Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cold Cream Manor (2003)

Cold Cream Manor (what? Why are you looking at me like that? Isn't that the name of the movie?) is a 2003 film about a family that flees the city after a terrifying experience, only to move into the boondocks in a small town, where they find out that small towns can be even more terrifying in their own ways (which I or anyone else who's ever lived in a small town could have told them without them having to move if they'd ever bothered to ask). The movie is definitely not as bad as everyone says it is. I expected the worst movie ever made from the pissy, whiny reviews everyone gave it after it came out, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got around to watching it. The biggest problem is that it was marketed as a horror movie and it's not even close. Don't mess with horror fans like that. Don't lie to us to lure us into the theater under false pretenses, thinking we'll appreciate the artistic merit of your movie once we get over the non-horrorness of it. We never get over anything. We die in the grip of a terrible rage and crawl out from under the covers on your bed and drag your ass to hell if you piss us off.

There are NO ghosts in this movie (not even half-assed "oh there are some strange events and we'll never know if they were really ghostly or not" kind of ghosts, there's nothing supernatural at ALL in the movie, contrary to how it was marketed, and that probably pissed a lot of people off). There's some creepy and unexplained stuff going on with the young son of the family in the movie, and I thought that they were going to try and make it into a supernatural kind of subplot, but it never happened (maybe they meant to do that and just forgot, I dunno, the filmmakers were really busy doing other stuff while shooting the film...) There is also a lot of everyday human evil in this movie. I mean, the scariest thing about the movie is the theme music they played for every "scary" scene, which sounds like they produced it by throwing a piano down a flight of stairs and recording the noise it made (you think I'm joking. Just watch it and see) but some of the townspeople in this movie are pretty fucking creepy. Dude, don't fuck with redneck hicks...we'll kill you and stash your body where no one will ever find it, even if it's a common place that every damn person in the town knows about, they'll be too lazy to ever look there once you disappear, so we'll totally get away with your murder (if it weren't for those meddling kids...)

Ok, I'll stop mocking the movie now. It seriously wasn't as bad as I'm making fun of it to be. I enjoyed all 600 hours of it (seriously, why did it have to be this goddamn long?) and even though the mother and father of the family who move into the old house are really two of the dumbest movie characters I've ever encountered (and that's saying something coming from a person who regularly views films with such titles as "A Night to Dismember" and "Avia: Vampire Hunter") I still rooted for them to win in the end...if only they could stop fighting about stupid shit long enough to actually investigate the mysterious house they bought without checking the grounds first (and then they merrily send their kids off to play in unexplored woods that could contain bears or wolves or a rusty junkyard full of deadly sharp shit for all they fucking know, since they didn't bother to even ASK what was in the woods before they let their kids run free there). Actually, if they'd have bothered to talk to their damn kids, that would have solved the "big mystery" of the movie in the first fifteen minutes. Ahem. Yeah, it's really not as bad as people said it would be, but don't go in expecting too much, either, or you might hunt me down and stab me in the face for recommending you watch it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Woman in Black (2012)

This movie scared the crap out of me. Seriously. I have read this play back when I was in college, but that was about 10 years ago now (I'm very, very old) so I vaguely remembered some creepy monologues about seeing a ghost at a creepy old house, but that's about it, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into, what with Harry Potter playing the lead and all (just kidding Daniel Radcliffe, you did a good job in this movie) but I enjoy ghost movies (where by "enjoy" I mean weep in terror at) so I decided to give it a whirl.

First of all, the opening sequence in this movie is great, and it's disturbing and creepy and sad even without any gore (PG-13 and all). I'm actually impressed the filmmakers were willing to show as much of what they did in this movie, since seeing little kids doing some of what they do in this movie might cause a lot of controversy. For me, it just added to the aura of sadness and depression that shrouded the whole film. I felt for the poor guy who was the lead character, trying to do his job in spite of a lot of sadness and harsh difficulties in his life, and I kind of wanted to stab his boss in the face for sending him off to handle the estate of a dead woman who lived in a creepy old house that might be cursed. Hasn't he suffered enough?

