Monday, August 31, 2009

phoebe in wonderland

who knew dakota fanning had a younger sister, and that she was so talented?? in this movie, elle fanning plays a young girl named phoebe. she was raised to be a little different from the norm, and to also love "wonderland" (as in alice in wonderland).

as the movie goes on, phoebe's behavior becomes progressively worse and uncontrollable. after a few incidents at school (example: spitting at a classmate), she is sent to therapy.

family dynamics are very interesting, as phoebe's mother fires the therapist and blames herself for raising her daughter poorly. the mother thinks that phoebe doesnt know she loves her, which causes more angst and drama within the family.

the only place phoebe seems to thrive is at play practice. she got the role of alice, in alice in wonderland. phoebe's theater teacher, mrs hodgins (patricia clarkson), seems to be permanently living in wonderland, but her character inspires the children--especially phoebe. the principal doesnt ever seem to fully trust mrs hodgins, and questions her behavior, and her influence on phoebe.

as phoebe struggles with her actions, which she does not want to do but can't help doing, she also starts seeing characters from alice in wonderland. the red queen and alice are seen most frequently. this development concerns all parties involved (parents, principal, and therapist).

i wont spoil the movie, but seriously i really liked this film. all of the roles were well developed, had excellent acting, and were very interesting. phoebe's story will keep you entranced throughout the entire movie. there were even a few times i laughed out loud, and other times when i might have gotten a little teary. i feel that this movie has something for everyone, and is very well done.

the grade:


The king of kong

This documentary was first brought to my attention by guest reviewer, vegafoo. I guess I just didn't remember it, b/c I found it on accident on netflix yesterday and finally got around to watching it.

The story revolves around the world of classic arcade games and the challenge of obtaining the world records. In it, excentric Billy Mitchell (who could be considered the best arcade game player ever) has his high score and world record on the game Donkey Kong challenged by an ordinary father of 2 from Washington named Steve Weibe.

The movie follows the twists and turns of various people who make these games their lifes work. It was actually very interesting and funny at the same time.

I promise you, you will not be let down. Billy Mitchell is....well, interesting to say the least. He is talented (this is the guy who played a perfect game in pac man), but he is also insane. Watch this movie and you will be entertained. Will Steve beat the high score? (which was set in the early 80's) Will billy cut his disgusting hair? Will this make you want to beat the high score of Donkey Kong yourself?'ll just have to watch it and see.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

sunshine cleaning

in this film, rose (amy adams) is a single mother who works as a maid. she does a cleaning job and goes to tell the house owner that she's finished, and it turns out to be a girl she went to high school with. apparently rose was very popular in high school, and was the head cheerleader. she tries to get over the embarrassment of being seen as a maid by her former high school friend, and is frustrated that she feels her life is headed nowhere. there is talk of getting her real estate license, but it is just that: talk.

rose's little boy, oscar, is quite a handful and always gets into trouble. the principle and teacher of oscar call rose into the office to explain that he needs to take medication and go into special needs. rose refuses, and takes him out of school. the only alternative she has is to put him in private school, which she can't afford.

through all of this mayhem, rose is having an affair with her high school sweetheart, mack, who married someone else from high school. mack is always making empty promises to rose, like how he will put her in classes to get her real estate license. however, he proposes an interesting plan to rose as to how she can make extra money for oscar to go to private school. mack is a police officer, and he sees that the people who clean up after crime scenes make quite a bit of money...

rose's deadbeat sister, nora (emily blunt), gets roped into the idea, and soon enough rose and nora have their own business: sunshine cleaning. they clean up the mess that is left when someone dies. while rose is working to earn money for oscar's private school, oscar is hanging out with his grandpa--who has a couple of screws coming loose. he is always thinking of new quirky ideas to make money, most of which fall through.

the story is a complex web of peoples lives: rose, nora, oscar, mack, grandpa, and the people they come in contact with. rose has to grow up a little and realize what this affair with mack is all about. she hopes that he will leave his wife, but comes to realize that may not ever happen. also, rose and nora have issues they have to work on, and their relationship is constantly fluctuating.

