Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's up Netflix!

Sorority Row- 4 stars- This movie would make the perfect drinking game. In fact, I would love to rent it again, get a bunch of friends together, and get totally smashed. The game is simple: Every time a character says "Theta Pi" you have to drink. My guess is you'd be tipsy after 15 minutes and drunk by 50. Fun! It's important when watching these kinds of movies to not take anything too seriously and Sorority certainly doesn't. What sets it apart slightly, is that it knows it's a dumb teen slasher remake and winks knowingly at itself. It's pure fun and gore. Based on the 1983
classic "House on Sorority Row", this updated version deals with the deadly aftermath of a prank gone wrong. Rumor Willis is great as the sniveling weak link of the group and TV regular Leah Pipes is perfectly bitchy as the leader of the pack. What's not to love?!

Brothers- 4 stars- I wanted to see this movie when it came out, but it's not surprising it was out of the theatre almost as quickly as it arrived. War movies, at least those based on the current conflict, don't sell. Not even the Academy Award winning "The Hurt Locker" made an impact at the theatre (It's estimated domestic gross is just $16.4 million). Still, when these films are done well, they should be seen by everyone and I hope "Brothers" finds it's audience on DVD. Told in a cross hatch storytelling style, we meet decorated Marine Sam (Tobey Maguire) as he picks up his "loser" brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) from prison. Sam is married to Grace (a superb Natalie Portman) and is about to ship off for another tour of duty. His life is the Marine Corp and everyone, his father especially, is so proud. So proud, that his brother has fallen to the wayside and in desperate need for love and redemption. He receives just that, once Sam is overseas and thought to be dead, from Grace and her daughters. The best parts of this movie is the way in which writer David Benioff ("25th Hour", "The Kite Runner") and director Jim Sheridan (LOVE!- "My Left Foot", "In America") focus on family, on relationships, and the way the war effects those at home. There are some interesting scenes of Sam in Afghanistan where he is taken prisoner, in particular one in which he tries to rally his fellow Marine to the cause ("Say nothing!"), but they are kept purposefully short. The movie is sad, certainly, but not hopeless. Another scene that sticks in my head is where Sam, having returned home, asks his Sergeant to send him back. I remember having a conversation with my Father about that same thing- the desire to leave your" family" and "friends" to join your real family back on the front lines. It's heartbreaking and real.

Couples Retreat- 2 stars- Ugh. I'm getting a bit tired of Vince Vaughn. He needs to evolve and grow or his career is over. Once again the only thing saving this film from 1 star status was that I watched it to the end. It's simply ridiculous. The premise, 4 couples go on a therapeutic retreat to Bora Bora, is under developed and absurd. I can't even think of anything to say about this train wreck except to avoid, avoid, avoid!
Coco Before Chanel- 4 stars- I knew nothing about Madame Chanel except I love her mascara. This biopic focuses on the lesser known side of her life before she became the Coco Chanel. Born in poverty and given up to an orphanage when her mother dies, she sticks close to her sister throughout life; first as singers in a brothel and later as women of leisure to wealthy nobleman. She was a woman ahead of her time both in fashion and personality. She did as she pleased and as she felt she needed to in order to survive. The acting is tremendous! Audrey Tautou balances the prickly demeanour of Chanel perfectly. Her long time lover and introduction to society Etienne, played by Benoit Poelvoorde (also brilliant in "Man Bite Dog"), is equal parts chauvinist and loving companion. She meets the love of her life in British money man, Boy, played by American hottie (sorry, editor's note) Alessandro Nivola, who's French is impecable. Who would guess he only took a few years in high school? Director Anne Fontaine's arguably best feature, 2003's "Nathalie", is getting the make-over treatment by one of my hero's, Atom Egoyan, later this year. Check out the MSFW trailer for "Chloe" and rent Fontaine's original now. You need not be a fan of fashion, or a woman for that matter, to enjoy this film. It has something for everyone and is really everyone's desire to have and be more than you are.

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