Reviews written by registered user
|1526 reviews in total|
Yes, I know...another idiosyncratic "indie" comedy with picturesque
characters, "first world" problems and that kind of humor which is so
appreciated in Sundance, Toronto and similar "serious" festivals.
However, at the difference of other films cooked on the same mold, Our
Idiot Brother is genuinely funny, honest and intelligent, despite
including some clichés from "indie" cinema. In summary, an entertaining
film worthy of a recommendation.
Even though the situations raised by the screenplay of Our Idiot Brother aren't precisely original or complicated, they fulfill with their function of illustrating common problems in modern relationships, where the white lies and "social filters" can be accumulated until completely eroding the confidence (and trust) between couples or members of a family.
And then, we have the excellent performances from most of the cast of Our Idiot Brother. Paul Rudd is perfect in the leading character, who can be described as a modern version of Forrest Gump, adding an avocation to marijuana and with a dog as the love of his life. Emily Mortimer makes a wonderful work as a housewife who is overwhelmed by the routine, and so insecure for her marriage that she feels herself guilty for her husband's apathy. Elizabeth Banks is completely credible as a woman who is so relentless in hr struggle for occupationally ascending that she ends up ignoring those things which affect her excessive ambition (including herself). The only weak spot of the cast is Zooey Deschanel, who feels kinda forced as the free and artistic spirit who might not be as spontaneous as everybody thinks...nor as lesbian as her girlfriend, extraordinary played by Rashida Jones, thinks she is. Steve Coogan is an expert in playing insufferable characters, and in this movie, he proves once more why he is so good at it. Adam Scott makes a solid work as a sensitive and intelligent man who would be the perfect boyfriend for any woman...if it he didn't lack of a medical insurance. And finally, T.J. Miller brings a credible and likable performance.
In conclusion, Our Idiot Brother made me have a very good time, and I think I can recommend it to all kinds of spectators, instead of only to the fans of "indie" cinema. This film couldn't occupy the stratum of independent films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Juno or (500) Days of Summer, whose success crossed to the mainstream cinema; nevertheless, I think it can definitely be appreciated by a wide audience because of its accessible humor and likable characters.
I found The Lord of the Rings cinematographic trilogy an extraordinary
adaptation of essential novels from fantastic genre. After that,
director Peter Jackson made the excellent remake of King Kong and the
tedious The Lovely Bones, which was completely lacking of any emotion
and narrative force. Fortunately, Jackson redeems himself with The
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a very entertaining epic film...even
though not lacking of some insipid passages and more characters than
The screenplay of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is chronologically set 60 years before The Lord of the Rings, and as a consequence, it doesn't follow the same characters from that trilogy. Some of them have brief cameos, but we won't find the same dynamic between races nor the balance of heroic archetypes. And the 13 "leading" dwarfs are peripheral figures, reduced to their most basic identity trait: the fat one, the funny one, etc. The only exception is Thorin...pity that his personality doesn't go beyond his superficial function. For better or for worse, the "Company of Dwarfs" are extras in their own story (so far). On the other hand, this lets Ian McKellen and the great Martin Freeman carry with the dramatic weight of the film, and they are both completely credible in their roles while having a perfect chemistry with each other.
Then, we have Jackson's solid direction, which competently balances the personal drama with the visual spectacle. The special effects widely surpass the ones of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (naturally, the studio Weta had almost 10 years in order to improve their technology), but I occasionally kinda missed the employment of more practical effects, specially regarding creatures and enemies. On some moments, I felt the action scenes exceeded the requirements of the story and crossed to the "see what we can do now" field. On the positive side, Jackson shows a precise control over the tone and atmosphere, orchestrating light "comic relief" scenes without decreasing gravity to the serious moments of introspection and personal growth.
I'm now going to invest some time in writing about the controversial system of 48 frames per second employed in the shooting and exhibition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Against my custom, I decided to watch this film on "HFR 3D", and I have to admit that the quality of image was phenomenal, much better than any other thing I have ever watched on a big screen. On the other hand, I keep disliking the 3D, because I think it darkens the image and overshadows the colours. However, regarding the HD system at 48 frames per second...I'm totally convinced.
