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Knocked Up (2007)
Horrible piece of drivel
CONTAINS SPOILERS THROUGHOUT
When I rented this movie, I expected a great comedy-all of the reviews I read gave it four stars. Well, imagine my surprise to find that this was one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life. We, as viewers with half a brain, are supposed to be convinced that a beautiful, successful girl would schtoop a fat, nerdy, slacker and then wind up keeping his "love child" and pursue a relationship with him, all for the sake of the baby. Now that's a laugh.
How schizophrenic was this movie when the word "abortion" couldn't be used, but "boobs and bush" are the catchphrase of the film, not to mention the oodles of drug scenes and references to drug use throughout? Don't get me started on Alison-was she so lonely and desperate that she had to keep Ben around-and hang out with his weirdo, freaked out stoner friends? What was with the lame storyline with his friend growing his hair and his beard, just to be subjected to the jokes about Middle Eastern terrorists? It was a one-note joke that lasted until the movie! Besides Ben, she did not have a single friend in the whole film, unless you count her vapid, bitchy sister who doesn't deserve to have the great husband and beautiful children she has. So her husband plays fantasy baseball! It's better than listening to her whine and bully him every second they are together. Her voice was so annoying, it made me want to put my head in the oven and turn the gas on high! It was anti-feminist (if a young woman on the fast track in a dream career living with her sister in a cottage on their estate can't raise a baby by herself, who can? Why choose to keep the baby at all? It's not like it would be her last chance!), misogynistic (what in the world was the deal with all of the breasts and vagina jokes-not to mention that we got treated to someone's whoozywhatsis pushing out a "baby's head"), and had no likable characters. Alison was annoying and needy, Ben was socially retarded and completely incapable of acting like a normal person until he lost Alison, his friends were repulsive, Debbie was mean and self-centered-what was that stupid freakout scene with the doorman all about? Talk about living in a fantasy world! Pete was a dork who should have thought that Debbie did him a favor when she kicked him out of the house for (gasp-having a hobby all of his own, that didn't involve her whiny self) and he had absolutely no self respect by crawling back to her and allowing her to emasculate him completely. Even the shopping around for OB/GYNs was ridiculous and completely unfunny. The awkward sex between Ben and Alison, was the icing on the crap-cake. How many times did he say he didn't want the baby to get hit in the face with his Johnson? Aye carrumba!!! Must we be subjected to hear him explain to Alison the true meaning of the phrase "Doggy style?" Blech! This movie was a horrible piece of drivel, and it's a sorry state of affairs when critics say it's one of the funniest films of the year.
It gets one out of ten stars, and when I say that I am being generous.
Baby It's You (1983)
A Tale of Star Crossed Lovers for the Ages
*** Contains Spoilers***
I first saw this film in ninth grade 23 years ago, and fell in love with it as a teenage girl. I saw it again the other day, and loved it just as much. It's flat out a great movie, and the chemistry between Vincent Spano and Rosanna Arquette is palpable. These two fantastic actors bring a warmth and sensitivity to their characters who would be otherwise unlikeable if played by any other actors. Arquette's innocent beauty and Spano's edgy good looks are perfect for these roles.
When they meet in high school, Jill (Arquette) is a sheltered, pampered princess whose grand passion is acting in the school play. Sheik (Spano) is the new boy at school who sticks out like a sore thumb compared to all the schoolboys that Jill is surrounded by. His grand passion is Jill, and she's attracted to this dark and dangerous charmer. The fact that he's obsessive and volatile only make her more titilated, and when he kidnaps her and holds her and her friend at gunpoint (albeit it's an unloaded gun), she doesn't hesitate to date him again. Only later on in college does the experience come back to haunt her.
While in her freshman year, Jill finds herself in Sheik's shoes in the sense that she's an outsider in the crowd she's surrounded with up at school. In high school, she was a big fish in a small pond. At college, she's a little fish in a large pond. When she seeks him out in Miami Beach where he's attempting to break into show business in a seedy little club, she ends up sleeping with him all the while knowing that they have no future because he's not the kind of man she can see settling down with. He's too volatile and obsessive for her somewhat still innocent liking, and their personalities just don't mesh together for any real future together. He's old-school macho and she's a liberated pseudohippy.
