23 January, 2009

"Changeling" Film Review

It’s no wonder why Changeling received great reviews when it premiered in the 61st Cannes Film Festival early last year in May.

Changeling is a period drama film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood in 2008. The film is written by J. Michael Straczynski, and stars Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Gattlin Griffith, Jason Butler Harner, and Amy Ryan.
(May Contain Spoilers)

The story of Changeling itself, which is based on true events, is truly compelling on its own. The actors’ performances only add another level of depth to the film. Angelina Jolie deserves every letter of praise she gets. She performed with endless grace and poise truly reminiscent of a lady in the 20’s era. Jolie managed to convey an innate strength and earnest tenacity to her character, even when she was nose to nose with a psychopathic killer, was thrown into an insane asylum, and was verbally manipulated by a man who was supposed to protect her. Jason Butler Harner as Gordon Northcott was amazing. Normally, that type of bumbling clumsiness would get on my nerves, but Harner delivers an eerily pathetic plight to his psychotic character that makes you want to slap him in both fury and pity. John Malkovich, as usual, is enigmatic yet magnetic. Jeffrey Donovan as J.J. Jones, the police captain, is every bit the charming snake that we all love to hate, and hate even more because his clean cut prestige is completely wasted by his lack of a heart and soul.

One of the best scenes I loved in the Changeling film was in the first few minutes wherein we get to see the relationship between Angelina Jolie’s character Christine Collins, and her son Gattlin Griffith’s character, Walter. Christine and Walter exhibit a quietly intense dependence on each other. One of the little details that clearly show this love is when Christine and Walter were on the bus. The bus stops at Walter’s school, and as he leaves the bus to enter the school, Christine escorts him off the bus, affectionately ruffles his head, and returns to the bus again to continue her journey. It was completely illogical because she could have just said her goodbyes without having to get out of the bus, but it was also the obsessive fussing that clearly shows a mother’s instinctual love, the need to be as close to your child as long as possible even if it’s just a mere few steps. Another one of the best scenes I loved, of course, is the court scene wherein the Captain and Police Chief totally got what they deserved, I also loved the part where Christine confronted Gordon Northcott before the day of his execution, it was intense, disturbing, and goosebumps worthy.

The detailed arrangement of the whole set to emulate the 20’s ambiance and design was absolutely riveting, everything was so perfectly coifed and pressed to a believable 20’s era casual glamour. The music was also great, very in tuned with the emotion of the scene. Overall, Changeling delivers a heavy story with a heavy message, and it does so without making the audience faint with the heaviness.

Changeling is as much about a missing child and his mother’s desperate attempt to find him, as it is about the shameless corruption of people in power, and the constant demeaning of women. A film that wraps itself around all of these issues, and successfully tackles each one and does even more, deserves an extra kudos. And I’ll leave that extra one to the Oscars.

And remember folks, a mother’s love always wins.

Christine Collins: "He's not my son."
Capt. J.J. Jones: "Mrs. Collins..."
Christine Collins: "No, I don't know why he's saying that he is, but he's not Walter and there's been a mistake."
Capt. J.J. Jones: "I thought we agreed to give him time to adjust."
Christine Collins: "He's three inches shorter; I measured him on the chart."
Capt. J.J. Jones: "Well, maybe your measurements are off. Look, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for all of this."
Christine Collins: "He's circumcised and Walter isn't."
Capt. J.J. Jones: "Mrs. Collins, your son was missing for five months, for at least part of that time in the company of an unidentified drifter. Who knows what such a disturbed individual might have done. He could have had him circumcised. He could have..."
Christine Collins: "...made him shorter?"

19 January, 2009

"The House Bunny" Film Review

This movie was pure chick flick fun. No more, no less.

The House Bunny
is a romantic comedy directed by Fred Wolf in 2008. Co-produced by Adam Sandler, Anna Faris and others, and written by Legally Blonde writers, Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz. The film stars Anna Faris, Kat Dennings, Emma Stone, Rumer Willis, Katharine McPhee, and others.

