Atonement

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

4 GOOMBAS

A limited release, I heard about Atonement via a radio advertisement on my way to work. The commercial was a montage of hyper-romanticized lines from the film, a voice over done by a deep voiced voice actor (say that 5 times fast) who quoted gushing film critics (“the most achingly romantic movie since Titanic”), and with heart-wrenching, “just let me sob in peace” music playing in the background. Though this film had me at “achingly romantic,” I cringe at the thought of someone rolling their eyes and overlooking this remarkable film at the fault of the advertisers who betrayed this film’s distinct uniqueness. It isn’t all achingly romantic.

Keira Knightley and King of Scotland’s James McAvoy star is the intense, regret-filled film, Atonement, a film that focuses on how one mistake can drastically affect the lives of many. Already at thirteen, Briony Tallis is a writer. She possesses a broad vocabulary and has a preference for the fanciful. Cecillia Tallis, Briony’s older sister (Knightley) and Robbie Turner (McAvoy), the educated and intelligent gardener’s son, are in love, but when an unfortunate incident occurs, Briony accuses Robbie of a crime he did not commit, which forces Cecillia and Robbie apart.

Cinematographically beautiful, Atonement takes this simple story and gives it an editing edge. Many scenes are unconventionally placed on a semi-linear track. Some scenes are shown again from a different person’s perspective rather than editing the scenes together, as 99.9% of movies do, or at a later moment in the film, a sequence will repeat for emphasis. Other scenes are rewound while the scene showing the chaos in Dunkirk continues for 5 minutes without any cuts. The cinematography and editing is interesting and distinct. The mise en scenes of one shot literally made me say “Wow” out loud in the theater (the scene with the family standing on the front steps). The music is amazing, and the type-writer music creates an intense and suspenseful atmosphere during the first half of the film.

The movie doesn't make the 4.5 Goomba mark because the story wasn’t fantastic. I didn’t understand why Cecillia had an initial disregard for Robbie or Briony’s reason for her terrible accusation. Some parts of the movie were romantic enough but not in the melodramatic way that it’s portrayed on commercials. Reality, in the film, was very fuzzy. Sometimes I didn’t know if the scene in front of me was a memory, a fantasy, or the current moment. I still haven’t decided if this is something I liked.

Atonement’s sophistication is what makes it out of the ordinary, and it definitely makes it Oscar bait. Hopefully this film won’t be over-looked.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 6:31 PM 11 comments  

We Are Marshall

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

Sometimes I wonder if Matthew McConaughey is on weed. He is so strange. He has really strange, overly exuberant mannerisms, he's constantly exercising and hanging out with Lance Armstrong, and he's always shirtless in his paparazzi photos. I find it hard to take him seriously. Especially with his geeky haircut and bad color job in We Are Marshall.

There is a very good possibility that I could be struck down by lightening right about now for criticizing this movie, even just McConaughey, in the slightest. We Are Marshall is about the unfortunate tragedy that occurred at Marshall University in 1970. Almost all of the Marshall football team died in the plane crash, and the film is a dedication to their memory.

We Are Marshall captured the youthful optimism and hope that the Marshall University team represented, but also the battles they needed to face following such a sudden disaster. The montage of moments leading up to the crash commanded the audience and encompassed the magnitude of the situation; it was very well shot and created interest with the editing. The scene of the school and community coming together to keep the school and team spirit alive gave me the usual sports-themed movie goosebumps. However, it is more than a sports film. It's an actual drama, giving it that potential edge to be something different and great.

Keeping all these good things in mind, We Are Marshall still lacks that extra "Umph." Though the premise and the back-story were excellent launching points for an inspiring, against all odds kind of flick, it really failed the deceased characters. The movie is about how Marshall University rose from the ashes to become the Thundering Herd despite such a great loss. However, the filmmakers made the mistake of giving the audience a personalized glimpse into some of the lives that were lost. I know it was meant to humanize the event, just as Jack and Rose's lives illustrated the sinking of the Titanic, but it sort of did the opposite. This whole new team created after the crash is faceless to me; the new coach, McConaughey, is strange and untrustworthy. There were some survivors who brought us through the end, but basically, I felt no connection to any characters other than those who were directly related to the deceased.

Maybe that is the whole point of the movie; moving on despite what life might bring, but the team of new members was just a huge blob to fill a void. They didn't represent triumph in my eyes. By not distinguishing those new members, they represented what Marshall lost, and by not distinguishing those new members, the team was definitely not a tribute to the boys who died.

The ending is bittersweet, and isn't the uplifting kind of film you hope it is. It's okay, but at the same time, to left me with a weird feeling. Marshall University should be proud that someone thought it important to capture the heartache and hardship that the school and town faced, but as a film straight from Hollywood, it goes on the B list.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:54 PM 0 comments  

I Am Legend

Sunday, December 16, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

One of the most awful scenarios I could ever picture myself in, other than being trapped in an automobile that is quickly being submerged by water, is being the last person alive in an abandoned, urban ghost town during the day and then at night, having to hide myself from intelligent predators who will surely find me. I would never feel safe.

Will Smith explores one of my greatest fears in his new motion picture blockbuster I Am Legend. Based on the 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson, Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the last man living in New York City. In 2008, the measles was re-engineered into the Krippen Virus to work as a cure for cancer; however, it quickly mutated killing 90% of the people on the planet. 1% of the population was completely immune, but the rest became the Infected, people who exhibit primal, vampire-like qualities (sensitivity to UV light; attraction to blood)and blind rage. It was the Infected who killed the rest of the population, leaving Robert Neville, a military virologist, a lone survivor. Haunted by the memory of his family, Robert Neville obsessively searches for the cure; desperately hoping that his family's death won't be in vain.

This movie had so much potential. It set the perfect back story. It possessed perfect plot inertial. It perfectly developed the characters. It startled you in just the right places, and utilized silence in a strong way. Will Smith's performance was excellent, especially considering his lack of costars. His fondness for his dog is precious and simultaneously heart-breaking, and his comedic talent helps alleviate the stark loneliness and semi-realistic terror. The CG made everything feel real (it must have cost a fortune to edit out all the people in New York City). Everything felt legitimate, and it was kind of disturbing. But when the curtain for the last act went up, the perfectly orchestrated film crumbled.

I can pinpoint it to one moment; the introduction of the Ana and Ethan. They were presented very late into the film, creating no time for the audience to bond with them or trust them, and the whole fate/God bit was really out of place. It was inappropriate for these new characters to play such a large part in the ending, especially without any foreshadowing of their existence. Their role in the anti-climatic climax was weird . . . did Ethan even have a speaking part? I can't remember . . . They had such a huge plot responsibility but they were such flat and unimportant characters. They were unsuitable for the entire film, and I blame the film's downfall on their lack of character.

This movie could have been so good, and although I Am Legend and Will Smith may become box office legends, they unfortunately won't make it to AFI's top 100.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:52 PM 1 comments  

Grindhouse: Death Proof

Thursday, December 13, 2007

3.5 GOOMBAS

If you aren't already familiar, Grindhouse is a term used to describe low budget B movies played back to back and were extremely popular in the 1960's and 1970's. These flicks were usually exploitation films that focused on hot chicks, fast cars, and impossible blood baths rather than its storytelling and acting. Often, the picture and audio quality is very poor; the actual film has knicks and scratches with a grainy picture; sometimes it even has a missing reel.

Death Proof is the first film in this double-feature and is directed by gore-lover Quentin Tarantino. Serial killer, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), has made his 1970 Chevy Nova “death-proof,” and he uses his deadly automobile to target and murder young, beautiful women despite his seemingly calm nature. His first targets are four tartly women who are on their way to meet some guys at a bar before heading up to a lake house for the weekend. After murdering them (and a fifth innocent girl who agreed to be driven home by Stuntman Mike) with his vehicle he goes in pursuit of four other women who prove to be more of a challenge than he initially thought.

Although Tarantino’s taste in cinematic style may be a bit too outrageous, you have to admit, he’s one of a kind. Death Proof is made to mimic low quality everything; poorly written script, over-the-top situations, insane blood and gut splatters, “girl scenes” that look like they could have been out of a porn movie, and yet, none of this made it feel like a B movie. Who else could have pulled that off? What Tarantino did was camouflage a well thought-out film with poor color, out of sync audio and slutty tramps.

