Thursday, December 29, 2011

Young Adult (Review)

P.S. Is this not the coolest movie poster... well ever? Tori Leavitt and Amanda Mitchell could back me up on this without a doubt... Right?

BREIFLY: Writer Diablo Cody and Director Jason Reitman (both of Juno fame) bring us Young Adult, a fiercely dark and remarkably authentic character study with headier content than Juno but far less gravitas or poignancy than Up in the Air. In truth, Young Adult might be Jason Reitman’s boldest film yet—yes even more than Thank You for Not Smoking. His aim here is not to create empathy for the self-absorbed thirty-something novelist, played to perfection by Charlize Theron. Rather, Reitman is concerned with portrayal under the scrutiny of a sincere if sometimes harsh lens. Yes we feel for the shallow Theron, but we also simultaneously hate her. In the end, Young Adult is precisely the kind of film you don’t want to model your life after—so yes you should probably see it.

DETAILED REVIEW: Jason Reitman’s career has been of interesting note. He crafts films that are uniquely American yet somehow manages to add just enough quirks that they seem otherworldly. Juno is one example as is Up in the Air. We know his characters and yet we don’t know them at all. Young Adult is no different as Charlize Theron is “that” girl in high school we all hated even though we secretly wanted to be her. You remember her: good looks, rockin' bod, hot jock boyfriend, popular, cheer captain, etc. She was the type of girl that was the physical manifestation of the Ms. Spears song “If You Seek Amy.” (listen to the'lll agree). At the end of the day you couldn’t help but want to be her—even if it meant you’d be labeled a bitch. This is exactly what Thereon channels as the Y.A. novelist Mavis Gary who goes back to her hometown in hopes of swooning back her old love flame Buddy (he was of course the aforementioned high school jock).

Thereon plays the thirty-something shallow woman with such ease that you come to accept her as Mavis. With a character like Mavis it’s easy to see how Theron could move beyond reality into straight tongue-in-cheek slapstick, but she manages to weigh her character down with an honesty that’s so harsh it cuts to the bone—thus revealing a character more insecure than she’d ever admit. Past her prime with her “Waverly Place” young adult fiction franchise, Mavis clings to her success while simultaneously degrading it. She’s bipolar in regards to her so-called “fame,” and would rather get drunk and loaded than sell books.

It’s also of note that Theron’s appearance changes faster than a diaper at KinderCare. In one moment, Theron is the ultimate femme fatale only to wilt in the next shot to a hung-over hag that even Zach Galifinakis would pass on. She deserves credit here as well, because as her looks change so does the acting. It’s deft, without being overt. It’s a well-crafted character that is memorable to say the least. Theron definitely deserves an Academy Award nomination for her work here and should have no problem garnering it either.

Mavis of course can’t help herself and throws herself at Buddy who is now happily married with a child. Buddy shuns Mavis, but because she was the “It-girl” in high school she reasons it’s because Buddy is insecure about himself. When he tells her he’s married she responds, “We can beat this together.” It’s that type of dialogue that typifies the film while revealing both Mavis’ superficiality as well as her brutal honesty.

Though it’s definitely nowhere as good as Reitman’s Juno or Up in The Air, Young Adult is the type of film Hollywood only dares to make, but rarely ever does. This is again because we can’t really enjoy watching the hometown high school has-been disintegrate, but we also don’t want her to suceed—not entirely at least. It’s really a movie about an antihero trying to be something more, something better: The Hero! Yet in doing so we and also she discovers it’s not only blonds that have more fun, its bitches too.   


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Review)

BRIEFLY: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is David Fincher’s version of female Fight Club. For years Fincher has been derided (and deservedly so) for his supposed hate for women, at least in Fight Club. Yet, Dragon Tattoo is the anti-male movie, with a fiercely quiet Rooney Mara saving the day and the man like some female version of a punk-rock superhero. She kicks ass, takes names, and even does a little body art in a moment that doesn’t just scream feminist empowerment—it howls it. This is certainly not a movie for everyone (there’s an abundance of nudity, drug use, and a few rape scenes). In other words, don’t see it if this content is offensive to you, but if you read the source material (by the same name penned by Stieg Larsson (and you probably did—It sold over 50 million copies), you’ll certainly find Fincher’s take both haunting and quite loyal.

DETAILED REVIEW: What’s so interesting about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is how popular it is. How on earth a book with such heinous content rose to such popularity is beyond me. It’s not for the Twilight, Hunger Games, or Harry Potter crowd and I certainly can’t envision it being on Oprah’s book club, but here it is 50 million sold and counting. Every terrible thing you can imagine (yes pretty much except maybe the extinction of the McRib) is in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Rape, violent killings, blood, sexual deviants, drug use, intercourse, and sexual promiscuity are all on full display on both the pages and on screen. If you have ovaries in fact, you probably should just hide in a closet somewhere. That, at least on the surface is with Dragon Tattoo is about.

Someone in the Swedish wealthy Vanger family has vanished some time ago, and the eldest member of the family wants it to finally be solved. In comes Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to save the day. In true narrative form, one would assume that Blomkvist will indeed solve the crime, but this is not your typical film. Instead, Blomkvist needs the help of dare I say—a woman.

In comes genius sleuth Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). She saves her male counterpart (a rather inept David Craig) while also managing to lift up her gender in the meantime by saving the oppressed females from Tyler Durden and the Fight Club misogynists. While most films in classical Hollywood form hew to the male being in charge, Dragon Tattoo skews completely to the side of the female. When Lisbeth needs something she takes it—just like the Honey Badger only instead of Half-eaten cobras, she wields brains and pierced breasts. When Lisbeth wants sex—she takes it. There’s no casual or even chivalry involved—its cold and calculated like her. She looks at times like an abstract painting with her extreme hair, piercings, tattoos, and scowl. We project our own back story onto her pale canvas face throughout the film. One thing we are sure of—if we are in a fight we want Salander. Durden is our second pick.

At one point, we do find ourselves wondering if Fincher has leapt back into his misogynistic tendencies as Salander does get raped in an unnerving display that is anything but easy to watch (semi-spoiler there). Moments later, Fincher shocks us with a revenge rape in which Salander utilizes a “night-stick” and a little permanent black tattoo ink. By the end of that similarly unnerving scene we’re not doubting Salander anymore, she can fend for herself and then some. In other words, she’s no post-rehab Kelly Osbourne.

The film follows both Blomkvist and Salander as they work to solve the crime. It’s a whodunit, but not necessarily one in which we wonder who actually did it as much as why they are connected to the two protagonists. At times the viewer will certainly wonder “what’s the connection,” but by the end they’ll hopefully have a “ah-ha” moment. That should occur when Salander literally saves Blomkvist only to ask almost mechanically, “may I kill him?” It’s at that time we realize Fincher’s full vision of the film not as a faithful adaption to the crime thriller, but to the raw power of feminism. Rooney Mara IS Salander and probably has found her way firmly into the Oscar race as a result. She immerses herself into the role so much so that the only way to describe it is to use a tired cliché: she was born for it. No doubt Julia Roberts, Reece Witherspoon, nor even Hollywood’s hottest mess Lindsay Lohan would even answer a casting call to a film as daring as Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo. None of them will probably even Netflix it—which is a compliment really. I doubt Salander’s ever seen Pretty Woman and I bet The Parent Trip isn’t even in her queue.

While Fight Club defined what it meant to be man, and maybe even still what it means to be a man, it’s hard to decide whether Dragon Tattoo will have that impact for women. If anything though, it’s the bookend to its gender sibling Fight Club and at least now we know that if Tyler Durden were real, he’d be fantasizing about Salander (as if he’d have a chance with her. After all she’s got James Bond). Watch a Kotex commercial, sip a Diet Coke, and give yourself a cigarette burn. After you’ve done all  that watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.   
Grade: A-

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Review)

BRIEFLY: Brad Bird, the Pixar wunderkind behind The Incredibles and Ratatouille has crafted a near perfect Mission: Impossible film. This is easily the best in the franchise and Bird also does the unthinkable: make Tom Cruise bearable for the general public. Even more, with most of the film shot in IMAX 70mm film Bird also takes us literally to places we can only experience in real-life—until now. Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner add some laughs and muscle to freshen up the cast. While Bird does one hell of a job resurrecting the franchise, his biggest misstep here is a sandstorm in Dubai that just feels and looks quite cheesy (I think you can even see the pixels). We expect more from special effects, especially someone who’s worked at Pixar. Nonetheless, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol can’t be missed, especially if you see it in IMAX.

DETAILED REVIEW: If you ever wondered, “What would a real-life Pixar movie look like?” you may have finally got that answer with Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Though it’s a film extremely low on story (at least creatively speaking), it is high on plot. Indeed, every moment leads invariably to the next and so on. This is a flesh-and-blood manifestation of The Incredibles. After an incredibly white knuckle opening, I found myself half expecting the white-lamp Pixar logo to make an appearance (a comment far more complimentary than you might think).

Ghost Protocol follows the Mission Impossible formula once again as the IMF disavows its spies, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, villains, blah, blah, blah, world to end, blah blah blah…. Really the plot is not groundbreaking here and recounting it would be like re-watching the entire season of Teen Mom 2—teen gets pregnant. Have kids. Drama ensues. MTV cashes in. Truly, Bird doesn’t mess with the plot too much as the formula is successful at least financially, but Bird does take into account every shot with his meticulous eye, developed over years at Pixar. A crumbling, exploding Kremlin is of particular note.

The biggest surprise here though is Bird making Mr. Cruise actually relevant. Somehow, someway, Cruise channels his mid-nineties moxie—the one that lit up screens with Jerry MaGuire and A Few Good Men and even the original Mission: Impossible. Nevertheless, whatever voodoo ceremony Bird cast on Cruise, it was worth it. Somehow, Tom Cruise is back and we’ll hopefully forget that Oprah couch jump like we forgot Y2K and Furbies.

Though the film follows it’s “paint-by-numbers” plot, its well-worth the watch. Near the end of the second act, Bird takes us to Dubai and places us atop the world’s tallest skyscraper. Cruise dangles from one window and clings to another. I can’t really even remember why Cruise is doing it, but it doesn’t matter. You feel while watching him that you’re actually going to fall off the gleaming building edges and into the desert abyss. This is aided by the larger IMAX format. In fact, don’t see this any other way, BUT in IMAX; seriously. To see it any other way would be a disservice, like watching a home video of Splash Mountain on YouTube instead of actually riding it.  

Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and a breathtaking Paula Patton (where did she come from?) round out a pretty stellar cast that manages to rummage up laughs when needed, while also being serious enough as to not paint the film in a film swatch of tongue-in-cheek cheese. Renner and Patton are “stars-in-waiting.” I’m still not sure where Pegg is, but he certainly isn’t going down.

