Movie Monday- Water for Elephants

Heard about this one for.ev.er. Not sure why I never got around to it in the theater, but you know what? It happens. Even to the best (movie go-ers) of us. Heard lots about how great the book was. Heard lots about how great the movie was. Let’s move that on up to #1 in the Netflix queue and get this show on the road. Ha. Get it? Its a traveling circus? Ok, never mind….

I was a little hesitant about the main caracter being RP of Twilight fame. I mean honestly even though I am a fan of the Twilight series, I don’t necessarily think Robby P is the best actor out there. He did a decent job though. Once the movie got going, he was believable in this role as opposed to pasty white, sparkly -in-the-sun vampire that I am used to.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see Christoph Waltz. I loved him in Inglorious Basterds and think he is a top notch actor. He was a bad guy in that one and a bad guy in this one so I think I would like to see him in a nice guy role next just to see if he can pull it off.

This movie is beautiful. The cinematography is breathtaking and the story based on a struggling circus in the glory days of the circus was interesting and unique. I am a sucker for animals so the fact that animals were a main character in this movie was a big plus for me.

Warning! If you ARE a sucker for animals like me, this may not be easy to watch in a few places. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it and I had a full on ugly cry session during the movie that I’m pretty sure freaked Paul out a bit. I just cant stand animals suffering. It reaches down inside of me and pulls some of my heart out. So while the scene is brief and we all know that no animals actually got hurt during the movie, it is still tough to watch if you are a big ‘ol animal softie like me.

I definitely recommend this movie. It is well acted, beautiful to watch and makes you want to go see the circus and eat peanuts.

And just since I can’t help it…..

HA! Makes me LOL every time.

Overall Rating: Large Popcorn, Large Drink
(Click on link to see rating explanation)

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Movie Monday- Chronicle

I thought this movie was a Vin Diesel movie every time I saw it in the movie listings. I know, I know, that’s a totally different series…But in my defense, the movie poster doesn’t really have any actors on it and is kind of dark and gloom-y looking so….I think I am justified in my wrong assumption.

When I finally stopped to look at the description I realized that it was that one movie where the kids can move stuff with their minds. And then one of them goes evil. Something like that. Looked interesting and is playing at exactly when we had time for a movie. Done.

Extra added bonus, it takes place in Seattle. Love seeing movies that are filmed in my backyard. Even if that backyard is actually like 40 miles from my actual backyard. No bigs.

The story revolves around three teens who make an interesting discovery in the woods during a party and wammo! their lives are forever changed. They suddenly have telekinetic powers and this new discovery entertains and challenges them.

The entire story is told from the perspective of an ever-present camera that teen #1 (Andrew) has decided to carry around with him to document his life. We don’t really understand why he has decided to do this other than that his father is abusive and he maybe wants to document that? The filming is sometimes jumpy and jarring and every now and then it switches from his camera to others who also randomly have cameras (a girl who films everything for her blog, passers-by who are capturing some of the more destructive scenes at the end of the movie etc…). Personally I found it an interesting way to tell the story and I enjoyed the perspective that the literal “behind-the-camera filming” brought to the plot.

I wish there would have been more revelation around what happened to the teens in the woods and how whatever it was that they found enabled them to have these object-moving powers.  Being that these powers and the struggle to contain and harness those powers were the central point of the movie, it would have been nice to have more information about where it came from. I kept waiting for the “big reveal”, but it never really came.

I really enjoyed the fun of this movie, but I think it had the power (pun-intended) to be so much more. With more development of the characters, a back-story to the “power provider” and just MORE development in general it would have been so much better. It could have been a terrific sic-fi masterpiece. A little disappointing, since the idea of obtaining powers to move things with your mind and what you could do (good or bad) with those powers could play out a lot of different ways.

Overall Rating: Medium popcorn, Large drink
(Click on link to see rating description)

Movie Monday- Drive

I didn’t catch this one when it came out in the theaters even though I desperately wanted to. It seemed soooo different, soooo….”2011 cool”. I’m a Ryan Gosling fan as much as anyone, and the feel of the movie from the preview felt fresh, alive. Not something very common in this day and age of sequels, prequels, and 3D-throwaway-2-hour-time-wasters. Wow, that was a mouthful. 

