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The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

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The greatest disappointment was the gross lack of Chuck Norris jokes…

David Norris (see what I mean? oh, and Matt Damon), with the charming smile in one pocket and a sketchy past in the other, rises from his grungy upbringing to run for Senator of New York.  Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) is a professional ballet dancer, spunky and sassy.  After Norris is slaughtered in the election, he stumbles upon Elise in the men’s room (oh, it’s cool, she’s just hiding from security after crashing a wedding).  Their chemistry is fizzling instantly, and their spontaneous kiss is magical.  Her fire and spirit inspire David to give the best speech of his career – catapulting him to a lead in the next election.

The next day, after failing to spill his coffee according to some agenda that a fairly attractive, skinny black man in a hat (Anthony Mackle) is in charge of, he runs into Elise again.  But that wasn’t supposed to happen.  He was never supposed to see her again.  He was never supposed to arrive at work when he did.

More men in hats confront David.  They explain some religious hoo-dah about “men upstairs,” “the chairman,” life-plans that keep the universe in check, human-beings can’t make decisions… stuff like that.  They swear David to secrecy about their existence, otherwise he gets some serious “reset” lobotomy, oh, and he can never have Elise.

Even three years later when chance takes over and he bumps into her again.  It’s not according to plan.  But then this Thompson dude (Terence Stamp) ups the ante.  If they get together, David will never be president, and Elise will never have the dance career that she would have had.  And he decides to show his omnipotence by forcing a sprained ankle on Elise.  David is faced with following his heart vs. following destiny.

Superb premise.  Once things got cooking in the bathroom I was hooked.  Men with hats observing from above, stalking a potential presidential candidate.  The whole thing with the coffee spilling at 7:05 or the world keels over is pretty awesome.  My first question (of many): are we all observed?  The entire bureau seems to focus all efforts on these TWO people.  I mean, that’s cool, that’s a movie, but they barely put forth the effort to make it look like they observed anyone else at all.  The “big reveal” or whatever missed the opportunity to make this look like a universal organization, encompassing every human being who missteps.  Oh well.

Free agency vs. pre-determined destiny.  Being religious myself, these underlying themes are fascinating.  While many believe “the chairman” to be God as we know him, I think of this chairman dude as being a lot more like the devil.  Obviously this isn’t the real world, and in this real world I do choose to believe that God is watching over upstairs.  But he doesn’t intervene in our affairs like those in The Adjustment Bureau do, he gave us choice.  Satan, or whatever, wouldn’t give us that choice.  And that makes us slaves to him.  This is a dystopian society, and things AREN’T supposed to be like that.

Which is where my main problem comes from.  (Sorry for the religious rant in there, bee-tee-dubs.  I couldn’t help it).  Spoilers.  After all their cat and dog antics, David determines his decision.  He wants to be with Elise no matter the cost.  His decision is made and no “chairman” is going to tell him what to do.  So, in an escapade of brilliance, he and Elise depart hand in hand to confront the man who writes the plans, since no one else seems to know why they can’t be together.

Call me a realist, but I wanted there to be a face to the responsibility.  I’m so pleased that this dude came to his humane side and changed the plan just for them to be together.  He’s a real sweetheart.  But, as anticlimactic as it is, I wanted some kind of confrontation between the good guys and the messed-in-the-heads.  Some big speech about letting us choose our destiny, no one can force us to do anything blabbity blah.  But instead, we get some immediate resolution between Elise and David’s story… and nothing for the bigger picture.  What happens to the next person who unknowingly never meets the person of their dreams?  The future remains sadly unaffected and I guess I had a problem with that.

Anyways.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are a fantastic duo, and I knew that would be so two years ago when I first HEARD about this movie.  I’m not even going to attempt to deny my girl-crush on Emily Blunt, she’s a terribly versatile actress and I’ll bank on any film of hers nowadays.  And, well, who doesn’t love everybody’s man Matt Damon.

The theme and mood of the film is a perfect balance between drama and adventurous excitement.  The music is a wonderful accompaniment to the mood, Thomas Newman is a stud.  The pace too was captivating the entire way (though perhaps with one too many jumps to the future), and I was intrigued until the end with its outcome.  It’s a thinker, and everyone knows that I dig that kind thing.

And again, the plot itself was original and fantastically enthralling.  Walking through doors, super hats, men in suits nonchalantly controlling everything.  Though it perhaps didn’t achieve its potential, it is still worth the watch and an exciting ride.  7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

tv-update

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So Prison Break Season 2 has been intense, awesome, whatevs. I’m digging Agent Mahone’s character (William Fichtner) and liking Michael Scofield as per usual… but seriously, can’t they just escape for good? Do they have to come this close every time? So frustrating.  *Post edit. Really guys? Breaking out AGAIN? But in Panama? With essentially the same people? That’s definitely different than before guys… Man.

Another show I dig that is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine is V with Elizabeth Mitchell. I love me some sci-fi.  I know it’s got terrible ratings (it isn’t even on ABC.com anymore…) but I really hope that it can keep going to some conclusion, I’m really invested in this!  And I just want Anna to get what’s comin’ to her.  This show is actually pretty well crafted, I’ve been impressed with it so far (and isn’t quite so manipulative as Prison Break though it still is to some extent, no lies).  Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, and Morena Baccarin are good.  And I love anything with any Lostie (Mitchell).

30 Rock hasn’t been as funny this season, but I do still catch a few laughs from Mr. Donaghy, Liz Lemon, Tracy, and Kenneth.  Kinda glad Matt Damon and Liz broke up – they had potential but that whole plane scene was terrible.  “Never Too Late For Now” was also kind of awesome. Just sayin’

Gotta love the Liz Lemon fanny pack…

p.s. 100th post!

Invictus (2009)

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I think the key to my experience with this film was entering the film with the right expectations.  I’d heard many complaints that it wasn’t “as good as Remember the Titans” but I also heard “Gee, I thought this was gonna be a Nelson Mandela biography – what’s all this rugby doing in there?”  Knowing that it was a mixture of the two helped me a lot.

As for myself, I thought it was great.  Not without flaws to be sure but I found it very inspiring.  Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela, recently elected president of South Africa.  As the country struggles with racial division, Mandela rallies the national flop of a rugby team the Springboks to go against all odds and win the 1995 World Cup and unite their country through their victory.  Impossible much?  Especially when you consider their opponents: the New Zealand All Blacks.  I’ve been to New Zealand.  They’re crazy.  Rugby’s their national sport.  It’s, like, you hear rugby and you think New Zealand.  Ironically, the film failed to mention that 3/4 of the acclaimed team were extremely ill during the match…  Although this would have been worth the mention, what the heck.  It’s cinema.

Consider this film to be yet another success for director Clint Eastwood.  Ultimately, this is not your ideal tough-guy rugby movie, it’s much more than that.  Mandela was a real person, and if this movie does nothing but make people think “Is this Mandela guy for real?” then it has succeeded.  This is where films do so much more than just entertain, but they provoke thought and further interest in a real-life event.  It’s excellent.  Morgan Freeman’s flawless portrayal of Mandela was, without doubt, worthy of an Oscar nom.  He was the heart of the show, portraying an authoritative but empathetic man.  As the Springboks’ captain Francois Pienaar, Matt Damon contributes surprisingly little, and I mean this based on quantity, not quality. Matt Damon is universally popular, that’s certain, but he has proved himself as one of today’s most versatile actors.  He deserves an acting Oscar one of these days.

Consensus: the acting was superb, the cinematography commendable, and the direction top notch.  What makes it special is its uplifting and inspiring message.  “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus is a triumph in my book. 7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm