Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Ever-Expanding Late Winter Slump

If you haven't noticed, the first part of the year is a bad time for movies. While November and December turn out some serious awards-show types, January & February are usually riddled with over-processed, seen-it-before slasher movies and crappy action movies staring ex-wrestlers. In the past couple of years, that late winter slump has turned into the late winter/early spring slump. Here we are, with March nearly over, and I haven't seen but one new movie that's really worth talking about. (That would be Watchmen, and I haven't even really talked about it since I'm still attempting to wrap my brain around it. Was it awesome? Yes. Is it rewatchable? I don't know. Do I love it more or less the more I think about it? I really don't know!)

Thankfully, I won't have to simmer in my own pile of questions about Watchmen since March is almost over, and some titillating fair will be coming to (or have already started at) a cineplex near you in the next few weeks.

Without further ado, here are a few a the movies I look forward to this spring:
*Click on the titles to see the trailers.

Duplicity (March 20)
This movie could easily be a miss. The trailer makes it look like the next Oceans installment, and the last time Julia and Clive were together, it was in Closer. I hated Closer. But! It still looks like fun, and I'll probably really enjoy it.

I Love You, Man (March 20)
I love a good raunchy, hilarious outing with Paul Rudd and Jason Segal. I really have nothing more to say about that.

The Great Buck Howard
(March 20, limited)
John Malkovich? Hilarious. Colin Hanks? So much like his dad, it's a little scary. I think the two of them could have some beautiful chemistry. Plus, the tossed salad line in the trailer makes me laugh every time.

Monsters vs. Aliens
(March 27)
Who wouldn't look forward to a Jell-O blue monster, a 50-foot woman, a bunch of aliens and some very wry family humor? It's like Dr. Strangelove if it were animated and targeted at kids.

The Soloist (April 24)
This film appeared on my Winter Preview because it was suppose to get a November release. This is what I wrote then: I don't know if I mentioned that I've jumped on the Robert Downey, Jr. bandwagon, but I have. Even if he wasn't in this movie, I'd probably see it. There's a chance of a forced emotional storyline and overdone performances, but I'm willing to take that risk because it very well may be as good as the trailer makes it out to be.

Hopefully the push to Spring is because the suits want some Oscar buzz for Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx. I really, really, really hope it isn't because it's sappy and over-dramatic.

Star Trek (May 8)'s Star Trek! I may have some qualms about the slighty whiney Anton Yelchin as Chekov, but I have absolutely no problems with Simon Pegg as Scotty and the perfect casting of Zachary Quinto as Spock.

Angels & Demons (May 15)
I don't know about anyone else, but I actually liked Dan Brown's prequel more than I liked The DaVinci Code. When it comes to the movie version, I'm kind of hoping the same thing happens. It's not that I didn't like The DaVinci Code, I just didn't love it like I hoped I would. Maybe I'll love Angels & Demons. If not, I at least hope I enjoy it.

The Brothers Bloom
(May 15, limited)
Yet another movie about criminals who are doing that one last job. Seems run-of-the-mill, but I think it could definitely be more. Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo are both strong enough actors to keep the comedy witty, and Rachel Weisz just seems like the perfect ditzy, rich girl who's smarter than we think.

Terminator: Salvation (May 22)
I'm not 100% sold on Christian Bale as John Conner. He's proved to me that he can do gritty action movies, but I don't know if he can do a Terminator-type action movie. I'm willing to try it out because I'm excited to see post-apocalyptic Earth in the Terminator universe, but I'm keeping my hopes in check.

Up (May 29)
An old man and a young boy are stuck in a house together. The house happens to be flying because it's attached to a heap of helium balloons. Pixar, I do love you.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Two Bloggers...on the Oscars

It's been a couple of weeks, but Amy and I have finally found a little time to sit and discuss the big event. Hopefully, it was worth the wait.

Faith: Did you love Hugh Jackman?
Amy: Beyond words. I thought it was a great reminder that you don't have to have a comedian as a host...just someone who can be charismatic.
Faith: Exactly. I want him to host again. His opening bit was great, and even though I'm not a fan of Beyonce, the musical number about musicals was good too.
Amy: Oh, that was actually the only part of the show I hated. I thought it was exactly what makes people turn off the Oscars. It hurt my soul when I saw it was done by Baz Lurman.
Faith: Hahahaha! Well, I'm a sucker for the musical.
Amy: I think it was payback for the poor reception for Australia.
Faith: That's it. There's no other reason.
Amy: But the opening number was fantastic.
Faith: Anne Hathaway stole the show for a few moments.
Amy: Seriously, how lovely was she? I really liked having the past winners introduce the nominees. Way more interesting that the usual clip-o-polooza.
Faith: There was a mixed reception at the party I went to. I thought it was nice because you could see the nominees were moved by the idea, but I could see how a viewer would just be bored by it.
Amy: I just hate the clips. Now, when you watch a movie it's like, "yup, there's their Oscar clip!" Sad.
Faith: That's because you don't hang out with me.
Amy: Ha, true
Faith: You have to make the clips into a game. Whoever can name the most movies wins. It's really only entertaining if it's old mixed with new clips. The new clips are too easy. We ended up doing it with the actor nominees--name the winner and the movie he/she won for.
Amy: Overall, I liked the "reboot." Everything gets "rebooted" nowadays. Although I am not happy with the way they did the song noms, but oh well. They were definitely the red-headed stepchildren of the evening.
Faith: Really? Not into the mishmash performance?
Amy: No. It just didn't go together. And I still don't know why only three were nominated this year.
Faith: Obviously the Academy thought all other songs sucked.
Amy: See, but they didn't! Why wasn't Springsteen’s song from The Wrestler nominated? That was nothing but a snub, and I don't know why.
Faith: Who the hell knows. It's like why did that guy from Twilight present a damn award? He annoys me, and his fake brooding didn't help.
Amy: Oh, I had a number of WTF moments with the attendants.
Faith: Tell me that was one of them.
Amy: Yes. I still don't feel like there is any reason for Miley Cyrus to be there…and the High School Musical people.
Faith: I know why they're doing it--bring in the younger demo, but seriously, if you have never watched, you're not going to start because Miley and creepy vampire kid showed up.
Amy: Exactly. Especially if you are 12.
Faith: And can we talk about Miley's scary dress? It looked like a Little Mermaid costume.
Amy: It prompted a whole conversation with my sister. Being the fashion guru that I am...
Faith: Do tell.
Amy: It was a great, haute couture dress... if Hedi Klum had worn it. It should have been on someone 35+, model, over 6 feet. That is the type of dress that has to been worn, be carried.
Faith: Nope. Still would've hated it. It looked uncomfortable and made for a stage performance of sorts.
Amy: The problem is she is so short--because she is like 8 or something--so the petals or "scales" look massive. They actually copied another dress, and if you see that one, god, it is so pretty
Faith: OK. I'm cutting off the fashion talk. This is a movie blog, damn it.
Amy: It's Oscar night, it all gets mixed up! OK, time for the elephant in the room...
Faith: OK…
Amy: What did you think about how they treated Dark Knight? Snubbed, overlooked, or out of its league?
Faith: None of the above. I think The Dark Knight got the award it deserved. Heath Ledger was the absolute best thing about that movie. I never thought it was Best Picture material, and I knew it wasn't going to win all the technical stuff it was nominated for. Yes, it looked amazing with awesome effects and brilliant sound, but it wasn't spectacular. Most action movies have awesome effects and brilliant sound.
Amy: See, I absolutely thought it deserved more recognition. It is hard for me to justify The Reader getting a best pic nom and not Dark Knight. It should have been up there for the big leagues, in a weak year of movies it was a standout.
Faith: OK. Well I don't think The Reader deserved a Best Picture nod either, but I really do think people are clouded by exquisite performances. The Reader and Dark Knight are the same like that. I think the acting outshined the story in both.
Amy: Oh, I think the direction in Dark Knight was far superior to many of the others that got recognition. I thought that it was almost a shame that Ledger was the big story (rightly so), and Nolan was overlooked.
Faith: Nolan was only overlooked by old people who give out awards. Just because he wasn't nominated doesn't mean he wasn't recognized. The man is good at his job and everyone knows it.
Amy: I don't think it was the best movie of the year, but I would have liked a bit more for it.