as her business grows and develops, rose becomes more independent and realizes that she is not just a maid, she affects peoples lives and makes a part of a bad situation (death) a little better (by removing it).

there were a couple of issues i had with this movie:
1. there were a lot of side stories that weren't always followed through with
2. along with #1, there are some characters that seem to just be put in to throw you off, because they are never followed through with

i watched this movie with the expectation that i would love it, and it just didnt measure up all the way. it was funny, sweet, dramatic, and interesting. but it did not make me love it. they needed closure with all the characters, which i felt was lacking in the end. the movie just sort of ended. it was one of those endings where you go "WHAT??? that is the end?" it was a relatively happy ending for sure, but just happened too fast and with little explanation.

the grade:


hi my name is ryan

ok sorry, i kind of distorted this picture, but it was really small and you wouldnt be able to see it.

this is a documentary done by my bffs brother-in-law, paul eagleston, and his friend (cousin?) stephen rose. the official website can be found here. we saw it at the slc film fest a couple weeks ago.

this film is all about a boy named ryan, who is very into music and being creative. he has about 5+ bands with himself and friends, all within different genres. he will do weird/strange things just to do weird/strange things. he wants people to see things in a different way, and understand deeper levels or motives. he admits he isn't "normal" [although these days who isnt, right?], but his main goal in life seems to become a sort of superhuman, who is just plain awesome.

one thing about ryan is he has some sort of growth deficiancy, and therefore has an extremely young looking face. he is also lds, and even serves a full-time mission. it almost seems ironic that these two facts are about the same boy who sings songs like "spank the world" in his thrash band "Fathers Day." this particular band appears to be a product of a difficult upbringing in which his father seemed to have little interest in (go figure). oh, and he also dropped out of highschool because he didnt like it (understandable), and his interests and life-path so far have been fine without the rest of his high school education.

the documentary is pieced together very well, with different aspects of his life: from his family to his fake-mustache-wearing habit, his bands, and the people he interacts with (via shows, theaters, etc). with interesting shots, interviews, clips of shows, and graphics, the film will keep you entertained the whole time. by the end you really are almost in awe of ryan, and the kind of activities he does for fun.

one of the funniest characters in the movie is this crazy art guy (who isn't a very good artist actually), who is taped saying some obscene things about ryan and his cohorts. it is really quite amusing just to hear the things that come out of his mouth. it's a riot. i believe one line he is quoted as saying about Ryan is "I will bake you like a chicken!" those are some classic one-liners.

all in all, the documentary is interesting/funny, well put together, and really captivates the audience. paul and stephen did an incredible job, and hopefully we will be seeing this film going places. :] sundance perhaps? bravo to them, and way to keep striving for awesome-ness ryan.

the grade?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

(500) days of summer

we saw this movie yesterday. loved it.

tom hanson (joseph gordon-levitt) is working at a greeting card company, although he studied to be an architect. he meets his bosses new assistant, who is a beautiful girl named summer finn (zooey deschanel-love her!). they start off kind of awkward, but find out they have similar interests (like the same type of music, etc). becoming friends moves to unknown territory, in which a lovelike friends-with-benefits relationship unfolds.

summer is against labels, doesnt believe in love/fate/destiny, and does not want a boyfriend. tom wants to meet his soul mate. as the movie clearly states, this is not a love story.

the movie is really impressive; from the way that the story line is presented, to the acting, to the actual story. as the movie goes on, you will be irritated with summer and love tom.

relationships in this movie teach the characters new things that they needed to figure out. like what love is, and if fate or destiny is real. getting out of dead end jobs and following your dreams are also themes. although this paragraph i just wrote sounds mushy, it really is all presented into a wonderful story.

the movie does not end like you would like to think it would. but in a way, it ends better. this movie does not disappoint. everything is well done, pretty believable (although juji doesnt think there are really people like summer, which i disagree with), and compelling. go see it now!!!

