Daybreakers

“Say what you want about the vampire craze. Im not tired of it. Although I am annoyed that some of the lesser vamps kinda tarnish the image for all of them. But I’ve loved vampires since Edward Cullen had braces (maybe not, but its been a while) and will still love them once this fad is over.

While I have my core vamp lore that I love above all others (sorry I didnt mean for that to rhyme so much) namely that by Anne Rice and Joss Whedon, and lately Charlaine Harris, Im always really interested to see the mythology and vampire “”rules”” that someone else comes up with. That aspect tends to be kinda make or break for me. If you’re gonna stray from the usual, you’d \m/ better incorporate it in well. And if you’re creating something new, introduce it in a smart way. Otherwise, Im gone. That said, I would like to take this moment to applaud Daybreakers for the vampire world it created.

What was unique about this universe is that humans were the minority. I loved the opening sequence with its mix of backstory and vamp-centric advertisements, and snapshot of how the current world operates (ie, sign for school zone speed limit in effect from 2am – 3am). And that is what surrounded the morally gray area the film lived in. I just got off the phone with my parents and my daddy, in reference to the movie, asked me who won. My response was that it depends on how you look at it. “”You mean what side you’re on?”” “”No, more what outcome you wanted””. I just love that

The setup may have sucked me in, but the story kept me glued to it. Nothing too particularly spectacular, but it was very streamlined and interesting. Without going into spoilertastic detail, I’ll just say that I liked the way it played out and eventually concluded.

Big fan of Ethan Hawke. Have been since Training Day (although in my head it always takes me a minute to remember he was in Training Day, not Seven). He made quite the sexy conflicted vampire (very Angel-like, Angel as in formerly Angelus not as in Gabriel or Michael). Sam Neil was quite creepy as the evil corporate undead dude. Happy as always to see Willem Dafoe. Given some of his acting history (Cirque Du Freak, Shadow of the Vampire), he too seems to be quite the vamp lover.

Oh and yes, there was blood. Lots. A bit on the gratiutous side for most tastes, but I happen to enjoy that sorta thing. Most of the movie had a dim yet sleek look to it, and the bright red blood was a cool contrast to that.

Yes, I know Im gonna prolly get a good deal of negative votes on Rotten Tomatoes for giving this flick such high praise. Keep in mind, I rate based on enjoyability and entertainment value, not necessarily quality. And I verily enjoyed it and was thoroughly entertained. While that may mostly be because I’m a fangbanger, Im a very picky one at that. Not just any movie that has hot guys with pointy teeth is gonna get my approval.

Daybreakers – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

An Education

I eventually made it outta there, and I had about half an hour until the next one. I’d actually planned ahead and brought a granola bar intead of pigging out at the snack bar like I typically do at my double features.

The whole placing was really jumping, mostly there for Crazy Heart I think. There’s always a really strange vibe there, guess cause its not my usual crowd. There’s just some sorta slightly superior attitude I tend to get from ’em. Makes me feel almost like a poser being at that small indie theater when I spend far more time watching the big coporate blockbuster type films. And then when the trailers play, Im sitting there thinking WTF during some of them, bored during others, but everyone around me is laughing hysterically or chattering away about how good those films look. Huh? Moving On.

An Education is another one of those that I didnt expect to like, based on the premise alone. Then A) it got really good buzz B)it was on the list of 25 movies to see before the Oscars C) Quentin Tarantino (the god of movie gods in my eyes) listed it as one of his faves for the year. So I went. As soon as the quirky music started playing over the opening credits, I knew I was in for something fun.

Turns out quirky is a pretty good way to describe a lot of the film. The spirit of the movie, especially embodied thru the main character Jenny, was very much like Juno–spunky young independant woman learns about life the hard way. Carey Mulligan was so adorable, but also capable of such depth. She’s another assumed lock for an Oscar nod and I fully support that as well. I could also really relate to her character, having grown up in an environment of “”school first””, college is the number one goal. Granted, my ‘rents weren’t quite as harsh as hers, and I didnt have some big rebellion, harsh life lesson/epiphany, but I still totally get it. I guess for me it was more focus focus focus, done, now what?

