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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
A fine balance between beauty and roughness
Silver Lining's Playbook is one of those movies that surprises you. I was initially turned off by the movie because of the trailer, but after recommendations from a few friends, I went ahead and watched the movie. The movie surpassed all my expectations. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper created an amazing dynamic. As Cooper edges his head closer to hers, you can feel the passion in their dance. Combined with intense family and psychological dynamics, this movie is a fine balance between beauty and roughness.
Director David Russell has a knack for taking the downtrodden American and uplifting him to his greatest potential. Russell did it with Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter and he did it again with Bradley Cooper in Silver Lining's Playbook.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
The worst of the series
While I was extremely excited about the latest installment of the Die Hard series when I saw the trailer, A Good Day to Die Hard was an absolute flop. This movie does not deliver the fist-clenching action sequences we are accustomed to seeing from Bruce Willis. The gunfight and car chase sequences in A Good Day fall far short of its immediate predecessor, Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce Willis attempts to save the film by portraying John McClane as the unsuspecting hero trying to reconcile a relationship with his son - yet Willis fails at even this. The father-son sequences are neither sappy nor rugged- they fall plainly into the category of bad acting. And if I hear John McClane say "I'm on vacation" one more time, even I'd want to shoot him.
Magic Mike (2012)
It just feels like pretend
While it is funny to watch a movie about life about male strippers, the dialogue of Magic Mike was rather dry. The film attempts to have a more realistic feel with awkwardness and screw-ups, but honestly it just feels like pretend. Magic Mike suffers from an inability to drive at the core theme of the movie: Mike's transition away from male stripping. It may have been some combination of a dispute with his boss, not wanting to be a 40 year old stripper, or perhaps in order to get with the girl. In any case, Mike's reasons for leaving stripping were not exactly clear, and this took detracts from the quality of the movie.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
controlling those who you love
Ruby Sparks tells the story of Calvin, a once-famous writer who published a New York Times bestselling book after dropping out of high school. A decade later, his subsequent short stories could not match his masterpiece. He lives a reclusive life, meeting only with his shrink and older brother. Calvin has a dream about having a simple conversation with a girl, and upon waking up he excitedly jumps to his typewriter with this inspirational material. Magically, the girl from his imagination appears in real life, and Calvin falls in love with her.
While it first appears to be a simple romance movie, Ruby Sparks brings so much ingenuity to the genre. Based on the simple premise of controlling those who you love, this movie speaks volumes about the complications of a relationship. It demonstrates the humanity and faults in us as we try to cling onto power and overstep our bounds.
Friends with Kids (2011)
Into the stack of movies to watch when you're in love with your best friend
Friends with Kids provides an interesting take on one of the key dilemmas of modern life: have an amazing love life or have kids. Director Jennifer Westfeldt, who plays the movie's protagonist Julie, creates a story that you can already guess the ending to. Yet, Westfeldt brings a fresh version of comedy to a predictable romantic comedy. Friends with Kids has many scenes of belly-clutching laughs, where the characters comment wittily and vulgarly as you could imagine doing with your closest friends. With its cute casting, comedic take on When Harry Met Sally, and post-2010 setting, this film certainly goes into the stack of movies to watch when you're in love with your best friend.
Compelling story of Mike Weiss and the safety needle
When I first watched the trailer for Puncture, I thought the movie was about a medical drug like that in Limitless. I was surprised to fine a compelling story of Mike Weiss and the safety needle, a medical product that must be difficult to spin into a compelling story. Puncture is more of a drama mixed with the call to action of a documentary. Similarly to movies such as Lord of War and Michael Clayton, it informs audiences about unethical businesses that seek to profit at the expense of people's lives. In this movie, Chris Evans plays the lead role as Mike Weiss reveals his dramatic acting abilities before falling to the foray of exciting, though mindless, blockbusters like Captain America. Overall, Puncture was a good movie that highlights the eccentricities of the life of Mike Weiss.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Surpasses its predecessor
In Christopher Nolan's final rendition of Batman, he has created a masterpiece that is worthy of praise.The Dark Knight Rises is filled with violent action, social commentary, and superb acting. Christian Bale finishes this trilogy with a stunning performance as Bruce Wayne, capturing the anguish, hope, and fears that confront all of us. Through his embodiment of the inner strength that is necessary to play Batman, Christian Bale shows us a moving version of the hero's journey from the abyss to the subsequent return. The supporting cast also deserve praise. Anne Hathaway offers a truly realistic version of Catwoman through her use of manipulation and cunning. Tom Hardy plays a truly vicious version of Bane. In all, The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent movie. Dare I say it even surpasses its predecessor.
I had to force myself to sit through the end
Wanderlust was so bad that I had to force myself to sit through the end. The trailers had prepared me for full-on laughter, but I found myself unable to muster even a chuckle. Neither Paul Rudd nor Jennifer Aniston performed even close to their peak abilities. Actually, Jennifer's been going downhill since Friends, with mindless blockbusters like Along Came Polly. Paul Rudd was far better in I Love You Man. He is not even as funny as his dimwitted figure in the TV show Parks and Recreation.
The movie attempts entertain us through moments of awkwardness but fails even at that. Through its scenes of random nudity and crassness, Wanderlust finds itself among the ranks of Hollywood's busts.
Your Highness (2011)
A few funny moments, you watch it for Natalie Portman
Your Highness is not a top notch comedy, but it does provide a few funny moments. This movie is nothing more than a typical blockbuster comedy, but any Natalie Portman fan will be glad to see her take yet another action heroine role. The obvious scenes that play to men's desire for her are somewhat comedic in and of themselves.
The combination of bad CGI and horrible acting by Danny McBride is only tempered by the James Franco portrayal of naive optimism. If you're looking for a crude comedy, there are far better movies out there like the American Pie series or an Adam Sandler movie. Still, Your Highness is watchable if only to see Natalie Portman poke fun at herself like in the popular SNL video.
A flick for a good old belly laugh
John (played by Mark Wahlberg) is a lonely child. After he receives a gift teddy bear for Christmas, he wishes it to come to life...and it does. He names the bear Teddy and they vow to stay lifelong friends. At age 35, John is still best friends with Ted. Yet, they exhibit all of the symptoms of twenty-year-old college dropouts, smoking weed in the morning and telling perverted jokes. After John's girlfriend Lori (played by Mila Kunis from Black Swan) demands that Ted move out of their shared apartment, John and Ted decide it's for the best and attempt to grow up.
Ted is full of moments of pure comedic genius. It's your traditional comedy blockbuster, so don't expect some deeper meaning. The movie sets out on a ridiculous, yet hilarious premise. Still, there are failed attempts to make the audience laugh. I did not find the character of Joel McHale to be funny at all, though he plays a more complex hedonist in the TV show Community. So, head out to the theaters to watch Ted if you're looking for a flick for a good old belly laugh.