The Bucket List

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Morgan Freeman began his acting career in the late 1970's, and he's had steady acting gigs ever since then; averaging 2 movies a year since 1980. His kind eyes, winning narrative voice, and grandfather-ish naivety easily find him work. And Morgan Freeman will eternally be an old man. After all, he didn't start his acting career until his mid 50's. So after being a chauffeur, a convicted felon, the President, God, and a detective (multiple times over), he basically plays himself, an old man, in his latest flick called The Bucket List, which also stars former psychiatric patient and psychopath, but equally old, man, Jack Nicholson.

Aside from being old, Carter Chambers and Edward Cole are sick. They both have cancer, and it doesn't look hopeful. So, while they're in the hospital, they develop a bucket list, a list of all the things they want to do before they die. With the help of Edward's wealth, and each other, both set out to do things they would have never done given other circumstances.

A potentially great movie on friendship, The Bucket List can kick the bucket for all I care. Though both actors are supposedly playing characters, its hard to see a difference between themselves and the real man. They play who you'd pretty much think they'd be in real life - Morgan Freeman, the reserved, but kind grandfather and Jack Nicholson, a dirty old man. And their friendship was just about as believable as the CG. I felt no long lasting bond between them, no closeness or camaraderie, and they might as well have had a moving backdrop.

Meant to be sentimental but instead, ending in mediocre cheese, The Bucket List should have had the word "RV" plastered over its title because The Bucket List is about that bad. Save your Netflix queue for something a little less sob story, but even if you were looking for something like that, the only tears you'd see would be from pity - pity for yourself for watching this flick.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 9:29 PM 0 comments  

The Golden Compass

Monday, August 25, 2008


I first noticed The Golden Compass at the 2007 Comic Con, and what first struck me was the exquisite use of color and the softness of each still. After a few months, I started hearing the controversy surrounding the religious (or should I say, "non-religious") themes apparent in the story. It turns out that the author of The Golden Compass novel, from which this film is based, was atheist. GASP! Oh the horror! His children's fantasy novel must be filled with immoralities, immodesties, and most importantly, anti-Christian tendencies. We have to boycott! ::rolls eyes:: After watching this film, these are definitely over-reactions to a analytically atheistic story, and this movie's influence is no worse than High School Musical with its promotion of popular teens possessing ridiculously, unattainable beauty.

Lyra is a young girl who lives in a dimension where there are three species; humans, polar bears, and witches. Humans each have a deamon which takes the the shape of an animal and is essentially a manifestation of the human's soul. There's also a thing called Dust - I still don't know what it is. I'm guessing it has something to do with corrupting mankind. Lyra is left behind by her uncle when he goes on a trip, and while he's gone, she finds herself in the middle of an adventure; traveling on a flying ship, befriending an exiled polar bear, and rescuing her best friend from deamon separation all with the aide of a alethiometer.

Visually dazzling, The Golden Compass is compelling and filled with youthful wonder and black and white morality, but its dark and sinister tones created complexities and intrigue. Dakota Blue Richards brings feistiness and courage to Lyra's character, and the world that Philip Pullman created is shared with a generation that may not have known it. However, though an adequate adaption to the novel, the film does not stand on its own. The ending is left open, (presumably for a sequel) with many, many question unanswered, but as of today, there have been no plans to complete the film trilogy. So what will happen to Lyra? What is Dust? This flick felt like the second movie in a series rather than the first, and because of this cinematic choice to tell the story in this way, it becomes a mediocre flick. There's really no excuse to leave so many plot holes.

Its always great to watch a children's fantasy film. It's imaginative, innocent, and usually filled with not-too-bloody action scenes. Yet in this particular instance, I was left unsatiated. Bring on the next installment, and I'll revisit.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:28 PM 0 comments  


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


SYNOPSIS: Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this politically charged film, Rendition. Isabella Fields El-Ibrahimi is an American woman with a son and another on the way. As her Egyptian-born husband flies home from a business trip, he's kidnapped, taken to another country, and tortured by the American CIA for information on a middle-eastern terrorist group. This act is known as extraordinary rendition.