Starting to ramble. Back to the film. Speaking of her parents, Alfred Molina played her dad. I hated him for half the movie, but I think that was just a sign of him doing a good job. Also, never quite realized Molina is actually British. Yeah, IMDB just told me that. Weird. Points for Peter Sarsgaard as well. Although I was kinda distracted for a lot of it cause I got his last name confused with Skarsgard, as in Alexander Skarsgard who plays the hottest vamp currently on tv–Eric on True Blood. I somehow got it into my head that they were bros, so that got in the way a bit.

Ultimately, yes I was very much entertained by this one. It was both very light at times and very intense at others. Yeah can’t really think of much else, but again thoroughly enjoyable

An Education – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

A Single Man

“OMG work has been murder this week. I had time to watch movies when I’d come home, but I figured in the state of mind I was in, I wouldnt be able to give them a fair watching. Pulled what I call a Dawn Dawn Double Feature today. That just means I saw two movies today. This time, both at the Kendall Square Landmark Theater. First time I ever double there. Usually I get one there, then catch the second elsewhere.

Anyhoo, first up was A Single Man, which I thought was rather incredible. I absolutely adored Colin Firth’s character, George, and he was played so expertly. You could practically feel the pain he was going thru, and sympathized with his character every step of the way. Fully support the inevitable Oscar nod Firth is poised for.

Guess we’ll keep going down the line with the cast. Never particularly cared much for Julianne Moore, except for Magnolia, but I loved everyone in that. While she was good here, I dont see why she’s also supposed to be a lock for an Oscar nod. I dunno, just wasnt as struck by her as I was by Firth and some of the others. The others would be Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode, neither of whom I was familiar with previously. Apparently Nicholas Hoult was the little kid in About A Boy, which I never saw. He annoyed me at first but I fell in love with him over the course of the movie. And Goode was (resisting the urge for the bad pun) quite go..um…great as the idealized lover.

While I definitely recommend this film, I warn you it is quite the downer. As if the story wasnt somber enough on its own, the feel was heightened by the lighting. During George’s low points, the lighting would be very bleak and dull. It’d brighten momentarily along with his moods, but that didnt usually last too long. I found that detail to be extremely effective and was quite impressed by it. By the end, it was one of those that I just needed a minute to recover from. I wont go into spoilery detail but all along I’d expected the film to end a certain way, then it didnt, then it twisted again. I spent the last 5 minutes frozen, with my hand covering my mouth after I’d gasped with surprise along with the rest of the fairly sizable crowd. I didnt even get up until halfway through the credits, and I wasn’t the only one who’d been affected that way it seemed.

A Single Man – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

It’s Complicated

“If you’d just told me the plot of It’s Complicated, I woulda told you there’s no way in hell Im seeing that. But throw my favorite actress, Meryl Streep, into the mix as well as all the good things* I’ve been hearing and Im there.
*good things include but are not limited to Golden Globe nominations and inclusion on EW’s 25 movies to see before the Oscars.

Turns out, it was oh so incredibly worth it. I was dying of laughter at various points throughout the film. Unfortunately, that was lessened a bit since the trailer gave away the hi-\m/-larious webcam scene. The audience reaction to that was amazing, and I really wish I coulda had that too.

But OMG Meryl. Not sure how into detail I’ve gone as to why she’s my favorite, so if this is all repetition, apologies. What started her climb up my list? 2008. In that one year, she had an amazing rich role and dramatic performance in Doubt, earning her yet another Oscar nod. But she also had a completely for fun role in Mama Mia. That juxtaposition of films is the type of thing I’ve always admired in actors. I love it when someone is so versatile and able to balance fun and prestige (is that the word Im looking for?) She’s done Sophie’s Choice and Lemony Snickett’s, The Deer Hunter and Fantastic Mr Fox. And then this year, she took what could have been mediocre roles for another actress and now has Golden Globe nods and legit Oscar buzz. And every syllable of the praise she has gotten has been very well deserved. She was just stunning in this movie. Who says you need to be a size zero twenty year old female to have the lead role in a rom-com? Her every expression & emotion was just flawless. Bestest part about Meryl in general? Despite being one of today’s most acclaimed actresses (13 Oscar nods in addition to her two wins) she’s so gracious and humble. She’s so sweet about receiving praise and you see her incredibly happy for her colleagues if they beat her for an award.

