29 June 2010

As A Lady Of Leisure

The job hunt is not going well, especially since most places that do summer hires around here are actually downsizing. So I have had some time on my hands. This has meant lazy mornings in which I don't get out of my pajamas until it is no longer morning and hours spent finishing projects that have been sitting gathering the proverbial dust for months and months. It also means that I have had lots of time to catch up on my movie viewing. I'm burning through my Netflix queue and have seen some good things in the theater, so here are mini-reviews in case you are interested.

Iron Man 2
I saw this months ago, but I still feel it necessary to mention because it is just plain fun. Robert Downey, Jr.'s devil-may-care attitude is firmly in place, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson have higly covetable wardrobes, and I still drool over the beach house that doubles as the Iron Man bunker of invention and inebriation. I was less enthralled with the villains of the piece, mostly because one was so hyperactively quirky and the other so muted, despite his requisite rage, that it seemed at once too much and not enough. Also, I had no idea creating new elements only required laser beams and Captain America's shield. Good times.

Prince of Persia: Some unnecessary subtitle that does nothing to illustrate the dreaminess of Jake Gyllenhaal in this film
This movie wasn't necessarily something I was looking forward to, but it looked like a nice way to escape reality for a couple of hours. Also, my main criteria for deciding when to spend unholy sums to watch a movie in the theater is a) will I regret not seeing it on the big screen and 2) are there dreamy actors involved. The answer to both of those questions was yes for something like Prince of Persia, so I went. And I was pleasantly surprised. I know critics had multiple complaints, but I thought this movie was very much in the tradition of jolly adventures like The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. I would not be surprised if there was eventually a Prince of Persia ride at Disneyland. Anyway, if the movie is at a dollar theater near you, go see it. It isn't going to change the world, but it did make me laugh. 

Hairspray (1988)
So you know how the musical Hairspray - both the Broadway show and the film adaptation - has a loving family at its core and really only the obvious antagonists seem without human decency? Well, that is the complete opposite of the source material. I couldn't finish this film. It is bitter and unhappy and even the 'good guys' in the piece were people I would avoid on the street. All the parents are overbearing, all the teenagers are oblivious and self-centered, all the jokes are at someone's expense. Do yourself a favor and avoid this. I had to watch the film adaptation of the musical after attempting to watch this, just to cleanse my palate.

I watched this with my brother and sister-in-law. I kept falling asleep and yet not missing anything. Also, pretty much plotted out the course of the movie after the first third. In fact, I didn't actually get to finish it with them, but I don't feel like I ever need to finish it. Sure, the visuals were stunning, but that is not enough to get me to watch it again. Unless I'm suffering from insomnia.

The A-Team
As a child, my favorite non-cartoon shows were Knight Rider and The A-Team. I LOVED these shows and seriously thought owning a black van and a Trans Am were the height of adult attainment. So I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about The A-Team movie. Then they did things like cast Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson in it and I had to go see it. Which I did. First of all, watching it made me feel like a kid again, that feeling of excitement and enthrallment when you get wrapped up in a show that you aren't quite sure isn't real. I got to be seven again, which is a wonderful feeling. Secondly, the casting was pretty much perfect and the plot managed to just barely stay on the acceptable side of the crazy line. The only moment of disbelief I couldn't willingly suspend (and this movie requires a good bit of suspension of disbelief) was the fact that Jessica Biel's character - a military officer tasked with enforcing law and ensuring justice - wore 4-inch stilettos during most of the movie. Which is insane. If you liked the show as a kid, definitely go see it. It will make you feel like a kid again - in a good way. Also, stay til the very end of the credits.

Hamlet (2009)
Even casual readers of this blog know I love David Tennant. In 2007 when it was announced that he would be doing Hamlet for the RSC, I was ecstatic and wanted to go to England to see it on stage. I started graduate school instead. However, the RSC and the cast nicely filmed an adaptation of their staging of the play, which I bought at Target in the spring and finally got around to watching. Now, I love the play. I find the whole discussion of grief and sanity fascinating. I thought Kenneth Branagh's 1996 adaptation was gorgeous. I still think that. However, David Tennant's Hamlet is so very engaging. I don't know that I have seen an adaptation that let the actor portraying Hamlet play so very much with the question of his own sanity. The introspection and exhaustion that follow grief and trauma is readily apparent and I loved it. Patrick Stewart is, of course, marvelous as Claudius and the supporting cast is fantastic as well. If you are a fan of the play, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, or anything Shakespeare do check out this adaptation. It will be 3+ hours well spent.