The biggest problem I had with Ghost Protocol involved an “all-too-convenient-looks-like-a-brendan-frazier-mummy-rip-off-sandstorm.” The sand clouds seriously look like they were rendered with software from the late 1990’s on a purple plastic covered iMac (you know the ones). I certainly expect more from a film in 2011 and expect exponentially more for the guy who handcrafts reality at Pixar all the time. The sandstorm was just too-farfetched. I felt like I was watching someone try to channel the Hitchcock “plane scene” ala North by Northwest. It just doesn’t work, not in 2011, nor in the last decade—ask Brendan Frasier and The Rock.

Regardless, Mission Impossible is like a Disneyland thrill ride you’ve ridden before—perhaps like the aforementioned Splash Mountain. You’ve ridden it before, maybe several times, but you can’t help but enjoy it again, and again. That, in a nutshell is Ghost Protocol—a thrill ride you won’t be disappointed with. Just don’t see it in on YouTube (the theatre) go to the park (IMAX) and take it for a spin.

GRADE: B+   

Blogging is my life? Meh. I guess...

It's been brought to my attention by others (at least 3 of you, probably the only 3 who read this crap) that my life is blogging. I'm apparently nothing more than a bot who should be fulfilled simply by churning out web content. This means of course that I'm not supposed to love, be loved, or feel loved. Not to corner it on one emotion (love), I'm apparently not allowed any emotion (positive or negative) at all. Further, I'm also expected to refrain from being social,or even socially frustrated for that matter, and regardless of how sad I feel, my outlet should not be an actual person, but (you guessed it) the blog. Why would I ever want to talk about anything other than movies? Hell, my life needs no expression or vent--I got movies AND a blog. I kinda think that reasoning (finding happiness in my blog) to be a load of steaming crap, but obviously the people I respect (maybe not so much anymore) think otherwise.

Sometimes I just want to talk, like really talk, to someone who really wants to listen, and really cares. But asking for that is apparently impossible--it's simply never gonna happen. There are simple truths in life: Leann Rimes aint eating a Big Mac--ever, the Seaver's won't reunite to make a Growing Pains reunion movie, and Snooki will always love pickles and Juicehead-Gorillas.

And as for me and my simple truth in life?--I will probably never get to really talk and have someone really listen. Oh well. I got a blog.........bitches!    

So, I'll blog... and blog some more...and sling noodles at The OG in between...'cause much like reading Tori Spelling's memoir, this is fun... AND fulfilling (sarcasm very much intended).

Emma take it away...

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Trailer RISES...

Yup... It's been officially released. Check it out below...

Quick thoughts...

It was great.. Even Michael Keaton can't help but smile...

I must also admit, I have no clue where this film is heading. With Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I felt like I kinda knew where things were going. Sure I was surprised (Batman takes the fall for Harvey WTF? Joker does a magic trick?), but each film felt like it had a role. Begins... was about the origin--the beginning. Knight was about continuation--specifically escalation. Rises seems to be about ending the trilogy, but the trailer doesn't feel like a typical "bookend" on the trailer. Things look ominous and dare I say darker than what we have seen from Nolan's Batman films. Further, its hard to see how Batman can "rise" considering again just how hopeless the outlook form the trailer provides. Most likely, TDKR is about rising, "learning to pick ourselves up." Still Dent's words echo louder, "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

This brings me to another vital hypothesis--Batman will die. Brace yourself. Christopher Nolan is preparing us to watch the death of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The films tagline "The Legend Ends," may just be a preview of coming attractions. Remember, The Joker in Knight even says, "You've changed things--forever! There's no going back." Truly, there is no way out. Dent was supposed to be Batman's replacement, but clearly that didn't pan out. His other hope for happiness was Rachel Dawes, but that also didn't work out so well. It seems everyone Wayne has contact with dies, so why shouldn't he? And if Batman himself, the titular character and arguably most iconic comic book hero of all time, isn't benign from death then why should any of his friends, etc. Lucious Fox, Alfred Pennyworth, and James Gordon I'm referring to you. Start writing your obituaries.

The new cast honestly looks very good. Bane looks scary and his muffled voice (already being derided by fanboys) has a Darth Vader quality that I find very intriguing. Some have said they can't understand him, but honestly people need to be patient (Those issues are always polished in post-production). People are also complaining that Bane is not big enough and I just don't get it. Nolan NEVER does his villains stitch for stitch from the comic books. Look at Ra's, Scarecrow, and Joker. Two-Face is probably the closest to the source material, but the theatricality is completely removed. So, let me reiterate, Nolan's Bane IS Bane... He ain't getting bulkier, but I promise after viewing the movie, you won't question why Bane was the way he was, because you'll feel like he is Bane. PERIOD.

Anne Hathaway also pleasantly surprised me. I liked the little masquerade ball with the not so subtle cat-ears (wink,wink). Her dialogue is also the center of the trailer and seems to anchor the surrounding action. It'll be interesting to see if it's also indicative of the film. Hathaway hasn't had a lot of chances to really be mean, besides Rachel Getting Married, so to see her terse seduction, while delivering a rather villainous statement was essential to letting "The Nerd Kingdom of Fans," breathe easier. I'm also fascinated to see how Joseph Gordon-Leavitt plays into the plot... Inception 2 perhaps?

Batman's also got a new toy... Is it a Batwing? Batbird? Batcopter? Batsaucer? I don't know, but it does look kinda like a Ridley Scott flying Ferrari with a dash of the Millennium Falcon and a real-life Apache helicopter all combined into a hovering vehicle of awesomeness.