In conclusion, I didn't like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as much as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I think it made a very good work at introducing us to another facet of Middle Earth. So, I can definitely recommend it as a very solid and entertaining film. Having said that, when will Jackson make the "independent horror film" he has been promising for years? I like the fantasy, but I want to see him back to the territory of Bad Taste and Dead Alive as soon as possible.
The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy which had the good
intentions of not meekly following the clichés of the genre, and of
basing its humor on the interaction and nature of the characters,
instead of searching for trite slapstick or scatological jokes. This
film aspired to a realistic and sincere tone in order to examine some
real couple problems...however, its main problems are that it's longer
than it should, and that it should have provoked more laughs in order
to satisfy as a comedy. Nevertheless, I have to admit that it kept me
moderately interested because of the solid performances and some valid
reflections about contemporary relationships.
The main pro of The Five-Year Engagement is the cast, which makes the TWO HOURS the movie takes in order to tell a story which frequently tends to wander on tiring and not very interesting sub-plots more bearable. During those digressions, Mindy Kaling, Brian Posehn, Chris Pratt and Chris Parnell come and go without too much purpose, but they take the maximum advantage of their dialogues and superficial characters. In the leading roles, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are credible and have a good chemistry with each other.
What works the least in The Five-Year Engagement are the psychological analogies which arise as a consequence of Blunt's character's job. The "social experiments" she makes at college have obvious parallels to her romantic engagement and the long wait of her wedding, and I suppose they help in order to reinforce the film's message...but, let's accept it, the message isn't exactly deep, so I don't think that so many turns were necessary in order to express it. Instead of that, I would have preferred a more concise and disciplined screenplay, with less distractions and tangents, even if that would have sacrificed a percentage of the humor, because the diffuse narrative focus is kinda frustrating, and demerits the pros from this film. Nevertheless, I think I can give The Five-Year Engagement a slight recommendation because of the good performances and some interesting aspects from the screenplay.
What to Expect When You're Expecting can be classified in the
"self-help books turned into horrible films" category (along with He's
Just Not That Into You), but it can also fit into the "multiple
Hollywood stars trapped into a horrible film" category (along with New
Year's Eve and He's Just Not That Into You). Nevertheless, the niche
isn't very important, because the result is the same: a pathetic movie
with many famous actors but a deplorable screenplay. So, this tedious
adaptation fails on every single level: as a comedy, it's completely
unfunny; and it doesn't respect the spirit of the book on which it was
based, because it doesn't offer any advice or inspiration to the future
mothers (with one exception: "pretty people also suffer").
In previous occasions, when Hollywood too books to the big screen, they were novels, comics or biographies...something with a story, characters, chronological flow, or similar elements of narrative art. However, "money calls money", so any successful book is currently susceptible to be adapted into a movie. The book What to Expect When You're Expecting has sold millions of copies, and it's been very useful for many families to face the difficulties of pregnancy (at least that's what I have been told). On the other hand, the film What to Expect When You're Expecting is a rehash of melodramatic clichés and romantic comedy formulas structured in a series of situation with a bad shape and null rhythm. The result is a film full of insipid dialogues and synthetic sentimentality which only provokes yawns.
I honestly can't find any positive element in What to Expect When You're Expecting, but at the same time, I admit the fact that I have a biological disadvantage and I can't evaluate the film from the point of view of someone who has lived (or is living) pregnancy. Who knows? The screenplay I found intolerable might hide valuable observations and amusing references to moms and future moms who might feel themselves identified with the characters of this film (after all, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Brooklyn Decker are faithful reflections of the average woman, right?). But from my personal experience, I can't recommend by any means this execrable piece of junk. And the worst thing of all is that What to Expect When You're Expecting establishes an unfortunate precedent to the adaptations of more books lacking of the story. I can already imagine some Hollywood screenwriter trying to write "Handbook of iPhone: The Movie"...Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher are two linguistic geniuses who meet each other playing Words with Friends; they hate each other on the beginning, but their rivalry becomes into a romance; Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper accidentally exchange telephones at a café, and they attempt to meet each other following the dates of their respective calendars; when they finally meet, they feel they know each other so well that they decide to get married; Patrick Dempsey is a lawyer who sends an innocent text message to the judge Halle Berry, but the "auto correct" acts up and makes it a sexually suggestive message; the judge makes him arrest, and the lawyer must defend his innocence at court...even though that means that will mean revealing his love for Berry; and finally, Robin Williams starts a trial for the State to recognize his marriage to Zooey Deschanel. The problem? Williams ends up falling in love with his lawyer Jennifer Garner, and Deschanel becomes so jealous that she will make Garner's life impossible.
