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Love & Other Drugs (2010)
Manic Pixie Dream Girl and other Clichés
I expected more from this movie, if only because the Jake Gyllenhaal titles I've seen previously have all been stories with some semblance of depth, this one however fails to live up to that expectation.
Jamie Randall is a character you're supposed to warm to as the movie progresses, but his transition from a slimy, womanising sales rep to a decent loving man is thinly portrayed and unbelievable.
Maggie Murdoch, the classic "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" character is 2 dimensional at best and aside from Anne Hathaway's ability to show her breasts a lot there isn't a lot to see here. She is the stock standard "I'm not like other girls" female lead complete with messy hair, stupid hat and funky outdated furnishings - just to prove that she is more complex than your usual girl.
The sex is gratuitous, and WAY too pervasive, and so the story falters along, jumpy little scenes interspersed with Hathaway's breasts and Gyllenhaal's butt. I'm all for a good steamy sex scene but this was just silly.
Oh, and before I forget, I can't help but ask, was this movie funded by the drug companies?? The homeless guy who gets progressively less homeless because of the drug samples he is stealing from the bin? The constant Pfizer references and product placements? The Viagra revolution? It was really overdone, especially since Jamie's character could have been portrayed without any of it, and could have really used some actual character development.
Most noticeable though was the lack of quality female characters, we have the MPDG (maggie) as mentioned, the naive, pretty-but-not-beautiful, nurse who is oh so pliable with just a smile and a friendly word, the slutty seductress "Lisa" and various vapid and beautiful women all ready to swoon at a successful man. Is it so much to ask that a movie - especially a romantic comedy, marketed directly to women - would have one quality female character? Someone real and well rounded who doesn't fit into some ridiculous stereotype? I guess so.
Overall, the movie was long, kind of boring, filled with unrelateable and unlikeable characters and predictable, but not even in that good romantic comedy kind of way that is kind of annoying but nice at the same time.
The Switch (2010)
Terrible movie, can't even be saved by that awesome kid.
Overall this was a terrible movie. Let me start by saying that I didn't know anything about the movie before I saw it, I hadn't even seen the poster and had no idea what the 'switch' referred to until it happened.
In the beginning stages of the movie I thought it would be okay, an interesting feminist representation of women taking an alternative route to fertility and their own goals and dreams. A light look at a non-traditional family set up (I didn't think she would move away). I realise now that expecting Jennifer Aniston to be a part of a feminist anti heteronormal movie was asking a bit much (I thought Wally was gay and would help her raise her kid!).
Anyway, so then things started to go downhill. For starters any respectable Feminist movie would not include such a blatant violation of a woman, no matter how mainstream it is trying to be. Seriously, the actual switch of the 'ingredient' is tantamount to extreme sexual assault, first of all, in an earlier scene, he had explicitly suggested she use his 'ingredient' and she said no. The idea that hijacking her pregnancy is a theme that can be seen - on any level - as comedic is really disturbing to me. And before you say it, it doesn't matter how drunk he was! Intoxication is not an excuse to sexually assault someone and that is essentially what happened here, not even taking into consideration the thought that he could have had a serious disease (HIV) or some kind of genetic disorder.
Then of course, I'm disappointed because she moves away so we don't even get to have the alternative family unit story line, and Wally is straight so there goes my anti-heteronormal idea as well.
In truth, the only saving grace of this movie is Sebastian. That kid is so great. Those big brown eyes looking all forlorn and conflicted were just perfect for the role (as long as you can look past the genetic impossibility of two blue eyed parents parenting a brown eyed kid), his little sighs and pouts were perfect, I can't imagine a better fit for the role of the kid. I really hope to see him in more movies.
Jennifer Aniston on the other hand seemed strained. She is very good at smiling and looking lovingly into someone's eyes and very good at playing that goofy/happy/a little bit hair-brained type of woman but I feel like she struggled with the more difficult scenes in the film, like the scene when Wally finally reveals what he did. She just kind of stands there looking confused and then slaps him, the slap was good, the facial expressions not so much.