I know that this is a typical comedy chick flick, complete with fashion montages, the make-over, boys who “like girls for who they are,” the heroine fighting with her frenemies, the heroine fighting with her friends, the heroine being friends with her friends again, really cheesy speeches in front of a bunch of uptight people, and those uptight people eventually being won over by the cheesy speech. Basically, just add Hugh Hefner and a sorority angle to the mix and you get the House Bunny. Still, having ranted about the predictability of this chick flick, I really actually enjoyed this film.

Anna Faris’ facial expressions are pure win. Her comedic timing, presence, and her courage and eagerness to let herself look and act absolutely stupid deserves much, much kudos. I first noticed Anna Faris in the movie “Just Friends” with Ryan Reynolds, and after seeing her in the “toothpaste scene,” and hearing her squeak out her Britney Spears-like voice had me belly laugh out loud. Now, every time I hear her exorcist-like expression in this film, I can’t help but chortle. Faris however, isn’t the only star in this movie, it also includes a surprisingly funny and charming band of misfits. Kat Dennings as the sarcastic Mona is a scene stealer, her snarky quips are quick and unapologetic. Emma Stone as the jolly and optimistic Natalie was another pleasant surprise. Of course, Katharine McPhee and Rumer Willis were both dedicated and charming in their roles as well. Also, I sat up in attention every time Tyson Ritter (of All-American Rejects) was on screen.

The House Bunny is admittedly funnier than your average, run of the mill, typical comedy chick flick. Anna Faris is an exceptional female comedienne, and I hope we see more of her soon. There are too few funny women on the big screen nowadays. Another thing that makes the movie so charming is the way everyone seems to be having genuine fun with their characters. I would have loved to see the outtakes in this film. The music was great and the look was good. Although I'm still a little confused why Kat Dennings’ character looked worse after “the make over,” but over all, everyone was as gorgeous as we expected them to be.

I can’t really say anything negative about this movie, because expecting too much out of a movie like this is just plain stupid. You can’t really expect a ground-breaking, life-changing message from a film called House Bunny, can you? The House Bunny does what we all expect it to do, deliver the modern-fashioned entertainment that we all reluctantly love/like/tolerate? Still, I really, really, hope, pray, wish, and f*cking expect sometime soon, that someone in the movie world will figure out a way to empower women with methods that do not involve getting their hair done and having lessons on how to put on make-up and act like a ho.

By the way, the fact that Anna Faris’ character realized how to be true to herself thanks to an allergic reaction to erythromycin automatically gives this film an extra kudos.

Shelley: "My allergic reaction made me feel beautiful."

15 January, 2009

"Saw V" Film Review

92 minutes of my young life, dirtied and wasted.

Saw V is horror film directed by David Hackl in 2008. This is the fifth movie in the Saw franchise. It stars Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, and Betsy Russell.

My friends and I watched Saw V on a whim, because we wanted to be entertained. Well, wrong move. Most of my friends slept through the parts where the two detectives were playing their boring little game of cat and mouse. Saw V didn’t seem like a movie at all, it was barely even an attempt at horror or thrill, and could have just as easily been a 92 minute deleted scene. Not even Tobin Bell’s chilling performance as the psychopathic life coach, Jonathan Kramer (aka The Jigsaw Killer), could save this ridiculous half-assed movie. Sure, the puzzles were as disgusting and unthinkable as they ever were and the victims were as annoying and stupid as we hoped they wouldn’t be, but the whole scenario is pointless and totally unrelated to anything that was happening in the “main story.” And the main story, is a complete waste of time. The audience already knew (since the previous film actually) who the new Jigsaw killer was, so there was no suspense at all. The attempt in making the apprentice killer appear like a tortured hero out for revenge against the true evils of the world, is quite simply, lame. Not only that, the casting was a poor choice as well, or maybe it was the stylist’s fault, because my friends had a little trouble discerning which detective was which since they looked a lot alike. The dark lighting and environment didn’t help at all.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I expected a Saw movie to satisfy my craving for some entertainment. To be fair though, I admit that I was a little entertained by Saw V, after all, I couldn't help but quietly chuckle every so often by its pure awfulness. I mean sure, the first Saw film was unlike any slasher/horror flick I’ve ever seen, and it was genius-like in its numerous twists. However, the succeeding films only serve to exploit the disturbing human curiosity for morbidity and gore. Saw V is proof that the franchise is getting worse and that nobody really cares as long as they get their fix of torture porn.

