Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last Week in DVD - Week of May 15th-21st.

It's "Last Week in DVD" as I'm posting this a little behind schedule. Unfortunatley, I was on-call for work and pretty much had to work all weekend. As a result, I'm posting this now, instead of on Saturday or Sunday. Plus, I've been having issues with Blogger lately. I'm tired and frustrated so, my apologies if these reviews come off scattered or too 'ranty'.

Rabbit Hole

Really well written and great acting across the board. Everyone talks about Nicole Kidman's performance, and don't get me wrong, she nails 'emotionally-cold and distant'. Her botox must have worn off or something cause it looks like her forehead can move again, but I digress. I was really surprised by Aaron Eckhart's performance. This might be the best performance I've seen him give. It's certainly the most emotional performance of his career that I can remember.

This movie isn't for everyone though. If you have kids, the subject matter might be a little too emotional or intense for you, as it deals with one of the greatest fears a parent has. You really feel the pain of the characters. It really is worth a watch though.

I mentioned the writing. This was based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire and he also did the screenplay here. Great job once again. He also wrote Robots (which I liked) and Inkheart (which I watched, but can't remember what I thought of it). I'm going to have to keep an eye out for him in the future.

One of the other things I liked about it is that it's only 90 minutes. I love a movie that can tell a good story that doesn't pad its time with meandering dialog or needless montages.

I highly recommend renting this.

Valhalla Rising

What a letdown! The trailers make this look like this is some kind of Viking action epic. All of the action basically happens in the first 5 minutes of the movie, which was pretty brutal and I was into it. I thought I was in for a kick-ass film. Boy was I wrong! The rest is just shots of hillsides and water with people just staring off into the distance. These shots felt like they were looped for like a half hour. Then, they throw these random images up for whatever reason. I can only guess they were trying to be 'artsy'.

I kid you not there are maybe 10 total lines of dialog in the first 40 minutes of this movie, and probably slightly more in the second half. There's no character development or even a story here. I couldn't even tell you what the point of this film is. They were just trying to get somewhere. I don't know where and I don't know why. I think they were looking for a fight with someone, and I'm not even sure who, but they never really got one.

It's absolutely boring. The slow pace of this movie is excruciating. When I was done, I felt like I had watched a movie that was over two hours long only to find that this was just 90 minutes?!

F this movie!

Keep your distance from this one. Never watch it.

The Roommate

It's always a bad sign up front when you see a thriller or horror flick with a PG-13 rating. This means to titillation and no real blood. Now this isn't a problem if the movie is actually thrilling or scary, but this isn't. It doesn't even have any good jump scares. It's just a very lame re-tread of Single White Female. It's kind of funny though cause when Minka Kelly first arrives on screen, I thought she was Leighton Meester. I just had them confused. They don't really look that similar though, but I guess it lends itself to the story, because I'm sure most people don't know who either of these two girls are either.

Crappy McCrapperson...er...um...I mean Christian E. Christiansen (yes, that's his actual name), didn't do anything to establish himself as a good director. However, the blame doesn't rest solely on him. This movie was written by Sonny Mallhi, who has produced several other terrible movies (Shutter, The Lake House, The Strangers). Maybe movies aren't your thing, man.

This is another movie to skip.

All Good Things

...and doesn't include the story, which seems to bounce around in tone from a mystery, to drama, to almost dark comedy in some parts. What makes this weird is that it's based off a true story, so you'd think there would be a little more cohesion in the story. I think the most frustrating thing is that there's really no resolution at the end, which again, being based off a true story is really odd. You're done watching and wonder what the point of telling the story was.

The performances of Ryan Gosling and, surprisingly, Kristen Dunst were good though. However, the 'old man' makeup they put Ryan Gosling in looked awful.

Yet another movie I'd say to pass on. I'm having a bad week here.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Here's another movie I have to give a little bit of a disclaimer on, as I'm not the biggest Woody Allen fan. I think this is primarily because I haven't enjoyed most of his recent movies. I've liked some of his older movies, but almost everything I've seen made in the last decade I haven't liked.

It's nice to see respected, well-known actors playing unlikeable characters, but therein lies the issue I have with the movie: it's all about unlikeable characters. You have a couple that's clearly fallen out of in love with each other and they both flirt with affairs, until they finally do separate and hook up with other people. One of them goes as far to break up another couple's engagement. You have a lady that's living her life by what her psychic tells her, which is almost always ridiculous. Then, there's her ex-husband that's clearly going through a midlife crisis, falls in love with an escort and can't see until it's too late that she's only with him to spend all his money and then cheats on him.

The actors are all good, it's just the story is just so blah. Plus, it's not really funny at all. I thought Woody Allen was supposed to make funny movies?

