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reviews and reactions to the wonderful world of film

Archive for January 2011

i guess i just got cooler or something

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Dear Void,

Once upon a time when your author blogged regularly, she actually made an effort to publicize her site a little bit.  She got a few comments, it was fun, blah blah blah.  Now I’m just too busy to blog AND promote, so I just blog.  No use promoting without material.  Anyway, each day I glance at my blog stats on my dashboard just to see how I’m doing and lo and behold I’ve been getting more hits by the day.  Today I got to 269. Whhhhatttt?  Maybe it’s just a fluke or spam, but readers.  If you are a real person, leave a little note!  say you stopped by, talk about the movie I loved or hated, give me a virtual pat on the back, or something.  Would ya?  I need to know you’re alive!  Everybody loves mail…. kthanks. peace.


Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 30, 2011 at 9:01 pm

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Disturbia (2007)

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“…It’s too close for comfort ahhhh put on your break lights, you’re in the city of wonder… ”
What, this isn’t the Rihanna song? Oh.

An ornery troubled teen (Shia LaBoeuf) on house arrest gets a little bit bored, turns into the nosey neighbor, goes all lewd/perverted over the new girl with the hot bod and the pool, and suspects someone to be a serial killer.  All in a day of boredom and people-watching.

This story is loosely based off of one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock’s: Rear Window.  I never realized just how perverted that show was until now…. but no.  It’s Jimmy Stewart.  And Grace Kelly was not such a deadbeat bikini chick.  Hitchcock was so crazy, how could you possible make a movie that intense without the camera ever leaving one room…? Oh wait, was this review about that Shia LaBoeuf movie?  Shoot, I’d much rather talk about Jimmy Stewart.

LaBeef isn’t such a bad actor.  I love him in Holes.  Lately I’ve just been disappointed in the films he’s been in.  Transformers? Eagle Eye? Oh jeez.  Anyway, he ain’t bad in this either.  A little annoying, but I attribute that more to the script than the acting.  Basically it’s a lot of teenage puppy dog CRAP, with a little suspense thrown in there.  The amazing thing about Rear Window is its ability to allude to the obvious temptation Jimmy Stewart has of staring at the half-naked girl across the way without being overbearing.  In Disturbia: Here’s the girl doing yoga.  Ooh, here’s here walking slo-mo into the pool, oh NOW she’s tossing her hair back, and how cute – she’s reading a book on her roof while sunbathing in booty shorts.  It didn’t make it much better that I watched this with a group of immature guys who were loving all the skin they could get.  I’m not a boy.  I don’t care.

The two adults in the movie were decent, David Morse and Carrie-Anne Moss.  The girl (Sarah Roemer) sucked.  A Megan Fox wannabe, and I don’t even like Megan Fox.  LaBeef’s friend (Aaron Yoo) was pretty funny though.  There were some enjoyable things too, (twinkie towers?) and LaBeef’s restraining anklet made for an interesting turn.  It IS a pretty okay-crafted thriller for a teen movie, I’ll give that to D.J. Caruso.  It did get pretty intense late in the climax, I’ll admit that as well.  But it wasn’t enough to convince me to enjoy this ridiculously cliché, terribly written, knock off of a classic. 3/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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Oh Jack.  Why do you have to be so awesome?

Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a lazy-wise-A criminal.  So in order to avoid a sentence of hard labor and frustration, he claims insanity and hopes to live out the rest of his sentence in the more relaxed environment of a mental institution.  There we are introduced to fellow crazies, Martini (Danny DeVito), Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif), Max Taber (Christopher Lloyd), Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick), Dale Harding (William Redfield), and Chief (Will Sampson) – the deaf and dumb 7 foot tall Indian.  The coop is run by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and she’s something.  She humiliates, she degrades, she makes McMurphy’s life a living hell.

So guys.  What makes this movie great?  Let’s talk about all of the “before-i-saw-the-actual-movie” bits.  First, it won the big 5 Oscars (directoractoractressscreenplaypicture).  It’s ranked #20 on AFI’s top 100 movies.  Jack Nicholson is IN it and he gets to be in a mental institution.  An iconic classic of the ’70s.  Everyone’s heard of the title even if you haven’t heard of the movie.  So walking into this, my expectations were high.  And, luckily, I actually knew a lot less about the plot than I thought I did.  Except, naturally, that Nurse Ratched is a nazi-woman who is far crazier than her patients. (Seriously… AFI’s Heroes and Villains list really screwed up some things about movies for me… Maybe I should just stop looking at anything about movies until I watch every movie ever made.  Eh, not worth it).

