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What to Expect When You’re Expecting: As Expected

Director: Kirk Jones
Screenplay: Shauna Cross, clinic Heather Hach
Release Date: May 18, viagra 2012
Actors: Cameron Diaz, salve Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock
Based on the book of the same name by Heidi Murkoff

I say “As Expected” because I didn’t expect much from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, and in return, I got as I had expected: a cute forgettable movie.

With such a large cast, it would have been impossible to make a terrific movie (in the same vein as so many other small storyline movies with a huge cast like “Happy Valentine’s Day”, “New Year’s Eve”, etc.). Based loosely on the book of the same name, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” follows five couples that deal with pregnancy and having children differently. First, there is Jennifer Lopez’ character of Holly and her husband Sam who struggled to have children and are now trying to adopt. Meet Elizabeth Banks’s character Wendy, who owns a baby store and knows all things babies and about pregnancy. Her husband Gary and her have been trying to have a baby for a long time (2 years) and have finally succeeded. Cameron Diaz plays Jules, who reminded me of personal trainer, former Biggest Loser fitness aficionado Jillian Michaels who gets pregnant just after three months with dance partner Evan (played by Glee’s Matthew Morrison who somehow looks older here than on the show, as does Cameron Diaz). Then we have one night stand Anna Kendrick’s Rosie with irresistibly delicious Chace Crawford’s Marco. And lastly, there is Gary’s dad (played by Dennis Quaid) who is married to very young Skyler (Brooklyn Decker) who happens to be pregnant with twins.

It’s hard to flesh out any of these characters or allow the viewers to care about what happens to get to know them in such a large cast as this, but it does provide enough funny moments for it to be enjoyable to watch. Perhaps if I had been pregnant while watching or had the experience of being pregnant, I would have connected more with the film, but as it was, I thought “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to be simply cute, charming and largely forgettable.

All the actors are talented and bring what you would expect to the table, with a few shining and quirky moments from Wendy’s store helper friend Janice (played by the hilariously funny Rebel Wilson). The more poignant scenes come from Rosie and Marco who have lost their baby shortly after getting pregnant. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but I found the “Dude Group” scenes to be largely UN-funny, and Chris Rock’s character rather grated on my nerves. However, it was a good balance between serious and funny, and in that sense I found that it never felt off in tone. But a lot of the jokes that instilled laughter I just felt sorry for, more than found funny. However, saying that, I think it’s a movie that people will enjoy if they’re looking for a light laugh on a Sunday afternoon.

Recommended if you’re looking for a cute movie – there is something for both the guys and the girls. 2 strollers / 5 strollers

Links:
IMDB

Watch the Trailer:

Wow, I have visitors!

Well, ed a long long time ago 🙂 I’ve decided to resurrect this from the dead, despite many people not visiting the site (though that really wasn’t my enjoyment) – it was writing those reviews. I’ve seen so many films in the past year that I felt deserved a review and wasn’t. So here I am, trying again to write up those film reviews that do take a while, but is satisfying once finished 🙂

Thanks for all of those who visited. Let’s see how my track record will be…

Columbiana: A Revenge Film, As One Might Expect

Director: Olivier Megaton
Screenplay: Luc Besson, valeologist Robert Mark Kamen
Release Date:August 26, diabetes and pregnancy 2011
Actors: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan and Callum Blue

All the previews for “Columbiana” look exciting and intense. When I first saw the trailer to the film at a showing of “Thor”, I was instantly intrigued. A girl getting revenge, by way of skill and execution? That’s different. My favorite revenge film by far is the Korean gem “Oldboy”. It was uniquely disturbing on not only a physical level, but a psychological level. I didn’t find there to be anything unique about “Columbiana” at all, but I got exactly what I expected, which was a nice surprise.

Zoe Saldana plays Catalia, a young Columbian girl who sees her parents get killed in front of her by Dom Louis. In the midst of the chaos, as the young Catalia, she manages to survive and flees to Chicago to meet up with her uncle.

Little detail is given about what information her father gave to his boss, and what exactly is Dom Louis’ profession except for a few soft mentions of the exchange of drugs is all that is revealed. The purpose is that her parents are dead and now she wants to become an assassin. Essentially, we jump from young Catalia to wanting to become a killer, years later as Zoe Saldana actually executing criminals to bring out Dom Louise.

We are introduced to her boy plaything, Ben, played by Michael Vartan (who seems to have disappeared from film and television lately), who is the only person that keeps her tethered to a life of any normalcy. And I say “normalcy” quite loosely since Catalia reveals next to nothing about herself and never even goes on a real date with the guy.

I liked the lack of blood in the film, because it can sometimes taint what would otherwise be a fantastic film (which is how I feel about the most recent revenge film out of Korea “I Saw the Devil”). There are several sly sequences in which Catalia takes out her prey that is sure to please any film goer that likes a cleverly written trap. Columbiana focuses on entertaining and not the plausible. It’s not a film that tries to ascend to any new levels, but simply delivers what one might expect. A film about a girl who kicks ass and is out for blood.