Then I started hearing people talk about it. How great it was. How VIOLENT it was. And I was surprised. It was hard to tell from the preview what it was really about (which I love btw…) so to hear that it was violent was strange and actually made it (weirdly) more intriguing.

When it arrived at our house via Netflix, let’s just say it didn’t last long sitting on the table next to the TV. Like not even a day.

I was not dissapointed.

Ryan Gosling is a nameless stunt car driver by day, and a driver for those who need to be driven…fast(aka bad guys)…by night.  He knows the streets of gritty LA like the back of his hand and drives with a cool calmness that seems unreal but also makes you kind of want to smile. Like, who is this super cool guy?

Driver is a man of few words. Paul and I were constantly amused by how someone would ask him something and then….silence. Kind of looked like this:  “Dude, I’m not telling you anything.” SILENCE. “OK, fine I will tell you everything.” Hysterical.

Interestingly though his silence SCREAMED at you from the screen which only proves to me what we have (hopefully) known all along, Gosling means business as an actor and he is here to stay.

The rest of the cast was perfect as well. Mulligan was sad, sweet, vulnerable and touching as the mother of a boy whose father was absent, re-introduced and then absent again. Cranston is one of my favorites, character actor magic.

The violence doesn’t kick in until 30-45 min into the movie and it gets progressively aggressive. It’s reality violence, not the stuff you see in typical action movies. Its believable which makes it all that more intense.

Another amusing thing I loved about this movie (I love being amused in violent, gritty films) is how Driver sports his bloody jacket around for days after it becomes bloody. I love how a seemingly small, strange detail as this communicates so much. I wish I were as talented to be able to say so much about a character in such a non-verbal way.

This movie is brilliant. Neo-noir at its finest. Subtle, brutal.

Overall Rating: Large Popcorn, Medium Drink
(Click on link for rating description)

MR- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I saw the preview for this movie (in the theater about to watch another movie) probably around 6-7 times. I swear, I teared up EVERY time I saw it.

I didn’t really understand exactly what the movie was about, but I got the fact that it centered around a boy who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock were in it and something about the way the preview was done was just so moving…I really wanted this to be one of those great movies that you know you will cry in, but you love it and want everyone else to see it and cry with you.

None of that really happened. Boo. Wait, why am I upset that I am NOT crying? hmmmm

I had a hard time with this one. To me, this should have been one of the greats. Directed by Stephen Daldry who did The Reader and The Hours, Tom Hanks and Sandy B, compelling story about a subject that is so dear to our hearts….should have been movie magic. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t ENTIRELY dislike this movie, I just wanted it to be so much better than I thought it ended up being.

The movie centered around Oskar Shell, a young boy who has lost his father in the 9/11. While I thought his acting was pretty great, especially for someone so young, I felt like the character was one big contradiction. He was supposedly afraid of everything, yet he spent most of the movie making his way all around NYC all by himself talking to strangers. I used to be quite the scaredy cat as a kid his age, and there is no way I would have done half the things he did. So that seemed a little off.

He was also very troubled and very hard to like and connect with. Its tough to really enjoy or appreciate a film, when you find yourself majorly disliking the main character. I understand that he was troubled by his experience and the almost insurmountable pain he was dealing with affected how he came across, but I just felt like there was something missing. The link that made us actually care.

There was also a sort of anti-climactic feel to the movie that was also disappointing. The majority of the movie centers around Oskar’s search for a lock. He found a mysterious key in his fathers closet a year after his death and he was convinced that finding that lock would somehow keep him connected to the fading memory of his father.  That search does come to a conclusion ( a rather anti-climactic one) but then the film takes a bit of a turn and dives more into his relationship with his mother which hadn’t really developed much throughout the rest of the movie.

All in all, I’m not really sure what this movie was trying to tell me. A definite let down based on what I thought it was going to be. I did like Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock (per usual) but other than that, kind of a wash.

Overall Rating: Medium popcorn, large drink
(click link to see rating system)

MR- The Vow

Ever since I saw this preview for the fist time, I knew it was a movie that I would have to see eventually. The premise was just too interesting to ignore. Boy and girl fall in love and get married, accident happens, girl forgets boy, he continues to love her and (maybe, maybe not?) win her back. Bring on the tissues!

