Me and My Nine Iron

April 7, 2011

Movie reviews

The King’s Speech

Why I watched it: Best Picture nominee.

It wasn’t a top 5 movie in my eyes, but it certainly was the most decorated during the awards season, being nominated for seven Golden Globes and winning four of 12 Academy Awards nominations. After initially opening in limited release, it went on a massive box office run with unfathomable figures when other movies would be happy to stay in the top 10 for a month. Last weekend was its 19th week in release, made over $1 million, was in the top 15 and can still be found at major theaters. It has amassed $384 million worldwide and counting against an $11 million budget.

It’s a great historical story, and I found out from my mom after I watched it that King George VI was the current Queen Elizabeth‘s father, which is timely. It’s amazing that screenwriter David Seidler started researching about George VI in the 70s, and I’m just glad that he saw this project through and was bestowed the Writing Award (if Christopher Nolan weren’t to win it) while he was still alive at the age of 73! I remember reading a feature on him where he said if he were to go into a room and pitch a screenplay on a dead king that stammers, he would’ve been out of the room in ten seconds. Yet, that’s exactly what the story is, and it went on to win Best Picture in the U.S.

Truly an amazing story both historically and in the making of this film, headed by award-worthy performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. It’s my understanding that the ending is accurate but leaves me wondering how much he would continue to struggle throughout the rest of his reign.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blue Valentine

Why I watched it: Best Actress nomination with good reviews.

It’s Revolutionary Road with a lot more sex and nudity. I loved the poignant dialogue that accurately represents a relationship’s fights. (The Break-Up, to give you another realistic drama.) No cinematic feel, straight annoying, repetitive blunders from Ryan Gosling‘s character. And I loved it. This is Gosling’s movie just as much as it’s Michelle Williams‘, who is hot in this movie, mostly because she’s having sex, nude and doesn’t look like a little boy with her usual hair. I actually thought Gosling was so convincingly good at playing the compulsive husband that he should’ve got a Best Supporting Actor nod in lieu of either John Hawkes or Mark Ruffalo.

The ending was disappointing, though. All that tension and stress I went through watching those fights amounted to what? I wasn’t sold on it, and I wasn’t convinced that that was it. The flashback was great, the whole “honeymoon” period and all that. But present day felt more like another day than the end of their story. Worth checking out notwithstanding.

Side note: Another one that took some time to be made. Williams received the script six years before filming finally began.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The Illusionist

Why I watched it: Best Animated Feature Film nominee.

This was an entertaining treat for the eyes. Forget about Pixar or any animation you get spoiled with here. This French flick is very basic with its animation and is interesting in that even though subtitles are offered, the main characters don’t share the same language so dialogue is minimal throughout the entire movie.

It follows a journeyman magician who takes in a foreign girl along the way. Sadly, it only made $5 million against a $17 million budget, never hit the U.S. market and got drowned out by U.S. releases in Europe. Also, there seems to be heavy controversy with the motive of the script, with the screenwriter attempting to reconcile with his estranged eldest daughter whom he abandoned when she was a baby. I think that’s sweet, not controversial, but we’ll leave that to the French press. No pun intended.

Con: The ending bothered me with regards to how carefree their actions were after spending so much time together (and living together). Runs a short 76 minutes.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

127 Hours

Why I watched it: Best Picture and Best Actor nominations.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) really makes the most out of a guy unable to move, telling a story in this unique restriction, much like Buried, for roughly 70 minutes. Not to take anything away from James Franco‘s performance, but I still think Ryan Reynolds deserved as many award nominations as Franco did. Unlike Franco, Reynolds was in the coffin the entire movie. Not one shot left that box, and I was surprised to see how many flashbacks there were in 127 Hours. I also thought Reynolds did a better job reminding us of the state he was in without the narration. But his story was neither popular nor true.

Boyle, whose top choice was Cillian Murphy, wanted to make a film about Aron Ralston‘s ordeal for four years. Two parts that I loved were how the boulder coming down on him was in real-time, as it accurately portrays how quickly things happened to Ralston and his inability to react, and the emotional ending, which capped a journey not as stressful as all the horror stories sought it out to be.

