A Christmas Story

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Now honestly, how many times have you seen this movie from beginning to end? Probably not that many times. You've probably seen the 'Leg Lamp' scene, and the 'Tongue stuck to the pole' scene, maybe Santa saying "You'll shoot your eye out, Kid!" scene, so you basically get the general gist of the movie.

TBS is advertising it this Christmas as "The funniest Christmas movie ever." I don't know about the funniest Christmas movie ever, but it definitely has its moments. Yet what makes this movie classic is its originality in choice of narration and tone.

This light-hearted, goofy film features Ralphie, an 8 year old boy who wants a 'Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle' for Christmas, and his need for this particular gift presents the perfect stage for his family to express their very different personalities. Not only is his family refreshingly not like any portrayal of the average American family in 1940, but they have character. There's the father who thinks the "electric sex" lamp is the most wonderful prize in the whole world; the dotting mother who get her son to eat by asking him to show her how "little piggies eat"; the little son who is forced to dress in 100 layers before venturing out into the snow. All the while, the entire film is narrated by an adult Ralphie in present tense. Already this movie has creatively changed the stereotypical expectations of any Christmas film of its time.

Like Citizen Kane giving new meaning to the camera angle and crossfade, or Momento taking linear narration to a new level, A Christmas Story opened up a whole new world of film and television possibilities. The Wonder Years, Look Who's Talking, and Christmas Vacation all pay homage to A Christmas Story in one way or the other; adult thoughts and ideas coming from an obviously younger person or a Christmas movie that portrays the flaws in the family dynamic. You can thank The Christmas Story for those.

This movie may not be your favorite Christmas movie, but how can you not appreciate a "double dog dare" kind of a movie?

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:44 AM 0 comments  

Material Girls

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I really like Hilary Duff movies (::bows head in shame::). I admit it. I own two of them. But why should I be embarrassed? Probably because all of them exist not for the sake of art, but for the sake of marketing a young, Disney-ized starlet who is currently a hot commodity. Her face in any movie will surely draw in a substantial tween following. Why? Because how can you not like Hilary Duff? She can't act, which probably means that a lot of what comes on screen is herself; goodie-goodie nature, innocent, and sweet. Despite the brain-washing, Mcdonaldized intentions of this movie, should I like Hilary Duff and her cane sugar sweetness? Probably not. Either way, her movies are fun to watch, and I love seeing what she wears.

However, aside from how much I like Hilary Duff, I must say that this movie was pretty bad. Maybe it was meant to be one of those movies like Dumb and Dumberer, where the comedy is so far-fetched and the situations are so absurd that you're not suppose to ask obvious questions like 'Why didn't they have home owners insurance when they burned down their mansion?', 'Why did Tanzie's crush just happen to be wandering the business halls in the middle of the night and Tanzie and Ava didn't ask any questions?', ' Why didn't they call their mother in Egypt?!'. Sadly, it wasn't suppose to be like Dumb and Dumberer. What might explain the poor script and over the top situations would be that this script was originally written for the Olsen twins . . . think 'New York Minute'. Need I say more?

What's funny is even though Hilary was suppose to act like a selfish brat, she still comes out as she does in her other movies. Sweet and nice. She can't act at all. I'm telling you, she has to be like this in real life.

I like Hilary Duff, and the .50 Goomba is for her. The 1 Goomba is for the costume designers, because their clothes were nice to look at and for the cute guys in the movie (another perk, there are always cute guys in her movies). Other than that, this movie was probably a waste of my time, but it is a Hilary Duff movie, so I really didn't expect much.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 2:19 PM 0 comments  

The Devil Wears Prada

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The 'chick flick' recipe was correct and uninteresting. Sweet girl from 'the sticks' is introduced to new, fast paced, cut throat life. She doesn't fit in. She gets a make over. She does fit in. She changes into a selfish, shallow person. Friends and family are concerned. Boyfriend breaks up with her. She sleeps with new, equally selfish pretty boy. She realizes the wrong of her new ways. She goes back to her old way of life . . . except more stylish and independent.
Sounds pretty boring, but what makes this movie so good is the acting. It transforms this homemade bunt cake recipe into creme brulee.

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep star as Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly, but it was Streep who really captivates the movie. Her performance was brilliant. Her role was to be a bitchy demanding boss, but Streep's contribution gave this character depth and dimension. Priestly was a woman demanding and superior with just the right hint of indifference toward those around her, yet so passive aggressive and private. Unlike most antagonists, the viewer doesn't hate her, even though Priestly expects Andy to drop all of her personal plans to bring her the dry cleaning; even though Priestly belittles Andy's clothes, hair, and shoes; even though Priestly expects Andy to find the unpublished copy of Harry Potter or be fired. There's a quality in Streep's portrayal that keeps the audience on the ride with Andy; a kind of sadness in her that only Andy and the audience sees. And for that reason, we do not hate 'the devil' on heels.

