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I've been hearing lots of negativity about this movie. I think a lot of people have been shocked, frankly, by the raw and rough nature of the film. Having read the play, I've been looking forward to it for about a year now, and it's honestly one of the best plays I've ever read. Mike Nichols presents it in an amazing way, very faithful to the words as they're written (and they should be, for the movie is also written by the man who wrote the play, the brilliant Patrick Marber).
It's a brutal topic, sex and love, especially when they're combined. I thought the movie was amazing. It captured all of the vulnerability, caustic harshness, and acerbic flirtation that the play vibrated with. All of the cast brought the movie alive. It uplifts and then brings you way down, but that's the point, and yet at the end, I didn't feel depressed or saddened, just really really awake and curious. It's the feeling you get when you get "closer", I suppose.
Natalie Portman, in a tour-de-force performance, is the standout by far. Maybe it's because she's the youngest, and not expected to be that awesome, but she is. Anyways, her Alice is flirty and sweet, caustic and manipulative, evasive and yet very open, sexual and gloomy all in one character. She has the best chemistry with the men - whether it be purely sensual with Clive Owen, or innocence and affection with Jude Law. She comes alive with the two guys, and their scenes are ones to look forward to.
Julia Roberts, whom everyone looks towards, is not bad in this film. She's very understated and good, but she is outshone in nearly every scene by whomever she's acting with.
Clive Owen is absolutely astounding, and he's definitely on everyone's radar screen. As the man of experience and "simplicity", as Jude Law's character comments, he's brash and hotheaded, but also extremely clever. Owen perfectly plays the sleazy, unlikeable character, but somehow manages to appeal to the audience and even though he's a disagreeable character, I think many managed to find something all right about him - Owen's human sense in Larry.
Jude Law is simply very very good; neither astounding nor bad. The only reason he does not stand out is the fact that we've all expected him to do a good performance. And he does, he has a great performance. He and Portman have amazing scenes together, and he's always on par.
Simply put, the movie is not for everyone (especially not for seeing with a parent or young child); it's a mature adult flick, and does not back down from anything. It's high drama - with all the uplifting romance and brutal arguments of relationships. It's a story about people.
13 Going on 30 (2004)
Cute, sweet, funny - a gem!
Jennifer Garner is sensational and completely winsome in this delightful movie, 13 Going On 30. Jenna Rink is 13, and like any 13-year-old girl, wants to be cool. It's 1987, and on her party of the year invites the "Six Chicks" and her goofy next-door-neighbor-best-friend, Matt. Her one wish? To be "thirty, flirty, and thriving". Next thing you know, she is.
But there's a price to being "thirty, flirty, and thriving" for Jenna Rink. She has everything she wants, or does she? Mark Ruffalo is really really great as older Matt, and he and Jennifer Garner have lovely chemistry. The movie has a good pace, and the comic moments are not always fall-over-funny, but they always shine! This is due to the top-notch writing and Garner's effervescence. It was great seeing Andy Serkis in a movie after Lord of the Rings, and he was really good.
All in all, the idea may seem hackneyed at first - but it'll surprise you with its wit, youth, and freshness. A great movie!
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
A really great time
In this 50's story that takes you back to pre-Revolutionary Havana, Cuba, Katey Miller (Romola Garai) is of a small group of Americans living in the country. Her parents (Sela Ward and John Slattery) try to keep her sheltered, and though she does attend a largely American private school, along with James Phelps (Jonathan Jackson) and her sister Susie (Mika Boorem), she soon drifts into the spicy, rhythm-based center of Havana with waiter Javier (Diego Luna).
The story may seem predictable and a poor retelling, but I really enjoyed it. The actors are all very good, and I was impressed by how fresh and vibrant everything was. The dancing, the music, setting were all top notch and really brought everything to life. The dancing is absolutely astounding, and I really felt like learning the salsa, mambo, and cha-cha after I saw it. :)
The actors are all very, very good. Romola Garai was impressive to me, and continues to impress me after I saw her in Nicholas Nickleby and I Capture the Castle. She's very natural. Some of the dialogue seemed contrived and stilted, but she pulled it off admirably. Also someone to watch out for is Diego Luna. Everyone knows him as Tenoch in Y Tu Mama Tambien, and he does well here - both on the dance floor and on the stage. He can definitely hold his own. Sela Ward and John Slattery were good as the concerned parents, and it was nice seeing Mika Boorem out and about after John Stockwell's rollicking surf flick Blue Crush. Also ones to mention are January Jones and Jonathan Jackson as Katey's American acquaintances.
