Monday, September 26, 2011

(MOVIE REVIEW) Pitt and Hill hit a homerun with Moneyball

There are some universal truths in the world. You have your basic stuff like water being wet, gravity keeping us from floating off into space and oxygen being a necessity for us to breathe. There is one rule that is not in high school biology books that is just as true as any of those facts, that “truth” is that Brad Pitt (and Tom Cruise for that matter) will never age. I don’t get it. There must be paintings of them in some attic slowly getting older while the body/person refuse to age, but it is true. Another “truth” is that Pitt, somehow over the length of his career, has excelled past the normal restrictions that come with being a Hollywood “pretty boy” and established himself as a true actor. A task that most cannot accomplish. He, along with Hill, manages to make this movie a great experience for the audience.
Plot: While dealing with the restraints of a very small budget and the fact that other teams with larger budgets are “gutting” the roster of the Oakland A’s for their talent, General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt) is at a crossroads. So he decides to get creative. He, after a chance meeting with Peter Brand (a player analyst for a rival team), begins to look at statistics of players more than the “old way” of putting together a team. Beane and Brand begin to build a team based off of a very simple premise...getting on base. They start to recruit players that have higher percentages of certain aspects of the game and not just good overall averages. This is considered taboo in the sacred world of baseball and is met with a lot of resistance. When Beane and Brand decide to go “all in” with the idea, they have to sit back and wonder if this idea will pay off or if they both just signed their own pink slips. Tradition can only be overturned by a revolution…and implementing this idea is nothing short of revolutionary.
Worth the admission? A BIG yes! This movie has a lot of heart, a great message, and is great for sports fans and non-fans alike. You see Jonah Hill take on a more serious character (which he does effortlessly) and you see Brad Pitt do what he does best. I really enjoyed this one and think that you will too.
As homework, I would like for you to go look up any movie that Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise has been in over the last 10 years and tell me if you can see where they are looking older. Really. Try it. It’s scary. Maybe they really did become vampires for Interview with the Vampire. Now THAT is method acting! Let me know what you find.
Note: The reason for the Cruise references are because I saw the new trailer for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and it looks GREAT. The trailer is set to Eminem/Pink’s Won’t Back Down and, for the song choice, is the best edited trailer I have seen since Watchmen in 2009. 

(MOVIE REVIEW) You may be bored, but you will not be afraid of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

As many of you know, my mind works in a funny way most of the time. Not that it is better or worse than anyone else’s, it’s just a little different. Odd visuals come to mind. Usually they involve things that should never go together but I force them to together anyway. Gordon Ramsay cooking a fried bologna sandwich, Elisha Otis (invented the first passenger elevator) taking the stairs, or Van Gough sitting down with a “paint by numbers” book and a box of magic markers. All of these things are ok for us normal folks, but when a person becomes known for something that they excel at we tend hold those people to a higher standard. That brings me to Guillermo Del Toro (Producer and Screenwriter for this film). He has mesmerized the world with a particular style of visual story telling that is unmatched by others in his field. Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy franchise (which has some of the most imaginative creatures of any film you will ever see) are great examples. So, if this movie would have been written and produced by anyone else, I might give it an “OK”. But because he has set the bar so high, this comes across as a “paint by numbers while sitting in a stairwell eating a bologna sandwich” type of movie.
Plot: When a young girl, Sally (Madison) is sent to live with her architect father, Alex (Pearce), and his interior designer girlfriend Kim (Holmes), a tremendous strain is placed on their project and relationship. The couple is currently working to restore the Blackwood Manor as a way to revitalize the floundering career of Alex. When Sally finds a hidden basement that belonged to the original owner, she becomes obsessed with spending time in it. She does so because she thinks that she hears voices coming from the furnace…and she is right. The voices continue to coax the little girl into being their friend and ultimately letting freeing them from their prison. But once they are free, Sally learns that things are much darker than she hoped they would be. She must find a way to convince Alex and Kim of what is going on and to find a way of getting everyone safe from the house…before it is too late.
Worth the admission? Maybe. It really depends on who the audience is and what they expect. If you are a fan of Del Torro and are looking for a movie that is like his past work then SKIP IT. But if you are looking for a darkly lit movie that does a poor job of scaring you and makes you watch “wooden” acting for two hours all while demolishing a part of children folklore…go for it.
If you saw the telegraphed ending “twist” coming (as I did) OR know which creature from Children folklore they were trying to portray let me know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(MOVIE REVIEW) Contagion infects enough theaters goers to take the top spot this weekend

How many times have you seen it? Someone skips the stop at the sink when leaving the restroom, scratch their face before opening a door for someone, cough into their hand and then shake someone else’s or worse….the dreaded sneeze, wipe and shake. Disgusting. Now, try to think of how many times that you have done it to someone else. That’s what this movie does. It completely freaks you out by making you think of exactly how gross we are as humans.
Plot: When Beth (Paltrow) returns home from a business trip she begins to feel that she is a little under the weather. The family chalks it up to jet lag and a cold/flu and treats the problem with over the counter medicines and a good night’s rest. When she awakes the next day in far worse condition her husband, Mitch (Damon), rushes her to the hospital. It is there that a grim discovery is made. Beth has brought back a virus with her that is destroying every able body that it comes into contact with. Not only that, but it is spread by touch and can live on the surface of anything that is touched…and it’s evolving. The government must quickly jump into action and find a way to combat this growing menace that leaves carnage in its wake, but will they find a cure in time?
I would like to let you know right away, the commercials for this movie make it appear that there is much more action than there actually is. The movie is very interesting and shows a real, yet extremely unlikely, threat to the world if a virus such as this were to ever develop. The movie is very entertaining and shows that you don’t have to do a block buster-ish CGI film to show the world in despair from teetering on the brink of annihilation. The cast is solid. Kate Winslet, who plays a scientist that is trying to combat the disease, is very good in this film. Laurence Fishburn too.
Worth the admission? Does a prokaryotic (bacterial) cell reproduce by binary fission? Of course! The movie has a few lows and seems a bit long winded at times, but overall it proves to be very interesting and extremely well acted. I would recommend that you go see it. I must warn that you will have a hard time shaking hands with people that you meet after this movie, but who really needs to meet people these days? Just “friend” them on Facebook for safety/sanitary reasons.
Note: I HATED the music montages of the scientist trying to find the cure. If you found it as annoying as I did, our you want to comment on something else, please let me know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(DVD REVIEW) Country Strong