Plus, the thought of loosing 5 years of your life is also an interesting thing to think about. Until you remember where you were and what you were doing five years ago and then you are glad its Rachel McAdams having to deal with all that and not you.

We went to see this to kick off our Valentines Celebrationand it was fitting for the occasion. It wasn’t the best movie I have seen, and there were some holes here an there that I picked up on. It was also slightly difficult to follow the time line of the story. I think adding the little “3 months later” subtitles throughout the movie would have been helpful.

McAdamas was her normal cute self

and Channing Tatum was well….his cute self as well.

I don’t think he is really known for his acting chops but he did a good job of conveying his love for his sweetie. I wish they would have spent a little more time on the development of their relationship in order to convey the bond that we assumed that they shared, but they didnt dive enough into it for me to really really sense his unwavering love for her throughout her complete and total loss of memory of anything that had to do with him. He also wore a lot of weird sweaters. I mean, I get that they were trying to be stylish, but I don’t think it worked. And since I am a fashion expert, my opinion on this totally matters. 

It was cool to know that it was based on true events, I would love to hear more about the “real” couples story. I’m sure Google can help me with that.

One thing it did really make me think about is what would happen if something like that happened to me or Paul. Both of us were in SUCH amazingly different places 5 years ago that if we knew then what 5 years in the future would look like we would both probably not believe it AT ALL. For one person to have all those memories and the other person not…I shiver at the thought.

Overall this one could have been a little better, but it was still enjoyable and made you think, which I think are two basic elements of any good movie. I know many people love to drool over Channing, but I will drool over my husband any day of the week over him. I mean look at that face…how could you not?
(Click on link to see rating system)

MR- Safe House

WOW.

WOW. WOW. WOW.

The only thing that was bad about this movie was the four young’ns next to us who were annoyingly noisy. The girl sitting one seat away from me was sucking on some unknown candy and she obviously had a disorder that prevented her from keeping her mouth closed.

Then she and her other three friends kept passing around and grabbing the noisiest bag of goodness-knows-what. I kept thinking “Ok, they have to finish whatever that is eventually and it will stop”, but it took until about 3/4 of the way through the movie for them to finally stop with all the rustling. AND annoying mouth-open-sucking. Blech.

Good thing the awesome movie on the screen kept me pretty entertained so I would be distracted from all the inconsiderate movie-goers next to me and not strangle them and steal their noisy candy. 

Ok Cinnamon.  Stop. Focus. Movie review.

Denzel+Ryan+interesting plot +non-stop action =movie heaven.

This was a good one. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was a lot of edge-of-your seat action, but not over the top, crazy the-world-is-going-to-end action. Just your basic car chases, gun fights and all-that-jazz action that keeps you on your toes. I had to consciously tell myself to relax my shoulders numerous times throughout. (And not b/c I was so tense at all the sucking and rustling that was going on next to me either.)

In ways, this reminded me of The Departed, although I think that one still wins out as the better movie. The acting was great, both Denzel and Ryan did bang up jobs and the supporting actors held their own. There were twists and turns that I didn’t see coming (which I always enjoy) and a couple of really good BAM!! jumps that just shocked the heck out of you. The good kind. Not the bad kind. Makes sense right? Right.

Also, there was a lot of man crying. Now THAT is refreshing. When was the last time you saw a movie where the dudes were crying all the time? A+ original in my book. And just in time for Valentines day.

I haven’t really read any reviews on this, but I’m assuming that some people will say it’s too much like Training Day. Mostly b/c Denzel is the bad guy (or is he???) and, well…I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it, but maybe I inadvertently just did anyway. Oops!! Don’t worry, you will still like it. I haven’t ruined anything. Pinky swear. 

I don’t remember excessive cussing and the violence fit with the plot. Not good for kids or those who don’t like suspense or surprises aka…boring people. Hey, I’m not judging, just saying….

(click link for rating explanation)

MR- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I was a big fan of the first Sherlock Holmes movie. So much so that I thought there was already a second movie and this new one was the third. Not sure how I came to that conclusion, but nonetheless I was excited to see the second installment. Guy Ritchie directing and Robert Downey Jr….yes please! Guaranteed pure entertainment through and through.

