Review: ‘The Wolverine’ Is, Finally, a Movie That Is Actually About Wolverine

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve written a review of ‘The Wolverine’ over at Hollywood.com. Check it out. Also go see ‘The Wolverine.’ It was a really fun film and is totally worth your time.

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Review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Overcomes Its Failings with a Heartfelt Story

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

When Seeking a Friend for the End of the World came out, I missed it in theaters. This was a horrible decision. Then I read some of the reviews, which weren’t awful but weren’t great either, and I put off seeing it again. This was an even worse decision. Now, finally, I made time to sit down and watch it. This was a wonderful decision.

Focus Features/Courtesy

Focus Features/Courtesy

I started this movie thinking it was just a comedy about the end of the world, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, the comedy element was there (and it was good comedy, too), but mainly it was the story of two people who were lost and trying to figure out what they wanted. The end of the film was tonally very different from the beginning, but I didn’t find it abrupt or jarring in any way. The story built up to its end in a way that made sense, and the longer I watched the more I loved it.

The thing I loved most about this film was the relationship between Steve Carell’s and Keira Knightley’s characters, Dodge and Penny. They were two people who were at completely different stages in their lives, but they were also in the exactly the same place. They were lost and unhappy, and with the imminent end of the world they were saddened by the lives they hadn’t lived. But in helping each other get to the people they wanted to see before a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth, the realized they were actually looking for each other. At first their age difference makes it seem like their relationship won’t go in a romantic direction, but when it finally gets there age is the last thing anyone is paying attention to. Dodge and Penny make such a lovely and hopelessly romantic couple that it would have been upsetting if they didn’t end up together.

As I said, the movie ends in a very different place from where it began, but that made the ending that much more powerful. It was no longer about the comedy of living an unfulfilled life; it was about the tragedy of it. There is a very fine line between the two, and this film moved from one side to the other in a wonderful and heartbreaking way. And yes, I cried.

Did Seeking a Friend for the End of the World have its flaws? Of course it did. But for her directorial debut Lorene Scafaria made a moving film, and for everything that didn’t go quite right, there was something else that went so well. This is the story of a couple we haven’t seen a million times set against an unexpected backdrop, and that makes it easy to ignore the less than perfect parts of the film. I can’t believe I waited so long to see it, and for anyone who has the same mindset I did, just give it a chance. It’s worth your time, I promise. Just remember to have a box of tissues handy.

4/5

Respect the BRRRM

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

BRRRM. BRRRM. BRRRM.

Cue the white van falling from the bridge in slow motion.

In case you live under a rock, the bit above is from Inception, and that BRRRM is one of the defining aspects of the soundtrack.

The soundtrack to Inception is one of the highlights of the film. It is visceral and in your face, and its impact is obvious. More often, however, soundtracks are subtle and sometimes go unnoticed. That doesn’t mean they’re any less important than the BRRRM.

For instance, I recently watched Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I was blown away by the soundtrack. That may be partly because I love bluegrass music, I’ll admit, but it was mostly because of how seamlessly it flows underneath the images in the film.

String instruments like the fiddle, the mandolin and the banjo keep the music grounded in the southern delta where the film is set. Often a soundtrack can feel forced or out of place, but the music in Beasts of the Southern Wild gives a sense of honesty to the emotions of the scenes. Even the shots of the aurochs (a cattle-like animal) seem realistic, which is impressive considering that they’ve been extinct since the 1600s.

Although the Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack never physically shakes your seat with its intensity, it is still strong music that helps carry the film. The script doesn’t need any help, but the music adds that little bit of extra truth anyway. It’s more of a lowercase brrrm, but it’s there nonetheless.

Flippin’ pinpoint calibrations

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

As soon as I saw the Sundance laurels on the poster for Safety Not Guranteed, I knew that I needed to see this film. Now that I have, I’m telling anyone and everyone who will listen to see it as well. Safety Not Guaranteed is about a journalist and two interns who set out to write a story about a man looking for a time-traveling partner. They want to figure out who this guy is and if he’s serious, crazy or both. They also discover a few things about themselves along the way.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a low-budget, independent film of the purest kind. It’s a wonderfully original and intelligently written film that perfectly straddles the romance, comedy and science-fiction genres. It’s a story about time-travel, but at it’s foundation it’s a story about people. This film is about growing up, moving on, falling in love and living life to the fullest. It’s about a group of people who are trying to find themselves.

After being screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, Safety Not Guaranteed won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Having seen the film, I’m not surprised. The script is simple, heartfelt and full of appropriately-placed one-liners and pop culture references. On a low-budget film like this the script does a lot of the heavy lifting, and I found myself laughing, crying and cheering at all the right places.

One thing I really enjoyed about this film is that the science behind Kenneth’s (the character who placed the classified ad) time-travel is purposefully vague and ambiguous. The method doesn’t matter. What matters is that Kenneth believes it will work and that Darius (one of the interns) believes in Kenneth. The mystery is what brings the characters together.

I went into the theater  with the expectation that this film could go in several different directions, and I was pleased with where it ended up. The final scene was a bit predictable, but it was done subtly enough that it was enjoyable and heartfelt. I felt closure as the credits rolled, and I left the theater grinning like a fool.

This film isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Director Colin Trevorrow beautifully executes Derek Connolly’s award-winning script, and every actor gives a stunning performance. Safety Not Guaranteed is one of the best films of the year, and no one should miss it.

Objectification of men at it’s finest

July 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

Films targeted at women are almost exclusively classified as chick flicks. These films are romantic, sappy, lovey-dovey and any number of other gooey adjectives. The Full Monty was one of the first films aimed at women that stepped outside of that box, and now we have another. Now we have Magic Mike.

No one is going to see Magic Mike for the plot (which was actually surprisingly well-developed). We’re seeing it for the strippers. Normally when I watch films I take everything in, from the acting to the directing to the soundtrack and more. Friday morning at midnight, however, I threw all of that out the window and became just one of many sighing, giggling women in a thankfully dark theater.

Magic Mike gives women a release and adrenaline rush that we don’t get from most films. Don’t get me wrong, I love explosions and murders just as much as the next person, but strippers are on a whole different level. Finally, a film has been made that women can enjoy on the basest of levels. While it’s an awesome film for us, it’s not so great for boyfriends or husbands. They should expect to feel a bit inferior for a while . . . unless they look like Matthew McConaughey.

That being said, a pretty decent storyline compliments the film’s mostly nude scenes. Rotten Tomatoes even gives the movie a certified fresh rating of 79%. We get to see an aging stripper train a young kid in the ways of partying and picking up women, all while making a few easy bucks. It’s a coming of age tale with a little bit of actual romance thrown in, and it’s all wrapped up in a pair of breakaway pants.

In this day and age, a lot of movies that come out are remakes or adaptations. While I love a lot of those films, they’re not new, and that makes them slightly less enjoyable than when I don’t know the story. Magic Mike, however, is something that no one’s seen before. It’s not groundbreaking in the way that a film like Inception was, but it’s different, and that makes it fantastic.

Traditional gender roles are changing and evolving. Men no longer have a monopoly on objectifying another human being solely in terms of sex. Women are no longer afraid to admit how much we love staring at naked men. Magic Mike is shamelessly and unapologetically made for the animalistic tendencies in women everywhere, and we love it.

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