Monday, February 13, 2012

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, John Leguizamo, Richard Roxburgh
Rating: PG-13
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

This is my final catch-up entry of the Archives Report, meaning this is the movie I've most recently seen. Amidst a lovely weekend, as part of our Valentine's Day celebration, we watched one of her favorite movies (which I own and had not seen, but we didn't even watch my copy), Moulin Rouge! I was skeptical when she told me she loved it, because I had heard mixed reviews. I'm sometimes skeptical of movies in this particular vein of art direction, as well. However, since they were nominated for a TON of awards, many having to do with the editing and art directing, I let my inhibitions slide away and watched it.

Long story short: I loved it.

In this story a penniless writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor; Star Wars prequels) goes to France and lands with a group trying to sell a show called "Spectacular, Spectacular" to the premiere show-place of 1899, Moulin Rouge. The group is lead by Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo; Super Mario Bros.) and he accepts Christian into their crew after he has proven himself as a writer. They need to make a pitch to Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), who is the man in charge at Moulin Rouge, so they decide to go through his main attraction, who often earns money in less than "Christian" (see what I did there?) ways, Satine (Nicole Kidman; Batman Forever). A meeting is arranged between Christian and Satine, in which she mistakes him for the Duke (Richard Roxburgh; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) who produces and finances shows at Moulin Rouge. Christian and Satine fall in love, even though the Duke also desires Satine's affections, and this love triangle turns into a topsy-turvy love story.

Again, not too much plot, just what I think.

Freaking. Brilliant.

The use of modern music fit the show so well, and the acting (especially on the parts of McGregor and Kidman) was fantastic! I was really impressed with the versatility of John Leguizamo (though I shouldn't be by now) and Jim Broadbent was surprise departure from Horace Slughorn.

In this movie, I hated the villian, rooted for the couple and felt the real emotions of everything that was going on. It was well directed, well acted, and well presented as a whole. Incredibly well done.

Also, who knew Ewan McGregor could SING?! I was blown away by his and Nicole Kidman's singing voices. They were brilliant.

I can't find a word more descriptive than "brilliant" for anything in this movie. I wish I could describe more to you, like all the music they used lines from or the way the presented it artistically but I can't. So I'll post a clip of my favorite song medley below, and tell you to SEE IT AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!!!!!

This is the best medley (in my opinion), The Elephant Love Medley, (that's a hyperlink to YouTube). Watch it and then I dare you to tell me you aren't interested in this one time Best Picture nominee.

Thanks again for reading. Please let me know if you actually are or have any thoughts (coinciding or dissenting)



Cop Out

Cop Out (2010)
Director: Kevin Smith
Writers: Robb and Mark Cullen
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Guillermo Diaz, Seann William Scott, Michele Trachtenberg
Rating: R
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I had my previously mentioned "double feature day", the second film I watched was "Cop Out". I acquired it a Blockbuster that was going out of business, and I thought it looked funny. I was only partially right.

Bruce Willis (Die Hard), plays a cop, Jimmy Monroe, who is suspended due to a sloppy raid with his partner,  Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan; 30 Rock). They are both suspended and soon thereafter, Monroe (whose daughter (Michele Trachtenberg; Eurotrip) is getting married) finds out that his daughter's step-father (Jason Lee; My Name is Earl), who Jimmy has a...dis-taste for, wants to pay for the wedding. Jimmy insists that he will pay for it and goes the next day to sell his prized baseball card, worth quite possibly millions.

The next day, he is a victim of petty theft, and the baseball card is taken from him in the store. Monroe and Hodges track down the foul-mouthed, idiotic thief (Seann William Scott; American Pie) and he tells them that his card went to the baseball-loving gangster, Po' Boy (Guillermo Diaz; Half-Baked), and it becomes something much greater than a petty theft case.

Again, I won't give you the whole plot, but here's what I thought of it.

I thought this movie had so much more potential. Tracy Morgan can be really funny but he was too over the top for his character. Bruce Willis was brilliant as always, but even he didn't reach his full potential. This movie had some really funny moments, some not so funny moments, and some moments that should've been hilarious but were skipped over, or drawn out too much. Tracy Morgan has a really funny scene in which he interrogates a suspect using entirely movie quotes, (one of which is Die Hard), but it doesn't allow enough of a moment for anyone to get the joke. Bruce Willis has a couple one-liners that are rushed, also. The only humor that seemed correctly timed was Seann William Scott's, and he didn't appear nearly as much as the other characters.

I loved Morgan and Willis' as cops, though, because as they struggled through their every day problems, they felt real. The problem came when they tried to heighten the movie to make it realistic AND funny. Both just didn't work out. I think the part of Hodges could've been better cast (it seems like it called for more of an Eddie Murphy type), but Morgan did a passable job.