Wrong move, man. So wrong.

Jigsaw: “Vengeance can change a person. It can make them realize what they’re capable of.”

12 January, 2009

66th Golden Globes Results

I absolutely don't think that the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, nor any other prestigious awards are the end all and be all or the creme de la creme of entertainment. I mean, sure, sometimes they get it right, but sometimes they're so wrong it's bordering on offending (coughemmyscough). This year, the 66th Golden Globe Awards get it right in the middle, not too disappointing, but not totally euphoric about it either.

One thing for sure, it is very apparent that some very deserving actors/films/directors got snubbed, most of the awards were swept by the underdog film, Slumdog Millionaire. Although I am pleased by the fact that Heath Ledger won best supporting actor. Some may argue that his death contributed to the hype, but who cares? His outstanding performance more than served up to the hype, and he more than deserves the Golden Globe award. I'm also really happy that Wall-E won best animated film, I would have been infinitely outraged if it didn't. Surprisingly, the prestige studded project Doubt didn't win anything, I would have bet before that Doubt would sweep the Golden Globes, but thankfully I didn't. Another awesome thing? 30 Rock swept the awards on the television categories.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
*Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Revolutionary Road

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
*Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas – I've Loved You So Long

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
*Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road

Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
*Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Burn After Reading

In Bruges
Mamma Mia!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
*Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Rebecca Hall – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Frances McDormand – Burn After Reading
Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!
Emma Thompson – Last Chance Harvey

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
*Colin Farrell – In Bruges
Javier Bardem – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
James Franco – Pineapple Express
Brendan Gleeson – In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman – Last Chance Harvey

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
*Kate Winslet – The Reader
Amy Adams – Doubt
Penélope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
*Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes – The Duchess
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt

Best Animated Feature Film
Kung Fu Panda

Best Foreign Language Film
Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

Best Director - Motion Picture
Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Slumdog Millionaire - Written by Simon Beaufoy

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Slumdog Millionaire - Composed by A. R. Rahman

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"The Wrestler" – The Wrestler -Music & Lyrics By: Bruce Springsteen

Best Television Series - Drama
Mad Men (AMC)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Anna Paquin – True Blood (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Gabriel Byrne – In Treatment (HBO)

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
30 Rock (NBC)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Tina Fey – 30 Rock (NBC)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock (NBC)

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
John Adams - (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Laura Linney – John Adams (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Paul Giamatti – John Adams (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Laura Dern – Recount (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Tom Wilkinson – John Adams (HBO)

08 January, 2009

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Film Review

Tip before watching this film: Go pee.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film very loosely on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1921. David Fincher directed the film, and Eric Roth wrote the screenplay. The film stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond, Tilda Swinton, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Jared Harris, and Jason Flemyng.

Watching this movie is a daunting task, simply because of the length of it, almost a whopping three hours. However, once it starts, you can’t take your eyes off the screen, every flinch in Benjamin Button’s face is as curiously intriguing as the next. The whole movie is visually amazing, the gradual progress of time from the glamorous 20’s era to the hectic years after the turn of the millennium are perfectly subconscious. The flow of the whole movie is smooth and befitting in the tale that it spins. Every character has a memorable moment, and they affect the audience almost as much as they affect Benjamin Button himself. I was tremendously flabbergasted by how they created Benjamin Button on screen during his younger (older) years. I just couldn’t fathom how this tiny little creature with Brad Pitt’s unmistakable face is moving around realistically in sync with the environment. My friends and I figured that there was some CGI involved, but it was so flawless that you could barely recognize what was Pitt’s real flesh, and what was CGI.

