Monday, September 27, 2010

"Catfish" is heartwarming, heartbreaking, and a little creepy: B

It's been a very long time since I saw a documentary in the theater (the last one being "Sicko"). I traveled to the hills of Hollywood to see "Catfish," thinking I was in for a scare. After all, the film was advertised as a documentary-gone-wrong, so naturally I expected to see a dead body or something. But there was no horror, no terror, nothing scary. To my relief, actually, because I don't handle scary movies very well. In any case, "Catfish" was falsely advertised; but that was the point of it all, since the story centers around a falsely advertised family on Facebook.

Yaniv Schulman (goes by Nev) is a photographer who lives in New York. His brother Rel and best friend Henry decide to document Nev's interactions with Abby, a talented young painter from Michigan who Nev communicates with through Facebook. Nev sends Abby his photos, and Abby paints them onto a canvas and sends them back to Nev.

Soon, Nev starts to communicate with Angela, Abby's mom, and Megan, Abby's older sister. Nev and Megan begin a virtual courtship, exchanging sweet messages and emails. Megan is a dancer and musician, and gorgeous to boot. Angela speaks to Nev on the phone, claiming that Abby's been selling her art to collectors for thousands of dollars.

One night, as Nev is chatting with Megan, Henry requests that she perform "Tennessee Stud." Once her acoustic performance is uploaded, Nev senses that it can't possibly be Megan. So he goes on YouTube, and discovers that Megan's songs are not really her songs. She's been uploading live versions of female singers, passing their songs off as her own.

This entices the trio to make a surprise trip to Ishpeming, Michigan to visit the family. What they discover isn't horrendous or terrifying, but rather depressing and sad. I don't want to spoil the movie, so I will not reveal who's real and who isn't. But the end result is this feeling of helplessness, and sort of tragic cloud that hung over my head once the lights came on.

I don't think this movie will be fully appreciated in the digital age of 3D, and from what I've read so far, it's getting some mixed reviews. But "Catfish" is an honest film about the nature of dishonesty, and how easy it is to sell the world a lie online. Let's just say, that it might make you reconsider your Friend List.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Boardwalk Empire": S01E01 - Scorcese's new series proves to be his best work since "Casino"

I have been looking forward to this for the past 2 months, and it surely didn't disappoint me. Set in Atlantic City in 1920, the story follows Nucky Thompson, the treasurer of Atlantic City and local crook. Once prohibition hits the country, Nucky decides to get into the business of smuggling liquor. Steve Buscemi has always been one of my favorite actors, and I'm really glad to see him in a starring role.

Nucky rubs elbows with the likes of some seriously shady characters, including real-life gangsters Lucky Luciano and Al Capone (Stephen Young as a very young Al Capone, before his days in Chicago). Nucky also has the help of ex-soldier and local gun-for-hire Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt). As he works with the other Atlantic City officials, Nucky keeps a close eye on his lucrative business. He makes sure to play into politics, for example, expressing his support of the suffrage movement at a local Women's Conference. Nucky also demonstrates his ability to help the locals with some hard-earned cash. Scorcese is certainly painting Nucky Thompson as the crook we're all going to love, just as Dexter is the serial killer we all adore. And the cop who will be on the case? Michael Shannon as Van Alden, the God-fearing man who swears to rid the world of liquor.

Also, a very big surprise for those of you who watched "The Wire," looks like Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) will be a regular on the show! He was amazing on "The Wire," and it's great to see him acting again!

I'm no expert, but the art direction and costumes seem to be pretty dead-on. It's rare to see a historically-set TV series or movie without it feeling like one big stereotype.

Although it's too early to tell if the entire series itself will prove Emmy-worthy, the first episode certainly caught my attention. I am very excited for next Sunday!

What were you all so impressed with? "The Town" failed to entertain, not worthy of praise: C

So, Ben Affleck makes his second directorial attempt and manages to make a complete fool of himself. Once the credits rolled and the lights came on, I found myself completely astonished that such praise was given to Ben and his movie. This thing has 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 87% of critics enjoying the flick. I truly do not understand this phenomena! Hopefully, I can shed some light on this mystery and persuade you to save your $10.50...because you will regret it.

"Did you really just order that with soy?"

This film was full of pointless side-plots and weak character development. The main story centers around Doug (Ben Affleck), the introspective ringleader of thieves. It's the same story: bad-guy-starts-thinking-about-getting-out-of-the-game-because-of-a-girl. Not very original, and not particularly written for a guy like Ben Affleck. Let's get it out there: he's an average actor. The fake tattoos didn't help convince me that he was a hardened thief, nor did his poor Bostonian accent. Ben simply wasn't very believable, which was obvious from the beginning of the movie.

