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Thursday, July 31, 2014

MINI-REVIEW: Sex Tape

MOVIE
Sex Tape

CAST
Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel

RATING
R

RELEASE
July 18, 2014

DIRECTOR
Jake Kasdan

STUDIO
Columbia Pictures

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 35 minutes






STARS
***








REVIEW:

One of the most important elements to a healthy relationship is intimacy.  Cameron Diaz's character in "Sex Tape" opens the film by writing an article on her blog about the lack of intimacy recently with her husband, played by Jason Segel.  Their kids and jobs get in the way of them having any type of physical relationship, apart from the occasional fling.  So in order to get the steam hot again, Diaz decides to make a 3-hour long sex tape with her husband, and then erase it from existence.  But of course if you've seen the trailer, you know that the sex tape is gonna get out and people are gonna see it.  However, that didn't stop me from actually having a fine time with this movie.  I didn't really laugh as much as I would have wanted to, but there were certain moments here that did let out a good chuckle.  Rob Lowe especially helped to make me laugh out loud during the film, particularly in a scene that takes place in his character's house.  The film itself isn't particularly original, and not all of the jokes really hit as well as others.  However, the effort put in by Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, as well as some clever story elements and other decent uses of characters makes "Sex Tape" a pleasant enough date film to recommend.  If anything, it's a fine rental for a night in with the spouse.



PREVIEW YOU MAY SEE:

The Interview



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

MINI-REVIEW: Behaving Badly

MOVIE
Behaving Badly

CAST
Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez

RATING
R

RELEASE
August 1, 2014 (LIMITED)

DIRECTOR
Tim Garrick

STUDIO
Vertical Entertainment

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 39 minutes






STARS
*1/2







REVIEW:

I'm just going to say this right now: the poster for this movie is one big fat lie to any Selena Gomez fan out there.  It might say that the film revolves around her, but in truth, it doesn't.  She is just the love interest to Nat Wolff's character, who is the protagonist of this unfunny movie.  "Behaving Badly" is a film that tries to be edgy and smart in how raunchy and crazy it can be, but it fails in the same way that Miley Cyrus does: in trying to act more adult, the film's actions proved to be childish if anything.  The cast is fine, despite most of the talented actors here not needing something like this on their resume.  Some jokes gave out a bit of a chuckle, but the vast majority of them all are unoriginal and just unfunny.  Plus, this movie brings absolutely nothing relatively new to the table, which it could have had the screenwriters tried to do something smart with this.  Overall, this movie is just a blatant rehash of any teen raunchy comedy you have seen, only this time it has Selena Gomez looking pretty and Elisabeth Shue overacting to annoying levels.  Do yourself a favor and skip this movie, unless this type of stuff is up your alley.  I will say this, the cameo they got in a jail scene about an hour into the film actually made me laugh, but only because of how relevant it was at the time of filming.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

REWIND REVIEW: Under The Skin

MOVIE
Under The Skin

CAST
Scarlett Johansson

RATING
R

RELEASE
April 4, 2014

DIRECTOR
Jonathan Glazer

STUDIO
A24

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 48 minutes







STARS
****







REVIEW:

If you ever wondered what a true art house film looks, feels, and sounds like, then seek out "Under The Skin."  Director Jonathan Glazer directs Scarlett Johansson in an eerie, bizarre, and polarizing film about an alien in human form and her quest to seduce human men in order to consume their flesh.  The film itself might sound complex, but I'm not going to lie: this movie requires your undivided attention from frame one and will leave your head perplexed when it ends.  It took me two viewings of this film to fully comprehend it, and from what I saw, I can honestly say that this is something of a sic-fi masterpiece.  There are those who will call this movie pretentious, and I completely understand why someone would say that.  The artistic style of this movie, along with the eerie score and slow pace make this film on the surface seem pretentious.  But in truth, this is just one of those movies you just have to see to believe.  I personally found "Under The Skin," as well as Scarlett Johansson's performance to be haunting, mesmerizing, and very tense, making this one of the most fascinating and best films of 2014 thus far.  I'd go into more detail, but it's hard to considering that the film's simplicity lies in how complex everything seems on the first viewing.




