True Grit

“Greetings all. We’ve reached the long weekend that indicates the end of the year. How do I plan on spending it? Why watching as many movies as possible, of course. Seriously, I’ve got a fairly intense plan for the next couple of days. Well I suppose there’s ways to make it intenser, but the current plan includes 7 movies in five days (today counts as one movie and one day), and should leave me having seen EVERYTHING currently playing at the Fenway. Im not sure that’s a feat Ive managed before. I know I’ve come close, in the summer when everything’s on multiple screens so there’s really only like 7 things showing. I wont give away my plan, in case I dont end up sticking to it.

But yeah, kicked things off tonight with True Grit. I actually sorta wanted to go see this over the past weekend. Mom had suggested catching a movie a couple times, but the weather was so awful (note: I do love the snow, but I love admiring it from indoors) that I just didnt wanna deal. Kinda felt bad later when I realized that she was stuck in doors for two days straight with nothing to do. That’s not unusual for me, but this was supposta be a vacation for her. Right, so I opted to go tonight. Was close to being persuaded not to, but we all know how stubborn I can be. I had a plan, and goddammit I was gonna stick to it. At least tonight.

Dont you love how I can write for paragraphs and still not mention a single thing of consequence about the film Im blogging?

True Grit. Remake of an old John Wayne film. This time helmed by Joel and Ethan Coen. As a rule, I dont like westerns. I did enjoy the 3:10 to Yuma remake with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe (one of two films where I’ve liked the man. The other should be an easy guess), but everything else Ive seen: Unforgiven, Shane, The Searchers, etc; didnt quite do it for me. It was like my brain’d shut off as soon as it saw sand. Not sure why. But this one, you can lump it with Yuma because I very much enjoyed it.

The main reason I liked it has to have been the characters, Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld) in particular. We’ve long since established that dialogue is key for me. And I love a character who can spout off words quicker than you can think. That was her. Just quick, smart, dialogue. Hell, the girl was able to hold her own in a silver tongued mouth off against Matt Damon. Its no wonder there’s talk of a possible Oscar nod for this lil half pint.

Josh Brolin was the one who struck me next most, even if his screen time was limited. I dont know, I think it was his voice. Just so different from usual. (Im \m/) Matt Damon was fantastic, of course. I was a bit concerned because he kinda annoyed me in the trailer, but I guess it was just some weirdness with how they cut it because he really was great and amusing. Or maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for Texas Rangers. Yes because of Chuck Norris.

That leaves us with Jeff Bridges. Im not sure if it was quite the uber performance that some are making it out to be, but it was quite spectacular. I just loved his delivery when stating the obvious. That right there woulda made the whole movie (if Steinfeld hadnt done that for me already). He’s got nothing on Colin Firth for the big prize this year, but an honorable performance nonetheless.

The musical score in a film doesnt often catch my ear, but it did this time around. Mostly because I recognized it right away. The whole thing was based around an old church hymn. Interesting choice that worked rather well, even if the vocalist they added over the end credits sounded funny.

Sooo yeah, I guess this holiday weekend got kicked off on a good note

True Grit – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The King’s Speech

“Yeah I know. I said I’d get to this tomorrow. Oops. I had thought about going to see True Grit today, but Im in a lazy mood, and dont feel up to deal with the blizzard that’s just starting to hit (even if I do only gotta travel 2 blocks).

Friday’s Xmas eve late lunch plans didnt quite work out, so my Mom suggested we wander the city then catch a movie. I figured King’s Speech would be the one on my list she’d most enjoy. Goddam did I make a good choice.

Such a fantastic fantastic film. Intriguing story, wonderful characters, and phenomenal acting beyond all reason.