Contrast the two sets of women. The first set is scantily clad, highly sexualized, trashy, and possessed few ambitions. Their conversations consist of men, partying and weed. They grant lap dances, purposely attract the wrong kind of attention, and make decisions as if there is no consequence. The second set of girls is young and beautiful, ambitious and fun loving. Their conversations are about work, interests, and life experiences. They seek adventure, and I don’t think they even mention a boyfriend or male companion once throughout their segment. The actual movie gets better when these girls are on screen (following a transitional gray area (literally) between segments). The shots and angles are stylized and fit the standard rules of film-making, unlike in the beginning where the 180 rule is constantly broken (making me completely irritated). In the second half, the dialog is better, the stunts and editing have quality, and there are hardly any scratches on the actual film. Tarantino is making a statement about women here, and the ending makes it obvious. I could go on analyzing every detail of this film, but I don't want to give too much away.

The bad about this flick: parts of the film were extremely slow. I almost turned off the movie after 20 minutes. I was dying. I’m a really impatient person. Luckily, I stuck through it, and it was completely worth it. Actually, even just the last 30 seconds of the film makes it worth it.

I think Tarantino is disturbed, but he’s an artist. I guess it just goes with the territory.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:36 PM 0 comments  

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Sunday, December 09, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

I absolutely hated the second Pirates movie. I entered the theater anxious and excited and left fuming and frustrated. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest made me physically angry and irritated. I couldn’t believe that such an unintentionally awful and corny movie is the predecessor of such an original and creative story. My disgust of the second film prevented me from possibly dumping my well-earned $10 into the trash, but my responsibility as the movieGOOMBA couldn’t stop me from sharing my findings with you.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End continues the saga of our favorite cowardly captain, Jack Sparrow and his frien-imes Elizabeth Swan and William Turner. Now bear with me as I try and explain the plot. I had to read the detailed synopsis after watching the flick to understand what I had just watched. The East Indian Trading Company is taking over the sea and executing all people associated to Pirateism, and the pirates must come together in order to have a fighting chance at maintaining their swashbuckling lifestyle. Their only hope, with the help of the resurrected Captain Barbobsa, is to save Jack Sparrow from Davy Jone’s Locker, so that he can be present at the Brethren Court. Throughout the movie there is some insane deal making and two-timing deal breaking, and it can be really hard to follow. There’s a plot arc about the sea goddess Calypso and tension between Will and Elizabeth. Most of the time I couldn’t tell whose side anyone was on and why anyone was doing what they were doing. Just try and stay with the story, Wikipedia it after. Don’t forget to wait for the scene following the end credits!

Overall, this was a better-produced film than Dead Man’s Chest. It has the eerie quality that the first film maintained, and the plot lacked the corniness that plagues the second film. The opening scene is phenomenal, and it sets the foreboding tone that makes the Pirate films unique. Elizabeth Swan is a bad-ass, Will isn’t such girly man, Jack Sparrow is as drugged as ever, and the even humanity of Davy Jones was quite touching. However, as I’ve already partially mentioned, the plot is extremely hard to follow; especially for a detail-oriented person like myself. Half the time, I couldn’t tell if Will had gone over to the dark-side and if Elizabeth still loved him. The whole green light mythology, curse thing kind of threw me for a loop too (BTW, read the screenwriter intention of the ending).

Worth mentioning is the great fight scenes, the film's authentic, adventurous style, and the romantic, melancholy ending. It was fun to watch, and I felt entirely absorbed in the action. Just be patient with the plot, and you might find yourself enjoying it.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 8:56 PM 0 comments  

Licensed To Wed

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

1.5 GOOMBAS

Obsession of the moment: PB & J; Pam Beason and Jim. Fans of The Office will understand. Everyone thinks they're adorable, and I'm obsessed with their love story. Completely and utterly obsessed. What spurred this obsession? I watched seasons 1, 2, and 3 of The Office in one week, non-stop. I know, I'm obsessed. I have a problem. I want to start season 1 over again. I'm lucky Joe won't let me. Maybe I'll do it in secret . . . Meanwhile, as I arranged my cover, I watched Licensed To Wed starring The Office's own John Karsinski and retired pop princess Mandy Moore.

Already anticipating the worst Robin Williams film ever, the former Mrs. Doubtfire plays semi-deranged Reverend Frank who plans to marry young lovebirds, Sadie and Ben. What Sadie and Ben don't expect is the pain and torture of Reverend Frank's marriage preparation course. Frank's inappropriate behavior and obnoxious meddling strains the couple's seemingly perfect relationship, and the intentions of the Reverend's counseling methods are questioned.

I don't understand how anyone could appreciate the humor of this flick. It was cheap, corny, and tactless. It brings shame to the already tainted authority of the clergy. It's pointless and stupid, and I really think that this has placed Robin Williams alongside Tim Allen's greatest hits. Screwball comedy is suppose to be about bizarre situations and characters, but
Reverend Frank was impossible to like and too enthusiastic to be intriguing. He's just annoying. Sadie and Ben were uninteresting, and the only good thing about the movie was the bright colors of the background and the clothing.

Normally Robin Williams is great, and I'm a huge fan. He once walked right past me and I got his air, but this movie was awful. And what's even more unfortunate is this movie didn't really give me my John Karsinski fix (even though about half The Office cast was in the film). It was just really bad. Save yourself for something better.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:07 AM 0 comments  

I'm Reed Fish

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2.5 GOOMBAS

Movies that take the time to present the plot in an interesting and creative manner always catches my attention, even if the overall movie is incompetent. Case in point I'm Reed Fish. Now, I really hate dishing on indie flicks because of what and who they represent. The people who write, produce, and act in these films are artistic, liberated, and scrappy. They are the cool, weird people who have what it takes, so I feel really bad when I hate the movie and must report on it.

Staring the relatively unknown Jay Baruchel and former Gilmore girl, Alexis Bledel, I'm Reed Fish is about the do-over. The young Reed Fish inherited his small town, local radio station from his late father, the original Fish. Living a lackluster, monotonal life, his approaching marriage to the town sweetheart leaves him less than enthusiastic, especially when his high school crush, Jill, returns to Mud Meadows and rekindled feelings become apparent.

Reed Fish is living a different person's life. He has no passion and goes through the painful journey of finding himself amidst his already chosen path, and what this film does is take these themes and literally does them over. The film we're watching is actually a movie in a movie. I don't want to give any more away, but the concept is completely innovative and deserves praise. However, the story, itself, is uninspired and dull, yet the gimmick eased the sluggish ache.

Reed Fish, the character, was a little bit slimy, and the girls unremarkable. Now, this may be because my basis is on the "amateur" flick (i.e. the movie about the movie), not the "real" film. The filmmakers may have attempted to make it look novice on purpose, but it isn't enough to show me that they were pursuing that technique. They fail either way.

I don't like I'm Reed Fish, and I'm happy that I'm not him.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:39 PM 0 comments  

Meet The Robinsons

Monday, November 19, 2007


3 GOOMBAS

So does anyone even know what Meet the Robinsons is about? This here, my friends, is another prime example of how movie trailers can't tell you anything. I think I saw the trailer for this animation ten times, and I still didn't know what the heck I was about to watch. Something with a dinosaur that looked very similar to Rex, the plastic dinosaur from Toy Story and a blond kid with Dragonball hair. Doesn't really tell us much does it? Well, that's what the movieGOOMBA is here for! I save you from the flop or turn you on to what's on top. Disney's first animated film independent of Pixar, however, is neither of those.

Meet The Robinsons is about an orphaned boy named Lewis who is gifted with an exceptional knack for inventing. Believing that he can invent a machine to look into his lost infant memories to remember his mom, he begins to create the contraption only to have it stolen by Bowler Hat Guy, the villain from the future. With the help of Wilbur and his "modern" family, the Robinsons, Lewis fights to get his invention back and hopefully gains the chance to "remember" his mother.

Good, clean, fun, this family flick provides the perfect distraction for children whose parents need a few moments to themselves. Other than that, Meet The Robinsons fails miserably in comparison to Disney's other computer-generated hits like Bugs Life, Cars, and Toy Story. It wasn't nearly as clever, nor did it have the wit or comedy that we've come to expect. When the bar is raised, its hard to compete. The story was straight forward and it did evoke the sympathy that is essential in family films of this nature. It was easy for little kids to understand, even with the time-space continuum theory present, and it was colorful and pleasant. I did have a major issue with the whole Oedipus Complex theme that was heavily present throughout the film, but other than that, nothing in Meet The Robinsons made me frustrated; always a good sign.