The performances definitely deliver to the mass expectations, but I was more impressed with Cate Blanchett’s acting, especially during her character’s younger years. She had an endless grace, and a mesmerizing presence. Not to mention, she was absolutely gorgeous. Brad Pitt is the crème de la crème of the top male leads, and we finally get hard proof that he is not just another pretty face. However, I was more impressed with his presence when his character was younger (older), I preferred the childlike wonder in his eyes and manner, rather than the stoicism of his later presence reminiscent of Brad Pitt’s character in Meet Joe Black. I was also pleasantly surprised that there were some clever comedic moments, especially when the scene included Taraji P. Henson who played Benjamin Button’s foster mother Queenie.

Even though the movie brings two of the most respected stars in the industry, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is so much more than just seeing Brad Pitt as an old guy. The story is even more compelling than the picturesque scene it entails. The adventurous journey of Benjamin Button through love, life, and loneliness is like a warm balm to the heart, something that we all need especially in these times of coldness. The theme of the film isn’t arguably new, most of the messages are already something we’ve heard somewhere before, and there aren’t really any immensely melodramatic plot twists. Instead of a thrilling roller coaster ride with high heights and g-force pushing lows, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is akin to a long, slow, satisfying massage. Like a childhood lullaby that gives you dreams even while you’re awake. Like a lovely fairy tale that you keep wanting to hear again and again.

Benjamin Button: "For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit... start whenever you want... you can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

06 January, 2009

The January Trail

A new year comes with a new batch of movie trailers. I really can't help but be optimistic with the turn out of films this year. Now, onto the trailers!

Seems like a Heroes rip-off, but it seems really interesting nonetheless. And, the pretty people are always a plus. I sat through Cellular for Chris Evans, and I sure as hell would sit through this action packed treat for him too.
Opens February 6, 2009.

OMG! It's the Little Big Planet movie! It even has the same old British narrator! Okay, not really, but almost! Another masterpiece from Tim Burton.
Opens September 9, 2009.

Monsters vs. Aliens
Dreamworks Animations finally got tired of green ogres and is back to give us another hilarious and star-studded animated film.
Opens March 27, 2009.

The Unborn
Okay, if a creepy kid I'm babysitting broke a glass against my head and tried to blame it on the "unborn," I'd dunk his head in the toilet and tell his mom that her son has womb envy. Just sayin. Btw, this is one creepy trailer, and if the movie is even half as creepy as its trailer, then it has succeeded in being a good horror film. I can't even watch the trailer twice.
Opens January 9, 2009.

And remember folks, don't judge a movie by its trailer!

05 January, 2009

"Tropic Thunder" Film Review

Tropic Thunder was said to be the funniest film of the year. I’d have to agree.

Tropic Thunder is a 2008 comedy action film directed, produced, starred, and co-written by Ben Stiller. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Tom Cruise, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Danny McBride, Steve Coogan, and other several cameos from various actors.

Ben Stiller is a genius. The plot twists are all predictable comedic camp, but to be honest, who would watch this film for the oh-so significant plot? The fun in watching Tropic Thunder is the fact that it’s absolutely and shamelessly mindless, in a good way of course. The satire is quick and relentless, and the attack on typical actor melodramas are every bit as entertaining as it could be. Although there are some parts that call for those pity laughs, wherein you’re forced to smile at the desperate attempts at humor, but they’re easily overwhelmed by the good parts. Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, a white method actor portraying a black war veteran, is brilliant. His shift from an Australian slang to a stereotypical jive lingo is seamless. Surprisingly enough, I was pleased with Jack Black’s part in this movie. Maybe it’s because his character was constantly suffering, and I couldn’t help but chuckle whenever he was writhing in pain. Ben Stiller’s character, Tugg Speedman, loves pandas above all else, and therefore he is awesome. Tom Cruise was a great surprise, and he was intensely devoted to his foul-mouthed character.