Everyone knows that Jacky boy is bad-A.  He’s as hard core as they come.  (And I just watched The Shining not too long ago…)  Man is he great in this.  He’s loud.  He’s a leader of the pack.  He’s an unrelenting optimist, refusing to succumb to the lows of the nuthouse.  He frustrates Nurse Ratched enough to put a flicker in those calculating eyes.  He embodies that role with more enthus than I thought possible and few are as good at wreaking havoc as he.  What a guy.

What I didn’t expect was how attached I was going to become to every single other nut job.  It’s so easy to connect with their childlike mannerisms and you have hope for their futures.  Martini’s ever present grin, Billy Bibbit’s stutter, Chief’s admiration for McMurphy.  You’re cursing Ratched’s name and you’re  cheering for any small triumph they may have over her (and her name sounds like a cuss).  At first, I couldn’t decide if all the buzz for Fletcher was legit, but her acting performance will always remain a triumph for she’ll forever be remembered as one of the sickest villains in history.  Subtle and malicious.

I feel like the overall greatness is built up of small scenes of genius.  Stealing the van… teaching Chief to play basketball…. McMurphy petitioning for the World Series to be displayed and consequently monologuing an imaginary play-by-play to show his inmates how to stick it to the man and stray from the norm… all brilliant.  They, of course, build upon one another towards an ending but they also stand out as individual moments in which the audience could connect to the action.  The penultimate scene with Billy and Nurse Ratched is particularly moving as heart breaking as it may be.  Each scene is so perfectly constructed, and on emotional overload.

The music is solid, Milos Forman’s  directing is without fault, the script is unforgettable, the cinematography is bleak, morbid, and stunning.  The tone is an interesting mix between humor and misery, with tragic undertones to comedic exchanges; it’s barbaric how mental institutions actually used to be like that – electroshock therapy and lobotomy to boot.  But in the end it’s about character growth.  At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the ending but after thinking (like I usually do for hours after a movie as pivotal as this…) I recognize its poetic and beautiful wonder.  But no matter what – the journey was worth it for these guys.  And worth it for Chief. 9/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm

quote-of-the-week #8

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Get out of my way son, you’re using my oxygen.

-McMurphy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Yes, quotes of the week are back.  I’m excited, so you should be too.  There are many quotable one-liners comin’ from this character, but I particularly enjoyed this one.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm

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Basketball Diaries (1995)

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Basketball Diaries is basically about basketball star Jim (Leonardo DiCapprio) and his going off the deep end getting high a lot.  He loses his best friend to leukemia, but loses himself to drugs.  He also writes.  He’s definitely a charmer.  Especially when screaming his guts out in pain for a fix.  That’s a turn on if I ever saw one.  I still can’t decide if I found that painfully obnoxious, or painfully painful (yes i did use that redundancy thank you very much).  But basically if I didn’t know anything about drugs before I certainly do now.  On the whole, this true story based on the life of Jim Carroll is very harrowing, and agonizing.

It’s also, you know, overdone?  Not to bag on people with terrible drug addictions who think their story is just as awful and heart-wrenching as any other (and it probably is…) but we’ve seen this before.  Drugs are bad, don’t drop out of school, the end.  Plus I am not a drug addict.  It looks pretty awful, no lies, but I couldn’t relate.

On another note, it’s ugly.  Yeah, it paints a picture and in some ways it contributes to what’s going on but hey.  It’s still ugly.

I didn’t totally hate it though.  I’m a Leo fan, and this is one of his earliest (he looks like he’s nine…).  Though even with his age he’s far from untalented.  I like the guy, and he’s basically why I saw this in the first place.  He’s showin’ through some realistic teenage angst.  Believable is the word I’m looking for, I think.  Some argue that he was over the top, but I didn’t think that for the most part.  The other acting is pretty good too (Mark Wahlberg, Bruno Kerby, and Lorraine Brocco).  The soundtrack is awesome, the title is fitting.  And yeah, it’s memorable.  I won’t be forgetting all that drugness anytime soon.  Its outline is also effective with a very poetic feel.  Oh, and my favorite scene is when they play basketball in the rain.  Gotta love it.

Basically if you want to teach how awful life with drugs can be, here’s your movie.  Though I probably wouldn’t show it to your kids unless, you know, they’re already overboard. 4/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Despicable Me (2010)

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Nothing really appealed to me about this movie.  I hate to label, but honestly I’m a little bit turned off  when it’s animated and it ain’t Pixar.  Plus the trailer had a fart joke in there.  I hate fart jokes.  They are the epitome of childish.  I don’t care how many stars you’ve got piled in there.  It didn’t work for Shark Tale.