If you have kids, I'd say that this movie would compliment a family film library nicely. But as a normal, even movie fanatical, adult, I really don't think you need to meet the Robinsons. They aren't that interesting.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 7:15 PM 0 comments  

Reign Over Me

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

4 GOOMBAS

Surprising as it may sound to those of you who know me, it took me a while to realize that I am a perfectionist. I like everything in order and every detail in place. Why? Not because I think its the best way but because I think it's the right way. It can get scary. I organize my DVD's by genre then alphabetical order. I like putting on my sweats and cleaning. I'm like Monica from Friends. Yet once I realized that I'm a perfectionist, it became astonishingly easy to know when I needed to let go.

Don Cheadle stars in the tragic drama, Reign Over Me, with good friend Adam Sandler. A successful dentist living a perfect yet unfullfilled life, Alan Johnson (Cheadle) sees his old and now haggard roommate Charlie Fineman (Sandler) on the streets of New York. Fineman has been lost to society since his wife and three daughters were killed in the September 11 attacks, and when Alan approaches him, Alan is surprised to find that Charlie, his bright, quirky, old friend is no longer all "there." As Alan makes the decision to help and support Charlie through his inner turmoil, he begins to notice that he's just as much of a mess as his friend, and in the end he realizes that Charlie is helping him as much as Alan is helping Charlie.

This film has a lot of class and cinematic style; its thoughtful, full of sorrow, and it focuses on the important things that matter in emotional relationships, like connection and responsiblity. Though both actors are known for their comedic talent, they surprised me with their ability to create such a sympathetic and bleak atmosphere. In some shots, the subject is brought out of focus at a transitional moment, representative of the characters' detachment, either to society or to his family. Reign Over Me is like body language. This movie isn't about what was said. It isn't about how it was said.

Adam Sandler is always a constant surprise. He's done some pretty strange and horrible movies, but his performance in this film is no fluke. He made a perfect, deranged Charlie Fineman

Not as mentally anguishing as you'd expect, Reign Over Me is poignant and hopeful. Although I don't remember actually listening to the song the movie references, this movie tells me that it's all about letting go; letting go of loved ones and friends and letting go of the perfection that he worked so hard at achieving, and that's a powerful message for a control freak like me.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 7:05 PM 0 comments  

Martian Child

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

"NanooooNanoooo!" shouted the man from outer space. "Welcome to Earth," yelled Will Smith after knocking out the slimy Forth of July alien. "Phone home" whispered the wide-eyed Extra Terrestrial as he pointed to the stars. Space themed movies are great backdrops for creative storytelling. Its a real place with real, endless imaginative possibilities where monstrous creatures, friendly beasts, time travel, and invisibility could exist. Throw my main man John Cusack into the mix, and you might get a decent film, if you're lucky.

However, Martian Child is more Earth-bound. A bit reminiscent of KPAX, Martian Child stars John Cusack, a lonely widower who writes best-selling, space-themed novels. He adopts Dennis, an isolated boy who believes he's from Mars, and while still dealing with his own tragedy, he takes on Dennis' in the hope that Dennis will feel at home for the first time.

This film lacks the typical plot build. It stays at a constant level, and was terribly anti-climatic. In my eyes, John Cusack is always amazing, but he and the Martian had very little chemistry. The writing is ordinary, and the characters are flat. There were some adorable scenes, like Dennis' Martian talk-dance, and Cusack brings a heroic quality to parenthood. But it was a movie that graduated out of Lifetime; possibly entertaining, given the right mood, but just average entertainment.

I'd leave the TV on if this movie were on TBS; maybe buy it on sale, but like most films without a significant plot climax, this film falls in the 3 GOOMBA realm. Martian Child, just okay.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:23 PM 0 comments  

Lars And The Real Girl

Monday, October 29, 2007

4.5 GOOMBAS

Realness is easy to take for granted. One thinks it's just common sense, but what really makes something "real." Does it have to be tangible? Do you have to see it to believe it; to believe in it? The thing I love the most in this whole wide world is my Cabbage Patch Kid doll, Fifi. I don't talk about her much, but she's quietly sat on my bed for my entire life. I love her like I love nothing else. She's the first thing I reach for when I have a bad day, and the last thing I kiss before I got so sleep. I don't know what compels my fondness for her, and I don't expect anyone to understand. She may not have "life," but she's in my life. So even though she's not real to you, it doesn't matter. She's real to me, and that is what makes something real.

Lars And The Real Girl creatively explores this same concept of love for an inanimate object. A grown man, Lars is an obliviously awkward recluse, yet he is sweet, thoughtful, and kind. He diligently goes to work each morning, and devotedly attends service every Sunday. He is refreshingly naive but has the depth of a thousand year old man. Completely incapable of handling the most simple human interaction, Lars orders an anatomically correct, life-size doll, Bianca; not for sex, but for companionship (both are waiting for marriage). All of sudden, Lars is a new person. He attends parties, makes new friends, and he's the happiest he's ever been. This is what every healthy relationship should do to a person . . . except his girlfriend's a doll.

"How is this movie even watchable?" you ask. Well, obviously Lars is delusional, but that's about all that's wrong with his character. And its heartwarming to see a town that loves Lars so much that its people go out of its way to humor him. Through the duration of the film, Bianca is never shown in the nude, and she is never cast aside like a "thing" that was born from a box. She's treated with respect and decency; just like a person. Because of Lars' love for Bianca, and the town's love for Lars, the rigid, silicone Bianca is full of life and personality. The dry, situational humor makes the pathos of this film bearable, and Ryan Gosling's exceptional acting compels empathy from an audience that may balk at the idea of making room in its heart for loony Lars and his doll.

This movie sends an interesting message about the things we need to do to work out our feelings, and it has so much optimism about people and their ability to embrace and understand the differences in others. This is a good movie. Don't judge it before you see it.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 7:30 PM 0 comments  

Evening

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2 GOOMBAS

Evening is my favorite time of day. Especially in the summer when the heat of the sun yields to the relief of the cool evening breeze. ::sigh:: Evening is the most relaxing time. It's when people are allowed to unwind and take a break from their day's adventures; sometimes sitting on the porch as the sun sets; taking the time to sit and just be. Well, Evening, the movie, is nothing like that. It's plot was jerky and disorienting; flighty and nonsensical.

An impressive cast consisting of Meryl Streep, Claire Danes, Toni Colette, and Glenn Close, to name a few, surprisingly makes for a very disappointing film. On her deathbed, Ann Lord floats in and out of a dream-like state; sometimes to real memories, other times to delusions; all relating to her love affair with Harris Arden. Meanwhile her adult daughters sit and lament over the choices they've made and the life they still have to face.

I give huge kudos to the Director of Photography. There was some great lighting techniques used in this film, and good lighting always makes a film more "legitimate" film. However, lighting can't save horrible storytelling. The only parts that were remotely coherent were Ann's flashbacks to few days before her best friend's wedding. Every other time, I was struggling to follow along; hoping that I would eventually understand why everyone had so much regret. The film did come to a point where I said out loud, "Oh, good, now I can see how . . ." but then the credits started to roll before I could finish my sentence.

There were so many things that this movie did wrong. Does anyone out there understand why Harris is so appealing? I don't even think he's that good looking. Why did he not love Lila, that poor girl. Why did she and Ann lose touch? Why did Ann marry Richard if she loved Harris so much? Oh, and Buddy, poor Buddy. Why was he so messed up? And why was Ann so mean to him? So many questions about a plot shouldn't be generated by a film unless it's Donnie Darko, and at least those are philosophical questions.

Evening ended leaving me frustrated and unamused; nothing like a cool breeze at the end of a long day. More like someone saying that I have to run fifteen more errands directly after work, not being able to go to bed until 1am, and needing wake up at 6am the next morning. Evening was like that, so don't do it to yourself.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:35 PM 0 comments  

Lucky You

Friday, October 19, 2007

1 GOOMBA

The people who make movie trailers mislead the public, they get people to watch terrible movies, and they have almost sole power over a movie's box office numbers. Make a great movie trailer, and twist the story just so, and boom, you have an audience. Such great power . . . they have to be evil. I wish I was one of them. :) Unfortunately for me (and anyone else who watched this movie for that matter) I was tricked into watching Drew Barrymore's recent "chick flick," Lucky You. Except it wasn't really Drew Barrymore's, and it wasn't really a chick flick. They're liars. Every one of them.

