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Young Adult (2011)
Narcissism to the extreme
Jason Reitman, I know that you aren't Ivan, but you have made a few films that were quite watchable. "Juno" was entertaining and "Up in the Air" was very well done. So, although I had seen the trailer for "Young Adult" and did not really like the premise of the film (old flame returns to home town to win back ex-boyfriend from wife and child) - I thought, what the heck - there may be a few laughs. What was I thinking, by the way? What could I possibly find humorous about a male predator attempting to break up a family? Actually, what could ANYONE find funny about that storyline? Well, I can say I did laugh out loud a few times in the theater - and the majority, no actually ALL of these laughs were at the expense of the main character. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a recently divorced, writer of books for young adults (hence the title) who returns home from the "big" city of Minneapolis, to take back what was once hers - Buddy Sloan (Patrick Wilson) - her ex-high school boyfriend. Only thing, Sloan is married (seemingly happily) to Beth (Elizabeth Reasor) and they have a new baby girl.
I should have known from the first 10 minutes or so that I wasn't going to like this film. Mavis is a drunk, living alone with her little dog, and each day she awakens face down in her bed, still dressed from the night before with reality television projecting on the tube. Still trying to hold onto her high school "glory" days, Mavis struggles with writer's block as she attempts to type out her final book. Everything in her life is bleak - from her messy apartment, to her run down Mini Cooper. It is just very, very sad.
When Mavis learns that Sloan and his wife have just had a baby, she decides to return to her hometown and "save him" from a life of "prison." Yes. It sounds crazy. And, yes, she IS crazy. How could someone possibly be so clueless about what life is truly about? Yes. I did laugh a few times and each laugh was actually an uncomfortable giggle in disbelieve - as the film went from bad to worse. I couldn't believe the things Mavis would do and say; her actions moved from being very callous to outright ignorant with each passing scene. And, could Sloan and his wife Beth really be that much in a fog not so see through Mavis' obvious attempts at seduction. Only thing is/was - the seduction attempts were completely pathetic.
Along the way, Mavis meets up with an old geek from high school - Matt (Patton Oswalt). It is quite clear that Matt was still holding onto a crush on Mavis since they were teens. At first Mavis doesn't even remember Matt, and then something suddenly clicks when she recalls Matt being a victim of a hate crime during high school - as he was given a brutal beating from a few so called "jocks" - a beating that left him limping and disfigured from the waist down. Mavis is less than discreet in her memory of Matt's misfortune and it left me wondering why he continued to even talk to her - let alone support her throughout the film. Mavis is such a jerk - with zero social redeeming qualities. I can't even understand how her parents can even bear to be around her. She is just so completely and utterly unlikeable.
But, she is Charlize Theron. And, even if Charlize Theron is playing a hung over, alcoholic - she still looks damn good. What's up with that? Doesn't she know that she needs to get good and ugly if she wants another Oscar? (Monster, anyone?) As for Patrick Wilson - I've seen him look very, very good in a few films and television. In "Young Adult" he looks like he is the one who just had the baby - not his wife. He is consistently in untucked plaid shirts, unshaven, and appears to be pretty much exhausted all the time. While his wife, Elizabeth Reasor looks fresh, pretty, friendly and kind. Is Elizabeth Reasor in everything lately? I guess if you are looking for a kind, supportive, and carefree wife - she is the one to cast. Even when Mavis gets completely out of hand and out of control - Reasor just looks at her with pity in her eyes. Oh, to be that secure in yourself - that you can honestly feel for someone who is doing everything they can to take your man away from you! Her character is as unbelievable as Mavis. I don't think either of these women could actually exist in the real world.
Some of the things that I liked about the film: Mavis' transformation from hung over loser to run-way model. I really liked watching her get all dolled up. Charlize Theron is truly a beautiful woman. I guess that's all I liked.
Oh, Jason Reitman - you let me down!
An absolute thriller...can't wait for the next 2!
I can't say that there are many films where I find myself hooked before the movie ever begins.....but, this one "got me" as soon as the lights dimmed and the title credits began to flicker on screen. My litmus test for judging films is based upon how long after the film I am still thinking about it. I won't keep you in suspense. When it comes to that test, this film not only passed with flying colors....but totally NAILED it! I will be thinking about "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for quite some time and, most likely, I will see it again during my holiday vacation. There is so much I want to pay more attention to during the next viewing; even though there are portions in which I will cover my eyes, as well. This is not an easy film to view. There are some pretty graphic sexual and violent scenes. If you are considering whether to see it now, or wait for cable - I assure you, this film is meant to be seen on the big screen. And, this isn't because it is in 3D or some other campy fad...it is because it is an excellent, suspenseful, white knuckler.
It would be very easy to say that the one reason to see this film is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander (the title character) - but that would be too simple....too obvious.....too benign. While this role is pretty much one of the most fascinating characters I've seen on screen for some time, I can honestly say that there are many, many more reasons to view this film. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a thriller that just doesn't stop. Just when you think it's over and the story is done....it keeps going......as you sit in the theatre on the edge of your seat, as if you are riding the wildest, scariest, most exciting roller coaster you've ever been on. There are times during the film that I found myself squirming in my chair, completely uncomfortable with what was being projected, but unable to look away. I never knew where this film was going; it surprised me....shocked me......thrilled me.