The first part of the Gweneth Paltrow double header, Country Strong proves to be a bit more of a Country "Song" than anything. Not really in a bad way, but in a way that I didn't expect. The movie does a great job of telling the traditional aspects of the Country Music genre...drinking, fighting, cheating, lies, women that are beautiful but tough as nails and men that seem a lot stronger on the surface than really are. Just like every good country song (and yes, there are some good ones), at some point those involved spin out of control...and some times they can right themselves.

Plot: At one point Kelly Canter (Paltrow) was on top of the world. She was the hottest act on the country charts (maybe in the world) until she was involved in an alcohol related on-stage accident that cost her more than her cost her an unborn child. After being publicly shunned and grief stricken, Kelly goes to rehab for her alcohol addiction and to help her with the grief of the loss of her unborn child. There, she meets Beau Hutton (Hedlund), a "real" country singer that love the honky-tonk lifestyle and wants nothing more than to help Kelly get her life and career back to what it once was. When James Canter (McGraw), Kelly's husband and manager, takes her out of rehab early and sends her on a comeback tour she starts to slip. She is tempted by drinking at every stop and, as most addicts without finishing treatment will tell you, the temptation is great. This tour is designed to prove her strength as an artist and as a person....but when the goal is to PROVE strength, it is usually to compensate for greater weakness.

This movie was a lot darker than the original previews would indicate to the viewers. It shows some real pain in the characters. In the character of Kelly Carter, I often thought that the character was a weak person. A "cry baby" in a world full of adults. But by the end of the movie it is clear that she is a very disturbed person with little support and the weight of the world on her shoulders. I think it's a great movie and that you should rent it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

(Movie Review) A Chihuahua has more teeth and bigger bite than Shark Night

It’s easy to be critical. I admit that. It’s easy to walk into a theater, look at a movie screen, and say “that doesn’t look real”. We all do it. That being said, I try to watch movies with this simple motto in mind, “If I don’t think that I could do it better, I shouldn’t complain”. It is with that motto in mind that I can say that this movie had the most unrealistic writing, acting, special effects, directing, and overall execution that I have seen in a long time. It was horrible…and I could have done it all better.
Plot: When the college school year comes to an end, a group of friends decide to head down to a lake house in the Louisiana gulf area. When an accident leaves one of the friends in serious trouble the rest of the group must find a way to get their friend to safety. Unfortunately they are without radio access and there is no cell signal. Their attempts at taking their friend to shore are revealed to be even greater when the group discovers that the lake (saltwater) is full of sharks. They must find a way to get help for their friend and to safely get back to shore without getting into the water. Lives will be lost, friendships will be tested, and predators much more dangerous than sharks are revealed.
Now that you know what the movie is about, I am obligated to tell you to NEVER watch this movie. Really. It is so stupid. I lost precious I.Q. points while suffering through this train wreck of bad acting, bad writing, bad plot and horrible special effects. To give you a true glimpse of how bad this movie is, I will give you a brief *SPOILER* for a scene. A one armed man gets into a fist fight with a shark. I know that sounds like a set up for a joke of some kind…but it’s not. A guy with one arm walks into the water and begins to fight with a hammerhead shark. Possibly the dumbest scene that has ever been recorded to film and released to a mass audience.
Worth the admission? It isn’t worth the price of popcorn, let alone the price of admission. I can name 15 shades of off-white paint that I would rather sit in a corner and watch as it dries than to sit through this horrible excuse for a movie. Please save your money and your valuable brain cells. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.

Note: The only good thing was that I saw a few good previews before the movie started. The preview for  In Time was one that really stood out. This movie looks completely original and very interesting. Let me know if you plan to see it

(DVD REVIEW) The Beaver

So...over the past years if there is one thing that Mel Gibson has proven it is that he can play the role of someone that is Ape S*** Crazy! So, when I heard about him taking on this role I figured that it would be a fun and funny look into what makes someone like him tick and what it would be like to be in the mind of a "crazy" person for an hour or so. The movie, however, gives a lot more than that.

Plot: Walter Black (Gibson) doesn't feel "right". His marriage is falling apart, his relationship with his children is nonexistent and he has run a toy company that he inherited from his father into the ground. After he and his wife separate Walter goes into an even deeper depression. While near a garbage dumpster one night he finds a hand puppet of a Beaver. After placing it on his hand, The Beaver takes on a life of its own and begins to be the "voice" and the main decision maker in Walter's life. For a short time...this works GREAT. It allows him to communicate with everyone in his life in a way that he didn't think he could any longer. He hits a high point in his life! But once Walter feels that he no longer is in control, and he fights back, The Beaver proves that the only other thing that is waiting on the other side of your highest high point is your lowest low point.

This movie was really interesting. Its not really funny, but Gibson does a great job of showing the depth that someone suffering from serious mental illness if forced to struggle with. The movie is worth a watch. Check it out!