Monthly Archives: August 2010

Weekend viewing plans?

What’s on your movie-viewing agenda this weekend? Three big openers are up for the top of the box office: Stallone’s Expendables, comic-book extravaganza Scott Pilgrim, and the chick-lit blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love. Which one do you plan to go see? My husband is a big Scott Pilgrim fan, so he’s been excited about the movie for simply ages, but I am less enthusiastic. I find myself somewhat inexplicably drawn to Eat, Pray, Love…maybe I’m just at a particularly “girly” point in my life. All the factors add up, more or less: I love Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem = swoon, but that wouldn’t always get me into the theater. There’s something about the idea of sitting in a cool dark place for a couple of hours, watching pretty people visit pretty places and eat awesome food that just sounds really nice. I dunno. We’ll see what I go with. I do sort of want to see Scott Pilgrim as well, just to maintain my geek cred.

On the home viewing front, Kate Beckinsale’s Emma ships from Netflix today! I’m quite the Jane Austen fan and enjoy watching adaptations, but this one is all about Mark Strong. You should check out my guest post over at Flixchatter (which you should be reading anyway) about this talented character actor … I’m stoked about Emma, because he’s playing A. the romantic lead and B. Not a bad guy!!

Enjoy the weekend … whatever it involves!

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Pros and cons

So, I love Shakespeare. However, The Tempest is a disappointing play. Miranda is such a poor excuse for a Shakespearean heroine! But, I love Helen Mirren. However, I am always really disappointed when people feel the need to change various characters into female ones, just because they can. It never fails to be weird and inaccurate, and just silly, because as I have argued for various other reasons, it’s not like you can’t throw a stick and hit an awesome British actor of any age bracket, really. However, supposedly Julie Taymor does a mean Shakespeare. I haven’t even watched Titus yet, despite it actually being one of my favorite plays. Perhaps I should get on that. Anyway.

The point of all this is to say that the Miramax/Taymor adaptation of The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou, and David Straithairn (among others, and yes, I am ignoring the involvement of Russell Brand), which had been, at one point, indefinitely shelved, now has a release date. And that is December 10. Which means I probably won’t get to see it until much later, as I have a life-altering event planned for December 5th. Sigh.

NYT 1,000 Best Movies

I just found this list, of the New York Times’ “1,000 Best Movies Ever Made”, and I thought it was pretty interesting, so you should check it out! By my count, I’ve seen 143, with a whole slew of others in the old Netflix queue, so maybe I’ll have to revisit in another couple of years or something. Perhaps a new movie-viewing project? We shall see…

(I also feel the need to point out that there are two Russell Crowe movies on that list, although probably not the two you might think. Hee!)

How do you match up?

Review: Charlie Bartlett (2007)

The first thing you need to understand about Charlie Bartlett is that it’s really not doing anything new. It’s your typical teenager coming-of-age story, owing a large debt of gratitude to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (really the entire Hughes oeuvre) and Harold & Maude, among others. Where this one succeeds is in good performances, a lack of any particularly dated cliches (no Diablo Cody-isms here!), and a solid reminder that the kids aren’t the only ones that are screwed up.

Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) is a rich kid, being raised by his eccentric mom (Hope Davis). His dad would appear to be in absentia. As you might expect, this becomes a semi-major plot point later on. Charlie is very bright, but uses his many skills mainly to make himself popular with his peers. This decision has apparently gotten him kicked out of a large number of private schools, most recently for starting up a flourishing fake ID business. Thus, Charlie goes to public school, where he falls in love with the principal’s daughter (Kat Demmings) and achieves popularity by becoming the school shrink; a job title that involves not only dispensing advice to his peers, but also medications for their various problems. He manages this by studying up on his friend’s symptoms and then shamelessly abusing his vast network of therapists, who seem intent on solving all of Charlie’s “problems” with drugs. Meanwhile, the establishment, ineffectually represented by the school principal (Robert Downey, Jr.), tries to maintain control. In the end, Charlie learns that he doesn’t have all the answers, and that perhaps the best way to help others face their problems is to first face one’s own.