I was a bit apprehensive prior to seeing the film, due to the lack of number of reviews released for “Columbiana”. Sometimes the studio does not want a film to be screened to the press for fear that there will be a lot of negative press. In this case, I didn’t have anything to worry about. It was as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.

There were a few scenes that had me going “Really?”, as to how implausible and ridiculous a few scenes that were supposed to be taken seriously but were really rather silly. I glazed over them, because, after all, it IS Hollywood. I think they were supposed to take the edge or seriousness off the film, but as a result, it made it much more unrealistic.

However, as a regular run-of-the-mill revenge film “Columbiana” wasn’t bad, just not very memorable. Seems like the critics disliked it even more, but as a regular average movie-goer, I don’t know why the strong distaste. I guess they went in with higher expectations due to the fact that they were hoping more from Luc Besson, who brought the fantastic movie “Taken” that essentially brought Liam Neeson’s career back to life.

Recommended for a fun shoot ’em up movie, brought to you by Zoe Saldana. Fun, but nothing all that memorable. 2.5 Catalinas / 5 Catalinas

Links:
IMDB

If you liked this movie I would recommend:
An even better one: Oldboy (Warning: Must read subtitles!)

Watch the Trailer:

Comment about the trailer: Honestly, I thought the trailer was kind of stupid. You would have thought the movie should have been called “Never forget where you came from” by the way the trailer was spliced together.

The Tree of Life: Beautiful, Frustrating, Sad but Flawed

Director: Terrence Malick
Screenplay: Terrence Malick
Release Date: July 8, generic 2011 (Wide Release)
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki
Actors: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan

Quite honestly, I wanted to love this film. I love films that challenge my thinking, send me to self reflection and offer some deep meaning. However, despite all its abstract images and beautiful cinematography, I walked out hating it.

Possibly Malick’s most personal piece, with similarities into his own childhood, “The Tree of Life” is a film that challenges the film industry and will be recognized for taking huge risks. I’ve allowed a few days after seeing the film before writing this review so my thoughts could sink in and I could give a more fair review than my initial reaction.

“The Tree of Life” tries to ask questions that are bigger than itself, and is the depiction of Jack’s internal struggle with life and the meaning of his life, love and death. The overall theme of the film deals with living either the way of nature or the way of grace, and how despite taking either path, the lord will giveth and the lord will taketh away (aka “Why do bad things happen to good people?”) One could say that “The Tree of Life” is essentially the Book of Job. That God does because he can and we suffer because we do at the hand of God, to not question God because he has a purpose.

“The Tree of Life” fails in perhaps in trying to do too much for one film. Exploring the big bang, creationism with a few scenes involving dinosaurs, learning about mercy, “the way of grace”, a glimpse of the ice age and into the story of the O’Briens, and then presented with elder Jack having what seems like a moment of enlightenment is too much to put into one film to deal with well. However, I hear Malick is planning to do a 6 hour cut of the film, if people are okay with the onslaught of repetitive scenes to get the rest of the story.

The overlying theme, presented in the very beginning is the way of grace vs the way of nature (as mentioned before). Jessica Chastain, who plays the mom, depicts the way of grace, teaching her sons love, compassion, to be at one with your surroundings and all the living life around you. Brad Pitt plays the strict father who teaches his son the way of nature, of being strong, that trying your best will serve to be fruitful, and that going against the grain is the way to succeed. He has certain moments of tenderness but doesn’t fully know how to raise his kids or to show them he loves them. His sons deal very heavily with their father, often scared of him, especially Jack, who eventually rebels and slowly starts to lose his innocence. As he grows older, there is an internal struggle of the teachings between his father and his mother, finding that he is more like his father which troubles him. Sean Penn who plays the older Jack is shown being depressed, contemplating his life, trying to find himself and reaches a revelation of sorts, an enlightenment that comes to term with his past and his family that allows him to let go.

“Tree of Life” is really those thoughts – a bunch of fragmented ideas that people ponder about how they fit into life and their struggles come to life on film. Malick chose to film the chaotic thoughts and struggles with life, with a story about Jack’s upbringing and “coming of age” at an extremely important crossroads of his life in which he grows into himself and will either be more influenced by his mother or his father. It is a film about hope and happiness. Simply put however, “The Tree of Life” is a film that can be interpreted a countless number of ways and is one where the experience you take away is the goal that Malick wants to achieve than the film itself.

Though this seems like a terribly deep film, I don’t believe it is at all. The “Tree of Life” just appears to be, with the constant flashes of the sun peering through the trees, the lapping of the ocean waves, the flicker of a candle, the clouds floating..over and over again. From my point of view, each scene is beautiful, yet together represents noise, with the constant display of same scenes of nature almost beating the ideas into my head that Malick believes he is trying to show in a subtle manner. Though the theme is simple, due to the frantic, almost fantastical imagery of emotion through eyes of nature, “Tree of Life” becomes a chore, lost in abstraction.

