Archive for March, 2011

Zentropa Entertainments, Zentropa International Köln, Slot Machine

Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm

Antichrist is a very shocking film. It’s definitely a horror film, but it’s much more of a psychological drama. This is a story of a couple “He and She” (Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg) who have a small child in a crib who makes up the entire cast of the film. The couple are having sex in the other room when the little boy climbs out of the crib and falls out the window. This whole opening sequence or prologue is shot in extreme slow motion and is very moving. The wife ends up in a mental hospital, but her husband who is a therapist doesn’t agree with the treatment of her doctor and the drugs she is taking, so he decides to take her out to a cabin out in the woods called “Eden” where he can help her recover. But going back to nature causes things to go very badly, and awful, horrible things happen. Told in 4 chapters identifying the stages of loss, plus a prologue and an epilogue.

This is a very graphic film and is a guaranteed shocker. There are a few short scenes that, although not gratuitous, are very hard core! This could not be shown in the U.S. without an NC-17 rating for sure. It also is extremely symbolic and does not give answers. You think you know what the story is, but the story is not the point. It’s the symbolism of an evil “Garden of Eden” built by the devil. There are 3 animals in this film that also are very symbolic, although I do not have any idea what they mean. I have read theories on them, but I don’t know if I buy them or not. I guess this is part of the fun of the film, trying to figure out what it means. It’s very artsy and the music is awesome, but this will probably be hated by a lot of people.

It’s not exactly my cup of tea, and I do not rate this very high as I suspect most people are not ready for this. You have to love artsy, independent, foreign films to get this. But it is in English, and it is easy to follow and understand the dialog. But do not expect to be entertained or titillated, as you will come out of it scratching your head and wondering what it was all about. Then you will think about it for many days after!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Screen Gems, Olive Bridge Entertainment

Emma Stone, Alyson Michalka, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell

Easy A is a clever little teenage angst movie based around Nathaniel Hawthorns “The Scarlet Letter”. Olive (Emma Stone) is a chaste teen-age girl who feels invisible. No one in school notices her. She has a gay friend who is very in the closet to avoid all the trouble it will cause for him if anyone finds out. Olive remembers something that happened years ago with a boy who was to be her “first kiss”. They didn’t want to really kiss, but they both didn’t want the shame of not doing it, so they made a deal to not do it and tell everyone they did.

Meanwhile, after hearing this story, her gay friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd) begs her to be his “pretend” girlfriend. Olive is reading the book “The Scarlet Letter” in class, and hatches a plan to go to a party as Brandon’s girlfriend, go to a bedroom and have “pretend” sex so that everyone will hear for sure and the rumor will go around that Brandon is straight and Olive is a tramp. This plan works better than she expects and following the line of “There is no such thing as bad publicity” Olive is suddenly the talk of the school. Unfortunately Brandon can’t help blabbing to his friend, and before you know it a whole line of losers is waiting to pay Olive to have “pretend” sex with them to upgrade their image. So Olive is the slut of the school and is still pure and chaste. There are a slew of smaller parts with great actors in this film too. Stanley Tucci is Olive’s Dad and Patricia Clarkson is her mom. Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow play married teachers with lots of issues. Malcolm McDowell is hysterical as the principal, and Fred Armison puts in an appearance as a pastor. Amanda Bynes is here as the church girl who runs the school “abstinance club” and of course has lots of issue with Olive the tramp.

This is a lot funnier than I expected, and it was a really very decent movie. It wasn’t a huge hit, which kind of surprises me, as it was very clever. Sometimes good films get lost at the box office by being up against other big films at the time which may have happened to this film. At any rate, it’s a very nice rental and an enjoyable film. The development of the story was fun, and not so predictable. There were a couple surprises. Having the small parts played by recognizable actors also made it a lot of fun. This was the kind of film that is a surprise as you come into it not expecting much. It was light and easy and was fun to watch.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Movie Rentals Releasing Tuesday March 29, 2011

Mar 29

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Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Green Hat Films

Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA, Matt Walsh, Brody Stevens

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles 2 starts out with Peter Highman {yeah, it’s a funny name that’s a setup for a really lame joke later} (Robert Downey Jr.) a straight laced architect who has to come home for the birth of his first child scheduled (of course) by C-Section in 5 days, and Ethan Tremblay / Ethan Chase (Zach Galifianakis) who is a lame brained most annoying person in the world type of guy who accidentally bumps into Peter and forces them into a cross country trip together. Ok, so it’s not really a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles remake, but it wants to be so bad that it seems almost like a sequel or a remake. The only difference is that Steve Martin and John Candy were funny! I really wanted to like this movie, but I was severely disappointed. Jamie Foxx has a cameo here that is useless and not needed at all. They wanted to get another big name in here and needed a different way to get the guys back on the road since they totaled their car already and they didn’t have the budget or a train or bus :-). This movie had all the funny parts (there are a few) in the trailers, and as such is disappointing when after you’ve seen the trailer 3 or 4 times, there is nothing else to look at in the film. Note to filmmakers: If you are going to do a big setup, hire a big star or develop a cutesy name for a single joke, make sure that joke is worth the effort. In this case, the whole Jamie Foxx role was a setup for about a 15 second gag in the end of the film, but it comes and goes in a flash and isn’t even funny.

