Warrior

“Throwing in a bonus write up. Well, it’s a bonus based on how you look at it. We’re really way past the point where I’d typically bother, but I enjoyed this movie so much that I owe it to the film to at least do something.

The day that I went to see this, I knew I could see one thing and would likely not get a chance to go back for about a week. The 2+ hour run time almost deterred me, but for some reason I was drawn to it. You know what? Those two and a half hours did not feel like it.

Yes, the movie was flawed. Top of the list was how predictable it was. Also, some of the back stories didnt feel as fleshed out as they could have been, or at lesat like they could have been tackled sooner. Ask me how much I care about the flaws? Zero. Know why? The rest of the movie redeemed it: the characters, the cast, the fighting.

While the plot part of the screenplay was straightfoward and easy to figure out, it was the characters that drove it. I loved brothers Brendan and Tommy so much. They were some of those rare characters that you just wanted to sit down to dinner with and get to know and spend time with them–and the two were so different. My previously mentioned Messiah complex (wanting to save someone) kicked in with Tommy, and I had a strong admiration for Brendan. Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy (who has really become one to watch lately) executed those roles flawlessly.

What really made this movie extra special is that it sparked a new interest for me: MMA, mixed martial arts. As much as I love action and fight scenes in movies, I really hadn’t given a second thought to this sport. When I heard about UFC, I just in my head sorta lumped it into the same category as boxing or wrestling–sports that I didnt take much interest in. But it only took one fight scene in this movie to hook me. As a sport, I get why it makes sense. For me as a potential spectator, I can see how this would be far more exciting to me than the other fighting types. Granted, it was movie-fied here, but I am certainly interested to learn more.

Warrior – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Straw Dogs

“Oooh if I get this one done, that means I’ll have all of this weekend’s flicks done. Let’s do it!

I’d had a very ambitious weekend of double features planned, and then I realized I could utilize my Friday and split them up a bit. So I journeyed back to my Regal Fenway for the first time post move. Takes so much longer to get there than it used to.

Straw Dogs. The thought of Alexander Skarsgård, James Marsden, and gratuitous violence excited me. I really wasnt expecting much else. Didnt really get anything else either.

It really did feel like a lot was just thrown together to give a flimsy excuse to do violence. I felt like we were missing a lot of the story and motivation for some characters, and others felt out of place for most of the movie.

Nothing too spectacular on the blood. There was lots of it, but nothing that really wowed me, although I’m sure all the more squeamish types disagree. Really, it was all about the eye candy.

Oh right. The original. Haven’t seen it, but am very much intrigued. Word on the street is that this remake was very true to it. I’ll be looking forward to the inevitable re-release/sale/combo pack/whatever come DVD/BluRay release time for the new one.

Straw Dogs – \m/ \m/ \n

Contagion

“Every so often, some variation of the following question is posed to me, or at least towards me: What’s a movie that’s scary, but not gory? I tend to have a hard time answering that. There’s one underlying reason that has two manifestations. It’s simple. I enjoy gore. Well, not quite the whole torture porn gore for the sake of gore. But I like blood and guts when its creative and surprising. So I see a lot of it. I’m kinda desensitized. So if you ask me to recommend movies without gore, I have trouble because A-what might seem extreme to you wont really make me blink, B-unless it’s something particularly, well, I’d describe it as brilliant, you might not, I’m not gonna even remember it’s there. Therefore, I will now take this opportunity to apologize if I’ve ever recommended a bloody movie when you asked me not to. I swear, it wasn’t intentional. Just to cover my ass for later on, I am now gonna recommend Contagion as a scary not gory movie. And I’m really for reals on that.

I do think that the concept is scary. This mysterious virus is spreading like wildfire. No one’s really safe. There’s no way to defend against it. Certainly gonna make you hope you have someone to hold you in that dark movie theater.

Something I liked about this film was how it really hit every last angle. You had the family directly affected, the scientists working for the cure, the scientists finding the cause, the journalist attacking the government, everything. I dont think there was really a side of the story that was missed, and that was impressed in and of itself. The downside, though, was that it felt like a lot of build and build and build that just sort of fizzled. Kinda like they forgot that build was supposta lead somewhere. Not saying the end wasn’t satisfying, but it felt almost anticlimactic.