In fact, some of it, especially in the creationism scenes combined with the overwrought operatic music of Preisner’s Lacrimosa downright offended me. I have a great love for classical music and opera but the dramatic-ism in the music playing loudly as the earth was created with the volcanoes spewing and single cell organisms combining was just too much for me. Had it been with a different choice of music, I might have appreciated it more. Again, I didn’t want it beaten over my head that I was watching something that was amazing. We’re talking creationism here, which should speak for itself. I think I would have preferred another Lacrimosa – say, Mozart’s Requiem Lacrimosa. On the other hand, the music choice of Smetana’s Vltava fits perfectly with the mood of the film, much more subtle, whimsical, allowing one to breathe the imagery being presented without feeling as though the “big ideas” are being forced by the aid of repetitive ascending operatic crescendos.

I believe “The Tree of Life” would better be received if shown at art museums because it fits better with much of the modern art currently displayed in modern art museums. Malick’s greatest gift is knowing how to film a scene, especially when he is able to fully capture the spirit of childhood and what it is like to look through the eyes of a child – one feels as though they are somewhat reliving their own childhood in the section with Hunter McCraken’s Jack. (Well, if I were a boy). His use of wide angle lenses gave the sense that the world around him was huge – and was filled with wonder for him to explore with his brothers, with the aid of grand wonderful choices of classical music. If there is anything to credit “The Tree of Life”, it is a fantastic palate of classical music. I wouldn’t mind at all owning this soundtrack… minus Preisner’s Lacrimosa.


However, as I backtrack, once you put all these pieces together, you don’t really have a film, instead you are asking your audience to have an experience through abstract art – much like looking at a cubic painting of Picasso, or one step further, a Mondrian painting – where you seriously have to dig deep to interpret his art. I made the mistake of not researching enough about the film and had only seen the absolutely gorgeous trailer prior to stepping in the theatre. I tend to avoid reading about films going in, save for critic’s ratings and not being all that familiar with Malick’s works, I realized afterward that this was a film I needed to see on IMAX and that I should have been in the right mood — of visiting a museum — before seeing this. It didn’t help either that the person behind me had to clear her throat every two seconds. This is a hard film to immerse yourself in and any distractions will surely bring you out of it.

The ending failed on so many levels personally and ended abruptly in its story (for a film that has an incredibly slow pace, that says a lot.) Full of repetition, little exploration of the life that led up to where we now see Jack as Sean Penn is given. We are not shown the guilt he may have felt with his brother’s death, we are only given a moment that could be described as cathartic , a moment of peace in which everyone comes together to a place to love, to let go, to find happiness, whether or not it be a place of enlightenment, after life, or death of the planet. We are given little to understand this older self reflective and conflicted Sean Penn which furthers the confusion of the ending. (And the constant fade to black sure gave a lot of false endings). He has shown that he has obviously grown more to be his father – living in an extravagant home, with little closeness with his girlfriend, and a difficult relationship with his father. The last few moments of the film show a certain completeness that he has come to term with. This is supposed to be a happy ending, but the overall emotion I left with was depression and sadness, but mostly of melancholy.

The acting overall is terrific. However, don’t walk in expecting a Brad Pitt film. He disappears into his role as Mr. O’Brien. Jessica Chastain is beautiful in every frame, especially since she is presented as the way of grace. However, the real star is Hunter McCracken who plays Jack O’Brien as a boy. You take the world as he does, quiet, pensive, with boiling hatred towards his father and with the struggles of life. His brothers are played by Laramie Eppler (who looks like he really could be Brad Pitt’s son) and Tye Sheridan, who are endearing and loveable as Jack’s brothers.

For such a personal piece from Malick, I felt very disconnected from the film. Though everything was beautiful to look at with wonderful sentiments and grand ideas, it was just too much at once and could have been split into two films. The repetitive scenes of nature and the annoying whispers could have been cut, the whispers changed into a normal soft spoken voice. It was irritating and altogether too pretentious. People hate that word these days, but the definition is: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed. I think “Tree of Life” walked a fine line, and for the reasons I outlined above, I do think it became self-important with ideas that are not unbeknownst to the population, and often got carried away with the beautiful images.

I can only give this movie 2/5, one, for the truly magnificent camera work that I think is unmatched, as almost every frame in the film is worthy of well… being framed. And two, for the ambitious risk Malick took to getting the film made, produced and seen, so much so that if nothing else, it has garnered such interesting philosophical discussion like no other film I have seen in recent years. The interpretations by people who love this film are far more interesting than “The Tree of Life” itself. I believe this speaks to its abstract/modern art like quality.

Whether you may find “Tree of Life” pretentious and self indulgent, or life changing and magnificent, it is a film worthy of giving a try (even if you may end up walking out.) It’s the kind of film that begs for polarizing opinions and relishes in them. With such an ambitious nature and its desire to portray grandiose themes of life, death and love, it deserves at least that much.