I’ll quit gushing about Meryl now. Kinda tough to transition to talking about the rest of the cast. Oh, but I must. I’ve adored Steve Martin since I was like 6. I can’t even begin to count how many times I watched Father of the Bride back then. We’re all always so used to seeing him as an over the top comedian, but he had such as sweet vulnerable side this time around that was so touching.

Alec Baldwin was a little much for me. Granted, Im not particularly familiar with him, but from what I hear that was pretty typical Alec. I’ll admit, my favorite Baldwin (besides Adam who isnt a true Baldwin, or at least not one of those Baldwins) would be Stephen Baldwin, but I’m open to reassessing that once I get to the 30 Rock DVD’s that have been sitting in my queue since Black Friday.

Also quite enjoyed John Krasinski’s performance. He’s another one that Im not too familiar with (wasnt interested enough in The Office when it started, and Im juggling waaaay to many shows now to jump in), but Im well on my way to becoming a fan. He had Ryan Reynolds like charm that was just so captivating (eh that word might be a tad strong). I also thought that his character, as one of the daughter’s fiancee, worked quite well. As an outside insider (or is it inside outsider) his perspective was a nice addition and allowed for some comedic bits that needed some strong relationship with the main characters, but wouldnt have worked with the kids.

The most pleasant surprise award this time around goes to Rita Wilson. Dont really see Mrs Tom Hanks (they’re one of my fave celeb couples, bee tee dubs) that often, and always makes me smile when I do. But what made me smile even more was the first few seconds of screen time Hunter Parrish got. I’d forgotten he was in this. Although, I gotta say his performance/presence felt kinda forced. His character was waaaay to nice for him. He works much better with some edge. Not quite as much as he had in 17 Again, cause that character was just an ass. But Im used to him in Weeds, which is such a better fit. Pretty boy with and edge is totally my type.

As previously mentioned, the movie was quite hilarious. And I actually did rather enjoy the storyline. It was unique yet familiar. Its the sort of thing I dont really have any personal experience with (I’ve never been married and/or divorced, and my parents are still married after 29 years) but from my limited perspective it felt like they included everything. In particular, I wouldnt have thought to include the impact on the children as a major part of the story, but I thought that grounded the whole thing. The one downside was that it felt like it was about to wrap up by the graduation party, and then there was still a whole other half hour. Took a little big to get its groove back then, but ultimately I was happy with how it all concluded.

It’s Complicated – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Avatar

“EW just published its list of 25 movies you need to see before the Oscars. I’ve already seen 17 of them before it was published, which I think is even better than last year after intentionally going out to see ones on the list. The 17 are (and lets see if I can do this from memory cause I dont feel like getting up and checking it): Up in The Air, Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up, Fantastic Mr Fox, (500) Days of Summer, A Serious Man, The Messenger, Inglorious Basterds, Nine, The Blind Side, Invictus…d’oh I gotta get up and check it…Julie & Julia, Star Trek, District 9, The Informant! Beyond that, I already had plans for 3 more this week. Hoping to get to Its Complicated either tomorrow or day after. Depending on how this week goes I’ll either catch A Single Man on Thur at Coolidge Corner or I’ll double feature it on Sat at the Kendall with An Education (which I plan to see on Sat either way). That’ll bring the total to 20. Then Crazy Heart and The Lovely Bones go wide next week, so I’ll swing ’em at that point. That will just leave The Young Victoria, The Last Station, and Bright Star. I’ll prolly wait until nods are actually out before deciding if I really feel like putting in the effort for those.

Okay, so technically I’d only seen 16 of them before reading the list, cause number 17 came today–Avatar. I know, for me thats a long time since release date for me to catch such a major flick. Plans to watch it earlier were all thwarted by life and other outside factors. Anyways, the Regal Fenway had been jam packed the past two days, with Avatar selling out, so I figured I’d go to the earliest showing possible 3D or not. That plan worked out quite well. Caught the 11:45 which did feature a third dimension.

