Monthly Archives: August 2011

FRIGHT NIGHT

Well, it’s been at least two weeks since I last reviewed a film in theaters.  And now, nearly a week after having seen it, and more than a week since it was released, I’d like to tell you what I thought about Fright Night.

THE GOOD

All of the characters in this comedic horror film were very funny.  The actors were completely believable in their roles and no suspension of disbelief was required in accepting that the characters portrayed could be real people.  (Oftentimes, comedies present you with a number of strawman characters because it’s easy to make them do funny things.  This film employed real personalities whose comedic value were brought about by situational humor and witty dialogue, comedy that I value highly.)  Favorite actors were Colin Farrell and David Tennant as the former portrayed a modern-day vampire as I’d hoped and the latter as being a stupendously ridiculous character, yet still acceptable as a human being.

Beyond the characters, I was a fan of the story.  In my many years, I never got around to seeing the original Fright Night, and have no immediate plans to do so.  (I find that watching original films, after impressive remakes, usually leaves me disappointed in the quality of the original.)  So I can only speak of the most recent Fright Night and commend it for both portraying vampires in a way that I can appreciate (take that Twilight), and for being clever with what a vampire entails.  Aside from the standard, goes out only at night and avoids garlic omelets, the Fright Night vampire, Jerry, is clever about his host city (Las Vegas), the construction of his house , and the way he works.

THE BAD

This movie only suffers when it attempts to reinforce itself.  Truly, it’s almost a curse of humility where the writers, director, and special effects staff must’ve thought they’d not produced a funny enough film so they had to go above and beyond.  In that pursuit, we find a scene reminiscent of An American Werewolf in London, in which our protagonist’s friend is turned into a vampire and is nearly decapitated after losing an arm.  But he remains alive, so now our protagonist is attacked by a one-armed, head hanging vampire that now not only reminds me of the zombie from AWIL, but the Black Knight from Monty Python.  ‘Tis merely a flesh wound. 

THE UGLY

My sole qualm belonging in this section is the special effects work done in this film.  Blood effects seem overdone and Jerry’s transformation in times of extreme physical threat is a bit off-putting, with the transformed image looking poor in comparison to everything around him.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a greatly enjoyable film.  Though it is no cinematic masterpiece, it will likely become a modern cult classic, succeeding its predecessor.  I recommend this film as a comedy more than anything else because that’s what it did best.  It has mild thriller elements and a classic monster story, but you’ll probably want to see it for the laughs more than anything else.  (Well, the laughs and the scene in which our protagonist lights himself on fire to grapple with Jerry.  That was brilliant.)

APPARENTLY DANIEL RADCLIFFE CAN DO MORE THAN HUMP HORSES (THOUGHTS ON WOMAN IN BLACK AND GHOST RIDER 2)

A long time ago, longer now than it seems, in a place that perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams, I was a small boy.  Very small indeed, around eight years old.  With few friends and a malleable mind, I turned to books for solace and stimulation.  The first of these books was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  This novel kindled a love for the series and reading in general for me.  This love, which has defined me for much of my life, did not extend to the Harry Potter films.

While my review of the most recent Potter film was begrudgingly positive, films past had left me indifferent to the status of the series and wishing for the productions to end.  And, because of his titular status, Daniel Radcliffe soon became a negative figure in my mind.  I felt that the character he portrayed, while debatably accurate, was a very depressing protagonist whose sole purpose, it seemed, was to make me dislike him.  I realize though, that this was merely a character and that Radcliffe could be an excellent actor in his upcoming film.

WOMAN IN BLACK

I first heard of this film today when a trailer appeared in my news feed.  Radcliffe’s name caught my attention and I can say that I’m not disappointed by what I saw.  While only so much information can be gleaned from ninety seconds of video, the trailer is a marvel in itself.  The settings are cold and bleak (It’s just England, I know).  The voices are even colder and reciting some of the creepiest poetry I’ve ever heard.  Radcliffe, himself, seems to have matured from the filming of the last Potter film and now looks like an admirable adult actor. 

I can’t say much more other than that it appears to be an Anglicized version of The Grudge, by which I only mean to say that the two seem similar, that I’m actually looking forward to. 

The current release date is February 3, 2012.  The trailer may be viewed here.

