Sunday, March 27, 2011
In Cedar Rapids, Ed Helms plays small-town insurance salesman Tim Lippe who, due to the death of a co-worker, is chosen by his boss (Stephen Root) to represent his company, Brown Star Insurance, at the annual ASMI awards in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Lippe’s company has won the coveted Two Diamond award for the past few years, and it’s his job to see his company continues the tradition.
Miguel Arteta whose previous movies include The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, and Chuck and Buck, here showcases wonderful comic timing and a thoughtful honesty in presenting his characters as real people, who swear and fight and do drugs and embrace or deny religion and cheat on their spouses.
pre-order the DVD release. And tell them the Unreliable Narrator sent you.
Theater location: Landmark Theater, Waltham, Sunday, March 20, 1:50 matinee. Price $7.75. Viewed with Liz. Snacks-Twizzlers (fresh), Diet Coke.
Water for Elephants: A Big McHuge Hollywood adaptation of the bestselling novel about a traveling circus, starring that guy from Twilight, Reese Witherspoon, and that guy who won best actor last year. Magical whooey. Made the cover of this week's EW.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Morgan Spurlock makes a movie about making a movie about how to make a movie paid for entirely with product endorsements. Not sure I would watch this movie, based on the principle that if I did I would just be paying to see an advertisement for...oh hell, that's what we do every time we watch a video online, a TV show, read any article or listen to any podcast, and of course watch any movie.
Super. Rainn Wilson plays some shlubby guy who gets dumped by his hot wife, Liv Tyler, who is seeing the much more interesting Kevin Bacon. Rainn decides to become a superhero and his buddy Ellen Page gets in the act as his sidekick. Looks like Juno, but with a different story, and entirely different cast and director. Except for Ellen Page. Also starring Nathan Fillion, Linda Cardellini, Michael Rooker, and Gregg Henry.
Win Win. Getting glowing reviews. Looks cute, in a Sundance kind of way. With Amy Ryan and Paul Giamatti. Synopsis from RopeOfSilicon.com: "Tom McCarthy, acclaimed writer/ director of THE VISITOR and THE STATION AGENT, explores the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters with a lighter touch in his new film. Struggling attorney Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, becomes legal guardian of an elderly client in an attempt to help keep his practice afloat. When the client’s teenage grandson runs away from home and shows up on his grandfather’s doorstep, Mike’s family life and his wrestling team are turned upside down. Mike’s win-win proposition turns into something much more complicated than he ever bargained for. McCarthy’s deft touch balancing drama and comedy, broken hearts and poignant humanity is at play in WIN WIN."
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Battle: Los Angeles
Battle: Los Angeles makes a great trailer, complete with mysterious music, shots of aliens blasting at buildings and helicopters, and screaming humans running for their lives. That must account for it’s boffo opening weekend numbers, as they say in the biz (38 million in three days). It’s one of those movies not screened for reviewers beforehand. Which usually means it’s trying to avoid inevitable bad reviews for its opening day.
Battle: L.A. bad? It’s not as good as the trailer suggests, but it’s not bad quite enough to hold back preview screenings either. The premise is kindergarten simple: what at first appears to be a meteor shower turns out to be aliens invading earth.
ed chrome soldiers from a Transformers’ sequel. There are various types: the grunts, the captains, and god-like ones that seem to almost float on tendrils like squids. All metal and gun power, they take orders from a centralized communications orb, the size of ten city blocks.
Battle: L.A. is bad. I groaned, I moaned, I wanted my money back. It was all superfluous setup details that were dated and hackneyed by the time they were used in movies like Earthquake and Airport ’75. But then something happened. I started rooting for Aaron Eckhart as the forty-something sergeant, helping the younger Marines navigate their way through their first war. Dead bodies litter the streets, shots of high rises getting leveled create a frightening backdrop.
Earthquake, The Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure, Godzilla, Them. I like things when they blow up, I suppose like any strapping twelve year old. But those movies from my youth were G or PG rated outings. The PG-13 and R ratings of today's end-of-days disaster movies allow for breathtaking scenes of utter death and destruction, dead bodies rendered much too clearly.
|The Towering Inferno|
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Sunday, March 13, 1:00 matinee. Price $8.25. Viewed solo. Snacks-Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Gourmet Strawberry Licorice (stale).
Apollo 18. What really happened on this moon landing (scary stuff) and why we never went back (boo!).
Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz is a sexpot teacher, a role she was born to play if this trailer is any indication. With Justin Timberlake as a hot, nice-guy sub.
Untitled Cate Blanchett Film. I didn't catch the name, just that Cate's in it. Lot's of special effects, but I didn't catch the plot either. I suppose you can google it (type in: upcoming Cate Blanchett movie).
Priest.I have no recollection of this trailer. Sorry.
Super 8. The kind of movie Speilberg (who produced) would have made when he was ten. It's about a bunch of kids making a little home movie, on Super 8 film, about an alien invasion. And then, guess what happens? Do I really have to spell it out for you? Let's just say, they inadvertently capture some cool stuff on film.