The ghost effects and the jump scares might be tedious for some, but they always work on me, and the movie has such a sad story aside from all the special effects that it kept me engaged enough to jump every time. If I die of a heart attack upon subsequent viewings of this movie, I'm going to haunt the filmmakers. The plot gets a tad repetitive, since the movie conveniently sends in a crazy old woman to helpfully give us the backstory about an hour from the end of the movie, but if anyone hasn't figured out what's going on by that time, I'd be surprised. Also the lead character's harebrained scheme to try and stop the ghost is ridiculously dangerous and not likely to work. Hasn't he ever watched a horror movie before? Dude. I thought of three better plans on my own while sitting on my couch watching the movie. He sucks at this stuff. But aside from those little minor quibbles, this movie was creepy, atmospheric, and chilling, and I enjoyed it very much (I say that until I'm trying to go to sleep later and I cower in bed listening for ghosts in the house).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Footloose (1984) vs. Footloose (2011)


Ok, here's the thing. I admit to having a strong emotional attachment to the original movie "Footloose." Even though I wasn't allowed to watch it as a kid, I managed to catch parts of it, and it helped shape my love of dancing and movies featuring dancing as a major plotline, so it's near and dear to my heart. I'd managed to see parts of it over the years but never got around to watching the whole thing all the way through, so I was excited to get a chance to sit down and watch it today from beginning to end.

I'll admit, the movie is a bit dated, with the hairstyles and clothing sometimes getting a bit on the ridiculous side, and it's funny seeing the cast so young (hello John had a lot more hair once upon a time!) but the core of the movie, teenagers who want to dance and live their lives and have fun versus adults who want to keep their kids safe by sheltering them from the world, holding too tightly until the kids rebel and push back. The movie also has a lot to say about grief, how each of us handles grief differently, how it can manifest in our daily lives, how ignoring our grief and trying to hide it and calling that "moving on" doesn't really work, how families can fall apart if they won't communicate with each other. It's surprisingly deep for a movie about kids who just want to dance and have fun, and I admit that it had me in tears at more than one point, finally getting to see how those parts I'd seen over the years fit together into a complete story of different people trying to do their best to do what they think is right.

So then after watching the first movie, I immediately started the second one, and even as I did so, I knew it was kind of unfair. I would be comparing the two right from the very start, pointing out all the ways in which the remake falls short of interpreting the story I knew and loved. I admit to coming into the remake with a huge chip on my shoulder and expecting to hate it. I was irritated, rolling my eyes and making fun of the movie right from the start, until somewhere about halfway through when I got distracted enough to sit and actually pay attention to the movie, and that's when I realized I wasn't really being fair to the movie. It was going to have its flaws (and it DOES have them) and it was going to screw some things up, but it seemed to actually be trying to do a good job telling a story, so I decided to give it a chance, and I'm glad I did. While I still think the original is the better of the two films, I'm shocked as shit to say that I actually enjoyed the remake, too, and to find that there are some aspects of the remake that I like even better than those in the original (never thought I'd ever type THOSE words, believe me).

I think that the original movie handles the backstory better than the remake. In the original, a teenage boy moves into a small town where there is a city ordinance against dancing in public, and the town seems to be under the control of the local reverend, and we're not really sure why the whole town is so opposed to dancing in the first place. As the movie progresses, we learn the reasons behind the reverend's hatred of dancing, and his actions start to make a bit more sense in context (or at least become more sympathetic). In the remake, the filmmakers thought we were too stupid to pick up on the subtlety of the message, so they show us the backstory right away, and while it's shocking and impacting, it's weaker from a narrative standpoint because it shows us the motives before we get to see the resulting actions. I have to say, though, that in the remake, the characters are a bit more likable. The teenage rebel from out of town is given a stronger reason for his rebellious attitude, and the family he stays with in town actually seem to like him and want him to succeed (in the original movie they snipe at him and put him down at every turn, and we wonder why the hell they took him in if that was their plan all along...doing the "right thing" doesn't seem so right if you piss and moan and only do it because you think God will be pissed if you don't). The reverend's daughter is initially more unlikable in the remake, but she is given a strong motive for being so, and she has a clearer transformation for me in the remake than in the original. I still love the original and Lori Singer did a great job, but Julianne Hough kicked major ass in this role, especially considering that she wasn't a seasoned actress and I initially doubted that she'd be able to do the part justice. I was glad to be proven wrong.