Lucky You is like a wannabe Rounders except bad. It makes poker look boring, and is a sorry excuse for a romantic comedy. It wasn't even a comedy . . . I think?

Huckleberry Cheever is an addicted, professional poker player. Like most compulsive gamblers, his financial situation is always questionable. He owns no possessions because he hawks everything, and his grudge and rivalry with his father, who is also a professional poker player, hinders his ability to play and bet smart. Where in this does Barrymore come in? She's just the naive muse. She's second banana. Huck uses her for money, but, oh surprise, he's actually in love with her.

First of all, Huck had no character. He had no depth to him. He was one dimensional, and his attraction to Billie (Barrymore) wasn't believable. They had absolutely no chemistry. There was no development in their relationship, and it was secondary to the tournament plot. It was literally Huck and Billie sleeping together, Huck stealing her money, and Huck begging for forgiveness. Why in the world does she even like him? Huck's character was poorly written and horribly executed.

Second, they spend WAY too much time explaining the rules of poker. The audience doesn't need to understand ever little minute detail of the game. We're just in it to get that happy-fell-good feeling after watching a chick flick. We don't care how poker works. We get the idea. You don't have to tell me that in 1999 the only person who won the world series of poker with a straight flush was blah blah blah. I don't need to know that Huck's $30,000 raise means that he probably has a poke pair. I don't care. Just give me the gist!

Lastly, this movie was BORING. It wasn't just bad, it made me want to sleep for 48 hours straight.

I'm not going to tell you what to do. You already know how I feel about it. It was bad, so now maybe you'll be spared from this lie that the trailer told you. Lucky you.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 6:10 PM 0 comments  

Knocked Up

Monday, October 15, 2007

4 GOOMBAS

Now, I'm pretty sure that this movie could be a 4.5 GOOMBA flick, but I'm not quite sure because I happened to watch a copy that some kooky mom and pop video store in Hawaii hacked up. Ohana Video (which weirdly doubled as a scrapbook supply store) felt like they needed to edit out all "inappropriate" language and scenes from all their DVDs before they rent them out to the public. I guess they don't trust the actual filmmakers and the MPAA to do their own job. Sounds kind of Communistic, if you ask me. So there I was, stuck watching a movie that advertises and prides itself on sexual humor and circumstance, yet all of it was cut out. How did it hold up? Surprisingly, pretty well.

Knocked Up stars former alien and current doctor, Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen, a talented film guru with a fetish for social awkwardness. Heigl plays Alison Scott, an aspiring television personality for E Entertainment while Rogen is Ben Stone, a Canadian illegal immigrant stoner. One night, at a club, both take their drunkenness too far and they hook up for a one night stand. The title should give away the rest.

This movie was a great romantic comedy. The characters were vivid and yet undeniably down-to-earth. They possessed qualities that anyone can relate to despite some ridiculous humor (most of which I'm sure I have not seen yet). Ben is so lovable, even as a pothead. He's genuine and weird, and he kind of has a Lloyd Dobbler thing going for him. He doesn't recoil at the idea of having a baby. He embraces it. He doesn't quite know what to do with himself in the begining, but he tries. Alison is independent and motivated; qualities that most women admire. Yet the idea of her unplanned pregnancy breaks her down, just as it would any other woman under the same circumstances. Women will project themselves into that same situation and crack up because Alison's reaction has so much truth to it that it's funny.

The story was simple, it made me laugh, and it made me go "Awe!" Some sure evidence that I had a winner. Now I just need to go and watch the "real" version to be sure.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:21 PM 2 comments  

Nancy Drew

2.5 GOOMBAS

As a kid, I never read Judy Blume, The Baby-Sitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins, or any other over-the-top, girl-centric series. The plots just never struck me as interesting. I did like those cry-fest Lauren McDaniel books whose heroines always had fatal diseases; go figure. Looking back, I do wish I had read the Nancy Drew books, but unfortunately at the time, she seemed to fit into the genre that I really quite despised.

Staring Emma Roberts, niece of Academy Award Winner, Julia Roberts (can you see the resemblance now that I mentioned it?), Nancy Drew is up to her usual sleuthing in this updated film on one of America's favorite teenage detective. Nancy temporarily relocates to sunny California with her father and attempts to uncover the truth behind Dehlia Draycott's mysterious death.

I thought Emma Roberts performance was refreshing and cute, and I also admired how the film took the original novels' vintage feel and projected it into a modern storyline. The blue roadster, the smart suits with the matching hat and shoes, baked goods, and warm wool coats; these are all details that are nostalgic of the 1950's when the original Nancy Drew was most popular, and somehow Nancy still fit.

However, overall, this movie was disappointing. It had the tween formula down; cute boy, cute wardrobe, tame enough adventure, and the adolescent drama, but it was just so absurd. Come on, Nancy Drew defusing a bomb? Working with the local sheriff to solve a case? Bribing record keepers with a blondie (that's a white chocolate brownie to you politically correct folks)? I don't know if Nancy Drew was naive in the books, but she sure was on screen. I couldn't buy it. Agent Cody Banks is one thing. You know that it's absolutely ridiculous, so you just get over it, but the filmmakers portrayed Nancy as someone who is believable, plausible, probably like how she was in the books, but she was so not.

Sorry Emma Roberts, you are not a bad-ass. You're a perfectionist priss. Let your kids watch this movie, but remind them that it is not okay to get involved in dangerous murder mysteries or talking armed burglers out of robbing a bank. I do not recommend this movie for sane adults, even if you're like me and love High School Musical.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 5:05 PM 1 comments  

SherryBaby

Monday, October 01, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

I love it when titles have a very obvious meaning but with a very deep significance.

SherryBaby stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as Sherry, a struggling, freshly rehabilitated, young mother whose one goal is retain custody of her daughter. Desperate as she is to stay clean during her parole, Sherry becomes an example of how hard it is for women of her means to graduate from the system.

This movie was almost unbearable. It was incredibly difficult to watch, and even harder to see Sherry make poor choice after poor choice despite her intensely genuine intentions. To put it bluntly, Sherry is white trash. She uses sex to get ahead, which isn't very far, and she doesn't posses the skills or the education to clean up. What's heartbreaking is that none of it is her fault. Her parents have thoroughly messed her up, and there's no one who can show her the way. All she can do is try and provide a better life for her daughter. There's no longer any hope for herself.

The title, SherryBaby, is a reference to Sherry's tartness but simultaneously commenting the softness of her love for her daughter.

This movie is stressful and devastating, but Gyllenhaal's performance is a work of art. Watch it as an example of what great acting is.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:13 PM 0 comments  

Pride

Thursday, September 27, 2007

2.5 GOOMBAS

Besides gluttony, pride is my second most favorite deadly sin. For the most part, I don't really understand why it's a sin in the first place. Pride is necessary and integral to lead a fulfilling life. Without it, dignity and self respect are moot. Now, if you're Mr. Darcy, it's a bad thing, but in healthy doses, pride can take you a long way. The title, Pride, is probably an elephant size hint of what the theme of this movie is, but it wasn't any different from any other sport themed film.

Terrance Howard stars as Jim Ellis, the real life swim coach of the Philadelphia Department of Recreation (PDR) swim team. During a time when prejudice was rampant, talented and promising swimmer, Ellis, was unfairly treated during a swim meet, which set the tone for the rest of his life. Years later, unable to find work because of the his skin color, Ellis is sent to clean out PDR prior to its closing. Instead, he takes some inner city kids under his wing and teaches them discipline, integrity, and self respect. Bernie Mac costars.

Pride has the perfect plot formula for a successful sports film, but it lacks in creativity and meaning. The plot moves quickly at the beginning but drags at the end, and the believability in the story was greatly choked by corny acting and poor pace. One minute the kids are unruly, the next they're driven; Terrance Howard is crying, then all of a sudden they're winning meets, Terrance Howard cries again; its pretty awful. Then there was this weird subplot of inner city gang activity and of course the awkward romance storyline.

