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/

Crazy Heart

“Continuing the previously mentioned trend for the weekend, we’ve got Crazy Heart. You know, its The Wrestler except instead of Mickey Rourke playing a washed up wrestler who has an estranged kid and a thing with Marissa Tomei, you’ve got Jeff Bridges played a washed up country singer who has an estranged kid and a thing with Maggie Gyllenhaal. No really, on some fronts they’re the same movie. But on others, they’re different, and I’ll stop the comparison here by saying that I felt Crazy Heart was far superior.

Ultimately, this film was just putting Jeff Bridges on display hoping for Oscar nod #5 and win #1, and he’s got a damn good shot at it. Yes, this was the classic Oscar bait role with your guy at the end of his rope hitting rock bottom and trying to claw his way back up. However, the one thing that I felt made this role step away from the cliche is that he really was a sympathetic character. You prolly would like to hang out with him, as opposed to just observing him or at best taking him on as a charity case.

And just wanna go on record for saying that Maggie Gyllenhaal is another fave of mine. Has been since I first saw Criminal. Short tangent on that, I remember having one of the worst weekends ever and then Criminal was playing at LSC at MIT. For lack of anything better to do, I shuffled over there in pj’s and my South Park Timmy slippers carrying my stuffed alien Marty and a bunch of tissues (again, really bad weekend) and I left there feeling like everything was okay, as cliche as that sounds.

Heart Collin Farrell as well. Im not sure how much I buy him as country, but he played the superstar quite well, and eventually won me over there. But that long hair has gotta go. As much as I love long hair on guys, it doesnt work on him.

The gripe for this movie (cause I always gotta have at least one) is that I didnt buy the relationship between Bridges’ and Gyllenhaal’s characters. I can see why he fell for her, and I could get her falling for him eventually, but it was too fast which gave it a really forced feeling (I know I use forced a lot to describe these sortsa things). But on the other side of the spectrum, there was a big event towards the end that did have me on the edge of my seat (yeah I use that phrase a lot too). Wont spoil it, but definitely added something a bit more unique that was quite effective.

Anyways, if youre one of those like me who hafta see the major players in the Academy Awards, this is definitely one not to miss

Crazy Heart – \m/ \m/ \m/

The Edge of Darkness

“Im kinda sad that Ive gotten so far behind on my AFI list. Ive been hovering so close to 50 watched for so long. Im really close to having them all acquired, though. Once the ones currently on order get in, Ive got 4 to buy and 5 to rent. Im thinking at that point, I might just go in countdown order for whats left, or at least mostly countdown order with some skipping at my discression.

Anyways so yesterday I wanted to get another rental out of the way. For some reason, from the remaining ones I was most drawn to It Happened One Night–the considered the original screwball comedy, and not generally my type. Turns out, I ended up absolutely loving it.

From this film, I can totally get why that subgenre was so big back in the day, and why every movie tried to replicate it. Characters were great, cast was great, really funny, just on the outer rims of belivability, overall damn near close to perfection. So much so, that this is one of the 3 films to have ever won an Oscar grand slam. We talked about that a bit when I saw All About Eve (the second one to do so). For those keeping score at home, Silence of the Lambs is the third. Yet to see it for blogging purposes, but I do know it well and love it much. But yeah, I could see how if this is one of the first classic older films you ever see you could get \m/ addicted to them.

Also understand the whole Clark Gable thing. I’d seen him in Gone With The Wind back in jr high, but at that point in time I was not in a position to appreciate it. Watching him yesterday I was getting kinda excited to revisit …Wind once I break into the top 5. You know, its interesting how some things never change. A movie gets popular, and some little detail starts a big fad. According to IMDB trivia, during the undressing scene (one of many aboslutely classic scenes in the film. Im partial to the dunking donuts bit), it was too awkward for Gable to deal with an undershirt, so they nixed it. There was then a huge decrease in the sale of undershirts nationwide as guys stopped wearing them as a result of this movie. Im sure we’ve all got recent examples of similiar phenomenon. The first that comes to mind is the fashion craze from Sex and the City.

Gotta get this wrapped up to I can go about the rest of my day. Plans include a trip to the Kendall for Crazy Heart and finishing up Sophie’s Choice cause yeah I fell asleep thru it. Why do I always think its such a good idea to watch a 3 hour movie late on a Saturday night? I think Titanic was the only time that actually worked out.”