For me, it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Lots to love, more to hate. Having said that, I may give this film another go when I’m in a more “receiving” state of mind, and I would highly recommend that if you’re going to see “The Tree of Life” that you wait until you’re in the same state as well.

Recommended, solely on the notion that I believe everyone should give this movie a chance – and only if you like challenging films and enjoy going to museums. If you’re the kind that ONLY likes action and dialogue, or a linear story, I say skip this. 2 bursts of sunlight / 5 bursts of sunlight.

To further help you make your decision, a short clip that is from the creationism scene:
FoxSearchlight: Watch This: THE TREE OF LIFE shows you how the universe was born

Watch the Trailer:

Other Links:
IMDB
The Full list of Music used in “The Tree of Life”

Bridesmaids: Disappointing as a comedy

Director: Paul Feig
Screenplay: Kristen Wiig, rx Annie Mumolo
Release Date: May 13, 2011
Actors: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’ Dowd, Jon Hamm, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jill Clayburgh

Bridesmaids is the latest film to come out of the long production line of the Appatow Film Productions, but this one is supposedly being touted for the girls. From early reactions from those who saw screenings of the film, they were claiming it to be hilarious, but for my group of friends, we found it downright depressing most of the time. Why?

The main character Anne (wonderfully talented Kristin Wiig) is now working at a jewelry store, hired as an offer to her mom by the boss because Anne’s mom is her boss’ AA sponsor. She previously owned a cake shop with her boyfriend, who decided to split once they closed up shop and she had lost the place. She lives with two strange British roommates who don’t respect her space or her privacy. She sleeps with a hot guy (Jon Hamm) who doesn’t respect her and is not looking for a relationship with her or anyone. Her one bright spot is her childhood best friend Lilian (Maya Rudolph), whom she can confide in and enjoys many a nights to spend her time with. However, Lilian is about to get married to her long-time boyfriend, and when Anne is asked to be Lilian’s maid of honor, things get that much worse.

My biggest problem with this film was that it was toted to be this continuous-laugh out loud movie, ala “The Hangover”, but I was lead astray, and found it to be a rather depressing film with moments of over-the-top hilarity. Most viewers will probably go in expecting as I did and coming away a bit disappointed. However, looking at the movie for itself, after putting my expectations of what I thought it would be aside, Bridesmaids was not a bad horribly bad. In true Judd Apatow style though, he takes bad situations and tries to make them funny – here in the form of Anne who seems to failing in life. I think many of us could probably relate to Anne in one form or another, whether it wanting to be the most important person in another person’s life, or wishing their career would succeed, or that someone would love them. Anne’s rival here with Helen (Rose Byrne, who is having a fantastic few months with the number of movies coming out with her) are the main moments that are hilarious, from an over-the-top trip to a fancy bridal store after an interesting meal at the Brazilian buffet to Anne’s breakdown on an airplane and ultimately, at the bachelorette party, all competing for Lilian’s attention.


There are a few jewels to be found in Anne’s life, with the introduction of Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd, from ITV’s “The IT Crowd”), a cop who stops Anne at night due to her back lights being broken and is charmed into her life. Because of Anne’s horrible attitude to herself and others, she finds herself continuing to ruin potentials that might have been good for her.

There is a lesson in life to be found here, that it really is how you approach your life and others that make people drawn to you, and how you yourself can make a change to make your life for the better. “Bridesmaids” teaches this lesson, between moments of absolute craziness, thanks to the main cast, and the other three actors (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy(Mike and Molly)) who play the other bridesmaids. Their characters were not fleshed out very well, but that is somewhat to be expected with such a huge cast and were simply there to add to the comedy.

Kristin Wiig has always been an extremely talented comedian, from her days on Saturday Night Live, along with Maya Rudolph. Seeing them playing best friends is a bit of a delight, albeit in an over-the-top environment thanks in part, to a bit of bathroom humor. One could sympathize with her character, and Wiig’s facial expressions of awkwardness and depression work really well. One of my favorite scenes involved Anne and Helen in a car trying to get Rhodes’ attention. It was one of the funniest moments in the film that is bound to get a few laughs. Rose Byrne is quickly becoming one of my new favorite actresses, with her ability to play a vain bitch in one movie, to a freaked out mother in the next in Insidious, and then a vindictive lawyer getting revenge on her boyfriend’s death (Damages). She breathes a bit of fresh air into each scene she is in, despite how easy it is to dislike her. However, her weight loss is a bit disconcerting to me to the point that it distracts me and takes me out of the film. Kristin Wiig is also just as skinny, but she has always been that way.

At the end of the day, if you’re going into “Bridesmaids” and expect non-stop laughter, you may not get it. However, I seem to be one of the rare people who think this since most people who have seen it thought it was hilarious from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I found “Bridesmaids” to be just okay since a comedy wasn’t exactly what I got. I wouldn’t call it a dramedy either, but it had more serious moments than one might think. The humor is dry (which usually I love), but for some reason, Apatow’s humor rarely ever strikes a chord with me in the right way. This is just my taste however, as I’m sure almost most of this country would be quick to disagree.