The GOOM: Insightful, Rendition is another example of filmmakers and actors voicing their political opinions through film. Witherspoon and Gyllenhaal turned in great performances, and the film tellingly portrays the upholding of American idealism and how it can be demolished.

The BA: It was sort of hard to follow. It reminded me And it's a movie about terrorists and America exerting its dominance by using unprincipled means. It's typical. It's boring. It's un-extraodinary rendition.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:29 PM 0 comments  

P.S. I Love You

Monday, August 11, 2008


P.S. I Love You was advertised as “this year's best romantic comedy” - I can’t help but wonder if that movie critic was on crack. Did he see this movie? What part of having your dead husband leave you post-death, love notes is funny? To whoever wrote that review, you make me angry.

Previous experience has taught me that a fantastic cast does not necessarily equal a quality film. So here is P.S. I Love You, a perfect example, starring Academy Award winners Hilary Swank and Kathy Bates, and former, yet still hunky, Spartan, Gerard Butler. This film follows the life of Holly following the death of her Irish husband Gerry. Before passing, Gerry writes encouraging letters (which are delivered to her throughout the course of the film) to Holly in an attempt to help her cope and begin rebuilding a new life without him.

Simultaneously morbid and romantic, this flick brought on the tears. However, please picture me sobbing as I yell "this movie is so bad!!!" at the TV. Surprisingly, P.S. I Love You prodded the soft spot in my heart and concurrently, promoted irate feelings. Holly is an absolute pest of a character. I have absolutely no idea why Gerry would be in love with her. Second, why in the world did Gerry think that his notes were a good idea? His attempt to help her let go and grieve is completely backward. (Joe, this is not a good idea. You are not allowed to do this.) Some things just need to happen cold turkey. Lastly, the filmmakers' attempt to foster a new love interest is totally insensitive to the intense love story that they've already cultivated and committed to depicting. There's no way the audience will buy any other love story other than that of Holly and Gerry.

Something good I can say about the movie is its ability to evoke heartache. The filmmakers used the brilliant technique of intermingling Holly and Gerry's happy story with Holly's post-Gerry life. This yields the greatest impact to the viewer, as we are able to see/feel what Holly has lost instantly. And when Holly receives a new letter, we are again reminded that loss. P.S. I Love You is in no way a romantic comedy. It did a good job making you feel terribly somber and terribly depressed, and it did great at being just plain terrible.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:14 PM 0 comments  

Grace is Gone

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Every person has his or her own opinions on the War In Iraq. We'll never agree, but its always interesting to see how others express their beliefs in an artistic way. Film is such a perfect outlet for political statements, and as far right or left as some of these movies can be, the self expression seems unconfrontational. You just have to be aware and open-minded of the filmmaker's intentions in order to appreciate what it has to say.

Grace is Gone blends middle American simplicity with progressive scenarios. Stanley Phillips (John Cusack) is the 100%, middle America family man. Untraditionally, his wife, an American soldier, has been shipped off to Iraq while Phillips is left to care for their two daughters. When he receives a visit from an Army official notifying him of his wife's death, he goes into a state of denial. In an attempt to avoid the harsh and complicated reality, he whisks his daughters away on a road trip to an amusement park in Florida.

Yet I feel no pity for Stanley. I feel no sympathy. He wasn't believable. Cusack doesn't play a good married man. And stripped from his masculinity as the husband who got left behind, his already unconvincing performance made his character uninteresting.

Shot like an indie film, it had the characteristics of a poigniant and thoughtful movie. It had an important message to share, a different perspective to offer, and it resiliently focused on the idea of life after death - which is especially evident in the ending. But (and that's a big 'But'), it was wholly uninspiring. My love for John Cusack has been temporarily stalled by the release of this most recent film. Gone is the lovable, Lloyd Dobbler. Gone is the twisted audiophile, Rob Gordon. Gone is the serendipitously appealing Jonathan Trager. And apparently gone is Grace. As supremely insensitive as this is, I end this blog with a ::shrug::.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 11:48 PM 0 comments