Green Zone

“Days like today are when its a bad thing living so close to the theater. I figure, its only two blocks, so I dont think too much of running out in the freezing and pouring rain with just one extra layer. Its when Im past the point of no return, waiting in the middle of the road for traffic to pass, that I realize that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to leave the Hellmouth. Whoops.

To be honest, if it weren’t for Matt Damon, I really dont think I woulda bothered with Green Zone. The trailer reminded me too much of The Kingdom from a couple years ago. But Matt Damon can put just about anything on my high priority movie list. So I ran out in the previously mentioned freezing rain.

The jury’s still out on whether or not it was worth it. Thankfully, it was much better than The Kingdom. But it was nowhere near the awesome of The Hurt Locker, not that I had any expectations of it approaching that level. I was thinking on it at one point while I was spacing out, and one of the things that made Locker so great was that it completely left out the politics. It was all about the soldiers. Green Zone had a somewhat complicated (or at least it seemed that way to me) government corruption plot, that I couldnt quite get into. Scenes that were more focused on the characters are what I better connected with.

Speaking of characters, did like Matt Damon’s conscience driven soldier. And Damon’s performance was effortless, but the movie felt somewhat beneath him. My fave character, however, was Freddy–the Iraqi national helping out the Americans. Something about him just had me captivated, and those were the scenes I was really invested in. Happy to see Greg Kinnear, particularly in a more serious role than Im used to for him.

I dunno, I dont really think I gained too much by risking catching a cold from catching this movie today. Guess its kinda easy to figure out why the release of this movie was so delayed, yeah?

Green Zone – \m/ \m/

Alice in Wonderland

“Back in January, I took the roomie to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science as a Christmas/bday present. She was determined to take me on a similar outting for my bday. I pondered for about a month and couldnt think of anything suitable that I was really excited about. Then I got an email from Jordans Furniture about Alice in Wonderland, and thus we had our plan.

I hadnt been to the IMAX since The Dark Knight, which I saw twice there (in addition to once at the theater). I’d wanted to go see Star Trek there last year, but I never quite got my act together. This was the first 3D movie at the IMAX for me.

As far as the experience, worth it in the sense that I’d been jonesing to go again. Was there much gained from this movie being on the ginormous screen? Not really. And the extra dimension? Eh. Both certainly didnt hurt the film, but I think my feelings toward it woulda been about the same had I just gone down the street to the Regal Fenway.

It started off pretty strong. I loved Alice’s character early on: quirky, independant, strongwilled. The setting was gorgeous, and even more so once she got into wonderland. And the sense of adventure was quite invigorating. Then it just sorta fell flat somewhere. The pacing dropped and a lot of the sense of wonder drifted.

I’d gotten really excited a couple weeks ago when I realized that this was more of a trip back to wonderland sort of thing. Reminded me of the video game Alice that was about her returning to a \m/ up wonderland. The concept for the game was amazing, but it ended up being too easy. Got thru it in three days. Now, I didnt expect this movie to be as hardcore as that (that Alice weilds a knife and other deadly weapons, dabbles in black magic, and is often covered in blood) but I was still uber stoked. Wasn’t sure how I felt about including the jabberwocky, but when Johnny Depp started reciting the poem I marked it in the win column.

Loved the cast. There are never words to describe Johnny Depp, but I dont think I need to. Not as iconic as some of his other roles, but brilliant nontheless. Really impressed with Mia Wasikowska. Didnt expect Crispin Glover, but was ridiculously happen when I saw him. Even though I found her a bit annoying, I did like Helena Bonham Carter’s interperation of the red queen. Id read somewhere that she based the character on her 2 year old, and it was a great fit. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed with Anne Hathaway. C’mon, the girl got lessons in being a princess/queen from Julie Andrews, but I couldnt get past some of the weird physicality she had.

Guess that about does it. Worth a watch, but maybe not worth the effort for anything fancy. The traditional 2D screen should be just as good as a fancy one.