Aside from that, if you just want to pop in a movie to look at pretty people, this is the movie for you. The fashion is ridiculously gorgeous. But if you're looking for something with a little more depth, you may be surprised to find that here too.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:35 AM 0 comments  

Casino Royal

Friday, December 08, 2006


Casino Royal, the latest James Bond flick, really does live up to all the hype. All the necessary Bond elements are there and fully loaded; explosions, lots and lots of guns, fast yet luxurious cars, a crazy enemy, and beautiful women. James Bond isn't half bad looking himself.

I watched this movie weeks ago, but I haven't written about it because I was struggling with whether or not to compare it to other Bond films. Critics, the media, and the population in general can't help but compare Daniel Craig to Pierce Brosnan, but is that really fair? To me, comparing Craig to Brosnan is like comparing Brad and Angelina to Brad and Jenn. Craig is a rugged and coarse Bond. Brosnan is a classy, luxurious Bond. How do you compare those two? I don't think you can. So I won't.

Casino Royal begins with an amazing chase scene, and it helps set the tone for the entire film. James Bond is almost a vigilante in this film, and throughout the whole movie, he struggles with authority. Because this is a portrayal of Bond at the beginning part of his career, Bond makes some very large mistakes in judgement. He's not nearly as smooth and debonair as you'd think James Bond should be, and that's what makes this film unique. James Bond is just a normal human being. He wasn't always a kick ass spy, just a bad ass kind of person.

The only criticism I have for this movie is the thrown together plot. What should have been the climax and ending was actually followed by what seemed to be a "Oh crap, we forgot to resolve that part of the storyline!" so writers added it in at the end to make a sort of secondary climax that was indeed, anti-climatic.

However, since most action films, and Bond movies for that matter, can get by on cute girls, expensive cars, lots of guns, and mind-blowing action, this Bond has won me over.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 2:34 PM 0 comments  

The Break Up

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The highly anticipated film, The Break Up, was not highly anticipated by me, and I after watching, I realized that my first instincts existed for a reason. The Break Up stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, two actors who are currently dating in real life, so the masses assumed that by watching this film, they would be able to catch a glimpse of their real life, off camera relationship. I was already turned off by the shallow grounds this movie's hype was based off of, and it was for this reason that it took me so long to watch. I found that I really didn't miss much from waiting.

This movie had so much potential, but it was ruined by a confused tone and an inappropriate placement of humor. As its title reveals, The Break Up is about a break up. Brooke and Gary's relationship is presented in a clean nutshell, also known as a three minute montage of photographs taken during the happier moments of their relationship, at the beginning of the film. The story then continues into a generic fight that is almost always depicted in any primetime, family sitcom. Brooke and Gary have both worked a full day. Brooke comes home and starts to clean and cook for dinner guests that are about to arrive. Garry comes home and automatically turns on the TV. Brooke gets upset because he isn't helping her, but instead of explaining what the true reason for her frustration is (she feels unappreciated and unsupported), she nags him about how he is lazy, incompetent, and selfish. All he hears is her anal retentive, bossiness. They break up.

Because they own a condo together, both refuse to give in and move out. The movie attempts to add a comical flair to the given situation. In the beginning, both actually do not want to break up, but actually say anything. They do everything in their power to annoy each other, and the whole time, I'm sitting there saying, "Are you people two years old?!" Both are passive aggressive and cause each other frustration through situations that are normal enough to be true but are twisted to become so absurd that its humor is lost.

The only salvation for this movie was its ending, and it was then that I realized that the writers were just confused with how they wanted this story told. At first glance, the movie acts as a comedy, but it was really meant to be a drama. The tone begins seriously and ends seriously. It's the middle, 'comical' parts that confuse because you're sitting there watching Brooke's flaming gay brother bring his acapella group to their apartment for rehearsal early in the morning to wake up Gary from his hangover and ask yourself "Why is this necessary?" It isn't. Its purpose is only to show how bitter and passive aggressive break ups make people act. The kind of humor presented was inappropriate for kind of story the writers were trying to tell.

Breaks ups begin with a fight, continue into a brewing bitterness and resentment, and usually end with a civil respect for one another, and The Break Up captures all of these aspects, making it a bearable film. However, it fails to portray these aspects in polished, well thought out script, and for these reasons, this film fails in my eyes. Break ups are bad, and this one sucked.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:58 AM 0 comments  

The Puffy Chair

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Now, I am always a sucker for indie films, but I must say that this movie was a disappointment. Luckily, I didn't waste the entire 2 hours of my life, as I decided to turn the movie off when one of the brothers decided he was going to marry a woman he had just met 4 hours before.