Legion

“I really worry about myself and my movie addiction. There’s times, like today, where I go to the theater just cause I hafta see some new movie cause it just opened, even if I know its not gonna be good. Such was the case with Legion. I tried talking myself out of it, but was unsuccessful. I still dont really know why I just had to go. Walking out of there, I overheard someone say “”Well at least it had Paul Bettany””. That’s kinda my sentiment too. Then her companion replied with “”Who’s Paul Bettany?”” and a little piece of my soul died.

Before ya’ll start leaving comments asking the same question, I’ll educate you so that you can at least pretend you knew if you didnt. I know him best as Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, but he was also in The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon, Master and Commander, and a buncha others. Got it now?

And yes, Bettany was great as the archangel Michael. He was the one redeeming quality in a movie that is waaay beneath him and what he’s capable of. I guess it does say something about him that he’ll still give 110% in something like this that woulda prolly be phoned in by another actor.

As far as the rest of it, there just really wasn’t much to it. There was the whole attempt at being meaningful and making a point about faith, but really I think it was just an excuse to have people possessed by angels that were essentially zombies. And I can just picture the protest emails that are likely circling the religious groups right now (hell back in the day I used to get those for other films). But it felt like it was attempting to be controversial simply for the sake of being controversial.

Another thing I found odd was how contained it all was. They never really left the little diner, which was a bit strange, or at least its not typical.

But yeah, really not worth your time unless you’ve got a movie addiction that rivals mine, and you’re not afraid to pay to sit through a potential dud.

Legion – \m/ \m/

I hoped to get in another AFI film tonight (My pace has slowed too damn much) but these write ups took longer than expected. At least I got Land Of the Lost outta my queue (that was my background noise). Yeah still dont know why I actually bought that. Impulse buy on Black Friday. Hoping to catch Youth in Revolt tomorrow. I really need to try and get in a few AFI’s during the week if I dont get stuck at work. Then planning to trek to an indie theater for Crazy Heart on Sat and Edge of Darkness of Sun. Aaaand break!”

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

“Not my fault Im late on this one. LJ was down on Fri night when I planned to write it up, and just hadnt gotten around to it since. Yeah I know, Fri night is the least likely day of the week you’ll find me going to the theater (unless initiated by a buddy) but my options for Dr Parnassus were Harvard Sq or the Common. And since I try to avoid the AMC Loews Boston Common as much as possible I figured going straight after work on Fri would be better than a round trip the length of the movie that would knock out most of my Sunday.

I dont think ya’ll would be surprised that the reason I had to go out of my way to see this movie is Heath Ledger. For that, the film was worth it. The first image of him on screen caused so many gasps and sighs from the audience. I’ll try to spare you the sappy tribute as much as possible, but goddam I love that guy. No other celeb death has affected me the way his did. I remember a buddy of mine said he found out from this tribute. I’d actually heard it from someone and dropped everything and ran to a computer to verify the news.

That said, I think Im with the camp that will prefer to think of Dark Knight as Ledger’s last film. That was truly an iconic performance in a nearly flawless movie. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and it totally breaks my heart to say this, wasn’t really that great. I mostly say that cause it was just weird and I did not get it at all.

The big question about this film was how were they gonna salvage Ledger’s work, and as Im sure you’ve all heard, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell took it over. I have to say, for the most part, that worked quite well. Kinda serendipitous that this movie actually lended itself to that solution. Gonna try to explain as best I can without giving anything away, which is also tricky since I didnt entirely understand all of it. But the characters would go into this magical world (the Imaginarium) that was formed by their imaginations, so having a different appearance was entirely possible there. They even established this early on before it happened to Ledger’s character. That much worked. Depp was the first one to step in, and he charmed his way through it beautifully. The one downside was that the story had to be concluded within the imaginarium, since Im assuming they hadnt gotten that far in filming otherwise, and there was a bit of a disconnect having a different actor resolving Ledger’s character. But its not like there were too many options.