Jason Bateman was a good pick for the male lead and I do quite like his range and timing, I thought he had very good chemistry with the kid, but ultimately I didn't really care about his character at all which isn't a comment on his acting but on the script and direction.
The one thing I did really like was the scene when the kid explains about the picture frames. I thought that was a great scene and in another movie could have been something really excellent. It's a shame it was used in this boring, insulting, piece of junk.
I've given the movie 3 stars. Two for the kid, and one for Goldblum who I have always really liked.
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Graphic Violence but Excellent Performances
I have to start by saying that I wasn't a fan of this film, I am not necessarily opposed to violence in movies, especially violence which gives us insight into the characters - which I believe was the case in this movie - but I feel like the movie, while disturbing, didn't have a strong enough storyline to support the dark subject matter and so instead of having a complex, multifaceted drama, instead we have a violent movie filled with gratuitous sex and no insight or heart.
The performances were for the most part excellent and I can't give enough praise to Casey Affleck who was chilling and entirely convincing as Lou Ford. Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson gave similarly honest performances and it is their portrayals of these characters that brought my vote from 1 star out of 10, up to 4. The acting was superb.
Aside from the cast, there isn't much to lure you to see this film, the dialogue is at times clunky and awkward, the interaction between men and women in the film is ridiculously two dimensional. Are we truly expected to believe that Joyce is magically (genuinely) attracted to Lou on their first meeting in spite of the fact that he is trying to run her out of town? Or that Amy instantly forgave Lou for standing her up because he put his hand in her pants? Those interactions are obviously the creations of a male writer with no interest in female characters. (and yes, I realise the movie is based on a book and I am referring to the author there).
There are a number of scenes in the movie that have one of the female characters appear, however not a single one shows a woman doing anything but having sex with Lou, or being subjected to violence at his hands (or his brother, now that I'm remembering one flashback) and while I understand that the movie is primarily about the mind of a psychopath with serious misogynistic attitudes, that is just unrealistic to the point of being insulting.
And, once we remove the scenes with sex or violence we are left with a mishmash of scenes, most of which could have been cut completely without doing much harm to the plot of the film. I'm quite sure that the scene with Bill Pullman could have been left out completely without any damage being done, and I'm still a little unsure at the point of including Elias Koteas' character, aside from his obvious explanation of Lou's 'motive' in an early scene. The inclusion of the scene where Lou burns the drifter's hand with a cigar felt disjointed and was obviously setting up for an additional scene further down the track which left me waiting for his reappearance all the way through the movie.
On top of all of that, the ending was laughable and turned what might have been a (just) passable movie into a joke, the special effects were terrible and the last few minutes required the audience to disregard reality completely in order to be effective (was the entire police force without a sense of smell?).
All in all, it's a movie worth missing.
One Week (2008)
A lovely journey **Spoilers**
I really loved this movie, I hadn't heard about it and didn't know what it was about but picked it up because I am a fan of Joshua Jackson. Since I hadn't heard of it, I didn't have any expectations at all but right from the start I knew I was going to love it. There is a simple charm and humor to it which you rarely see in movies and that really appealed to me.
I really felt as though we were on a journey with this one, and I thought the currents of the movie really reflected that, at the start the story is light and funny, in spite of the heavy subject matter but as we travel with Ben the whole piece becomes more sombre and dark, but it's such a subtle shift that you aren't even really aware of it until you are in the midst of his melancholy.
I can relate so deeply to the comfort of travel and of walking away from responsibility and expectations and I think that's one of the reasons why this movie speaks to me so much.
I enjoyed the ambiguous ending of the movie as well. Sometimes movies that leave things open to interpretation annoy me a little, but other times they are executed so beautifully that the open ending gives MORE life to the characters instead of less, and this movie, like in the case of Before Sunrise, is one of the good ones.
