October 31, 2009

#045: Tears

     Some people would say the fact that I write a movie blog calls my manhood into question. Well, I am about to bring it down another notch my discussing movies that make me cry. There are many reasons why a movie might make us cry, and it is largely a personal reaction you have to the characters. There are some movies that are made for the sole purpose of making the audience sad. Take Marley And Me for example. It sucks... the tears from your eyes by making you love this animal, then forcing you to cope with its death. I have never seen it, but that is what I assume happens. It is a technique sure to get the water works going. There is nothing wrong with movies like this, but they don't really earn your tears. There are other movies out there that make some people bawl, and leave others completely unfazed. Juno is a good example of this one. There was no moment in Juno that made me even consider wanting to cry, yet others had a strong reaction to the ending, and cried quite a bit. I have been thinking back on the movies that have made me cry, and why.

     Over the past several years there have been a few movies that have caused me to shed tears. However, they seem to be few and far between. Lots of movies have made me sad, some have made me start to develop a little moisture around the eyeball, but only a few have actually made a tear fall down my face. My most embarrassing admission of crying like a baby is a story from my freshman year of college, with a little movie named My Girl. I had already seen My Girl at least twice. The first time I saw it I was pretty young. I remember being saddened by it, but I don't recall ever crying. I vaguely remember seeing it a second time, this time with even less emotional effect. So here I am, a freshman in college, on a Friday night. All of my friends were going out and for some reason I was staying in for the evening. I was sitting on the couch flipping through the channels and I came across My Girl, and it had just started. I decided to watch it for a bit as I had fond memories of it from childhood. As I watched, I remembered the basic plot points, but this time it seemed so different. I really became invested in what was going on. Long story short, I found myself sitting on the couch crying like a little girl for the last quarter of the movie. I have no clue why, at that moment, My Girl had such an impact on me. I haven't seen it since.

     The next time I remember crying after that was at The Passion Of The Christ.This remains the only time I have cried in an actual movie theater. Surely through the years there have been random tears shed here and there at emotional movies. However, I haven't really cried as the result of a movie for a long time. Last year I watched Young At Heart, a movie about a senior citizen choir. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but it was a very good movie. It was really emotional, and features a performance of Coldplay's "Fix You" that I will not forget. Every time I hear that song I think about that scene. It was a very sad film and stirred up a lot of emotion, but it didn't make me start to cry. I have been thinking about this lack of emotional response to film,and it made me want to watch a film that just starts the tears flowing.

 I considered watching Marley And Me, but I didn't want to cry about a dog. I heard about a small film named Dear Zachary. It is the story of a man who was killed, and at the time had a son on the way. A close friend made Dear Zachary as a letter to the son, showing him what his father was like. I cried during this movie. However, my prevailing emotion was outrage at the whole situation. This anger tempered my tears, and kept me from really letting loose. At this moment I still feel like I haven't had a good cry. I watch a lot of movies. Every one of them to an extent is designed to garner some emotional response from the viewer. However, I watch them with a critical eye, and it is more difficult for me to let myself get into the story, characters and emotion. I need a movie that is really going to rope me in and make it so I can't hold back the tears. I shared a few movies that made me weep, now I want to know yours. What is the last movie that really made you cry. Give me your recommendations and I will bump them to the top of my Netflix queue. Let's see if I can get some tears going.


