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Black Swan (2010)
The Dark Side of Ballet.
Mila Kunis once said in an interview that ballet, for her, was just dressing up in a tutu and being pretty. Darren Aronofsky shows us, through his film, "Black Swan" how dressing up in a tutu and being pretty are far from what being a dancer is all about. He even dares to show us what a lot of ballet dancers and films fail to show us, the dark side of ballet.
Aronofsky's "Black Swan," is a demented drama about what happens when we crave for perfection. This is shown in young Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a young innocent girl who gets the lead part in a New York City ballet company's newest production of "Swan Lake." Her director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassal), casts her after seeing Nina has a dark side, a dark side she denies having. But through the help of a new found friend, Lily (Mila Kunis), Nina discovers her dark side, but in a way she'd never imagine. Through her obsession and self- discovery, Nina will find there's a very heavy fee in pursuing perfection.
"Black Swan," discusses many topics. Self-discovery, self-doubt, good and evil and cravings for perfection. Things other films and books have discussed before, but not in such a way as Aronofsky's. Through a disturbing and macabre camera lens, we, the audience, are given a beautifully crafted story with top notch actors and brilliant artistic directing.
Henry Selick's Newest Masterpiece
When first hearing about this movie in 2003, I was a little weirded out by the ideas that Nightmare before Christmas director, Henry Selick, had in mind for this film. But I guess I learned from viewing this movie that the stranger the plans, the better the story.
After his unfortunate, "Monkeybone," I believe that Selick had to really pull something off along the lines of "Nightmare" standards to surpass this mess of his. He successfully beat his Monkeybone (ha ha, I know, I know) and brought us, the audience, something that joins the ranks of "Nightmare" and "James and the Giant Peach." Having read the book before seeing the movie and then seeing the trailer, I was a little skeptical as to how true they were going to be to the wonderfully imaginative novel by Neil Gaiman. When hearing about the addition of a new character named Wybie Lovat and changing Mr. Bobo's name to Mr. Bobinsky, I knew that asking for a true adaptation would be asking too much. Fortunately, I was proved wrong as the movie keeps true to its adaptation and even has a few pleasant surprises in store.
What really won me over was the brilliant idea to present this movie in 3-D, because this is just one of those movies that deserve to be seen in three dimensions. With 3-D technology, the audience will be immersed the story and even get a feeling of pure surrealism the likes of which no one has ever seen. One scene I really enjoyed in 3-D would have to be when the character, Coraline, goes to see her theatrical spinster neighbors, Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible in the other world, put on a show of high flying acrobatics and even involve Coraline in their act. Very well done if I do say so myself.
The only thing I would have against this movie is the way that story plays out. It's almost like a roller coaster in some ways. There are some parts that take you high in the sky and go for a thrilling drop, i.e. the mouse circus put on by the "other" Mr. Bobinsky, and then there are those parts that seem to make the roller coaster into a slow and boring train ride, i.e. the scene where Coraline is begging her mother for a pair of gloves. It's too bad that this movie is already out in theaters as the pace could be changed in a few spots.
Other than that, if you are a fan of "The Nightmare before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach," a devoted follower of Neil Gaiman's astonishing novella or just in need of a good movie, I highly suggest you find a theater that shows movie in 3D and go see Henry Selick's latest masterpiece, "Coraline."
Yes Man (2008)
Say "Yes" to "Yes Man!"
I am the biggest Jim Carrey fan I know, whenever a Jim Carrey movie comes out in theaters, I have to see it no matter how bad the premise sounds. I was there for his worse (Fun with Dick and Jane) and I was there for his best (Horton Hears a Who, The Number 23 and Bruce Almighty). As far as this new Jim Carrey venture goes, this is one of his best.
Besides Jim Carrey, the movie has a good deal to offer. We have Zooey Deschannel, beautiful and talented, singing new age music in the fictitious band "Munchausen by Proxy." Zooey was perfect for this movie because the crew could've had someone lame like Maggie Gyllenhaal or Cameron Diaz play in this. Zooey is really one of those new actresses who is daring and free spirited in her roles, thank God she starred in ELF and got noticed.