All in all, this was an entertaining movie. Seann William Scott plays Stifler in every movie, but it works for him. I would recommend this movie depending on the kind of mood you're in, as it is definitely entertaining enough to keep your attention for a couple of hours, but overall there was too much action and not enough comedy.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

American Wedding

American Wedding (2003)
Director: Jesse Dylan
Writer: Adam Herz
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy
Rating: R (times a million)
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I had to get up early a couple of days this week, and since I finished Psych until the end of the month (the 6th season mid-season premiere), I had a double feature day. Feature number one? American Wedding. I heard it was the worst of the original American Pie trilogy, but I felt compelled to complete it since A) I own it and B) I felt it was necessary before the premiere of American Reunion this summer.

The Premise: Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs; My Best Friend's Girl) finally works up the courage to ask now long-time girlfriend Michele Flaherty (Alyson Hanigan; How I Met Your Mother) to marry him. And through an awkward, inappropriate, slightly sexual way that somehow involved Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy; The Man), he asks and she says yes. They soon begin plans for their wedding.

The Problem: Aside from the fact that Jim has yet to meet and make and impression on Michele's family (and you know this will be disastrous), the problem can be defined in two simple words. Steven. Stifler. (Seann William Scott; Road Trip) He's in town as a football coach and gets wind of the marriage. Despite best efforts of Jim's actual "best men" Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas; Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas; Rookie of the Year), Stifler does not stay out of the wedding plans, as Michele had hoped.

That's as much as I'll say about the plot. I'm sure you can guess the rest. Anyway, here's what I thought:

The movie overall was pretty decent. Some of it was really unnecessarily raunchy, setting the stage for the "new" American Pie films, while other parts of it were simply in classic Pie fashion. The American Pie films often thrive on comedic yet awkward situations, and that was definitely still the case, but the awkward was almost all sexual, and didn't give way to any genuinely funny scenes (like the trombone scene from American Pie 2). I have to admit though, there are some laughs to be had in this film, nonetheless.

The other of my favorite parts was what I like to call "The Redemption of Steven Stifler". Of course you can probably make your own inferences (if you haven't seen the movie) but I really liked the way that they can take that sort of abrasive, overly inappropriate character and still make him lovable, redemptive, and caring. This was a really big step in the life of Stifler, and although he hasn't showed a side to him that I have faith that (almost) every human being has.

What I didn't like in this movie (aside from the gut-wrenchingly awkward, sexual scenes that I would be downright ashamed to watch with my mother even home) was the exclusion of lovable characters from the first two films, like Oz, and the Sherminator. Because of the kind of humor presented in this movie, it seems that the writing (albeit, creative) was lazy. It also set the stage for those awful, awful spinoff movies like The Naked Mile, Band Camp, and Beta House. Most of which, I've seen, and most of which are slightly funny but even more excruciating to watch.

All in all, I simply wish that the writers had taken more care to make this movie more like the first two. Even thought the first two had just as much inappropriate humor in it, the genuinely funny and not at all raunchy scenes made them worthwhile. Only watch this movie to round out the trilogy to get ready for American Reunion.

Thanks for reading if you did! Please comment!


Oscar Edition Round 2: The Descendants

The Descendants (2011)
Writer: Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel), Jim Rash, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges
Rating: R
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It's been a little while again, but not as long as before! I have much material to write about now, and this is just the first installment. I saw this movie with my family last weekend. This movie has been nominated for even more Oscars than the last entry (5 versus 2) and I can see why it is deserving. George Clooney received a nod for best actor, the directors, editors and writers received nominations, and the movie itself was nominated for best picture.

I can see why this is deserving of the nomination, but it's not my pick to win. I haven't seen them all, but I liked my previous entry's subject better. Here is just a little insight into it:

George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven) plays Matt King, a negligent husband and father wrapped up in his career and selling his family's property. He is awakened to his family by his wife's boating accident, which sent her into a coma, which is soon alerted she will never awaken from. All of a sudden, he finds himself amidst his old responsibility, plus responsible entirely for his two daughters, Alex (Shailene Woodley; The Secret Life of the American Teenager) and Scottie (Amara Miller), and frequently Alex's seemingly ne'er-do-well friend, Sid (Nick Krause; How to Eat Fried Worms).

Delving much further would give away too many plot points, so I'll continue with the "review" part.

Even though the writers (or adapters, I suppose) got nominated for an Oscar, I didn't really enjoy the dialogue of this movie. There was a lot of swearing, and (though I'm the first person to advocate it when it's necessary) it wasn't necessary at all. In my experience, swearing can use proper placement to aide an actor in reaching a powerful moment. In this particular case, while arguably "realistic" dialogue was created, the swearing certainly wasn't necessary, but I think that might be due in part (or even, in whole) to the actors not needing it.