As far as the rest of the film, again it didnt make much sense to me. The pacing was a bit slow, things werent ever fully explained, and it was just all so absurd. Admittedly, I had similar feelings toward Brothers Grimm (another Terry Gilliam film) but then it grew on me on a second viewing. Im really really hoping thats the case here.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – \m/ \m/

The Lovely Bones

“Before seeing this movie, there were two things that I kept on hearing. One was the controversy over leaving out the murder/rape stuff. The other the debate whether or not it was unfilmable. Before I comment, should point out that no, I haven’t read the book. But I am very interested to. I usually prefer to go backwards (see movie then, read book) so I will be adding it to my list. That said.

On that first issue, I think they made the right call. It didnt take a lot to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what happened to Susie Salmon. Also, I really liked the way they transitioned into her death. I knew she was going to be killed, and I actually believed for a second that she hadn’t been. I was almost as surprised as she was when she realized it (not quite though cause I did know it was coming. Not a spoiler, cause its the basic premise of the story)

As far as the unfilmable bit, sorta inclined to agree. At least, I think I do. The reason its considered that is because of the whole “”in between”” stuff (where she’s in a purgatory state of not on earth, not in heaven). I really coulda done without all that. I was into the story otherwise, but it lost me everytime we went back there. That also really bogged down the pacing. I did like her having a connection to the living, but the whole What Dreams May Come-ish afterlife world just didnt work right.

I will say the cast was fantastic. Loved Saoirse Ronan even from the trailers for Atonement. That is one intense little actress, and with an Academy Award nod already under her belt there’ll be no stopping her. Heart Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weitz, of course, but the scene stealer was Susan Sarrandon who’s been a fave of mine since I first saw The Client. Excellent choice for the eccentric grandma.

The other debate I’ve been hearing is over Stanley Tucci. He’s got a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod this year. The question is Lovely Bones or Julie & Julia? Most tend to lean toward Lovely Bones. I disagree. Yes he was fantastic. He so fully embodied this really creepy character, including voice and mannerisms. However I felt there was a lot more depth to him in …Julia. There he shone by helping his costar shine, and we all fell in love with him for it, or at least I did. And while we all know how much I love psycho killers (Dexter, Patrick Bateman, etc) Im not quite ready to add him to the list of the most classic killers.

Yeah so it seems I liked it more than a lot of others did. Its losing half a point for the whole in between fail. Otherwise, really intriguing story with a great cast.

The Lovely Bones – \m/ \m/ \n

The Book of Eli

“Little bit of catching up to do. Yesterday’s schedule was so jammed I couldnt find any write up time. Original plan was to do this during the Globes yesterday, but I ended up getting really into it until power went out on the whole block during the last hour. *sigh*

I shoulda known better than to get really excited for a January released movie. That’s always a setup for disappointment. From the trailer Book of Eli looked so promising. Yes I know the whole post apocalyptic thing is a bit over done (just in the past year: The Road, 9, Terminator: Salvation, plus a few other more subtle ones). But what could go wrong with Denzel kicking some butt? Lots actually.

My main gripe, well there’s a few actually. One is that it was so \m/ slow paced. Yes the action sequences were good (I _really_ loved the silhouette one) but they were few, far-between, and fleeting. The rest of the time, things were just progressing really slowly. Felt like nothing much was really happening the rest of the time. I recognize that a lot of that was to establish the feel of how sparsely populated the world was, but really we got the point. Move on please.

The other big gripe is that it was trying to hard to be meaningful. The irony there being that it woulda been, if they hadn’t pushed. The last ten minutes were amazing. While a lot of it was predictable, there was something I hadn’t forseen and it made me wanna watch the whole thing again with that knowledge. But up until that point, there were lots of vague references attempting to be universal. And the somewhat minimal dialogue was somewhat mediocre at best.

The saddest part was that such a great cast was wasted on it. Love Denzel and this was one of his most badass roles to date. Gary Oldman makes a wonderfully evil baddie, if only he had better dialogue to work with. Mila Kunis is another fave of mine, but she didnt have much to do. Surprise appearance by Malcom Macdowell, which made me happy, although it was distracting as I tried to figure out if it was Malcom Macdowell or Terrance Stamp cause I always have the damnest time trying to tell them apart.

Ultimately, I think it was kinda worth it for the end (which earned it an extra half point) but it just takes a long ass while to get there

The Book of Eli – \m/ \m/ \n