Sunday, January 27, 2008


So this one time, I was late to a lunch and I felt soooo sorry, and I just kept apologizing over and over again, but the person I was meeting was so irate, they were like, "whatever, just be on time next time, ok?" I took that to mean I was forgiven, but I sooo wasn't.

So then, like, the *next* time I was late, the person was like, "seriously, do you own a watch?" Clearly I was not forgiven. Sheesh.

Of course, all of this is minutae compared to the humongous error made by a kid in "Atonement" which leads to prison, war, marriage, death...I mean, who knew? Fortunately for me, none of my transgressions of tardiness led to anyone going to jail or being in a war. Then again, I also haven't had the opportunity to indulge in a 5 minute tracking shot of Dunkirk. My life was a little empty until I saw that.

Keira Knightley needs to eat some pie. In fact, I'm thinking of going down to Marie Callender's right now and ordering her one of everything. The girl is a stick figure! At least when she was in "Bend it Like Beckham" she had muscle tone. Now she looks like she could break in half if she were standing in the way of her former soccer (sorry, football) playing self from a few years ago. I will say though, she's got pouty expressions down to a science.

And who knew Mr. Tumnus would be so hot? Actually, several people I know were like, "duh, James McAvoy is the hottest thing ever!" so it was apparently just me who didn't know the utter hotness of Hottie McHotterson.

And clearly Saoirse Ronan, the aforementioned kid with bad eyesight is awesomely good. If she wasn't the film would suck, but she's actually a good child actress, so yay for Saoirse.

I didn't read the book (Books bad! Movies good!) so I have no opinion on how this treats the source material, but I didn't hear too much whining as we left the theater, so it must have been okay.

The movie is very beautiful and it's nominated for lots of awards, so that means it must be good. Because I believe everything I read from other people.

Well, I liked it...I wouldn't say it's a laugh a minute -- it's a drama. You get what you pay for.

Oh and I don't care if you don't like this review. I'm not apologizing for it.

The Savages

Dysfunctional families are the bread and butter of quirky dramas. THE SAVAGES doesn't disappoint in this department. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings who are both screwed up in their own special ways. To make matters worse, they now have to deal with their father who is suffering dementia, and they face the tough choice of putting him in a nursing home.

It's a downer of a movie at times, no doubt about it. And seeing the scenes of Buffalo, NY in the winter just added to the sense of hopelessness. But the film is worthwhile, not only for the performances, but for what it says about the importance of family.

Here at SisterCritics, family is very important. I felt a real kinship to Laura Linney as she tries to help her brother (Hoffman) with a neck injury. I'm always fixing Julie's neck, and she tells me I should become a massage therapist. Apparently I have "magic fingers".

Living with an adult sibling is an interesting experience. It's like even though you are both older and more mature, there's still this little conditioned Pavlov's Dog part of you that reacts to words/actions of your sibling as if you were both squabbling kids again. This often happens with Julie and I when our discussions about doing the dishes or cleaning the floors turn into American Gladiator-like struggles for dominance.

I usually lose. Just like old times.

But I digress. Fortunately, my sister and I are not faced with horrifying decisions like whether to put our aged parents into a nursing home. Our parents are lively and young, and I wouldn't be surprised if we have to go into some kind of assisted living situation before they do. Hmm, perhaps we are already in assisted living and no one told us....

Right, so "The Savages". Was disappointed that Fred Savage wasn't in the movie. Also not happy that "Macho Man" Randy Savage was not in the film, as I think he would have been a good explanation for Hoffman's neck injury. Seriously, I totally buy the whole 'cousin Randy beat me up again' excuse.

But if I could return to the point of all this, 'The Savages' is a solid, well made film. Good script, good direction and a satisfying film. In its stark honesty there are the moments of levity, which keep you from wanting to jump off a bridge, and it is the humor drawn from the true to life that resonates.

It's good. Go see it. Just don't expect any professional wrestlers or child stars.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


So I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie forever. And when I say forever I mean, since I heard about it, which seems like forever ago. One of the few highlights/perks about living in LA has got to be the Mann's Chinese Theater. Not only did we get to see a sold out show with hundreds of other die hards, but there were celebs in attendance! Edgar Wright (director of SHAUN OF THE DEAD), Eli Roth (director of CABIN FEVER) and Diablo Cody (Writer of JUNO) were seen hanging out and saving seats. Also, just two rows behind us - that guy who played Tom Jeter from STUDIO 60! So beat that crappy AMC somewhere in the middle of Illinois! Ahem, but the real stars of the night were sitting in the seats next and behind us - the Bad Robot crew themselves! Shawna and I were invited by my friend (also the Associate Producer - ooh la la!) to join a bunch of them to see the film together. So what was already panning out to be the best evening ever was enhanced by our geek estrogen in love with all of these guys. I can't tell you the little hints and secrets here and there that we were privy to, but needless to say, all of these guys are cool and uber talented.

