July 14, 2008

Weekend in Reviews

A pressing need to do a lot of laundry and some foul weather combined to give me a lot of movie-watching time this weekend.

The Wendell Baker Story - I like Luke Wilson, this isn't new news. Because of my extreme fondness for him, I watch everything he's in and he's in The Wendell Baker Story, that is the only reason I rented this movie (and the reason I'll be reviewing Dog Park in the nearish future as well). There are several things going on in this movie including a love story between Luke Wilson's Wendell and Eva Mendes' Doreen. I have seen very few movies with Eva Mendes in them and after this one, I'm very glad that's the case because she is a terrible actress. The main plot of the movie involves Wendell trying to help save some old folks from evil nurse Neil King (Owen Wilson) and his scam for sending them off to his mother's farm to do menial labor until they die while he takes their social security money - and though it might not sound like it, that stuff is mostly a lot of fun. The old guys are cute and funny and the rescue is fairly realistic. The end was kind of weak and the entire Doreen story should have been shit-canned but it's still a moderately enjoyable movie. At least if you like Luke and Owen Wilson.

Stop-Loss - This is a pretty depressing movie. It seems like the ugly realities of young men fighting in war are pretty accurately depicted, which I found quite compelling. I even didn't mind the "running from a stop-loss" plot too much, though it did seem to take a bit of the sting out of the more interesting stories of the core men and how they were or were not coping with coming home and being with their families. What I didn't like about the movie was the MTV treatment it got. It's an MTV Film so I guess that was to be expected, but it's frustrating to me that MTV the channel hasn't played a music video in it's entirety since the early '90s and yet they insist on turning all of their movies into 90 minute music videos. I suppose their aim is to win over the youth who are perceived to have short attention spans but it makes me wonder if they have a short attention span necessitating this kind of movie-making or if this kind of movie-making is giving them short attention spans. The frequent stops in the story for a music video interlude are disrupting to the narrative structure and the emotional arc of the story. They take the viewer out of the moment. The three leading men - Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon Leavitt - do a lovely job with the material but their performances were sabotaged by the unnecessarily frenetic editing. The less said about Abbie Cornish, the better.

Enchanted - It's an immensely likable, fun movie. I would never have guessed that watching this movie would draw a crowd but that's just what it did. I started out watching it alone at my parents' house and by 25 minutes in, three other people sat down to watch it with me and laughed and cheered and commented along with it the whole time. My brother thinks that Amy Adams looks and talks like Heather. I kept trying to see the similarities but I just couldn't. Everyone in this movie is fantastic and I wish I'd made time to watch the extras on the DVD because I bet they're great. I guess I'll have to watch it again sometime soon.

Murder by Numbers - I saw this movie when it came out and enjoyed it well enough. I liked that it had a few twists and turns to the plot and I thought I recalled how it ended but once I sat down to watch it again I realized I couldn't remember which kid was the ultimate double-crosser. What I could remember is that Michael Pitt was as greasy and creepy and unappealingly strung-out seeming as he always is and Ryan Gosling was unbelievably good at playing "menacingly sexy." The movie is about two teenagers who've been brought up with too much money and nearly no parental supervision who devise "the perfect murder" and team up to commit it just for kicks. Sandra Bullock and Ben Chaplin are the detectives trying to catch them. There are several things going on in the movie and while most of it is pretty interesting, the personal story of Bullock's character gets a bit clumsy along the way. I think it would have been more interesting if it had been woven through a little more organically as she began to identify with the latest victim and a little less ham-fistedly with regards to her relationships with men. But during the scenes she has with Gosling, it's easy to see why the two of them (allegedly) ended up dating for a time because there were definitely some sparks there.

Wierdsville - It's a well titled film, I'll give it that. The movie is about a couple of Canadian junkies who end up on an insane "adventure" after they agree to "work off" what they owe their dealer by becoming drug pushers and then one of them spends a week self-detoxing and the other spends a week with his girlfriend (slash some-time prostitute) taking all of the drugs he was supposed to sell. Dexter (Scott Speedman) is the smart, college dropout who decides to quit drugs and Royce (Wes Bently) is the impossibly dumb guy who seems destined for an OD. There is a Satanic cult, a gang of Renaissance reenacting little people, a rich hippie with an icecycle in his head...I could list the crazy plot points for an hour. The movie could have been pretty good actually, Speedman and Bently are both great and the series of events is fairly funny (though Greg Bryk who plays the leader of the Satan worshipers, is supremely annoying) but the ending was terrible and the excessive drug use in the film is a little off-putting.

Felicity - I also finished the third season of Felicity last night. The Avery story line finally came to an end and though I was never a fan of her or the way she threw herself at Ben, I will say that the actress playing her has the most gorgeous eyelashes I've ever seen. Kenan Thompson had a 4-episode arc as a love interest for Elena. The story called for an extremely fat actor so they padded Thompson up and made him look utterly ridiculous - it looked like all of his long-sleeve shirts and tapered leg pants (in 2001!) were purchased 3 or 4 sizes too big and then stuffed with cotton batting.

Meghan and Sean went to couples counseling, we found out that Sean called his grandma Gaboom, which I love. Sean had a bar mitzvah, they argued over dumb stuff and then went to sponge off of her rich parents in Europe for the summer.

Molly returned from England with a bad haircut but no drug problem or apparent residual emotional scars from the James situation. Richard was barely in the last 4 episodes of season three at all. Pity.

Javier had a teeny, tiny part in it when he thought he had a heart attack but didn't and then laid some awesome knowledge on Felicity about the Ben/Noel situation. Noel was a possessive, vindictive, petty, asshole (or, as Ben so awesomely put it, "a little dick!") trying to drive a wedge between Ben and Felicity, trying to make her choose between them even though she'd already done that a number of times and he'd never come out on top of that race. Then, when he failed to come out the winner AGAIN, he pouted like a child and ended their friendship. He graduated and was moving to Seattle for a job so it seemed as if the friendship was well and truly dead but then Ben, God love him, convinced Felicity not to give up on him and then convinced Noel to stop being a douche (just by being sort of nice to him) and then they made up. Ben decided to attend a three month intensive training program to become an EMT over the summer leaving Felicity to hold down the fort at the loft alone - or so everyone thought until Noel's job was cancelled at the last second and he popped back up to live with her for the summer.

Dr. Toni Pavone and Ruby also came back for the final episode. Oh yeah, and Tracy asked Elena to marry him and she fainted. Senior year is next - there is still a lot of goodness left, I'll keep you posted.

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