The remake makes the lasting affects of the tragedy more significant by giving us a better picture of how the events of the past have damaged the townspeople and the reverend's family in particular. Aside from the clumsiness of having the backstory shoved in our faces right from the start, the scenes showing how a shadow of grief hangs over the high school were well played in the remake, while the original handled several key scenes (the tractor "let's play chicken" scene in particular) that the remake kind of mucks up. Something we didn't notice in the first movie was also made more evident when the remake had been on for about ten minutes and my friend turned to me and said "...did you notice there were no black people in the original?" It's sad that my privilege was such that I didn't even notice this when I saw the original, but it's kind of embarrassing to note, and it's heartening to say that the remake has a much more diverse cast (and I don't mean there's one token black guy, or the "sassy black girl" trope or whatever, several key roles are played by people of color who just happen to be regular characters in the movie just doing their thing and helping tell the story, and the movie is better for it). The remake is also more diverse in its soundtrack. The original had a bit too much synthesizer going on, and the remake has rock, metal, country, hip-hop, blues, and other musical genres mixed throughout its soundtrack, making the movie stronger musically as well, because there's something for everyone to listen to here, which I really appreciated.

The speech at the climax of the film is handled well in both movies, but here I think the point goes to the original, because the remake is a bit clumsy and awkward, while Kevin Bacon just owns his monologue in the original film. That said, the dance at the very end is better in the remake than in the original, I think, though the final fight scene is somewhat better in the original (I have to give credit to the remake, though, for making the women more than arm candy damsels in distress...they get to kick some ass, too). Overall, I'd say that while I give props to the original and like I said, I consider it to be the better of the two films, the remake ends up being well worth checking out, and I will be proud to buy both and display them on my shelves, and every time I see them, I'll remember that nothing can replace the classics, but that there's also power in retelling a familiar story in some new and exciting ways.

Dream House (2011)

k, so here's the deal with this movie. It came out around the Fall of 2011, and I wanted to see it (as it had a great cast and what appeared to be a haunted-house type plot). then it came out and everyone hated it, so that dampened my spirits a little, but I still wanted to give it a chance. Then a few months ago some numbnuts at a major retail website allowed an official studio summary of the movie in its description on the website to reveal a major plot twist that happens about halfway through the movie, and I read it and was PISSED. I mean FURIOUS. I've been told that the movie's trailer gives away this twist (dipshits who make movie trailers nowadays anyway) but I avoided the movie's trailer for just this reason, to avoid spoilers, so I was infuriated that I had the movie spoiled for me, even if other twists happen after the big one that was revealed. So I pretty much didn't care about seeing this movie anymore, but it was always in the back of my mind that I liked the cast, liked the sound of the movie, and maybe wanted to give it a chance anyway, even if it ended up sucking (or ended up being good but still being a sucky experience because the twist was ruined for me). So I finally got around to watching it a few days ago and wasn't sure what to expect.

At first, the movie really annoyed me. Honestly. I kept trying to figure out if I would have guessed the twist if it hadn't been spoiled for me. ultimately, I think I probably would have guessed it, or at least suspected it, because I've seen a lot of movies so I'm fairly good at figuring these things out by now) and that distracted me. Further, since I knew something big that was going to happen, I wasn't very nice to the main character Will (played by Daniel Craig) because I was annoyed with everything he said and did and how freaking long it took him to figure out that something weird was going on (seriously dude, slugs have a shorter learning curve). Once the BIG TWIST OF DOOM happens, then I was confused about why the movie was still on and whether everything was going to be explained or if the movie was going to be one of those movies that leaves us hanging and pretends to be "artistic" by "leaving the ending up to our imagination" when really it is being "lazy" by "not bothering to film a conclusion."