So the movie. Oh first - we got to see the STAR TREK trailer which rocked - a very origin story feeling with shots of the Enterprise at the futuristic Midas getting it's brake pads repaired. But again, I digress. The movie. Although some may get overly dizzy from motion sickness (ahem, my boyfriend), some of us were unfazed by the shaky cam and too enthralled with the death and destruction to be bothered. However, I was disturbed by one glaring problem with the film - The monster has feelings too people!

I mean, he gets shot down by a meteorite (watch for it in the end) not only onto a strange new planet, but in downtown Manhattan - of course he was scared! Are we supposed to judge his erratic behaviour as anything more than what Britney Spears gets away with on any given afternoon on the Los Angeles freeways? The monster was simply trying to get back to the apartment building of the girl of his dreams. He just got a bit lost in between all the similar looking architecture and skyscrapers! This is really a story of two men on the search for love - one man, one monster, one woman. At the end, when finally almost back to Central Park, the stupid human man gets to the girl first when we all know the monster could have easily pulled her out of the toppling building with much more efficiency and safety. And then there's the military - back off ok? I'm pretty sure you guys were just making it worse. A slew of projectile missiles went veering into the buildings no where near the GIANT monster - where did you guys learn to aim? And besides, you're just ticking him off, literally! All those little tick like monsters that fell off - they were not happy either I'm sure. So when we all sit and cheer for the demise of a poor little monster stuck in the middle of a congested city, I think we all need to stop and reanalyze our priorities.

But in all seriousness this movie is a great fun super ride that is short and sweet and full of scares! It even features great homages (intentional?) to GHOSTBUSTERS when the small group walk 30 some odd flights of stairs to reach one of their would be girlfriend's apartments. There were 22 flights to be exact in GHOSTBUSTERS, but the exhaustion was no doubt similar. The monster was destroying New York willy nilly in the same vein of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, only lacked the grin and a sailor boy hat - actually he was pretty grumpy and accessory free.

All in all, a great Monster movie from the fleeing hoard perspective. Take a Dramamine, get some popcorn, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

In the Name of God, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. No, seriously. Don't see it.

What's that, you say? It's Jason Statham? Yes, but he's SLEEPWALKING. And he does some kick-ass fighting, but that seems to be the only time he's half awake.

What about John-Rhys Davies? The sadness in his puppy dog eyes speaks volumes. In fact I think I heard him say as he was riding a horse around "Remember when I got shrunk to dwarf size and had prosthetics slapped on my face for Peter Jackson? Remember how much more fabulous New Zealand was over Croatia? Good times...good times.

If you tell me that Burt Reynolds was a factor in considering this film, I kill you dead. Seriously, Burt doesn't look too bad, but that facelift looks better when he's laying down. He should have been laying down for the whole film, because his face looked very squished when he wore a helmet. Oh, and the hair dye for the beard and brows has to go (Thanks to Christian for noticing that little detail).

Hmm? Oh, you were jazzed about Claire Forlani and Leelee Sobieski? They were not jazzed about doing this movie. My comrades in torture mused whether there were any AA meetings needed after the film wrapped, because we think that alcoholics were born on set, trying to numb the pain of their lines with the sweet nectar of a few flowers. Leelee looks drugged, and poor Claire looks very distressed to be so far away from a day spa. I hope the paychecks were good.

Okay, lets face some facts, people. UWE BOLL. Do I have to say anything else? At least Matthew Lillard as a fey Duke had some fun on screen, but honestly, it was painful for me to think that Ron Perlman, who gets one of those rare chances to be seen onscreen without any makeup or prosthetics is reduced to walking a pig around (okay, it's only for a few minutes, but you get my point).

But wait! Kristanna Lokken is in it! Yeah, as part of the Cirque du Soleil troupe living in the trees. "We stay out of the affairs of men." As one of our filmgoing gang noted, "Their non-pacifism confused me." Meaning, they were all like "Get the heck out of our forest, Jason Statham and Ron Perlman and that other guy with dreadlocky hair and don't bother us...we're all girl power and stuff and boys are icky." And then by the end of the movie they were all like "yeah, okay you lived through two-thirds of the movie and even though the weirdo people controlled by Ray Liotta in his personal fog machine didn't bother us PERSONALLY, we'll like, throw in and help you out and stuff, because, you know, what the hell, right?"