Finally, what (if any) does this film say about society. Is there some social commentary at least in the sub-text that tells us about what we are currently experiencing? Begins was about picking ourselves up in the wake of tragedy while rallying around the community rather than the individual. Knight was about dealing with criminality in a post-9/11 world, where nobody is truly safe--a world without rules. It's also been said to be a paean to the failed/successful Bush presidency. Given the current status of the world and judging by the trailer, it seems Rises is about "Occupy Wall Street". But, it also seems too obvious, like Kim Kardashian writing a memoir on her marriage (if you can call it that). Remember, we are dealing with Mr. Magic himself Chris Nolan after all. I mean did you see Memento? Inception? Prestige? Not to mention Insomnia or even The Dark Knight? Nolan is a master at making us think we know, only to then completely shatter those expectations. Though there is likely some sort of social commentary on "Occupy Wall Street," I hesitate to say its THE sole text or sub-text of the film... After all Nolan still has us debating if that damn top fell or is still spinning.

(It fell FYI)...

Needless to say... I can't wait.. July 2012... Get Here!

Off to do my "I-can't-sleep-so-I-run-at-night-while -watching-Real-Housewives-of-Orange-County-and-re-runs-of-The-Hills" workout so I can look like Bruce Wayne Christian Bale from American Psycho... 


Maybe one day I can also be as narcissistic as he is too? What ambition...! I guess I'd probably be that way too if I was both an Oscar winner and Batman. Such is life... It is what it is...

What a Weekend???...

Kind of a rough weekend... Lost my wallet. BYU lost to Baylor. Got NO Christmas shopping done. Oh, and my Dad was in the hospital (I know, I know, this blog isn't one of those kinds of blogs, but I thought I'd let y'all (all 3 of you) know what's up). As bad as it sounds like it was, it really wasn't. Debit card was canceled before anyone could steal it. BYU's freshman Matt Carlino looks legit (Jimmer legit? probably not but time will tell). My Dad had surgery and it seems like he's doing much, much better( (Even though he may have told a nurse where she could shove the hospital bed and various medical instruments). I also saw Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol in IMAX with some key friends (Chaser and Maynerd). Review for that movie is on its way very soon. FYI: It's very very good... Anyway, just wantd to say things are gettin brighter and better... (fingers crossed).

Even PaulyD has me sayin...


Off to sling 'dem noodles and make some chedda'... Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh BUDDY. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Review)

BRIEFLY: If you liked the original Guy Ritchie film, you’ll love the new one. Though there is nothing particularly groundbreaking here, it’s certainly a lot of film. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows overcomes lazy plotting (sometimes you wonder even if there is a plot) and pacing issues that are bogged down due to excessive dialogue. Nonetheless, the chemistry of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is purely infectious—making this an exciting ride you simply shouldn’t miss this holiday season.

DETAILED REVIEW: Guy Ritchie has found his foothold in Hollywood. His best work in Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels are considered at best, “fringe” hits. I mean, if you know any of those titles you probably deserve a gold star. While married to the Miss Monster Madonna, his career took a backseat to her fame. He succumbed and mad what many regard as the worst film of all time Swept Away (Yes, even Tip-Toes plays second fiddle this atrocity). Nonetheless, Warner Bros. put trust in Ritchie to resurrect the famed detective franchise, Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie delivered with the first installment, and he has certainly done it again with the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Back are Robert Downey Jr. (Holmes) and Jude Law (Watson). They are comedic gold and are the perfect combination and foil to one another. They are the 19th century version of the “Bromance.” It’s refreshing to see actors enjoying their jobs like Law and Downey Jr. It’s also not a stretch to say that Ritchie enjoys it as well—after all he is the magician behind this spectacle. Every frame oozes the time period and Ritchie deserves kudos for helping us escape, completely into another era.

As far as plot is concerned, there really isn’t one. Sure, films like this really don’t need one (see Pirates of the Carribbean, Die Hard, and any Michael Bay explosion movie for further evidence), nevertheless it’s a distraction. At times it’s hard to discern how or even why we get from one scene to the next. All we really do know is there some big “end-of-the-world” thing going down and Holmes is the only one capable of solving the mystery and saving the day. Dr. Moriarty, the heretofore faceless arch enemy of Holmes is behind the grand scheme.  

Noomi Rapace plays a gypsy whose brother has something really bad to do with the whole “end-of-the-world” scheme and thrust Europe into a World War. Problem is, Rapace does absolutely nothing to make us care about her, and we do have to assume she is the emotional backbone of the story (Mostly because Holmes and Watson are all about the slap-shtick). Instead, Rapace is seen scrambling with Sherlock and Watson while both of them talk a lot and she manages to do very little, both in dialogue and in serving whatever plot the films upholds. Perhaps she was meant to be some sort of Femme Fatale archetype, but she is never fleshed out enough to really do anything but be a “tag-a-long.”

The pacing is uneven as well, at least in the beginning, but that was a problem with the original as well. We move either really fast from one action set-up to the next, or really slow, plodding through painfully drawn out dialogue. Nevertheless, Downey Jr. and Law make up for it and sweep the film back from its lull.

Though it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the film, I really did. I had more fun at Sherlock Holmes than I did in Green Lantern, Transformers 3, Captain America, and X-Men combined. So, that’s definitely a compliment, and I’m certainly excited for a sequel. I do hope though, that perhaps Ritchie can fix some of these problems next time around. Again, that’s not at all to say I didn’t like the movie, just that there are still a few tweaks that will benefit the franchise and make for an even better experience.  If you love the original you’ll love this one. The comedy is as funny as the first and the action is sequences are breathtaking in a “Matrix” sort of way. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the perfect fix for anyone who needs a laugh and doesn’t need a plot.