One thought that was running thru my head was just marveling at the number of Academy Award winners and nominees in the cast: Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Lawrence Fishburne, Marion Coltillard. Then again, when you’re director Steven Soderbergh, you can have an amazing wishlist cast. It also helps that since it was very much an ensemble piece, the load of the film was split such that most of the cast put in less than two weeks work. Much more convenient that way.

Okay so given that list, I dont think I even need to comment on the acting quality. I will say that talent did kick this flick up a notch from what could have easily been just another big disaster movie.

I know I said that I spent a lot of time thinking about the cast, but that’s not entirely true. This was a bit of a thinker, just about what would happen if this type of epidemic really did hit the world. How would I be affected? What would happen to my little world, and how would it shake it up? That’s what makes this movie scary.

Contagion – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Drive

“Sitting in the dark auditorium waiting for Drive to start, there was a trailer for Killer Elite. While I was getting psyched for that film next week, I realized that I hadn’t seen a great gritty adrenaline filled action movie in a while (clearly, I’d forgotten about Colombiana). Then I realized that I was likely gonna get some of that with Drive. I was wrong.

I think that from the little bit I knew about the film, I was expecting something more along the lines of The Transporter. It wasn’t. Yes, they were a few cool car chases, and some gore that got groans from most of the audience but an “”oh cool!”” from me. But an action movie this was not. Those car chases, some of them were among the slowest I’d ever seen. Granted, the cool-calm-collected thing was unique and worked, but they didnt give this action junkie her fix.

As far as story and all that, things felt disjointed. I couldnt really believe a lot of it. I didnt follow much of the mobster ties, I couldnt see why Carey Mulligan was with her jailbird husband, I had no idea why the stock car plotline was there, and what was with the 80’s sounding music?

Ryan Gosling was a bright spot. Then again, he’d be a bright spot in just about anything. I actually think that with the exposure he’s gotten this year, he’s in the running for People’s Sexiest Man Alive this year. Prettyness aside, he did have a good mix of tough and sweet that worked quite well.

Carey Mulligan seemed halfway out of place. I could buy her with Gosling. I couldnt buy her family situation. Christina Hendricks surprised me. I hadnt seen that tough cookie badass chola-esque side of her before, and I’ll admit that I rather liked it. Dont get me wrong, I love her classy Joan on Mad Men, but this was as far away from that as possible and she rocked it.

The story lost me here and there. It just seemed so thrown together, like the writer had a handful of good ideas but no real way of connecting them. While there were moments here and there that I really liked, as a whole it didnt impress me much.

Drive – \m/ \m/ \n

The Debt

“Howdy folks. Long time no talk. This is actually the first (of what will certainly be many many many) update from the Cave Of Wonders. The move is actually my excuse for being so far behind on my updates. I’d manage to find time to run down to my new home theatre, the AMC Lowes Harvard Square, but as soon as I’d get home, I had a loooong list of things to set up, clean, unpack, tweak, etc around the place. But, pending a few frames in the mail for things, I have declared the apartment done. The plan for tonight is to work backwards thru as many write ups as I can while watching the Emmys. Technically, I’m watching the preshow at the moment, but I’m sure by the time I get into the heart of write up number one, the show will be underway. Disclaimer that these might not be as extensive as I’d like. My goal is really to just get myself back into the habit. So without any further ado…

I love that the Kendall Square Cinema is now a 20 minute walk away. It replaces Coolidge Corner as my go to place for indies. I love Coolidge Corner, but this one gives me twice the number of screens, so more than double the movie options. Love. Today’s Sunday afternoon found me watching The Debt.

From the initial trailers I’d seen, my thought was that if I found myself with time and caught up on all high priority movies, I’d consider it. But, as is often the case, I heard some great buzz and curiosity got the best of me. I dont know if it was quite worth all the talk, but it was definitely intriguing and a worthy way of spending my Sunday afternoon.