Im sure that last point is the buzz ya’ll have been hearing, although maybe slightly less enthusiastically than my endorsement (I do get carried away at times). The main reason for that is the illustriuos Colin Firth. The current speculation has him poised to win an Oscar this year, and I couldnt possibly agree more. Actually, he was my pick for last year (while I was more than okay with Jeff Bridges winning, based on the nominated performacnes alone I felt Firth’s was the strongest). I usually think its such a cheap shot going for a biopic, but this was more than your typical Oscar bait. Just based on intensity and emotion, yes he did have all the base qualifications for an Academy Award nominated performance. Then there was the stammer. It was more than just a p-p-p-porky pig stutter. You could see him fighting with everything he had to get his words out, and the frustration as he sorta choked on his speech. Its really kinda difficult to describe, but absolutely worth a watch if the opportunity presents itself.

Helena Bonham Carter is also worthy of praise, as the regal Queen Elizabeth. She just had such class about her, with just enough entitlement minus the arrogance. And she played different with Firth (more compassionate and supportive) than with other characters, flawlessly going back and forth between the two. Such an incredibly nuanced performance. The other one getting all the talk is Geoffrey Rush. Now I dont think he has anything on Christian Bale as far as the race looks so far, but Rush was still nothing short of great.

I feel there really isnt much more to talk about with this one, so I’ll end by reiterating that I definitely give this one a high recommendation if you’re looking to catch a lotta major players for this year’s academy awards

The King’s Speech – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Tron: Legacy

First off, a word from Penny Arcade.

Now, the usual preface I hafta give whenever watching a sequel. No, I haven’t seen the original. Usually that’s grounds to not watch a sequel, but given that the original is going for 60 bucks on Ebay, my guess was they assumed most of the viewers are in the same boat I am. And yes, for the most part, it didnt seem like an issue that I had no background. It may have flowed a bit better if I had, but they did a good enough job of explaining things.

Also worth noting, this was finally my chance to check out the RPX at the Regal Fenway. Holy \m/ shit 16 bucks? And not even a discount for matinee times? I hadn’t expected the increase in price to hit me, and I may not have noticed if I hadn’t paid 18 total for two movies the day before. So that was a couple bucks for the 3D then a couple more for the shiny screen and squishy seats. Not entirely worth it. Yes it all looked pretty, but not enough to justify making an effort to get there. My plan for the future is gonna be to just catch whatever time works best for me. If it happens to be RPX, cool. If not, hey at least Im not spending extra. I should check it out for a non-3-D movie too, see if that’s any better bang for the buck.

As far as the actual movie, I found it moderately entertaining, but nothing too special. Been a fan of Garret Hedlund since Four Brothers, so it was great to see him leading something up. Too bad he really didnt have much to work with. Computerized Jeff Bridges gave me the creeps. Love Olivia Wilde. The visual was great, but the story was lacking. Its like they put all their effort into the technology, they forgot that you need a plot. I think some films are prolly just better left in their original state and not updated for the sake up updating them.

Tron: Legacy – \m/ \m/ \n

The Tourist

I really dont have much to say on this one. Why? Because nothing \m/ happened. I was bored and falling asleep. Prolly doesnt help that I double featured it right after The Fighter (with just a quick Best Buy run in between the two), but given that it was billed as a semi-action flick, being sleep inducing is very much a bad thing.

Angelina is great at being elegant and statuesque, but statuesque should not extend to her actual acting. She was just so wooden, only ever standing there and looking pretty. Not much else. And we all love Johnny Depp for being quirky, but he was a bit off too. Can’t tell if he was phoning it in, or trying too hard. Whatever it was, didnt work.

And the plot was trying to make itself more convoluted and confusing than it needed to be.

I’ll give Paul Bettany points for being generally awesome, and taking baby steps to redeem himself from Legion earlier this year. He coulda chosen something better though

The Tourist – \m/ \m/

The Fighter

“Merry Xmas, gentle readers. As my present to you, or really myself ’cause isnt that really who this blog is utlimately for?, here’s the write ups Im behind on. My excuse is that I’ve been kinda sick this past week, so I’d be falling asleep at the theater and would come home with a desire for nothing other than a nap. Then I couldnt fall asleep. But there’s some comments that shouldnt go uncommented so here goes the catch up. Xmas edition!