MINI-REVIEW: Obvious Child

MOVIE
Obvious Child

CAST
Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy

RATING
R

RELEASE
June 6, 2014

DIRECTOR
Gillian Robespierre

STUDIO
A24

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 23 minutes







STARS
***3/4








REVIEW:

Comedian Jenny Slate has finally been given her time to shine in the film "Obvious Child," and boy does she succeed at being great.  While I had to wait over a month before I could finally check it out due to scheduling and other movies coming out, it was definitely worth the wait.  This movie tells the story of a 27 year old comedian named Donna who, after a one night stand with a quote on quote "stranger who was nice," gets pregnant.  Not wanting to be a mother at the moment, and with her life crumbling apart, she decides to get an abortion.  Think of this as an episode of the show "Louie" combined with a storyline that is almost the exact opposite of "Juno."  If you're a fan of at least one of those things, then chances are you're going to enjoy this movie.  I know I did, for sure.

The main reason why this film works so well is that, aside from the incredible script and hilarious jokes, is how relatable everything is.  Jenny Slate isn't the typical leading star, which makes her all the more natural on camera and serves as a type of reflection of everyday people to its audience members.  The chemistry between Slate and everyone she talks to feels real and authentic, and the story itself is very down to earth and honest.  The movie might be cliched, and some jokes don't exactly work as well as others, but "Obvious Child" as a whole is a funny, down-to-earth, and relatable comedy that definitely ranks among some of the best of the year thus far.





PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:

Magic In The Moonlight

A Most Wanted Man

Boyhood

Calvary

I Origins



Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW: Begin Again

MOVIE
Begin Again

CAST
Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo

RATING
R

RELEASE
June 27, 2014 (LIMITED)
July 2, 2014 (WIDE)

DIRECTOR
John Carney

STUDIO
The Weinstein Company

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 44 minutes






STARS
***3/4








REVIEW:

I'm not going to lie: I had no idea what to feel about John Carney's "Begin Again" when it ended. I sort of sat there in a state of disbelief, pondering my thoughts on the 104 minute film that had just presented itself in front of me. I knew I enjoyed the movie, for starters, but I wasn't sure how much I enjoyed it. This wasn't a movie that particularly grabbed me until about 30 or 40 minutes into it, and from there I had a smile on my face and my feet were tapping to the songs. And then, the movie ended, and again I had the same feeling that was in my chest during the beginning of the movie. In a state of disbelief, I began to think about how the movie impacted me. And in short, it impacted me a lot more than I initially thought. While some out there immediately knew they loved this movie, I didn't. The reason why I didn't know what to think of it was because it touched more than my mind, it touched my soul in a way where it left me in disbelief. The performances, the music, and the story all left a lasting impression on me that even now I'm still digesting fully.

Keira Knightley is a radiant ball of life as Greta, a woman who only has a guitar and a singing voice to her name as her boyfriend dumped her due to the temptations of success in the music industry.  Not only does Knightley impress with an incredibly emotional and realistic performance, but she also possesses a raw singing talent last seen with Oscar Isaac in "Inside Llewyn Davis."  Mark Ruffalo impresses here as well as Dan, a man who has nothing and has practically given up on life.  His performance is as entertaining as it is realistic, enthusiastic, and really good overall.  Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld,  and James Cordon are among the actors who all deliver good performances here and fit their roles very well.  Cee Lo Green even shows up for a couple of scenes and manages to be awesome and very charismatic as an actor.  Knightley and Ruffalo might be the two most memorable performances here, but everyone in this film is solid in their own right in general.

In terms of original music, the soundtrack to "Begin Again" is possibly the best of the year thus far.  What I like so much about the songs in this movie is that they all capture different emotions effectively and are incredibly catchy to listen to.  Some tunes like "Coming Up Roses" are upbeat and very energetic, while others like "Lost Stars" capture a hauntingly beautiful side of the characters who sing it.  Since seeing the film, I have downloaded the soundtrack and have listened to it repeatedly, which is a rare thing for me actually.  If there's anything here that I can considered to be the "best thing" about this film, it's definitely the upbeat and magical soundtrack.

Director/screenwriter John Carney has effectively made a movie that is both touching and full of soul.  The story itself might be predictable, but the characters are relatable and fascinating.  The film's message about seeing the true potential in something instead of just selling out to the modern crap that's thrown out there can be applied to both films and music as well.  Movies like this and "Chef" show what films can really be like if people invest their time and money into a good story with good characters and a feel-good element to it instead of 3D explosions with hot girls wearing short shorts.  This film I could honestly see becoming something of a modern classic in the sense that, when looked back on, people will think highly of this gem.  "Begin Again" is something of a magical array of music, great acting, and a solid story that captures the soul of true artists at work.



PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:

The Best of Me

Interstellar


This Is Where I Leave You


And So It Goes


Get on Up


St. Vincent