I very much loved how the story played out. Much espionage and intrigue and edge of the seat suspense. Amazing twist that changed the entire game. Some of the early scenes were a bit confusing, but the way they were replayed later was brilliant. I dont know how many times I’ve watched a movie and wanted to rewatch the beginning once I knew what I did towards the end. This film did that for you. Sort of. Not telling what that means.

The downside was that the pace was a bit slow. Also, some of the intricacies of the plot were a bit lost on me. You’d think with all the movies I’ve seen my world history skillz would be a bit sharper. I dont think I really missed too much other than the usual margin of confusion that tends to come with a lotta movies.

As far as the cast, this was all about the girls. I absolutely adore Helen Mirren (and that’s that I haven’t even seen The Queen yet, even though it’s been on my lookout list for a while). This was a great dark turn for her. Jessica Chastain has been grabbing more and more attention with each role she has. The Debt added another dimension to her, and Im so psyched to see what else this girl can bring to the big screen.

Yeah so I think if the pace had just been picked up a wee bit more, this woulda been one fantastic film. As it is, it’s still pretty good, just a bit shy of getting a full endorsement from me.

The Debt – \m/ \m/ \m/

50/50

“Sometimes (read: once) my obsessive reading of IMDB pays off. That’s how I found out about the sneak peek of 50/50 that I just returned from. It’s yet another reason why I love Boston because this sorta shhhh-stuff woulda never happened back home. Because I absolutely adore Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I broke my dont-watch-trailers-online-because-I’ll-see-them-a-million-times-at-the-theater rule when he tweeted the link for it a couple months ago. Just one watch, and I knew September 30 could not come quick enough. Thankfully, I didnt have to wait that long.

I loved it! In short, what I loved was how real it felt. And for good reason too because it actually was based on reality. The details were different, but writer Will Resier took his own experience of being diagnosed with cancer in his late 20’s and wrote a screenplay about it. I think what most established the reality was some of the awkwardness, just in dealing with the situation, early on. Normally when you have awkward in a comedy, it’s uncomfortable and it drags down the whole film. Here, it grounded it. I feel like some of those less than comfy scenes played out just how they would in real life.

The film also got me thinking about so many different things. Early in the film, my messiah complex kicked into high gear. That’s where you really feel the need to rescue someone. When I see a broken character on screen who needs taking care of, I want the job. Especially when I saw how the girlfriend was treating our boy, I wanted so badly to intervene.

Then there was the relationship our protagonist (Adam played by my boy regular Joe) and his relationship with his mother (played by the delicious Anjelica Huston) reminded me so much of my relationship with my mom. She too worries endlessly (my God, how many texts did I get about the non-hurricane). Given the way my mom reacted when I had to have my gall bladder out last year, I can only imagine what she’d do if God forbid I had something worse. Needless to say, I’m steering her away from this film. She doesnt need any ideas or encouragement.

As the film went on, and Adam started to deal more head on with his disease, I thought about my daddy. He passed away from cancer about a year and a half ago, and I realized I didnt really know too much of what he went thru. For one, he was far away the whole time. Because of that, he and my mom purposely kept a lot of the details from me so that I wouldnt be uselessly worrying. On top of that, he kept a lot of it to himself, and my mom didnt even realize how bad things were until it was all over. While a lot of the details would have been different since they were in such opposite stages of life, I feel like it did give me some insight into their thought process. I spent a good third of the film on the verge of tears because of it.

Enough of the depressing. On the flip side, the 50/50 was also quite funny at times. It def got a few big laugh out loud moments from me (a rarity in a packed auditorium). There was just this nuanced brilliance in how some of the funniest and most clever one liners were thrown into some of the toughest, otherwise heavy scenes. The comedic timing of everyone involved was spot on.

Much of the credit for the success of the movie goes to the cast. Again, adore Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I’ve been a fan of his since 3rd Rock From the Sun and I watch every movie of his I can get my hands on (yes I’ve even seen Mysterious Skin and Latter Days). This has to be the meatiest role he’s had, and he executed it flawlessly.