Dear God No! is a perverse and fascinating distillation of subjects
extracted from the best exploitation cinema of the '70s. This is what
directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez attempted to do in
Death Proof and Machete (respectively); however, Dear God No! is the
genuine article, and the result is a gem full of bad taste and
depravity made with minimum money and null influence from Hollywood.
The exploitation cinema has become a popular model to modern filmmakers, not only because of its implicit nostalgia, but also because it can work as a justification of the lack of talent and low production values we can find in some independent movies. Many directors and screenwriters think that their ineptitude and mistakes could seem intentional if they decide to make a "retro" film. However, that's absolutely wrong. Films like Hobo With a Shotgun, The House of the Devil and Dear God No! prove that genuine talent is needed in order to make a good film with those characteristics, and that the "old film" filters and the period costumes aren't enough in order to get an interesting and entertaining narrative. Dear God No! possesses enough energy and dramatic conviction in order to capture us into the action and keep us on suspense, while making us laugh with its stupidity and ridiculous characters. Sounds contradictory, but it works brilliantly well for those of us who appreciate this underrated cinematographic style.
On the negative side of Dear God No!, some performances from the supporting cast feel too rigid. Nevertheless, the experience of watching this film was so amusing, perverse and energetic that I can enthusiastically recommend Dear God No! to the followers of exploitation cinema who want to watch something close in spirit to gems such as Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS or Thriller: A Cruel Picture. And to the casual spectators, I have to warn that there's quite extreme and offensive material in this film, so proceed with caution. You may end up feeling disgusted...or becoming an addict to a hated and occasionally censored cinematographic stratum. I can assure you it's not an easy-to-satisfy addiction.
The film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle deservedly became a cult
classic in 2003, because besides its references to the "stoner" culture
and the irreverent humor, there was a solid basis of sincere friendship
which humanized the main characters, and avoided them to become simple
caricatures making stupidities under the influence of marijuana (among
other drugs). And on top of that, the chemistry between actors Kal Penn
and John Cho was absolutely perfect. The sequel Harold & Kumar Escape
from Guantanamo Bay was moderately entertaining but mediocre, because
its disproportionate and surrealistic humor ended up sacrificing the
dynamic between the main characters. So, I had low expectations before
watching A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, because its trailers
suggested a repetition of the febrile and unbridled style of the second
film, instead of the "character comedy" from the first one.
Fortunately, that expectation ended up being only partially true, so I
ended up enjoying this third movie more than Harold & Kumar Escape from
Guantanamo Bay, but less than Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
The screenplay of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas attempts to gradually increment the level of the main characters' adventures in order to bring some rhythm to the narrative, but when we lead to the cameo of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus' surgery, it's already too late to ask for any coherence or realism. However, co-screenwriters Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Scholssberg made the good decision of basing all those ridiculous things on the existing relationship between Harold and Kumar, something which brings a human touch to their vulgar adventures. Leaving the most absurd moments aside, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas rounds on the re-discovery of an abandoned friendship, and in that aspect, Cho and Penn took their performances seriously. In other words, what I liked the most in this movie was the honest expression of loyalty and friendship between the main characters.
The irreverent and politically incorrect humor is exactly what we can expect in a Harold and Kumar movie, so in order not to ruin the best moments of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, I will mention that I approximately laughed 20% of the times, I smiled a 50%, and the remaining 30% produced a slight irritation on me. Something which starts well but ends up tiring a little bit is the satire of the 3D format...even though some of those jokes would have worked better watching it in the cinema. Anyway, I can give a moderate recommendation to A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas because it managed to keep me entertained, even though I would have preferred less surrealism, less exaggeration and more humor based on the interaction between the main characters.