Doug works with a man known as The Florist (Pete Postlewaithe), an Irish thug who organizes the heists (I'm guessing at this). What a waste of time! It was never made clear exactly who he was or why he worked with Doug and his gang. I found this to be annoying, but it continued throughout the film. Blake Lively plays Krista, sister to Jimmy (Jeremy Renner) and local floozy. It's mentioned in the film that she has a daughter, and Doug might be the father. But that's it! No development, just a weak side story meant to keep us excited. And what's up with the sudden car accident? She goes to see Doug at the hotel, and then BAM! she's in a hospital bed? With no visible wounds?

This seriously continues! We're also introduced to Special Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), who works with the F.B.I. to solve the bank robberies in Charlestown. (Don Draper wasn't too bad, but GOD! can someone give him a haircut?!) Frawley tries to talk to Claire (Rebecca Hall), the bank manager who was held hostage and released by Doug and his men. As Claire and Doug begin dating, things get complicated with Jimmy and before you know it, the whole gang starts to fall apart. Big surprise, right?

"Jeremy, I need you to stop being so awesome. It's killing my career."

The only saving grace of this movie was Jeremy Renner. This guy is blowing up ever since "The Hurt Locker" and for good reason. Out of all the characters, Jimmy was the most intriguing and exciting. I cared more about his character than I did for Ben Affleck's. That's a clear sign of Affleck's ability to make a good, solid film: the guy you hired to play your enemy ends up being the hero who saves your movie from almost-certain doom. The only other upside of this movie was the successful recreation of the heists themselves. The switch cars, the fake uniforms, the Clorox...all of that was well and good.

The end of the movie was sloppily put together. There were tons of unanswered questions, and no closure on Claire and Doug's relationship. Seems like Ben Affleck's way of wrapping up a heist movie is to go on a Florida vacation. I had high hopes for this movie, and looking back on it, I don't know why I expected better. Save this one for your Netflix queue, people.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"True Blood" Season 3 Finale: Farewell, Miss Stackhouse (**SPOILERS AHEAD**)

So, we've finally come to the end. It will be another 9 months before "True Blood" resurfaces, and I'm truly dreading the wait. I'd like to do this in an orderly fashion, so I'll be wrapping things up according to each storyline. Sound good to you?

Well, it turns out that Bill was sent to capture Sookie on behalf of Queen Sophie Anne. In the process, he fell in love with her and decided to keep her to himself. Not a very original storyline, but it works for the show. Eric is the one who spills the beans, after Bill attempts to bury him alive. Sookie is rightfully pissed, like a teenage girl who realizes for the first time that any man claiming to love her only cares about getting into her pants. Turns out, Bill is a real asshole. However, I'm sure he'll be trying to redeem himself next season. The finale ended with Bill going head-to-head against Queen Sophie Anne for her manipulation.

King Russell:
After being badly burned, Russell is held captive at Fangtasia. As Sookie keeps an eye on him, he begins to threaten her life. And her response is tossing all of Talbot's bloody remains into the sink behind the bar. Eric and Bill decide to bury Russell alive, encasing him in cement.

Eric: After Russell goes into the sun, Eric is badly burned but recovers quickly when Sookie offers her blood. Visions of Godric appear to Eric, encouraging him to forgive Russell and move on. He obviously doesn't listen, and chooses to make Russell's eternal life a living hell. It backfires on Eric when Bill decides to throw him into the wet plot of cement next to Russell. Eric manages to get out, and arrives at Sookie's house to reveal Bill's dark intentions. In a moment of tenderness, Eric tells Sookie that he is truly sorry for everything she's been through.

Sam: After his pity party with Tara, Sam reveals to her that he is a shape-shifter. Tara doesn't react positively to this news, and sees herself out. Sam also tries to make up for being such a jerk. He apologizes to both Lafayette and Terry. When he goes to Tommy's house to apologize to him, he's nowhere to be found. Sam gets back to the bar and sees that his safe/money is missing. He grabs his gun and goes out to find Tommy. When he catches up with Tommy, he raises his gun to Tommy's back, and the gun fires. It's unclear if Tommy is merely wounded or dead, but Sam is definitely going to the dogs.