Wait for rental. Endearing story, but the laughs weren’t always there. Just okay for me. 2.5 Cupcakes / 5 Cupcakes

Other Links:
IMDB

Watch the Trailer:

Upcoming May 2011 Summer Movies: What are you looking forward to?

This summer is looking to be a summer of sequels and remakes (much like previous ones), implant filled with potential blockbusters. Hopefully 2011 will prove to be a successful and exciting summer, sovaldi sale since 2010 was a complete bore with only Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3 to dominate the summer blockbuster scene. But, being a chick, you know, out of the two words “nerd chick”, I also enjoy a good drama in addition to the comic book heroes coming out to smack us dab in the face this summer. Since I’m a film addict, I’ll be bringing you what I’m looking forward to month by month. Without further ado, here is the first post in this series on the movies that I am most looking forward to this summer and the ones others are most looking forward to as well.

MAY 13: Bridesmaids

Judd Apatow’s new movie that focuses on the women, a women’s “The Hangover”, as you will. I was looking forward to seeing this, but was sorely disappointed when I saw this in theatre. Review to come next week. Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Rose Byrne stars.

MAY 27: The Hangover, Part II

Here they go, all over it again, this time in Thailand. Add Liam Neeson into the mix, and it sounds intriguing. I never found the first part all that hilarious, (yes, I am one of THOSE people) so I’m hoping Part II will live up to its name and be even more funny than the first (which I have been told is, thanks to one of my lucky friends who saw it already). Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha star. Lots of famous guest stars will make cameos in this one as well. I’m looking forward to it.

MAY 13: Everything Must Go

Will Ferrell plays Nick Halsey who gets fired from her job, his wife leaves him, he starts drinking again and decides to sell all his valuables at a yard sale. Will Ferrell playing a “normal” character has me interested. Ever since “Stranger than Fiction” I have great hopes in this film, as I’m a sucker for inspirational and quirky dramedies, which “Everything Must Go” looks to be.

MAY 27: The Tree of Life

I don’t know much about the film, but the trailer is certainly gorgeous with music and imagery that steals my heart. It follows the story of Jack, set in the 1950s, who has lost his illusion of innocence due to something he sees with his father. Jack, played by Sean Penn and his father, played by Brad Pitt seeks to find the origins and meaning of life through his upbringing into the modern world. Directed by Terrence Malick.

Here are a few that are sure to be on everyone’s “to look out for” list, but doesn’t quite hit my priority list, but I will go see if I get a chance to see it ahead of release, or it’s praised by friends who have seen them:

MAY 6: Thor

The only one from MARVEL’s Avengers that is a God, who strikes down on everyone with his huge hammer. Unfortunately, Gods don’t interest me. Super human beings do. Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins star, though Portman is the only actor I’m interested in watching in this due to the poor choices by Hopkins’ as of late.

MAY 20: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Here comes the fourth in the series. Penelope Cruz (who I prefer) takes over for Keira Knightley. Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane stars. I have little interest in this film, as I didn’t really like most of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Though I must ask – what has Orlando Bloom been up to lately?

MAY 27: Kung Fu Panda 2

Okay, let me clarify that I LOVED Kung Fu Panda. However, I have little hope that the sequel will live up to its name. The trailer indeed is very cute and the film could be very promising, but few sequels (especially animated) have lived up to its original, so I’m not really looking forward to this as much as I should be as I really don’t want this to be a let down and make a mess of how delightful the first one was. I mean, I can’t get the fun scenes of Kung Fu Panda chasing after those XLBs with his chopsticks out of my head – how are they going to top that!?

Something Borrowed: Unexpected

Director: Luke Greenfield
Screenplay: Jennie Snyder
Release Date: May 6, more about 2011
Actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, therapist Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, Jonathan Krasinski, Ashley Williams, Steve Howey
Based on the book of the same name by Emily Giffin

“Something Borrowed” is written by Emily Giffin, the first book in the “Something” series that focuses on best friends Darcy and Rachel, who have been best friends from when they were kids. The film is an adaptation of this book, which follows Rachel and Darcy around. I have not read this book, so I can only write what I see in this film, and not how it differs or not from the original.

I was lucky enough to see a test screening of this movie almost five or six months before its release, so when I had a chance to go again to an advanced screening of the film, my friends and me decided to go again and see what changed. Needless to say, we prefer the original, though the main story of the film was the same.