Okay, now on to the story. A lot of people say that this is too like "Liar Liar." Now I have to disagree and agree, it's a little similar with "Liar Liar" but not too much similar. The story, I find, is more realistic than Liar, as it gives a story we can relate to. I'm sure a lot of us are still brooding over that boyfriend/girlfriend we broke up with, and we just become zombie's after that, avoiding anything fun or exciting. The movie offers a good point, if you don't feel like going back to your old life, try a new and exciting life. The plot is kinda simple, but that's what comedy is about, being simple and taking a break from the serious plots like "The Departed" or "The Dark Knight." So when going to the movies and asked if you'd want to go see "Yes Man," there is only only answer for that. Guess what it is.
God That's Good!
If you heard that there was a musical movie about a barber who goes insane and kills people then his land lady takes the bodies, grinds up them up and uses the meat for pies, what would you think? Would you go see it, would you be grossed out, would you be so interested but not willing to pay full price that you would wait for it on DVD. Well, if you're like me and are a die-hard fan of the musical tale of terror by Stephen Sondheim, then you would see the very first showing of it at your nearest movie theater.
Even if you're not a fan of Stephen Sondheim or musical theater, this is a real treat for anybody who loves the genius of Tim Burton. The filming style is extraordinary, in this we, the audience, are taken through the more darker side of Tim Burton rather than the whimsical, fairy tale like imagery seen in his previous work of art, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Here we are taken back to the "Batman" style darkness of Mr. Burton, it's bleak, macabre, somber and there is no chance of a ray of sunshine beckoning the cobblestoned streets of Dickensian London.
And if Tim Burton's return to the darkness isn't enough for you, we have the remarkable vocals of not Len Cariou, not Michael Cerveris but of the immortal and impeccable Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp's ability to sing is even more surprising than Gomer Pyle's. To some it is amazing the fact that he can sing, but to me it is nothing smashing because Johnny Depp has amazed me with so many roles, including Edward Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow, Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood and Willy Wonka. If Johnny's given a role, he's going to make it nothing short of spectacular.
So, in conclusion, there are films that you can see at home and films that can only be viewed best if seen in theaters. Good titles to prove my point would include 300, Across the Universe, Moulin Rouge and, of course, the film about a demon barber and a sinfully sweet baker woman, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The Number 23 (2007)
Jim Carrey's Finest Hour
Being a big Jim Carrey fan, I was heartbroken when I couldn't see it on the very first day it had opened. But lucky me, just yesterday I was fortunate enough to see it and I have to say, this is Jim Carrey at his finest hour. Unlike many other fans of his, I knew that he'd do a top job in this film as he does with all his other dramas, Eternal Sunshine for instance. But unlike Eternal Sunshine, Jim gives us a dark and frightening performance as a man slowly going insane from paranoia. Also in this film we get Virginia Madsen, who does probably her best acting job since her role as a detective in Candyman, which is saying a lot since she has been in other films since Candyman. Now onto the director, Joel Schumacher, sad to say I never saw any of his best films, Phone Booth or The Lost Boys, but seeing this film will make me want to go out of my way to rent and watch his past work.
Overall, The Number 23 is a must see for any Jim Carrey fan and if you are looking for a good mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end, then look no further. So hold on to your popcorn because Mr. Carrey will entertain you as he does shock you.
Happy Feet (2006)
The Best Animated Musical in Years
The 90s was the decade when animated musicals were prominent in the movie theaters. Disney being the highest of them all in the animated musicals business, with immortal films, such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Hercules and Don Bluth with his less popular films, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Rock-a-Doodle and Anastasia. After the year 1999, the last animated musical to appear in theaters was Disney's Tarzan and all other animated films to follow would be straight dialogue with a few songs by popular celebrities, i.e. Wynona Jud's rendition of "Burning Love" in Lilo and Stitch. Happy Feet brings back the days when animated musicals flowed into movie theaters like wine. Not only that but with the miracle of motion capture, the technique used in The Polar Express and Monster House, we get the most visually amazing tap dancing since Gene Kelly.