Going in the order in which I saw these, we kick this off with a Boston movie. Yay! I have so many little antecdotes and such I dont even know where to start. We’ll start with the first reason why I was psyched for it. One of my fave bands, Boston’s local boys Dropkick Murphys have a song called Warrior’s Code that’s the title track off the album with that certain song that was featured in another Boston movie (and what put the Murphys on my radar to begin with. First time I saw DKM in concert, they introed Warrior’s Code by saying it was about Lowell native (actually the show was even at the Tsongas in Lowell) Mickey Ward who they pulled out on stage. Needless to say, I was beyond intrigued when I first heard about the film. Actually I think the first I heard was a blurb on Boston.com that Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams were spotted filming, but I digress. I did spend a good part of the film wondering if the song was gonna make an appearance. I figured it’d be saved for the end credits, but it actually showed up sooner. That made me happy.

Other antecdote. Remember my buddy who I teased about not being in The Town? A few weeks ago we’re chatting and he brings up this movie, asks if I’ve heard anythign about it. I give him a “”bitch please”” look, and prolly say the phrase as well. He then proceeds to remind me that he grew up in Lowell (I knew this) and that he actually had a few classes with Mickey Ward. The two of ’em were somewhere between friends and acquaintances, closer to the acquaintance end of the spectrum though. He told me a few stories about guys picking on Ward, who’d then kick their ass, and then be really calm and nonchalant about it. And he mentioned that his older bro Dicky really was as batshit as the movie seemed to suggest, and that he was always in trouble. I then proceeded to tease said buddy, asking him who was playing him in the film, and made some comments about how he coulda played himself if the whole thing with The Town had worked out.

Okay enough on the backstory. Did I like the film? I did, although I felt it slowed down for a bit, almost enough to lose me. Basically it felt like there were two story parts, and the connection is where things dropped. First you had the whole family story, then what I typically refer to as your “”Mighty Ducks”” story. Both were equally intriguing, and you really couldnt have one without the other, I jsut feel the transition may have been done better.

The strength of this movie was the Oscar buzzing cast. Christian Bale is definitely poised to receive his long overdue first Oscar nod, and possibly some actual gold along with it. We know this man is known for making transformative changes from role to role (The Machinist anyone?), and he did it yet again. He’s also quite the master of accents (you’ll notice he never quite does the same one twice). Hell, it takes effort for me to remember that he’s really got a deep Brit voice, not the American one I tend to associate him with from American Psycho or Batman. Actually, all the Boston accents were pretty good. Its possible my standards have been lowered after how much they’ve been butchered in recent films, but Im gonna stand by my statement. Back to Bale, total embodiment of his character with a high stakes emotional rollercoaster, all flawlessly put together.

The next standout for me was Amy Adams. I’d seen she was starting to get nods here and there for the role, and I wasn’t sure how sold I was. Dont get me wrong, I love the girl and would very much love to see her take home that lil bald statue one day, but something about what I’d seen from the trailer seemed too obviously Oscar bait-y. She actually blew me away. Im so used to thinking of her as Enchanted’s Giselle, I forget that she can be a tough cookie. She nailed the badass attitude (and the accent as well). I loved every scene with her. I did prefer her over Melissa Leo who’s been getting the higher praise. Leo’s performance was fantastic as well, but I prefer my girls tough, not whiny and manipulative.

I dont wanna say that Mark Wahlberg was the weak point, because he really wasnt. He just seemed outta place. Mostly I think it was because he’s a lil too pretty for the role. In contrast, Christian Bale has a high potential to be pretty (again, American Psycho!) and he definitely wasn’t. So I feel something coulda been done about Mahky Mahk. He also seemed like a bit too much of a pushover. He wasn’t really, but it was like he’d back down too easily outside of the ring. Im making that sound waaaay too negative, and I dont mean it like that. Either way, it does seem to jive with what said buddy told me earlier, but it was kinda off to me.