Rachel, played by the talented and adorable Ginnifer Goodwin, is a mousy, brunette who works for a law firm. She is about to turn 30, and her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson) throws her a huge party at a restaurant of which the attention ends up mostly on… Darcy. Darcy and Rachel are almost complete opposites. Darcy is loud, obnoxious, and always commands everyone to pay attention to her. Rachel typically sits out on the side lines and looks in, usually quiet and demure in Darcy’s presence. At the party, it is no different. Darcy ends up getting a bit tipsy and ends up leaving early. Her fiancee Dex (Colin Egglesfield) comes back to the restaurant to look for Darcy’s Chanel, and the two end up spending some time hanging out over drinks. Both of them were great friends since their days in law school, and Dex finds out Rachel had a huge crush on him back then. We’re shown these flashbacks (terrible transitions mind you) of how they first met and the immediate chemistry the two had. Rachel, being a pushover, allows Darcy to swoop in who dares Dex to ask Darcy out on a date after Rachel says she and Dex are just friends. Back to the present. Dex, discovering Rachel had a huge crush on him, ends up kissing Rachel and the two of them end up sleeping with one another. Rachel relies on Ethan (Jonathan Krasinski) as her confidant and her advisor as she and Dex continue to stay in inappropriate contact (and conduct).

When I saw this many months ago, everyone I went with to see “Something Borrowed” was pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the film. It was funny, witty, well acted, and not typical of the normal storyline. It was strange, for me, to root for the cheater. Kate Hudson as Darcy does such a great job at being a horrible airhead of a person, but at the same time, she manages to make you feel sorry for her given how oblivious she seems of the people around her and of Rachel’s feelings. Ginnifer Goodwin was extremely likeable, despite the fact that she was cheating on her best friend with her fiancee because though (at least from what I’ve heard) she isn’t the sweetest person in the book, they make her out to be a completely relate-able and likeable character in the film. In fact, I hear everyone in the book are just basically horrible people. But in the film, she acts out when Darcy doesn’t treat her well, and you can’t help but root for her to win. The most honorable person in the movie is Ethan, who just wants what’s best for Rachel. Ethan has the best lines in the movie, especially when trying to dodge Claire (Ashley Williams) and being sarcastic in almost every scene in which he guides Rachel. One can’t help but root for him to win some. Marcus (Steve Howey) who plays Darcy’s friend is the over-the-top token character who Darcy tries to hook up Rachel with, and who provides the most amount of comedy relief in the movie. Claire also provides some moments of hilarity when trying to go after Ethan.

In comparison to the original, the finished version that I saw was a lesser version. The transitions into the flashbacks were horrible and not all that natural. The flashbacks also weren’t all in the first twenty minutes of the film, which gave a rather choppy feeling in the film. A few of my friends commented that they thought that the version that we first saw was more funny, so I suspect a few scenes that included Marcus were probably shaved off since it was obvious a few scenes were added, and the ending was slightly different than the version we had seen. Some of the music used at the party was different, and was not really pleasant to the ear that it actually took me out of the film more than once (in addition to the irritating flashback transitions).


The ending of the original left me a bit more cold, in a good way. The way the film ends is not what one might expect a Hollywood film to end, but I commend that they stuck with it (I would assume, for the sequel “Something Blue” which focuses on Darcy and Ethan). The acting all around was terrific, and though I had never really paid attention to Ginnifer Goodwin, I certainly will in the future. Colin Egglesfield also reminded me of a young Tom Cruise, the mannerisms, and even line deliverance being quite similar. Kate Hudson being the bitch was wonderful to watch to a T. I hated Darcy, and it wasn’t until the end that I really felt for her character. I’ve never really thought her to be a terrific actress, but the last couple scenes we see her in “Something Borrowed” really left quite an impression on me. Each of them held their own, and it is together that one can truly be blown away by their chemistry onscreen.

Beautifully filmed, with bright, spring colors, the characters leap off of the screen. You could feel the history between these characters, even though we only know them for a short while, and that is hard to do. One moment where there was dancing between Darcy and Rachel was particularly endearing, which helped me an idea of how close they were, despite knowing what Rachel was doing to Darcy behind her back. For the most part, I would say as a follow up to “The Girl Next Door”, Luke Greenfield’s third feature film is certainly a step up. (Let’s not mention his third film, “The Animal”).

“Something Borrowed” isn’t a film for everyone, as it’s mostly a romantic comedy. The beginning was badly edited, and the pacing was slightly too long. It’s hard to watch a romantic comedy where the primary story involves cheating and on your best friend’s fiancee too. However, I think they succeeded in making Rachel likeable enough for viewers to take something good away from the film, and the laughter that Ethan, Marcus and Claire provide offset the seriousness of the story. One could walk away from the movie and only remember one important lesson from the film and it could make their life better. What is it? Simply, ask for what you want. Speak up. If you never ask, how will you know? If you don’t ask, you’ll never really be true to yourself if you don’t speak up and stand in the corner. It is that quiet desperation and the willingness to hide in the corner that finds Rachel in an affair. It isn’t Darcy or anyone else that took anything away from her. It was because of herself. The stars align properly in “Something Borrowed”, and all is exactly how it should be in the end. It could have went one way, in which everyone was miserable, or that everyone was happy, but the ending was truly perfect and I walked away thinking that what happened was the best ending for the film. Critics will pan “Something Borrowed”, but I think girls like me might be able to enjoy it, despite being mostly formulaic and its one dimensional lead character (Darcy).

