Thursday, July 28, 2011

Short Review: The Tree of Life

Grade: N/A

...There's dinosaurs in it.

Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, more

Attention span must last... you know what, if you don't have 2 minutes to read the full review, you don't have the patience to watch this movie and try to understand it.

Full Review: The Tree of Life

Grade: …Not sure I can give this movie a grade.

A man examines his complicated relationship with his father and his childhood in the 1950’s. He also begins to try to seek answers to the meaning of life, the origin of the universe and he questions the existence of faith.

The Tree of Life is a very complicated movie to discuss and review, so I will do my best. I would like to start by saying that this movie does not follow a normal narrative line and is not told in a linear form. It tends to jump around freely and at one point, there is a 20 minute sequence showing the creation of the planet and then life, so yes, there are dinosaurs in it. In the first 45 minutes of the movie, there is hardly a word spoken, mostly just a quiet voice over from time to time. It’s not until almost the 45 minute mark that the first clearly audible dialogue is spoken. A very large portion of this movie relies on visuals and music to tell the story.

The majority of the movie takes place during the 1950’s and centers on the O’Brien family, a father, his wife and their three boys. It shows that Mr. O’Brien was a very strict father who loved his children but had a hard time showing it. The oldest son, Jack, seems to have the most issues with his father. Every once in a while it flashes to modern day and shows a much older Jack trying to deal with modern life and trying to reconcile with his father.

Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Troy) plays the role of Mr. O’Brien. Pitt does a great job with this role. I don’t know how to talk about his performance because it doesn’t seem like much of a performance at all. The movie is shot in a way and the performances all so perfect, that it seems more like home footage or a documentary than a movie. The movie also features Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan, Fiona Shaw and more.

The Tree of Life is an extremely existential movie and requires a different level of thinking to appreciate or even fully understand. It is a movie unlike any I’ve seen before. I did not give a grade on this movie because my feelings on it are much like the movie itself, very complicated. I feel that the concept is great and it’s something new. The themes it brings up are very interesting and will leave you questioning things after as well. The visuals and directing style were fantastic. However, the movie is a bit long and very slow going. Although, I don’t think I would speed it up because the pacing works for what the movie is. I was engaged in this movie as well as bored with it. I still don’t entirely know how to feel about it. Again, it’s all very complicated. See this movie if any of what I have said interests or intrigues you, otherwise, this movie is not for you.

Short Review: Friends With Benefits

Grade: B

See: No Strings Attached

Funny, entertaining, lots of sex, Mila Kunis side-boob

Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harelson, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins

Attention span must last 1 hour 50 minutes to enjoy

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Full Review: Friends With Benefits

Grade: B

Dylan works for a very successful blog in Los Angeles and has recently been offered a possible position at GQ magazine in New York. When he flies to NY, he is met by Jamie, a corporate head hunter whose job it is to convince Dylan to accept the job. He does and he moves to New York where he and Jamie continue to be really good friends. One night, after watching a cheesy romantic comedy, the two decide that to avoid the heartbreak of their recent relationships and to fulfill certain… needs, that they should just have sex with no emotional attachments to each other. Convinced that this arrangement will work and that no complications could possibly arise from this agreement, the two continue this arrangement… until complications arise.

Friends with Benefits is very similar to the recent movie No Strings Attached but with one major difference, this one is actually pretty legitimately funny… and there’s no Ashton Kutcher. This movie is very raunchy and definitely earns its R rating. Despite the fact that we just saw this movie, the writers manage to keep things somewhat fresh in this one. The jokes are very adult, sexual and pretty hilarious. On top of all of the obvious humor, there are some very interesting jokes that aren’t focused on much but are what made me appreciate this movie more. To start, there are plenty of jokes about New York versus Los Angeles. The movie basically says that people from LA are granola eating, herbal tea sipping, yoga doing hippies and that people from NY are angry, bitter, loud and crude. This movie also makes a lot of jokes at the expense of your typical romantic comedy. Throughout the movie, you will see scenes from a fake rom-com starring Rashida Jones and Jason Segel, these clips are great and really funny and show most of the typical rom-com clichés. However, this also brings up on of my few complaints about the movie. It makes fun of the extremely cheesy and sappy endings that these movies tend to have where the characters make grand gestures to win back the people they love. Well, this movie has just that kind of ending.

Justin Timberlake (The Social Network, Bad Teacher) plays the role of Dylan. I actually really like Justin Timberlake as an actor, and he’s a good actor at that. He is very funny in this movie and has perfect delivery of so many lines that it will keep you laughing throughout. Mila Kunis (Black Swan, The Book of Eli) plays the role of Jamie. She is great and really funny in this movie, she definitely manages to keep up with Timberlake. The two have a great chemistry together and really help make this movie as enjoyable as it is. The movie also stars Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Richard Jenkins, Andy Samburg, Emma Stone and more including a couple great cameos.