The music is terrific-60's classics mixed with two of Jersey's finest, Springsteen and Sinatra that carry the storyline and add to the emotion of the film.
Breakout performances by both stars, with strong support from Tracy Pollan, Matthew Modine and Liane Curtis (in a one-eighty from her role as Molly Ringwald's best friend in Sixteen Candles). This film is a coming of age love story for the ages, and it absolutely stands the test of time. A 10 of 10!
Trust the Man (2005)
Lousy, stereotypical movie
This is the kind of movie that I would normally like-great cast, cute premise, gorgeous NYC scenery. But all in all, I thought it was a jumbled mess.
Billy Crudup, woefully miscast as Tobey, a "36 year old slacker," comes off as an effeminate (what was that silliness with Eva Mendes's character in the restaurant???), self-centered jerk who only acts like a decent person when his girlfriend Elaine (a cute and perky Maggie Gyllenhaal) rightfully leaves him. But her new boyfriend is a stereotype of the European pseudointellectual who is one of the most unlikeable characters ever to grace the screen in this decade. Given the choice between the "Sprocket" and her lovesick, obsessed ex-boyfriend, it's no wonder she chooses to go back with a guy who at one time refused to drive her to work because he didn't want to move his car from the opposite side of the street.
Julianne Moore plays Tobey's sister Rebecca, a successful but insecure actress who is married to David Duchovny's stay at home husband Tom. Duchovny, who is a terrific actor, doesn't have much to work with, and his character is so schlubby and whiny you wonder why a gorgeous divorcée (another stereotypical Manhattan newly divorced single mom on the prowl just waiting to pounce on Mr. Mom) and a glamorous actress would want to spend even ten minutes in his company. The irony is that this seemingly asexual man is actually a sex addict who joins a support group called (stereotypically of course) Sexaddictsrus. Of course he makes a mockery of his first session, making up a preposterous story about being wrapped in deli meat in order to be satisfied. Oh, and of course he uses a fake name. Eventually he does come clean and admit that he has a real problem because he can't have a meaningful relationship with his sexy and dynamic wife, and his affair ends just like that. Naturally, his wife forgives him after he pulls a crazy stunt on the opening night of her play, and Elaine dumps her Eurotoyboy after Tobey screams out his undying love for her in the theater on the very same night. None of the issues are ironed out on screen, and a sweet and tidy ending is in store for the viewer who dares to stick it out.
The film was supposedly modelled after the Woody Allen films like Annie Hall and Manhattan, but it's light years away from them because it's boring and the characters are completely unlikeable. The conversations are totally pretentious, with the characters making sweeping generalizations about the nature of their relationships and very existences.
Overall, it's a lousy, stereotypical movie that is a 4 out of 10.
Scorsese + Burstyn= A Masterpiece
As a girl, I watched "Alice" on TV and enjoyed the sitcom. I vaguely knew it was based on a movie, but never watched the film until now. It is amazing-with wonderful performances by Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Diane Ladd, and that little scene stealer Alfred Lutter. Scorsese gives them the freedom to become their characters and directs with a loving hand.
The chemistry between Burstyn and Kristofferson is palpable-they are one of the best on screen couples I have ever seen. Their romance, set against the gorgeous backdrop of Tuscon, is both tender and tempestuous. Alice is a woman who for years has had lousy taste in men, so naturally her guard is up and she wants to be independent. David is a rugged outdoorsman who wants to open up his heart and his home to both Alice and her bratty son, Tommy. A spoiled only child, Tommy treats his mother with about as much respect as you'd expect from an 11 year old adolescent who is constantly uprooted and bored to tears. Tommy is a pragmatist, wise beyond his years, and Alice is a dreamer, who at 35 is still naive about the ways of the world. It's a good thing when she strikes up a friendship with the sassy, foulmouthed Flo (played to the hilt by the marvelous Diane Ladd). Alice needs a lesson or two on how to take control of her life, and she does a tremendous job of learning who she is.