It is really amazing to know that this story did happen in some form or another, and to this day, Jim Ellis still coaches the PDR swim team. That's dedication. But Pride does not do this real life story justice. Read his biography instead.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 6:39 PM 0 comments  

The Number 23

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

2.3 GOOMBAS

Before I saw this movie, the number 23 only meant Michael Jordan's jersey number. That is thanks to my childhood friend, Sabrina. Jim Carey changed that for me. It's astonishing how I can make the number 23 appear anywhere. It's astonishing how paranoid I am.

Carey stars as an average, ordinary dog catcher, whose wife buys him a thrift-store, self-published, shady novel entitled The Number 23. Slowly, he is drawn into the mysterious story of Detective Fingerling and his many women; a part of him disturbed by his close similarity to the fiendish investigator. 2 In the end, he becomes so consumed by the book, that it begins to consume him. Does he know the killer? Does the killer know him? Did I just tell you who the killer is?

Despite the innovative story concept, it was just a bad movie masked by some cool cinematography and discreet subliminal messages. The Fingerling scenes had a kind of New Age, Film Noir style, with shadowy mis en scene and illuminated characters, and the camera movement is sleek and light-weight. Oh, but the story was appalling! The plot was so stupid . . . and weird . . . And that neck slashing scene was so not necessary. And the ending, don't even get me started on the ending. I'd rant even more about it, but I'd be giving stuff away. Between you and me, waiting to see what happens in the end is the only thing that should keep you watching.

So to all those paranoid numerology freaks out there, spare yourselves. You'll start seeing 23 everywhere. I even got my birthday to make 23. Heck, I am 23. I bet you I could even make this blog somehow be 23. I bet you I even used only 23 out of the 26 letters of the alphabet writing this blog; I bet you I only used 323 words up until HERE. Count them. I dare you! I'm awesome.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:23 PM 1 comments  

The Nanny Diaries

Friday, September 14, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

Am I the only 23-year-old female who still doesn't consider herself a woman? I'm a kid trapped in a big kid's body. If I told people I was still in high school, would they believe me? Probably. And this is why I'm slightly jealous of Scarlett Johansson. Have you seen her womanly figure in an evening gown? Have you seen paparazzi shots of her well-groomed beauty? She's EXACTLY my age. Actually, she was born one year before me, but no matter. She looks like a woman. A woman gosh darn it. Will I ever grow up to be a woman? "I'm not a girl, but not yet a woman . . ." sing it Brit, sing it! At least in her latest movie, The Nanny Diaries, she looks like a normal 22-year-old, which cushions my complex a little bit.

Johansson stars as recent college grad, Annie Braddock, who is pressured by her mother to pursue a stable and successful business career despite her aspirations of becoming an anthropologist. In order to by some time to figure things out, she takes a nanny job with a posh, Upper East Side family only known as "The X's." Wrongfully assuming this for a cushy job, Annie, AKA "Nanny," finds herself being controlled and manipulated by Mama, Papa, and Baby Terror in this romantic, The Devil Wears Prada-like comedy.

Annie Braddock narrates her experience in retrospect with an anthropological spin. Using this creative way of story-telling, The Nanny Diaries is slightly different from other comedies of this genre. However, outside of that, it's you're average, everyday chick flick. It didn't do anything wrong to make me hate it, but it didn't capture my attention either. The boy accessories, both boyfriend and little tyke, were cute, and some of the situations were funny, but, ::shrug:: eh . . . it was whatever. This makes me sad because it seemed like there was a lot of thought and creativity that went into executing the script, but the characters and the story just weren't good enough. I also don't see how these stories went into any sort of diary she was writing, as she didn't write in a diary. Go figure. Plus the anthropological theme wasn't used enough.

Wait for The Nanny Diaries to go on DVD. It just didn't cut it on the big screen. Maybe it'll be better on the little one.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:55 PM 0 comments  

The Contract

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2 GOOMBAS

The only reason I even knew this movie existed was because I decided to browse the aisle of Hollywood Video. It's so unknown that the promoters didn't even release any movie stills. All I could find was an image of the movie poster. I was hoping that it was one of those diamonds in the rough; a movie only a handful of people have seen but is cinema of the highest caliber. ::shudders:: I was so wrong.

John Cusack and Morgan Freeman star in this tepid thriller, The Contract. Morgan Freeman plays a high ranked, professional assassin. He gets caught following an incident that had nothing to do with the hit. His men make an attempt to free him, but in the process, he is unfortunately lost in a river. Cusack who happens to be on camping trip with his son, rescues Freeman, notices the handcuffs, decides to be a hero, and takes Freeman in 'custody.' Now Freeman's team is after Cusack and his son, and somewhere in there is a two-timer working for another team.

And that's basically it. There's absolutely nothing special about this film. I still don't understand why Ray Keene (Cusack) decided to take responsibility for an at-large murderer with his son in tow. Maybe he wanted to be a good role model for his son. "Do the right thing," he was saying to himself. Or maybe he missed the control he had as a cop, and the small taste of power influenced his decisions. Maybe. But convey that on the screen, filmmakers! A film like this isn't necessarily about the action. It's about the characters, especially considering the amount of dialogue between Freeman and Cusack, so you'd think that the filmmakers would have done a better job establishing character motive and writing a better script. Something that is usually important. You'd think. Plus don't even get me started on that blonde chick who Cusack picks up during their hike, as they're being chased by professional killers.

This was not a good movie.

Oh my John. I still love you even if you do crappy movies. I will still forever be your number one fan.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:20 PM 0 comments  

Blades Of Glory

Saturday, September 08, 2007

2.5 GOOMBAS

I'm going to preface this article by saying that I don't know what a good spoof movie is. I know that Not Another Teen Movie and any Monty Python movie is funny, but other than that, I can't see the line between stupid and funny stupid. So understanding this, I'm writing this article based entirely on opinion alone.

Blades Of Glory stars seasoned comedian Will Ferrell and Napoleon Dynamite's very own John Heder. A parody of the ice skating circuit, bad-boy wannabe Chazz Michael Michaels and rival goodie-goodie, light in his loafers Jimmy MacElroy are banned from singles competition as a result of a rumble. Despite their competitive differences, they pair up as a doubles team when all other female skaters are spoken for.

Will Ferrell and John Heder were ridiculous as usual. Heder plays a surprisingly delightful innocent man-child, and he doesn't look half as gnarly as he usually does. As for Ferrell, I have no comment.

Poking fun at ice skating means zeroing in on some key questions we all ask when we watch profession figure skating:

  1. What are the wearing?
  2. Is he gay?
  3. Just where did he put his hand to lift her exactly?
  4. Why are the commentators so cheesy serious?
  5. Are you sure he's not gay?
  6. Isn't that, like, incest?
  7. I really don't care either way, but is he gay?
With a blunt force, Blades of Glory focuses and answers all of these questions that are too taboo and socially inappropriate. Although funny because of the exaggerated comedy, I thought the majority of it was pretty stupid, and stupid funny movies in my book can never be rated that high. Thankfully, it wasn't gross or blatantly over sexual. That would have pushed it WAY over-the-top. It was colorful and flamboyant, like its characters, and the large number of professional ice skaters and commentator cameos added to the goofiness of this flick.

Of the same genre as Talladega Nights and Anchorman, Blades of Glory isn't one of Ferrell's best. Its a perfect popcorn movie for non-movie snobs, which I am definitely not. Laughing at stupid is not my forte, so if it's not yours either, I'd watch something like more like Zoolander. It's a little more clever in its humor, parody, and outrageousness. Blades of Glory: not worth your time.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:06 PM 0 comments  

Georgia Rule

Thursday, September 06, 2007

3 GOOMBAS


The earliest memory I have of Jane Fonda is my mother standing in front of the television copying every move of Jane's latest exercises video. I remember her looking young, healthy, and strong, so I was both shocked and amazed at how old she'd gotten but how great she still looked. Now I know Hollywood is all about the Botox and the Dr 90210, but there's no way any amount of oil, hair dye, or relaxers could have given Jane Fonda the gorgeous mane she had in this movie. Her hair makes even Lassie jealous. All I can say is I wish I could look like Jane Fonda when I turn 70(<--I know! She's that freaking old!). Anyway, Felicity Huffman and Lindsey Lohan also star in Georgia Rule, a dramatic chick flick new to DVD last Tuesday, and they don't look too shabby either.

Georgia Rule centers around three generations of dysfunctional females; a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter. Rachel (Lohan) is a wild and self-destructive teenager who is sent to live with her grandmother, Georgia (Fonda). During her stay, she makes a confession. She'd been sexually abused by her stepfather since the age of twelve, but is she lying or is she for real? Her self-absorbed, alcoholic mother (Huffman) struggles with believing her daughter as Georgia pressures her to tend to her demons.