This second installment didn’t disappoint. Lots of excitement, neat camera tricks and cool slow motion action, funny dialog etc…despite all of that however, through most of the movie, I honestly had no idea what was going on.

Completely lost.

Someone was trying to blow stuff up. Some lady’s brother was pretending to be someone else. There was a cool train scene. A wicked cool chess scene near the end that was more of a mind game between two ridiculously intelligent masterminds than an actual (snoozefest) chess scene.

There isn’t a lot of depth to these movies even though I think they want to come across as if there is. The campy dialog and interesting way the movie is filmed make it seem like a fancier movie than it really is. But in the end, it’s a good time.

Two hours to enjoy your popcorn, candy and soda or your Subway sandwich home made popcorn if you are that person who likes to sneak your own food into the theater.

Your mind won’t be blown, but you probably won’t feel like you totally wasted your time either.

Overall rating: Medium popcorn/Medium drink

MR- Contraband and Life in a Day

Contraband


I really wanted to like this movie. It was eh. The best part about it was Giovanni Ribisi trying to be a ominous bad guy. Only problem was that he kept getting beat up my Mark Wahlberg. The bad guy should scare you because hes the bad guy. He shouldn’t be bloody and on the floor the whole movie. Nonetheless it was entertaining to watch Ribisi attempt to be a greasy, tattooed thug trying to fill the shoes of his absent (dead? killed doing thug things? who knows? ) and seemingly better liked thug brother.

The story centers around Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) who used to be a bad smuggler guy but has changed his terrible ways after getting married and having some kiddos. Problem is, his wife’s misfit younger brother is still in the biz. And he sucks at it. So therefore he’s gotta do “one last” run to make up for the brothers incompetence.

The movie was dark and gritty and wanted to be more intense and dramatic than it was. It was interesting to see some of the inner-workings of the big carrier boats, and the shipping/smuggling focus was something that I haven’t seen before. What I have seen before was a tired plot where half of it you can see coming and the other half isn’t really surprising at all.  Wait..isn’t that the same thing?

I was actually a little bored at one point. Never a good sign.

Lots of “lets act like we are really tough bad guys” language and some blood, but nothing over the top.

Overall Rating: Small popcorn, small drink

Life in a Day

I had seen previews for this for a while but somehow missed it at the theater so we took it in on Netflix. It’s a documentary (if you can call it that) of all kinds of video footage that was taken from real people from all across the world on July 24th, 2010. Baiscally telling the story of everything that happens on earth in the period of one day.

Intriguing concept, no?  I have always been fascinated by things that occur at the same time/day that we are unaware of.  Or just thinking about “I wonder what so and so is doing right at this very moment?” Even as I type this or as you are reading this, other things are happening to friends, family, movie stars, athletes, strangers all over the world that you are completely unaware of. But they are still happening. How cool would it be to know exactly what was happening to them at the same moment you were doing a specific something? This movie (kind of) does that.

And my now my brain is tired.

It doesn’t follow any one particular story although a few different people show up more than once throughout the movie. It literally is just video footage that was submitted by people all over the world and then they edited it to follow a typical day. It started with the early morning went through breakfast, morning, lunchtime etc…and just chronicles what the various people were up too. No one story is highlighted and no one person or thing is on long enough for you to get attached.

Watching the movie and knowing that everything I was watching took place during the same day in history was pretty cool. Makes me wonder what I was doing on that day. After all I was doing something at the same moment all these people were doing what they were doing.

OK I think I have geeked out enough about this concept. I think its cool. I think you will too.

Overall rating: Large popcorn, large drink

MR- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible has always had a special place in my heart. It’s essentially my namesake. I wouldn’t be ME without it. But that is a story for another day.

I think I only saw the first two MI movies and then kind of lost interest in the third. BUT, when I saw the preview for this one, I will admit, I was kind of little kid excited about it. I might have even pulled on Paul’s sleeve and said, “can we go, can we go??? Pleeeeeasssseeee!!”