Beautiful outdoor scenery, atmospheric music, a great script, and tremendous performances by the actors from the maestro Scorcese make this picture a perfect 10 out of 10.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Great fun, DiCaprio is perfect
This is one of those movies that you're not sure you are going to like, and you watch it, and you end up loving it. It's fast paced, well acted and directed, and great fun.
Leonardo DiCaprio is utterly charming and endearing as Frank Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who in the 1960's posed as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer-all the while evading the FBI who wanted him for check fraud. Tom Hanks shines as Carl Hanratty, the fed who first wants to nail Frank, then ends up taking him under his wing and giving him new direction in his life. Christoper Walken and Nathalie Baye as Frank's star-crossed parents also give fine performances. Amy Adams nearly steals the movie as the young woman who steals Frank's heart.
The film is about a young man who is traumatized by what the US government has done to his family so he decides to literally become other people to escape from whom he really is. Frank is a charming smooth talker with an uncanny knack for forging checks and documents. He's so angelic looking and unassuming that none of his victims are aware they are being conned. As he has proved time and again in films like "This Boy's Life," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," and "Titanic," DiCaprio is more than just a pretty face. He has the talent to back it up, and this role is tailor-made for him. Under Spielberg's direction, he's taken that talent to another level. Ultimately it becomes about a surrogate father/son relationship between Frank and Carl. While he's trying to outwit and outrun the sometimes curmudgeonly FBI agent, Frank admires him at the same time. Carl, for his part, does hold a soft spot for Frank, and he leads him down the path to redemption.
The sets, the costumes, and the music all capture the essence of the sixties, when anything was possible and nothing was out of reach if you wanted it.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this film-I give it a 9 out of 10.
People I Know (2002)
Al is great, but the movie isn't
CONTAINS SPOILERS BELOW
As a long time Al Pacino fan, I decided to rent this film because the DVD box made it seem like an interesting watch. Too bad it didn't live up to the promise the description on the box gave. On paper, it seems like a great idea for a movie-an Ivy League Southern Boy out of his element amongst the gliterati of the who's who in New York Society. Pacino is outstanding as Eli, a once-idealistic Harvard Law School grad who chooses to spend his time "cleaning up messes" for his famous client (he's a publicist). Too bad his own life is a mess. He's a bachelor who may or may not like women (it was a bit ambiguous at times), a pill popping bundle of nerves, and is plagued with a health problem that takes the viewer on a journey inside his bladder (was this an excuse for the screenwriter to get Al to utter a line about his male anatomy?). From the get-go, you know the character is not long for this world-and it makes you wonder if he's going to go by natural causes or open up his big mouth and invite someone to murder him. As an actor, Pacino is never afraid to take chances, and his work here is excellent as usual.
The supporting cast of Tea Leoni (who steals the movie as a hedonistic TV actress/model), Ryan O'Neal (it was good to see him on screen again, but it was a shame that he wasn't on more) Kim Basinger (as a Southern Bell hot to trot for Eli) and Robert Kline (who knew he could play a menacing character?) was terrific.
The basic premise was interesting, but the story gets caught up in political self-righteousness and loses focus. By the time it ends predictably, you find yourself not caring about what happens to Eli.
Overall, it's not a wasted hour and a half, but it's not one of Al's best films overall. True Pacino fans will want to see it for Al's trademark tirades, and there is one in there that is a doozy. I give People I Know a 6 out of 10.
Crossing Delancey (1988)
Beautiful, Endearing, and Enchanting!
As an unmarried Jewish woman who has old fashioned elders, I can appreciate this movie now at 37 more than I did when saw it for the first time at 19. It is beautiful, endearing, and enchanting-not to mention funny and poignant.