But then something happens when you go to college and you and your roommate Rachel decide to go to a dollar movie at 12:30 am and you laugh your head off in spite of yourself.  True story.  A few days after the fact, you kick back and realize that some of those jokes were actually stupid but man was it epic at 2 am.  Then you go to another buddy’s house and you watch it again… – laughing just as hard as before (okay, maybe not just as hard – that might not be possible.  I wouldn’t know though, I don’t think you’re ever fully conscious when laughing late at night.  Let’s be honest).

So anyway.  I think it’s hard to really review and critique movies like this.  Because I had a blast at the movie theater.  I laughed oh-so-hard.  But hey, it’s not that great of a movie.  It’s cute, it does what it does, it gives you a few feel-goods, and tells dumb jokes.  The end.

Gru (Steve Carell) is a villain has-been.  He’s old, but still wants to be the meanest, toughest bully out there.  Sadly, there are new hot-shot dudes who are meaner, tougher, and badder.  One such younger dude, Vector (Jason Segel), who succeeds because of all of his toys and traps in his cooler than cool super-villain lair – is Gru’s competition, and pulls off things like stealing pyramids in Egypt.  Gru is sick of people one-upping him, so he decides to pull off the biggest heist of the century and steal the moon.  Oh yeah, he also turns Daddy Warbucks and adopts three little orphans from the evil orphanage lady who looks like Dolores Umbridge (Kristen Wiig) along the way (box of shame? really?)

It’s predictable.  The story tries to be all feel-goody and get you teared up but it doesn’t have the emotional touch of Pixar.  It ends up just being cheesy.  But it is funny.  (Did anyone else laugh at the whole “Formerly Lehman Brothers” sign?)  There are a few side characters to spice it up – Will Arnett as Mr. Perkins speaking all GOB-like and Jack McBrayer as that evil carnival dude trying NOT to sound like Kenneth but still totally does being the best.  Julie Andrews also represents as Gru’s messed up mother.  The two youngest little girls were adorable, but the oldest was just annoying.  And typical.  An overdone character.

The minions were also entertaining.  I’ll be honest, I was taken with the cute lil’ midgets.  And it’s got a catchy theme song.  Always key.  Not to mention a random Wilhelm scream! K, done mentioning all the random tidbits. Think what you  may, but I for one was entertained.  6/10

An Education (2009)

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Man am I thrilled that this isn’t just some other movie about getting knocked up.  Oh wait, did I just ruin it for you?  My bad.

The darling Carey Mulligan stars as Jenny, a bright student in ’60s London with high hopes to get into Oxford.  She loves reading, French culture and music, is an accomplished cellist, and basically just wants to learn all there is to learn.  Then one day, the tall, charming, and suave David (Peter Sarsgaard) helps her get home in the rain.  Yes, in the rain.  He impresses her with his knowledge and cultured lifestyle, and she’s darn well swept off her feet.  Jenny’s parents (Alfred Molina, and Cara Seymour) are strict, but naive.  Even they are taken with David’s sophistication and wit.  David cultures Jenny by taking her to plays, concerts, fancy restaurants, and even Paris.  Jenny may or may not be falling for the middle-aged man, and his intentions may or may not be sinister.

First thing’s first: I’m a sucker for coming of age stories.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this on here yet or not.  But it’s true.  When I started hearing about this movie around award’s season last year I was so pumped to watch it.  I must admit, I wasn’t disappointed and I might even say it exceeded my expectations.

It’s enchanting, really.  Actually scratch that.  Carey Mulligan is enchanting.  I know I’m probably majorly influenced by the media but the thought couldn’t escape me how much she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn.  Oh she’s darling.  She makes the movie from some random teenage tragedy to something real.  We are all surrounded by Jennys, or perhaps we ARE a Jenny, and she transforms this character into someone relatable and strong.  She’s a strong, sharp heroine.  Her love of life radiates in her eyes and her joy is contagious – even through the screen.

David too is an interesting character and well portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard, that sly dog.  In many ways, he reminds me of the character Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility. There are moments where he seems genuinely interested in Jenny and enjoys her company.  Then there are times where all he seems to want is some action.  The two together make a good acting team and their relationship seemed plausible, albeit unfortunate.

The rest of the cast is solid too, featuring Olivia Williams, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, and Emma Thompson. The script by Nick Hornby (About a Boy) is also excellent and moving.  A fine directing job by Lone Scherfig.