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

Not so long ago, only about four years now, the first Ghost Rider film was released.  When I first saw it, I was enamored.  Unaccustomed to good films, I fell in love with the explosions and ridiculousness of Ghost Rider.  Upon a recent viewing of the film, I can tell you that it does not hold up to maturity.  The ridiculousness is less endearing and some scenes make me cringe in horror.  (Ignorance truly is bliss.) That said, I’ve no choice but to see the sequel, despite the frightening trailer that was just released.

In it, we gather little aside from the knowledge that Cage’s character is still forced to transform into the Ghost rider due to the prevalence of evil in the world.  In this film, the Ghost Rider is supposed to be more violent ("without conscience" was the phrase used in the trailer), and will likely lead to this film being more ridiculous than the first.  Evidentiary of this thought is a brief shot at the end of the trailer in which the Ghost Rider is seen literally pissing fire.

The release date is February 17, 2012.  The trailer may be viewed here.

A TRANSVESTITE WIN (REVIEW OF TOOTSIE)

For the uninformed, I have a cinematic curse following my romantic relationships.  My first date is invariably to see a movie (don’t judge me, I want a girl who enjoys film) and I let the woman choose the title.  Before Cate, my previous girlfriend chose the film He’s Just Not That Into You.  (While the film didn’t hold any significant message for our relationship, it was a foreboding experience).  As I said in an earlier entry, Cate and I saw Bad Teacher.  While not breaming with negative connotations, it was far from my favorite film. 

Now, what does this have to do with a film that was released before my birth?  (It’s nearly thirty years old, having been released in 1982.)  Well, on our second date, after watching X-Men: First Class (for my fourth time), we went back to her house and watched Tootsie, a surprisingly enjoyable film about an actor cross-dressing to find work.  I say surprising because often cross-dressing comedies are just slightly better than those employing solely sexual and scatological jokes.  In this case however, the characters are believable (enough) and you’re quickly drawn into their drama. 

Now, while the film was good, it deserves a longer review than what I mentioned above.  Let’s get started.

THE GOOD

I’ll try not to start by praise the writing as I have in earlier posts, so I’ll start with the acting.  While there was a small cast and they all performed admirably, the acting of Dustin Hoffman was far above my expectations.  Unlike many other films using a transvestite as a major, comedic plot device, Hoffman’s characters (both male and female) serve to bring drama in along with the laughter.  Furthermore, this film requires a much less severe suspension of disbelief than other films with similar stories.  (In layman’s terms, Hoffman is a rather convincing woman.)

Aside from Hoffman’s impressive ability to portray both sexes, what did I enjoy from this film?  If I’m writing positively, it must be the writing.  And more specifically, the dialogue.  The film revolves around Hoffman’s most recent acting gig, a recurring role on a daytime soap opera.  The stereotypical cheesiness of the soap’s dialogue provides an excellent juxtaposition to the dialogue and acting off the set.  The weaknesses of the former serve to emphasize the clever word exchanges between cast members and the excellently pithy one-liners of Bill Murray.

THE BAD

While the suspension of disbelief was minimal for Hoffman’s female character, the same cannot be said for his/her romantic suitors.  Throughout the film, his female character (Dorothy) is courted by two men, a cast member from the soap opera (John Van Horn, played by George Gaynes) and the widowed father of a friend (Les, played by Charles Durning).  The former fails because his character is purely comical and his advances simply grotesque.  The latter fails for being a dim-witted character, knowing Dorothy for a week before proposing to her.  I detested the first for being a stupidly simple character, and the second for simply being stupid.

THE UGLY

The only note that may strike an off chord with some viewers is that the conclusion doesn’t satisfy all of the possible plotlines that were begun throughout the film.  The most notable of these is that Hoffman’s male character never truly solves his romantic issues, though it concludes with he and his current interest walking home on good terms.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is most enjoyable and worthy of multiple viewings.  It’s a light comedy with dramatic and romantic aspects.  Altogether, I thoroughly recommend that anybody watch this film at least once.

CLEVER, BRILLIANT, HILARIOUS (REVIEW OF CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE)

Hey party people, today has been excellent.  (When I say today, I mean Tuesday.  The issue here is that I don’t sleep.)  I went out with Cate again, saw an excellent film, and some other things I really ought not talk about online.  But what matters here?  The film, of course.  And what, pray tell, was that film?  It was Crazy, Stupid, Love

Now, I know I told you that I was going to review The Guard this week, but I’m afraid that film has been put on a back burner.  With only two weeks until my semi-permanent departure from the West Coast (I’m going back to school in two 13 days), my time has become valuable through rarity and my friends and family are claiming timeslots so quickly that I really should have a secretary to keep track of everything.  So, with all of the crud I’m scheduled to do, and the number of things I’d like to do, The Guard will have to wait for a slow day or until I return to DC.

