Archive | February, 2013

Magic and Romance? I’m Sold on Beautiful Creatures

28 Feb

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Here’s a list of things I love (in movies and life)

  • Southern accents
  • Supernatural people who are also attractive (vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies etc.)
  • Star crossed lovers
  • Fancy dresses (modern or American civil war era)
  • Beautiful set pieces and scenery and photography
  • Neat special effects
  • Stories adapted for the screen from young adult novels
  • Strong female leads

 

Here is a list of things Beautiful Creatures possess:

 

ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

 

Ergo, I loved it. I knew from the trailer I’d love it because there are certain things I’m just a sucker for. So bottom line is I was seeing this movie no matter what and luckily Kenny graciously agreed to go along with me. He hated it but I’m not sure why though I asked him and I’m not sure he knows either.  Surprisingly the critics didn’t totally hate Beautiful Creatures, earning a 45% on rottentomatoes.com which something in this genre would score somewhere around 15-25%.

 

The movie is told from Ethan Wate’s point of view in voiceover.  We meet him after his mother has died and he dreams about a mysterious girl nightly. Of course a mysterious turns up at school shortly after and so starts the love affair between Ethan and Lena Duchannes. Lena is a witch who will, on her sixteenth birthday, be claimed by good or evil to fulfill her destiny. Trouble is, there’s a pesky curse placed on her family and odds are leaning toward her turning evil.

 

This film is supplemented by a strong supporting cast which including Jeremy Irons, (Lolita) Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help) and Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Love Actually). However newcomers Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert play the star crossed lovers in the title roles. Beautiful Creatures is visually splendid and the special effects are quite marvelous and used to great effect here. There’s a lot of interesting themes in this movie such as coming of age, family tension and dynamic and the question of destiny and self-sacrifice. All quite hefty topics for a movie that is, to my dismay, aimed at sixteen year olds.  The film also runs a bit long but I wouldn’t shorten it, I would have simply changed a few parts to flesh out the story a little more fully.

 

One aspect I liked particularly was Lena’s strength and ferocity. She is a very powerful witch but sometimes has trouble controlling her magical abilities. Ethan encourages her and she develops herself throughout the story. Lena is a resourceful girl who faces challenges head on and searches for a solution to her curse without much help from Ethan (her personal preference, not to say Ethan wouldn’t have been helpful but she didn’t need his help.) This movie shows us that being self-sufficient and determined is extremely important but love can help us and shape us in ways we don’t expect.

 

A little note here, although I think director Richard LaGravenese did a fine job on this film, for the most part, I would really rather have a female director for this type of movie. A female director doesn’t always bring the originality and sense of female independence that movies, like this one, with a strong female lead require, but for the most part I think women should tell women’s stories. I know it’s a bit of a controversial statement but I’ll go a bit more into this at another time.

 

Recommendation: A really lovely treat for people who like a romantic, supernatural story with strong performances from a great cast and beautiful photography. If the premise doesn’t interest you, don’t bother. 

 

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Les Miserables Sweeps Me Away with Epic Songs

26 Feb

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So I saw Les Miserables last Thursday, by myself, because apparently there are only so many Twilight movies your fiancé will see with you before he snaps and puts his foot down. I really enjoy seeing movies by myself actually because when I go to the movies with someone else I always have my eye on their reaction throughout the film, hoping the other person will like it/hate it as much as me. As well, I can move around the theatre if some philistine decides that now is the opportune time to flick on their phone or start kicking the back of my chair, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. For those of you who don’t know, I have a curse placed on me. I don’t know why, or how, but someone placed this curse on me but about two or three years ago. I noticed I that wherever I sat in the theatre someone put their feet up on the chair right next to my face or starting kicking my chair intermittently OR, for a special treat, both. You know, my friends, I have a couple little pet peeves but this one takes the goddamn cake.  So usually I try to sit at the back of the theatre, like in the very back row, however that poses another problem. That problem is that when you sit all the way back there you can oversee the entire theatre which means if any of the dummies in the theatre pull out their phone and start jerking off, you bet you can see it. So my situation is rather impossible. Like a child who has to choose which parent to live with after they get divorced. Except maybe slightly less dramatic.

Les Miz happens to be TWO HOURS AND 38 MINUTES LONG so if you were betting that the exact situation I feared was going to happen, you would have won all the field mice ( if that is what you bet.) However, the bright side is that when the old piece of poop starting wailing on the back of my chair I simply moved. And it felt GLORIOUS. And I hope they noticed and will make more of an effort to not have any legs in future. Because if you can’t use your legs properly, i.e keeping them still sitting while sitting, you shouldn’t have any. Again, not being too dramatic here, I hope. On to the review!

I had seen the play version of Les Miz a couple years ago, but I shit you not, I didn’t pay attention through the WHOLE thing, which is quite an accomplishment seeing as I paid to see it and I didn’t pay attention to one second for over two hours. It was a student version. So I didn’t know anything about the story when I sat down and I did really like the story, though it had giant plot holes and some implausible factors in the story. The film is starring Hugh Jackman (Wolverine, Sword Fish) as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Cinderella Man) as Javert, Anne Hathaway (Dark Knight Rises) as Fantine, Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia) as Cossette and Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) as LeHottie. ( Not his actual name) and is directed by Tom Hooper who won an academy award for The King’s Speech. There was a lot of interest around this film because Hooper used a different technique for this musical instead of what they usually do which is pre-record the soundtrack is a studio then have the actor lip sync when they shoot. This time all the actors where mic’d up and singing live. Not sure if using this technique was really that beneficial, but this is an incredibly dramatic and sad musical, so I think it was smart to try it out here as opposed to something like Chicago, which, fun fact, is my favorite movie musical.