According to Netflix, The Puffy Chair is about this: "When Josh (Mark Duplass, whose brother Jay directs) finds the perfect birthday present for his father, he decides to deliver it in person. But with his high-maintenance girlfriend Emily (Kathryn Aselton) and granola brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins) along for the ride, Josh's simple road trip turns into a much bigger journey than anyone anticipated."

The downfall of this film was the protagonist. I just could not relate to him. Don't get me wrong. I don't have to relate to all protagonists in order to enjoy a film, but I do have to feel something for him/her. This guy had no emotion. When his girlfriend yanked the tablecloth and all the dishes that were on it to the floor in a fit of rage, Josh just sits there. His words seem dumbstruck, but his face doesn't. When he tries to cheat the motel owner out of her ten dollars, all I could think of was "what a bastard" and "what a slim ball." When he decides to look for dirt on the puffy chair salesman rather than confront him about the matter, all I could think was "coward" and "idiot." There are characters that you are suppose to love to hate, but Josh is not even close. His character is someone whose existence is so aggravating that you can't even appreciate some of the better scenes because he's made you irritated. Could it be the acting or the writing? Both? Anything is possible.

Shot mostly with a handheld camera, this film tries to simulate reality with its cinema verite shots. It thinks that making the film look like a documentary will make it look artsy and professional. All it really accomplishes is making the 'comedic scenes' look dumb and the emotional scenes bland. This film is one with The Simple Life, scripted fiction that attempts to pass as a commentary on real life.

Sorry Duplass brothers, your omage to Say Anything did not win me over. Next time, try to not be consumed with indie film cliches, then maybe we'll talk.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:51 AM 0 comments  

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Monday, November 13, 2006


Ferris Bueller is the kind of guy that everyone loves. When he decides to take a day off from school, at least one person from every clique in high school calls him up from the lone school pay phone (you remember that high school pay phone right?) to find out if he's okay. Now that is ultimate popularity. Not only does Ferris have a well-rounded following in high school, but the entire community as well as the viewer seem to fall for Ferris' charisma and charm. "[Ferris,] how did you get to be so sweet?" "Years of practice," Ferris answers.

Today I feel like crap, but I'm at work counting down the minutes to 2pm when our Staff Meeting starts so that I can go in, do my presentation, and go home and sleep. Yet, I can't help but wonder how sick I really am. Is it all in my head? I'm doped up on Dayquil, you'd think that I'd be feeling great by now. Am I just sick of work? Could be, and its only Monday! Oh the humanity . . . . 60 more minutes. If today were Saturday and we were all on our way to an amusement park, would I be feeling this crummy? I wonder . . .

Either way, I know what Ferris would do. Ironicially, he's totally up front and honest with himself about his sickness. He knows that he's lying (Is this a paradox? No, its the Dayquil). He knows that he's cheating the system. I, on the other hand, could by lying to myself. My sneaky brain could be telling my body "No, I don't want to be here, so feel crappy Body! Feel crappy! Jenn won't know the difference!" Apparently, my brain knows that I'm not cool like Ferris Bueller.

On Ferris' day off, he did all sorts of fantastic things. How many of us do that many fantastic things on a day that we legitimately have off? I wouldn't haven't woken up until noon, but Ferris wakes up, showers and shaves, plays his keyboard, makes a few phone calls, picks up his best friend, picks up his girlfriend, drives to NY, takes in a museum, eats at a restaurant, sings in a parade, goes swimming, crashes his best friends car, and runs home all before his parents get home from work. What a guy.

The reason this movie succeeds in capturing audience's attention year after year is because of Ferris' endearing qualities. He is the kind of person we all wish we could be. Daring, sweet, innocent, cunning, and charming. Ferris' best friend, Cameron, wishes it. The audience wishes it. Ferris takes the simple idea of a sick day and transforms it into a fantastic adventure. The options are endless.

So the question is, should I be more like Ferris? Yes! . . . but mind over matter, and my sneaky brain is still booby trapping my body to believe that I really am sick . . . so sick I am. Another day Ferris, another day!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:55 PM 0 comments  

The Illusionist

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I don't understand why people insist on comparing The Illusionist with The Prestige. Yes, both films are about magicians, and yes, both endings have some sort of 'twist' involved; however as far a basis for comparison, that's about it.

The Illusionist, at its core, is about love. Actually, its about the purest kind of love, childhood love. As a working class young boy, Eisenheim, played by Edward Norton, fell in love with aristocrat, Sophie in early 20th century Vienna. They are of course separated, and Eisenheim goes off to become a great illusionist. Sophie and Eisenheim are reunited as adults, but Sophie is engaged to Prince Leopold. It doesn't help that Leopold's tragic flaw is rationalism, and decides that its his purpose in life to prove to everyone that illusions are child's play. In a little boy attempt to prove whose is bigger, Leopold attempts to unravel Eisenheim's illusions with no luck. This only makes him more aggravated. Imagine what happened when he found out Sophie was leaving him for Eisenheim, the bane of Leopold's existence.