There were some really good scenes in this movie. However I felt like it never pulled itself together. These characters had depth and complexity, but the screen writing isn't good enough to handle them. The men merely serve as props who create situations that bring out the larger issues these women posses, and Rachel's way of acting out is far too crazy to just be resolved with a hug at the end of the movie (kind of like Lohan in real life). The relationships between these women weren't well developed. Not enough for a movie that whose key theme is matriarchal relationships.

Georgia Rule was thoughtfully acted and its characters nicely portrayed, but it isn't high cinema. If this had been based off of a novel, I would assume that the book would have been better; characters cheated out of key scenes due to screen time constraints. Unfortunately, Georgia Rule has no excuse. It was lacking on purpose. I'd watch this movie again if it were on TBS. I'd advise you to do the same. That's a Goomba Rule.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:32 AM 0 comments  

Superbad

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

4.5 GOOMBAS

I remember feeling really uncomfortable watching 40 Year Old Virgin. I insisted that the movie was basically a misogynistic, derogatory commentary on the female gender, so imagine what I felt like sitting through Superbad. However, after putting my 'reviewer' cap on, I found that Superbad wasn't like 40 Year Old Virgin at all. It was on a completely different level of smart. Smarter than 80% of the movies out there, but I had to give up being a prude for 2 hours in order to see it.

Like others in the teen sex comedy genre, Superbad pays no attention to the rules of a civilized culture. It's ruthlessly crass, the language is something out of the sewer, and there are way too many penises. Not real ones, mind you. Just some disturbing, creative illustrations. And despite relying on sick, cheap humor it had quality. In the end, it wasn't about the teenage partying, the girls, or the sex. It was about two incredibly dorky best friends who come to the realization that its time to grow up, and nothing can stop it. It's straight out of a coming of age tale camouflaged by terrible potty mouth.

Its the end of their senior year in high school, and best friends, Seth and Evan, still haven't gotten with the girls of their dreams. In an effort to impress their girls, Seth and Evan offer to get the alcohol for a huge house party, and the girls accept. From there, hang on for the ride because in one night, Seth and Evan, along with fellow dork, Fogell (AKA McLovin), manage to get hit by a car, twice; dance with a period stainer; sing to a bunch of crackheads; befriend some crazy ass cops; and all the while become the hit of the party.

There are some interesting points I'd like to bring up about this film:

  1. There are no boobies in this film - None at all; surprising for such a raunchy film
  2. Becca, Jules and G String Girl are actually complete opposites of what the Superbadies thought they would be . . . except for maybe G String Girl - these girls were actually real characters, not just props with boobs.
  3. It ends in a mall - such a great homage to the teen flicks of the 80's and 90's
  4. Seth and Evan are neither uber nerdy or super hot; they're awkward and embarrassing, much like I remember 95% of the boys in high school.
  5. The dialog, though filthy, is amazingly clever and well written; not to mention well delivered by the young actors.
Superbad is not a movie for those with sensitive ears. I know people who have walked out of the theater 10 min into the movie. Remember, this is a teen sex comedy, so please enter the theater with those expectations. Superbad is crude and offending, but God help me, it made me laugh.

"Chiga Chiga"

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 6:49 PM 0 comments  

Unaccompanied Minors

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

1 GOOMBA

I have a confession, but you have to promise not to tell . . . I not only love all teen 80's movies, but I have to watch every single pre-teen flick that comes out on DVD. Even the awful ones, which brings me to Unaccompanied Minors. I need help. I need rehabilitation, especially after watching this Christmas flop. I think it was even worse than Arnold's 1996 holiday, I'd rather be put out of my misery than watch movie, Jingle All The Way.

Why is it so bad? It's corny, over-acted, and definitely not heart-warming. Think Home Alone meets The Breakfast Club meets the dollar bin at Walmart. Usually, I like to cut kid actors some slack when it comes to the maturity of their acting, but I felt like some of these kids were trying too hard to be funny and ended up acting like Jim Carrey with A.D.D. The illiterate could have written a better plot, and even though it is a Christmas movie, which automatically grants extra cheese leeway, the authority vs. kids toboggan chase and the corn oil fueled car were WAY over-the-top. Not to mention that on Christmas morning the ENTIRE airport is in deep R.E.M. and only wake up when the kids ring the bells. ::rolls eyes:: Should I even bother telling you what this movie is about? I guess so, just in case you're curious.

Unaccompanied Minors begins on Christmas Eve when five kids are stuck at the airport due to a blizzard. Hundreds of minors are forced together in a large room since they are underage, and five teens create an unlikely alliance against the airport authority (AKA the Gestapo) to break out and save Christmas for themselves and for those stuck in the terminals. In case this helps, Wilmer Valderrama also stars in this holiday bust.

Don't see this movie. You'll thank me, I promise. I will understand if you are dragged into it by a 12 year old you associate with. After all, you don't want your minor to watch it unaccompanied. Someone has to be there to explain that, though glorified in the film, Hummers are still bad for the environment and no, it isn't safe to toboggan in a canoe.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:02 PM 0 comments  

The Goonies

Friday, August 31, 2007

CLASSIC GOOMBA

In lieu of The Goonies sequel rumors, especially the latest one, The Goonies: An Animated Sequel (::shudders::), and because I haven't seen any new movies this past week, I thought a review of the 80's cult classic would be fun.

First released in 1985, The Goonies centers around 7 teenage misfit kids who find themselves in the middle of a treasure hunt that will save their family homes from building developers. Along the way they encounter the Fratellis, a family of thugs who hitch a ride on the coattails of the underage treasure hunters, a friendly giant, and pirate captain, One-Eyed Willie.

Shot in Portland, Oregon, The Goonies holds a certain kind of magic. It's like Halloween. On that night, the only thing that matters is the friends you're with, the adventure you share, and the bootie that you acquire. On that one night, kids rule the world, and adult rules do not apply. The Goonies has mystery and charm, and it manifests every kid's treasure hunt fantasy onto the silver screen without reminding us once that its only a movie . . . well maybe during the Chunk-Sloth scenes . . . and maybe during the parent-kid reunion scene . . . but other than that this movie is good to go. It's got the rough fun of Indiana Jones, but tame enough for kids.

This movie may seem hokey to those who don't embrace the 80's teen/family film culture, though it is arguably the best period in family and teen cinema. However, nothing can beat a great story, and its no surprise that Steven Spielberg, the master story-teller wrote and produced this film.

The Goonies never say die, so a sequel may be inevitable. Please God, just don't let it be animated. But no matter what happens, don't let whatever crap the sequel brings affect your judgment on the timeless tale of Mikey, Brand, Stef, Andy, Data, Mouth, and, of course, Chunk.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:46 AM 0 comments  

Notes On A Scandal

Sunday, August 26, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

In today's world of Jerry Springer, wardrobe malfunctions, and publicized sex tapes, scandal isn't something new, but that doesn't make it comfortable to take. Especially when it comes to school teachers having relations with their underage students, and I always wonder what kind of grown up woman can "fall" for a pre-pubescent boy. Notes On A Scandal gives us a peak into the inner lives and thoughts of just that.

Expressed in a creative manner, Notes On A Scandal is narrated by Barbara Covette (Judi Dench), a comprehensive school history teacher in London. A strange, snobby, and lonely old soul, Barbara has only one intimate relationship. It's with her journal, which she compulsively writes in, and when Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchette) starts as the new, beautiful art teacher, Covette's observations of the new teacher are thoroughly documented. When a playground brawl gets out of hand, Covette comes to Hart's aid, and a friendship ensues. Hart simultaneously begins an affair with her 15 year old student, and when Covette catches wind of it, Covette sees this as her chance to blackmail her way into companionship.

The characters in this film are rich and complex, disturbing and empathic, and though the story is relatively straightforward, each personality complicates the plot in an extraordinary way. Not only is Barbara malicious and manipulative, but she's practically poisonous. She wheedles her way into Sheba's life, reminiscent of that creepy movie, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and uses Sheba's affair as leverage. Sheba isn't a pedophile, and she's not even disillusioned. She's a regular school teacher whose life had lost itself to child-rearing and domestic activities. When a young, strapping boy pursues her irrepressibly, she gives in to the attention, and finds herself addicted to the world he represents; youth, freedom, and irresponsibility.