Lars and the Real Girl
It is really impossible to describe this movie in any coherent way. It is about a community coming together to help one of it's own. It is about the human capacity for love. It makes you take stock of your own attitudes toward humanity. I watched the whole thing on tenterhooks, expecting cruelty and horridness in ever new scene when all the movie offered was kindness and love. Which made me think about what that said about me. I highly recommend checking this sweet movie about a man struggling through traumas from his past and present and how people around him show that they care and love him. It will make your day.

American Teen
This is billed as a documentary, which it is. Sort of. It is about actual high school seniors in Indiana. The kids are real, the school is real, the situations are real. However, it is highly edited to present a certain narrative. One could argue that most documentaries are edited down to present a narrative. But, this seems to want to keep the kids in simple categories for most of the film and glosses over complexities that would have made the film far more powerful and interesting. The students aren't necessarily shown as their true selves, but rather examples of generalized types. Some small moments in the film hint that each student is more than who they are presented as and who they present themselves as, but they are rare, almost as if they were forgotten pieces of greater stories that ended up on the cutting room floor.  Also, in this post-reality television world when kids are brought up with shows like The Hills, is it even possible for them to be their true selves when being followed by a camera? Being observed heightens any situation and alters the way people behave. Oh, and be forewarned - the movie can be a trigger for any unresolved high school PTSD stuff you might have. 

The Proposal
I finally took the time to watch this movie. I don't really know why I didn't see this before now, as I enjoy both Sandra Bullock and Betty White, but I didn't. I enjoyed the movie, but I kind of wish the film had spent more time in character development rather than naked hijinks and the many talents of small town general store managers/caterers/strippers. I felt I should care about the main characters and that I would probably even like them if the were real people I knew, but there weren't enough reasons for me to care about the characters. Other than being portrayed by likable actors like Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Frankly, I need a little more than that.

Cactus Flower
This movie caught my eye on Netflix simply because it said it starred Walter Matthau, Goldie Hawn, and Ingrid Bergman. That is a very random combination of actors. But it is a combination that completely works. I really enjoyed this movie - a romantic comedy that works better than most. Goldie Hawn won an Oscar for her role, which is understandable. And Ingrid Bergman just shimmers in it, especially given the freedom to be funny - something I don't think she was given much freedom to do. And, honestly, it is one of those great roles for an over-40 actress that seem so rare because it isn't a caricature. If you check out only one movie on this list, choose this one.


Jenny said...

Thanks for the reviews! Now I wish that I had watched Lars and the Real Girl while it was streaming on netflix. I wanted too but was a little afraid of what might go on in it based on Netflix's description. (Plus Mike made fun of me when I started playing it.)

Heather said...

Hey there!! Cute new baby niece!

And fun reviews. Kirk and I went on a date to see the A-Team last weekend! It was so fun. I loved it. Kirk thought it was a bit cheesy, but what did he expect? It's the A-Team! :) I ate it all up, except for the part at the end where the cargo containers where flying everywhere like legos.. that was a bit much. I wasn't sure at first about Liam Neeson as Hannibal or the guy they had for B.A. but they totally worked! My favorite line I think was when Hannibal opens the tanning pod after busting Face out and he says "Wow... you are really tan." HA!! hilarious. I have been watching old episodes of the original on Hulu in preparation for this movie coming out. They are so nostalgic I love it. There is something about Hannibal's voice that is just so familiar.

Well then, enough about that :) I am looking forward to watching several of the movies you reviewed when they come out.. since going to the theater is a thing of the past.

Oh, and I don't know if you've ever heard of the show Leverage? I think it's on TNT.. I watched the first season on netflix instant and LOVED it! I think you would like it too. Just don't pay too close attention to the magical things the computer guy can do, other than that it's pretty believable :) Just way fun.

Alright is this comment long enough?

Scully said...

Jenny, do not let Mime dissuade you from watching Lars and the Real Girl - it is a great movie!

Heather, most of these movies are old enough to be on Netflix. I know for sure that Cactus Flower is streaming. Have fun with them and your babies! I'm sending out a package for you guys this week, so hopefully you'll get it by Friday or Saturday.

two forks said...

i love lars and the real girl!

esperanza said...

I did see The Prince of Persia because I've been to the city they fimiled the street-scenes in! Yes, the male lead is very good-looking too. :)

You should see How to Train Your Dragon...that is one of my new favorite of late.