Briefly, the movie is about a prisoner, Jean Valjean, who is released from prison after serving twenty years for stealing bread. However Valjean attracts the attention of psychopath warden Javert, who decides to make it his mission in life to screw over Valjean. After Valjean leaves he decides to take a new identity for himself and make a new life. Years later, his life becomes intertwined with a worker in his factory, Fantine, and he again attracts the attention of crazy pants Javert. Also, the French revolution is trying to happen. That’s all you need to know.

So the music in this movie was phenomenal. It’s not surprise that this show has been around (in English) since 1985 and people still love it. The music is so fantastic and haunting and beautiful. The story is really interesting as well; made me think of Love Actually the way the characters’ lives are interconnected.  The sets and costumes are lovely, and there’s some great comedic relief from Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat). I’m not the biggest Anne Hathaway fan but she is unbelievably amazing when she sings I Dreamed a Dream. Not gunna lie, brought a tear to my eye. The song is already great by itself sung by anyone ( see Susan Boyle on UK Idol)  but Hathaway just wrenches your heart right out. She definitely deserved the Oscar she took home Sunday night.

On the down side, this movie is insanely long and feels it. I have this problem with musicals where I just want to know what happens in the story and get tired of people singing incessantly. The film does use songs at a motif throughout the movies to connect similar ideas and concepts, so I can’t really vault it there, but honestly there’s a whole secondary storyline that probably should have ended up in the editing room floor. The interesting thing about Les Miz is that when it was a play, people would get the intermission to rest and stretch their legs. No such luck here. Which is really too bad, because I think intermissions during two and a half hour movies would be great. However, it does seem to take people with a group of friends a while to settle, which is fine when the movie first starts because they have the trailers and commercials to get their shits and giggles out.  My favorite song from this musical would be “Do You Hear the People Sing” and can’t stop listening to it and I’m listening to it even now.  One other little downside to this film would be the plot holes and  implausible elements in the story, but that’s to be expected from a musical I guess.  For instance, it was pretty ridiculous that LeHottie and Cossette fell in love the second they saw each other and that Javert would recognize Vajean again but c’est la vie, as the French say.

Recommendation: Very good, but very long. Catch it on DVD and take your own intermission.

Warm Bodies Warms My Heart

15 Feb

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NOTE**** This first version of this review got deleted by fucking stupid WordPress sonofabitch. I fucking worked on that review for like an hour and then it just got deleted out of no where as soon as I published my review on Gangster Squad so I’m extremely pissed right now. I don’t think I have the heart to rewrite a whole other post, trying to be as similar to the deleted one as possible, so I’ll just summarize. The first paragraph is what I salvaged from the first review. The rest are all rewritten. 

Well it’s been a little while since I’ve updated. Been super busy lately and we haven’t been to as many movies as usual but here we are. I wanted to see Warm Bodies pretty much as soon as I saw the trailer. I really like zombies ( not quite as much as vampires but still.)

What’s it about: A zombie named R who becomes human again as he falls in love. There’s gore and action scenes for the boys as well. 

Why I liked it: It was funny and sweet and made me feel nice. I really loved the soundtrack and the relationship between R played by Nick Hoult and Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, felt very genuine and sweet. The overall message of the movie is that true love is selfless, which is a theme I love seeing ( being a hopeless romantic and all ). The photography is this movie is also very strong, and it was shot in Montreal, which is evident in the last scene. 

Recommendation: Go see it. It’s sweet, funny, and will make you feel good while keeping you entertained. Great date movie.

 

Gangster Squad Blows My Brains Out….and Everyone Else’s

15 Feb

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I was really excited to see Gangster Sqaud. Liked the trailer a lot ( and how could I not after seeing it a bazillion times ) and I adore Emma Stone. Some of the negative reviews on this film from rottentomatoes.com really put myself and Kenny off this movie but walking out of the theatre we were shocked that it had been so poorly received after we had found it suspenseful and fun to watch.

The film is set in L.A. in 1949 and centres around Sgt. John O’Mara played by Josh Brolin ( of No Country for Old Men) and Sgt. Jerry Wooters played by Ryan Gosling (of Blue Valentine, Drive ). L.A. is being overrun by gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn of Mystic River) a nasty piece of work who is obsessed with running L.A. into the ground and controlling it mercilessly. O’Mara is commissioned by the chief to start a special task force to just go out and straight up murder/torture anyone associated with  Cohen. O’Mara recruits a number of other interesting gentlemen to help with this task on the recommendation of his pregnant wife who is apparently good a picking dudes for murder task forces. ( A specialized skill, I should think. ) O’Mara and the rest of the boys apparently have license of pull all sorts of shenanigans which they do, and which is really great fun to watch. However, when you mess with someone has as homicidal as Cohen, you’re bound to get stabbed…or shot…..or killed in any number of creative ways.

This film has a lot going for it; interesting relationship conflict between O’Mara and his wife, who, for some strange reason, doesn’t want him to get his face stabbed in, the relationship between Wooters and Cohen’s unfaithful girlfriend played by Emma Stone as well as the general good guys vs. bad guys and the classic “where’s the line separating them?” dilemma. However, this movie is all about style over substance. None of these story lines are fully fleshed out in favour of car chases, gun fights and dudes beating other dudes faces in. There are some great stylistic choices which show off the excellent photography, beautiful costumes. and admirable camera work.

When I read the reviews for this movie, the overwhelming violence was mentioned frequently but I scoffed at the notion, after all, it’s not like it’s a Tarantino flick or something. Boy, was I surprised. This film is definitely violence-packed, and creatively so.  It wasn’t too much for me but I would definitely hesitate to show this to the under sixteens.

Recommendation: A fun, violent, stylish good time.  Don’t go any with high expectations for plot or character development.