In summary, good Boston flick. Most definitely worth a watch for the wicked (had to work that word in somewhere) good cast.

The Fighter – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“Im hungry and kinda tired so unclear how talkative I’ll be today. Today’s movie journey was to the magical land of Narnia. If it wasn’t for the big influx of movies this weekend and my fear of falling behind, I prolly woulda skipped it. Gotta get some of my shit together before starting the new job tomorrow, and am also hoping to get some Xmas present wrapping done, and still get to sleep early.

I am a fan of the series (read the books a couple years ago) but when it comes to fantasy I much prefer LOTR. This one felt like the others. Started off fun and magical, then got a lil too drawn out and epic, making me kinda sleepy.

Loved that my fave character, Reepicheep, was featured more. Didnt love that it wasn’t Eddie Izzard voicing him his time, although had I known beforehand that it was Simon Pegg I may have been less sad about the recasting.

Really, what else is there to say? If you’ve seen the other Narnia films, its more of the same. And I want my chicken nuggets now dammit

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Black Swan

“Finally. This is one of the movies I’ve been most excited for this year. It’s been making the rounds on the festival circuit and getting rave reviews. Then it opens last week here in Boston, but I end up spending that time back in Texas where my uncultured hometown doesnt show anything without explosions or fart jokes (not a judgement on those films because we all know I love them). I just flew back in this afternoon, and while I really shoulda unpacked, or slept, or figured out my new Droid phone, I ran to Coolidge Corner instead. So why the excitement? Effed up film about ballerinas. You have no idea how much that sums me up.

We’ve long since established that I like my films on the dark side, and not just in a Sith Lord/Darth Vader sense. Requiem for a Dream is way up there on my list of faves of that style (I actually got the roomie watching it in the next room right now). Other examples would be American Psycho, The Machinist, and Donnie Darko, which I always forget is kinda messed up since I have such warm fuzzies for it…maybe I need a therapist. Moving on. So what about the ballerina thing? I dont know how much I’ve gone into it here on Expletive Dleted, but I am a dancer. I started taking ballet when I was 3 and kept up with it for 10 years. I picked up a whole bunch of other styles along the way, have choreographed a few shows, and try to do at least a lil dancing every day when possible. Oh and I obsess over DWTS. Therefore, Aronsky + ballet = Dawn win!

And OMFG it was so worth the wait. It did suffer from a little bit of overanticipation on my part, although that also built the intensity to some degree. I was expecting a lot of suspense, and from one perspective it would appear it was slow to build it, but from another you could argue that’s what was creating it. The other issue (again, totally my fault) was from my constant need to solve the puzzle. I was so determined to figure it out (is it in her head? plot from the rival dancer? plot from the teacher?) that I didnt let myself just go with it as much as I should have. Those points aside, \m/ brilliant!

What I actually loved most about it was some of the attention to detail of the dancer lifestyle. Things like taping toes and burning ribbons just brought back a flood of memories for me. I really could believe that Natalie Portman was a dancer, not just an actress thrust into a role. Given all the Oscar buzz around her performance, I was a bit hypercritical of her. But the last 20 minutes have me sold on her, and I’d also love to see a statue go to this type of role instead of your typical Oscar bait bio-pic or redemption story. She fully embodied the “”white swan”” character, but her transformation into the “”black swan”” was seamless and full of intensity. Not to mention all the discipline it must’ve taken her for the physical side of the role.

On the acting front, I should take this opportunity to admit to Mila Kunis being my #2 girl crush (behind Anne Hathaway who we discussed previously). Love love loved her as the bad girl, and her role in the film definitely had a bad impact on that girl crush (by which I mean the good kinda bad). Its great to see what big steps she’s taken away from Jackie Burkhart (her 70’s Show character) and really grown as an actress. Wow that sounded cheesey.