the grade:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Guest Review: Funny People

The Funny, Yet Not So ‘Funny People’

Guest review by an old friend, Jon

Funny People

Going into this movie I was prepared, I knew it wasn’t “what everyone expected” thanks to a friend (who I don’t remember) telling me about it. Maybe it was Luke. I also knew it was over two hours long. I was looking forward to the laughs it provided, yet was pleasantly surprised by the seriousness of the plot. Though despite it’s sometimes sobering scenes, I was found to be humored just by the situations these comedians (literal and figurative) became wrapped up in. Concerning the length of the movie; it was not LOTR long and epic, nor was it Benjamin Button all encompassing long. As I sat there and watched Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, I felt I was watching the very humorous, dramatic and ironic parts of their characters lives. All-be-it for a small, yet very important, chunk of their lives.

For the most part it was well put together, I didn’t notice any glaring editing flaws (which happen a surprising amount these days). And the overall flow of the movie felt natural throughout, minus the speeding semi that was Sandlers ex-fiance suddenly deciding she wanted him back. Her character had the worst development, she was more of an extension of Sandler than the independently fueled character she should have been. It detracted from the obvious hang-ups Sandler still had for her.

Sandler and Rogen played their characters well through the duration of the story, they stayed true to who they were, yet had believable personal growth occur. I can’t comment too much on the directing, as I have always been a poor judge unless it is beyond-bad, but it appeared to be spot on for this particular movie. Cinematography was used only in such a way to properly portray characters and story development.

Whatever failings the script might have possessed were neatly ironed out by those charged to bring it to life. Sandler, a very well off/jerk comedian fit his role wonderfully and gave him some challenges with the whole ‘near death’ experience. While he did good, Luke Wilson I think takes the cake on the gonna die/aint gonna die in this psuedo-comedy genre. Seth Rogen, he did good, especially since you can tell he might have drawn a lot of experience playing a struggling comedian from his own life.

I admired this movie and highly commend it on a very strong morale point. While some very grievous mistakes are made between characters, the morale high path is chosen, a move not made often in movies, yet seems to come about on occasion. Perhaps Hollywood is learning from Las Vegas, sin sells, but families pay the most $$$.

Final word, go see it. This movie is about people. It’s funny, dramatic, and while it might not beg any social issues, it’s a movie I want in my collection.

District 9

Before watching this movie I had been reading all of the reviews online. (as I usually do) They have all been phenomenal, so I had very high expectations going into this one. Let me tell you, they were all met.
This movie has officially become:
my favorite movie of the year.
Yes, it IS as good as they say.
The story is set in South Africa, where 20 years earlier, an alien space ship settled over Johannesburg. The aliens were basically harmless and just wanted to leave. Instead, they were forced to live in District 9, which became a sort of refugee camp. It is a disgusting place, filled with crime and filth. Overtime, the humans have grown tired of the "problems" caused by district 9, and a task force has been created to move the aliens to district 10, located some distance from the city. Problems arise when the man who is put in charge of moving the aliens becomes infected with some substance that begins to alter his DNA, and turn him into an alien.
What makes this movie so amazing is its story, and characters. There are no cheesy 1 line jokes, no random explosions for no reason (though there are plenty of explosions). No actresses are here to show skin and sell sex. This movie shows aliens from another point of view. By the way, the aliens are very cool and entirely done with CGI. They have human qualities and make you feel for them. Go see this movie. You won't be disappointed. Promise. If you are, just wait another year until your awful big budget movies of next summer arrive.