Alice in Wonderland – \m/ \m/ \m/

The Ghost Writer

“Write up on Unforgiven is gonna wait til during the commercials during the Academy Awards. Partly cause Im still hoping for a chance to re-watch the last 30 min that I totally spaced on. I woulda waited on The Ghost Writer til then as well, but one of the advantages to going to a theater that’s a 30 min walk away is that the trek back is prime for thinking on what I wanna write. So while its still all fresh…

Waiting for the movie to start, one of the things running through my head is how much I love Boston. The impetus for that thought this time around is that I love how accesible movies are. True, its not as rocking for that as LA or NY would be, but just two weeks ago those were the only two cities even showing this movie. If I were still back home, there’s no way I woulda ever seen this one, and no way I coulda seen all the major players in the Oscars this year.

Kinda ironic I was having that thought before diving into a film which was set in New England. Yeah it was a very fake New England, but hey whatcha gonna do when your director isn’t allowed to set foot on US soil? Ah yes, now that we’ve made that segue–Roman Polanski. He might be considered a cowardly creep of a person, but as a director that man \m/ knows his shit. There were some times when I thought the pacing was a bit slow, but I just let myself trust his expertise and went with it.

The movie was suspenseful, but a very slow suspense. I can best liken it to my hazy memory of Michael Clayton (although that may just be due to Tom Wilkinson appearing in both), but at least The Ghost Writer made more sense to me. As far as the mystery of it, cause we all know how much I like solving those, it was kinda strange. I picked up on some things very early and essentially figured out the who (and also guessed how our hero would come to that same conclusion), but could hardly grasp actual concept of what the mystery was. That meant I had no clue on the why, and didnt even realize I’d solved most of it. Strangely, that did end up being rather satisfying, far more than I would have expected. And I wont go into any detail, but the last 30 seconds was probably one of the best executed endings I’ve ever seen. It seriously took less than a minute to take me from feeling “”meh”” about the film to “”that was awesome!””

Great great cast. I love Ewan McGregor and all his charm. Happily, there was quite a bit of that. From his reaction to reading the first draft of the manuscript, to the line he delivered buying his ferry ticket (Im being cryptic, I know), I was with him all the way. Also adore Pierce Brosnan, and his perfect mix of arrogance and grace.

Ultimately, quite a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Given that there aren’t many viable options at the mainstream theaters (in my head Alice in Wonderland doesnt open til next week, cause thats when Im going…IMAX 3D, baby!) I’d definitely give this one a recommendation. My only word of caution is to be prepared for the slow suspense style. It can be a bit of a letdown if you’re expecting a faster pace.

The Ghost Writer – \m/ \m/ \m/

Cop Out

“On my list of fave directors, Kevin Smith prolly comes in at the 4th spot. So even though the trailers for Cop Out didnt look too promising, I had to go. Incidentally, this is the first time Smith directs a film that he didnt write himself. While the movie definitely had its moments (one in particular got a \m/ huge laugh outta me), for the most part I think Smith should stick to his own shit.

The first thing that I will say is actually brilliant is the title. If you’re unaware of the backstory, yeah it seems kinda stupid. The original title was “”A Couple of Dicks”” but we all know about the hateful relationship the MPAA has with Kevin Smith (even worse than Smith with Southwest Airlines if you’re up on that recent drama), so that didnt fly (hadnt thought of the SA thing when I picked that phrase). With that bit of history, yes I daresay, brilliant title.

The cast was good. Bruce Willis apparently had been really wanting to work with Smith, especially after appearing together in Die Hard 4.0 and he really fit into his world quite well (even if it wasn’t the beloved View Askew-niverse). Tracy Morgan was great, but I really wish he could enunciate and didnt sound like he’s got a constant stuffy nose. Maybe then, I’d be able to understand more than half of his lines. There wasn’t as much Seann William Scott as the trailer had led me to believe, which did make me a bit sad. Even if he’s constantly playing a variation of Stifler, I do love him so. Some surprising faces in the supporting cast that I was happy to see: Jason Lee (of course a hardcore Smith collaborator had to be there), Kevin Pollack, Adam Brody, Guillermo Diaz (he’s Guillermo on Weeds), Michelle Trachtenberg, and Rashida Jones.