The one thing that I felt brought down the movie (and the reason I gave it 9 stars instead of 10) is the scene at the end of the movie when we find out that the narrator has in fact been reading out loud, the book which Ben wrote about his journey.
I love that he wrote the book, and I think that that was an important part of the story which could have been illustrated just by showing the book in the shop window. The reason I wasn't a huge fan of this particular part of the movie was because one of my favorite aspects of the movie was the quirky and joyous side tales of the characters who met Ben along the way.
These characters were intrinsically changed (for the better) because of meeting him, I felt that was a really beautiful touch and a lovely way to show how our actions, even the ones we don't think of a second time, can sometimes continue having an impact on people's lives long after we have left them.. (or after we have died).. but seeing the narrator reading the book at the end took something away from that for me, because although Ben wrote the book about his experiences, there is no way he could have known that the German couple looked back on his photograph to help them through the hard times (etc) and that took something away from those little side stories for me which I feel a bit disappointed about.
Overall though it was a fantastic film. Joshua Jackson was flawless and there were so many moments that made me smile wistfully or let out a little giggle. This film has so much warmth and heart. I highly recommend it.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Sad to say...
I have to preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of SATC and have watched every episode a number of times, I even didn't mind the first movie, if only for the feeling of catching up with old friends. Walking out of this movie though had me feeling a certain kind of sadness, because this truly is the end for SATC and I wish it wasn't so.
There are a few nice moments, the flash backs in the first five minutes to when each of the girls met, complete with sad 80's outfits and crazy 80's hair, their New York dinner together during Carrie's 'days off', Charlotte's pantry scene and Miranda and Charlotte drinking in the private bar and talking about Motherhood, but all in all the movie left me feeling pretty empty.
When I first saw that Aidan would be making a return I was so excited but even his few scenes left me cold. I think the idea of filming the movie mainly in Abu Dhabi was a mistake, New York and Sex and The City go hand in hand and without that Manhattan vibe there really did seem to be something missing.
I'm disappointed to say the least, SATC was a part of my youth and it feels a little like the end of an era to see it come to this.
Dead Like Me (2003)
A Great Series
I didn't watch this series when it aired, but got both seasons on DVD and watched the lot in a matter of days. The first episode threw me a little and I wasn't sure I would like it, personally I couldn't STAND George and I really didn't think I could stand watching two whole seasons of her I decided to keep watching though and by episode two I was hooked. One the show, and on George too.
It's a unique storyline which is so rare these days and, as a lover of dark humor and subject matter I really enjoyed the whole theme, all the characters were so quirky and original and I really appreciated each of them throughout the series.
The Mason character is just hilarious. I took a while to warm up to Daisy but loved her by the end, Rube was tough but kind, Reggie just made me want to rescue her from her awful and awkward relationship with her mother. There are so many wonderful and complicated relationships going on throughout the series.
I definitely highly recommend this series, it really is a shame that the series didn't make it past season two. Don't be tempted to follow up the series by watching the movie, I guarantee you'll be disappointed, not only was it a disappointing end to the series but it was just about the worst movie I've seen in my life, poor acting, poor direction, terrible story line, I wouldn't bother.
Loved the series but the Movie was just plain terrible.
I have to start out by saying that I was a huge fan of Dead Like Me as a TV series, I didn't watch it when it was on air but got it on DVD and watched the whole two seasons in a matter of days. We watched the last episode of the series and the movie back to back, which may have an impact on my opinion, kind of like watching Before Sunrise and Before Sunset one after the other without having to wait the 10 years between.
But even taking into account that I watched the movie straight away, I still wouldn't recommend it, not ever, it really was just that bad! First of all was the painful replacement of Daisy Adair, who, in the movie, was played - badly - by a different actor. Daisy in the series was beautiful and graceful and quirky and Daisy in the movie was totally flat, it was painful to watch and in my opinion they should have just removed the character all together instead of replacing her with someone new.