Overall Tropic Thunder delivers to the hype it generated. The movie is funny even before it starts, and even up until after it finishes, you can’t help but still watch. Of course, Tropic Thunder isn’t perfect, some awkward overacting are apparent, and I would have preferred it if there was a representation of the other half of the world in the movie, i.e. women. Still, Tropic Thunder is one of the best comedies around, infinitely better than other pathetic satirical films, like the Scary Movie series and its spin-offs. And even if it’s not your type of comedy, it’s still a pretty good action film.

Tugg Speedman: "There were times while I was playing Jack where I felt... retarded. Like, really retarded."
Kirk Lazarus: "Damn!"
Tugg Speedman: "In a weird way I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that is was ok to be stupid or dumb."

01 January, 2009

Some New Movies for a New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

2009 is finally here, and we’ve got a whole lotta awesome movies to look forward to. Of course, some movies may bring the hype but fail to deliver the substance, still, it’s another batch of momentous films that aim to bring pure entertainment to its audience.

Here is the eclectic list of the top movies that Impromptu Audience is looking forward to this year.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
I’ve said countless times before that I’m a junkie for quality vampire flicks, so this is a no brainer. And, I happen to love the previous Underworld films.
Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos. Stars: Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra, and Bill Nighy. Opens January 23, 2009.

Friday the 13th
Simply because I want to murder this movie. Call it my inner Jason Voorhees.
Directed by Marcus Nispel. Stars: Derek Mears, Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti. Opens February 13, 2009.

Okay, this is NOT a movie, but I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan, and the premise just screams awesomeness. Televisions were invented for shows like this.
Created by Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku. Premieres February 13, 2009.

One of the best graphic novels ever. Awesome superhero movie. Need I say more?
Directed by Zack Snyder. Stars: Patrick Wilson, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman, Stephen McHattie, and Matt Frewer. Opens March 6, 2009.

Sunshine Cleaning
I was charmed by the trailer.
Directed by Christine Jeffs. Stars: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn. Opens March 13, 2009.


Seems fun. That’s a good enough reason, right?
Directed by Greg Mottola. Stars: Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, Martin Starr, Kristen Wiig, Margarita Levieva, Jesse Eisenberg. Opens March 27, 2009.

Fast and Furious
The third direct sequel. Hot cars, hot people, hot action. What’s not to like?
Directed by Justin Lin. Stars: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster. Opens April 3, 2009.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I was so disappointed by the 3rd X-men film, I hope this one can redeem the franchise.
Directed by Gavin Hood. Stars: Hugh Jackman, Live Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch, and Will. I. Am. Opens May 1, 2009.

Angels and Demons
The book, in my opinion, was a way better story than The Da Vinci Code. And The Da Vinci Code movie was an even bigger disappointment than the book. So, this could only get better, right? I mean, just Tom Hank’s hair makes this a better film than the previous one.
Directed by Ron Howard. Stars: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard. Opens May 15, 2009.

Terminator Salvation
Batman is battling the Terminator! Okay, not quite, but still. The special effects alone should be worth paying for.
Directed by McG. Stars: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Common, Jadagrace, and Helena Bonham Carter. Opens May 22, 2009.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Most sequels tend to disappoint, I really hope this isn’t the case for the autobots.
Directed by Michael Bay. Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson. Opens June 26, 2009.

It’s the end of the world! Dun, dun, dun. This better be good!
Directed by Roland Emmerich. Stars: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet. Opens July 10, 2009.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The sixth Harry Potter film, will it be even bigger and better and darker? That’s what they always seem to say, but from what I can see, every movie just seems to get longer. The seventh book will even span two movies!
Directed by David Yates. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint. Opens July 17, 2008.

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
This is just like Transformers, except there are no robot aliens. In short, mindless thrilling action. Awesome.
Directed by Stephen Sommers. Stars: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols. Opens August 7, 2009.

That’s the list so far. It’s pretty obvious that the big-special-effects-action films are bound to be the ones to catch my special attention. I can’t help it, I love the thrill! Of course, there are subtle, quiet gems out there as well that I can’t help but fall for. I guess movies are as unpredictable as its audience.


Happy New Year people!


And don’t forget to watch and learn.