PS – Kinda had this song stuck in my head the whole time. Only slightly related

Initial reaction, wow. No it wasn’t the best movie ever or anything like that, but as far as groundbreaking film-making technology wise, dayum. And the plot was pretty decent too.

But for reals, the CGI and special effects were killer. I was particularly fond of the night time scenes with all the glowy plants. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about 3 hours of 3-D, but I actually do think it was worth it. Normally I complain when the extra dimension only equals extra depth (as opposed to things jumping at you, which is what I like) but it was such a great touch. It made their world so much more massive, almost felt like being at the IMAX without really being there. I can’t even fathom what it must be like in 3D at the IMAX.

Im generally not someone to be so readily accepting of a new alien culture, especially not such a “”tree-hugging”” one as the Na’vi. But I was drawn to them for some reason. Just absolutely loved them. I find it kinda strange that toward the end of the film, you’re cheering AGAINST the humans in the story. We become the bad guys. Deep. Whoa.

Did like the cast. And before you question how possible it is to give acting merit to a CGI being, I’ve got one word for you: Gollum. Sam Worthington is kind of a poor man’s Ewan McGregor (their American accents sound the same). Is it weird that I found him hotter as a Na’vi? Between this and Terminator: Salvation, he’s really starting to prove his worth as an action star, and he’s doing a fine job of it. Was pleasantly surprised to see Giovanni Ribisi. Hadn’t really seen much of him in a while. Was equally surprised but less pleasantly to find Michelle Rodriguez in this one. Never really cared for her, but this may be her first few steps toward redemption in my book.

Wasn’t anything too special about the story, but it was good and simple. Really, I think this movie was more of a showcase for the technology and the environment than anything else. And the characters were good, which keep me interested. Was a bit lengthy, clocking in at 3 hours if you count all the previews. But when you realize how \m/ long James Cameron spent on this one, I think he’s entitled to a little bit of excess running time.

Avatar – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Sherlock Holmes

“Today’s theater movie was Sherlock Holmes, or How Guy Ritchie Got His Groove Back.

When I first heard that Robert Downey Jr was gonna be playing Sherlock Holmes on screen, I was happily intrigued. When I first saw the trailer, I squealed with delight. When I heard (and Im still not sure how I found this out so late) that Guy Ritchie was directing, I jumped in the air and screamed excitedly. Im a big Guy Ritchie fan. Snatch is my sixth all time favorite movie, and I of course love Lock Stock… as well. We all know that Swept Away nearly killed his career (no I haven’t seen it). Revolver wasn’t that great. Rocknrolla was a step in the right direction, but still not up to his caliber. But finally, with Sherlock Holmes, he is on his way back to the top.

Now it seems that lately there’s always two things (different ones each time) that hinder my movie experience. This time it was that I was really hungry during the second half, and also the screen was _really_ dark. Too dark to have been a directorial choice, and also I think it was a bit dark during the previews (which were kinda awesome, btw). So didnt enjoy it as much as I otherwise would have, but I still think it was quite good.

There was so much that I thought really rocked about it. There was the really quickly cut shots (a Ritchie signature) used for reveals. And the whole mystical element mixed in with the mystery. The fight scenes were great, especially when Holmes would spell out his moves in slo-mo then kick some ass.

What really got me going, though, was the Holmes/Watson relationship. Why? Because Im a huge fan of House. I’d heard that House and Wilson’s bromance was based on Holmes and Watson (get it? Holmes –> House), but that was kinda always just something I knew, but didnt fully grasp. But seeing them bicker, with Holmes meddling and Watson always coming back, I so totally \m/ get it now.

And yes, Robert Downey Jr was amazing beyond all reason. So smart and charming and tough and oh yeah, sexy like whoa. Never previously understood the fascination with Jude Law, but that’s something else I now get–also charming and sweet and clever. Always adore Rachel McAdams, and she was quite stunning as per usual.