At some point, while I was sitting on the edge of my seat, shouting obscenities at the movie screen in annoyance, wondering what was going to happen, I realized that the movie had my attention and had me hooked and thrilled, so I was really enjoying myself in spite of having a big plot twist spoiled for me, and that made me happy because I really enjoy watching movies when I can get involved in them like that. the cast really is good in this movie. Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts and even the actors in smaller parts all go above and beyond to make their roles compelling, and the story does actually conclude, and it does feature some action that makes the viewing experience worthwhile, even though I was really annoyed for about the first hour of the movie. In conclusion, I really liked this movie, and spoilers aside, it was worth checking out.

The Reef

Hyperbole, thy name is this movie poster. seriously. It makes it look like a giant ass shark the size of a tank appears in this movie, which isn't what happens. Still kind of a cool image, but it sorta detracts from what I see as one of this movie's strengths, which is that it doesn't go for the overkill...after all, when you're floating and vulnerable, even a regular sized shark can be terrifying. and this movie has its terrifying moments. Following a cast of friends who set out on a fun boating trip only to face watery terror as their boat is damaged and they are forced to try and survive in the middle of the ocean with hungry, antisocial sharks all around them. The plot isn't terribly original, but the movie manages to work with what it has and make a familiar story seem engaging even if it seems we've heard it before. The cast is strong, and even though the smartest of these characters still make some boneheaded moves, you root for them and want them to make it. I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, and fans of shark-attack movies should give it a whirl and see if they enjoy it, too.

Contagion (2011)

I'll admit, at first I was prepared to write a really negative spiel about this movie. Here's the thing. The movie bombed, or so it seemed to me, because I didn't hear much positive about it, but I enjoy horror movies and stories about the end of the world (or close calls) so I wanted to check it out anyway, and at first I really enjoyed this movie. The movie had some nasty deaths (not much gore, in deference to the PG-13 rating, but still some icky creepy glimpses of various people shuffling off this mortal coil) and though I had one particular death spoiled for me before I even saw the movie, it was still hard-hitting to see, and I appreciated that this movie wasn't afraid to kill off characters we knew and cared about or didn't expect to see die so horribly. Disease like this, it doesn't care who you are or how much money you have, when it gets you, it gets you gone. All the riches of the Kings end up in wills and all that jazz. for at least the first hour of the movie, I was hooked.

What happened then? I'll be honest with you; I don't really know. It's like the filmmakers got the first half of the movie finished and then they were all like "now what?" so they wandered around filming people basically doing nothing for over and hour and then the movie didn't really END, it just stopped. almost in mid-sentence it seemed. don't get me wrong, by that time I WANTED it to stop, but still. I like my movies to CONCLUDE, not just trail off into nothing and leave me rewinding and fast forwarding to make sure the disc didn't just skip the damn ending. My favorite part was when one of the scientists explains, during the first half of the movie, how the virus must have come about (a bat and a pig got together and made little germy babies somehow) and then at the very end of the movie the filmmakers show us what happened and how the virus got its start...which is exactly what the scientist already told us. So they told us once and then told us again, for those who weren't listening the first time (those who WERE listening the first time got to be really pissed as their intelligence was insulted and their only recourse was to bash a brick through the screen which was highly unsatisfying since the movie had only seconds left so the brick solution didn't shorten the misery any).

I'm still annoyed with how the movie basically wandered around with its finger up its nose for over an hour, wasting precious moments of my life that I will never get back, but having let the movie sit a bit before writing this review, I'm more inclined to see there was some good in that hour of pointlessness. Some cool scenes happened, some interesting threads got resolved I guess, but it was still a big bang opening that fizzled out into a disappointing finish. Matt Damon rocked even in the weaker parts though, and Laurence Fishburne was compelling as always, and Jude Law was great as a skeezy slimy douchebag...and of course the beginning was really strong, so I'd say this movie is worth a watch for fans of such films. Just don't expect too much. Maybe bring a book to read or have some paint handy for the last hour of the film, so you can paint something and watch it dry and compare that with the action onscreen and see which you think is more worth your viewing time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: "Where We Belong" by Emily Giffin

