Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dear John

Dear Reader,

It is that time again. Time for another Nicholas Sparks novel to hit the big screen ( or in my case, my living room television set because Dear John is a fairly new release on DVD ). Now I know that you are probably really excited to see this film because you just cannot get enough Nicholas Sparks, but allow me to save you the time and the money by saying if you want more Nicholas Sparks, stick to reading this book.

So you have not read this book yet and you do not know what this story is about? Well then I guess it is a good thing that I am here. Dear John brings us the story of a U.S.lieutenant named John who returns to his hometown while on leave.Here, John fishes a purse out of the ocean for a girl he meets named Savannah and soon after the two of them hit it off which eventually unwinds a web of drama, trademark of Nicholas Sparks.

Nicholas Sparks  may be considered the greatest romance novelist of our time and able to turn out emotional stories that definitely beat anything Hollywood could turn out on its own, but the fact is they just do not make great movies. Dear John is not a good movie. The actors can shout and cry but none of it is convincing enough to make this film entertaining. In fact, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried could win Buster Keaton awards for terrific stonface acting ( I do not know if there is such an award but there should be ). Almost the entire rising action consist of voiceover readings of John and Savannah's letters to each other shown to a montage of war scenes.  Lasse Hallström will not win any awards for direction in this film. There was hardly any camera movement and drama demands camera movement. This film was pretty much all still shots of people talking back and forth to each other.

The heart of this Nicholas Sparks' story is good, as is in all of his stories, but Dear John does not cut it as a  good movie.

Disregard this film.

With strong contempt for this movie,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood

Contrary to its commercial advertisement, Ridley Scott's take on the men in tights is not exactly the first great blockbuster of the summer. In fact, it isn't even great.

For those of you who are looking for Robin Hood to steal from the rich and give to the poor, I am sorry to say that there is none of that in Scott's version. In this contemporary spin on the classic legend, Robin Longstride is viciously manhandled out of the era of his classical tale and carelessly tossed into the early 13th century, the era of the Magna Carta, so that he can liberate his people from King John's tyranny.

There are so few good things in this film that I am going to start with them and then proceed to take this movie apart limb by limb.

Good points:
  • This film is directed by Ridley Scott, the director of Gladiator, which won best picture in 2000.
  • The film has great casting: Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. This film would get an A in history class for being historically accurate with most of the material.
  • The script is clever and funny in a lot of scenes.
Not-so-good points:
  • This film is directed by Ridley Scott. So what? Scott is good at directing older-themed films but if Robin Hood was your first Ridley Scott film, I am sure you do not think so. Scott's direction is kind of all over the place in this movie and it can become difficult to follow along at times. I would have much rather seen Scott take on an Alien remake than this film.
  • Next, this film stars Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. Again, so what? Crowe tries too hard for an Italian accent that it totally covers up his natural English accent. Along with that, Crowe just feels out of place in this film and Cate Blanchett is just kind of there for a "dramatic" love interest for Crowe.
  • For the first half of the film, the story brings us to so many different locations that there are subtitles giving us the name of where the characters are almost every twenty minutes.
  • Ridley Scott and his crew have totally reshapen Robin Hood's ideology from a literal sense of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, to liberating the poor from the rich. And by the end of the film nothing changes; the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich.
  • It is probably only possible to enjoy this film if you are a history buff.
As you can see, the cons far outweigh the pros of this film. Robin Hood is a disappointment, especially for those of us who are big fans of these filmmakers. However, I believe that at the heart of the Robin Hood tale there is an important lesson that needs to be passed down from generation to generation. It is just upsetting to see that our generation got stuck with this version.

Disregard this film.


I have to be honest here. When my friend first told me that we were going to go see a Korean movie, I shuttered at the idea. Then when he told me that it was going to have subtitles, I told him that I would rather go see Babies. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how good this film actually is.

For tradition's sake, let's start off with what this film is about. Mother is the story of, you guessed it, a South Korean mother who will stop at nothing to find the killer who wrongfully framed her son of a horrific murder.

Seeing is how there is very little wrong with this film i am just going to jump right into the good stuff. This film is well casted. I am not familiar with South Korean actors but from what I saw in this movie, these actors played their roles perfectly and I think special recognition is in order for  Hye-ja Kim, who played the role of Mother almost passionately. Along with good casting, this film has a good script that is funny, dramatic, and very smart. Director Joon-ho Bong also brought something to this film with some interesting angles and camerawork. This movie really knows itself and is very well-rounded, leaving no stone unturned.

The only not-so-great part about this film is the subtitles. Yes you have to read everything that everybody says, but the subtitles are not distracting and after a while it actually starts to feel natural. Do not let the subtitles stop you from seeing this film, it's good.

Highly recommended.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses has never been so much fun. At least that was the first thought that popped into my head as I was walking out of the theater.

IMPORTANT: I cannot get into this review before telling you what is really going on here. So if you are not into spoilers, then stop right here, go see the movie, and then come back after you've seen it. And you should see it.