Again, the comedy was kinda hit or miss. Nowhere near as classic as Clerks or even Dogma, but hey at least it wasn’t Jersey Girl (sorry, cheap shot. To be fair, I actually didnt hate Jersey Girl like most other peeps did). But I think low expectations is really the key to maximum enjoyability here

Cop Out – \m/ \m/ \n

Shutter Island

“I usually dont blog my repeats, other than maybe a one sentance mention. Granted, the number of repeats I go to has come down recently. A few years ago there were prolly like 10 in a year, mostly cause a certain movie buddy of mine would wait to see something and then coerce me to go. But I think last year’s repeat number was at like 2 or 3. And 9 times out of 10, if I do go to a repeat its for circumstantial reasons: someone needs a movie buddy, there’s nothign else to do, its what playing at Graumann’s Chinese Theater (that was HP 6 this year).

This time around, the reason for the repeat was quite simple: I wanted to catch a movie on my bday. My viable options were From Paris With Love (the trailers for which didnt impress this action junkie) or Shutter Island again. Turns out, SI was a good one for a repeat.

It had been pouring down rain all day, and as I walked the two blocks to the theater at 10 oclock that night the wind had really picked up too. I was grabbing onto my hood, desperately trying to keep it on my head and images of Leo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo running through the graveyard in the wind were flashing in my mind. That was definitely one of the best mood-setting theater treks I’ve had. The downside there was that my pajama pants were completely soaked by the time I got there, so I spent the movie wet and cold.

As I’d said in the original write up, watching the movie the first time around was all about trying to figure out the mystery. This time, it was about picking up on and processing all the clues that had gone over my head before. I wont give anything away, but there were definitely a lot of those, so I highly recommend a second viewing at some point for those who managed to see it unspoilt.

I was also kinda impressed with the crowd size. Normally when I go to an evening show during the week, there’s only a handful of people there. If its in the big auditorium, every group has a row or two to themselves. I suspected that a late show would be even more sparsely populated. Not the case. No, it wasnt in danger of selling out, but it was fairly full–the way I’d typically expect the early matinee shows to be. I loved sitting there and anticipating all the “”Oh shit!”” moments that had made me jump the time before. I was just waiting for someone somewhere in the room to say that each time. I gathered early on that the group behind me, though annoying most of the time, would be the ones to oblige me with that. And yes, they were. Makes me wonder if that’s what Scorsese or Dicaprio would feel like watching the movie in a room full of strangers watching it for the first time. Do they anticipate all those moments and wait for the reaction? I know I do whenever I’ve been on the dir staff side of a theater production.

Anyways, 30 Seconds to Mars tix go on sale pretty soon so I gotsta be ready for that. Apparently they have these fan package things where you can meet the band and get all this cool stuff. Too bad I can’t justify spending 200 bucks on one of those. The goal for this weekend is 4 AFI’s plus Cop Out (tomorrow) and Im seeing Flogging Molly tonight. I can’t believe how far behind I’ve fallen on the AFI thing. Hopefully now that my late schedule at work is permanent, I’ll actually be leaving on time and less stressed so I’ll be able to get in movies during the week again.”

Shutter Island

“I had so many messages on Rotten Tomatoes this weekend that said something along the lines of “”Read this review of Shutter Island””. I swear, it feels like the whole world saw it this weekend. I actually had some difficulty in managing that task. For some reason, all week I was really in the mood for an opening night movie. I usually avoid these like the plague, and much prefer Sat and Sun matinees or weeknight movie trips. But I rushed home and got there about half an hour early and it was sold out. The roomie had wanted to come with, but had other plans so I told her we’d go to one of the late shows. Showed up early for the first after 10 screening and both of ’em were gone. Decided to postpone til Sun, and on Sat afternoon she shows up with tix for the 6:45 on Sun. But I had tix for New Found Glory so she had to go switch ’em for an earlier time. And then, well lets just say I partied kinda hard on Sat, so I was really \m/ out of it. I half expected to either fall asleep or completely not catch onto anything at all. Thankfully, that was not the case.