Faith: And weak year? I don't think so. If I can easily name 10 movies I liked, it was a good year.
Amy: Really? I thought it was a year of super movies and forgettable ones.
Faith: Burn After Reading, Rachel Getting Married, Frost/Nixon, Traitor, friggin' IRON MAN, Tropic Thunder, In Bruges, Wall-E!
Amy: Boring, didn't see (yet), no interest, didn't see, LOVED (super category), over-rated, watching tonight, LOVED (super)
Faith: OK. What!? WHAT?
Faith: Burn After Reading was great. And Frost/Nixon is my number two movie of the year. Loved it!
Amy: Burn After Reading fell apart under it's own need to be funny. Brad Pitt was the only watchable part, and I love the Cohens. And I don't know, Frost/Nixon just doesn't sound interesting. I guess because the whole Watergate thing just doesn't interest me in general. Maybe something I would watch with my dad?
Faith: Doesn't matter. If you like intense movies, it's a good one. Watergate is a backdrop. It's about the men.
Amy: Who are two people I really don't care about. I'm sure I will see it eventually, but it is nowhere near the top of my list
Faith: I didn't care either. I didn't even really know who David Frost was. Still worked. OK. Let's discuss the utter predictability of the whole night. It was like the year of The Return of the King all over again.
Amy: Seriously. The only surprise was in Foreign Pic.
Faith: Yep. I was not surprised by one major award. (Even though I prayed to be wrong about Penelope Cruz.)
Amy: I mean, Slumdog was my favorite movie so I wanted it to win everything.
Faith: Me too, but I wasn't even cheering by the end because I knew it was coming. I like being surprised sometimes.
Amy: It was a bit anti-climatic, but then I think about how horrible Best Pic surprises are. Like Crash--when it was announced I was stunned, but not in a good way.
Faith: Oh, me too. I even liked Crash, but I was not happy. The same goes for Shakespeare in Love--good movie but not better than Saving Private Ryan.
Amy: Exactly. I want the Best Pic to be expected. By the time the telecast got there everyone knew what was coming, and it was almost a relief. OH! Who was your best acceptance speech?
Faith: Hmm...
Amy: I thought the Milk writer nailed it.
Faith: The truly emotional ones are always good.
Amy: I feel like the writers are often overlooked *cough, cough*, so I love it when they get screen time.
Faith: Hahaha. I made everyone at the party shut up when the editor was speaking.
Amy: Ha!
Faith: I want to hear the people who don't do a lot of talking. They give the most heartfelt speeches in my opinion.
Amy: Agreed. Somehow the actors are always the most boring. You can see why their job is reading what someone else wrote.
Faith: Heath Ledger's family, of course, were wonderful.
Amy: That is still hard for me to wrap my mind around; it was still a bit surreal. Honestly for me, the highlight of the night was Winslet winning Best Actress.
Faith: She's always entertaining!
Amy: Although, in my mind, she won for Eternal Sunshine.
Faith: Well, in my mind she should have at least three Oscars at home.
Amy: Exactly. This was really a lifetime achievement award. Any major disappointments?
Faith: Winning-wise? Penelope. I haven't seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but I just don't know how she could've been better than Viola Davis. I also think Cinematography should've gone to The Dark Knight or Benjamin Button, not Slumdog.
Amy: This is why we are friends! Those were my two also. Like I said, I thought the cinematography in Slumdog was the only thing that didn't blow me away. And Viola Davis...can we have a moment? So amazing.
Faith: Definitely. Oh, and I have a small tinge for Sean Penn. He was great in Milk, but I think he's a bit of a douche. I would've loved for Mickey Rourke to have won.
Amy: Haha, I've never been a fan of Penn's. I think douche is the operative word. But I haven't watched Milk yet, so I can't say. I really liked Rourke though, and I know it doesn't count, but I think it would have meant way more to Rourke.
Faith: Especially after losing his favorite dog. I’m sure he would’ve dedicated the award to it. I'm not even sure what's left to talk about.
Amy: Hmmm... I don't think anything else really stands out for me
Faith: You know what we need to talk about? We need to talk about Alan Arkin messing up Philip Seymour Hoffman's name!
Amy: Ha! I think there were a handful of flubs, of notable people, no less.
Faith: I dunno, but that one was hilarious.
Amy: I know we said no fashion, but what about the hot mess that was Jessica Beal...
Faith: Oh, you mean the big shiny napkin she was wearing? That was priceless.
Amy: And if you are going to the Oscars, at least brush your hair.
Faith: I was so distracted by the dress; I didn't even notice her hair.
Amy: Oh! What did you think about the Pineapple Express clip? Another high point for me.
Faith: It was like an SNL clip that went on too long. It was funny at the beginning, and then it wasn't, and then the Milk part was funny, and then it wasn't again.
Amy: True. I would have taken more of that over the dance number though
Amy: Overall, I liked the format of the show way better than in the past.
Faith: Definitely. They really paid attention to people who were getting bored.
Amy: It was about the little things, like Steve Martin and Tina Fay's jab at Scientology.
Faith: That was perfect. I wanted the Pineapple Express skit to be funny like they were funny.
Amy: I still give them credit for trying to bring in some modern humor. But please, in the future, no High School Musical.
Faith: Please God no.
Amy: I guess if you are a Slumdog fan, there isn't a lot to pick apart.
Faith: So true.
Amy: I thought it was satisfying and forgettable.
Faith: I enjoyed the whole show more than the past couple of years, but I'm still sticking to being slightly bored by the predictable winners.
Amy: All I'm saying is if Dark Knight had been in the mix more, I think that it might have been more of a contest, although Slumdog would have still creamed.
Faith: Well, like Will Smith said, the action movies don't get the love but they get the fans.