X-Men, First Class. An origins story, telling you how Professor X and Magneto met. If those names mean nothing to you, then maybe you should watch The King's Speech again. Takes place during the Cuban missile crisis.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Take Me Home Tonight
In Take Me Home Tonight, the new post teen comedy that takes place in 1988, Topher Grace proves he has not aged since his days as Eric on That 70s Show. He plays a variation of Eric, the smart, sarcastic, wimpy kid from Illinois with the bodacious, sweet girlfriend. Here, his character, Matt Franklin, is hyper smart. He’s a whip with numbers and has recently graduated from MIT.
Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, T2), is an L.A. cop and wants Matt to take some initiative and get an engineering job.
Savage Steve Holland movie (One Crazy Summer, Better off Dead).
Michael Cera has made a bright career playing, starting in Arrested Development and continuing with Superbad, Juno, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Nor is Matt as snarky and knowing as any character John Cusack played with a simpatico ease back in the 80s. Matt doesn’t necessarily think beyond just getting an in to talk to Tori. He’s almost a throwback to a 50s or 60s teen hero, one who just wants a pretty girl to like him, not even considering that she might actually sleep with him.
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Tuesday, March 8, 6:55 bargain Tuesday show. Price $6.00. Viewed with Liz. Snacks--one apple, sliced.
Arthur. Remake of the Dudley Moore/Liza Minnelli flick, this time around it's Russell Brand as the spoiled rich guy and Helen Mirren as the butler. Looks like a good vehicle for Brand.
Limitless.A decent idea that goes way too far. A schlubby, slacker of a writer (Bradley Cooper) is prescribed a variation of a smart drug, and he begins using 100% of his brain power, able to complete difficult math expressions, writing a great novel in a few days (ha, this really is a Hollywood movie). Of course, he's being used as a pawn for some corporation, and falls under the thumb of at first daddy-seeming, then evil-seeming Robert DeNiro. Looks like it could be entertaining.
Your Highness. "When Prince Fabious's bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her... accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous." Natalie Portman plays straight lady to a goofy James Franco and Danny McBride.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Drive Angry 3D
When I was a kid, I went to my local small-town movie theater every weekend. Back when a little-known movie could blow into town without having already been reviewed by Siskel and Ebert on Sneak Previews. Before the Internet made marketing and promotion more egalitarian. Before you could watch trailers for upcoming movies online months in advance. Before every movie had its own official website and buzz from Harry Knowles at Ain’t it Cool News. I saw some clunkers this way, sci-fi knockoffs of Star Wars and Buck Rogers. Crappy retreads of Halloween and Friday the 13th.
Drive Angry 3D. I admit I had seen a trailer on YouTube a couple months ago, and was intrigued by the cheese factor of Nicholas Cage dragging the ‘70s grindhouse/exploitation genre into the neo 3D era.
Gumball Rally, Vanishing Point, Death Race 2000) and the use of RVs as a means of transportation (Race with the Devil, The Hills Have Eyes, Damnation Alley). Then drizzle across the whole mess that most classic cinematic money-making, attention grabbing trope in the book, 3D (the fact that you still have to don glasses to experience 3D still makes me smile). Voilà! You’ve got all the makings of a classic grindhouse movie. Or a dozen.
Meanwhile the devil’s accountant (Death, by any other name) is on Milton’s trail to bring him back to hell. William Fichtner plays Death like a patient, natty warden super-powered by Beelzebub. It’s fun watching Death run up against, for example, stoner kids and telling them the next time they can expect to see him. “See you in three months,” he tells one kid. “You won’t see me ‘till you’re 73,” he tells the other.
These are fun, giddy, insane sequences moving quickly to wrap up the movie. While it looked as though the movie’s runtime was going to clock in a little short, I was reminded that the best exploitation flicks of the ‘70s, like all those Roger Corman movies with mobsters and guns and dames, were often sleek cinematic machines with running times under 90 minutes and often under 80.
stupid Nicholas Cage movie with an absurd plot and added special effects that sucked all the fun and life out of what could have been a lean, mean exploitation flick.
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Sunday, February 27th, 11:45 matinee. Price $12.75. Viewed solo. Snacks--Licorice Log, Diet Pepsi.
A Better Life. An man living illegally in the states tries to build a better life for his son and keep him out of a street gang.
Limitless. A decent idea that goes way too far. A schlubby, slacker of a writer (Bradley Cooper) is prescribed a variation of a smart drug, and he begins using 100% of his brain power, able to complete difficult math expressions, writing a great novel in a few days (ha, this really is a Hollywood movie). Of course, he's being used as a pawn for some corporation, and falls under the thumb of at first daddy-seeming, then evil-seeming Robert DeNiro. Looks like it could be entertaining.
Red Riding Hood. Okay, I gotta say, this movie is definitely sexy. I know what you're saying, Huh? Red riding hood. You mean, the little girl with the red cape and the wolf. Well, she ain't no girl anymore. And the wolf, well he could be any of the hot young studs in this woodsy hamlet. It's Twilight all over again, with the same director, Catherine Hardwicke, starring Amanda Seyfried as Miss Hood, all grow'd up.
Thor. Now in 3-D! Marvel Comics' Thor gets the big-budget treatment. With Chris Hemsworth as the titular hero, along with Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins.
Source Code. Jake Gyllenhaal has to relive the same eight minutes on a train to figure out who blew it up (hey, I didn't write it). Each time he goes back in, he falls a little more for a young woman, played by Michelle Monaghan, until he's determined to save her from dying in the inevitable train explosion.
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