So y'all know I love me some House music... Techno blasts from my iPod all the time. Kaskade, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Benny Benassi, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, etc. You get the point, I love that kind of music. It makes me want to pump my fist and bounce with the ladies (No Grenades please). Robyn of 1990's "show me love" fame has faded from the public limelight way before Y2K was still deemed a threat and blond streaks in your hair were considered "cool."

Anyway, Robyn has been resurrected, finding a healthy niche in the house music department. I love her club electro-pop hit "call your girlfriend," but honestly her video is straight up crazy... I mean look at her... her outfit seems to be made of Hamster pelts, her haircut is an anemic Lloyd Christmas knockoff, and those spandex pants look like the fashion results of a one-night stand between Under Armor and Boy George.

Yep, bottom line this video is so ridiculous it could be an SNL skit... No worries, they thought so too. They spoofed it! Check out both videos below and lemme know what you think.

Her version...

SNL's version... LMAO

Seriously.... soooooooooooo funny. 


Finals are over... GET. IT. UP.

Yep, finals are over... finally. Not sure how my African American Lit. paper turned out, but by the end all you can really do is grit your teeth and hand it in. Fortunately, my professor and I have one thing in common: love for all things Jersey Shore! She's a guido (wait she's a girl so she'd be a guidette) at heart so I'm hoping all my Snooki references will pay off. Either way, I'm glad I'm done! :) I think this calls for a celebratory dance... Michael Scott... HIT IT!

Even Carlton knows Finals are over... Time to werkkkkk! (or is it twerrrrk) You decide...

Let the blogging commence... 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Finals week...

So, to all of my loyal readers (All 2 or 3 of you out there), you have probably noticed a lull in blogging, well this is due in part to my mess of a personal life, but more importantly it's finals week.

This is the time when...


Yes, even I am losing my mind currently... But, it is what it is... Couple finals with my clinical insomnia and it has me feeling like this...

To an insomniac... You eventually start seeing the world this way--a blur. Maybe that's why I like Fight Club so much? After all Tyler Durden the narrator can't sleep. I just hope I don't fall asleep during my noodle slinging at the OG... That'd be embarrassing.

Anyway, all of the incredibly well-written film content will return shortly. Promise... Just gimme some time. Things will get better (not only the blog but my life). Y'all be good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Teasing us...

Wow! The. Dark. Knight. Rises. CAN'T. WAIT!

Seriously, wow! This movie is going to be incredible. Christopher Nolan OWNS the industry right now... Yes, Spielberg, Fincher, Jackson, Cameron, y'all can sit down... Same goes for every superhero out there: Spiderman, Superman, Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor, Barack Obama... y'all can do the same... Sit. Down.

Even Brit agrees, Nolan is THE man. Stop trying... Just Bow... :)
July 20, 2012... Get HERE NOOOOOW!

Trailer Trash...

Bunch of trailers released recently... some are good... some not so much. I'll let you decide. ;)

First up, is The Lucky One starring Zac Efron (He needs a hit like Christina Aguilera needs a diet). It's weird, because I felt like I've seen this movie before, and then it becomes apparent that I have with the words, "From Nicolas Sparks author of The Notebook." Yup, Sparks is at it again pushing the same smarmy romance that supposedly warms women's hearts. I'm all for the ability of love to transcend differences and bind souls eternally forever. In fact I'd consider myself a hopeless romantic. I'm easily swept off my feet. But honestly with the exception of maybe The Notebook, Sparks has never written anything remotely groundbreaking or romantic in my book. The Last Song was like a Hallmark card commercial only worse because Miley was in it with her overbite. Dear John was a pile of "meh!" Channing Tatum tried really hard and Amanda Seyfried managed to look homely
(in a non-hipster way).

Anyway, now there's this pile of reheated leftovers--The Lucky One. After seeing the trailer though, I think the only lucky one is the one who doesn't have internet and therefore no way to access youtube. Tell me if I'm wrong...

I could use a good tug on my heart strings, but I definitely don't think The Lucky One is going to do it.

It seems with films like, Valentine's Day, Crash, Oceans 11-13, and now New Year's Eve, that the new trend is to cram every star in Hollywood into a movie. I'm not exactly sure what the big benefit is for studios, because when stars like Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, and Jessica Biel are vying for screentime its hard to gauge what bankability the ensemble really is for studios. Nonetheless, this trend is alive and well. Now comes What to Expect When You're Expecting. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Quaid, Brooklyn Decker, Matthew Morrison, Chace Crawford, and Chris Rock. I think even The Easter Bunny, JohnWayne, Benjamin Franklin and a sober Lindsay Lohan have made an appearance in this film. Of course I'm being sarcastic, but it does seem like EVERYONE is in this movie. Check it out...  

Though it isn't a cup of my personal tea, it does look like it could be kinda funny. The biggest highlight of the film is seeing Reno 911! alums Wendy McLendon-Covey and Thomas Lennon together again (If you know me you know I LOVE Reno 911! like a fat kid likes cannisters of frosting).

