July 9, 2012

What I've Been Watching - The Movies

Savages - Sometimes a movie is an absolute blast to watch because it's a great movie and sometimes a movie is a blast to watch because it's a great bad movie. Savages was a great bad movie.

Actually, there are many things about the movie that are very good. The acting in general was strong and I thought Salma Hayek, Benicia Del Toro and even John Travolta (I know!) were outstanding. Frankly, I'd watch an entire movie where Salma Hayek's Elena ate lamb chops and dropped wisdom. The directing was Oliver Stone-y but not distractingly so (until the end, anyway). It's brutal and heinous without being cartoony (except the one time they actually make the violence into a cartoon but that was funny so it's ok). Where this movie took a turn for the terrible was in the writing.

The plot was fine. I mean, it relied heavily on the audience rooting for two complete idiots and a simpering twit but it was plausible enough that the idiots and their twit would indeed fall head first into an assload of cash because Ben (Aaron Johnson) had a green thumb, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) was in a position to procure some pot seeds, and O (Blake Lively) looks amazing in wet, gauzy dresses. And if you can believe that these characters could be the most lucrative pot dealers in California, then you can likewise believe that a Mexican drug lord would want to become actively involved in their business.

Believing that said Mexican drug lord would be more interested in having the two idiots work with/for her than in just taking over their product and client base requires a much heftier suspension of disbelief but whatever. The plot is the plot and it's fine. It is all secondary to the insanely ridiculous dialogue which is what made this movie unintentionally HILARIOUS.

The movie is heavily narrated throughout by our simpering twit and the shit she says is so over the top it isn't even in the same galaxy as the top anymore. It would be impossible for me to list all of the crazy that's spouted in the movie but suffice to say, it kicks off with this gem in minute 2 of the movie: "I have orgasms, he has wargasms." You guys, WARGASMS!

The end was a hot mess of mind-fuckery that went from being exactly right to exactly stupid in an instant. Whether that's a product of the writing or the directing I'm not sure because I never read the book on which the movie is based but either way it was an ending that made the entire movie feel like a waste of everyone's time.

I can't necessarily recommend this movie as something worth watching on its merits but if, like me, you enjoy unintentionally funny movies with great performances and at least one scene of a wig being dramatically ripped off, this movie is for you.

Magic Mike - When I start to talk about whether or not Magic Mike was a good movie I always think of the old adage "sex is like pizza, even when it's bad it's still pretty good." This movie could be bad but it had a bunch of hot guys stripping so it was always going to be pretty good.

What I'm saying is that it didn't need to be good but it tried to be good anyway and I appreciate that about it. I don't think it succeeded on all the levels it attempted but it succeeded on enough of them to be entertaining. For the most part the cast was taking their work seriously but not themselves and it resulted in some genuinely fantastic performances. When people tell you that Matthew McConaughey should get an Oscar nod for his role as strip club owner Dallas, they aren't being cute.

McConaughey wasn't winking at the audience. He wasn't just collecting a paycheck nor was he playing to the cheap seats. When Dallas is teaching The Kid how to work it on stage, writhing around in front of that mirror or pressed up against Alex Pettyfer, whispering his wisdom in The Kid's ear, being big but playing it small in a spendex belly shirt and short shorts it never once looked like he was suppressing a giggle. He wasn't laughing at the movie, at his character, at the scene, at the audience or at himself. McConaughey was being serious just as Dallas was being serious. He was a revelation.

Channing Tatum held his own next to McConaughey and I was pleased to discover that Tatum has more in his acting repertoire than lip pursing and jaw clenching. Unfortunately neither Pettyfer nor Cody Horn brought anything to their roles at all. Their mutual lack of expression or affect did serve to make them believable siblings though, so I guess there's that.

On the whole it was a fun movie to watch and absolutely worth seeing again. As much for the laughs, performances, and multitude of things happening in the background of any given scene as for the asses.

People Like Us - In the interest of full disclosure, I love Chris Pine. I've recently become slightly obsessed with him and I am now physically incapable of having any kind of objective opinion about his movies because I love him too much.

Which is to say, I really liked People Like Us. It wasn't perfect but it was interesting and realistic and uncomfortable in a good way.

It's the story of Sam (Chris Pine) who's in financial and legal trouble when he finds out that his estranged father has died and just when he thinks the large sum of money that his father left will be the answer to his problems he discovers that the money is for a sister he never knew he had and his dad would like him to deliver it and see that she and her son are taken care of.

He tracks down his sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), and gets to know her and her son but doesn't give her the money or tell her who he is which leads to a lot of moments that felt really squirmy as you could tell that Frankie may be falling for Sam without knowing he was her brother. Part of me wished they'd gone a different way with that because, ew. But when it was all said and done it played out in an emotionally satisfying and cinematically appropriate way.

Chris Pine is amazing and his face is perfect. I TOLD you I can't be objective!

Brave - I'm not sure I can say anything about this movie that hasn't already been said by everyone. It was a bit like two separate movies pasted together. It was a gorgeously impressive feat that looked unbelievably realistic. And it was really nice to see a Disney movie where the central relationship had nothing to do with romance but rather was between a mother and daughter.

I liked this movie very much and would recommend it to anyone with kids old enough not to be afraid of the scary bear scenes.

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