Sunday, May 23, 2010

What's up Netflix!

I don't know why this didn't post a couple weeks ago, but here are some more movie reviews:

The Brothers Bloom- 4 stars- In the tradition of David Mamet and director Rian Johnson's freshman effort "Brick", "The Brothers Bloom" weaves a tangled web about, above, and beyond the grift. I love movies about "the con". I am constantly amazed by the intelligence and planning of the writer/director who tackles a con movie and does so well (See: The Grifters, House of Cards, Revolver). We follow the Bloom brothers from adolecense and into adulthood as they become two of the greatest con men the world has ever know. Pulled into one last heist by his brother (Mark Ruffalo- always amazing), Adrien Brody finds himself thrust into the con himself, no longer sure who is playing whom. Rachel Weisz as the mark and all around fun time gal also shines. I can't wait to see what Johnson does next! Both of his films are whimsical without being childish and clever without being too smart. He elicits fine performances from all his actors and knows his way around a sharp barb. Very good!

Motherhood- 4 stars- This movie was in and out of the theatre faster than you could say, "Hey isn't that Uma Thurman?" My only thought as to why is it's an extremely difficult film to market. The premise sounds lame and alienating: the day in the life of a harried mother of 2 as she attempts to put together a birthday party for her daughter. With little help from her husband, she struggles to balance "me time" with her role as wife, mother, chauffer, cook, and human being. I figured I'd catch it on DVD, and I'm glad I did. Uma Thurman gives an amazing performance (perhaps drawn from personal experience) as she struggles to reconcile with the knowledge that she no longer works, at least not in the sense that seems to mean anything to most people. She schedules out niches of time for herself in an otherwise jam packed day. I really appreciated all that my mother did for me when I was a child after seeing this film. I just wish life ended the way it always does in movies- with justice and satisfaction for its heroine.

First Snow- 2 stars- I love Guy Pearce, which is the only reason I rented this movie. Unfortunately, I almost fell asleep several times while watching. Pearce plays a guy with no redeeming qualities (which does not lead me to immediately dislike a movie), yet we're expected to believe he's on a journey to redemption that we never see. For some reason, he decides to get his palm read (by a miscast J.K. Simmons) at a gas station. Here he learns he will die, and just after the first snow. Already, we don't care. He's scummy and a jerk- good riddance. This movie is quiet and ambles about in what seems much longer than its 102 minutes. I would rent Memento or The Proposition instead. Unless, that is, you've got some work to do and would like something on in the background

Daybreakers- 3 stars- About half way through watching, it becomes obvious why this film was shelved for a year before release. Add to that the 2 years it took to make and you start getting the picture. It's not a bad effort from newbie filmmakers The Spierig Brothers, but all I'm left thinking about is what the script looked like before Lionsgate got a hold of it. Is this the better version or the worse? Ethan Hawke does a fine job emoting the same presence he did in "Gattaca" (I wish I'd watched that movie). Once the problem in the story is solved, the movie takes a major dive. Not only is the solution laughable, it stalls the action. I think the biggest problem might have been a collection of too many ideas and no good editor. What kind of movie does this want to be? Sci-fi Drama? Horror? Socio-political drama? It never seems to figure it out. "Daybreakers" goes in the vault with all the other Frankenstein films- those that seem to be made from two different movies, cut in half, and taped together. I think there are some that will find this movie far more entertaining, perhaps someone without a long and working knowledge of vampire films; hence the 3 stars. For me, it just made me sad.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant- 2 stars- I totally fell asleep watching this movie. There's a sizeable chunk in the middle that's missing from my memory. That being said, I can't imagine there being a sequel, so what's the point in watching what I missed? I get what Chris Weitz was trying to do here, but he fell short (even more so than his interpretation of "The Golden Compass"). The CG is sometimes wonderful (as in the case of Hayek's growing beard), but is also at odds with itself (as in the case of the vampire's fast motion). The adult acting is way over the top and distracting. John C Reilly, whom I normally love, was chewing the scenery and Salma Hayek seemed not to know why she was there. The young leads, especially newcomer Chris Massoglia, do a respectable job with what's given. All in all, it seemed like an animated movie acted out with live actors. A definite miss, unless you're fans of the books.

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