Artistically, the acting in this film is distinguished and the soundtrack alone is stunning. The whole time the music told me that the wheels were in motion for something huge to happen, and it wasn't Sheba's affair. Without the great acting and great music, this movie would be nothing. Movie-wise, this isn't your weekend kind of rent. This film is geared toward the more refined palate, but the class of this movie gets lost somewhere between what is entertainment and what is art. It's not good enough to be a great art piece, and it's not good enough to be entertainment; not quite the scandal it hoped it could be.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:16 PM 1 comments  

Fracture

Thursday, August 23, 2007

2 GOOMBAS

I can't help but compare this movie to Breach. The plot was the same, but slightly different (lawyers rather than CIA agents), it was old guy verses cute new guy, and the tone and look was exactly the same. Too bad I never reviewed Breach. I meant to, but that was one of two movies I never got around to reviewing since I started this blog. It was a good movie. Fracture, not so much.

Fresh from his successful portrayal as a strung-out, drug addicted jr. high school teacher, Ryan Gosling, plays a hard-working, cocky lawyer, Willie Beachum on the brink of an ultimate career high, but he takes one last "open and shut case" before moving on to bigger and brighter things. Anthony Hopkin's plays the a defendant, Ted Crawford, who murder's his wife, yet he dares the prosecution to prove it.

This movie was WAY too slow. I kept looking at the DVD timer wondering when Beachum would figure out how Crawford did it. I suppose he just isn't as quick as me. I got the "twist," if you could even call it that, real fast, making the rest of the movie drag and drag. No edge of your seat suspense, no nail-bitting scene of realization, just a sad piece of work. Plus, I have this thing about movies that use pretty girls as props a la Bourne Supremacy.

I was really disappointed with Fracture. It wasn't interesting, the performances were okay, and the plot was boring. I'd recommend Breach over Fracture any day, and that is a sad day for the movieGOOMBA; picking another bad guy over Anthony Hoppkins. I bow my head in shame, but I have to report the truth, and this movie is not worth a fraction of a second.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:04 PM 0 comments  

Hot Fuzz

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

3.5 GOOMBAS

It's been ages since this film came out, and it's also been ages since I watched it; at least three weeks, but I'm blogging about it anyway. I've really had no motivation to write these past few days. I need to take a dose of creative juice . . . they probably sell it at Target. Target has everything . . . see what I mean? That joke wasn't even funny! I'm losing it, and now this is turning into some kind of ramble. You're saying "Why the hell doesn't she just stop and think for a while before typing it out on the blog and wasting our time?" Because I'm doing that elementary school thing where you just write about what you're thinking without having your pen leave the paper; just a steady stream of thought. I forget what that's called . . . "Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?' " That wasn't me, that was from the movie Hot Fuzz.

Now, to people in the States, "Fuzz" may not make any sense, let alone "Hot Fuzz." Fuzz is just a snazzy British equivalent for cop. Those Brits sure come up with a grip of dope slang; fo shizzle mai nizzle. From the makers of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as members of the British law enforcement. Nicholas Angel, played by Pegg, is a goodie-goodie, over-achiever of London's finest. He makes everyone look like a schmuck because of his unceasing accomplishments, so his superiors send him to the small, remote town of Sandford, where he can't make them look bad. Yet while there, Angel begins to notice strange things happening in the village city, and he won't stop until he tickets every elderly jay-walker, arrests all under-age vandals, and uncovers a giant murder mystery/cover-up.

Hot Fuzz has the the same clever, camp tone of Shaun of the Dead, and is immensely funny without being at all corny. There are some really great sequences that spoof on some American action flicks, and the plot and story line were well defined and playfully thought out. Achieving a sinister, yet comical tone is very difficult to accomplish, but Hot Fuzz managed to do it with ease. My favorite part was the final, bad-boys shooting scenes where ridiculousness was rampant but peculiarly bad-ass. The movie was a bit slow at first and a bit longer than I wished it would have been (2 hour running time), but it was smart and silly, as dark comedies should be.

Viewers should be warned that there are some gory blood and guts scenes. A lot of the murders aren't neat and tidy. It actually seems worse because of the type of film it is; you don't expect some one's head to smush that way. Maybe in Saw 3, but not here.

I really appreciate Hot Fuzz as a film. It's a great movie to watch when you just need to laugh at something ridiculous. Although I still don't understand why the Fuzz is "hot" per-say (must be a British thing), its British humor is delightful especially since the actors say their punch lines with such sincere seriousness. Who could not like a movie that has the line, "Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?' " in it?

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:39 AM 1 comments  

Becoming Jane

Monday, August 20, 2007

4 GOOMBAS


Jane Austen wrote six novels during her lifetime, and all six of them have been made into numerous movies and television mini-series', each director and screenwriter adding their own twist to the story. Two hundred years later, people still know Jane Austen, and I find it comforting to know that in this great big world, it is possible to be remembered, as minute a possibility it may be. The one story that hasn't been told over and over again is her own, the story she lived herself.

Anne Hathaway stars as this acclaimed author in Becoming Jane, a questionable biographical story on Jane Austen's first love. Jane is of marrying age, but insists on marrying for love, even if that risks become an old maid. Her parents push her toward an engagement with well-to-do, but plain bachelor Mr. Wisely. Meanwhile, she meets Tom Lefroy, a cocky, city gentlemen who depends on his uncle for income, and she immediately despises him. However, through her frustration and annoyance with Mr. Lefroy, an underlying chemistry and passion is apparent, and both end up falling in love despite their initial loathness toward each other.

Like Austen's penned tales, Becoming Jane is a simple story, yet full of characters and details, and it was one of the most romantic movies I've seen in really long time. Anne Hathaway and Last King of Scotland's James McAvoy blew me away with their amazing portrayal of a couple's complicated love and the sacrifices they must make for the other's best interest. I left the theater feeling like I got run over by the emotion train. Man, did these two have a great love story. Even when they hated each other, there was some passionate love going on. ::sigh:: And like Austen's heroines, Jane was witty, independent, and intelligent, all parts that make up a bad-ass woman.

I'd really like to believe that Jane Austen's love life was as charming as the one portrayed in this film, but many Austen scholars tend to disagree. Either way, a love like that exists somewhere, even if it only exists in someone's heart and imagination.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 5:00 PM 0 comments  

Disturbia

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

3.5 GOOMBAS
Shia LaBeouf can be my next door neighbor any day, even if he is a peeping tom. Spielberg's man of the moment has been cast in at least three of Spielberg's executive produced films, Disturbia included (uncredited). So why does Spielberg love this kid? Because he's adorable, that's why! Okay, sorry, I was trying really hard not to gush. In all seriousness, LaBeouf is a budding talent who has the potential to be huge, if he isn't already.

A tragic accident has left teenage boy, Kale, with anger and guilt. One day his emotions are pushed too far, and he winds up on house arrest for assault. Unable to leave his home in perfect suburbia, Kale begins to snoop on the neighbors, but what started as just an interesting way to pass the time turns into a dangerous fight for his life when he thinks he witnessed a murder through his binoculars.

Disturbia calls on the popular notion that not everything is perfect in the safe and "normal" suburbs, but rather sinister. Movies like this always gives me more heebie jeebies than a typical slasher film, which I tend to laugh through. Disturbia was a great mix of psychology and thrill, not a slasher film at all, and Kale with his token Asian guy friend, Ronnie, provided the right amount of comic relief to the suspense. "Operation Stupid is officially over." Plus great lighting provided the right look, making some scenes feel scary and others, friendly.

I don't like how they kept comparing Rear Window to this flick because it makes Disturbia seem like a much worse movie than it really is. Obviously, the two are not comparable, and Rear Window had this inner voyeuristic, psychological aspect that Disburbia had no chance of re-creating. Disturbia was always about the killer, it was never about what was in Kale's head. Granted, they did try to make it seem that way, but the action took over the movie in a way that Rear Window did not. Plus, just adding that whole teenage love angst thing puts it in a whole lower tier. Did I mention that Trinity is in this movie? She plays his mom, but bad ass she was not, which was kind of disappointing.

Shia LaBeouf just proved to me that he is a fantastic actor. Just watch the accident scene and you'll know what I mean. I loved him in Transformers, and even more in Holes, but you never know until actors like him do something so different that really pulls them outside the box. Shia is definitely up there with my love for John Cusack and Edward Norton, even if he is too young for me. It's okay, Joe. I still love you most!