I actually went into this one with pretty high hopes, which isnt typically a good thing. I was so pissed when it got pushed back from its October release date. I’d been so psyched for it, and then last minute ended up having to wait longer. And what was worse is that I was already starting to get sick of the trailer that had been playing all summer, and then just like with The Soloist the year before, I got an extra 3 months of watching the trailer at every other \m/ movie I went to.

But was it worth the wait? Oh hells yeah. I absolutely loved it. This sorta psychological thriller is right up my alley (and ya’ll had better not be surprised by that statement). I just thought it was brilliant. Really creepy and suspensful, but very clever and well thought out. And a fantastic cast on top of that.

With this sort of movie, I like trying to solve the mystery. There’s two things that will make me really enjoy the process: I need to not figure it all out too quickly, and if it is something unexpected I need to believe its possible. It cant just be “”oh yeah by the way Ben Kingsley is an alien””. For Shutter Island, the wheels in my head were turning the whole damn time. I did figure out most of it, but there wasn’t really a point where I knew I’d solved it. This is kinda tough to get into without giving stuff away, but I’ll try to be cleverly cryptic. I’ve seen a fair amount of these types of movies, so from the beginning I had about maybe 3 or 4 ideas for how it’d play out. By the halfway point, I had it narrowed down to 2. I knew it was one of those, but I was never convinced one way or the other until everything was revealed. And when it was, it all just made perfect sense to me. Or perfect enough.

I become a bigger and bigger fan of Martin Scorsese with every movie of his I see. Im jealous of Leonardo Dicaprio having been mentored by this genius of a director. The man knows his shit: the dead silence suddenly being shattered, dim & spooky lighting, flawlessly framed shots. You really just can’t get much better.

Speaking of Leo, I still love him so much. One of those rare actors who is as talented as he is gorgeous. I hear that he was really close to insanity a few times as he’d just get lost in the role, and it really paid off. This is gonna sound cheesey and cliche but he really is one of the absolute \m/ best actors of his generation.

Im contemplating seeing this one again this week. I got no plans for my bday on Thur, so the default plan is catch a movie. Right now the options are From Paris With Love, which is likely to suck but I haven’t seen it before or Shutter Island again, but its a bit on the lengthy side (just north of two hours) and likely to get out a touch later than I’d like. Really leaning for the repeat though.

Shutter Island – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

“I had so much I wanted to say when I was walking back from the theater, but what I didnt think about was where to start…

The way things were lining up before the movie started didnt bode well. The showing I was going to was sold out (WTF) but luckily they were able to do an overflow room so I got into that. And I hadn’t quite grasped how much of a kiddie movie this was, at least as far as the audience in attendance. Wasn’t quite mentally prepared for that. So this room was packed with losta 8 year old boys, and there was a family sitting right behind me that got split and put one of their people right next to me. While, yes, I was annoyed that I didnt have my one seat buffer on both sides, that wasn’t what made it suck. What sucked was that the lady behind me kept on whispering things to her kid, then would lean over and whisper the same thing to the person next to me. And it was stuff like “”That’s Poseidon!”” or “”thats a Minotaur!”” everytime something or someone new was on screen. Immediately after she delivered her message to both people, someone on screen would identify the new entity. Was that seriously \m/ necessary? What I think the worst part about that was, besides the fact that whispering in front of you is 10x more annoying and rude to the person in front of you that whispering to your side, is that she was basically teaching her kid How to Be Rude at the Movies 101. Usually its the brats that are talking, not the grown up. So yeah, not the best way to kick things off.

Fortunately however, once I was mostly successful in tuning out the excess noise, I was really into the film. As I’ve likely mentioned before, a good indicator for me of how much Im enjoying a movie is looking at my watch. How far into the film do I first check the time, and how often after that. This time, it was an hour in for a total of three times. Those are some pretty good numbers.