Many people feel that a movie is ruined by over casting, which is when they get big shot celebrities to be in the film. In actuality, the film would not be the same without all these celebrity actors for they have that prestige and presence when they come on the screen. Elijah Wood brings the shy charm to our hero Mumble, Brittany Murphy brings to us her hidden talent of singing to the screen as the beautiful Gloria, Hugh Jackman gives us the best Elvis-esquire performance since Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon as Memphis, Nicole Kidman gives us a sensual feel to the sweet hearted mama Norma Jean, Hugo Weaving is back with his dramatic force as the hard headed and tradition oriented Noah the Elder and, get this, as if this wasn't enough we have Robin Williams brining his brand of funny to the egotistical Ramon the lead penguin in a Latino gang of Adelie penguins and the all knowing sham of a guru Lovelace. The story is very familiar to E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan, being that is about a community of birds that must sing to find a mate and one who uses unique method to find their true love. But the story doesn't matter, what matters is that everybody can relate and will enjoy the story. I'm happy to say that both parents and children will fall in love with the story of finding your place, following your goals and loving all the things that make you unique. Kids will love the adorable antics of Baby Mumble, voiced by E.G. Daily, and parents will love all the songs from long ago and the frenetic humor of Robin Williams, singing a Spanish rendition of Sinatra's My Way. Of course, the story becomes tense near the end and may be too frightening for the little ones but I can name a lot of films that were dark and not as innocent as the advertisements make them out to be. But thanks to the good people at the MPAA we have them giving us a PG rating that basically says, "Children 7 and up will most likely be less shocked."
Finally,the best part of the movie is, of course what I addressed before, the songs. Unfortunately, there are no original songs by award song writers like Alan Menken or Danny Elfman, but I ask you, did Moulin Rouge have original songs besides Come What Way? Much like Moulin Rouge, the film has creative renditions of songs from back in the day, including Elvis's Heartbreak Hotel, Queen's Somebody to Love, The Beach Boys' Do it Again and A Mi Manera, translated to My Way. Many great songs used in marvelous musical numbers that's just too extraordinary to feel like being in a Broadway theater. You'll feel like you're at a rock concert, with all these songs recreated for an awesome experience.
The best way to spend time with the family is not to take them to a movie made just for kids, but by taking to them to a film that everyone will enjoy. Take them to see Happy Feet for the wonderful cast, the awesome music and the story that will melt your heart, despite it being set in the coldest place on Earth. Seeing this film will have kids being like Stevie Wonder, wishing those days would come back once more, when animated musicals run rampant through the movie theaters.
Actors and writers rake in the chips
This weekend, if you feel like having a piece of popcorn entertainment, make it a good run for the money by buying tickets to Sydney Pollack's new film Tootsie, a story about a job that requires the most greed, acting, sorry to anyone who believed it was a gig at a Las Vegas casino. But really, this person must be really self-conceited if he thinks that dressing up like a woman will really get him calls from casting agencies. Of course, as a Hollywood story would have it, the plan works but slowly unravels like a cheaply made tapestry. The story is a poorly made fairy tale about how a ridiculous plan always works and when it falls to pieces and the guy gets the girl. But it is not the story itself that makes this movie a winner. It is the actors playing the characters in this guilt-ridden fable.
In this story we have Oscar winning actor, Dustin Hoffman playing Michael Dorsey, an out of work actor who is getting no slack from his talent agent played by director, Sydney Pollack. Michael also has his experimental and often quirky roommate played by Bill Murray. There is also Michael's love interest, played by the brilliant Jessica Lange. The story may sound ridiculous but we have the actors that reel in the audience. Dustin Hoffman, a magnificent actor if I do say so myself, I remember when the world really got a taste of him in Kramer vs. Kramer, which got him his first win as best male actor in a lead role. To be honest, anybody could play this role, John Candy could've played a role like this even Jerry Lewis, but none of them could project the charm that Hoffman gives us in this film. Then there is Sydney Pollack, who plays Michael's talent agent. The lines written for the agent were witty and hysterical and who knows how to give witty and hysterical lines better than the director himself? When Pollack said the lines, "YOU WERE A TOMATO," I couldn't help it but I had to laugh it up because the delivery by Pollack is just gold. There is also the ravishing Jessica Lange who plays actress Julie Nichols, who is also Michael's love interest in this story. Most Hollywood movies of today cast no-talent blondes with bosoms as big as a man's head to play love interests but this time we have a woman with substance to play the part. A woman who uses words to express herself, not shaking her breasts to receive rave reviews by the male critics, a woman who is smart and articulate to play a role in a movie, a woman named Jessica Lange. Then there is the surprise cast member, Mr. Bill Murray, also known as the Ghostbuster, Carl the grounds keeper and Tripper Harrison. It has been reported that Mr. Murray asked not to have his name mentioned in the trailer or any other advertisements because people would mistake this as one of his comedies. But a man such as myself was rather surprised to see Bill Murray's name in the opening titles and more surprised when I didn't see him eating a Babe Ruth candy bar from out of the pool. The players in the story were an educated pick to make this story a hit, but there were also the writers who gave us the witty dialog.