Next up is Battleship, because the world needs another movie that looks like a rip-off of a Michael Bay movie. Seriously, this film could moonlight as Transformers 4: Explosions... Explosions... and did we mention EXPLOSIONS! Even still, with Peter Berg directing, the gifted man behind both the film version of Friday Night Lights and the television series, this could be better than a Bay movie (that's not really a compliment though). Further Friday Night Lights stars Tim Riggins  Taylor Kitsch and Landry Jesse Plemons are reunited with Berg. Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, and Obi Wan Kenobi Liam Neeson also star. Oh, and even Rihanna is in it to (Maybe she'll perform "We found Love" y'all know how much I LOVE that song). Anyway, I'm really on the fence bout this one... Check it out...

It does feel like Bay vomitted all over this, but maybe I'm wrong. I also know that A LOT of people will probably like this movie, but as of right now, I'm not one of them Tim Riggins save us... we need it.

And before you say, "Matt you're too stuck up bout your movies--lighten up!" I'll just let the girls from Bring It On! answer that for me...

Yep, stop talking... right now. This movie stuff is my life. PERIOD. Honestly, the advertising/marketing departments (yes, I have a degree and am therefore qualified here as well) have done a rather decent job of cutting the trailer, but they all fail ultimately as none of them look fresh or exciting. In deed they all lack one important ingredient--originality.

Miss Streep, what do you have to say about things that lack originality?


I rest my case. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Dark Saturday Night...

Seriously cracking up... Just the laugh I needed...

Just a reminder... The Dark Knight Rises hits theatres and IMAX July 20, 2012...

Extremely Exciting and Incredibly Stoked...

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close might just be the best book I have ever read (And that's saying something...I'm an English major remember?). I laughed, cried, felt lonely, felt loved, and in the end felt not so different from the rest of the world. Now comes the film starring Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, with rising actress Viola Davis as well. The first trailer looked very good, but having read the book I felt like it wasn't exactly telling what the story was.

No worries because the second trailer does exactly what the first probably should've done--give us a glimpse of the "real" story. Check it out below...

Absolutely can't wait for this one... 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Descendants (Review)

BRIEFLY: The Descendants is one of the best films of the year. Without a doubt its greatest moments surpass anything else at the multiplex. The acting is taut, but refreshingly realistic as we come to not only know the characters but identify so greatly with them that we become them. Indeed, we feel what they feel even in the most subtle moments. Though the film’s opening smolders with a clumsy voiceover and sloppy pacing, it finds its groove and stays there for the remainder of the film. Undoubtedly, The Descendants will garner some serious Oscar gold, but might also find itself walking away with the Hollywood Big Kahuna—Best Picture.

DETAILED REVIEW: George Clooney is one of those mysterious men who just happens to have “it.” What “it” is is entirely a different question, but there’s no question—he has “it.” He is like the acting equivalent to a Big Mac and fries. His films are always successful sans Batman & Robin. He has triumphed genres, nearly everyone (I’m still waiting for him to be in horror—Scream 5 maybe?) while also managing to be the GQ cover boy we all aspire to be.

In The Descendants though, Clooney gives us quite possibly his best performance filled to overflowing with nuances so subtle yet tactile that you might feel like you’re watching “real” people go through “real” situations. The Descendants is less a representation of reality as it seemingly is reality itself. And no not the reality we see on VH1, but rather the reality we see in each other—at school, Wal-mart, etc. At the center of this film that mirrors the real world (not the MTV version) is Clooney, whose emotional core is the literal center of a film shrouded in the chaotic elements of everyday life.

The film takes place in Hawaii, where Matt King (George Clooney) and his family try to pick up the pieces while his wife is under a coma. At the same time, Matt (what a great name—right?) is the primary descendant of a tract of land his family has inherited for centuries. His family wants him to sell the land—and Matt’s okay with that, but finds that this decision, coupled with his wife’s condition, is far too complicated for him to bear.

Matt surrounds himself with his daughters Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alexandria (Shailene Woodley) as his wife nears the inevitability of death. His relationship with each of them is dysfunctional and disconnected, which he hopes he can mend. Soon though, as life itself usually yields, more complications ensue, including finding out his wife was cheating on him prior to her accident.

Though the film has every excuse to swirl out of control into straight shtick comedy it doesn’t. Conversely the movie could pour on the “mush,” transforming it into a Rachel McAdams love tragedy. Nonetheless, director Alexander Payne maintains a healthy balance between humor and heartbreak as we find ourselves laughing through tears.

Though Clooney’s acting here is certainly the flagship performance, it’s Shaileen Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), whose performance might actually be the most memorable. Indeed, Woodley is on the brink of a career explosion that could be on the same level as current “it” girl Emma Stone. Woodley does this thing with her eyes (Not like Tyra’s made-up term “Smizing”) that actually communicates with the audience. Her eyes whisper words that even a mouth couldn’t muster.

Though the title The Descendants refers to the land inherited by King and his family, it could also be linked to Matt’s family as they are the ones left with suffering. Each of them has to both move on and live on, as offspring having inherited a dire situation—the death of their mother and wife.     

In the end, The Descendants ends with what some will call a “happy ending.” However I think its conclusion is more explicit about the theme of the movie: that life goes on, rather than being simply happy or sad. This ambiguity actually is the resolution itself. Life moves on, the Sun comes out tomorrow, and yes hope never dies. Clooney and his daughters do what we all would do in similar circumstances by picking up the pieces and trying to move not only on, but up.  Don’t miss this movie. It may not be the “feel good movie of the year,” but it is certainly the “feel right” one.


Horror Reinvented?...