A bit long at places, but I do recommend this to people who enjoy romantic comedies. A few good laughs, some great eye candy and great acting. 3 Chipmunks / 5 Chipmunks

Links:
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ClockBusters

Thanks to one of my friends, treat I was introduced to this rather addicting game from Veer that I think is perfect for anyone who enjoys and has watched a lot of the well known movies or knows a two or thing about pop culture. It includes a lot of obvious films and a few lesser known ones.

The concept is interesting, price where you’re introduced to three images, here not from the film, but three images that might remind you what the film may be. You keep on playing over and over again until you can get 50/50, where it will show you the ones you missed if you’ve gone through the full 50 once already.

The first round I was playing in-between breaks from work, so I ended up only getting 35 my first try, then on the second, 44/50. Now I’m up to 48 and I ended up spoiling on the last two that I couldn’t do.

Let me know how you did 🙂 A pretty great time killer I must say, and I hope Veer comes out with more.

Play the Game! ClockBusters: Guess the Movie

Source Code: Intelligent and captivating mind bend

Director: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Release Date: April 1, sales 2011
Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

When I first heard there was a movie called “Source Code” hitting the theatre, I was super excited. As a self acclaimed nerd, the title got me interested right away. Alas, there is no source code to be found in this at all, save a string of “1”s and “0”s scrolling on the screen for about a couple seconds. Once I got over that fact though, what remained was a fairly interesting science fiction thriller that captivated my attention. Going into the film, all that I knew was what the poster and what little I had read. Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Colter Stevens, is running amidst a bunch of pictures and trying to stop a bomb from happening in order to save an interesting woman from dying. He only has 8 specific minutes to figure out who caused the bomb, and they are 8 minutes he lives over and over again.

Stop reading if you want to be completely surprised by the film, because even when summarized can ruin the wonder of the film. The source code the title refers to is actually a program that somehow grabs the remaining image or halo of an event, converts it to some sort of program and uses brain signals and brain function in order to interface with a reproduction or simulation of that aura. Though one might go into the film thinking that this is purely a thriller – in which the goal is to capture the killer, “Source Code” is so much more and is in fact really, about the character of Colter Stevens.

Colter Stevens is a captain in the army who finds himself dreaming and quickly wakes up to discover that he is on a moving train heading to Chicago. A passenger walks by and spills a cup of coffee on his shoe. A very pretty woman (Michelle Monaghan) who apparently knows him starts off saying that “she did it”, whatever that may mean. He quickly realizes that he is not Colter Stevens and is in fact using the body of Sean Fentress. After observing a few interactions on the train, confused, his woman friend comes to find him and asks him what is wrong. Soon after, the train is engulfed in flames and Colter finds himself, confused, in what appears to be a small vessel. He finds a woman (Vera Farmiga) on a small screen talking to him, trying to pull him back into the world and refreshing his memory. She asks if he found the bomb and whether or not Colter had discovered who the bomber was. After regaining his memory, he is again sent back onto the train as Sean Fentress to complete his mission. Rinse and repeat.

Quite early on, it’s obvious who the bomber is. That’s not the real story “Source Code” aims to tell however, otherwise the bomber would have been someone else. It’s a story of time travel, of regrets, of being able to do things over again if you could if you had the time. It’s the old age question of – what would you do if you knew when you would die and only had a few minutes left to live? As like all time traveling movies, “Source Code” will sure to be brought up when time traveling movies are mentioned, because it left my head spinning a bit with its own ideas of time travel and the information that is passed back and forth through these universes. (Though no where near the complexity of “Primer”, which left me with a headache.) Though in the same vein, “Source Code” could also be compared to “Last Night”, in the sense that the characters in “Last Night” were being faced with an apocalypse and had to decide what they wanted to do in the last hours of their life. “Source Code” wraps a mystery and time ticking thriller around this idea, but down to minute seconds in the story of Colter Stevens.

By the same director that brought us the brilliantly devised “Moon” (Duncan Jones), “Source Code” is decidedly different. One would think 8 minutes being played out over and over again would quickly get boring, but each 8 minutes seem fresh and new. Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as the man on a mission, confused, wanting to find a way to communicate with his father as well as finding peace and a purpose in his life by saving those people on the train. It is the human aspect to “Source Code” which makes it succeed and atypical from other sci-fi thrillers (as much as I enjoy those as well) and the ending is palatable and satisfying enough without being shoved down our throat. However, I never for a moment believe that what happens in “Source Code” is possible, at least not yet. Some ideas I can somewhat comprehend. The ideas of lasting imprints and halos are far beyond my comprehension but probably do somehow exist in physics. Add in the ending and what you thought was possible in previous time bending movies make it difficult to wrap one’s head around the new concept of time travel, parallel universes, and branching all rolled into one.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the journey and the film. I continue to recall the information given throughout the film to try and make sense of the ending. In the end, it’s just a film, and should be entertaining viewing to watch over and over again. I’m a sucker for time traveling shows or films, and “Source Code” was done really well, that I highly recommend it as viewing for all lovers of science fiction. Plus, any film with an appearance of comedian Russell Peters has my opinion bumped up a notch already!