Um, yeah, so Sherlock Holmes = WIN!

Sherlock Holmes – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Nine

“I hadn’t expected to go so long without a post. I’d decided against squeezing in an AFI before leaving for Texas cause I didnt want it to feel too rushed. Then I didnt really have sufficient time while I was there to get one in or run to the theater. Opted to spend my free time watching Bones and Big Bang Theory. Then work murdered me this week, and the need to pass out trumped the desire to watch movies I’d hafta pay attention to. So here we are.

First post of 2010. I’ll work on my 2009 movie wrap up sometime this weekend.

Before I get started on Nine, I had one comment I wanted to throw in about the previous entry, Cabaret. I was talking to a friend of mine at a Christmakwanzikahsolstice holiday party and Cabaret came up in conversation. (Someone asked if anyone there was Jewish, and when no one replied, I mentioned I’d seen Cabaret that day and asked if that counted). He told me that the storyline(s) in the movie was(were) purposely different from the stage version. Its based on a book called Berlin Stories which is a collection of short stories about living in Berlin in 1931. According to my buddy, they purposely decided to use different stories for the movie than they did for the play. So I guess I halfway take back my previous complaint about the story differences.

With that, we’ll transition into another musical–Nine. First impression, very unimpressed. I very much love musicals and musical theater. I figured between the Academy Award superstars in the cast and the high production value that this was gonna be great. Instead I sadly found it rather boring.

I couldnt quite grasp what was going on. Yes I gathered that Guido was gonna be filming a movie in a few days and hadnt even written a script yet. But I couldnt follow exactly how all the other events (and women) fit into that flow. Also, the musical numbers seemed too forced. With Chicago, director Rob Marshall’s previous musical, the dream sequence-y songs fit right in. I think that was from how the character would appear to start bursting into song and likewise come out of that state at the end. The transitions were too choppy in Nine. And the whole dream sequence flashback with a dream sequence dance in between that happened a few times was just weird. Im sure the stage version must have worked much much better, and I would be interested to see it someday. Another nitpick, yes I know that musical numbers almost always have to be lip synched. Im okay with that. However, Im not okay with them putting in no effort to hide that fact. Not sure if it was the sound balance, the staging, or the acting, but I was rarely able to “”believe”” they were really singing.

There were a few musical numbers I really did like, as stand alone scenes. I loved the dancing in “”Be Italian”” (Im guessing at song titles). The sand and the tambourines looked so great. Going into it, I did not expect Fergie’s number to have been my favorite. I also enjoyed Kate Hudson’s number, even if she wasnt quite the best singer. Although I didnt find her as nails-on-chalkboard-ish as my more musically inclined friends had warned me she’d be. But while those were my favorite numbers, their characters were the ones that felt most out of place to me. I really did not understand how they really fit into the rest of the story.

The all star cast was pretty good, I’ll give it that. Lets just go down the list of who’s left, shall we?
-Daniel Day-Lewis is a really great actor (LOVED him in There Will Be Blood, and was quite happy about that Oscar win) even if I didnt really like Guido’s character that much.
-Marion Cotillard is so cute (Im thinking about her presenting at last year’s Oscars), but this time she was vulnerable with a tough side. Her attitude and bombshell-ness in her second song caught me completely off guard and it was fan-\m/-tastic. Im just intrigued by the way her career has gone. If you think of most of the recent Academy Award winners, their careers have kinda built as they got more well know, then they won their award as kind of a nice pretty bow on top of all their acheivements. (Im looking at you Kate Winslet, prime example). Marion Cotillard, on the other hand, was this little nobody of an actress who managed an Academy Award nod, then a surprising win. And now she’s building her career off that win. Totally backwards, but it works, and I’ve been happy to see her.
-Penelope Cruz has been moving her way up my list of fave actresses. Its a rare combination to have such a sultry character who just oozes sex but also has a depth behind that. You usually only get one or the other, but Cruz pulled it off beautifully.
-Didnt care much for Nicole Kidman. She didnt really do a lot, and her accent was just strange.
-Judi Dench’s character was prolly my favorite, even if I didnt care much for her song. I have a tendancy to gravitate towards the most grounded character when the rest of them are a bit off the wall.