Horror is my first love (yes even ahead of both Chik-fil-A sauce and Jersey Shore). My favorite movies are ones that are scary. When a scary movie is good, its a joy ride, but when a scary movie is great--it's a rollercoaster ride. Great scary movies in my book are Halloween (1978), Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and Showgirls ("Absolutely frightening!"- Randy in Scream 2). I was joking about the last one, but Saved By The Bell alum Jesse Spano's "acting" or lack thereof was pure torture that redefined the the term cruel and unusual.

Horror though has taken a bit of a hit as of late, something I commented on while working at SUU. I had pegged my hopes on the self-referential sequel Scre4m as being the film that could bring horror back, but despite it's best efforts, even Wes Craven couldn't resurrect the genre.

Enter Joss Whedon of Buffy fame. Nerds swoon even the mention of his name. He is directing The Avengers due out this summer and admitted once that he had creative input on Toy Story. Indeed, Whedon might be the "Fanboy Messiah." Now, Whedon has produced this seemingly small film, The Cabin in the Woods, which he promised would be "the horror film to end all horror films." Check out the trailer below, which quite surprisingly gives a lot away.

The movie promises "secrets," but it seems it's already given a lot away. I'll give Whedon the benefit of the doubt and reserve judgment until then, but I'm very skeptical. Doesn't the trailer feel like a mash up between Saw, Friday The 13th (not the good one either), and House on Haunted Hill with maybe a sprinkling of a Judd Apatow comedy? Guess we'll have to wait...

Soap-Box with Mother Monster...

Okay, this blog is devoted to movies. I try my best to provide my insight into Hollywood. Sure, I've wandered here and there (my Britney post wasn't exactly "film" related), but I always try to come back to what this blog is--Cinema, film, movies, motion pictures.

However, in lieu of certain events, I simply had to comment on this--the hot mess music video of 2011.

Lady GaGa has made what she calls a "movie." Check it out below... My thoughts on this "movie" follow the clip. Good luck making it through the entire 14 minutes. And it might not be safe for work.

Okay, so Miss Monster's "movie" goes all allegorical on us, painting broad, strange, and vague strokes (Cheerio bath? really?) that are supposedly representative of her life (Again WTF! A Cheerio bath?). Certainly, I got to give her credit for trying, but at some point her "movie," with it's condescending voice over (that also makes very little sense in relation to her life) comes off more as a pompous statement on her popularity than simply a "movie," her life story as she claims this to be. GaGa completely misses the mark. It's not until the music actually begins (almost 10 minutes in) that the "movie" actually is worth watching. Here the music video feels more cinematic than whatever preceded it. The editing is spot on here, but again only during the actual music portion of the "movie."  

GaGa has simply bit of way more than she can chew--yes she directed this monstrosity. She isn't Spielberg and despite her best efforts she's not even Michael Bay or dare I say Hollywood pariah Brett Ratner. They at least entertains us. Do what you do best GaGa--sing and perform. Entertain through music and spectacle, not "movies." Be the hot mess you were born to be and spare us the life lecture that was about as interesting as an infomercial for Shamwowww. Wear that bloody meat dress, cake your face with extravagant make-up, and bedazzle yourself with glitter and glass shards, but please, please, please, don't ascribe yourself to the mantle of filmmaker. You're not--plain and simple. Calling you a filmmaker is like calling Snooki an actress or labeling Rachel Ray a life coach. 

Shenanigans are what we have come to expect from her. My blog post will certainly not dent her popularity and this "movie" will do little to taint her image. Little Monsters (her devoted fans) are persistent and they'll insure she stays around for awhile.  GaGa is this generations music icon, but when she tries to make herself something she isn't she loses serious points in my book--and fast. Indeed, the woman who preaches being on the edge of glory is creeping (ever so slightly) to the verge of infamy--desperate infamy at that. My advice: Take a lesson from fellow hot messes Brit, Madonna, Whitney, Rebecca Black, or whoever else you idolize this week, and let someone else make your "movies."

Oh, and good job firing your choreographer--Laurieann Gibson . Smooth move. Sure she's a pill, but she's also kinda gold. After all the only tolerable part of the "movie" was her choreography, but it's okay maybe you'll become a choreographer after this too. Because film making worked out soooooo well.

Little Monster hate mail and death threats filling my inbox in 3... 2... 1...

Friday, December 2, 2011

From the Archives...

 (Isn't my old business card not the coolest thing you've ever seen?)...

As y'all know, I used to write for SUU's prestigious University Journal! While there, I reviewed movies on a weekly basis. I thought it would be good to log some of my favorite old reviews on this site as this is in fact the new site for not only my new content--but all of my content.

This article was the final one I wrote for SUU prior to graduation... Enjoy...

Critic Reflects
May 4, 2011

It’s a bittersweet thing when something comes to an end. And eventually everything does end, even good things like when Crystal Clear Pepsi got pulled from the market, or when Michael Scott recently left The Office. Yes, even Lindsay Lohan’s Disney movie stint stopped, though my fingers are still crossed for The Parent Trap 2.

Now, I too must close this chapter in life. As I graduate, I not only leave school, but also walk away from my moniker and mantle as “film guru.” To sum up my experience in this position: the ups and the downs, the good times and bad with all the mediocrity in between, I’ll borrow the words of Liev Shreiber in Scream 2: “I can tell you this, [my experiences would] make one hell of a movie.”

I’ve literally enjoyed every minute of reviewing movies. Movies are what get me through the tough times in life, which, if you know me, are numerous. When I need a little inspiration, I watch a movie. When I want to laugh out loud, I watch a movie. When I want to feel happy, I watch a movie. When a certain girl of interest isn’t texting me back even though we had a great date and I’m not exactly sure why, you guessed it, I watch a movie if you’re wondering, I’m still waiting for her to initiate a text conversation, but at least I’m enjoying Easy A!