Yeah I dont know what it was, but I was just sucked right into it. And that’s really saying something considering how \m/ distractable I’ve been with every other movie this weekend. Part of it is prolly that I’ve kinda always been interested in Greek mythology, although I dont know nearly as much about it as I’d like. They def took a lotta liberties with the stories, but it worked. Really liked the whole modernization thing, so I’ll need to pick up this series soon. Good thing I just finished Cirque du Freak, yeah?

The whole thing was filled with campy goodness. Yes, some of it was a bit excessive. And they did stretch the limits of believability. But it was fun, which is all that really matters.

Great cast. Very impressed with Logan Lerman. He kinda has this whole Christian Slater thing going on. If I were 10 years younger, you can bet I’d be putting up posters of him on my wall, most likely next to Zac Efron. But, if I were 10 years younger I’d be back in high school, and God knows that’s the last \m/ thing I’d ever want. Points for the grown ups in the movie as well, Catherine Keener, Pierce Brosnan, Joe Pantoliano (whose name I’ll never remember, but will still continue to refer to him as Cypher) Uma Thurman as Medusa (side note: my fear of snakes kept me from looking at her when she was on screen. I wonder if the people behind me thought I was some crazy person who was actually afraid of turning into stone), Sean Bean as Zeus, and Rosario Dawson as Persephone (who was prolly my fave of the lot. Loved the dress too). Wasnt too sold on Steve Coogan as Hades, though.

So this was a win. Very much recommend it if its your thing. If its not, you’ll prolly be killed by the kinda kiddy camp.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Theif – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Wolfman

“This afternoon’s AFI, The Last Picture Show, got interrupted by the ‘rents calling. Only got about halfway thru by the time I had to leave for The Wolfman. Figured I’d do this write up, then finish that movie.

Those of you fairly in the know when it comes to movies are prolly aware that The Wolfman’s release date kept getting pushed back and pushed back. I think its arrival is something like 2 years late, and it sorta snuck into a graveyard Feb spot outta nowhere. Never a good sign. And sadly, the foreboding was fully deserved.

It does break my heart a bit to hafta do a negative writeup for this one. I love supernaturally spooky stories. We all know I have a thing for vampires, which means that werewolves have a special place in my heart as well, given that they often show up together. There were a few small positives
-Danny Elfman soundtrack, although I didnt know it until the end credits.
-Gobs of gratuitous gore. Not generally a plus for people, but definitely makes me happy. And a lot of it was kinda clever or at least original.
-Hugo Weaving. He stole every scene he was in. When he first came on the screen I was thinking how whenever he makes an appearance most people instantly think of LOTR or the Matrix. But when its The Matrix, you dont think “”Agent Smith”” you think or rather you hear “”Mr Anderson””.

As far as the rest of the cast: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins, I dont have any complaints but I dont particularly have any complements either. This one was just kinda beneath all of their abilities.

Okay so now we’ll get into it. Why didnt I like it? It was painfully slow. Not even two hours, but it felt like an eternity. I actually saw two peeps walk out halfway through. The story itself was kinda boring. While Im typically in favor of streamlining the plot, this was a bit too one dimensional. And lastly it was too \m/ predictable. I called every shot pretty early on, and picked up on every foreshadowing dialogue clue. The effects weren’t anything that special. I’ll give them points for doing actual wolfman makeup instead of CGI, but it seemed too rigid, like a mask.

Right so I think I’ve gotten my point across. You want an entertainly bad werewolf movie, stick with American Werewolf in Paris instead.

The Wolfman – \m/ \n

The Last Station

“This movie made EW’s list of 25 movies to see before the Oscars. Wasn’t too sold on it from the trailer, so I figured I’d hold out until the nods were out. Given that it got two acting nods, and seeing it would mean I’ve seen all of the nominated performances I figured I’d best get my butt over to the theater. Luckily it opened at Coolige Corner this week, so I didnt have that much of a trek. While on the subject of the EW list, should point out that I’m at 23 of 25. Not much interest in the last two (Young Victoria and Bright Star) since they didnt really gain any nominations I _really_ care about.