Everyone instantly rolls their eyes when they see 'Dirty Dancing' tacked on to it, but I encourage people to forget about its predecessor and see the story that Guy Ferland and his team are trying to tell this time around. It's completely different, although at its heart is the same message: as the tagline says, "Break the rules. Find your freedom. Live your life". My only real complaint about the movie was that it was too short. ;)
Dangerous Beauty (1998)
OK, let's face it, the reason I saw this was because of potential chemistry between Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell. I love both of them as actors, and I was psyched when I heard they were in a movie together.
Then I looked at the plot, and was intrigued. I'd seen a movie similar to this, Moulin Rouge. Hmm, would it be as good as that? Would it be a let down? Looking at the title and the cover, I wasn't expecting too much. Soft porn, maybe? Eh, probably. But I rented it anyways, simply because I was in the mood for a period piece, and Rufus Sewell is easy on the eyes. :)
The movie ended up becoming one of my absolute favorites. It is sumptuously filmed, gorgeous, like staring at a beautiful painting for hours. Every piece of colors and cinematography is top notch. The acting between Sewell and McCormack is amazing, astounding. I fell in love with their romance. The film hasn't left me long after I saw it. The score is brilliant. George Fenton is an emotional genius. If you want to hear more of his stuff just check out Ever After, starring Dougray Scott and Drew Barrymore. :)
I really want to buy this movie. It works so well, and it is just really, really good. It's a movie to be felt, not explained. If you love intriguing plot lines, romance, and period pieces, then I highly recommend you check this out. :)
The O.C. (2003)
I love it already
I've been anticipating this show for MONTHS! And it was so, so good! It was funny, edgy, exciting, and gave us so many introductions of the characters that make me *know* there's more to that person than meets the eye! The writing was good, scenery is perfect and beautiful, and the show has a great premise. :) I also love the song, "California"- great theme song. Benjamin McKenzie still has some kinks to work out (actually the whole show does), but he shows *great* potential. He and Adam Brody (Seth) work really well off each other. Adam Brody did a fantastic job as Seth Cohen- he was funny, charmingly dorky, endearing, and so cute! *grin* Mischa Barton did well, for having not that many lines yet, as Marissa Cooper, the intriguing girl-next-door, who's already showing problems in alcohol abuse. There's so much texture and history with these characters, I can't wait to see the next episode! Everyone watch "The O.C."!
A very excellent movie
I've been wanting to see this movie for a long time now, and what can I say? It was brilliant! Christian Bale MAKES the movie. He's such a perceptive, versatile actor that shines and is believeable in every role he plays. There are some that feel he is very wooden, but that is entirely what the role calls for. Just watch other movies he's done: Newsies, Little Women, Shaft, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and American Psycho. He's awesome.
The movie reminded me a lot of Star Wars, which had an Original Trilogy that wasn't not dependent on special effects. Not the the effects were bad, but they weren't up to par, but it didn't matter, really. The characters shone through, as they do in this movie. Equilibrium is intelligent, thought-provoking, and entertaining. I'd watch it for Christian, his scenes with Emily Watson, and the message behind it! It was nice to see Sean Bean in the movie, as well. :)
Mindblowing, utterly fantastic- Enjoy! **spoilers**
It seems like this year has been the year for sequels. First Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets burst forth in November, funnier, wittier, and more delightful than its predecessor. Then Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, in perhaps the least popular book, proved it could live up to its expectations- and even exceed them. And now, with all the candor, excitement, and intensity (and MORE!!) of the first X-Men movie, X2 adds a new level to the saga of the X-Men.
The main thing I noticed about the second movie was that everything moved a lot faster than in the first one, and this was to be expected, whereas the first movie is mainly introduction and exposition, the second movie actually grabs a hold of a plot that its characters embark upon. The opening scene with Nightcrawler at the White House was perfectly done, with tight, intense editing and extraordinary choreography and special effects. The sound in this movie was incredible! I recommend that everyone see this at the theatre, for seeing it home on a small screen doesn't do its mastery justice.
