Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Preview

It's that time of year again. We're coming out of the Awards Season's runoff, and it's nearly time for some good movies to come to a theater near you. Here are a few I don't plan on missing. I'm sure there are more, but there's just so much typing one person wants to do in a sitting.

The Other Boleyn Girl (February 29)
The cast alone is phenomenal--Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana. The story seems riveting as well. Two sisters fighting for the affections of the handsomest King Henry VIII I've ever seen? Yeah, I'm game.

Married Life (March 7)
Another incredible cast draws me to this movie--Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan (I'm talking about his work in The Matador, not Bond films.), Patricia Clarkson, and Rachel McAdams. Then I saw the trailer, and I was hooked.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
(March 7)
Frances McDormand plays Miss Pettigrew, a homely woman who finds herself working for a far-from-homely actress (Amy Adams). There are no naked dancers, but everytime I see an ad for this movie, I can't help but think of Mrs. Henderson Presents. I absolutely loved that movie! This should be a movie-going rule: if a movie reminds you of another movie you loved, see it.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (March 14)
A cast full of extraordinarily funny people voicing characters from one of my favorite childhood books. That's all that needs to be said.

Leatherheads (April 4)
I love a good period piece. I love a good screwball comedy even more, and I always enjoy sports movies. I do think that George Clooney is overrated, but I'm going to see this anyway.

Smart People (April 11)
Juno's brilliant Ellen Page co-stars as the teenage daughter of Dennis Quaid, a college professor who begins dating a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker). Thomas Haden Church plays Quaid's not-as-smart brother. Family craziness ensues. It's a little Squid and the Whale without all the evil resentment.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (April 25)
What can I say? Seeing Neil Patrick Harris on a unicorn got to me. I'm sure if I miss this in theatres, I won't be upset. It's probably a better video movie anyway.

Baby Mama (April 25)
Most people would just write this one off as another stupid comedy, but I think Tina Fey is extremely talented. (Did you see Mean Girls? No? Rent it now.) She's not listed as a writer, but I'm sure she threw her two cents in every once in awhile. I'm sure there will be many comparisons to last year's Knocked Up. I don't think it will equal it in comedy or wit, but I don't doubt I will laugh my ass off just the same.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

76 Critics Can Be Wrong

Vantage Point has gotten a rotten tomato over at because of its "fractured storytelling and wooden performances." I understand that the actors in this movie have done better work, but please, what movie were these critics watching?! Interesting and fast-paced is what I call this movie. And as for the "fractured storytelling?" Whatever. The story is told from various points of view, so of course it's a bit a good way. (Well, except for the stupid rewind element. That should've been left in someone's brain to rot away slowly.)

President Ashton (William Hurt) is speaking in Spain at a landmark global summit on terror. When he's shot moments after he reaches the podium, all chaos breaks loose. The ensuing story is told from the points of view (ahem, vantage points) of six different people. Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) is the Secret Service agent who's just coming back to the job after an heroic feat. Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) is the Secret Service in charge of the unit to protect the President. In the crowd is Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker), an American tourist who's captured the entire event on his camcorder. Also there, producing the event for the CNN knockoff GNN, is news producer Rex Brooks (Sigourney Weaver).

There are definitely predictable moments, but there are more unpredictable ones. With a couple of "oh my God" moments thrown in, I was thoroughly entertained in this movie. Plus, that car chase was so in-your-face, it had me cringing. The breakneck speed of the cuts are great, and the slow--yet steady--build on each scene is excellent. Each vantage point ends with a small cliffhanger that may not be answered until the third time around, but it's all satisfying.

The weak point of the film is the acting. I'm sure we're all aware that Forest Whitaker is one hell of an actor, but he doesn't shine at all in this movie. His emotions are true, but his line delivery leaves much to be desired. I feel the same about Dennis Quaid and Sigourney Weaver. In fact, Weaver's screen time is so limited, the producers might as well have called it a cameo role. Matthew Fox, too, could've shown a little more range, and William Hurt was simply there to add "American President" to his resume.

As is true of most action movies, the acting isn't as important as the story. And the story worked here. Some people may get annoyed by the replaying of certain scenes, and others will be put off by the extremely unbelievable circumstances. (Really, can anyone get that close to the President in a foreign country? And what responsible Secret Service agent is going to speak openly in front of news reporters?) But reality should be thrown out the window when watching a film like this.

Leave your brain at home, grab a vat of popcorn, and enjoy the show.