This movie turned out to be quite the happy surprise. I was a bit apprehensive going in since again, trailers didnt impress me, and then I always feel outta place with the matinee crowds at indie theaters. As is usually the case, I was prolly the only one there of my age group, with prolly a 20 year gap to the next youngest. But I found it to be really funny and quite entertaining. I will say that I loved the first half more than the second half. It did kinda start losing me at that point, but the stuff that was good was really \m/ good.

Specifically, the best of that really \m/ good stuff would be Helen Mirren. Such an intense and commanding performance, and a great strong and somewhat quirky character. I see how she earned this year’s Academy Award nomination, and now I hafta see her Oscar winning performance in The Queen. I dont think Last Station woulda been half as good without her.

Also adore James McAvoy. I knew regardless of how the movie ended up, he’d at least be my consolation prize. I just adore that boy, and I have so much respect for his balance between fun films and award winning films. I’ve always loved when an actor can find that perfect harmony between the two sides of Hollywood.

Didnt realize Paul Giamatti was in this one. I was gonna say that he’s always so comfortable in period films, that you’d think he was born in the wrong century. However, I think its more that he’s here now specifically to fit into those films. Not that he doesnt do a good job with films set in the present, but he’s just more at home in the others.

I feel I should say something about Christopher Plummer, in the other Academy Award nominated role, but I dont really have much there. No complaints on his performance, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with it. Yup, no problem conceding that award to Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds.

Anyways, I definitely recommend this one if it seems like your thing. If you’re not into the older-set stuff (which Im typically not) dont feel too obligated to go. But if you are, then this is a must.

The Last Station – \m/ \m/ \m/

Youth in Revolt

“Finally made it to this one. It had the unfortunate fate of being released the same weekend as (I think) 2 other movies I was interested in. And while normally a week night movie isnt that big of a deal, its been tough trying to pull that off this month with the insane-ness of work. Last week I actively tried to go 3 times. First Monday, I got slightly delayed just before running out the door, and then just didnt wanna anymore. Then after debating the whole T ride home, I was ready to go on Wed, but the 7:40 show was cancelled. Was determined to go on Thur but somehow forgot that the after hours training session at work got scheduled for then (at least I got pizza and beer outta that). And I was certain the movie was on its way out, but huzzah it stayed. And I really shoulda thought ahead and gone to this on Sat, and pushed of Edge of Darkness til next week. But whatevs. Its done. Worth it? Ummm yeah sure.

And another thing Im doing against my better judgement is blogging this now instead of setting the sleep timer on the tv with The Big Lebowski and going to sleep. That will come later.

I am very much a fan of Michael Cera. Fell in love with him in Superbad, and everything I’ve seen him in since (although I didnt like Year One). Yes, I know he always plays the same socially awkward kid, but he’s so good at it. And at least this time he had a little edge, both in his main character Nick Twisp and especially with alter ego Francois. Gotta say the trailer made it seem like the relationship between those two was a bit different, as was the reasoning for Francois’ existance. It did work out quite well, but resulted in some minimal confusion due to previously set expectations.

Overall, I found it to be a very clever movie with some snappy dialogue. Not quite as good as the dialogue Cera had to work with in Juno or even Arrested Development, but it gets this script snob’s approval. What also gets my approval is the featured cast. I say featured because most of these peeps didnt have quite big enough roles to be considered supporting, but they were slightly more substantial than your quick cameo. The aforementioned peeps would be: Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Zack Galifiankis, and Fred Willard.

I was gonna knock off half a point for the bit that the film did start to drag. However, Im adding that half back for general creativity–in particular the animation bits. I dont wanna give too much away since those were quite the happy surprise, but there’s a few scenes animated in different styles that were such a nice touch. So yeah, I guess I am glad I finally made it to this one

Youth in Revolt – \m/ \m/ \m/