For the final few thoughts, I just wanna say that Darren Aronofsky has such an impressive handle on this type of film. And while 2 years ago it may have seemed strange that the same guy who did Requiem was responsible for The Wrestler, Black Swan turned out to be such a perfect blend of those two. Ida never thought that possible. This was definitely closer on the Requiem end of the spectrum as far as the feel, but had the character work of Wrestler. Whatever magic he worked, it definitely turned out to be a win

Black Swan – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Faster

“Greetings from deep in the heart of Texas. Actually we’re a bit further down south than the heart. Im not gonna actually say what that’s likely to make us. Let’s just go with appendix, shall we?

Aaaand I got distracted (as always). This time by my favorite Gleek.

Right so Im stranded down here in Texas, and I actually had most of the day to myself since my mom had to take care of some stuff with her brother. Since I get wicked cabin fever, I opted to spend the evening at the movies instead of marathoning 30 Rock as I’ve been spending most of the rest of my time. The options were pretty \m/ slim. When you omit everything I’d already seen, I was pretty much left with 3 options: Faster, Burlesque (which would make me sad cause Im waiting to see it with my BFF), or Skyline (which would be even sadder, for other reasons all to do with the movie itself). So Faster it was.

I feel I made a good choice. Nothing ‘specially stellar about it, but good mindless action movie, capable of providing enough adrenaline to satisfy this action junkie. However, for a movie called “”Faster”” it started off a lil slow going. Yes I know, Im complaining about pacing yet again, sort of. It was fine, just didnt fit the title. Unless it was meant to mean that you wanted it to go faster? But I kinda doubt that.

What I found to be ambitious was that there were three interwoven lines to the story, with decent character development (slightly moreso than your typical shoot ’em up action flick). You had Driver (Dwayne Johnson), our antihero kickin’ ass and takin’ names and serving revenge cold. Then there was Cop (Billy Bob Thorton) who was tracking him down while battling his own demons. And Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) the hitman after Driver torn between the two loves of his life: his work and his girl. I felt that the movie did to a pretty good job of balancing those three, without half-assing the story, yet not sacrificing action for character development.

Also, Im very happy to see The Rock back in this type of flick after his whole family film fare (cue yet another distraction as I frantically check thesaurus.com for a synonym for digression that starts with f) fork. While I appreciate when an actor takes a break from their usual work to do a movie for their kids, Johnson detoured for how many?! But all is now well with the world. Billy Bob Thorton was a bit typecast as the down on his luck messed up type, but he does it so well. The typecast statement was not a complaint, just a statement of fact.

Nothing too innovative on the action front. One really cool chase scene. And I absolutely loved the first face to face between Johnson and Thorton. I wont spoil, but the visual was gorgeous. The rest was mostly your typical shoot out stuff. Entertaining of course, but not particularly special.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Def feel like I made the right choice for the evening. But its not worth rushing out to the theater for, unless you find yourself in a similar entertainment predicament like I did earlier this evening.

Faster -\m/ \m/ \m/

Love and Other Drogs

“The plan for this long weekend was gonna be a movie every day. I only manged 2 outta 4. I was supposta go see Burlesque on Fri with my BFF, but he was having some issues with his contacts and we figured movies are better when you can actually, y’know, see them. Then since Sat was a possibility I kept that open too. But today I managed to get myself to the Regal Fenway for Love and Other Drugs. Those of you who have a decent sense of the kinda movies I like are prolly looking at that statement (or the title on this entry) and going “”Jigga wha?””. Yeah. I dont do romantic films. But you know what films I will do? Those with Jake Gyllenhaal. I love love love that boy. Have ever since Donnie Darko. I also adore Anne Hathaway. After Meryl Streep, she’s my fave. And I got somewhat of a girl crush on her (Anne, not Meryl). So while the idea of a romantic film doesnt exactly get me excited, the concept of a film where half of the screen time is Jake and Anne getting it on, does. Very much so.