Now, let’s talk about the film I saw:

THE GOOD

First, this film was brilliant.  It truly was.  After watching a miserable comedy four days ago, this was such a reprieve.  But what was it exactly?  It was a comedy starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julian Moore, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, and several others.  It was a film supported greatly by witty dialogue, well-written characters, and satisfactory cinematography.

Let’s skip the actors and talk about the characters.  The story revolves around a husband and father, Cal (Steve Carell).  At the beginning of the film, his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), tells him that she wants a divorce.  The next hour of the film is Cal meeting Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a professional womanizer, and learning the intricacies of meeting women (a skill he never developed as he married his high school sweetheart).  The second hour comprises of failures brought about by Cal’s womanizing, Cal’s attempts to regain his wife, and Jacob’s growth into a real character (a human being with feelings and a backstory, of sorts).  All the while, Emily is having flings with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), Cal’s 13 year-old son is trying to romance his 17 year-old babysitter, and the babysitter is trying to romance Cal.

Now, the film becomes truly great through its dialogue and writing.  Carell’s character is never stupendous when it comes to being clever, but it’s made up for by Gosling’s and Stone’s characters.  Stone continues to be the clever redhead as she’s been in every other film (it’s okay, I love her), and Gosling plays a lovably mysterious lothario.  Whereas these two characters are the sole sources of wit, the full cast is utilized in the well-written scenes.  While Cal’s transformation from boring father to eligible bachelor is both entertaining and impressive, the best scene comes just before the film’s climax as all the characters meet up in a major plot twist and comedic violence ensues. 

THE BAD

This movie was brilliant.  That said, it was far from perfect.  In this section, we have Cal’s youngest child, Molly (Joey King).  The character had so little written that it only provided two chuckles throughout the film’s duration.  The first was to watch her dance and ignore the plot taking place, and the second was to excuse herself from an awkward situation.  Altogether, the character was about as well-fleshed out as a family pet. 

In addition to the disappointing daughter, I felt that Moore’s character served only to advance the plot or bring in more interesting characters.  She was often either a means to keep Carell on-screen or to bring Kevin Bacon into the light.  Otherwise, her character simply wallows in a poor situation she brought about, making it very hard to pity her.

THE UGLY

Like most comedy films, there are moments where it seems that the writers may have crossed a line in decency or simply played the same joke for too long.  As far as decency goes, the only lines crossed were the ones where a thirteen year old discusses his masturbation habits with his uncomfortable babysitter, and when the babysitter photographs herself naked. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This movie is an excellent and successfully funny comedy.  I wish I’d seen it when it came out.  Regardless, I still recommend that anyone who enjoys romantic comedies, or brilliant dialogue, see it immediately.

A DAY LATER DOESN’T MAKE A MOVIE ANY BETTER (REVIEW OF THE CHANGE-UP)

Okay, guess who accidentally saw The Change-Up yesterday?  That’s right, this guy.  And, to defend the illusion that I have good taste, I’d like to say that I was not the person who chose this film (nor was it Cate), it was my oldest friend, Andy.  As I rarely see him, being a student on the other side of the country, I felt like obliging him yesterday afternoon when he asked if I’d like to visit a mall with him.  We went and eventually ended up outside an AMC theatre and I let him select a film.  I’ve learned never to do so again.

THE GOOD

It’s fair to say that I’m a fan of comedy films.  If I want to watch something that will distract me from the troubles of the world, or create noise as I’m writing these posts, I’m likely to play Rush Hour or The Proposal.  So, I enjoyed a few comedic moments of this film.  Sadly, they were almost every laugh was brought on purely by shock, existing in cringe moments where the only alternatives are to lie in the fetal position or leave the theatre in shame.

Upon review of the last paragraph, I had painfully little to say about this film’s good points.  To not seem like I’m being intentionally mean, I’d like to say that Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, along with most of the other cast members did their jobs well and portrayed their poorly-written caricatures of human beings satisfactorily. 