You see, movies are my escape, my treat that satisfies life’s hunger. Some crave Starbuck’s Frappuccinos with extra whipped cream (Britney Spears), while others yearn for the spotlight at whatever ridiculous cost (Charlie Sheen). I (Matt Howard), however, need the simple pleasure a movie affords. Period. I’d probably choose film over food — unless of course that food is a Chik-Fil-A chicken sandwich in which case, it’s all about “eat mor chikin!”

In fifth grade I wrote my first ever movie column, an Oscar awards prediction feature. I picked Titanic to win it all as well as picking Peter Fonda in Ulee’s Gold as my dark horse winner. I was wrong about Fonda but nailed my Titanic picks, not that anyone didn’t see that coming. It was exhilarating and I knew it was something I wanted to do at some point in my life. I mean, it involved my two favorite things: writing and movies.

Neither high school nor middle school ever reared an opportunity to review films, but it didn’t stop me from watching movies and spilling my thoughts — if sometimes extraneous. My poor family had to endure thorough analysis, and still do, after each of my viewings. My mom especially was good at, and still is, nodding her head in agreement. She’s a smart lady and knows not to stop me when I’m on a kick.

Finally, through the efforts of my friend Amanda Mitchell, who happens to be the University Journal’s equivalent ofJimmer Fredette (she never misses a news beat), I was able to write my first review. It was an utterly awful one too— A little sci-fi film called The Box. Haven’t seen it? If you read my review, you probably didn’t, but it was still a gratifying experience.

Over time, I became aware that people, my peers and friends actually read my reviews. Even some professors, whom I admired and still do, read them and had meaningful things to say about them. There were even some who critiqued my critiques, though it’s hard to take anyone seriously who can’t spell Citizen Kane correctly. In the end, I realized my thoughts actually had an effect on people to some degree, though I’m sure not everyone holds my same fondness for Snooki, Sidney Prescott or Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream. Still, I never thought I’d be arguing about the societal relevance of Scream 4 with anyone other than Internet message boards or horror geeks or even anyone outside of my inner circle of friends. Yet, this job, this privilege, has allowed me to do just that, and for that I am forever grateful.

It’s bittersweet walking away from all this, but I know, just like Michael Scott ditching DunderMifflin, that it’s necessary. I’ll never be able to thank any one person for this opportunity: even you the reader have played a significant if unseen part in my experience. But I don’t have to thank you all with a gift basket or a box of chocolates, because I’ll never forget this, and that in its essence is thanks enough.

Stephen King wrote, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Here’s hoping that this movie reviewing opportunity, my “good thing” while at SUU, never dies.

It's Britney's B-day B#@%!...

So, this is totally unrelated to movies, though the Miss Spears was in Crossroads (It was terrible and made Gigli look like an Oscar contender), it's her 30th birthday.

Regardless of your opinion of Britney, her influence on pop culture is second to none. Her performances legendary--The Snake, The Strip, The Kiss, and even The WTF!. Her music, though never groundbreaking, is extremely infectious, making her the greatest selling female of the past decade. She can be identified with one word: "Britney" and quite possibly one letter: "B." Even her words (some insightful, but most inane), have made their way into the everyday vernacular. "I'm not a little girl anymore." "I go through life like a Karate Kid." And who can forget the everpopular, and dare I say trailer-trashiest of phrases, "Go to the Light and see Jesus."

Her rise was meteoric. Her meltdown unprecedented. But it was her comeback that solidified her status in the American subconscious. "Why do we fall? So, we can learn to pick ourselves up."

Love her or hate her she is The American Dream--personified. Though we'd never really want to be her, we can't help but watch her--which is at the root of why Britney is not just a star, but an icon.


Happy Birthday Britney... and go ahead and do whatever you want... cause it's your birthday--BITCH!

And I promise... I'll get back to the movies... Don't you dare roll your eyes at me! I WILL CUT YOU! Be patient...  

Pic of the Day...

I had to post this. When I was little my mom used to sit me on her lap and sing "You are my sunshine." I can still remember her rocking me, holding me in her arms, while the tears subsided. There was never a time that I didn't think she could fix any problem--all she needed was that song. This pic makes me wish we could go back to those simple days... Thanks mom.

Wouldn't mind having that on my wall (hint, hint)... Sorry to get all mushy on y'all but I had to share...

Ok, back to the grind.


Lazy? Not Really... Just Busy...

This weekend is going to be huge for the blog. LOTS of content. Later today (after my crucible at The OG) I'll be posting my review of George Clooney's The Descendants. But that's not all coming your way this weekend... Other posts include:

  • Another "I think I'm like..." post from one of my favorite movies Goodwill Hunting.
  • An additional Xtra-Notes section.
  • Trailers and more trailers... (The trailers not found in Peachtree Village)
  • Hugo film review
  •  The Dark Knight Rises updates
  • And so much more!

So, check back later...

And don't you dare be getting annoyed with me... Eat some Funyuns. Have a Red Bull. Catch up with The Kardashians and come back later.

Off to sling noodles now... 

Tim Riggins! On Mars?...

So, Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch is in the new Andrew Stanton film John Carter. Disney and yes Pixar (They make 'real' movies now) literally threw the kitchen sink at this one. Not exactly sure yet if it'll stick, but getting to see Mr. Riggins play football fight aliens, can't be that bad. Can it?

#cleareyes #fullhearts #cantlose