Friends With Benefits is the type of movie that makes for a great date night. It is fun, funny, sexy and entertaining. It keeps making fun of typical rom-coms while all at the same time falling victim to many of those clichés. Yes, it is very adult, but at the end of the day it is still a romantic comedy. It is odd that they would release two movies so similar to each other so close together but I feel confident in saying that this movie is much better than No Strings Attached.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Podcast: Episode 13

Episode 13 of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting is available now by clicking here.

In this episode, Michael and Russell talk about this week’s in theaters movie, Captain America, at length, as well as the movie Hopscotch, which is available on Netflix Instant Watch. Michael also mentions his experience at Friends with Benefits and the two discuss Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Tommy Lee Jones, Point Break, Joe Versus the Volcano, movie news and a lot more… these two don’t know when to shut up sometimes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Short Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Grade: A+

A young man puts on a costume and fights some Nazis.

The best superhero movie since Iron Man, extremely well done.

Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell and more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 5 minutes

Stick around after the credits for an awesome Avengers teaser.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Full Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Grade: A+

In 1942, Steve Rogers is a strong willed young man who wants nothing more than to join the armed services and fight Nazis. Unfortunately, he is consistently deemed unfit for military service. One day, he is spotted by Dr. Abraham Erskine and is recruited for a top secret research program. In this program, he is chosen to be injected with a Super Soldier serum, which transforms him into an ultimate soldier. Given the nickname Captain America, he joins the USO tour to help inspire the soldiers on the battlefield but when his best friend’s infantry unit gets captured by the evil and mysterious Dr. Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull, Rogers takes matters into his own hands and goes behind enemy lines to save them. After this, the military decides to work with Rogers and use his skill in order to stop Red Skull from destroying the world.

Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest movies in a series of movies put out by Marvel Comics based on their biggest superheroes. This movie is absolutely incredible and a lot of fun to watch. I am glad that they decided to make this a period movie that takes place during World War II rather than bringing the story into modern times. It is directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, The Wolfman) who did a spectacular job with this movie and gave it a very authentic and original feel. While I was excited about this movie and I enjoy the character, I was still a little nervous about how it’d play out on the big screen. I’m glad to say that I wasn’t let down at all. This is the best superhero movie since the first Iron Man. It is extremely fun and enjoyable. Also, even though this movie is that last movie leading into the Avengers movie next summer and there are some tie-ins to said movie, this movie doesn’t feel like one big advertisement for the Avengers, unlike Iron Man 2.

Chris Evans (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Sunshine) plays the lead role of Steve Rogers, who becomes Captain America. I have always liked Chris Evans and was pretty excited when he got cast in this role and he did an amazing job with this role. He really brought this character to life in a big bad way, can’t wait to see him in more stuff like this. Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, V for Vendetta) plays the role of Dr. Johann Schmidt, who is the man known as Red Skull… for obvious reasons. Weaving is great and I’m glad to see him in a movie again where he’s not just a voice. Weaving plays evil really well and was fantastic in this movie. Tommy Lee Jones (The Company Men, No Country for Old Men) plays the role of Colonel Chester Phillips. He was great in this role, couldn’t have asked for any better. The movie also features Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Sebastian Shaw, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Neal McDonough and more.

If you like superhero movies and are looking for something a little different, go see Captain America. It is one of the better movies to come out this year and it is one of the better superhero movies on a while. It is playing in 3D but I have to say, skip it. The 3D is completely unnecessary and isn’t all that great to begin with. Also, be sure to stick around after the credits for an awesome look at the upcoming Avengers movie.

Great quote: "I don't want to kill anybody, I just don't like bullies."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Short Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

Grade: A+

A boy and his friends return to school where trouble is afoot.

You know already if you are going to see this movie.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes and many more.

Attention span must last 2 hours 10 minutes to enjoy.

Full Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

Grade: A+

Lord Voldemort has the most powerful wand known to wizards and is determined to finish this war as soon as possible. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are determined to stop him by all means necessary and are currently trying to find all of Voldemort’s horcruxes (pieces of Voldemort’s soul that help make him immortal)and destroy them. In order to find the final pieces, they must break into the impenetrable Gringotts bank and return to Hogwarts, which is now controlled by Death Eaters. Voldemort has caught on to their mission and follows the three back t Hogwarts. Upon their arrival, the biggest battle in wizarding history breaks out as good and evil fight it out for the fate of the wizarding world.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 is the epic conclusion to the amazing movie franchise that started 10 years ago. This movie is probably the best movie of the series. Part 2 is absolutely loaded with action and pure emotion. The break in at Gringotts is done very well and looks amazing and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Then, when they get back to Hogwarts and the battle begins, what ensues is an amazing and beautifully shot series of action scenes that keep your pulse pounding. It is a ton of fun watching all the blitzkrieg of wizards, giants, trolls, dementors, walking statues and more, clash on the grounds and in the halls of the great castle. Of course, I can’t forget to mention the crazy rollercoaster of emotions this movie takes you on. The movie is brimming with highly emotional scenes. This movie is the first non-pixar movie in a long time to elicit a strong emotional response from me.