A thrilling science fiction film that is more substance than fluff and contains at its core a great story and great acting. Recommended for all sci-fi buffs and those that like to twist their head around a bit. 4 coffee spills /5 coffee spills

If you liked this film, you might also like: Moon, Memento, Primer, Deja Vu

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Insidious: There’s Something in the House

Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell
Release Date: April 1, rubella 2011
Actors: Rose Byrne, Patrick Wilson, Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor

Tired of the endless string of bad horrors and thrillers that we’ve been assaulted with as of late? Hollywood seems to be churning out plenty of no-so-scary horror flicks, and from the sounds of “Insidious”, I thought that it would be another horrible horror film. Never being all that fond of scary films – either from being too scary, or lately finding them poorly executed, I came in not expecting Insidious to be any better. Boy possessed by a demon and haunts their own family? Haven’t we already been there, done that countless of times, by way of movies like “The Omen”?

In “Insidious”, we are introduced to Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne, most recognized from the series “Damages”), who has just moved into a new home with her husband Josh (Patrick Wilson – mmm mmm!) and three children Dalton, Foster (Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor) and baby daughter. One evening, as Dalton falls off a weak ladder trying to turn on an attic light, he bumps his head and witnesses something scary, but does not voice this to his parents. In the morning, Josh tries to wake him up but finds that Dalton does not wake up. Doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him. Months later, Dalton is moved from the hospital back home, remaining in his comatose state. Renai begins to sense something in the home and hears strange noises and voices in the house.

Creepy, quiet and spooky, “Insidious” (directed by James Wan, who brought us “Saw”), gives off vibes similar to “Paranormal Activity”, but without the cam feel that some viewers cannot stomach and with much more bravado and suspense. Though it builds up slowly, the ball starts rolling pretty quickly and rather exponentially once Renai realizes that the house seems to be haunted. Without revealing too much, I believe that “Insidious” is fairly unique in its overall ideas, though one might think it borders on ridiculous. The story comes to a point where the Lamberts bring in a supernatural reader named Elise (Lin Shaye), who has two employees Specs (Leigh Whannell, who also wrote the screenplay) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) who offer what little comic relief there is for the audience. Barbara Hershey as Josh’s mother also makes an appearance. It is when all these characters meet up with one another that the story starts to be a little contrived. The unknown is always better than the known, and it’s perhaps when they show us slightly too much that it makes the story a little bit more hokey in the third act.

Having said this however, the ending is not wholly unexpected, or surprising. After all, it’s a horror film, but this time, you’re not sure how it will quite end, which I found refreshing. As a fan of Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson, I thought the two played a believable couple who had opposing viewpoints on the situation they were they were dealt with, and added just enough conflict to not deter from the main plot too much. The main villain did remind me a bit of Darth Maul (for those who have seen “Star Wars Episode I”), which took me out of the movie a couple of times (hence, the unknown is scarier than the known), which was slightly a let down when we see him up close. This film will either bore you or scare you. It scared me and some people might be able to see the ending a mile away like one of my friends that I went with, but I did not, and I consider myself a pretty good guesser. Looking back though, I suppose it was obvious. To me, it was worth watching.

Unlike “Sucker Punch”, filled with heavy hitting music, “Insidious” was mostly soundtrack-less, effect-less that it felt rather real (up to the point where you meet up with the possessor), again, a lot like “Paranormal Activity”, but with a much steadier camera (to my preference). The opening introduction into “Insidious” was something out of the 70s/80s horror films, with the loud and jarring sounds of violins that made me wonder if I was about to watch a B-list film. However, upon hearing it being played right before the credits and then an equally creepy violin score displaying the credits, I felt it fit perfectly and was a welcome homage to those successful horrors of past. Actress Lin Shayne as Elise was a pleasant surprise – she gave off the right amount of kooky but seriousness that fit her role (some may remember her role in “Something about Mary”) that was somewhat of a break from the constant creepiness of the house. With Elise, you felt safe. Wan was extremely effective in his use of the camera, lingering and panning over items and things you should notice, but never jarring or purposely making things jump out at you. It is because of this “Insidious” is more effective in creating the creepy atmosphere that so many horror films seem to be lacking without having to resort to using cheap tricks.

If you’re looking for something that might make you feel creep-ed out this weekend, “Insidious” should be at the top of your list. Recommended for a dark night outat the theatre. Even the poster gives me the creeps. 3.5 Hooves / 5 Hooves

Sorry, still working on improving my writing – I realize this review is a bit rough!

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