Seth Rogen was the one who really impressed me this time around. As I often find with some of my favorite comedians, second in command is such a better fit than leading man (see also: Will Ferrell). He stole his scenes, just pushing the boundaries of obnoxiousness without getting annoying, but then out of nowhere his character presented this great depth that made you see him in a whole new light. And that light looked good on him. I may be what he attempted to do with Funny People, but he pulled it off with flying colors here.

Props to our ladies as well: Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, especially Ms Kendrick. All around, fantastic ensemble cast.

Anways, I very much encourage ya’ll to check this out when it’s released. I couldnt be happier to have gotten to it early, so I’m paying it foward and trying to give the flick some positive buzz.

50/50 – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Colombiana

“Waterlogged welcome from a very soggy Boston! I’m currently marathoning Sliders, bracing for Irene’s impact. I got a big bowl full of packs of snack food, all of my electronics charged (including the portable DVD player I pulled from where it was packed for the move), a couple of flashlights, and a Justice League coloring book. C’mon Irene. Rock me like a, well err, yourself.

I did venture out into the weather earlier this afternoon for a late matinee of Colombiana. It was totally worth getting soaked. The storyline was clean, the action gritty. The film was actually a bit darker than I’d expected, which was a major plus. Kinda caught me off guard how quickly it went into that territory with the young Cataleya. IMDB later told me that the young Cataleya is gonna be Rue in Hunger Games. Color me crazy excited.

I tend to have mixed feelings toward Zoe Saldana, but I loved her here. Equal parts sexy and bad ass. She may have been trying a little too hard with the dramatic, but it worked. She also made me feel a rare solidarity with my hispanic side. The way that she flowed between the two languages reminded me of home, and I loved being able to understand every word on both sides.

I feel like this movie is was Salt last year aspired to, but fell oh so very short. Salt went for a big intricate plot with confusing twists and turns. Colombiana kept it streamlined. Salt had over the top big production action sequences. Colombiana was raw and dirty. It actually reminded me a lot of Jason Statham’s style, particularly some of the original Transporter. Very much my kinda film.

Colombiana – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Attack the Block

“Here’s some insight on what it’s like to be me. I tend to worry about the mundane. Usually I’m fretting over the details of unknown variables in my future plans (such as right now I’ve been freaking out about moving and what time I’ll be allowed in and who’s gonna help etc). Its not that I’m a control freak, it’s just that I’m a logical overplanner. Sometimes I’ll find stupid things to worry about to distract me from bigger things I can’t do anything about. Or I may worry about something that’s really unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but has the possibility of interrupting my routine.

I’m saying all this because this past week I was worrying about what my second movie for the weekend was gonna be. Fright Night was a lock. But I had minimal plans for the weekend other than packing up the apt and late night High School Musical marathon with the BFF, so getting a movie in both days was more about preventing cabin fever than obsessively trying to see everything out there. However, the pickings seemed kinda slim as I mulled over the prospects during the past few days. Conan the Barbarian looked plain ol’ boring. I’m very loyal to Robert Rodriguez, but the Spy Kids franchise got less good with each subsequent film. I feared that if I saw Spy Kids 4 and didnt like it, I’d still end up buying it to have a complete Rodriguez DVD collection and I’d dread the rewatch. I like the Final Destination franchise but that too has gone downhill over time, and I figured if I was gonna see it I’d wait til during the week to use my freebie. None of the options looked promising.

But then, something great happened. Yesterday morning when I was checking out movie times I noticed that Attack the Block was playing at the common. I’d missed it before because I dont particularly like that theater so I usually dont keep an eye on it. This lil known Brit import was generating a ton of buzz in its extremely limited release. EW gave it a good review. Brandon Routh couldnt stop tweeting about it. My interest was certainly piqued. And on top of that, I’d get a nice walk to and from the theater. Sold!

According to what EW told me, writer/director Joe Cornish was upset that there weren’t any alien invasion/end of the world type movies set on his home turf of south London. He sought to correct that. Frankly, I can totally sympathize. That’s why I’m drawn to Boston movies, no matter how bad they may look *cough*cough*Zookeeper*cough*. So yeah, that’s exactly what Attack the Block is: an alien invasion flick set in south London.

