Saturday, September 18, 2010

Easy A - Emma Stone (2010)

This is a sharp, snarky romcom that takes a look at today's high school culture that, despite its 21st century facade of liberalism, has an untapped, hidden puritanical agenda.

A modern-day twist on The Scarlet Letter, Emma Stone plays Olive, who belongs to the invisible clique--the kind of girl who goes unnoticed.

Until one day, she makes up a whollop of a tale to get out of going on a camping trip with her best friend's bizarre family. She tells a tale of her own deflowering, which then spreads like wildfire through out the school, turning her into the school skank.

The next thing Olive knows, she is getting propositioned by nerd-boys to pretend to sleep with them so that their own reputation will be enhanced.

Funny, sad and full of teen-age angst, I was pleased at how smart it was. Probably one of my favorite scenes was when they did a montage tribute to all the great John Hughes movies.

Thomas Hadyn Church, Lisa Kudrow, Sam Tucci and Patricia Clarkson brought some great talent to the table.

I'd rack this one right up there with Clueless.

Easy A gets an A in my book.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love - Julia Roberts (2010)

What is it with male critics?

They have a built-in bias against chick flicks. It really is annoying. I wish they would attempt to be a little bit more open-minded.

Because, I have to confess, I was pleasantly surprised.

Note that you will be paying to watch a woman go on a spiritual quest in what may be perceived to be in a most self-indulgent manner.

And because I have thought that very thing, I never read the book because I have told everyone "I already lived that book; I don't need to read it."

I was gratefully surprised as to how moving the movie was. Of course men don't like it; it wreaks emotional havoc on them. It stirs up empathetic feelings of sadness, loss, grief.

Women, we love to watch these movies. They help us heal.

Maybe if more men watched these kinds of movies they wouldn't be so constipated.

Although, I will say, none of the actors appeared to be crying when there were acting like they were crying. One time, it looked like someone put two eye drops of water, each one directly below each of Julia's pupils, in an attempt to make it look like she had shed real tears. Crocodile tears, I say!

And some of the lines were kind of hokey.

But I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim v. The World - Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (2010)

It was odd, I was talking about the movie Dick Tracy today. Remember that movie? They combined animation with real people? I loved that movie for being so innovative, smart and funny.

Well, Scott Pilgrim v. The World is very much the same.

Combining film, with comic "Batman Show"-type sound ballons--think "BAM!", "THUNK!"-- and video gaming animation and you get the idea.

The story, which I believe is losely based upon Pilgrim's Progress (tho don't hold me to that since I have not yet read it), is about Scott's battle with the evil seven exes of his new girlfriend.

Each time he takes one down, he earns the right to move on to the next level and move closer to his heart's desire.

The movie is hilariously over the top. Smart, funny and edgey, be prepared for lots of loud music and young, cultural references.

Oh, also worthy of note: the new word these days is "scandalous". I heard it no less than three times in three different movies. Plus, I heard it last night at a bar. As in, "these women are scandalous", meaning that they are edging very close to skanky. Too funny!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Piano Teacher - Isabell Hupppert (2002))

A deeply disturbing film about a professor of music. In a bizarrely symbiotic relationships with her mother, she is dogmatic, obsessive and unbending. The Piano Teacher is based on the novel Die Klavierspielerin by Elfriede Jelinek who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

Unthinkably, a gorgeous young man who is a genius pianist falls in love with her and pursues her with abandon. She spurns all of his advances until he corners her. Then the tables are turned and she beseeches him to dominate her.

A study in control and submission, Isabell Huppert gives a Cannes awards-winning performance of an insanely controlled and then just clearly insane character. To watch her face, so taut with control, give just a glimmer, just a hint of emotion away. That was the joy of this movie, for me.

Ironic Man - Robert Downey, Jr. (2010)

Just got home from the highly anticipated Iron Man 2 with the much admired Robert Downey, Jr.

I was entertained.

I laughed, I got hopped during the computer scenes, I got kinda excited during the action scenes--kinda, 'cause I am not into fighting.

But there were a couple of snafus:
  1. Why are Scarlet Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow wearing such high heels that they are walking like geisha girls?
  2. If Iron Man's nemesis is whipping electricity in water, why doesn't he get electrocuted?
  3. If the metroplex's phone systems and cell systems went entirely down, how could Gwyneth make a phone call?

Oh, but it didn't bother me that much. The witty, ironic repartee between the characters made it worthwhile, delivering their lines with tongues firmly planted in cheeks.

Ok, honestly, Robert Downey, Jr., made it worthwhile.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

""Kick Ass" Kicks Ass! - Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicholas Cage (2010)

Just got back from the latest cinematographic attempt to lure prepubescent males into the theaters and, yes, it was my idea.

About a kid who wants to know why know one actually becomes a super hero, he decides to go for it.

He buys a green and yellow scuba suit and a pair of stick weapons and starts looking for trouble.

And he finds it in spades.

This movie is hilariously funny, wrought with the raunchiness of teen-age boys, blood lust and waves of unexpected violence--so unexpected my friend actually screamed.

The movie's violence and premise is outrageously ingenious and at times almost too horrific to watch. In many ways, the movie reminded me of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill but without the cultural references. Well, I guess it did if you were an adolescent boy.

But no parent in their right mind would let their kid see this. Of course, that's never stopped kids before.

So beware. But also be ready to laugh your ass off.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Phoebe in Wonderland - Elle Fanning, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Pullman (2008)

Phoebe in Wonderland takes an extremely interesting movie takes a different spin on Alice in Wonderland, and examines the world of a a 9-year old girl struggling with self control in her rigid, rules-based world.

The directorial debut of Daniel Barnz, the movie is based on a screenplay that he wrote 10 years prior.

Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota Fanning, shows herself to be just as formidable of an actress as her sister. At the tender age of 10, she firmly hold the center of the stage.

Patricia Clarkson, fast becoming one of my favorite actresses, gives another sublime performance. Her acting is so effortless that you don't even recognize it as acting. She just IS.

The story is a fascinating look at a young girl's struggle with compulsive behavior and the anxiety it causes in her obviously bright and artistic family. Bill Pullman plays Phoebe's father and is an English professor. Felicity Huffman, of Desperate Housewives fame, struggles with motherhood and her attempts to finish her dissertation. And Bailee Madison, as Phoebe's younger sister, is a bright light as her supportive, yet frustrated younger sister. All give very strong supporting performances.

And another favorite of mine, Campbell Scott, makes an appearance as the school principal.