Ninjas! I kid you not. There. Were. NINJAS.

*sigh* Yes, I just mentioned Ray Liotta, but there's a special place in film hell waiting for poor Ray. Imagine "Goodfellas" Ray for a second. Yeah...young, cute, piercing blue eyes, world on a platter. Okay, now Ray in this film...imagine, face-lifted, macking on Leelee (I audibly cried "Ew!" when he kissed her full on the mouth with what is left of his lips), and stockholder in the wind machine/dry ice companies. Oh but the blue eyes are still awesome.

Let's see...what am I missing? Oh yeah. The movie is about a Dungeon Siege, right? By my count, the actual siege of the dungeon is done by 4 people. Who all go in separately! Apparently they had to wait about five minutes after someone else would go in. I don't know if the place was at capacity and one more person being in there would violate some fire codes, but it must have been a pretty strict rule to keep them going in solo.

Let's talk battle strategy for a second. Okay, you as a powerful magic guy *Ray Liotta I'm looking at you* control a mindless army of Orcs...I mean, Krugs, and you outnumber the good guys about 4 to 1. But, you are in front of a dungeon. Catapults, fiery stuff, lots of manpower. Okay, so you've got to charge uphill. Bummer, right? But you still have like a gazillion Krugs, so no problem right? At what point in military strategy is it ever a good idea to make it rain on your army? Because then your mindless dudes, who, I think it's already pretty well implied DON'T HAVE ANY BRAINS OF THEIR OWN, start sliding backward on mud.

Okay, so magic dude isn't a brilliant military strategist. But what about our plucky army, sitting pretty at top of hill in the rain? You know, it'd be awesome to give up your position by charging down the hill toward the idiots scrabbling through the mud so you can die faster.

Now, why am I telling you all this? Because the palette of the film and the camerawork make it neigh impossible to figure out just what the heck you are watching at any given moment. During well choreographed fight scenes (or at least the ones that appear to be pretty good) Uwe and his DP apparently have ADD and don't want us to enjoy the skill and mastery in the fighting, because suddenly, in the middle of the scene, the camera will swing around wildly, barely tracking the action as if one of them said "hey, point the camera over there! I think I saw a Leprechaun!" And those are the scenes that are in focus.

Still not convinced? If you can endure the 2 hour 7 minute run time (supposedly we are denied another half hour of this greatness due to us being Americans -- those lucky Germans!) then you will be treated to the best rock songs ever written for a medieval fantasy film. Seriously epic.

This movie is full of FAIL. Lots of it. It isn't even a so bad it's funny film, it's a so bad it's really bad and kind of painful film.

If you have a death wish, or perhaps are trying to sleep for two hours (inadvisable due to noisy clashing of swords) by all means, this is your movie.

But, seriously, just don't. Okay? For me? 'Kay Thx Bai

Sunday, January 13, 2008

There Will Be Blood

I'm going to get a lot of heat for this review as it's not all butt kissy like all the reviews (I've not really read but inferred from) and critical praise TWBB has been getting. I liked it, but I was a bit "meh" about the whole 2 hour 38 minute affair.

Good points:
  • Daniel Day Lewis's accent and intricate performance.

  • That mute kid from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE gets to talk in this one - and sometimes LOUDLY!

  • Capitalism is King!

  • That beatnik guy from PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED can still get work and was all thin and wirery and good.

  • Daniel Day Lewis gets to kill people and be all "I'm better and smarter than you and I control who lives and who dies!"

  • The guy (not Thom York)from Radiohead did the musical score.

  • It's sorta like GIANT.

Stuff that bugged me:

  • Very few, if any, memorable female characters featured at all in the film. Not that I'm a feminist, but would a Maureen O'Hara fiery red head type have KILLED anyone?
  • Lewis' evil capitalist pig character who gives financial sermons to the uneducated masses before buying out their land juxtaposed with a minister who sermons to the uneducated masses is a MUCH more interesting way into those characters and full of conflict. However we're never given the scene where the minister shows up to preaches the dangers of the oil mine (or whatever you call it) to his flock. We're meant to believe it's a wink wink inside struggle between only these two. Where was the rest of the town? It's hard to believe a tight knit Christian community wouldn't stand together in solidarity against Lewis and his men.

  • Daniel Day Lewis' character goes from 0 to 60 in terms of bi-polar behavior. One minute he's Charles Foster Kane building his empire and leaving the masses in his wake, the next a tender surrogate father who rescues his would be son from an oily geyser, only to transform again into a monster who mocks his deaf fake son. I'm all good with layered characters who aren't JUST good and JUST bad, but come on! The fine line between lunacy and lucrative was blurred and unfairly justified.