From beginning to end, Amy Irving gives a delightful performance as Isabel, (Izzy) an "Uptown Girl" who prides herself on her independent life in the literary world. Her friends, her colleagues, her entirely lifestyle is highbrow, and she feels comfortable in this world. Then she meets Sam, the "Pickleman", who is played by the always wonderful Peter Reigert. Although she likes him, her snobbery almost gets the best of her. Her awkward attempt to fix him up with her friend ends up backfiring, as she comes to realize what a true gem of a man he is. Add to that, she is engaging in a cat and mouse flirting game with the sexy Jeroen Krabbe, an enigmatic (and egotistical) Dutch writer who ultimately only wants her around so she can be his assistant. The line when she tells him off is priceless! Sylvia Miles, as the yenta matchmaker adds a lot of laughs with her over the top performance. Watching her eat alone adds much comic relief. The real scene stealer however, is the magnificent Reizl Bozyk as Isabel's "Bubby," the sweetnatured, sentimental, all-knowing Ida.
With its New York scenery, rich characters and believable storytelling, this film is among the best romantic comedies ever made. It is one worth watching over and over, to cherish more and more through the years, especially as the older generations of Jews, with their old-world traditions and wisdom become a memory to their children and grandchildren. And any young Jewish woman who has ever encountered a matchmaker (which I have) just has to appreciate Hannah Mandelbaum's sincerity and desire to bring young people together to preserve the traditions and Jewish way of life. This film is a perfect 10 out of 10.
The Black Dahlia (2006)
Aaron, how could you?
I saw this movie because I like Aaron Eckhart and was curious to see if it was as bad as the reviews said it was. Well, Aaron was great as usual, but even he could not save this schlock. For the record, it really is as bad as the critics said.
The performances by Hillary Swank (you'd never know that she was a two-time Oscar winner from her work in this film) and Scarlett Johansson (so great in Scoop and Match Point-I guess what's missing here is that Woody Allen was not involved in this project) were phoned in. Josh Hartnett is flat and flat-out boring as "Bucky" Bleichert, a walking cliché of every film noir cop ever made. As the Black Dahlia herself, Mia Kirschner gave an interesting performance, but at times it did not seem like this movie was even about her character.
The storyline was confusing and convoluted, the sets were so dark that at times it was hard to tell what was going on, and the film moved slower than molasses.
Bottom line, if you want to see a great film noir with amazing performances, watch LA Confidential. I give this film a 2 out of 10.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Child Bride of Versailles
SPOILERS BELOW I admit, I went into watching this movie (I rented it) expecting not to like it. Guess what? I loved it. I thought it was visually stunning, the performances were amazing, and even the 1980's music worked. I admit, it was a bit jarring at first to see Marie and her friends dancing to Siouxsie and The Banshees "Hong Kong Garden," at a masked ball, but it honestly works. The ever amazing Sofia Coppolla takes a huge gamble and in my opinion comes out a winner with this movie. It's daring, sexy and utterly charming.
Kirsten Dunst is enchanting as Marie, Jason Schwartzman is adorably awkward as Louis XVI, and their characters' inability to sexually connect until he becomes king had me laughing out loud. When Marie finds her groove in the boudiour, she really comes to life and the character becomes far more interesting. She is a passionate woman who won't be denied, and having children adds to her happiness and secures her place (or so she thinks) on the throne, especially after the birth of the Dauphin.
The scenery was gorgeous, the cinematography stunning, and it's just a delicious guilty pleasure. I give it an 8 out of 10.
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
Still a great film after 15 years!
I saw this film in the theater over 15 years ago and decided to revisit it. I loved it even more-it's one of the most romantic movies ever made. Meg Ryan is amazing as the complicated Rita. She is both free spirited, yet unbelievably pessimistic. Alec Baldwin is brilliant as usual as Peter, who falls head over heels with Rita despite all of their differences. When a strange old man kisses Rita on her wedding day, they switch bodies, and it is Peter who knows his beloved so well that he immediately figures out that "Rita" is not herself. When he meets the old man and wants to be with him because he knows that his wife's soul is inside the old man's sick and dying body-it's just heartbreaking. Kudos also goes to Sydney Walker, who plays the old man-his monologue about life brought me to tears, and he brings out the true spirit of who Rita really is. A must see for anyone who believes in true love and its power. I give it a 9 out of 10.