Yeeeeah, so overall bit of a disappointment. I’ll still end up buying the DVD, but you’re prolly just best off You-Tubing the main numbers

Nine – \m/ \m/

Invictus

“Couple quick things before we get started here. One is that I got ExpletiveDleted added to the list of Boston blogs on Boston.com I dont know that anyone actually goes thru the list reading blogs, but I know Im not the only Bostonian who spends a good chunk of the day punting on that site. Personally, the highlight of my day is when a new Love Letters gets posted. A bit out of character for me, I know, but the writer, Meredith, is pretty cool.

Next, AFI posted their top ten list for 2009. Particularly psyched to see The Hangover and The Messenger on the list. The former because I like that they’ll actually acknowledge that type of flick as quality (by some definitions of the word) entertainment. The latter makes me happy cause I dont think that movie’s gotten too much notice. And I really shoulda given it a full four \m/ instead of 3 1/2.

Right. Invictus. Almost didnt make it tonight. Work’s been insanely tough and all I wanted to do was veg out. As motivation, I decided I’d finally try those cupcakes that they’ve had at the theater for a few weeks now. I’d been regretting that I didnt get them when they woulda been free at my Cirque du Freak screening. Verdict on those? The red velvet one had killer cream cheese frosting, but otherwise not really worth three bucks a piece.

Okay I know, this blog is about movies, not cupcakes.

Im actually really glad I dragged myself over to the theater. I left there so happy. Although, it took a while to get to that point. The first half dragged on, and their accents were so bad (at least Im assuming they werent exactly accurate) that I couldnt understand half the dialogue. Im still not even sure what the rugby team was called. But the pace really quickened and the overall mood picked up just past the halfway mark. By the time the rugby team had that coaching session with some of the local kids, the history and tone had been set and we could just coast on the “”Mighty Ducks”” story.

There were some really beautiful images in the movie. That coaching session was a great one. Although, my favorite was the little kid at the end listening to the world cup game with the security officers. I also really liked how they used the work relationship between the black and white members of Mandela’s security staff to illustrate the relationship between the two halves of the country.

Fan-\m/-tastic acting from Morgan Freeman, as if we’d expect anything less. By now, we’ve seen him play a US president in Deep Impact (second best fictitious pres after Dennis Haysbert on 24), win an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby, and of course play God in Bruce and Evan Almighty. Apparently Nelson Mandela said that the only actor he thought could play him was Freeman. Now I know absolutely nothing about the man, but I definitely saw him, not Freeman on screen. And that’s saying something for such a recognizable and loveable actor. I also know nothing about his politics or character other than what we saw in the film, but at least here he was such an admirable and inspirational person. To have gone thru hell in prison, and then draw from that experience to try and unite a country could not have been easy. Ew, Im starting to get all gooey. I’ll stop

Love Matt Damon as always, but I dont know if it was the accent or the extra blonde hair that really threw me off. His character grew on me by the end, but it took some getting used to.

As far as the whole rugby thing, that’s a sport that’s intrigued me for a while. I never actually heard of it until high school maybe. Woulda been kinda nice if I knew the game a bit better since a lot of the time when they were playing I had no freakin’ clue what was going on. Makes me wish I woulda gone to see a game back at MIT when I had friends on the team, especially the girls’ team annual prom dress rugby. By the time we got to the final game in the film, I really was on the edge of my seat. Can’t really elaborate much more without getting spoilertastic.

Guess thats about it for now. Hoping to get an AFI movie in tomorrow, but I gots some errand running to do after work. Hopefully I’ll get outta there at a decent hour with an acceptable amount of brainpower left. Just gotta get thru this week and then Im off on Christmas vacay.

