Monthly Archives: August 2007

Get Well Owen Wilson

So apparently Owen Wilson attempted suicide (slit wrists, OD on pills) over the weekend and is now hospitalized. I feel really bad for the guy, he doesn’t seem like the suicidal type and I’ve loved a lot of the things he’s given to the world. With my favorite filmmaker Wes Anderson he co-wrote amazing films like “Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, and starred in “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.” “The Darjeeling Limited” looks like another great film and I just hope Owen gets some help and realizes that a lot of people appreciate him for his fine work. His brothers Luke and Andrew are at his bedside and I hope they’re helping him out. And yes, I used Wes Anderson font for this image.

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Review: Rocket Science

Every year I look forward to many films, especially those who receive praise at film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Last year “Little Miss Sunshine” was the huge hit at Sundance and that turned out to be my favorite film of 2006. The year before that “Thumbsucker” won both awards and praise and that also turned out to be fantastic. This year, titles like “Teeth”, and “The Savages”, “Joshua”, and “Rocket Science” were the films that were the ones to watch this year. I’ve seen the latter two and I must say that I was only impressed with one of them. “Rocket Science” was probably one of the most anticipated films of this year for me and I could not wait for it to come to theaters.

I was severely disappointed. In the first fifteen minutes of the film I got this huge feeling of fear that this film was going to be a major letdown. The film is the story of young Hal Hefner (played by Reece Thompson), a stuttering loner who is lured into the intense world of high school debate by Ginny (played by Anna Kendrick) whose former partner quit after losing at the state championship. Hal is held back in his confidence by his inane brother played very creepily yet too over the top by Vincent Piazza. As Ginny and Hal train for the debate topic on abstinence he develops a huge crush on her while still not finding any way to solve his stuttering.
This plot has major potential but unfortunately falls completely flat throughout the entire film.

Not only was the film boring, it felt totally overdone. It basically had the “Thumbsucker” plot, threw in a little Wes Anderson/Hal Ashby filmmaking style and music, and felt like a hundred different rip-offs all at once (it even features a narration that sounds like a cheap version of Alec Baldwin’s terrific job in “The Royal Tenenbaums”). Sometimes a film that takes other styles and makes it their own can be refreshing (Zach Braff’s Mike Nichols-esque Garden State), but this was just a hodgepodge that didn’t work. The acting was also mostly off par. I had heard that Reece Thompson was terrific in this but I really didn’t see anything worth writing about. He stutters through the whole film, and only has a couple of lines that are somewhat memorable. There is one scene in the entire film in which I found him likeable: He finally finds a way to stop his stuttering and he is unnecessarily shot down. That’s another thing that I loathed about this movie. It lacked hope. This is a sad movie that is being advertised as a comedy. “Little Miss Sunshine” had the same thing happen but that film had a lot of hope to it, and it turned out to be a terrific mixture of comedy and sadness. The trailer was very well cut, and made the film seem like a lot of fun. When those funny scenes occurred in the movie, they kept going and didn’t have the timing that the commercial had. That’s really embarrassing.

There were a few things that I really liked about the film but it’s disenchantment was just too overwhelming. Ginny’s neighbor Lewis, one of the film’s quirky characters, is the major standout. He is played by Josh Kay, and he has a similar delivery of his lines like Michael Cera of “Superbad.” His lines are really the funniest of the film (“Does she wear a bra? Do you wanna see a bra?” and the few people in the theater laughed only when he was on screen. Speaking of “Superbad”, Jonah Hill also has a cameo as the president of the philosophy club and his few scenes were terrific. Unfortunately these scenes just didn’t occur enough in this film, so they only felt like benign tumors on a mountain of cancer. My third favorite part about this film was the character Ben, who was Ginny’s original debate partner and was played terrifically by Nicholas D’Agosto. He is a very handsome young actor who had the only character in the film who brought some kind of hope to Hal’s depressing story.

Unfortunately, there are never any feelings of closure at any point. There are many subplots that are created and most of them are NOT fixed, closed, or explained throughout the film. At the end of the film we are supposed to believe that Hal has found his voice but their is no metaphorical or physical evidence of this. He gets some kind of revenge on Ginny (who we never find out is good or bad), but it all feels very weak. I never really cared about any of the main characters. This film has taught me to not always believe what I hear and find out for myself if a film is great or not. I was so excited about this movie and was just totally underwhelmed and disappointed. I give Rocket Science a C-.

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Trailer: I’m Not There

This trailer is a bit awkward, but I’m still very optimistic. I like what they’re doing with this biopic, it’s a real different direction than many that we’ve seen in recent years. I hope we get a better trailer, one that doesn’t look so unoriginal.

Watch the trailer, and stay optimistic!

I’ve got a classic DVD review for tomorrow and I hope to watch “The Lives of Others” some time this week.