I really liked the setting. Felt reminiscent of a Guy Ritchie movie, just with aliens, and younger gang bangers. I feel like it took the film a while to find its pacing and direction, but it certainly grew on me over time. As the characters were developed (albeit a bit slowly) I did begin to grow attached to some of them. I had some concerns about the humor since Brit humor is typically lost on me. I’d spied Nick Frost in the few seconds of the trailer I watched, and given that I didnt care much for Shaun of the Dead (dont hit me) that’s where the worry came from. But this was certainly a scifi, with maybe just a hint more one liners and such than typical. And most of them, especially the ones delivered by Alex Esmail’s Pest were rather brilliant.

What most impressed me about the film was that while it started off as a typical mass-destruction-kill-all-the-things alien movie, it ended with some very poignant dramatic themes. It was about responsability and consequence, as well as making a statement on the social situation of the area. Very refreshing to see such thought put into this type of flick.

Attack the Block – \m/ \m/ \m/

Fright Night

“A few days ago I’m making my weekly phone home to mom. She’s asking me about my decor plans for the new apartment. “”Please tell me you’re not gonna put vampire stuff everywhere?”” “”It’s a distinct possibility”” “”Ay, Dawn, you’re not over that yet?”” “”Nope!”” Yeah, not exactly a revelation I’m into vamps (as long as they dont \m/ sparkle). So it shouldnt be a surprise that I was kinda pumped for Fright Night.

Full disclosure time. No, I haven’t seen the original. The Regal Fenway actually had an early afternoon showing that I considered going to, but I didnt wanna give up my morning workout, ‘specially since I’d planned on getting in some desperately needed extra cardio. Besides, I figure there’ll be a BluRay rerelease that coincides with the remake release. I can be patient. I rather love my typical Saturday routine of lay in bed finishing whatever DVD I fell asleep to >work out > shower > midafternoon movie > whatever. You know what makes it great? When I really enjoy that movie, like I did today.

Fright Night was all around campy goodness, as expected, and quite frankly hoped for. Loved the jabs at those sparkly vamps. Suspense was well built. Great vampire visuals, although I am rather picky about my creatures of the night and I could have done without such extreme monsterific demon faces. Fun use of 3D. One of the few that has actually projected out into the audience, even if some of the effects felt a bit rushed. Biggest selling point? The \m/ fantastic cast.

Okay, cast gets their own paragraph, or section thingy. I’ll run down the note worthy peeps in the order that IMDB lists them.
Anton Yelchin – I adore this kid, and I love all the nerdy goodness he’s been involved in: Star Trek, Terminator, and now vampires with Fright Night. He was our sweet yet surprisingly tough (well surprising if he were a character in the real world, not surprising to the story since you kinda knew it had to happen) leading man. He truly carried a lot of the film with such ease and charm. Can’t wait to see more wonders from this boy on the big screen.
Colin Farrell – *swoon* Okay, you can add bad boy Jerry the vampire to the ranks of Angel, Spike, Eric Northman, Damon Salvatore, and Lestat (I told ya I know my fanged fellows). He certainly had all the elements of a vampire that I can love: smooth and suave, cruel and cunning, and other pairs of alliterative adjectives. I also really like the fact that Farrell has finally gotten past the off screen bad boy reputation enough such that he can pull off the bad boy on screen without unintentionally coming off as a douche. It’s also always fun to see an actor with his level of stardom going for the B movie camp and really enjoying himself in the process. That’s something that shines thru in his performance.
Toni Collette – I’ve known her most recently as Tara (as in United States Of) so it was refreshing to see her in a different role for the first time in a while (for me at least). Here’s another person of high acting caliber going for the fun role, bringing a new level of quality to the movie.
David Tennant – If you cross Aldous Snow with Stuart Townsend’s version of Lestat, you’ve got Tennant’s Peter Vincent. Actually, I was really quite proud of myself for being able to identify The Doctor (as in Who), mostly because I see him so many times in ROFL Razzi. What I found most impressive is that the way his character starts off, he could have easily been the most annoying thing in the film (and in all honesty, he probably was if only by comparison) but his arc led him to be one of hte most sympathetic characters by the end. That takes skill.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse – Love love love this boy. I’ve seen just about all his movies (you can guess the one I’m missing), and Im always psyched when he’s the token nerd/geek/dork. He’s someone this nerd/geek/dork totally supports to represent our people, and I love how he’s perfected and evolved that niche role over time. I kinda wish there had been more of him in the film. He started out strong, then disappeared for a while. Total bonus points for rocking the black nail polish. I’m sure I’ve said before that guyliner is my kryptonite. My secondary kryptonite would be black nail polish. I was in heaven for a few minutes there
Dave Franco – I thought that smile was familiar. I took one look at that boy and thought of James Franco. Then I realized that this was his baby bro. How many times have I watched their acting lessons on Funny or Die?