Obviously, George Clooney is brilliant in everything he's ever done. At this point it goes without saying, George Clooney doesn't do things that he doesn't do well. His performance as Matt King was phenomenal. In contrast to her Secret Life fame, Shailene Woodley was absolutely brilliant, and newcomer Amara Miller complemented her and believably portrayed her sister. My biggest compliments, though, are to two others.

The first, to Nick Krause as Sid, Alex's friend. At the beginning of this movie, I wanted to punch Sid in his mouth. He always said the wrong thing and had no business being anywhere near the family, but by the end, he was lovable, charismatic, and you understood exactly why he and Alex were so close.  For such a young and inexperienced actor, Krause gave a brilliant performance.

 My second biggest compliment is to Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo). He plays a smaller role and only has dialogue in on scene. I won't give away the plot point in relation to him, but since I primarily knew him as Shaggy Rogers prior to this movie, I couldn't believe what brilliant acting talent he brought to the table. Sometimes, it's the most commonplace, typical characters that are the hardest to play, but Lillard was fantastic. Beau Bridges (Max Payne) also did a great job with his undersized role as one of Matt's cousins.

One of the main lessons I learned from this movie is how knowledge changes your perceptions of people, and I think that message was a great one to put out there, which is why this movie is so great .It would be an easy 5 stars if I hadn't been so turned off by some of the dialogue.

Overall, though, this is a great film, and I highly recommend it. Just don't take your kids unless they understand the frequent use of the "F-bomb". But that's why I put the ratings at the beginning :)

Thanks for reading (or not reading, in most cases)!! Let me know if you are, if you have any questions, or if you just have something to add!!

Until next time (very soon),

Friday, February 3, 2012

Archive Report: Oscar Edition. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writers: Eric Roth (Screenplay); Jonathan Safran Foer (Novel)
Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman
Rating: PG-13
My rating: 5 (out of 5) stars

Hello readers! It's been a little while. I've been working more recently on catching up on my two new favorite shows: AMC's The Walking Dead, and USA's Psych, rather than watching movies to write about. But I saw this one about two weeks ago with my girlfriend and I thought, since the Oscars are soon, it might make for an interesting read (and be a little more relevant than some of the other stuff I write), as well as give me something new to do (I've spent the last two weeks with 80 plus episodes of Psych). But I digress.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close recently received two Oscar nominations, one for best picture. I have to say that, even when I wasn't (at first) sure what to think of the film, I agree with it's nomination for sure. I haven't seen many of the nominees but this one has all the tools to be competitive with the rest.

Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) stars in this movie as Thomas Schell, husband to Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock; Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side) and father to young, unique, socially awkward Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn, who gained previous fame only from Kids Week on Jeopardy!). Thomas seems to be the only one to understand his son, who has been tested for autism but the tests were "inconclusive". Thomas has set up a "scavenger hunt" of sorts for his son to find "the sixth boro" of New York City.

Tragedy strikes when September 11th, 2001 arrives, and Thomas is in a meeting on a high level of the World Trade Center.

Linda and Oskar are mourning for awhile, though Oskar has a hard time dealing with his grief. Eventually, Oskar finds something in his dad's closet that leads him to believe that his hunt is not over, and he goes on a long journey to find someone who might know anything about this item, or his father.

Oskar's Grandmother (Zoe Caldwell; Lilo & Stitch) plays a big role in his life, and the man renting her apartment (Max Von Sydow; Shutter Island, Robin Hood; 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Supporting Actor), whom she is secretive about, ends up following him along on his journey for awhile.

It's hard to tell about the plot without giving too much away, so I'll just skip right ahead to what I thought of it...

For the most part, this movie is what I expected. There were a lot of moving moments, awkward encounters, and great acting from all the main and supporting cast members. This movie moved beyond my expectations with its delivery of said moments. You expect an emotional build to a tear-jerking ending, and instead receive a deflating, realistic one. I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, but upon further reflection I realized just how effective and realistic it was. The powerful, tear-jerking moments that one expects upon seeing the trailer, are still there and very (moving a grown man to tears) powerful.

Max Von Sydow is deserving of his Oscar Nomination, and so is this movie. All the acting is brilliant and the writing is, too. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were exceptional, and Thomas Horn grows on you constantly throughout the film. There were notable minor roles played by Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace), Viola Davis (The Help) and John Goodman (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) which were also done beautifully.

I don't give out 5 out of 5 stars to just anything, but I really think this one is something special. Definitely go see it if you have a chance.

Thanks for reading. Please give me feedback/thoughts/comments. I'm trying to get more traffic on this page!!