I'm iffy on this one being even a rental. If you really love Woody Allen, then you'll probably watch this one anyway to check it off your list. Otherwise, pass on it.

Blue Valentine

Here's another one to file under the 'great performances, but painful to watch category'. This is another one that's not for everyone and may be tough for a lot of people to watch. It's definitely not for light viewing. It's basically about a couple and watching their marriage fall apart. It's wonderfully acted, but watching it is similar to watching friends of yours that constantly fight and you are just waiting for their inevitable breakup that you are powerless to stop. If you've ever gone through a divorce or rough breakup, I can see this being difficult to watch.

I have to give some credit to Ryan Gosling. I've never been a big fan of his, but I like that he takes on challenging roles and characters that aren't just the standard Hollywood leading man or pretty boy types. Michelle Williams is great as well. I think she's really underrated and I'm not sure why she isn't a bigger name.

It's definitely worth a watch, but not if you're in the mood for something fun.

The Mechanic

I'm a little torn on this one. The action scenes are great. It's one of those movies that right after watching I'm like, "This was bad ass!" However, I started thinking about the story and realized how ridiculous it was. It's unfortunate, because it actually starts off pretty good, but then after about 30 minutes, it takes a turn for the ridiculous.

Statham is an assassin, or Mechanic. He takes on Ben Foster as an 'apprentice' after the death of his father. However, Statham killed his father on a job. Normally, I'd avoid spoiling something like that, but it happens in the first 15 minutes of the movie and there's no secret that it happens. Anyway, that's basically the whole premise of the story.

I guess my main problem with a story like this is that they establish that Statham is a bad ass assassin, but then proceed to show him doing a bunch of questionable, or outright stupid, things. You're left wondering, how could this guy be a successful assassin when he seems to be so sloppy at times? Stuff like how he's not wearing gloves and didn't wipe his fingerprints off anywhere after killing someone. Isn't that like Assassin 101 or something? Maybe wear gloves?

Another example, when it becomes clear that Foster's character is either too stupid or too much of a loose cannon for him to be a successful assassin. Why does Statham stick with him? He hasn't invested all that much time in training him. It's not like they are best friends. It would have been smarter to tell the guy to go out on his own.

Plus, I hate when they try to make assassins likeable in a movie like this. He's a killer, it's okay to have him be not a nice guy. He doesn't have to be sympathetic.

At the end there's giant gunfight in the middle of the city and you don't hear a single siren in the distance. I guess everyone was off work that day? That's the kind of ridiculous stuff I'm talking about.

Simon West has directed some good action films over the year, so I'm inclined to blame this more on the writing of Richard Wenk.

So, rent it if you want to see good action, but shut your brain off.

The Dilemma

Ugh, this movie just wore me down.

This movie is based around my pet peeve about most romantic comedies (note that this is not a romantic comedy, it more of a buddy movie). It's basically about two characters that need to talk about something, but never do it, so a series of misunderstandings and events occur as a result. You're sitting there going, none of this would even be occurring if they would just TALK TO EACH OTHER!

I think the other frustrating thing is that if this was the kind of thing that actually happened to a friend of yours, you'd probably tell them about it pretty quick. Nothing good comes from keeping a secret like 'your wife/gf is cheating on you' from your best friend.

Plus, this movie is almost two hours long just to come to the conclusion that you knew it was going to arrive at as soon as the movie starts. Therefore, the movie just felt like it dragged on.

I didn't think it was funny at all. The humor just seemed to be trying way too hard. Everything they did just felt tacked on to the story. It was like they didn't know what to do, so they just put all these unnecessary characters, threads and scenes in them.

Ron Howard directed this!? I guess they can't all be gems. Also, it was written by Allan Loeb, who seems to be iffy with his track record. I've seen more bad movies written by him, than good ones. He also wrote Just Go With It, so now I'm really looking forward to watching that.

Skip it!

Sherlock: Season One

This was a short BBC series done last year. Season Two I believe is coming soon.

I thought this was great! It's basically a modern telling of Sherlock Holmes. He texts, looks up stuff on the internet, etc., but still has all the brilliant deduction and detective work. They do kind of a cool thing where sometimes you'll see pop-ups on the screen that show what Holmes is thinking or things he notices that nobody else does. It's an interesting little trick.

It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. Martin Freeman will also be playing Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit films, so geek cred there. Martin Freeman has been in several other movies that have been somewhat successful, so you're likely to recognize him anyway.

Each episode is 90 minutes, but there are only three episodes total for the series (on two DVDs). If you like a good detective movie or you're a general fan of Sherlock Holmes, give these a shot.

I highly recommend renting these. If you can find them On Demand, even better.

That's it for this week. Oh, and the training blog should be back up starting tomorrow.

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