June 30, 2008

Weekend in Reviews

It's July in Arizona so it's too damn hot to do anything that doesn't involve air conditioning which is why I mostly watched movies this weekend.

Saturday morning I hurt my back while I had the dogs at the vet so by 12:30pm I was in bed on a heating pad doing sudoku and watching some of the movies I'd TiVo'd. Sunday I switched it up a little and saw a couple of movies in the theater as well as a couple of DVDs.

Bongwater - My crush on Luke Wilson leads me to watch far too many movies with bad plots where he's charming and cute because that's mostly what he's in. This is one of them - it is not a good movie. The bones of the story are ok, and the acting isn't too terrible but somehow the meat of the movie, the actual execution of the whole thing is stupid, boring and annoying. I used to think Alicia Witt was ok but chose bad crap to be in and now I think maybe she is annoying and makes moderate crap worse just by being in it. The premise is this: Luke Wilson is a pot dealer and also an artist. He meets Alicia Witt who is a bossy, obnoxious shrew and they immediately fall in love but the relationship remains chaste. Three weeks in she blows him off and hooks up with a post-rehab, badly singing "rock star" played by Jamie Kennedy and plans to move to New York with him. This causes a fight between she and Luke which leads to the house burning down. After that we follow her life in New York which is tragic, and his life in...where ever it is that he lives that isn't New York. which is actually kind of sweet. Please trust me when I tell you to never, ever watch this movie no matter how cute you think Luke Wilson is. P.S. It is only named Bongwater in an attempt to be controversial or try to get a large stoner audience because while they do smoke an inordinate amount of pot in the movie, it really has nothing at all to do with anything.

Crank - This was a re-watch for me but I TiVo'd it because I can't really resist any opportunity to watch Jason Statham be all hot and bald and British. It's not a great movie, it's stupid and ridiculous and has the thinnest plot possible but it's also kind of fun. Here's the story: Chevy Chellios (Statham) is a hit man for hire who was supposed to kill some big wig in the Asian Mafia but with his gun to the guy's head, he changes his mind and decides that he loves his girlfriend (Amy Smart) too much to continue on this path so he's letting the guy go and getting out of the life. That pisses off the guy who hired him so that guy hires Chevy's nemesis to poison him with something called a Bejing cocktail which is a drug that slows your heart down to a stop and kills you unless you keep your adrenaline up to a billion. So he spends the entire movie trying to kill they guy who's essentially killed him and also get the antidote to the poison while he keeps his heart rate up by any means he can think of including, but not limited to, conducting car chases through shopping malls, stealing police vehicles, beating people up, having sex in public, shooting up ephedrine, and burning his hand in a waffle iron. I won't ruin the "story" for you in case you ever intend to see it but I will say that you get a couple of shots of Jason Statham's bare tush which makes it worth the price of admission if you ask me.

27 Dresses - Another re-watch. Katherine Heigl is shrill, egotistical, and desperately needs to shut up about everything forever, but she's a pretty good actress and James Marsden and Ed Burns and Judy Greer are in it and I like them all so even though this is not a great movie, I enjoyed it both times I saw it. It's unbelievably formulaic and predictable but whatever, Marsden is cute. As a side note, I am in love with her apartment from that movie.

Chaos - Jason Statham movie number two for the weekend. This one finds him as a Seattle cop who was suspended after a shootout on a bridge ends with both a suspect and his hostage dead. There is a bank robbery and quite a bit of philosophy and a few really good twists I didn't see coming. Ryan Phillipe and Wesley Snipes co-star. This one I actually do recommend seeing so I won't give too much away but I will say that I thought at least three people were bad guys who weren't and I thought at least one person was a good guy who wasn't. Jason Statham is as hot as always and his Britishness makes him believable as both a tough guy and a book worm. Ryan Phillipe is a natural playing the uptight, college boy, newbie cop and Wesley Snipes is...Wesley Snipes.

