The Brothers Solomon: It seems to me that every time I use the Netflix "Watch Instantly" feature I end up watching a stinker, and this movie is no different. This comedy stars Kristen Wig and Will Forte of SNL fame, both of whom I really like, but neither could save this one. It's about two inept brothers, Forte and Will Arnett (who I don't care for), who want to have a baby so that their comatose dad (a wasted Lee Majors!) will be proud of them when he wakes. Wig plays the surrogate mom. I guess this was the ultra poor man's Baby Mama. There's nothing more to say, I'd just plain avoid this one, it's pretty bad.
Wanted: Now here's a movie a know a lot of folks hated, but I just loved. Whatever, I'm a sucker for a fun action movie, and that's what this one is. The film is about a perpetual loser named Wesley Gibson, who's deceased dad was part of a secret guild of super assassins, who now are out to recruit Wesley into the fold. What's then laid out is a spectacle of Gun-Fu action that's to die for! (yes, that was a pun!) This movie was based on a comic book mini series by Mark Millar and JG Jones, and I'm pretty positive that a lot of the negative buzz around it was from fans of the series who didn't like the adaption. To be fair, they changed a major part of the concept, but see, to me, it was in benefit of the movie. Both can stand on their own now as two sides of the same coin. James McAvoy, as Wesley, is fantastic, and he's got a fun array of characters behind him, including Morgan Freeman, who has some choice one liners. My one disappointment is that Angelina Jolie, as Wesley's trainer, did not look good in this at all. Someone please feed this girl a steak already! I was seriously cringing. That aside, you should dig this movie if you're the type of fan that can suspend your disbelief, and just enjoy a crazy action movie.
Stardust: Another movie with a comic book connection, this one to former scribe Neil Gaiman and painter Charles Vess' novel. It's a fantasy story about a star that falls to a realm just outside of Earth, and the race by various characters to retrieve her and her power. And yes I said her, that being Clare Danes, whom I've always been a fan of. She does shine, literally, here too! It's an OK movie, if not a tad bit boring. The movie kicks it up a notch, though, when Robert DeNiro finally makes an appearance as a sky pirate captain with a very fun secret. It's not an amazing movie, but it is entertaining, and definitely worth a rent.
Adaptation: See, now here's a movie that critics and fans both loved, and I just couldn't get that into. Not that it's a bad movie, but it just wasn't ringing the right tune for me. Nic Cage is very good in it, and when he's on, he's on, but still, something wasn't true for me. I think I just feel like a lot of these type of movies feel forced. I've liked some of them plenty, but I find myself rolling my eyes more often than not. I can still say to see it, if you haven't already, because it is no doubt a unique movie.
Bee Movie: I like Jerry Seinfeld. He always brings a nice, neurotic POV to everything, and in an animated movie tailored to him, he puts his talents on display. Sounds like he had a good time doing it, too. The supporting cast is fun as well with Matthew Broderick and Patrick Warburton in fun roles. Unfortunately, though, the movie as a whole isn't all that, and everything just sort of falls into your lap without much reason or repercussion. I mean, it's not terrible, and it's entertaining to a point, but the story has obvious flaws. Also, Dreamworks' animation department needs to play some catch up. Their movies pale in comparison to Pixar's, which are the gold standard of the genre, but they don't even match up to Blue Sky's work. All in all, it's an OK flick, but don't expect more than that.
The Fall: Somebody please let Tarsem (Singh) make more movies! The Cell was pretty good, and in The Fall he extends the palette to suit his whimsy in fantastical ways. Sure, it took a little while to come out, but this is a definite rental. In this part drama, part fantasy that takes place in the 1920's, a paralyzed stuntman tells a little girl a fantasy story that blurs the lines of reality. The visuals are stunning, the characters are funny, and the best part of the movie? The little Romanian girl! Holy crap, she's amazing! So natural, it's just an unbelievable performance, and the mark of a great director as well. The fantasy section is just the type of story I like, too, with a band of heroes all fighting for the same cause through insurmountable odds. This is a must watch for everyone.
The French Connection: Having seen this on broadcast TV as a kid, I only just knew of it as the Bensonhurst movie, but I'm glad to have finally seen it as an adult. This is a pretty intense movie all around, with some excellent acting lifting it even higher. Gene Hackman is just awesome as Popeye Doyle, a hard nosed NYC cop, and Roy Scheider, as his more level headed partner, is right on as well. The back drop of 70's NYC is the real star, though, as its grit leaves scars all over your psyche. I, of course, loved all the Brooklyn scenes, and can make out lots of spots from my childhood. The ending is fantastic, and surprising as well, but makes so much sense. Great movie, and glad I got to finally watch it properly.
The Red Balloon: I've honestly have never heard of this short 1960's French film, but it's one of Marilyn's favorites from her childhood. We got to see a free showing of it recently, and I was blown away by it. The plot is simple, a boy finds a red balloon and keeps it for himself. The boy and balloon become fast friends, (yes, I said friends!) and all the neighborhood children are driven insane with jealousy. The first half of the 34 minute movie is a very sweet story about the friendship, while the second half becomes a non stop chase scene as the kids try to get the balloon to torture it. If you can find a copy of this, grab it, if you can see a screening of it somewhere do it! It's just wonderful! (Actually Netflix has it as a Watch Instantly! Go now!)
Mamma Mia: 5 minutes into this movie, I was hooked; who knew I liked ABBA so much?! I guess I do, though, because I was bopping the whole way through this screen adaption of the Broadway play, based on the songs of ABBA. The cast looked like they had a ton of fun making it, too, especially Meryl Streep, who looked 20 years younger in this. The movie is extra startling for me because the main character is the splitting image of my cousin's girlfriend! It's bizarre! Is this is a good movie, hard for me to say objectively, as I was so into the music that I just felt like I paid my cover charge, got drunk, and danced all night. So, I guess in that regard the movie is a success. Really it's just a lighthearted, fun vacation of a movie. So, stop being so uptight, and just give it a whirl. Why the heck not?!
Leatherheads: I think I wanted to like this movie more than I did. I mean, it is pretty decent, but it's not a masterpiece. George Clooney does well on both sides of the camera, though, so you have to give the guy credit. The story is about the legitimizing of football as a national sport, and the rough and tumble guys that help make it happen. It's tongue in cheek, and feels like an old Laurel and Hardy type of movie at times, and that helps it move along. The pesky Renee Zellwegger, who's kind of perfect in these types of roles, continues to get under my skin lately. I think her choice of characters recently have just all been very annoying. At least in Bee Movie I couldn't see her making silly faces! If you dig lighthearted football stories, this one is for you.
Baadasssss!: I just finished watching this. Figured I could write and watch at the same time, but it didn't work out too well, and now I severely have to get to bed! Anyways, Mario Van Peebles made this movie as a tribute to his dad, Melvin Van Peebles, based on his account of the making of the movie Sweet Sweetback's Badasss Song. I've never seen that movie, but I want to now! This movie, however, is a fantastic account of what it was like to make an independent movie in the early 70's. Mario has done his dad proud with an excellent break out performance. A good fun cast all around, too, with the surprising Rainn Wilson as Van Peebles' makeshift sidekick leading the way. I really dug this movie, and I highly recommend it for so many reasons.
MY PICK: This is a tough one, but I'll go with The Fall from this batch, as I think it's the most suited for a wider audience. You should definitely see that one. It's so different and beautiful, and the performance of Cantinca Untaru, the little Romanian girl, is just spellbinding. So definitely see that one first!
I hope you dug these reviews; now go watch some movies!