See what I mean? It’s a pretty standard plot, really. But the performances carry this one. Yelchin does a truly admirable job of holding up the film on his scrawny young shoulders, alternating worldly wisdom with wide-eyed naivete a la his predecessor, Mr. Bueller. The difference, however, is that Bueller seems to take his high-school popularity for granted, whereas that status is the one burning desire for Bartlett, and one that he learns goes a bit beyond merely supplying high schoolers with fake IDs or Ritalin. Yelchin’s young counterparts, particularly Kat Demmings, Tyler Hilton (as the Morrissey-doppelganger teenaged thug with a sensitive side), and Mark Rendall (as the depressed loner) back up their star wonderfully, portraying the various aspects of teen angst (need for independence from parents, concerns about image/reputation, struggles for relevance) with sensitivity and charm.

The adults of the film, Hope Davis and Robert Downey, Jr., are equally convincing as the deeply-flawed authority figures in Charlie’s life. It will come as no surprise to anyone, I’m sure, that Downey is the stand-out here. His performance is, as usual, layered and magnetic … his character, a history teacher-turned-principal, is struggling to make the leap from educator to administrator, all while dealing with the disintegration of his marriage and the demands of raising a teenaged daughter on his own. His main method of coping appears to be found in a bottle-a detail which I found moving considering Downey’s own past. One could see it as slightly manipulative, perhaps, to use Downey for such a role, but I prefer to see it as daring on his part in that he was willing to address his own issues in order to give depth to his character.

Besides the performances, what I enjoyed about this movie was its freshness and its willingness to approach a fairly typical subject (teenagers) in a way that didn’t try to take itself too seriously. Nor did it make light of the topic. It’s a funny movie, but none of the characters are played purely for laughs. The problems the kids are facing range from a desire for plastic surgery to abusive parents, which gave the film a certain gravity and a sense of realism. The adults are neither god-like nor comedic in their cluelessness, but rather are shown as individuals with their own problems, people who make mistakes and learn as they go just like the kids they’re trying to raise. It’s not a brilliant movie by any stretch, but I really felt as though it was an honest one that was trying to be sympathetic of its characters. Some of the dialogue is a little stunted, some of the plot points are a little too convenient, but overall, it was entertaining and meaningful. Definitely a must if you’re a fan of Yelchin or Downey, you want to fondly reminisce on your own high school misadventures, or perhaps if you’re facing parenthood and need a reminder of what it was like to be seventeen.

To sum up:

Principal Gardner: Charlie, there are more important things than popularity!
Charlie Bartlett: Like what? Cause I’m seventeen. And right now, popularity’s pretty damn important!
Principal Gardner: Like what you do with that popularity.

News flash! Awesome talent “recognized”!!

Ok, so I am interrupting your weekend with this largely unsurprising, but very important and welcome piece of news. Emma Thompson has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!!! I don’t talk about her a lot, but I absolutely, positively, 100% love, adore, and worship Emma Thompson. She is brilliant and beautiful and talented beyond measure, and she is my number one “If you could meet any person in the world, who would it be?” person. Someday I will write a proper post about her, but seriously. Just … go to Youtube sometime and look up Emma Thompson and watch some of her award acceptance speeches, or her interviews on TV talk shows. She is wonderful. Gush, gush, squee, ad nauseum. Ok, I’m done now.

No wait, I’m not! I just want to quote a bit of that article, because it proves how awesome Emma Thompson is.
“Thompson’s star is in front of the Pig ‘n Whistle pub on Hollywood Boulevard, which the British thesp called “appropriate.” “It’s the last thing you step on before you get your first drink and the last thing you step on when you reel out,” she joked.”

Love love love love LOVE.

Update: See? AWESOME.
(Image borrowed from the fabulous Go Fug Yourself.)

Weekend movie plans?

This weekend I’ve got Charlie Bartlett at home, because, well, Robert Downey, Jr. in glasses. What more reason do you need? Seriously, though, I’ve heard it’s a fun/interesting movie, and that RDJ is good in it. We also bought Kiss Kiss Bang Bang not that long ago and were just remarking that we ought to watch it again. And hey! It’s my birthday on Sunday, so if I want to have an RDJ film festival, I can, right??

What are you planning on watching this weekend?

Trailer: Burlesque

Alright. I will admit to having been kind of excited by the prospect of this movie. The cast seemed interesting – I do think that Christina Aguilera is an awfully good singer, even if I’m not a fan, and Cher has definitely had her moments (Ask me about my undying love for the film Mermaids sometime). However ….

Hrm. I am unable to embed, so just go here to watch the trailer. I’ll wait.

Yeah. It looks pretty unremarkable. Possibly even stupid. And yet, I find myself wondering if I might actually decide to watch it at some point just because of Stanley Tucci. Isn’t that ridiculous?