Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes make "Winter's Bone" a serious Oscar contender: B+

The next time you think your family situation is completely effed, I suggest you watch this movie. Nothing compares to the Dollys.

Set in the backwoods of Missouri, Ree Dolly (Lawrence) cares for her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings. Dirt poor and left to fend for her family, Ree is one tough 17 year-old country girl. She's willing to do anything to help her family survive, displayed in a particularly gruesome scene involving a squirrel.

Ree discovers that her meth cook father, Jessup, has skipped out on bail and failed to show for court. Ree is told that Jessup put up the house and the land, and that soon her family will lose everything.

Ree doesn't believe that her father simply left town, and with the help of her dad's brother, Teardrop (Hawkes), Ree goes on a quest to find out what happened.

Ree runs into several shady hicks who Jessup probably owes money or dope to. Of course, Ree is treated as her father's representative and things don't go so well for the young teen. She gets beat to hell, actually. What's interesting is that, apparently, Ozark culture dictates that no man is allowed to ever strike a woman, and vice-versa. Women, however, are more than welcome to wail on each other. Prepare for a shocking catfight.

I would like to point out, as I did in the header, that newcomer Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes (Saul Starr in 'Deadwood') are truly superb. They make an interesting pair in the movie, as uncle and niece. Although Teardrop is an asshole junkie, he proves to be Ree's guardian angel. And not the nice kind of angel; rather, the kind that stomp on the jaws of your enemies.

I really hope that this movie is recognized at the Oscars. It's definitely an excellent character piece, with a really haunting soundtrack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Tron: Legacy" - If Disney and The Dude go digital, I'm going with them: B+

It was a cold and rainy Sunday morning as I stumbled into the 10:00am showing for “Tron: Legacy.” Armed with Sunny-D and a bag of sprinkled donuts, I settled in and prepared to be immersed in The Grid…

I’m not going to be able to accurately describe what I saw, but it was amazing. I really felt like I was dropped into a video game. Everything about the digital world of The Grid was sci-fi perfection. The outfits, the hair, the androgyny - all of it was exactly how I imagined it would be.

“Tron: Legacy” was a Disney mash-up of the greatest sci-fi movies of our generation. A lot of key elements in the movie reminded me of such films as “The Fifth Element,” “Star Wars: Episode I,” “The Matrix,” and “Blade Runner.”

The acting wasn’t too terrible, much to my surprise. The Dude was the true star of the show, hands down! What’s great about Jeff Bridges is that he’s always Jeff Bridges. I’m really glad that Disney didn’t try to censor his Dude-ness. The first time he ended a sentence with ‘man’ I was tickled inside. I was also pleased with Michael Sheen’s appearance as Zeus (did anyone else pick up on his similarity with The Merovingian from “Matrix: Reloaded”?) as I was not expecting to see him. Although I don’t particularly care for Olivia Wilde, she did a pretty good job as the last Iso, Cora. But what was up with her annoying evil laugh every time she was behind the wheel?

Moving on to the 3D: it was alright. I was a bit bummed, because I figured the 3D was going to really enhance my experience. But I feel like I could have watched it in 2D and written this exact same review.

I’m realizing now that this review sounds a bit negative. I really had a great time watching “Tron: Legacy.” It’s rare to go to the movies and be completely engulfed by the fictional world in front of you. This movie did a wonderful job of that. I guess I just feel a bit cheated, because I wanted nothing more than to watch 2 hours of light-cycle races and disk wars. Is anyone else upset about this? It’s as if Disney said, ‘Let’s give the nerds what they want and then move on.’ But I’m a nerd!!! And I wanted to see some more Programs get derezzed, man!

P.S. - Props to Daft Punk! I'm definitely getting my hands on the soundtrack...

Friday, December 17, 2010

[f.g.i.] Presents: My 12 Favorite Christmas Movies

Christmas is a hectic whirlwind of stress, hence why I haven't gotten around to publishing very many posts this month. In honor of the holiday, here's a list of my personal favorite Yuletide films. Enjoy!

