Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cowboys, Hitmen, and...The Rock?

I feel that I've been neglecting this blog, especially since I've seen some pretty entertaining movies in the last month. So instead of trying to be all ambitious and write three full reviews, I'm just going to throw three mini-reviews together in one blog.

First up: 3:10 to Yuma. Never before have I been so anxious about people making it to a train on time! I knew there was very little chance of Yuma not being good, and I was not at all disappointed. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe just might play American cowboys better than the Americans who've done it in the past! Crowe's slick badman Ben Wade is likable even though he's a cold-blooded killer. Bale's Dan Evans is so honorable that, even though what he's doing is basically suicide, you root for him every step of the way. The standout star, however, is neither of these men. It's Ben Foster. You know, the guy who played Angel in X-Men 3? Yeah, he's MILES away from being angelic in this movie. His gun play is deadly and his sneers just might be worse. Everyone thinks these roles might put Bale and Crowe on the road to Oscar, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear Foster's name thrown around a bit.

Now, let's take a venture away from a solid story with a little gun play and talk about a lot of gun play with little story--Shoot 'Em Up. Never in the history of film has a movie been more aptly named. Shoot 'Em Up is like watching every single James Bond movie without any of those pesky plots. Clive Owen is a mysterious man named Smith who knows his way around a gun (and a carrot). Paul Giamatti is a professional hitman named Hertz who loves his violence more than he loves his wife and son. The beautiful Monica Bellucci is a lactating prostitute named Donna who cares for the baby that Hertz is trying to kill and Smith is trying to protect. Honestly, any movie that involves a professional hit on a newborn really shouldn't have a plot. But, since I knew what I was getting into going into the theatre, Shoot 'Em Up was a hell of a good time.

Now that I've talked about two movies I actually wanted to see, let's talk about one I didn't really have any urge to see--The Game Plan. I have nothing against a cutesy family film, but I usually like to wait until they're on DVD to watch them. But my editor at Critics Rant needed someone to review it, so I took one for the team. I thought it was simply going to be a silly story with an abundance of sight gags, sappy message moments, and an ending we all knew was coming before the end of the first act. Well, it is a silly story with all that stuff, but there is something about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that makes this story a little more interesting. No, it’s not his impressive biceps (though the opening sequence of him working out didn’t hurt one bit). Johnson is actually a decent comedic presence. If you’ve seen Be Cool, you know what I mean. The man may be physically suited to play the action hero, but his strong suit is definitely as the comedic hero. The combination of his on screen charm with the adorable Madison Pettis (as daughter Peyton) makes for an enjoyable two hours at the movies.

So, there you go. Three movies, three paragraphs. I'm hoping, in the coming weeks, I'll be able to keep up with the more in depth reviews not just for your reading pleasure but so that I can remember what I've seen over the past year!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Hello Fall

The temperature is still 2 degrees cooler than hell, but the fall movies are about to make their way to theatres near you, and I think it's time for me to talk about what I plan on seeing.

While summer is a time for huge explosions, big laughs, and all around popcorn fodder, the fall lineup tends to bring about another kind of fodder--Oscar. When the temperature begins to drop, the drama begins to rise. Granted, there are some action and comedy movies coming out in September and October, but the heavy hitters for the awards season are appearing earlier and earlier. Don't doubt my list is going to be drama soaked, so put your summer brain away and strap on your intelligent one again, and let's get started.

(Psst...if you don't know the movie, click the title and watch the trailer.)

3:10 to Yuma
(September 7)
OK. So I love Russell Crowe, and Christian Bale ain't so bad either, but I'm a little wary of the western genre. It's always very hit or miss for me. What's changed my mind? I cut a segment about Yuma for work, and it looks amazing! Crowe is the intelligent, murderous Ben Wade. Bale is the down-on-his luck Dan Evans. The movie isn't just a typical shoot 'em up western, it seems to be a psychological thrill ride too. Yeah, definitely not missing this one.

Shoot 'Em Up (September 7)
So remember my intro from above? Forget it for a second. Shoot 'Em Up is a just a late bloomer. This is a total summer fun fest--a whole lot of senseless gun fighting, wisecracks, and Paul Giamatti with a very, very large gun. Shoot 'Em Up looks like Smokin' Aces but Jeremy Piven is now a cute little baby. Fun times!

Across the Universe (limited September 14, nationwide Sept. 21)
It's a musical with all Beatles songs that vividly reminds me of Hair. Supposedly, there's less than ten minutes of spoken word, and most of it is in the trailer! I love quirky movies, and I love a good musical, so what's better than a quirky musical?

The Brave One
(September 14)
Jodie Foster says the film is inappropriately named because her character is far from brave. No matter if the woman is brave or not, she's definitely a survivor. Foster does survivors better than anyone. Misnamed or not, The Brave One looks like one hell of a movie.

The Kingdom (September 28)
Someone awhile back called this movie "CSI:Saudi Arabia." Catchy, yet I think it's a little light for what this movie really is. Director Peter Berg said he didn't want The Kingdom to be more than an action movie about good guys winning and bad guys loosing, but when the good guys are Americans and the bad guys are Middle Eastern terrorists, I think your film automatically becomes more than just an action movie. With Berg at the helm, there's bound to be some dark humor and some harsh violence, but let's just hope the story sits well and entertains as he's hoping.

Grace is Gone (limited October 5)
John Cusack has played tortured souls before, but they're usually expressive and animated tortured souls. In Grace is Gone, Cusack is a quiet, awkward man whose wife has just died in Iraq. He can't seem to find the right way to tell his daughters their mom is gone, so he takes them on a road trip instead. I think a box of tissue will be going with me to this one. Maybe Cusack will finally get his Oscar props come January.

Gone Baby Gone (October 19)
I'm torn. I don't really like Ben Affleck, but the Ben Affleck I don't like is the one on screen. For Gone Baby Gone, he's behind the camera in the director's chair. Plus he's directing Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris (as well as little brother Casey) in a film adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel. Dennis Lehane writes very good novels, Mystic River being among them. So I guess the pros outweigh the cons, and I'm just hoping for Affleck the director to be far superior to Affleck the actor.

Lars and the Real Girl (October 19)
Ryan Gosling, who thankfully is beginning to show up on the radar, plays Lars. Lars is a guy who has a bit of a social problem. Instead of trying to talk to normal girls, he begins dating a blow up doll. You want to see it now, don't you? So do I!

Dan in Real Life (October 26)
Say what you will about Steve Carell, but I believe the man is a genius of sorts. He's got the out-of-place schlub perfected, and he looks like he's bringing it to the big screen once again in Dan in Real Life. Dan (Carell) falls for a his brother's girlfriend (Juliette Binoche). Sounds like your standard romantic comedy, but I'm pretty sure with Carell in the title role and a stellar supporting cast, there's bound to be some not-so-standard moments.

There are lots more movies I plan to see in the next couple of months that didn't make it on the list. I'm not writing a novel here, just a blog, so I won't include them all. The ones I have listed are the ones I really hope not to miss, and if my "Ah...Summer" blog stands as an example, I probably won't miss them. (Unfortunately I did miss Talk to Me from my summer list, but let's forget I mentioned that.)

So...go cool off in a movie theatre and while you're there, see some good movies.