Before watching Bachelorette, I expected to find a cheap imitation of
Bridesmaids, and that ended up being true to some point. The subject is
pretty much the same (bridesmaids planning a friend's wedding), the
type of humor is similar, and both films even share a same supporting
actress (Rebel Wilson). On its own merit, I found Bachelorette a
moderately entertaining but mediocre comedy with a screenplay which
includes many forced and improbable elements.
Screenwriter Leslye Headland (who was also the director) employs the comedy as a sporadic seasoning in Bachelorette, putting the emphasis on the personal drama from the main characters. Regan has a boyfriend (or at least she says so), but there's obviously too much distance among them (physical as well as emotional), something which spreads bitterness to all her other relationships. Gena lives into a vicious circle of alcoholism and fleeting sexual encounters which only increment her frustration and wishes of drinking. And Katie is so accustomed to employ her body as a tool of social advance that there doesn't seem to be too much brain left into her head. So, even though there are many "funny" scenes with misunderstandings, vulgarities and a broken wedding dress, I appreciated the evolution of those characters until leading to the point of catharsis more.
On the other hand, I might be over-analyzing what is a mediocre comedy. As I previously said, there are various forced elements in the screenplay, as well as predictable and tiring jokes (ho, ho, women speaking of sex...How controversial!). However, this film didn't bore me, mainly because of the solid performances. Lizzy Caplan is able to express internal pain behind the cynical smile from her face. Isla Fisher seems to repeat her usual role of a dumb young woman, but she adds a touch of desperation in here which feels appropriate. And Wilson is also credible in her role, despite playing quite a weakly written character. However, I think Kirsten Dunst brings the best performance of Bachelorette. I have always considered her an excellent actress, and after seeing her wasted in the tedious Melancholia, I liked to re-discover her in a more mature stage in Bachelorette, competently expressing her character's deep dysfunction. I don't know why Dunst doesn't work more frequently, but I would like her to.
So, Bachelorette isn't a very good comedy, but I can give it a slight recommendation because of the good performances and some interesting aspects of the screenplay.
Even though I'm not a fan of the romantic comedy genre, I tend to find
the films from that style more tolerable when they come from
independent cinema, because they usually possess an unusual artistic
varnish which suggests deeper subjects. Besides, these films usually
include more solid actors than the Hollywood stars whose routines we
know by heart. Ruby Sparks belongs to that type of "indie" romantic
cinema with a message, employing the clichés of the genre in order to
tell an apparently fantastic story, but with a solid core of reality
and valuable life lessons.
The use of "magic" in a romantic comedy is usually an excuse to solve situations in the most convenient way, without having to think too much. Nevertheless, in Ruby Sparks, screenwriter Zoe Kazan employs the fantastic elements as in indispensable basis of the premise. The main characters has some "literary groupies" who try to seduce him because of his fame; however, he's looking for someone to love him for himself...and when he finally finds Ruby, it seems that his wish was accomplished. But ironically, the main character can't accept her like she is and he proceeds to "improve" her, which provokes chaos in the relationship, and in his small universe of friends and family. In other words, finding (or "creating") the perfect woman doesn't necessarily lead to the perfect relationship. And from then on, anyone can draw his/her conclusions about this film, which ended up being much deeper and more ingenious than I expected.
Having said that, Ruby Sparks occasionally falls into the typical vices of independent cinema. The screenplay has some forced elements and occasionally can't avoid a pretentious air which is characteristic of the "Sundance syndrome". Going back to the pros, most of the cast brings competent performances, highlighting Kazan. I think the only weak spot is Antonio Banderas, who feels kinda forced in his character.
In summary, I enjoyed Ruby Sparks pretty much and I recommend it to the fans of the romantic comedy as well as to its haters, because it proves that the genre can produce interesting and amusing stuff when it's in the hands of filmmakers with talent.
Clint Eastwood has received more acclamation as a director than as an
actor, but in the case of Trouble With the Curve, he decided to yield
the control of the movie to other filmmaker, while he only acted on it.