Soooo yeah, fun afternoon at the movies. The downside (and why it loses a point) is because it did sorta drag for a bit in the middle. I’d been thinking this could be a candidate for my bday movie night, but actually I think I need to bring back the vampire movie night for The Vampire Cat Lestat’s bday, in which case this should be on the agenda.

Fright Night – \m/ \m/ \m/

PS – Like the new logo? Brought to you by my buddy and favorite artsy type Felisia

The Help

“Before we get into The Help, Im gonna throw in a few quick words on The Glee 3D Concert Movie. I saw it last night with my bestie. Its not worth doing a full write up because it’s got a very specific target audience. If you’re within that target, you’re likely already gonna see it. If you’re not, then you wont. I will just say that we had a total blast. We were squealing, holding hands, and lip synching thru all of it like 12 year old fan girls. Sure, things could have been done better, but it was certainly a ridiculously fun night out.

Today’s movie was The Help. Y’know how yesterday I was unimpressed with 30 Minutes or Less? That 80 minute movie felt like an eternity. By contrast, I felt like I could’ve had more of today’s 2 hour 20 minute movie. As I sat down in the auditorium, I knew I was in for a good story. You dont get that much, especially not in the summer. And my God, what a good, character driven story it was.

I loved the portraits of all the main characters and the powerful cast that drove them. I dont even know who to call out first because they were all so outstanding. Emma Stone’s Skeeter was a lot of the same Emma Stone quirky strong chick we know and love, but still just as fantastic as ever. Viola Davis is one tough cookie to be reckoned with. Octavia Spencer has more sass and spirit than any one woman should be allowed. Bryce Dallas Howard gave one of the best performances of her career thus far, instead of being quiet and pushed around. Sissy Spacek stole all her scenes. Jessica Chastain and Allison Janey did not disappoint either.

I’d like to believe that if I grew up in that environment, that I could have been at least half as accepting as Skeeter. Throughout the film I was thinking a lot about how I grew up. I’m from a border town in Texas. There, it’s pretty common practice to have housekeepers from Mexico or elsewhere Latin America. I certainly spent a fair share of my childhood in the care of one housekeeper or another. It wasn’t to the extreme of the southern culture in The Helper where said housekeeper practically raised me, but they were still a big part of my growing up. Especially since Im an only child, having that extra person around was particularly important. They did the housekeeping, cooking and cleaning and such, but also played with me and watched tv with me and took care of me when mom and dad were at work. I could not imagine treating these women like how some of the women in The Help were treated. They didnt always last long, but there were a few along the way that did become almost family. I can’t hear anything about Mary Tyler Moore without thinking about this one housekeeper who used to love watching that show with me. Or there was the one who cooked a huge meal for my dog, Samson, when we’d left him for vacation and he missed us too much to eat. I remember another one whose fiance gave us the same respect he’d give her parents. It’s just something that I’m so used to, I forget that this sorta situation isn’t the norm in the rest of the country.

Anyways Im not sure I really had a point to my whole retrospective journey there. As far as the movie itself, I loved it. Im definitely curious to read the book so I can pick up on even more details of these women’s stories.

The Help – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/