October 24, 2009

#044: The Brothers Bloom

     I am not sure why I was so excited to watch this con-man movie written and directed by Rian Johnson. His first film, Brick, is touted by critics as an amazing film and work of art. I could appreciate what he did, and see why it could be considered an accomplishment, but for me the story fell flat. Brick seemed to drag through the middle, and the ending didn't pay off for me. I should probably watch it again, and maybe I will see the magic everybody is talking about. Like Brick, I knew nothing about The Brothers Bloom going in. However, I had a better idea of what to expect this time around.
     From the beginning of the film it is easy to appreciate the style and direction. It starts with a narrator telling us the beginnings of the brothers bloom in a rhyming, fairy tale like manner. I really enjoyed the style. It reminded me a lot of the television show Pushing Daisies, if you have ever seen that. As the movie progressed it was plain to see that it was going to have the same caveats as Brick. The film is focused on creating art with its beautiful scenery and costumes, and its unique dialog. There is an unmistakable look and feel it is going for, and it does that well. However, the story feels secondary, and is more focused on being symbolic and meaningful than interesting. The plot was enough to keep my attention, but it felt messy and I didn't completely follow it, nor did I really care to. The story was tedious at times, and without the amazing visuals it would have been tough to get through. I am glad I watched this movie, but I doubt I will ever watch it again. This movie is designed to appeal to a certain audience that I don't fit in to. I think people that want to seem more cultured and artistic will really get behind this film, but it cannot be a main-stream success. I liked it, appreciated it, and will agree that it was a nice piece of art... however, it wasn't that good of a movie.

October 17, 2009

#043: The Foot Fist Way

     The Foot Fist Way is a small, low-budget comedy that came out in 2008 starring Danny McBride as an over confident taekwondo instructor. If you have seen Napolean Dynamite, this is basically an entire film about that Rex-kwondo guy. In fact, this movie bares a strong resemblance to Napolean Dynamite. It is almost like a mash-up of The Office and Napolean Dynamite... with saltier language. Fred Simmons, our main character, shares characteristics with all of our favorite office personalities: Andy, Dwight, & Michael. Just think of them all put together, and then imagine that person trying to act like Will Ferrell. If you think that sounds like it would be funny, then you might want to check out Foot Fist Way at some point. However, don't get your hopes up too high. I did find it to be pretty funny. All of the humor comes from the performance of McBride. The plot is only there to take us from one uncomfortable or ridiculous scene to the next. Some of the acting by secondary characters is bad, but overall wasn't too distracting. While I liked what it was trying to do, and found some individual scenes to be really humorous, this film just didn't come together for me as a whole. I can't really put my finger on it, but it just seemed messy to me. After watching it I saw that it was shot in 19 days, and that makes a lot of sense. It has a quick, thrown together feel to it. This is one of those movies that surely will have a cult following. A group of friends will quote this movie and laugh heartily. They will remember it being much funnier than what it actually was.
This post is short and sweet, but I don't really have much else to say about it. The Foot Fist Way has enough funny scenes to be worth watching. But be aware that some people(girls), may find it completely stupid.


October 10, 2009

#042: Mosters vs Aliens

 From the beginning of computer-generated animation I have been a huge fan of the Dreamworks/Pixar films. Toy Story 1 & 2 were both amazing, and still possibly my favorite of all the animated movies. However, it is hard to choose when you have other gems out there like Finding Nemo, Shrek, Flushed Away, and most recently Wall-E. They have put out some mediocre movies in the past, but for the most part, the animated movies from these two companies are much better than your average film. From a young age I absolutely loved animated movies. This can be proven by looking at my VHS collection of every Disney movie that came out during my childhood. I could watch them over and over, and never grow tired of them. Each one of them had this magical ability to tap into my imagination, and really pull me into the film. This could have been a result of the subliminal messages hidden in the artwork; but more likely it was their unique ability to create that feeling of excitement and joy in children.

Now as I have grown older they have moved away from hand-drawn animation in favor of computer-generated. I still think these films have that same affect on children. I imagine that if I had been a child over the past several years, I would have begged for a DVD of every animated movie that was released. Now that I am older I am not so taken with every film, but some of them do still inspire that same child-like feeling, just to a lesser extent. Movies like Finding Nemo & Flushed Away make me feel like a little kid again. But some of the others just don't draw me in nearly as much. I think Pixar & Dreamworks did such a good job with their first few movies that the bar was set too high. I think every movie they release should be as good as Toy Story or Finding Nemo, but they can't live up to that every time.