Wanted - Angelina Jolie is a bad ass killer. Morgan Freeman is a wizened mentor. James McAvoy is a panic stricken, depressed, spineless cubicle monkey turned natural-born assassin. McAvoy plays Wesley Gibson who has spent his entire life being insignificant and invisible. He works at a terrible job with a horrible boss next to his best friend Barry (played by the awesome Chris Pratt which made me remember how much I miss Bright Abbott and who also shows a tiny bit of bare ass in the movie to my extreme delight. What? I'm pervy, this isn't new news). Wesley knows full well that Barry is having an affair with his girlfriend but does nothing about it. That's when all hell breaks loose in his life and Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and a cast of other vicious killers let him in on the secret that the father who left him when he was one week old was the best killer in all the world (known as Mr. X) but that he was just felled by a rogue member of their ancient killing brotherhood and now Wesley is the only person who can stop the killer. The movie opens with the murder of Mr. X in a scene so over-the-top that it was practically right out of a cartoon - I started laughing then and didn't stop almost the entire way through the movie. Unfortunately for the film makers, most of my snickers and guffaws were probably not the reaction that they were going for. Then again, one assumes they new the risk they were taking when they chose to make a movie where the assassins take their orders from a magic loom. Yeah, you read that right- LOOM. The action was fairly good though the CGI was clearly the star of the show. Angelina Jolie had about as much dialogue as Arnold Schwartzeneger in the original Terminator while James McAvoy's voice over and nervous chatter were at least 89% of the script. The part I found most intriguing was toward the end when Wesley was brought back to his dead father's secret home where he found the stash of watches and schematics for what I like to call the "rat-astrophies" - the implication seemed to be that The Exterminator may have been working with his father on a plan of attack. If someone sees this movie, please let me know so we can discuss what may have been going on there, thanks.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull - Or as I like to call it Shorten Up That Freaking Title Speilberg, Jeez! I love Raiders of the Lost Arc and Temple of Doom and then was monumentally disappointed with The Last Crusade when it came out so I was both excited and nervous about this latest installment. Overall, it was a fairly entertaining movie and I definitely enjoyed it more than The Last Crusade but it was far inferior to the first two movies in the series. The story was a little out-there (if you've already seen it you'll see what I did there and think I'm a huge dork but also secretly love it) and not as interesting as that of Raiders or even Doom. There was entirely too much THIS TAKES PLACE IN THE FIFTIES crap going on which was just unnecessary since the title card told us it was 1957 and presumably everyone in the audience understands how to read dates. It was kind of sad to see Indy lumbering through some of his more pedestrian stunts - like climbing up wooden crates - because I rather like to remember him as the spry adventurer and not The Old Man And The Whip. Then again I loved his chemistry with Shia LeBeouf and I thought that scene with the snake was fairly hilarious. The movie requires a little too much suspension of disbelief but in the long run, it's entertaining. If I had it to do over again, I would have waited to see it on DVD.

Lars And The Real Girl - "A movie about a man who falls in love with a sex doll." That's how I first heard about Lars And The Real Girl. That description isn't entirely accurate. This movie is actually about a man with some mental problems which manifest in a variety of ways including an inability to relate socially to people, a fear of physical contact so deep that it phsyically hurts him to be touched by another person, and a delusion that this sex doll is a real person named Bianca. Lars (Ryan Gosling) and Gus (Paul Schneider) are brothers, Gus and his pregnant wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) live in the house Gus and Lars grew up in and though they'd like to Gus to live with them, he's uncomfortable being around anyone so instead he lives in the garage. Karin in particular worries that Lars isn't coping with life so well but Gus thinks that Lars just likes to be alone like their dad did after their mom died (which, incidentally, happened while she was giving birth to Lars). When Lars knocks on their door one evening all smiles and informs Gus and Karin that he has a new girlfriend, they're elated. He preps them with the news that they met on the Internet, she's from another country and therefore speaks very little English and she's in a wheel chair. He also mentions that she's a religious woman and therefore doesn't feel comfortable sleeping with him in the garage and asks if they'd mind if she slept in their spare room. They're so thrilled that he has a girlfriend at all, they agree immediately. Then Lars brings her in and they're devastated to see that Bianca is a "fully functioning, anatomically correct [which Karin discovers much to her horror] silicone love doll." Gus and Karin go along with the delusion through the evening and convince Lars that with the travel and the climate change (she's from South America somewhere and they live in Minnesota or North Dakota or some other extremely cold and snowy place), that they should take Bianca to the doctor tomorrow and make sure she's alright given her frail condition. Unbeknownst to Lars, Dr. Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) is both an MD and a psychologist. Long story short, Dagmar convinces Gus and Karin to play along with the delusion because even if they don't, it won't convince Lars that she isn't real and it may upset him further and drive him deeper into his mental illness. So they go along with it and before you know it, the entire town, all of them with genuine affection for the sweet, awkward Lars, is treating Bianca like a real girl. They do her hair, they invite her to parties, they dance with her, they stick up for her - they love her because they love Lars and it's important to him. Eventually the affection that they show Bianca makes Lars feel comfortable opening up with these people around him and develop relationships he was never able to before. The movie is touching and emotional and sweet and treats every one of it's characters with such warmth. The entire cast is divine but Ryan Gosling is extraordinary. Its a tragedy that he hasn't won more significant acting awards because no matter what he's in, he's absolute perfection. And he's ever so delightful to look at - even with a porny mustache, greasy hair and a baby blanket around his neck like a scarf.

That's what I watched this weekend. Hopefully the long 4th of July weekend will provide me with the time to watch several more. I've got Wierdsville and The Lookout at home from NetFlix right now and should have Stop-Loss, Mad Money and The Savages in a day or two so I could use some time to get through those as well as Mission Impossible: III which I have TiVo'd. I don't actually want to watch that last one necessarily but I saw the first 3/4 of it on a plane back from Europe a couple of years ago and I've always kind of wanted to know how it ended so that is more like homework. I just have to know.

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