Reviewer Spotlight, part ii

yours truly dear

if there's one thing i have always loved as a hobby, it's movies. and yes, i consider it a sort of hobby. if people ask the weird question "so what do you like to do in your free time?" i give them an awkward stare and then say "we love watching movies."

when i was little i used to watch my favorite movies over and over and over. on this list were: 101 dalmations (my fave as a youngster), shirley temple movies, and my fair lady. i was raised watching disney, shirley temple, and musicals (state fair, oklahoma, brigadoon, the divorcee, singing in the rain, sound of music, etc).

my movie tastes have changed (obviously), and now i love dramas and comedy, and some action movies. juji loves scary movies so my viewing of those has increased, but usually begrudgingly. i have left the theater a time or two when i get too scared... i also hate gore. anything gory is absolutely disgusting to me. violence is not appealing to me. if it is in some sort of action movie i can usually be ok, but i just hate it.

there are some movies i refuse to watch, which i think are just stupid. example, the twilight movies. another example, transformers 2 (i wasted enough of my time watching the first one). if anything looks too childish or unbelievable, or based on a stupid book, i wont watch it.

anyways, i just love movies, and feel like i have a pretty good grasp on if they are awful or not. (dont ask juji though, because he will bring up movies i like such as "failure to launch" or "sex and the city" and then will say i have movie faults). i hope you enjoy my reviews, and i like feedback so feel free to leave comments.

some of my favorite movies are: best in show, baby mama, gran torino, slumdog millionaire, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, misery, the river wild, changeling, dark knight, and many more

favorite actresses: zooey deschanel, britney murphy, sarah jessica parker, kathy bates, tina fey, amy poehler, lisa kudrow, jennifer anniston, kate winslet, meryl streep

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reviewer spotlight

So here's the deal, I like movies. They can be fun, scary, entertaining, and exciting all at the same time. Here's the issue: They can also be boring and awful. I am NOT one of those people who just thinks movies are to be enjoyed for "entertainment value." What does that even mean? No, I expect more from my movies. That's why I consider myself an amateur critic.

No matter what genre of movie your watching, there are some things to look for that can tell you if it's a good movie or not. Acting, plot, believability, dialogue, character development...ect. It goes on an on. However, some genres can be weak in some of these categories and still be considered good in my book. For example: in some comedies, a story may be somewhat unbelievable and still be okay. You wouldn't fall for those awful costumes in White Chicks, but that movie is nonetheless hilarious.

The point is, for me to like a movie, it has to make sense, have a great story, and be told well. For this reason, you may notice that I don't really like action movies all that much. Especially when summertime comes around and all the big production companies start churning out their usual blockbuster disasters, which are generally lapped up by the public. I'm more into thrillers, dramas, suspense, and comedies.

So enjoy my movie reviews. If you disagree with any of my reviews, great. I like to hear others opinions, and then quickly explain why they're wrong. :) The end

Favorite movies: Slumdog Millionaire, Misery, Changeling, Best in Show, Clue, Gran Torino.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Double Jeopardy

This ain't the game show....Double Jeopardy stars Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones in a suspense/thriller from the 90's. Libby (Judd) is accused and convicted of murdering her husband on a boating trip. She loses her son and is quickly whisked off to jail. The trouble is, she has been framed by her husband. Thanks to the "Double Jeopardy Law", she can't be tried for the same crime twice. Once she gets out of jail on probation, killing her husband for real is no longer a crime. The movie follows her attempt to find her son and bring justice to her husband.

Okay, sorry that synopsis was only so-so, but I'm so ready for the analysis I can hardly stand it. There are many different problems with this movie, it's hard to know where to begin. First off, we are never told a motive as to why her husband framed her in the first place. He gets with another woman for a while, but then we discover later that she's been killed under questionable circumstances herself. (It is implied that he kills her a few years later).

And another problem: In the attempt to find her son and husband, Libby commits numerous crimes herself, including breaking her probation, destruction of property, resisting arrest, theft, assault, vandalism, breaking and entering, etc. After all this, I'm supposed to feel sorry for this woman? Hardly. This movie has a promising story, but something is just off. Judd is somewhat convincing, but Jones, playing her probation officer, merely takes up space. While extremely rude to her at first, he somehow begins to believe her "I'm innocent" story only AFTER she's wrecked his car, stolen his gun, and bashed him on the head.....righttt.....and by the way, when they finally do find her husband, who has since changed his name, wouldn't just providing a picture of him prove he is who she says he is? That would be too easy.