Daniel Radcliffe (all the other Harry Potter movies) plays the titular role of Harry Potter. Radcliffe has done a great job with this role and has come a long way since the first movie and I’m glad to see him end the series strong and definitely on a high note. Emma Watson plays the role of the very smart Hermione Granger. Watson has been superb from the start and has only managed to get better over the years. Rupert Grint plays the role of Ron Weasley. I actually didn’y like Grint at first, it wasn’t until around the fourth movie that he started to grow on me and by this movie, he made Ron one of the best characters in the movie. Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, Red Dragon) plays the role of the evil Lord Voldemort. Fiennes is amazing and he does a spectacular job with this character in the final chapter. I couldn’t possibly imagine anybody else in this role. Alan Rickman (Dogma, Bottle Shock) plays the role of Severus Snape. Snape is a very complicated character with many different sides to him and Rickman has done a great job with this character. However, he completely stunned me in this movie with his performance. I have always liked Rickman and have always thought that he was a great actor but I found this performance to be one of his best performances, if not the best performance he’s given, truly powerful stuff. The movie also features amazing performances by Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Maggie Smith, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton and many more.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 is the best ending I think we, the fans, could have possibly asked for. It is an amazing piece of cinema and is a lot of fun to watch. It is kind of sad to see the series end but relieving at the same time. This is probably the best movie of the series and I strongly advise watching part 1 right before going to see this. Also, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in the post-production 3D conversion. It looked fine in some scenes but pretty bad in others. It looked like a bunch of cardboard cutouts in some scenes. The movie is well worth seeing in IMAX (which is unfortunately in 3D) but I can’t recommend seeing this in regular 3D.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Podcast: Episode 11

The latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies, is available now by clicking here.

In this episode, Michael and Russell discuss Horrible Bosses, Elephant White, Chasing Amy and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Also, they quickly talk about their breakfast at the Original Pancake House as well as talk about movie trailer, the worst English accent ever, actors who don’t bother with accents, Sherlock Holmes 2, Arrested Development, Outlander and so very much more.

The teaser/short version is available here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Short Review: Horrible Bosses

Grade: A

3 friends try to better their lives.

Very funny.

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Ferrell, Kevin Spacey.

Attention span must last 1 hr 40 min to enjoy

Full Review: Horrible Bosses

Grade: A

Nick’s boss has been promising him a big promotion for months now and making him work extra hard in order to earn it, but when it comes time to announce the promotion, Dave, his boss, gives the promotion to himself. Kurt really likes his boss but when he passes away, his rude coke head son, Bobby, takes over the company and begins to make his life a living nightmare. Dale is a dental assistant who is engaged to be married but his boss, Julia, won’t stop sexually harassing him and making him extremely uncomfortable at work. The three decide one night that their lives would be much better if their bosses were dead and decide to try to find a way to kill them.

Horrible Bosses is definitely one of the better comedies to come out this year. It plays off a simple thought that many people have had: what if I killed my boss? This movie is all about three friends planning on killing their bosses who make lives miserable. What follows is a series of absolutely hilarious mishaps. The jokes in this movie are constant and keep you laughing throughout. The three clearly have no idea what they are doing and that makes for a very funny movie. On top of the three main characters being hilarious throughout the whole movie, their bosses are equally as entertaining and funny at times.

Jason Bateman (Paul, Extract) plays the role of Nick, whose boss lied to him and makes his life miserable. Bateman is absolutely hilarious as always, he really plays the role of the more straight laced guy who manages to say hilarious things practically under his breath constantly. He is very entertaining and great as always. Charlie Day (Going the Distance, TVs It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) plays the role of Dale, whose boss keeps sexually harassing him. He is hilarious and has some of the funniest lines in the movie. I was laughing with his character the whole time. Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass, TVs SNL) plays the role of Kurt, whose new boss is a crazy coke fiend. He was very entertaining as well and very consistently funny, this is one of the better roles I’ve seen him in. Their bosses are played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Ferrell, respectively. All three of them do great jobs and are very entertaining and Jennifer Aniston looks spectacular in it while Colin Ferrell has an awesome comb-over. The movie also features Jamie Foxx, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen, Ioan Gruffudd and more.

Horrible Bosses is definitely one of the better comedies to come out this year. It is very funny and entertaining and plays out many of our fantasies. I definitely recommend this movie if you are looking for a good comedy.

Great quote: “How do you like them nipples?”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Short Podcast: Ep 10

Available here.