Hoyt and Jessica:
Summer and Mrs. Fortenberry attempt to conduct on intervention on Hoyt's relationship with Jessica. Hoyt dismisses both of them, and proceeds to buy a house for him and Jessica to live in. (One of the sweetest moments of the series so far!) Mrs. Fortenberry decides to go to a gun shop to make a serious purchase. It looks like she may be coming after Jessica next season.

Tara: After finding out that Sam is a supernatural, Tara decides to make a change. She chops off her hair, says good-bye to her mother, and appears to be leaving Bon Temps forever. Good riddance, I got tired of her drama really fast.

Jason: He and Crystal go to her family's property to warn them about the DEA coming into Bon Temps. Crystal's ex-fiancee shows up, wielding a gun, and shoots Crystal's dad in the head. He threatens Jason, and Crystal must make the choice to go with him in order to save Jason's life. Jason's left behind to take care of Crystal's clan.

Lafayette & Jesus: After doing V with Jesus, Lafayette begins to have hallucinations, and not the fun kind. He calls Jesus to Merlotte's for help, and Jesus reveals that he really is a bru (witch/warlock).

And this is how it ends. After fleeing to Nan's grave, Sookie is approached again by Claudine. And this time, she disappears. Did Sookie go to the Fae world? Is she going to come back? If she does come back, what will she be like? Will Claudine teach her to use her powers? There are a lot of theories already, and with 9 more months until Season 4, I'm sure there will be more.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things Mel Gibson Says: "Braveheart" Edition

1. "Are you ready for a war?"

2. "[...] It's our wits that make us men."

3. "Every man dies, not every man really lives."

4. "We all end up dead, it's just a question of how and why."

5. "I never lie, but I am a savage." (spoken in Latin)

6. "I have been given nothing. God makes men what they are."


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Machete" lives up to its 'Grindhouse' trailer - bloody, sexy, and out of control: B+

It's about time someone gave Danny Trejo his own movie. Although he's not the best actor in the world, you can't deny the magic behind those scars.

Robert Rodriguez is a genius. He may never win an Oscar, but his work is impressive. He makes movies fun. It's obvious that "Machete" isn't meant to be a serious movie. There's no hidden agenda behind Rodriguez's films - it's pure entertainment.

Let's get to my analysis:

- Perhaps one of the best parts of this movie was seeing Cheech Marin with two fists full of shotguns. Cheech is always hilarious, and his cameo in this movie was no exception. (He offers Machete a Cuban cigar, but upon Machete's request for a 'Mexican', Cheech busts out a box of beautifully-rolled joints).

- Steven Seagal was perfectly cast as the drug kingpin Torrez, the man that Machete is after to avenge the brutal death of his wife. Seagal made light of his role, and pronounced "puñeta" much better than Chuck Norris ever could.

- Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez provided the wet-dream material for the film. As an I.C.E. field agent, Alba joins ranks with Machete once she learns about the corruption of Texas state senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro). Luz (Michelle Rodriguez) heads The Network, a group of revolutionary immigrants hell-bent on creating a just system for the Mexicans. Both Alba and Rodriguez were smokin' hot, and provided a pro-feminist perspective for the ladies to enjoy.

- The action was truly spectacular! Machine guns, pistols, throwing knives, samurai swords, and - of course - machetes. What more can you ask for?

- Don Johnson and Robert De Niro were the perfect bad guys. Although painted in a VERY bad and corrupt light, the two villains were both scary and comic.

- I wasn't very happy that Lindsay Lohan appeared in this movie. I have to admit that seeing her (practically) nude was one of the low-points for me. Bad form, Mr. Rodriguez.

"Machete" kept its promise. That's the bottom line. Go see this movie!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Movie Sub-Plots: Created By [f.g.i.] & Company

Been a while since I've been on here. I had a period of self-doubt, like all other writers...but now I'm back, and here are some of my movie sub-plot terms:

Thread count: Everything is connected, each character impacts the life of another character. Flashbacks help to explain these connections.

I came here to dance: The main character learns a valuable life lesson from a lesser character. The lesser character is inferior in some way, which makes the life lesson a surprise to the main character.

The wrong horse: The love interest of the main character (or lesser character) is not the right choice for them. This love interest has the potential to ruin the life of the one who desires them.

Baggage claim: The main character accepts their own flaws, and finds love with another person who is just as weird/quirky/screwed up.

Smoke & mirrors: Reality is questioned; nothing is what it seems. The main character is made aware of truth either at the beginning or the end of the movie.

Native love: The main character travels to a native land, and discovers the beauty of nature. He or she may be considered a traitor or outcast by society.

That's all for now...I will publish more as they come to me.
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