  • The musical score, albeit cool and David Byrne like, at times was confused and built to a bombastic frenzy only to end with something as soft and subtle on screen as a child sleeping. The music kept bringing me to a boil and then going, "oh wait, never mind, that action scene is later, carry on."

  • It was sorta like GIANT, but lacked a traditional narrative and only a handful of story lines to follow (rather than the kitchen sink approach).

Now, don't get me wrong, this is a good movie. It will wins lots of awards and continue to put Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis to work. This movie makes up for Magnolia for me - sorry if you thought that was the end all be all, but I still can't sit through that movie for more than the beginning and the frog shower end. However, it's not without its story flaws, which, for the most part give me the notion that Anderson has no one giving him notes at the studio level. If you're going to give these writer/directors free reign, that's to be expected, but as the great T.S Elliot said, ""Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers."

As the imaginary creative exec on this project, amongst the aforementioned items, I would have also suggested we see more of the outside world in the final 40 minute sequence. When the newly married deaf son comes back to Lewis and suggests he might like to start his own business. Show don't tell! I'd have given my left arm to see a shot that matched Lewis's opening scene mining solo, but now his son, digging away in Mexico. Only here we have hope that not only has the "son" learned how to run a business, he's learned how NOT to run an empire. Like father, like son, think about it won't you? In other words, Orson Wells felt it was more important to show Xanadu towering over us from a distance rather than keep us in the stately bathroom.

Go give it a whirl, if you're lucky enough to live in a town playing this rather arthouse piece. If not, Netflix it and enjoy the plethora of extras that will no doubt accompany the disc explaining the dangers of oil for money and how this was really an allegory for the greedy Bush administration. Only, wouldn't it be safer to drill in Alaska where very few people live to be bought out and killed by "the man"? No, you're right, let's continue to allow rich Saudi debutants live their debaucherous lives in the Hollywood nightclubs via our Shell Station contribution to their expense accounts. Woah, sorry for the political diatribe, back to happy fun time movie riffing to help bridge the red and blue gap back to a pretty purple.

Sweeney Todd

This film starred Johnny Depp. Nuff said.

OK OK, AND it was directed by genius extraordinaire Tim Burton.

Still need more reasons to see it? Sigh. You people are tearing me apart!!!

Sweeney Todd is not a musical, but rather, an operetta since it's more narrative and character building in it's musical numbers instead of "Go Go Go Greased Lightning". It's a dark foreboding tale of mistaken identities, unabashed revenge, and cleavage. I'm positive that were I to push my chesticles up to my neck I too could sing notes in the uppermost of range that would make Mr. Sondheim proud. Never fear, the men are squeezed down below where the costume designers had a field day with inseams and prosthetics.

Aside from bulges and lyrics, the overall look of the film is downright Burtonesque. Not since Merry Poppins has there been this much soot and dropping of "h's". It's dark and dirty look only helps highlight the disgusting secrets hiding out in the barber/pie shop. Depp and H.B. Carter are a match made in pasty heaven and their chemistry and chops help move the story at times even more than the whirlwind soundtrack. Alan Rickman is pitch perfect in his all too practiced upper class snobbery. And then there's the romance. To me, this is where the movie falls short.

I believe Burton was burdened with having to cut a great deal from the original musical and in turn lost the "so what" factor in the young lovers romance. The love songs are beautiful, but with little to no dialogue between them, we're meant to catch onto their love at first sight affair and care. (look out I'm starting to rhyme) Problem was that I didn't. Depp and H.B. Carter are far more interesting and anti-romantic and overshadow the fresh faced youngsters. By the end, I was hoping the two would die Romeo and Juliet style making for some great pies that would last at least a week.

If you were able to sit through John Travolta's obnoxious, indeterminate, and fluctuating accent in HAIRSPRAY, you should have no problem enjoying perfected British accents and a bit of fakey blood splatter. In fact, HAIRSPRAY would have been a great title for SWEENEY TODD in reference to the after effects his close trims give his customers. I'm here all week, enjoy the buffet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Julie's Top Ten of 2007

I saw a handful more movies than Shawna did this year, but here's my list of my monkey paw picked favorites (#1 also being favoritest).

10. Lars and the Real Girl
9. The Darjeeling Limited
8. Zodiac
7. Juno
6. Waitress / Eagle vs. Shark (tie)
5. Sweeney Todd
4. Hot Fuzz
3. 300
2. The Assassination of Jesse James...
1. No Country For Old Men

I give Enchanted an honorary mention for being the feel good family movie of 2007.