So what is this movie about? Well, let me first start off by saying that The Joneses follows a unique storyline that I have never seen before in a film. This movie follows the story of  four professional trendsetters who are hired to pose as the cool, new family in town that everybody wants to be like. The idea behind this is to make everybody in the community want to "keep up with the Joneses" by buying all of their products.

David Duchovny is very convincing as Steve Jones, the newest member of the Jonse unit. Throughout the movie Duchovny's character, who has never been married, desperately tries reaching out to his newfound "family" in attempts at a real relationship and because of this Steve Jones becomes the sympathetic character who inevitably grows on the audience. Demi Moore plays the leader of the Jones unit who has to keep reminding herself that this is just business as she starts falling for Duchovny's character. Demi is okay.

Finally we reach my favorite aspect of this film- Derrick Borte. As a first time writer-director, Borte really brings his dark dramedy to life with a clever script and very nice camerawork. Borte has definitely made a fan out of me and left me looking forward to his future work.

The only downside to this film is the end. Borte builds up the rising action with lots of intensity, humor, and drama only to leave us with an ending that is highly anticlimactic. However, the ending will not make you feel like you have wasted your money. The Joneses is a smart, dark, modern dramedy that deserves credit for its expression of American materialism and its all-so-true message that we should be happy with who we are and what we've got.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Early Review: Iron Man 2

"2" is not always better than "1". This is the case for almost every single sequel ever made; however, the case for Iron Man 2 is different; it is almost as if this sequel is on a whole other level than its predecessor.

Before I get started on my review for this movie, let me tell you a little more about what is going on in this film. Iron Man 2 picks up six months after where the original left off, where Tony Stark has announced to the world that he is indeed Iron Man. Only this time around, Tony Stark has to deal with a whole new set of problems such as  pressure from the American government to hand over his Iron Man "weapon", pressure from the American public to be Iron Man, more pressure from Nick Fury about the Avengers Initiative,  the threat of two new villians, his lost past, and, of course, relationship problems.

Sound like a lot to swallow? That's because it is. Iron Man 2 is so jampacked with subplots that move at such an incredible pace that it may be a little difficult to keep up at times. However, director Jon Favreau does a pretty good job at making sense out of it all. In fact, I now trust Favreau enough to induct him into my "Superhero Movie Director's Hall of Fame" along with only a select few that I trust with my superhero movies: Sam Raimi, who directed the "Spider-man" trilogy, and Christopher Nolan, who directed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Now, back to what I was saying about this movie being on a whole other level than its predecessor. Iron Man 2 just does not feel as dark as the original and seeing is how it is the sequel and all, you would think that it should be darker. However, this movie moves at such a fast pace and almost at all times, somebody's character has something funny to say, that the drama that should be there as a result of all this drama going on in Tony's life, (mix that in with the fact that Tony Stark almost never panics) is not there and it lightens the mood to almost a comedy like atmosphere. This can throw you off because this movie opens with such a dark scene.

As far as sequels go, Iron Man 2 has almost more of everything: more action, more villiany, more suits, and a greater threat; however, it does not feel like a greater threat due to the "more comedy". Iron Man 2 just does not feel like an Iron Man movie.

Now don't get me wrong, this does not mean that this is a bad movie overall. All the preformences were excellent and nobody could play the role of Tony Stark better than Robert Downey Jr. I actually thought it was definitely entertaining and definitely worth seeing. However, when you hold these two gems next to each other, up to the light, Iron Man 2 does not shine as bright at the original. As a matter of fact, it gives off its own sheen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I just want to kick this review off by saying that this is, by far, the best Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell movie that I have ever seen. However, do not let the title of this film fool you, it is not by any means a children's movie; let's just say that it definitely earns its PG-13 rating.

Let me give you a little background on this film. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus follows the adventures of a rag-tag group of sideshow actors lead by a man named, you guessed it, Doctor Parnassus. However, the good doctor soon finds himself in over his head after making one too many deals with a shady character. Now the doctor has to race against time in order to win one last deal that will decide the fate of everything he cares for the most.

The preformances in this film are fantastic. Christopher Plummer, a.k.a: Doctor Parnassus, does an awesome job at playing pathetic characters and getting the audience to feel sorry for them and there is no shortage of that here. Heath Ledger saves his best preformance for his last as he plays Tony Shephard, the most dynamic (and the most complex) character in this whole movie. Ledger keeps you guessing up till the very end and no matter how many times you see this movie, his preformance seems just as fresh as the first time. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell also do an awesome job portraying the many sides of Tony; however, their roles are much more brief.

Terry Gilliam, who wrote and directed this movie, is probably better known for his work both writing and directing a few Monty Python films such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This probably explains why this movie takes place in London, England and why all the characters in this film are British. Nevertheless, Gilliam's direction in this film is clever and it seems to become almost invisible as you become more and more involved with the story.

For those of you who are into faster-paced movies, this starts off a little bit slow but it really gets going after Heath Ledger's character is introduced. This film is a definite see and I would even recommend buying the DVD (or blu-ray for all you white collars).

This film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one in Art Direction and one in Costume Design.