette and he promises to always be with her and they end up falling in love.

Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Collateral) returns with this movie based on a true story of some of the most famous bank robbers in history and he does a fantastic job directing. Everything in the movie looks beautiful and authentic. From the cars to the theaters to the farms that's crops are dying and the soil is turning to dust, it all looks beautiful and amazing. The costumes are done to perfection and the scenery is great. Everything about this movie was shot so well.

Public Enemies is filled with amazing actors. Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, Secret Window) plays the main character John Dillinger. Depp does a fantastic job as he always does. I'm not sure if this is the movie to do it but the man deserves and Oscar. Depp portrays Dillinger, the bank robber who tells the customers to put their own money away, very well and his scenes with Marion Cotillard are great. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, The Prestige) plays FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Bale does a pretty great job with this role and really showed Purvis' obsession with catching Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Big Fish) plays Billie Freshette and did a wonderful job. Cotillard is a great actress and does a good job portraying Freshette who was a lower class citizen who Dillinger swoons and falls in love with. Stephen Dorff (World Trade Center, Blade) did a great job playing Dillinger's right hand man Homer Van Meter. Billy Crudup (Watchmen, Almost Famous) was fantastic as J. Edgar Hoover. It wasn't the biggest role in the movie but he really played the role very well. Also in the movie you'll see Channing Tatum as Pretty Boy Floyd, Rory Cochrane and Giovanni Ribisi.

Public Enemies is a great movie that's worth watching. The direction is amazing, the scenery is beautiful and the acting is top notch. My only real complaint about the movie is that it could have been trimmed up a little bit. There were a couple scenes that just seemed to drag out a little longer than they should have, mainly one of the last scenes that I'm not going to talk about as to not risk giving anything away. There are some great and kind of funny scenes in the movie as well, one of my personal favorites being when John Dillinger walks into the Chicago Police department then walks into the office that is set up specifically to find Dillinger and then he asks the men in the office what the score of the baseball game that they are listening to is, all the while standing right next to all the photos of himself. I think that most people will enjoy this movie and it is well worth going to see.

Great Quote: "I believe you killed me, you can go to hell."