I was ecstatic to receive an advance copy of this book to review, because I really loved Emily Giffin's other two books I read. Well, I LIKED "Something Borrowed" but I did love "Something Blue," the follow up book...something about getting both sides of a story is satisfying. Also, it's not really both SIDES of a story, just two different perspectives, because whatever Giffin's faults may be, she seems to have a good grasp of empathy and why nothing in love and friendship and human relationships is as black and white as we sometimes make it out to be. I definitely loved that aspect of her books, but I have to be honest, I couldn't relate to her characters much. I mean, as a human being with struggles I could relate to them on that level, but I come from a dirt-poor background and somehow seeing a character turn up her nose at earrings from Tiffany's because she didn't like the SHAPE of them kind of made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. That's not to say I don't think that upper class people don't deserve books about their lives and struggles, I do, it's just that I saw Giffin's talent and was hoping that someday she'd try her hand at writing a book with characters I could more easily relate to.

I said all that to say this: Giffin fans rejoice, that day has come! While Marian is definitely affluent and doesn't worry about money, Kirby and her family are decidedly on the lower end of middle-class, and there's a great exchange where Kirby, an 18 year old adoptee who seeks out Marian, her birth mother, in hopes of building some kind of relationship, returns a bunch of expensive clothes that Marian buys her not because she doesn't like the clothes, but because accepting them makes her uncomfortable. It's a great moment in the book. It's clear that Marian doesn't know what to do when the baby she gave up for adoption shows up at her door 18 years later. Marian opted to keep her address current with the adoption agency in case the child wanted to contact her someday, so she knew this day might come, but she's still unprepared for the emotions and awkwardness that happen when Kirby, not a child but a young woman, shows up at her apartment one night. Marian kind of freaks out and does what she's done for a long time when problems have shown up: she tries to solve them with money and avoid any deeper contact because she's unsure of how else to express her feelings. Marian isn't a bad person, she's a flawed person who has everything she SHOULD want in life but isn't sure why she feels something is missing. She's a successful writer for a television show, she has a doting boyfriend who is equally affluent (though he seems unsure about committing to marriage) and Marian doesn't really know if these things are what she wants out of life. As a Natasha Josefowitz poem I once read puts it: "I have this where I was going?"

For Kirby's part, she hasn't really grown up feeling ostracized because she's adopted. Her parents are clearly very loving, in a stable marriage, and they treat their two daughters (one adopted, one not) as equally as any parent can. If Kirby gets treated differently at all it's not because she's adopted, it's because she's very rebellious and difficult to deal with. She doesn't do drugs or party, but she doesn't apply herself in school even though she could ace most classes if she wanted to, and she rebels against her parents' offer to pay to send her to college because she's not sure what she wants to do in life and she doesn't know if college will help her decide that. Furthermore, she purposely pushes back against her parents at every turn, picking fights and throwing the fact that she's adopted in their faces because she knows that it will upset them to hear her say that they look down on her because she's not "really their kid," even though she knows this isn't true. I really think Kirby does this because she's a teenager. Her parents try to support her, but they don't understand that things like her love for music are more important to her than good grades, and that this could be a viable career for her because she has talent. Her parents don't mean to stifle her, they just don't get it, and likewise, Kirby doesn't mean to really hurt her parents, she's just frustrated and confused about her future. Kirby is on the cusp of a huge life change, graduation from high school, and she doesn't know where to go from there, and she takes her frustration and fear out on her parents. She fantasizes about what her birth parents might be like, if that's where she gets her passion for music, if they would understand her better, if finding her "real parents" might help her life make more sense. In other words, she dreams that the grass might be greener on the other side of the hill because she knows the grass on her side so well and she wonders what else is out there.