Not sure what it was that had me so excited, it just looked like a good time. Tom Cruise flying off of giant buildings in Dubai, cars flying over him as he lands on the ground, lovable Simon Peg doing something…well, lovable.

I was IN.

I highly enjoyed it. I don’t really remember anything that I particularly loved about the previous movies other than the neat tricks they do with face (like literal face) masks, but this one I would gladly see again.

Plot line? Eh. There are some bad guys that are gonna do some bad things, like blow up the whole world or something (I’m not kidding) and who is gonna stop them? TC thats who. And his new friend Jeremy Renner of recent Hurt Locker fame. Oh and don’t forget the pretty girl, Paula Patton and the funny sidekick guy, Simon Pegg. Mix in a dash of fun and a whole scoop full of fancy gadgets and toys and you have got yourself one non-stop action packed 133 minutes.

Oh and if you are a Lost fan, Sawyer is in it too. For the WIN!

The acting was fine, nothing to write home about and the action really was non-stop. Time flew by and almost left you wanting more. The best part (as with any movie that centers around secret intelligence and government spy groups) are the toys and gadgets and fancy schmancy cars and pens and lipsticks that they use to kill the bad guys. Just plain fun.

I don’t remember a lot of foul language, but of course there is a lot of violence, not the gratuitous kind, but still…people die.

MR- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Book before movie. Movie before book. What to do, what to do……

There are usually two camps of people out there when it comes to books that are made into movies.

1) Those who adamantly refuse to see the movie until they read the book
2) Those who want to see the movie first and then read the book later, or never

I typically fall in the second camp. Mostly because if I’ve read the book first, all I can think about when I am watching the movie is how they changed this, or wait, that person didn’t do that, or hold on a second here, he didn’t say that or OMG they left THAT PART out??? I find it almost impossible to really enjoy the movie for what it is or what its intended to be apart from the book.

I went counter to my usual with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I had some time while the hubby was away for a month and wanted to get caught up on some reading.I had heard about this book for what seems like years and so I thought I better jump on the bandwagon and get to it already. I actually started the book about a year ago but it was so slow at the beginning that I couldn’t stick with it. However when I saw this preview (arguably one of the best movie trailers of all time, yes I WILL go there) for the movie, I picked it back up and really couldn’t put it down.

I was very interested to see how they were going to translate the book to the big screen. I must say they did a VERY good job. Minor changes here, a few parts left out which in my opinion made sense and the ending was altered. Not enough to make me feel cheated, but enough to probably make some hardcore book fanatics mad.

The opening sequence (the credits) was awesomely epic. Its really hard to describe what it was other than “artistic”, but the song and the artistry of it was captivating. Totally set you up for what you knew would be an exciting ride of a movie.

I thought the movie flowed really well, maybe a little slow in the beginning which follows the pace of the book. The German/Swedish accents (it was hard to tell which was which) were kind of come and go, but they did a great job of casting. Even though the majority of the main actors were recognizable to american audiences, they all had a European feel to them.

Director: David Fincher. Fight Club. The Social Network. Seven. Need I say more?

Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara were both perfectly cast. I had been reading for a while about casting Lisbeth and the struggles they had with it, but I feel like she did a fine job portraying the sullen yet genius character of Lisbeth Salander, probably one of the more complex women characters in cinema in a long time. A relative newcomer, Rooney completely embodied Lisbeth.

I love Daniel Craig as James Bond and now I love him as Mikael Blomkvist. He was just made for these roles.

Again, its very hard for me to look at the movie independently of the book, but Paul saw it with me and he seemed to follow along with it OK even though its a complicated entanglement of a few different stories (with lots of crazy Swedish and German names added in to complicate things make it easier to follow along with). The climax was disturbing and uncomfortable in the movie, more so in the book, the resolution was mostly true to the book and it set up predictably for the next two books that will inevitably be made into movies as well.

I haven’t seen the Swedish films, although I have heard that they are fantastic. I would be interested to see how much they differ and compare the acting as I have heard the Swedish casting was superb.

This probably goes without saying but this is not a kid-friendly movie. Lots of adult themes and a disturbing story-line.

I can’t decide if I should read the next book The Girl who Played with Fire before seeing the American movie that will inevitably be made the Swedish movie. What’s a girl to do??????