Now this movie may sound like every other romance you've seen, but one of the reasons why this film is so good is because you aren't even aware that you are watching a romance film until you consciously think about placing it in a genre.

But not only is the story wonderful, but the visual 'effects' are gracefully artistic. Out of focus starts to scenes, a rather sexy montage of Sophie and Eisneheims' reacquaintence, and a beautiful tinge of sepia really make the film.

The Illusionist has the perfect balance of suspense and goodies, but I can't forget to mention that 'the twist' makes the movie even better!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:51 AM 0 comments  

The Prestige

Saturday, November 04, 2006


A film about an obsessive competition between two rival magicians, The Prestige took me for an awfully disturbing ride. I must warn all animal lovers out there that there is some gruesome scenes involving canaries and doves.

The film begins at the end. Alfred Borden is arrested for the murder of Robert Angier, and we see the so called murder take place. Except we only see Borden as a witness to Angier's death, so there is still reason to question what actually happened that night. The story progresses via flashback within flashback of Angier's mentor, Cutter, and then a separate flashback of Angier within Cutter's flashback. By choosing to tell the story this way, the plot's execution parallels the madness that you see in these magicians. "Are you watching carefully?" Borden's challenge to his in-film audience becomes a challenge for the sutured, real audience as well.

A good movie is only achieved through a good story, and although I wouldn't say that The Prestige has a fantastic story, it had an adequate one. But what it lacked in story quality it made up for in complex, well thought out themes and motifs, and this is what I loved about the film. Secrets, guise, and performance, three themes that are blatantly obvious on a superficial level, but are actually entwined within every second of the picture. Because of this, The Prestige has quality written all over it.

********SPIOLER WARNING************
Once I got over the fact that Hugh Jackman kills himself over and over again,'part' Christian Bale dies, and the irony of how both/parts of both choose to die, this movie kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The Prestige is one of those movies that keep you alert in the hope that you'll find some clue or hint about 'the reveal', and boy is it morbid and disturbing!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:01 PM 0 comments  

The Graduate

Friday, November 03, 2006


In college I had this really great film instructor who once showed us a film clip of The Graduate as an example of a film montage. As a side note, his exact words were "watch this when you graduate, and you'll cry like a freaking baby." Apparently that was from his own personal experience.

I did watch that movie, but it was during my senior year. If I had waited just one more year to watch that movie, would I have cried? I think I would have.

What comes to mind now in my post graduated brain, is the montage of Dustin Hoffman, his unfulfilled life, and his affair with Mrs. Robinson. This montage is so meticulously planned that Benjamin is transported into the next scene. It is so effortless and so precise that the viewer can feel how empty Benjamin's life is. The gaps of time that are omitted really tell us that those gaps weren't worth seeing anyway. Nothing is happening to Ben, so Ben keeps waking up every day, having an elicit affair with Mrs. Robinson. He's not even trying to figure out what to do with himself. Each day blends into another; Ben jumps out of the pool, but it becomes Ben jumping onto Mrs. Robinson. Ben sits in a chair, and it becomes him sitting on a bed. In this montage, he's just a zombie walking through time, and that is what it is to be a graduate.

There is a point after graduating from college that you are basically going no where. You just wake up and live each day. Your next goals are so far away that you may not even know what they are anymore. When people ask you what you've been up to these past couple weeks/months, you can't remember anything. Its all a blur.

The Graduate really captures the feelings of post graduation; the depression and the indifference. Thankfully I didn't have to re-experience them when I experienced the film.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:53 AM 0 comments  

Say Anything

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Say Anything. Quite the appropriate title for my first blog, which also just happens to be my favorite film of all time.

But can one really say anything? Diane Court says to her father during the climatic scene,"no, I don't want to leave anything out because I know I can say anything to you." Can a person really say anything?

Can I tell self-inflicting martyrs to suck it up and quit complaining? Can I tell the snide commenter that he/she needs to get some self confidence? Can I tell the stupid woman/man to quit saying things like "Ghiradelli" in a weird, French accent in an attempt to sound sophisticated? You sound even more stupid than you really [hopefully] are, considering that Gear-ar-deli is Italian. I suppose I could say all these things, but I don't.

Roger Elbert said that Say Anything is about honesty, and there is such a thing as being too honest. I don't want to hurt people's feelings.

But here, in the world we live in, there exists such a wondrous thing as the Internet, and here I can say anything. Welcome to my blog.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:51 AM 0 comments  

Friday, July 28, 2006

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:41 AM