I borrowed the book quite a while ago, and I had resisted reading it - as I knew the film was coming out and I purposely didn't want to know very much about the storyline. I could see from the coming attractions that this movie was going to be an adventure and I wanted to ride that adventure.....not knowing the final destination. I am pleased to say that I do not regret that decision. (I will, by the way, read the book now).
I will not give away very much of the plot. The film is meant to be experienced. Too much knowledge of the storyline.....would ruin it, in my opinion. Daniel Craig portrays Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative reporter and Rooney Mara portrays the mysterious Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. During the first portion of the film, the plot follows these characters separately....while the viewer is left to consider and wonder what, where, and when the dots will be connected. Both story lines are riveting....as each time the film cut from Craig's character to Mara's character (or vice versa), I found my mind still focused on the previous scene, wondering what was going to happen next.
There are quite a few name stars in the film.....(Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson)...but the star is the film. I loved the camera work, the direction, the editing...the acting. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is just really, really good film making.
There is one particular scene, when an extremely heinous character was figuratively hit with the Karma bus that I actually found myself giving a loud cheer right there in the movie theatre.
For the younger crowd, with the short attention spans - you may find yourself having a difficult time getting into the film, as you may be used to multiple car chases and lots of action within the first few minutes of a film. I am going to plead with you to have a bit of patience and allow the story to unfold. When all is not revealed in the first 15 minutes, it is actually plain old good story telling. I know in these days of instant messaging and pop-ups - you may not be used to that....but do give it a chance. You won't be disappointed!
The Descendants (2011)
Really, really great film......
The Descendants (2011) I walked out of the film "The Descendants" hoping that my fellow movie goers could not see that my face was completely tear stained and red. I think when you look up the term "tear jerker" in the dictionary (is that term actually IN the dictionary? Must check, later) - there would be a photo of the either the movie poster for this film or maybe just a close up of George Clooney's eyes. And, what beautiful, windows to the soul those eyes are! But, I get ahead of myself.
Set in Hawaii, "The Descendants" is a film about a man forced to make some major decisions. Decisions regarding property, decisions regarding his children, decisions regarding life. The film begins right smack dab in the middle. Matt King (George Clooney) is a married, father of two girls. His wife, Elizabeth, has been in a serious boating accident and is lying in the hospital in a coma. Matt, a lawyer by trade, has been thrust into becoming the main care taker for his youngest daughter, Scottie (Amarilla Miller). Very early in the film, Matt is informed that his wife's condition is irreversible and he must make the decision to remove her from life support.
At the same time, Matt is the partial owner (along with many, many cousins) of a considerable amount of land on the Island of Kawaii. Matt and his cousins are descendants of King Kamehameha and this enormous and gorgeous piece of land has been trusted to them. Matt has the responsibility of making the final decision regarding the sale of this land, which has personal, legal, financial, and political implications.
Matt and Scottie travel in the middle of the night to the big island of Hawaii to retrieve his eldest daughter, Alex (Shailene Woodley) who has been away at college. It becomes very obvious that Alex has some behavioral issues as she is found, not in her dorm room, but out on the beach with a girlfriend, obviously intoxicated.
Back at home, Matt reveals to Alex the seriousness of his wife's condition. It is revealed that Alex and her mother had some "issues" and had not been getting along prior to the accident. Alex then reveals to Matt the cause of their quarrel. Elizabeth had been having an affair. The look of disbelief, hurt, anger, and sadness that pervades Matt's face (through George Clooney's eyes) was truly amazing. Both George Clooney and Shailene Woodley created a scene that was both honest and heartbreaking.
The film follows the next few days in Matt's life - as he makes these difficult, but necessary, decisions - while, at the same time searches out his wife's lover. Along the way, he navigates through informing his in-laws of their daughter's impending death, negotiations with his cousins on the property sale, dealing with his daughters' grief, as well as his own.
The performances were superb. Most notable (in addition to Clooney and Woodley) were Robert Forster as Matt's father in law and Nick Krause as Alex's boyfriend Sid, who shows that even a shaggy haired pot head has some depth beneath the surface.
All in all, a very, very good film. Be prepared. This is not a "fun" film. It is depressing, dark, and sad. Bring some tissues.
New Year's Eve (2011)
Find Something Better to do on "New Year's Eve"
The movie consisted of 8 (or more???) vignettes of different people experiencing New Year's Eve. Actually, vignette is huge overstatement. With so many characters and so many little, teeny stories - it was difficult to really become interested in any of them.
With all this going on over 118 minutes.....it's no wonder the viewer would have trouble keeping up.
It also seemed that EVERYONE was in this film. Everyone. And the jokes.....well.....NONE of them worked. Not a one. Even the outtakes at the end of the film were flat. The acting was horrendous, the dialogue remedial, and the stories were forced and unconvincing.
New Year's Eve" is the equivalent of kissing a mannequin on, ----well, you know,----- New Year's Eve. Not only do you not get anything out of it.....but, you would feel silly if anyone were to see you doing it.
John Tucker Must Die (2006)
The movie was better than expected
Took my kids to see it.
Thought it was entertaining.
Anyone that is expecting some special meaning or this film to answer any universal questions should get his or her head examined.
It's a silly teen movie. It wasn't meant to be anything more.
It was better than I expected. (Note: I expected nothing).
There were some funny parts. The 3 ex girlfriends were interesting to watch interact.
John is cute. Didn't realize he is so old.
The leading actress will probably move on to be in more serious flicks. Thought she was good.
The animal's activist (girlfriend #3) is exceptionally pretty.