1) "A Christmas Story"
Every year, my family would tune the TV to whatever channel was playing this movie back-to-back. And you know what? I don't remember getting sick of it. Ever. I can't simply run through the list of gold nuggets, but there are plenty of them to keep "A Christmas Story" at the top of my list.

2) "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
I've been watching this movie every year since I was 10. I fell in love with Tim Burton right away, and this movie is a real classic. Danny Elfman's score is arguably one of his best.

3) "Home Alone"
I love watching this movie during the holidays. I can't think of a single dull moment in the movie. I absolutely love everything about it, especially the scenes with the pizza delivery guy.

4) "Love Actually"
Why do the Brits make better romantic comedies than us? Two words: Hugh Grant. This movie is sweet and funny, and it certainly gives you warm , fuzzy feelings inside after you watch it.

5) "The Santa Clause"
The first installment of this kid's franchise is awesome! Back in Tim Allen's heyday, that is. I always remember the part when he goes to the doctor and attempts to run on the treadmill. Good times.

6) "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
I'm a fan of all of the "Vacation" movies, so naturally, this one is especially fun to watch during the holidays.

7) "A Muppet Christmas Carol"
Michael Caine makes a great Ebeneezer Scrooge, and it's even better that he's surrounded by Muppets. I love the music in it, too.

8) "Elf"
Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf didn't make me laugh to first (or second time), but I've come to like this movie.

9) "Bad Santa"
Keep the kids away from TV when you watch this one. Billy Bob Thornton doesn't always have to be a NASA commander or government official, geez! He's quite funny as the con man who plans to rob stores on Christmas Eve.

10) "The Polar Express"
Certainly a wonder in computer animation! This is what happens to kids who stop believing in Santa - all aboard!

11) "Babes in Toyland" (1986)
Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves star in this made-for-TV special. Who doesn't want to live in a town where you can visit all of your favorite fairytale characters? The elusive Toymaker teams up with Drew and Keanu to defeat the evil Barnaby Barnicle.

12) "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000)
Jim Carrey does a great job as the Grinch, inserting his signature humor into the film. It's colorful and fun!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

[f.g.i.] Presents: True Disney Princesses in Film

Ok, so I have finally recovered from my 12-hour day at Disneyland. I don't know how I had enough energy to get through it, let alone when I was 6. I was determined to write about it when I got home, until I realized that I write about movies - not amusement parks. But a light bulb went off in my head, and I realized that Disney's string of princesses has inspired a flock of female characters in recent years...

Pocahontas/Neytiri ("Avatar")
Passionate about their natural world, both of these heroines fiercly protect their land. But a lone visitor changes both of their lives, as they wrestle with the complications of falling in love with an outsider.

Cinderella/Vivian Ward ("Pretty Woman")
These poor girls are doing some heavy lifting and some dirty favors just to earn some respect. Until, of course, the appearance of the fairy godmother and the rich guy with the credit card. Both women respresent the rags-to-riches mythology and we love them for perservering.

Mulan/Jordan O'Neill ("G.I. Jane")
These lovely ladies set out to break the mold and become badass soldiers. Obviously, I think that Demi Moors proves to be more successful - but nonetheless, a similar desire to prove all the boys wrong.

Ariel/Penelope ("Penelope")
One's got a fish tail and the other's got a pig snout. Both are encouraged to hide or change their looks, but both girls succeed in finding someone they don't have to change for. Sort of.

Belle/Irene Adler ("Sherlock Holmes")
Intelligence certainly sets both of these women apart from other heroines. Adler manages to stay one step ahead of everyone else, while Belle doesn't let others undermine her smarts or her bravery.

Sleeping Beauty or Aurora/Sandy Olsson ("Grease")
Princess Aurora is drop dead gorgeous, with an impeccable voice to boot. Sounds like the perky Olivia Newton John to me! Although there may not be much substance with these two, they certainly established themselves as women to be emulated for years to come.
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