All that being said, Monsters Vs Aliens was one of those films that just didn't get me all that excited. It was a fine movie that I enjoyed watching, but I will probably never see it again. I felt the same way about Bee Movie, another Dreamworks film that came out a couple years ago. They were both kinda boring to watch, and I don't see how kids could be all that interested. If you go back to Shrek The 3rd, Dreamworks is on a streak of mediocre-at-best animated movies. I looked up what they have coming up... 3 more Shrek related movies, a 3rd Madagascar, & a Kung-fu Panda sequel. Its not looking good for them. I am still really looking forward to seeing Up, and I feel Pixar has done a better job at making great animated films. However, looking at what they have in production reveals Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. What is with all the sequels? I will probably be first in line to see the Toy Story movie... I really hope they don't ruin it.
I would give Monsters vs Aliens 2.5 out of 5 stars. See it or don't, it is up to you.


October 3, 2009

#041: Observe And Report

     After watching Observe and Report I sat down to write this blog post and had total writer's block. I liked the movie, but I didn't really know what to say about it. I decided to read some reviews on rotten tomatoes to see what others thought. I was amazed by all the negative reviews. Here is one of my favorites...


by Julie RiggHard on the heels of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, starring Kevin Jacobs as an overweight security guard who wants to be a cop, comes this so-called black comedy with a very similar story.

Seth Rogan plays security guard Ronnie Bernhardt, and he's not only dumb and overweight, he's also racist, foul-mouthed, bipolar, and really, really wants to kill people. When the cops knock him back, he turns vigilante.

Now I don't know what happened here. Maybe director and co-writer Jody Hill decided to go for the dark side and turn one version of the original script into a pastiche of Taxi Driver. And I guess there is no reason why one should not make comedy out of bipolar disorder, or alcoholism, or monumental stupidity.

But this is just sick. One of the nastier scenes has Celia West, as Ronnie's alcoholic Mom, falling smashed from sofa to floor, and later promising to change her life. I'm switching to beer, she beams.

The ugliest is Ronnie's so-called date with Brandi, the hot chick of the mall. She's drunk and wasted on a combination of tequila slammers and Ronnie's bipolar medication. She vomits on his shoes; he takes her home and has sex with her, even though there is more vomit on her pillow.

What actually passes for consent here? I'd like to think the film was opening up this question, but I doubt it. After the Matthew Johns and his five Cronulla team mates scandal, it should be obvious that sexual consent hanging off booze, drugs, testosterone and male bonding is a pretty dubious proposition.

The hideous thing is that the film is modelling behaviour for young men who might still think it's all hilarious.

First off, she didn't even get Kevin James's name correct. I never thought once that Seth Rogen's character, Ronnie Barnhardt(she spelled that name wrong too), is dumb. He is delusional and lacks social skills, but that doesn't mean he is dumb. In a film that features graphic violence and full-frontal male nudity   she describes a woman falling off a couch  as one of the "nastier scenes". I am beginning to wonder if this woman even watched the movie, or went to a writing class for that matter. Her grammar is horrible. I have read a lot of reviews from rotten tomatoes and they have all been much better than this one. However, knowing that people like this have some say in the final score lowers my confidence in the "tomatometer". I am not going to spend a ton of time on Observe and Report, but I did want share that review, and contrast it with my own.

I am going to give this movie a lot more credit than Ms Rigg does. O&R made me laugh enough times to justify it being called a comedy. However, at its core is a sad story about a misguided man-child who can't seem to get his shit together. He isn't dumb, but he is very juvenile in his interactions with others. He seems like his is total jerk, but deep down I think he is good, and he wants to do the right thing, even if its not clear to him what that is. His mother is an alcoholic and I imagine that he had a pretty rough childhood and didn't feel like he was in control. Now as an adult he want to have absolute authority over everything. He is over-compensating by having this cocky, i-can-do-anything attitude. I think Seth Rogen did a great job of playing this character. This may not be his best movie, but it is his best acting job. Rogen is able to make us hate this guy, but at the same time have compassion for him. This character has a lot of depth in a movie with almost none.

Observe and Report seems to have the singular goal of making the audience uncomfortable. It uses vulgar language, graphic violence and male nudity for most of its laughs. A film like this will most definitely divide the audience. As we can see by Ms Rigg's review, she didn't appreciate Rogen's performance as much as I did. It is up to you whether you want to see this movie or not. It exceeded my expectations and I am glad I watched it. It definitely isn't your run of the mill, formulaic comedy, and I was happy to watch something a little different. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.