Larry Gelbart, the writer to the hilarious George Burns comedy Oh God!, returns to save a clichéd story with snappy and witty dialog to make the audience laugh. When Bill Murray's character came up and said, "I don't like when somebody comes up to me the next day and says, "Hey, man, I saw your play. It touched me; I cried." I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, "Hey, man, I saw your play... what happened?" I thanked the lord himself that Larry Gelbart was here to give this movie the humorous dialog it needed. There was also dialog that was more dramatic and thought provoking, for example this quote from Dustin Hoffman, "I don't believe in hell. I believe in UNEMPLOYMENT, but not hell," this line made me think that Gelbart reached into my brain and wrote it down on a piece of paper that happened to be a page to the script of Tootsie.
Tootsie, is a story about greed, courage, self-discovery and, what every movie needs, love. Basically, what every movie nowadays already has, very clichéd. Please, by all means, do not see this movie for its story but for great acting done by Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Sydney Pollack and Bill Murray. But let us not forget where the words coming out of their mouths come from, Larry Gelbart the screen writing genius. So when you go to the theaters to see Tootsie, be ready for a night of entertainment.
Moral Orel (2005)
Sucked big time
Watched it right after the Boondocks, which is such a great show, and it was the stupidest thing I've ever seen on TV. Really, it's so childish and lacks brainpower, I guess this is an illustration of how the brain is a terrible thing to waste. It starts off with a sugary beginning with singing birds and then stuff happens that is supposed to be funny but is a bunch of garbage. People, please don't be pulled in because this is a show on Adult Swim, like that Aqua Teen Hunger force, it fails to be funny. Why do people do this, if it's not funny don't put it on TV, keep it in the wastebasket and not on TV where people like us are suckered in to watching it.
The Producers (2005)
Thanks to the people
I first heard of this movie almost two years ago and I, being a die hard fan of the original 1968 film and Broadway musical, thought it was all a wonderful dream. I was later proved wrong when there was buzz on IMDb and articles in the newspaper about it. Two years? I could not wait two years for this, this historical event to take place. But wouldn't you know it, two years passed by and I was only one minute away from finally seeing it and I gotta say, it was worth the wait. Mel Brooks is still the genius who brought us Spaceballs and Young Frankenstein and this film is living proof. The satire, the sarcasm, the physical humor, all of the zazz with the spice only known by writer Mel Brooks and who better to bring this spice to a flame than actors Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, the original Max and Leo from the Broadway smash? Not to mention the frenetic style of Will Ferrel as Franz Liebkind and the luscious vocal work of Uma Thurman as Ulla the Swedish secretary/receptionist. All of these people came together to make this a movie that no one will ever forget and I say "Bravo!"
Saw II (2005)
Not Frightful as the first, but still the same thrills.
After scaring myself half to death with the original SAW, I almost cried when I heard that they were going to bring out a sequel which wasn't going to hold a candle to the original. When the film finally came out I decided to see for myself how terrible this was going to be. The acting was alright, not adrenaline rushing like the last one but pretty decent and the scenes that were supposed to make the audience scream with fright were just dead and cheap. I was waiting for that one scene that was going to make me scream and throw my popcorn up in the air like the last one, but no. There was no scene like that, just a bunch of scenes that were trying to be scary like a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. The film did as I predicted, it did leave me disappointed but I was impressed with the work they put into the script. It may not be a walk through the carnival spook house but it did have the twists and turns of that roller coaster that looks like it is touching the sky. I would only suggest this movie to people who saw the first SAW but only after the movie has been in theaters two weeks so they could use their free pass tickets.