These characters are vastly different, but when they come together, their interactions teach them both a lot of lessons about love and life and family. there are a lot of twists and turns in the plot here, including a huge secret surrounding her pregnancy that Marian has kept to herself for over 18 years. Finding out what really happened back then, and what needs to happen now, forms the plot of this novel, and it was fascinating. I couldn't put it down, honestly, except when I passed out to sleep with the book in my hands because I was exhausted but wanted to keep reading. I highly recommend that fans of Emily Giffin's other books seek this one out, and even those who haven't read Giffin's work in the past might want to give this one a chance. I had already planned to buy this book when it came out, and getting an advance copy turned out to be a great gift, because I loved this book even more than I thought I would. Bravo, Emily Giffin. You made my day not just as a fan of YOUR books but as a fan of all books.

I saw the two other "ensemble" movies that preceded this one ("He's Just Not That Into You" and "Valentine's Day") and enjoyed them, so I wanted to see this one once it was announced. Of course, everyone HATED and I mean HATED this movie after it came out, and they blathered about how bad it was, and that dampened my enthusiasm a bit, and I decided to wait for the DVD. I put it in with some trepidation, expecting the worst, and I was shocked because I seriously LOVED this movie. I think it FAR surpasses the other two I mentioned and it's superior in almost every way (of course, because I couldn't ever agree with the majority opinion on something like this).

Movies like this are designed to torture me, because they have a HUGE ensemble of known actors in even small roles, so I spend the whole movie going "hey, it's John Lithgow" or "oh cool, Jon Bon Jovi is in this" or what's worse, I spend the whole movie going "Dammit, I KNOW that woman, who the hell is she?" so it's both fun and annoying. Actors aside, the plot of this movie is one that resonates with me. People facing the prospect of a new year, some ready to celebrate, some struggling to make resolutions and keep them, some sick of the whole mess and ready to hide in their bedrooms and hibernate until the whole hoopla blows over. I can actually relate to all three of those positions, because I've been in all of those places (some years I'm in all three at once). I enjoyed watching people try to do their jobs, try to work up the courage to QUIT their jobs, hope for a first kiss, stew over a broken heart, struggle with the fear of death, miss loved ones, fight with loved ones, prepare for the arrival of a new baby, and a slew of other plot threads that slowly started to wind together into a big tapestry. I love it when stories do that. I spend a lot of time being pissed off at humanity and wanting to distance myself from it as much as possible, but movies like this remind me how connected we all are and how our stories intersect, and it's something that gives me hope, which is always nice to see.

I really don't see why people hated this movie so much. Yeah, it's sappy, but so what? Movies like this are sappy, that's what happens, and the trailer promises exactly what this movie delivers, so it's not like people didn't know what they were getting into. Plus I think the cast was better this time around and the stories developed better than in other similar movies. Yeah, some of it is convenient and a little contrived, but it's not THAT bad, and it's not anything you shouldn't have been expecting with the way this movie was marketed. I dug it, and I plan to buy it and maybe watch it this new year's eve and try to remember the good times along with the bad. Any movie that helps me do that is a good movie in my book.

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

I really wanted to see this in theaters, but now that I've seen it, I'm glad I waited for DVD. It wasn't bad by any means, it just wasn't as great as I thought it would be. At one point I even almost turned it off because it threw in a ridiculous plot twist that irritated me, but I got over it, and by the end I really liked it. It always kept me on my toes, that's for sure. at first it introduces a bunch of characters who look like main character material, so I think nothing bad will happen to them, then about 20 minutes in or so, the movie knocks me on my ass and goes in a completely different direction. I appreciated that. I also like how it treated the material as though this is stuff that's really happening to people of the Old West who didn't have TV or newspapers or books or they could turn to when weird stuff started happening to them, so they had to figure out what was going on in a way that seemed believable to me. It's a little too trite at times and the very ending is clumsy and some of the plot holes STRETCH my suspension of disbelief (without giving anything away, the Apache people who are ready to kill the cowboys because they think the cowboys brought the alien destruction on their land - except they don't know it's aliens, so they think it's demons or a curse or something - are a little too eager to drop all that and work WITH the cowboys after something really weird and hokey happens) but all that aside, this movie was fun and I wouldn't mind seeing it again.