And director Robert Lorenz closely follows Eastwood's sober and direct
style, while the screenplay deals with the habitual subjects in his
movies about dignity in the mature age, fortress of spirit and second
chances. The result is entertaining and pleasant, but predictable and a
On some way, Trouble With the Curve takes the opposite attitude to Moneyball (human instinct surpasses technology), but screenwriter Randy Brown isn't really interested in the secret operations of baseball, but in showing the characters' emotional evolution. There's nothing original in that development; the main points of the screenplay are the reparation of family conflicts, redemption of anachronistic ideologies and the dignity of mature age in a world which is so worried about the future that it never looks back. And despite the clichés, sentimental manipulation and excessively easy and convenient solutions, Trouble With the Curve managed to keep me entertained mainly thanks to the excellent performances from Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman. Eastwood limits himself to repeat the "irritable old man" character he played in Gran Torino...and I don't have any complaints against that, because it takes the maximum advantage of his talent as an actor. Adams brings deepness and credibility to her shallowly written character, while Goodman steals every scene he's in.
Justin Timberlake brings a decent performance in Trouble With the Curve, but I couldn't swallow his character's function as a potential couple of Adams' character. His character of a gallant looks like a commercial trick, and not an integral part of the screenplay. Nevertheless, I think I can give a moderate recommendation to Trouble With the Curve as an inoffensive and pleasant experience, despite not being very memorable.
In this century, there has been a fracture in the juvenile cinema,
dividing it into two different cinematographic styles: on the one hand,
we have cheap vulgar comedies made straight-to-DVD, dedicated to the
classic "teenagers looking for sex" formula. And, on the other hand, we
have "indie" melodramas which take the emotional turbulence provoked by
the end of childhood and the beginning of adult age seriously (such as
It's Kind of a Funny Story and The Art of Getting By). I personally
prefer the juvenile films from the '80s and '90s, in which both aspects
were combined (Weird Science, Clueless); but anyway...if I have to
decide, I definitely prefer the "indie" side because those movies tend
to be better written, acted and directed. What takes me to The Perks of
Being a Wallflower, a very good juvenile drama which offers us
realistic characters trapped into an internal and external fight
expressed with honesty and a solid emotional impact.
It's risky to let a novelist write the screenplay and direct the film based on his novel, but in the case of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, novelist/screenwriter/director Stephen Chbosky made a good work in every aspect, starting by the selection of actors. I hadn't swallowed Logan Lerman in some previous occasions (The Three Musketeers -2011-, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), but his work in The Perks of Being a Wallflower is extraordinary, carefully modulating his character's multiple facets in order not to make him look like a stereotype; what takes me to one of biggest pros of the film (and from the novel, I guess): the characters are complex and possess an own voice, rejecting the habitual labels of the genre, and as a consequence, we won't find the typical villain sportsman, virginal girlfriend, "mean girls" or buffoon friends.
Ezra Miller brings an excellent performance as a sensitive and very friendly young man despite not fitting into the obligatory school niches, while Emma Watson brings a perfect melancholic sensibility to her character. Nina Dobrev is totally credible as the main character's older sister, occupied into her romantic drama but still vigilant over her younger brother; despite having few scenes together, Lerman and Dobrev perfectly evoke the fraternal love/irritation dynamic. The adult characters are a bit generically written (starting by the anonymous paternal figures who only exist as a complement of the domestic environment), but I liked the performances from Paul Rudd and Melanie Lynskey.
Nevertheless, the best element of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the screenplay, unpredictable enough in order to keep our attention, but respecting the "coming of age" structure which invites us to revive that complicated period in human life. On the negative side, I would mention the last 10 or 15 minutes, when the drama is suddenly incremented in order to bring us a dose of forced psychological conflict which wasn't necessary to complement the well raised narrative. Some people are saying that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is "21st century's The Breakfast Club", and even though I wouldn't agree on that, I appreciated its ability to portray the transition to maturity on a credible way, examining the fears and insecurity of getting into that unknown territory. In summary, I liked this movie pretty much and I consider it worthy of a recommendation, but I wouldn't put it into my "hall of fame" of juvenile cinema.
|Page 1 of 153:||          |