Invictus – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Princess and the Frog

“This year has been a good one for animation. I hear there’s even enough elligible films that there’ll be five nods for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars. You’ve got Pixar kicking butt as always with computer animation with Up, and also Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in the great computer ani. Then there was fantastic stop motion with Fantastic Mr Fox and Coraline. And now, Disney’s kicking it old school with hand drawn animation for Princess and The Frog, and Im so glad for that. I do remember when computer animation was such a big deal, and I’ve seen it get better and better over time (mostly with each Pixar movie) but I’ve also seen it more half assed over time when other studios just crank out these plastic looking hardly thought thru kiddie films. Having grown up during Disney’s second golden age (Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, etc) my poor little heart has been crying and aching for some good hand drawn animation, and so psyched that Disney finally delivered.

The storyline for Princess and the Frog was a really creative twist on the original Frog Prince fairy tale. And I loved the supporting characters, in particular Ray and Louis, although I gotta admit the main characters did annoy me a bit. I found Tiana a slight bit too one-track-minded, and Naveen was too arrogant. Most of my buds who I saw it with adored Charlotte. I did too, while I could stand her. She was a bit much at times. And seriously, what’s up with the Lost actor names for characters? Naveen? Evangeline? Thats the only other time I’ve ever heard those two names.

The music was good, but nothing too spectacular. I much prefer Menken over Randy Newman, and while Newman was better than usual I didnt exactly leave wanting to run to Limewire and download the soundtrack. The New Orleans jazz setting did lend itself to great sound and overall vibe for the movie, and having voodoo available for the required fairy tale magic was a nice bonus.

I liked that this time around, the whole wish upon a star thing was balanced with the idea of working hard to get what you want. You kinda got to see both of those ends of the spectrum and how you need both to make your dreams come true. And even though, as previously mentioned, I may not have entirely cared for Tiana, having a strongwilled independant woman character is always a plus over a fragile little princess. Disney’s usually pretty good about that, but Tiana definitely ranks closer to Mulan than Aurora on that scale.

There was also some great dialogue. A few jokes there for the adults. My favorite being a reference to an AFI movie we’ve already been thru. I wont give it away, but I thought it was quite epic. I was laughing uncontrollably for a minute, but I think I was the only person who was able to fully appreciate it. And of course there was the slapstick comedy that had the little kids to my left and my buddy Carlos to my right convulsing with giggle fits.

So overall, while this may not be a definitive sign of another golden age for Disney, its certainly a step in the right direction.

The Princess and the Frog – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Up in the Air

“Got another Oscar front runner out of the way, and really stoked about it. I hafta say, right off the bat, that from those front runners (in this case Im referring to Precious and The Hurt Locker as well) Up in the Air is my fave. Wasn’t exactly blown away by it, as is usually a good sign with Oscar pix and as was the case with Slumdog for me last year, but still thoroughly enjoyed it. Im actually glad that this type of quirky film is getting the good feedback and attention from award gurus. Gives me hope that we really have progressed past the point where the “”best”” movies of the year are boring art pieces that no one actually sees.

The premise is just so creative and original–guy who’s job it is to go around firing people. Turned out being so timely too, although apparently that was by accident. Reitman had originally started work on this in 2002, but it got pushed back. Except for the recognizable stars, namely J K Simmons and Zach Galifianakis, none of the people who were fired in the film were actors. They got actual people who’d been recently terminated and gave them their chance to say what they wished they had, which added such a sincere touch of realism.

Ultimately, its really a character piece, and one that was carried quite well by the always dashing and debonair George Clooney. However, this time, he had a rare vulnerability that was just so striking.

Clooney wasnt the only impressive cast member. Anna Kendrick is getting lots of supporting actress buzz, and I couldnt agree more. She was so tough and intense and quick (which always makes for an awesome kick ass chick), but she too had a vulnerable side. And I can now see Vera Farminga as more than just “”the chick from The Departed””. The only possible miscast, according to me, would be Danny McBride. Its just way too hard to take him seriously, and while his role was supposed to be somewhat comedic, I think he pushed that a bit over the edge. Not by anything specific he did, just by being Danny McBride.

Up In The Air can also boast that it has some epic dialogue, and a couple of great and out of nowhere “”oh no (s)he didnt!”” moments. I very enthusiastically recommend this one.

Up in the Air – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/