John Candy played a lovable oaf (shower curtain hook salesman) that is totally inept but with a big heart. Zach plays an unlovable oaf (actor wannabe) that is totally inept but keeps on being completely unlikable. There is a scene with Heidi (Juliette Lewis) as his drug contact in the middle of the prairie who sells Ethan his glaucoma medicine. This lady has two kids and the whole scene goes nowhere and does nothing. I don’t know what they were even trying to do, as I kept expecting a payoff that never came. The scene with Jamie Foxx was undeveloped as well. From the trailer you know they made coffee from Ethan’s daddy’s ashes and managed to fit in a spit take or two, but it goes nowhere either and Jamie goes from “you gotta be nice to him, it’s your Karma” to “Get the hell off my property” in about 60 seconds, and loans them his car. The only joke in the sequence was again in the trailer. Then as the guys are driving west on I-70 they suddenly come upon the Mexican border to setup another dumb sidetrack. How they did that I’m not exactly sure, as the border is about an hour south of I70.

I really was anxious to watch this, but as I said, I was really disappointed. It could have been a really nice, really funny film, but it just wasn’t good. I wish it had been great, but it simply wasn’t. Skip it, or watch it on DVD when you have absolutely nothing better to watch!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Closest to the Hole Productions, Fighter, Mandeville Films

Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Dendrie Taylor

Mostly this is a story about a family, a really dysfunctional family at that. Two half brothers, Mark Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) are both fighters. At one point Dicky was the star and the hero of this small town, but a long battle with drugs has left him a shell of who he was. Meanwhile Mark seems washed up too, but the family still pins their hope of infamy on his shoulders. They are all about family and Mom (Melissa Leo) is the promoter and Dicky is the trainer. They set him up for the fight of his life, but it falls through at the last minute, and they set him up with a chump who is no match for Mark, except that he nearly kills him. Mark is way out matched. Then Dickey pulls Mike into a problem with the law and ends up in prison. Mark meets a charming lady bartender Charlene (Amy Adams) who tries to straighten him out to become the boxer he could well be. But that means putting Dickey and Mom and the rest of the family out of the picture. They are not going to stay out of Mark’s life without a major fight which Mark is not sure he wants to even fight.

This is nearly a documentary. On the DVD there is a special feature which introduces us to the real brothers and gives us a chance to see the real characters. These guys did a good job of representing the real guys and they seem to have tried to stay really close to the truth. That is probably the weakness and the nicest thing about this movie. Real life is not neatly tied up in a little 2 hour package like Hollywood likes to do. A movie with the preface “Based on a true story” is a clear signal that they took something that happened and wrote a fantastic journey that isn’t even close to what happened. This isn’t tied up in a neat little bow like this. But they did take one liberty, in a way. The fight at the climax of this movie was leading up to the final battle. But Mark got beat in the big fight, so they chose to end the movie with the fight before the big fight. But all that aside, this is a good boxing movie with lots of other stuff. Amy Adams is very good as always and she has become one of my favorite actresses with her good performances. She is the rudder to this whole story that keeps things on track. Christian Bale deserved the awards he got for his role. He was excellent in bringing the real Dickie to us. Dickie wasn’t a bad guy at all, and he could have been a great villain in this story, but that’s not the way it happened, and I think he played it just right.

Now I am not a fan of boxing. In a half Filipino household, I’m surrounded by lots of Manny Pacquiao fans, for sure, but I refuse to watch boxing as I find it really barbaric and I am disgusted by what happens to ex-boxers later in life. Plus I was a young man when Boom-Boom Mancini killed Duk Koo Kim on November 13, 1982, and what it did to the rest of his life.
[Click to see the Wikipedia entry]

He never could box again, and it virtually destroyed him. I don’t think intentional brain injuries are sport. But still, there have been a few good Boxing movies. I deal with the movies better than real boxing, because it is not real. No one is really getting beat to death in the movie. “Million Dollar Baby” was a good boxing movie, as was Rocky.

But this film is not so much about boxing, but more about the lives of the real people in the story, so I found it pretty good. Not my idea of a best picture of the year by far, but a fine film and one that probably ought not to be missed, especially if you’re a fan of this kind of underdog story.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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