THE BAD

The plot, dialogue, and most of the images.  Well, virtually everything I saw.  It was all kind of terrible.  However, choice moments will be saved for THE UGLY.  So, what was my issue with this film?  Probably that it was an R-rated comedy.  I find that R-rated comedies, like Step Brothers, rely upon gratuitous cursing and sexual acts/references in lieu of actual comedy.  They write to the lowest common denominator, going on for nearly two hours before they permit you to leave the theatre feeling dirty.  

THE UGLY

Now for the fun part.  Er, the antithesis of my enjoyment, but fun to decry.  Among the ugliest scenes we have the following:

a. Ryan Reynolds about to have sex with a nine-month pregnant woman (whom we see completely naked).  Luckily, they do not consummate the evening, though we do see the child kick at one point.

b.  An infant projectile defecating a greenish-brown sludge, three feet in Jason Bateman’s mouth as Bateman is trying to change the child’s diaper.

c.  Jason Bateman leaving the bathroom naked, into the presence of Ryan Reynolds and Leslie Mann, and shouting something along the lines of “Dude, I have freckles on my taint.  This is awesome!”

d.  Leslie Mann using the toilet in view and making a number of noises either unnatural or horrifying.

While there were many others, I feel I’d give away the only reason anyone might see this film if I continue.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This movie is dismal.  I feel that most of its viewers will agree with my opinion.  Like most R-rated comedy films, I recommend this film only to the lowest common denominator of comedy lovers or general film viewers.

A BRIEF EXPLANATION

Hey, I’m sure you’ve already noticed something’s wrong.  (Nope, almost nobody checked atbreaksix today.)  To elaborate, the page is lacking a review of one of the films that came out last night.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this: I didn’t see any new films this week.  (Instantly, I’ve lost all of my critic cred.) 

NOW FOR THE ELABORATION’S EXPLANATION

I didn’t see a film yesterday for three reasons:

a.  I’m not a fan of The Planet of the Apes story and cannot compel myself to see a film that segues into the existing films.  Despite being a major motion picture, I do have my personal tastes and watching humanity’s demise (Knowing can eat it) doesn’t appeal to me.

b.  The Change-Up was given a miserable rating on Rotten-Tomatoes and last-night’s birthday girl (my friend Miranda celebrated her 19th) elected not to take her party there. 

c.  Cate (I wonder if she’ll become a regular fixture here?) asked me if we could see X-Men: First Class and I happily obliged her.  (It was my fourth time seeing this.)

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

I will be writing at least two reviews in the next five days.  I say five because neither of these reviews will be for next week’s major motion picture release.  The first will be for an older film (1980s), Tootsie, which I watched today and found surprisingly enjoyable for a rather ridiculous premise.  The second will be for a recently released Irish film, The Guard. 

In addition to these reviews, this week, there will be the usual movie gossip post and hopefully a review of 30 Minutes or Less.

AN UPDATE: STAR TREK 2 AND THE AVENGERS

I regret to inform the masses that there will not be a crossover film involving the casts of Star Trek and The Avengers.  Actually, I don’t regret that at all.  It would be terrible.  No, this is merely a status update in popular films and a reminder that I still exist.  But first…

I had a date. 

That’s right, I went out with a nice, little lady by the name of Cate.  We went to see Bad Teacher.  Now, I’m saying this not because I feel the need to boast that I actually had a date with a woman, but because we saw a film.  And the reason you’re reading it in this article is because I’ve declined to do a critique on Bad Teacher.  Simply put, the film wasn’t great.  It was given an R-rating for being vulgar.  It’s full of low-brow humor and nudity.  If that floats your boat, go see it.  Otherwise, avoid it and it will be out of most theatres in two weeks.

Now, back to business.

STAR TREK 2

Like the upcoming information about the Avengers, this will be short.  io9, one of my favorite nerd and media culture sites (hosted by the Gawker network), has released an interview they had with Zachary Quinto (Spock from the 2009 Star Trek) on his outlooks and character views in the sequel.  It can be found here.

THE AVENGERS

Okay, that heading may not have been entirely accurate.  This information isn’t so much about The Avengers; it’s about S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers umbrella company and the people who rounded up the individual heroes.  In this case, there’s a short that’s being released with the Thor DVD.  It’s called The Consultant and stars Clark Gregg (Agent Coulsen) and an associate discussing S.H.I.E.L.D. work matters.  The clip can be viewed here.

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