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Review: Superbad

I didn’t get to see Judd Apatow’s critically acclaimed “Knocked Up” in theaters (out on DVD in September), so I wanted to make sure I saw “Superbad”, a film that was less anticipated by the American public. When I posted the trailer back in May I predicted it would be the sleeper hit of the summer and from the looks of the box office and the response of the public, I was right.

The film features two particular actors who I’ve been paying attention to for a while now. Jonah Hill plays Seth, a sex-obsessed, dirty mouthed high school senior who only wants to get laid. I’ve been following his career since his “I Heart Huckabees” debut and I’ve seen many of his films up until now (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Accepted, Grandma’s Boy). Michael Cera plays his best friend Evan, a shyer teen with a less filthy mouth but still constantly thinking about sex and parties. Cera played George Michael Bluth on the late genius show “Arrested Development” and he was always one of my favorite characters due to his deadpan delivery and his comic timing. Both of them have perfect timing, and that is one of the things that has kept getting them jobs (more Hill than Cera). The two characters that they play are also the most realistic teen characters I’ve ever seen in a teen comedy. Nothing that they say is too over the top or unbelievable at all, but everything they say is absolutely hilarious.

Anyways, the film is the perfect comedy. It’s almost 2 hours long but the entire film is filled with funny from beginning to end, and it never lets up. Seth Rogen’s script is a lot less interested in the traps that Judd Apatow seems to sometimes get himself into (the second half of “Virgin” gets a little corny and boring, but I love that film anyways). The film has a lot of heart but it’s disguised in this teen comedy and the scenes that bring this across aren’t dragged out and usually end in Jonah Hill making a comment about boobs or cock (yes, cock). The film, directed by indie director Greg Mottola, never gets boring and when it’s over you find yourself wanting more (but not in a bad way). Like I said, there is a heart to this movie. Seth and Evan got into different colleges and there is a lot of pent up feelings that create an awkward tension. The comedies that have been so critically acclaimed lately all have that awkwardness to them and this is no exception. I truly cared about these characters, and you can sincerely believe that there are deep relationships between Seth and Evan and of course… McLovin.

Newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Fogel a.k.a. McLovin, the extremely nerdy kid who says things like “jigga what” and thinks he’s cooler than he really is. Mintz-Plasse does a terrific job with this role. A lot of other kids could have played this role and done well, but he totally knocked it out of the park from his delivery to the hilarious looks of fear that he is able to pull off when he comes up against the cops. The cops are played by the film’s screenwriter Seth Rogen and SNL player Bill Hader. The film is a throwback to the teen comedies of the 70s and 80s in many respects especially in the scenes with the cops and McLovin.

This film is a much bigger crowd pleaser than the previous Apatow films. My favorite aspect of this movie is its plot. The plot is very thin: two high school seniors who have to get beer to get the girls. That’s it! That is what this movie is about, but the acting and the writing are so hilarious and winning that you totally forget about the plot all together and find yourself just having tons of fun. The music is also terrific, and Mottola used a lot of slow motion scenes with totally sweet 70s music to create a very cool mood. Hill and Cera both are potential box office gold (something that was said about Rogen after “Knocked Up”) right now. I loved this movie, and I strongly suggest seeing it in the theater because it’s a terrific experience. I also wanted to say that a lot of what is shown in the previews and commercials are not in the movie, but instead there are much filthier and hilarious lines instead. I give “Superbad” an A!

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Even more Dark Knight images!

Those images from yesterday were amazing but I got some more for ya! A preview of the film was recently shown at a convention and that’s what all these pictures are coming from. People who went to that con said that there’s some Batman falsies in this one, and that’s what these new pictures reflect. If you look closely at the second one you can see Cillian Murphy (he played Scarecrow in the first one and went nuts at the end) sitting with the faux-Batmen looking a little crazed. I absolutely can’t wait for this movie. Definitely click on the picture because it gets bigger and better.

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Holy New Pictures Batman!

These new pictures from the Dark Knight are the most amazing things I’ve seen this week. I’m speechless. SPEECHLESS. The last one is a hint of Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face. Hmmm…

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Trailer: Walk Hard

The cast is what attracted me to this “Walk the Line” parody: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Paul Rudd, Jack White, Tim Meadows, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig, and Jack Black. Not only is the cast terrific, it is also directed by Jake Kasdan who directed “The TV Set” (Which looked terrific) and Orange County (a very funny film, quite underrated). ALSO, Judd Apatow is producing the film and he’s got the Midas Touch when it comes to comedies so I’m very excited. The trailer is very promising, and I’m gonna go ahead and say that it’s a wonderful return to form in the genre of parody. Reilly looks great, so does Jenna Fischer (an actress who’s been stuck in the Pam Beesly role both on TV and in movie cameos). My absolute favorite part of the trailer is Jack White playing Elvis. Kurt Russell’s got some competition.

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