I was surprised to read that the people in charge of writing this movie were actually also involved in the series because everything about this project seemed forced, the characters were 2 dimensional at best, more like caricatures of the original characters than anything else. It felt like the whole Daisy/Mason/Roxy plot line could have been completely removed from the movie all together without damaging the movie at all, in fact it probably would have been a better movie for it.
The Reggie/George plot was awkward and there were so many plot holes that it was almost ridiculous (I won't say more because I don't want to spoil anything), Reggie's relationship with Joy was not at all in line with their relationship throughout the series, they may as well have been entirely new characters.
All in all it was a really disappointing ending and left me with a bad taste in my mouth for the whole series which is a shame because the Dead Like Me series was the first unique and entertaining thing I had seen in quite some time. Such a shame that it didn't make it past two seasons, I can certainly understand the motivation behind wanting to make the movie, the series certainly wasn't given the opportunity to live up to it's potential but instead of increasing the value of the DLM brand it has severely decreased it.
What a nice movie!
I didn't expect to like this movie, I hadn't even heard of it before when we grabbed it from the DVD shop thinking it was going to be a stupid mindless comedy.
I was really pleasantly surprised with this one though. I always really relate to these types of movies, kind of indy and gritty while still being heartwarming. I always love these fractured awkward characters with so much heart and that is exactly what this movie is: fractured and awkward with a lot of heart.
The characters were all really beautifully portrayed, the acting was subtle and really touching, nothing about this film is over the top or jarring and that's what makes it so beautiful to watch.
After I watched the movie the first thing I did was come online and find out who the writer/director was and I was so pleased to discover that it was Stephen Belber. This is his debut as a director (and what a debut!), but Tape is one of my favourite movies (he was the screenwriter, it was directed by Richard Linklater) and I can definitely see his style mirrored in this film - though if you are looking for heartwarming, Tape is not the place to go! I'd recommend this film, I'll definitely be looking out for more of Steve Zahn's work after this one, he never really stood out to me before but he was wonderful in this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Stephen Belber comes up with next.
United States of Tara (2009)
I watched 'Tara' after a recommendation from a friend and I enjoyed it so much that I watched the whole first season in less than 24 hours. I love the characters and can see myself being friends with everyone in Tara's family on the show (though probably not the alters individually!). It's refreshing to see a female protagonist and even more so to see one so flawed and still so relate-able.
I think Toni Collette is brilliant and utterly convincing as each of her personalities. Brie Larson is beautiful as Kate and I've loved the progression of her character throughout the first season. I've always been a fan of John Corbett but I am, even more so, after seeing him in this role. His character is so calm and strong throughout it all, just trying to love each of his family members and give them what they need. Keir Gilchrist is a new face for me but I thought he was excellent as Marshall and can't wait to see where they take his character in the second season.
All in all I think this show is a must see and I hope it will be on for a good many seasons yet!
Aurora Borealis (2005)
A beautiful performance
This was one of those movies that I watched to fill in some stray hours in the day, thinking I would put in on as background noise while I was packing. Turns out I didn't get any packing done because from the first scene I was enthralled. The performances in this film were beautiful. Donald Sutherland is flawless and heartbreaking as the ill and broken, grandfather. Juliet Lewis, who can sometimes be a little grating and aggressive in her roles was beautiful as Kate and her interaction with Duncan was intimate and lonely at once. And Joshua Jackson, who I had previously thought one dimensional was excellent as the hapless and direction-less grandson.
I was so moved by so many scenes in this film, I won't go into detail, for fear of ruining it for someone who is yet to watch it, but I so loved the beauty and intimacy of interaction between the characters, so lost in their own bubbles of grief as they trudged through their lives.
This film really moved me, and I finished it wishing could follow these characters into the next chapter of their lives.