Admittedly, it did still take some convincing for me to go. But EW had a great article interviewing the two of them that was just oozing with playful chemistry. The movie promised much more of the same.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the film. This is the sorta situation where the characters will make or break the entire thing, and these characters were fantastic. Jake was charming, confident, suave, and smooth. Anne was quick witted, quirky, sharp tongued, and bad ass. I definitely walked in there with a few potential distractions on my mind if I got bored, and I never had to restort to them.

I most certainly wouldnt be able to handle too many of these types of flicks (and dont understand how anyone can) but if this was gonna be the one chick flick I see this year (usually one maybe two) I certainly did pick a good one.

Love and Other Drugs – \m/ \m/ \m/

Tangled

“Happy Turkey Day, yall! This year is pretty low key for me. I’ve just kinda thrown together a ghetto dinner of various instant or no hassel Thanksgiving faves. My real fun is gonna be tomorrow when I drag my BFF around town before sunrise for my favorite shopping day of the year. But there is one Turkey Day tradition for me that I try to keep when possible: a movie matinee in pajamas. This year, the flick was Tangled.

I \m/ loved it. That was Disney magic at its finest. From the first few minutes of backstory, narrated by the wonderful Zachary Levi (more on him later!) I felt like I was five years old again, under the usual spell of that magical house of mouse. My first impressions when I’d heard there was a Rapunzel movie in the works were 1) yeah duh, she’s one of the few major fairy tale princesses to be Disney-fied B) how exactly are they gonna expand out the story? Then there was all the talk flying around about how they were gonna try making this one a bit more boy friendly. Not entirely sure how well they succeeded in that (still felt like a princess movie to me, not complaining though) but overall they pulled the whole thing off beautifully.

Not sure where to start. Partly because I cracked open the growler of pumpkin ale I’ve had sitting around since BYOP and its starting to go to my head. Yum. Characters. That’s a good place. Chick first. I love that lately the princesses have been a bit more kick ass than they were back in the day. Rapunzel had a great balance of tough cookie and delicate flower. And I thought Mandy Moore did a great job with her. I hadnt been too sure about that casting decision when I first heard about, but it all made sense to me the moment she first opened her mouth to sing. She just brought such a sweet innocense to the role that was perfect.

Speaking of perfection…Zachary Levi as Flynn Ryder. Loved. Him. Great combo of confidence, flair, and playfulness. Definitely one of those instances where you could hear how much fun he was having, and it adds such a wonderful dynamic to the film. Also, prolly the hottest animated Disney prince type after Aladdin and Prince Eric. Especially loved that they nailed Levi’s eyes. Had to keep reminding myself that Flynn was just a cartoon, and strangely felt like I was cheating on Aladdin.

Before this conversation goes into really weird territory, lets stick with talking about the animation. It was absolutely gorgeous. I remember a few years back what a breakthrough it was when Monsters Inc was the first to crack the formula for animating hair, and now we’ve got a CGI movie where someone’s hair is essentially another character in and of itself. Besides that, the colors were just so lively and vibrant and the picture such gorgeous quality. Really looking forward to bringing it home on my Blu-Ray. The latern thing in particular was amazing, both from a storytelling P.O.V and visually.

The music wasn’t as strong as some other Disney classics, but given that I wasn’t even expecting any I’ll still put that in the win column. The bad guys’ song alone makes it all worthwhile.

Overall, such fun. Its exactly the type of movie I love to see on Turkey Day. Funny how I usually end up seeing a kiddie movie (Enchanted back in ’07) or an action movie (Casino Royale the year before that). There’s a lot of debate right now over which film is gonna get the third spot in the Academy Award nods for animated feature this time around (Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon should be locks for the first 2). I’d just like to take this moment to throw my support behind Tangled. I’d certainly rank it above its other competition (Despicable Me, Megamind)

Tangled – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/