The Hangover Part II

People complained a lot about this movie. I thought that the first one was so funny that I wanted to see the second one in theaters, but everyone's pissing and moaning about how bad it was scared me off. I kind of get it, too. It's really hard to do a sequel to a movie that's as successful as the first "Hangover." Everyone's expectations will be so high that almost anything will let them down, and I think people might have forgotten how WEIRD the first movie was in their rush to remember how good it was and how much it made them laugh. The humor even in the first one was very dry and very dark, and the second is even more so, which can be disconcerting when the movie opens and you're remembering all the laughs you had with the original and for the first five minutes it feels like you're watching "Turistas 2" or one of the "Hostel" movies. The characters play everything straight, so the laughs are uncomfortable sometimes...I mean, at one point we're watching three guys ride around in a boat in Bangkok and they're looking for their lost friend and they don't remember what happened to him because they were all drugged the night he disappeared, and one guy is holding a guitar and singing a song about what's happening, and the other characters are commenting on his lyrics like it's a conversation they're having, and it's weird and surreal and disconcerting. It's funny, too, but not the kind of funny you get in most comedies, which I think put people off. There's also the fact that some of the character's actions seem downright creepy and wouldn't be out of place in one of the horror movies I mentioned earlier (I'm looking at YOU, Alan). After I got over that though, I laughed a lot and I think I might even have enjoyed this movie MORE than the first one, which is something I really didn't expect. I'll take it, though.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One for the Money (2012)

I never got very far into this book, but the series spawned 18 sequels and counting, so it must be doing something right, and this movie stars Katherine Heigl, so I decided to give it a chance. It's a fun little movie with some cute romantic scenes and a lot of comedy and a heroine who's not magically good at everything on the first try, so it's a bit of a change there from the standard chick flick fare. I enjoyed myself. My friend insists the book is better and from what she told me, the ending to the book sounds better than the one in the movie, but it was still a fun way to spend two hours.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chronicle (2012)

Holy fucking shit. Wow. I've seen a lot of movies, and not many of them get this reaction from me, trust me. I've been reading comic books all my life, from the time when I was a weak little kid who was abused and picked-on and would have loved to have super powers so I could get revenge on all those who'd hurt me (great reason to want super powers, right? And one of the best arguments AGAINST giving super powers to human beings...we're too selfish and too easily corrupted by power, methinks). So I grew up ( took awhile) and while I've mostly stopped reading comic books, I'm still attracted to their stories and all the reasons why I loved them in the first place, but I'm especially attracted to ones that explore the idea of what it would be like for an ordinary, flawed, fallible human being to obtain super powers. What would happen? Good things? Bad things? Probably a mix of both.

This movie follows an outcast teen (Andrew) who carries a camera around to chronicle the events of his life, and he really only has one friend, his cousin Matt, and one night they go to a party with other teenagers, thus commencing a night of drinking and carousing (from the other teens, since our cameraman mostly hangs around in the shadows watching other people have fun). Late that night, Matt and his friend, Steve, stumble on something in the woods outside the barn that hosts the party, and they convince Andrew to come along with them and film this "cool thing" they have found. The "cool thing," of course, is a mysterious source of some kind of energy that, being teenagers, they get too close to and fool around with until the screen goes blank, and when we pick up with our three friends it is a few weeks later and they have discovered that the mysterious energy source they found has somehow granted them supernatural powers.

The rest of the movie follows the three leads as they discover what they can do with their newfound abilities, and if there's one thing I love most about this movie, it gives us a chance to get to know these characters as their abilities grow, instead of just jumping right into big plot events without giving us a chance to get to know or care about the main characters. The movie shows a progression from "cool, look what I can do!" to "hey, I'm getting stronger and stronger!" to "maybe I'm getting out of control here.." and the transformation is riveting. Not only that, the movie actually tries to give a plausible reason for the main characters to be carrying around a camera to document all that's happening to them, and I appreciated that. I also think this movie is sufficiently creepy that it definitely explores the horror of the situation where irresponsible and immature people, kids still, really, suddenly find themselves in possession of powers that could easily grow beyond their control. I was glued to the screen from start to finish, and this one is definitely recommended.