Sidenote: I watched the commentary on the DVD, and I guess the director in D.J. Caruso, wanted this movie to be like a John Cusack thriller. It sort of was, but then he kept bringing up how much he loved Say Anything, which happens to be my favorite movie of all time, and saying how the love scene was paying homage to that film. All I have to say is, what the heck is he talking about?! That scene is like nothing out of Say Anything. Maybe Jerry Maguire, but not Say Anything. Either way, I was glad that a real life movie director loved that 80's movie as much as me.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:53 PM 0 comments  

The Astronaut Farmer

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1 GOOMBAS


Billy Bob, Billy Bob, Billy Bob. What are we going to do with him? It's like he can't decide if he's a good actor or not. The movies he's been doing recently are making me think Slingbalde was a fluke.

Billy Bob Thorton stars as Charles Farmer, a NASA astronaut in-training who was forced to drop out of the program and return to the countryside to save his father's farm. Trying to keep the dream alive and despite his non-affiliation with NASA, he begins building a real-live rocket that will orbit the earth.

The Astronaut Farmer was a terrible drama. It was poorly acted, the plot basis was egregious, and the special effects were terrible. In a movie, the audience has to connect with its main characters, especially in a movie like this. You have to root for your hero, yet the whole time I thought Charles Farmer was a loony bin like everyone else. The wife's character made me angry, and when the wedding ring re-appears I was so annoyed I just about had a smack down with my TV. Instead I fast-forwarded.

I am so glad I didn't watch this movie in theaters. This movie was hardly worth anything. I can't even think of a single good thing to say about it. It was just bad. I can't believe I'm even spending this much time writing this review on such a terrible movie. I'm stopping now.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:50 AM 0 comments  

No Reservations

Monday, August 13, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

Remember Raising Helen? Kate Hudson; 2004 romantic comedy; a movie you wished was never made but you were compelled to watch it anyway. Well think EXACTLY that movie except with the protagonist as a top chief, only one kid (<--the same kid for that matter; she was also one of the kids in Raising Helen), and a little more dramatic.

No Reservations stars a little too gorgeous Catharine Zeta Jones, adorable Abigail Breslin, and formerly hairy Aaron Eckhart from Erin Brockavich. Kate is one of the best chefs in New York and also has the worst temper, especially when it comes to criticism. She has relationship issues and never lets anyone through her rough exterior. When Kate's sister dies, her niece is sent to live with her, and both have to find a way to cope with their loss and bring down their reservations.

The movie didn't do anything absurdly horrible to make me dislike it. Yet it didn't do anything incredibly warm, funny, or endearing either. It was kind of just one constant stream of middling emotion. We're lonely we're lonely we're lonely; we're sad we're sad we're sad where sad; we're happy we're happy we'er happy; we're mad we're mad we're mad; we're happy we're happy we're happy. At least, that's what I think I was suppose to be feeling because the movie didn't actually evoke any feelings from me.

No Reservations was okay for its genre. Breslin brought a breath of fresh air whose talent is sure to bring her a great future . . . as long as she doesn't become friends with Paris Hilton. There is this one scene where she's watching old movies of her mom and you see the tears well up in her eyes, but no tears fall. Amazing for an eleven year old actress. The heavier themes were handled appropriatly and very well, and it created a nice balance between tragedy and comedy. Kate and Nick's developing relationship was cute, but not necessarily relatable. I just couldn't understand why he liked her; she was so cold sometimes.

Overall, this movie is something feel-good to watch on a weekend. It'll be on TBS in no time. It isn't as good as some of the others but it is better than its twin, Raising Helen, so its up to you to go see it, but don't expect the next Pretty Woman.

Sidenote: I didn't know that there existed a food that was worth $2,200 a pound! Shows you how refined my pallet is. I love food, but not that much.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:19 PM 0 comments  

Rocky Balboa

Saturday, August 11, 2007

3 GOOMBAS

Did you guys know that Sylvester Stallone started out as a porn star? He kinda looks sleazy like that, huh? ::shudders:: And I think that he got a really bad eye lift sometime between Rocky V and Rocky Balboa, furthering the gnarly, Sly look. Though, he's still a talented guy, regardless of his past or his looks, which is why Rocky Balboa was a great final installment to the Rocky series.

Following the same formula of its predecessors, Rocky Balboa begins with an internal conflict, Rocky verse Rocky. Balboa has lost his beloved wife Adrian to cancer, and is estranged from his only son, Robert, played by former Gilmore Girl cutie Milo Ventimiglia. Retired and alone, Rocky owns a local restaurant where he devotes most of his time re-telling tales of "the good old days" to enthusiastic customers. In a modern world where life depends on technology for entertainment, a favorite national sports show computer generates boxing athletes from both modern and previous times based on known stats. The show then has the athlete's pixilated counterparts fight one another. The outcome of the Mason "The Line" Dixon vs. the Italian Stallion computer match-up caused a stir in the sports world, and people got an itch to see a real live one-on-one.

Though we correctly expected the general progression of the plot, Rocky Balboa is surprisingly interesting and sincere. It was way better than I thought it would be, that's for sure. The lighting is exceptional, and the characters had depth and humility. The pathos in this film was overwhelming, making the victory bounteous. Of course there was the signature "Rocky is in training" montage, and other typical scenes, but the fight scene was artistic and well thought out. The use of slow motion and shots in black and white film aids in the scene's appeal. It made me cringe with pain just watching the two champs go at it.


This film had no intention of superseding the previous movies other than its last (Rocky V). A rather good idea, in my opinion. Rocky V left many in disappointment and our hero, the Italian Stallion, back in the old neighborhood with nothing except a won street fight. Rocky Balboa is definitely a more fitting end, and it leaves fans remembering why they loved the series.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 3:54 PM 0 comments  

Hairspray

Friday, August 10, 2007

4 GOOMBAS

I walked into the UltraStar here in San Diego feeling pretty crummy. As the orphan boys in the book I'm currently reading, The Long Run, would say, I was having a case of "the spells." The seats were only filled with a handful of senior citizen who came in three pairs. I sat down in the corner of the cold, dark theater for a matinee showing of Hairspray trying to decide if watching a movie alone was really the right thing for me to be doing at the moment. The lights dimmed, the opening credits rolled, and the moment I heard Tracy Turnblad voice sing "Good Morning Baltimore" my face broke into a ginormous smile that couldn't be turned off anytime she was on screen.

High school student, Tracey Turnblad is just an everyday teenage girl. Perky, out-going, and optimistic, she loves to dance, and has her heart devoted to teen heartthrob, Link Larkin, who also just happens to be her classmate and a dancer on "The Corny Collins Show." When a dancing spot opens up, Tracey is gung-ho for the audition, but is turned away because of her pleasantly plump features. Hairspray focuses its attention on the largest issue that faced the 1960's, black integration, and Tracey Turnblad is a refreshingly heroic presence amidst all the clamour of a serious problem.

Hairspray has had an interesting evolution. It started out as an 80's film and was then adapted into a Broadway Musical. Then Hollywood wanted it back to remake Hairspray as a musical, which they achieved with flying colors. As the closing credits began to roll, the old ladies in the theater put it best when they all said practically in unison, "That was cute!!!" with a satisfied, uplifted tone. It was cute! There's no other way to describe it. New-found talent, Nikki Blonsky, was both adorable and gorgeous. She made me want to love life as fiercely as she did, but not in a gag-me-you're-too-goodie-goodie kind of way. She had sex-appeal and emoted a wide range of feelings that anyone whose ever lived through high school can relate to. Though she's may be an everyday teenager, there is nothing ordinary about her.

The notable cast had a hard time competing with Blonsky. Zach Efron is a little too pretty for my taste but displayed genuine, bubblegum talent (I think that's an oxymoron). Michelle Pfeiffer played a really good prissy bitch, and John Travolta was . . . kind of weird. Did he seem really strange to you? I wonder why these Hairspray movies always have a man play Tracey's mother. . . Anyway, his character brought a touch of The Nutty Professor comic relief to the film, but nothing more, thank God.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I'm going to go out and buy the soundtrack so that on those days when I get a case of "the spells", I'll know what I need to do, and for that reason, this movie will always have a special place in my heart.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:10 AM 0 comments