Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stranger Than Fiction

good idea...

will ferrell is great in this film as harold crick, a fictional character made up by an author (emma thompson) who's a very boring mild mannered IRS worker. his organized life starts spiralling out of control when he hears emma's voice narrating his life. there is a lot of win in this film, but sadly some fail. films like this always have a strange need to fill casting spots with weird out of place actors. like having queen latifah as the author's assistant. her character was completely unnecessary and just annoying. dustin hoffman was actually pretty good as another quirky professor (similar to his role in i heart huckabees). the unexplained stuff was kinda weird, like how did harold become real and was the author some sort of god? who cares, will ferrell was great in a mostly dramatic role, and his romance with maggie gyllenhaal's hippy character was enjoyable. more good than bad overall.

The Invention of Lying

great setup, but almost no plot

ricky gervais is great, and in this film he's charming, likeable and funny. but this almost plotless movie about a world where no one ever lies, except him, falls flat after about 10 minutes. mark is a loser in this fantasy world of all truths, until one day he is able to lie and get everything he ever wanted. this is a funny set up, but then they bring god/religion into the mix (which isn't funny at all) and it becomes a rehash of life of brian, but not funny. i can't stand jennifer garner anymore, and louis C.K. and phillip seymore hoffman are thrown in as pointless unfunny characters. this shouldn't have been made into a feature film.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story

really low budget improv mockumentary

blackballed isn't a bad film, it's just not a very good one. rob corddry and a bunch of other really funny people (the human giant guys, rob riggle, ed helms, etc.) made this mockumentary about bobby dukes (corddry), a paintball player who was the best, but due to cheating, was banned for 10 years. now 10 years later, he's back and wants to get back on top. so he assembles a team of ragtag paintballers and they go play in a tournament. there isn't much substance here, and most of the jokes are so slight and not really funny. it's humorous to be sure, and the absurdity of it all carries the film along... but the talent is wasted in this basically plotless improv fest. christopher guest films have done way better with the same kind of limited plot idea.

Titan A.E.

very meh animated feature

wow, this is a forgettable animated film. don bluth's sci-fi thriller kids film titan a.e. (after earth) is boring, predictable, and lifeless. the earth is destroyed, and it's up to matt damon's character to find the titan space craft that his dad built so they can restore humanity. lots of weird alien creatures and some explosions ensue. decent animation, but it's incredibly dated already.

Eastern Promises

cronenberg's most "mature" film

david cronenberg is one of my favorite directors. ever since i saw existenz (probably one of his worst films), i was hooked. he's fascinated by human skin and gore and awesomely unique things you don't see featured in good films often. eastern promises is an awesome russian mob movie with viggo mortensen at his usual best. he's a gangster working his way up the ladder, meanwhile naomi watts is a midwife trying to find out the past of a 14 year old patient who arrived at the hospital beaten and bruised and in labor. the woman died and left a diary with important information about the russian mob boss and how he raped her. the mob is desperate to get the diary from naomi, and viggo gets involved. it's pretty impressive stuff. the big part of the film is the tattoos that the mobsters all get as part of the ritual, and how accurate they are and everything. good stuff from one of my favorite actors, and directors.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

weird, disjointed, and not good

terry gilliam's latest film (and heath ledger's last) has a promising plot. doctor parnassus (christopher plummer) is a man with eternal life and plays various games with the devil (played by tom waits) throughout the years. in modern time the doctor is a travelling carnival man with a show that gives participants the chance to enter their imagination. his daughter is about to turn 16, and when she does her soul will belong to the devil, but he decides to play another game of chance with the doctor. whoever gets 5 souls first wins! seems simple enough, especially when the dr. meets heath ledger and he helps him recover souls in some weird choice the person makes inside the 'imaginarium'. the setup is interesting, and it's a typical terry gilliam weird-fest... but for some reason the emphasis is all on heath ledger's character, and not on dr. parnassus and his daughter (the hot lily cole). it's all weird and disjointed, probably because heath died during filming, but even if he lived to complete it, it'd be pretty crappy by gilliam's standards.

Up in the Air

great performances, and unique perspective

going into 'up in the air' i was expecting another hollywood type movie with little plot and some quirkiness. i was pleasantly surprised by this film however. george clooney plays ryan, a guy who's job is to fire people. he travels all over the country firing people who get laid off. he loves travelling, and is a loner with no real home. his life is great, until the company he works for decides to keep him grounded and have the people do the firing through teleconferencing. ryan hates this idea, but is forced to take the brainiac woman who came up with it on 'tour' with him to see what he does. the plot seems really thin, but it's actually really interesting. the film is sometimes funny, poignant, and often sad. there is no hollywood ending, and that's a great thing. overall this is a great sleeper film with some great performances, especially from george and the 2 female leads.