As with many sequels, this one was funnier than the original! Everyone had great lines, especially the new character Pyro and our homeboy Wolverine. :) It was cool seeing the characters with their new looks- Rogue's maturity in dress and style, Jean's nifty hair cut, etc.
Acting was all-around fantastic, too. I felt the actors understood their roles better. Jean Grey, my favorite mutant, got a bigger part, and I was so happy! In the first movie she got a bit of the shaft. Speaking of getting shafted, Cyclops/Scott Summers got really shafted! He only had a few scenes central to the action of the plot, and though one of these was outstandingly done e.g. Jean's death scene, I think we needed more of him. More of Rogue/Bobby/Pyro camaraderie, too. I loved that scene in the food court, hehe, it was great! :)
I can't go on enough about the action and the special effects. They didn't look cheesy AT ALL. They were brilliant and perfectly done. The sound was amazing, editing was fabulous, everything came together so nicely. The only nitpicks I have are with the plot, and that is that I wish we could've learned more about Wolverine's background, since the first movie set all that up.
Brian Cox played Stryker, who was so awful and scary, I really loathed him in the movie. Cox did a great job. I liked his scenes with Hugh Jackman. :) Kelly Hu did really well, too. There's that one scene with her and Hugh that is sooooo intense! I heard it took three weeks to film, and it was really well-done.
Word of warning, though, I wouldn't recommend taking your kids to see this, at least if they're under eight or nine. The movie is definitely PG-13, PG-15, and it skates under the R belt. I heard it was R before Bryan Singer toned down the violence. There were several small children in our showing, and a lot of them were getting tittery and a little sniffly during some of the violence, and very restless during the romantic, tender scenes.
All in all, what a great movie! 8/10
The Forsyte Saga (2002)
Gorgeous, haunting miniseries
I first saw this miniseries when my friend loaned it to me on her taped VHS collection. She stressed emphatically how fabulous it was. One day, I borrowed it from her, skeptical...that soon changed! I loved it!
The cast is phenomenal, all are top-notch thespians with great range and a wonderful display of the human condition. Ones that particularly stand out are Damian Lewis and Rupert Graves. Lewis' haunting, affecting performance as the wealthy Forsyte and his suffocating passions was truly mindblowing and brilliant. Lewis is a very accomplished actor. Graves displays a subtle yet great performance as Young Jolyon. He's also pretty easy on the eyes. ;)
And one performer whom I REALLY adored, was Ioan Gruffudd, who is extremely, extremely talented. It's a pity his character had such a small space to play around in, so to speak, because he really would've shined. He's a lovely, lovely tragic actor. :)
I had a few qualms of Gina McKee when I watched this miniseries, for I HAVE read the book, and I do know about the characters as Galsworthy meant for them. I do not think McKee is aesthetically suited for the role, as I pictured Irene to be somewhat younger and more youthful. McKee is very good, however, and she really shines in Irene's class and aloof, enigmatic presence.
The miniseries is sumptuously filmed, with accuracy and a haunting score. The writing is magnificent, a great adaptation from the book. Watch it! I can't wait for the miniseries.
Interesting and thought-provoking
I went into this movie with an open-mind, trying to wash away all memories of the hackneyed Joey Potter and the moderate superstar Benjamin Bratt...and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's interesting, entertaining, and moves at a luxurious pace, but it still keeps you interested. It's like you're in a trance, wanting to know the mysteries but not really understanding what the mysteries are. Charlie Hunnam is brilliant, and Katie Holmes provides a breath of fresh air. Benjamin Bratt is all right, but I loved the simplistic music choice and the cinematography. I'd recommend this movie for anyone looking for something new in movies. :)
Wow, what a surprise!
Tape was a great movie! I forget the reason I rented it, but it had something to do with my seeing a brief glimpse of it on Ebert & Roeper and happy that I liked the cast. What a wonderful movie! It reminded me of Blair Witch Project- low budget, biting dialogue, interesting premise, great success. This movie is for those movie-goers that are sick of the pretentious, blithering, big-epic Hollywood nonsense that we see every Friday. Tape is an interesting, psychological look which is driven forth by the great, raw talent of the cast (Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Uma Thurman), and by the focus of the screenplay. You think you'd get bored, but you don't. As the dialogue rolls along, you see the essence of each character, and are sucked into their worlds. I greatly enjoyed Tape. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but I give it two thumbs up! :)