What sold me on this movie, though Mulligan is definitely the highlight, were the parents  – Molina and Seymour.  I love that they actually, what’s the word, exist? Too often are there stories where the parents play no factor into the ruin of teenage lives, but I love that these parents are obviously trying their best for their daughter and that they love her.  They are a perfect example of concern, and love.  The story (based off Lynn Barber’s memoir of the same name) seemed fresh and true.  I mean, 16-year-olds make mistakes all the time.  This is a great example to young girls that there is still potential to grow, even if something crazy happens to mess things up.  The future awaits.  I love that about this.

Another highlight is the music.  It’s beautiful.  The end.

Okay, so maybe this story isn’t so new.  Maybe it IS just the same ol’ same ol’ that you get in any teen coming of age story.  Maybe we HAVE heard this story a thousand times.  But to me it felt different.  It actually felt special.  Maybe it just hit me in a certain way.  I can’t really tell.  But something touched me in this movie.  It’s worth the watch anyway.    9/10


Toy Story 3 (2010)

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I’ll admit, when I initially heard that Pixar’s next project was going to be a third installment to the Toy Story franchise, I wasn’t sure what to think.  Pixar is the top dog for creativity and I’ve been thrilled with their not-so-recent efforts of Up and Wall-E. Soooo another Toy Story?  Haven’t we heard this story before?  Twice?  But then I thought some more, and I’m as big of a fan as any of Woody and his gang and those movies define my childhood.  And Pixar is always right.  So I trusted them.

It’s a good thing I did.

Toy Story 3 is about grown-up Andy leaving the roost to go to college.  One card that Pixar played to solidify awesomeness was to release this movie just as the first generation Toy Story watchers are heading out to college themselves.  It definitely hit me differently since I too was embarking on the same adventure.  Good move, Pixar.  You always did know how to tug at the heart strings.

Anyway, as so morbidly predicted by Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2, Andy has forgotten about his toys.  In the confusion of packing and getting everything ready to leave, his box of the beloveds (Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Bulls Eye, Slink, Rex, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Hamm, 3 alien squeak toys, and even Molly’s old barbie) are accidentally taken to Sunny Side Daycare, instead of the attic where he wanted them.  (p.s. I totally listed those characters from memory btw.  Go me).  Woody tries to convince his buds that they need to go BACK to Andy’s.

Woody eventually heads off on his own.  Buzz and the rest of the crew are at first excited for their new lives – they meet a welcoming Care-Bear named Losto and his side-kick Big Baby, and Barbie finds true love in the apparently-straight-but-sooo-gay Ken (“That Barbie sure has nice handwriting!” “Uhh, Buzz?  I don’t think Barbie wrote this…”).  Unfortunately, our toys are assigned to the dreaded Caterpillar room, and tyrannically excluded by Lotso from the coveted Butterfly room.  What’s the difference?  Malicious torture by toddlers.  Turns out Woody was right.  They need to get out of this murderous mess.

Soo my first reaction told me that this was a little too much like Toy Story 2. The plot didn’t sweep me off my feet.  The sequence of things felt all-too familiar, and I was slightly disappointed.  On a side note, I honestly think one of the reasons I had these few drawbacks was due to Roger Ebert’s review, which gave it a positive rating but not a home-run score.  I’m torn between reading critic reviews for movies or not, but that’s a post for another time.  Anyway, the emotion behind it all outweighs this drawback.  I was freaking crying like a little baby by the end.  Seriously.  Tears were a-flowin’.  It’s a good thing it was 2 am and everyone else had fallen asleep so I didn’t even need to pretend that I got something in my eye.  I mean, these were practically MY toys!  Their camaraderie and care for each other is powerful, and in the end this is simply a beautiful story about friendship and looking out for one another.  But really though, let’s not forget the classic humor and wit that always accompanies a Pixar flick.

Barbie: “I”
Ken: “Love”
Barbie: “You!
Ken: “See, that time I said Love!  See what I mean, it changes every time!”

Ken’s fashion shows, Spanish mode Buzz (heck, Spanish-DANCING Buzz), and Pickle-Potato-Heads.  It’s hard not to giggle like a maniac at some parts.  Technically speaking, everything’s essentially flawless.  Perfect animation.  Excellent voice acting (Tom Hanks and Tim Allen of course, but also Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty and Bonnie Hunt in her small role).  Classic music.  Everything.

Pixar, you do whatever you want.  You have now successfully created a trilogy for the ages that is satisfying and complete.  I will forever treasure the Toy Story movies and the characters in them.  “So long… partner.”  8/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

January 16, 2011 at 10:46 am