Monday, August 31, 2009

Funny People

Director: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana

I saw this movie tonight not knowing what to expect. It's gotten such mixed reviews. I have heard it's sad and dark and not at all like Apatow's other films, which I love. A lot of people don't like it because of this, but I must saw, I thought it was lovely. It was as if the characters were playing themselves (hopefully not Adam Sandler--his character was a real asshole). It was a glimpse into the world of comedians and struggling comedians. It was heart-breaking, uncomfortable at times, and also pretty funny. I love me some dysfunctional films, so I really liked it. It was well-acted (Sandler didn't bug me a bit, which is quite a feat). Seth Rogen was understated and not too Seth Rogen. The supporting cast was hilarious (Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aziz Ansari, the amazing newcomer Aubrey Plaza, and Apatow and Mann's adorable daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow). Leslie Mann is a brilliant actress who I hope to see in more films where she can show her acting abilities.

Highlights include a home video of Maude Apatow singing Memory in a production of Cats, a terrible fictional NBC sitcom called "Yo, Teach!", a scary Swedish doctor, and some seriously funny stand-up (it's definitely funny stand-up if it makes me laugh--I hate stand-up).

In other words, I really recommend this movie. Just don't go in expecting it to be Knocked Up or 40-Year Old Virgin. It's much more grown-up than that. Have no fear, that doesn't mean there's a shortage of dick jokes.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Director: Julian Schnabel
Written by: Ronald Harwood and Jean-Dominique Bauby
Starring: Mathieu Amalric

I've been meaning to watch this for some time now, and I finally did, so yay! It was a critically acclaimed movie a couple of years ago and NPR talked about it every other second. It's a true story, based on Jean-Dominique Bauby's memoir. Bauby was the Chief Editor of Elle in France, and when he was in his 40's, he suffered from a major stroke that left his brain fully functioning, but everything paralyzed except for one eye. He learned to communicate through a system involving the alphabet, very patient people, and blinking. In this way, he wrote his memoir.

It was halfway through the film before I realized I was watching it dubbed. I kept thinking, "I thought this was in French! Why are they in France with French accents speaking English!?" Oh Amy. So, that cleared up the weird sound quality and kind of...clunkiness in the line delivery. I think I may have enjoyed it more with subtitles. I've never watched a film dubbed before. Not a fan.

Anyway, it's really beautiful and depressing and thought-provoking. That's really all there is to say about it. I don't know if I thought it was quite as good as all the reviews and awards indicated, but it was still a great quality film. So, if you are feeling too happy and need to be brought down, watch this! Or if you are having a pity party because things aren't going right in your life, watch this! At least you can move and speak!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Director: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin and Audrey Niffenegger
Starring: Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana

This movie made me cry twice. It cleared up all confusion about chronology and time travel technicalities that I had when reading the book. It's a chick flick for sure. Manipulative and heartbreaking and sappy and romantic. You might not like it if you are a dude or a cold heartless girl. I thought it was pretty quality, though. Another great movie to get you laid.



Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Written by: Mitchell Lichtenstein

I just watched this movie for the second time. It's so great. It's about a girl with Vagina Dentata, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a dark comedy/horror movie chock full of gory castration scenes. The vagina-toothed girl is a Christian who leads an abstinence group at school. Oh the irony. Anyway, I think this movie is perfect. Brilliantly acted, smart, funny, terrifying, and profound. You can watch it instantly on Netflix, so you should do that pronto.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Director: David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves and J.K. Rowling
Starring: Oh you know who it's starring!

You know, wizards and Voldemort and shit. I have very mixed feelings on the HP movie series. I thought 1 and 2 were cute kid films, 3 was genius, 4 was dull, and 5 was genius. I had high expectations for the sixth movie because it was directed by Yates, who directed the 5th movie. Let me just say, I was VERY disappointed.

Maybe it's because I get as excited for the new movie to come out as I did on Christmas morning when I was a kid (or, still do). Maybe it's because as soon as the theme song starts playing, I can hardly stay in my chair. Maybe it's because I miss the books so much that the movies are all I have left? In any case, I was so sad when I found that a half hour into HP and the Half-Blood Prince that this may be the worst film in the series.

It focused on the trivial stuff, the teenage hormones, the obnoxious Weasley twins, etc. We were two hours in before anyone even said the word "horcrux!" Wow, I'm a major nerd right now. Now, I'm not at all picky about sticking to the book. I treat movies and books as different artistic mediums that each creator should have the freedom to change and adapt however he/she wants to. Maybe this movie was a little too close to the book (6 was my least favorite) and that was the problem.

Maybe I hated the awkwardly bad writing and "humor." Example: Ron, Hermione, and Harry all sit around talking about Dumbledore. Ron makes a bad joke about Dumbledore being 150 years old. The three force very very bad-acty laughter for about 20 seconds. I shift in my seat.

Side note: I think Emma Watson is a VERY bad actress.

There are a couple of cinematically-stunning moments. They take up about 10 minutes of the 150 minute movie. Ruh roh.

This movie sucked major wand. It made me want to avada kedavra someone, for realsies.


500 Days of Summer

Director: Marc Webb
Written by: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel

I just saw this movie for the second time. It's adorable. It's a quirky indie romantic comedy with uber-charming characters. There are some twists--it's not quite just a boy-meets-girl movie. Deschanel and JGL are so endearing, I can't even explain it. I'm so in love with him, and I'm a little lez for her, too. Or maybe just her clothes and her hair.

This movie is very easy to identify with. If you've ever been in love, fallen out of love, been unhappy in a relationship, or dwelled over someone like a psycho (I have experienced all of these things), then you'll find yourself saying "Yes, exactly!" Which, in my opinion, is all any director can hope to make his audience say.

Speaking of the director, 500 Days of Summer is filled with fun little experimental moments, like a dance number, a French film dream sequence, a split-screen "Expectations vs. Reality" scene, and some documentary realism. Most of the time, this works, but every once in awhile, you get the feeling that you are watching the first film of some over-eager director who just wants to throw in every Michel Gondry idea he's ever had. Aside from those rare moments, this movie is brill. Loves it.

Also, for the guys/lesbians, I think if you take a girl to see this movie, it will get you laid afterwards.


Paper Heart

Director: Nicholas Jasenovec
Writer: Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi
Starring: Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera

This is a fake documentary about love. It sounds trite because it is. Parts of the documentary appear to be true--interviews with "real people" about love and their relationships. However, most of the film centers around a budding relationship between Yi and Cera, who play themselves.

It's hard to know what is staged and what is not (with the exception of very obviously scripted moments by the director, Jasenovec, who is an epic failure of an actor), but it doesn't really matter. The film is awkward, clunky, and dull. "I don't know if I can be in love" blah blah blah "How do you know when you're in love?" blah blah blah. Yi is so awkward it hurts. She is like an autistic ten-year-old boy, and even though Michael Cera is no Cary Grant, it's hard to believe he would be into HER. **Insert Arrested Development joke here**

I was so focused the whole time on, "Is this part staged?" "Are we supposed to believe this as non-fiction?" "Why can't Charlyne comb her effing hair?!" that I had trouble enjoying it. If you get past these obstacles, maybe you'll like it, but...yikes.