Richard Roeper called the film “one of the best of the decade.” Can’t agree with you there.

Con: While many were physically sickened by the amputation scene, I wanted more, either from Franco’s vocal pain or a better severed limb. It all seemed too easy, which I don’t believe for a second it was at all.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

No Strings Attached

I would’ve given this movie a 5 if Ashton Kutcher had the balls to shoot the couch scene without the towel. Well, I’d decide that after I see it. As predictable as this movie was with regards to the relationship and his writing career, it was an unexpectedly raunchy, funny and emotional comedy. There are times when I’m not attracted to Natalie Portman (yeah, right), but she’s definitely bangin’ in this movie – and all the nakedness helps. I thought raunchy knows no sex, but it’s supposedly a take from the woman’s perspective, and I was surprised to find in the end credits that a woman had penned the script.

I’ve never seen so many people watch a movie alone, usually it’s just me, but I’d say about 50% of the people of both sexes were astoundingly alone. Loners. I’ve deduced it also helps to have people laugh out loud. It really livens the rest of us up like an improv show, and everyone’s having a good time. Thus, when my movie plays, I’ll be sure to have a few helping voices scattered across the audience if you know what I mean.

Star power is everything, and this movie proves it. Without the two, it’s not the same lovable movie that it has to be for it to be good nor does it make a solid $140 million at the box office.

A great comedy has hilarious supporting performances, and Mindy Kaling (The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Office), Jake Johnson and Lake Bell, who did a spot-on impersonation of Kristen Wiig, kept things funny. Sadly, Bell never got any laughs from the loud ones, and I don’t laugh out loud in the theater so I didn’t back her up. But I’m guessing no one thinks Wiig is funny either, which is disappointing because that’s so my humor and I would roll with that soft-spoken, mumbling shyness if I were an actor. Think a Seth and Evan mesh from Superbad.

It was also unbelievably emotional several times, I had to put a little effort in to hold back those tears. And that always means you did something right, even more so when you have to overcome the obviousness.

Con: Utterly predictable.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Panic! At The Disco – Vices & Virtues

Like every album the past couple of years, I’ve been disappointed upon playing it through the first time. This was no exception. I was convinced this was their worst album because no song even jumped out after their single, The Ballad of Mona Lisa, which was the first track. I played it through a couple more times and now, I’m leaning towards saying that this is the best of their three albums. What a difference a few spins makes. They’ve matured perfectly, instilling some of that pop from their first album while retaining the burlesque sounds from their second.

The two-man band wasn’t as well-received as the previous albums, with reviewers saying they missed the crazy poetic lyrics from their lost lyricist but really, I could do without all that and kind of thought it was a knock on their second album (e.g. Behind the Sea). They kept it simple, upbeat and the great thing about all the songs being equally good without any one song overpowering the others is that it makes you not want to skip a track.

The one gripe if I may is I wish it was longer than ten tracks, but only because it’s that good, and it takes them three years to come out with a new album. It runs over 37 minutes, which is more than I can say for most rock albums nowadays, and as long as Fall Out Boy remains on hiatus, P!ATD will sit at my [burlesque] pop rock throne.

Favorite tracks: The Ballad of Mona Lisa, Let’s Kill Tonight, Always

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is the personality I’ll strive for when I get interviewed.



1 Comment »

  1. I enjoyed The King’s Speech but I’m having trouble accepting that it won Best Picture. I mean, it’s a nicely crafted, incredibly acted film – top notch from top to bottom – but the story, genuine and pleasant though it is, didn’t leave a mark on me. It’s a movie you watch, enjoy and then forget. Ten years from now will people remember what movie won this year’s Best Picture? They’ll probably look it up on Wikipedia and be surprised that the award didn’t go to The Social Network, which will go down as the watershed film of the social media era.

    Comment by Chris Le — April 10, 2011 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

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