And as I predicted halfway through the movie, by the end, Libby is "cleared of all charges". Ummmm, hello?, remember all the other crimes mentioned above? That scene made me roll my eyes almost as much as the cheesy scene where Libby is finally reunited with her son. ( the one where he's playing soccer and seems un-phased by the fact that his dad has been shot and killed) I'm sorry, I just gave away the ending AND vomited a little bit. This movie left me annoyed and only slightly entertained.


Movies Movies Movies

Got a movie in mind that you would like reviewed? Leave a comment and it just might end up on this blog. Got your own opinion on us with a guest review. We're up for other opinions....of course if we disagree, we'll let you know.

A Perfect Getaway

In this movie, a newly married couple goes to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They set out to go backpacking on a major trail on one of the islands, and while they are on their journey they find out that a newlywed couple just got murdered the island over while on their honeymoon. While wary about the news, they decide to press on with their honeymoon plans.

They meet up with some interesting characters, including an ex-special ops guy and his girlfriend--Niko and Gina. Both couples are going the same way, and decide to travel together. Niko and Gina prove to be interesting characters, who kill and clean a goat, carry dangerous weapons, and seem to possibly have a few screws loose.

While they are worried that their fellow travelers may be the murderers, they see a young couple (who were seen earlier in the movie and seemed shady) get arrested, with evidence found in their bags. All is fine and dandy then, as they enjoy the rest of their vacation together with their new friends knowing that they aren't the murderers.

Most of the action occurs in the last 15 minutes of the movie, which is slightly annoying on the movies part but oh well.. A twist in the plot leaves you with an unexpected ending, which really makes the movie.

This film is just ok in our opinions. Although the twist is crazy, it may become quite apparent to you while watching it. Josh figured it out within the first twenty minutes (although I said he got helped because he knew their was a cuckoo twist...). A lot of the movie may seem slightly boring, until the end. Because really you just watch them hike and camp a lot. It's interesting to see the fishy relationships between all the characters though.

The grade: C/C+

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Guest Review By: Vegafoo

Transformers 2 is trainwreck...but perhaps i'm judging it incorrectly, bc i was judging it as a movie. Perhaps i should have been judging it as a test to see if you were a 13 year old with mental retardation. What, not sure if you're a 13 year old with mental retardation? heres a simple test. Watch the following scenes from the movie:
2 dogs humping, a different shot of the 2 dogs humping, a small robot humping a robots leg, the same 2 dogs now humping in a different location, a giant robot with balls.
If any of those scenes made you legitimately laugh, you are a 13 year old with mental retardation. If so, congratulations, I found the movie for you.

Also, for all of you racists/sexists out there who have been disturbed by the lack of prejudice in recent giant robot movies, you are in luck. There's plenty racial profiling, bigotry, and female degradation to meet your needs. Just ask the stereotypical black robots, neckbone and cheesegrits. (The names may be a little off, but that doesn't really matter does it?)

Let me give credit where credit is due: Director Michael Bay did make the tough discision to film the entire movie without an actual plot. It was a bold move, but then again, Bay is a bold man. Wait, is bold the right word? Serioulsy though, even as a pure mindless action film, it also exceeds at failing miserably. The CGI is impressive. Who knew that with the technology we have today, futuristic robots can actually be made to look like piles of metal vomit, only distinguishable from one another by bumblebee's yellow color and Optimus' red.

In conclusion, here's a list of things I would rather do than watch this movie again:
-Watch every movie Lindsay Lohan has ever made
-Read the Twilight Series
-Have a cavity filled by the new dentist, Lindsay Lohan
-Come in contact with Lindsay Lohan in any way

No no no, don't stop reading this review. You will sit here and read the funny things I would rather do than watch this movie!!!...

for those of you smart enough to avoid this tragedy, here is the cliff notes version:

the end