Larry Crowne, TF3, Special, Mallrats, PotA (1968)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Short Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Grade: A

A young man struggles to find a job during a time of war.

Lots of big shiny robots blowing stuff up. Fun action movie. What do you want? It's a movie based on an 80's cartoon that's sole purpose was to sell the toy it was based on.

Directed by Michael Bay. Stars Shia LaBeouf, a Victoria's Secret model and many awesome random actors and some great voice talent.

Your attention span must last 2 hours 40 minutes to enjoy.

Podcast: Episode 10

Episode 10 of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting is available to listen to by clicking here.

In this episode, Michael and Russell discuss the movies Larry Crowne and Transformers: Dark of the Moon that are currently playing in theaters now. They also discuss Special, which is available on Netflix Instant Watch. The two also talk about Mallrats and Beneath the Planet of the Apes as well as some news in regards to Red State, Writer/Director Kevin Smith’s latest movie coming soon, Shakespeare movies, Leonardo DiCaprio and more!

Short Review: Larry Crowne

Grade: A-

Tom Hanks plays Larry Crowne, a middle aged man who goes back to school.

Fun, light-hearted comedy good for all ages.

Also stars Julia Roberts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, George Takei, Wilmer Valderrama, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston and more.

Must have attention span lasting 1hr 39min to enjoy

Full Review: Larry Crowne

Grade: A-

Larry Crowne is a middle-aged Navy veteran who has been working at a retail store for years. One day, he is let go because management feels that since he never went to college, there is no reason to keep him there. After failing to find a job anywhere else, Larry decides to enroll in speech and economics classes at a local community college. There he meets Talia, a girl with a bit of a free spirit who invites him to join her scooter “gang” and begins to change his style and outlook on life. He also meets Mercedes Tainot, who teaches the speech class he’s in and begins to form a relationship with.

Larry Crowne is a fun and light-hearted comedy about dealing with being middle aged, in a way. I was surprised to see so many people don’t like this movie because I found it very entertaining and really funny too. The movie is co-written, directed and stars Tom Hanks (The Da Vinci Code, Charlie Wilson’s War) who did a great job on all counts. The movie’s writing is fun and full of wit that will keep you laughing and interested throughout the whole movie. The movie has a great summery look to it that is fun to watch. Hanks’ portrayal of the titular character is great and full of charisma. Larry Crowne is hopelessly optimistic and full of charm. The man seems to be able to befriend anybody.

The movie also stars Julia Roberts (Eat Pray Love, Duplicity) as Mercedes Tainot, who teaches the speech class at the community college. I usually don’t like Roberts, but I found her to be really good and very entertaining in this movie. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (TV’s Undercovers) plays the role of Talia, a very spirited girl who teaches Larry to be a little more hip. She was great in this movie, really fun to watch and just full of energy. I loved her character and I loved her acting in this movie, I really hope to see more from her soon. The movie also features George Takei, Wilmer Valderrama, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston and so many more.

Larry Crowne is a great light-hearted summer comedy that, even though it is aimed at the middle-aged crowd, I believe it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. This movie really surprised me and turned out to be a lot of fun.

Great Quote: “They are called smart phones but only dummies use them in my class.”

The Twitter Generation

So I’ve been writing my reviews and whatnot for 2 and a half years at this point and Russell and I have been doing the podcast for 2 months. I feel like I keep my reviews brief and I give a grade at the top to indicate right away what I thought of the movie. Yet I can’t seem to get many people to care. Russell and I have fun on that podcast and try to make it entertaining, yet we can’t seem to get more than 2 or 3 people to listen to them. I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with people about it and I’ve come to a tragic conclusion:

Thanks to smart phones, texting, twitter, facebook and social media in general, people, specifically the next generation, have absolutely NO attention span. I keep being told that people don’t have 2 minutes to read a review, so they keep asking me (then I spend 2 minutes just repeating my review), this is why I started the podcast, that way you can put it on your iPod and listen wherever you are, but still I’m told people have no time. This is probably why I meet more and more people all the time who say “I don’t read.” That is a depressing statement but social media and texting have made it so more and more people are losing interest in anything with more than 140 characters in it, so a book seems like trying to jump to the moon to these people. It really is no wonder that print is dead.

Well, I would like to try to make this little venture of mine somewhat successful and if I could make money off of it I would be extremely happy. So unfortunately this means that I have to stop raging against the darkness apparently give in. So, starting now I will offer two options in terms of the reviews and possibly consider doing the same for the podcast. I will now post both a full movie review as well as a attention span deficient review that will be much shorter, only give very short bullet points and hopefully can get more people to “read” them. I am also considering cutting a short version of the podcast, sadly this means it will be devoid of jokes, details and everything that makes it worth listening to in my opinion. So I’m going to give this a try and see if I can drive more people my way. Funny thing is, I doubt many people have the attention span to even read this whole article… makes me weep for future generations.