Friday, July 26, 2013

"I Had A Heart Once" (2013) Review

Directed by Josh Lewis, Metal Owl Films’ latest short film “I Had A Heart Once” is an artistic piece sure to make an impression on film festivals all over. 

The seven minutes are impressionable, as John (Rohan Mead) reminisces over his alcoholic past.  It begins in a dark apartment, as John lights up a cigarette.  The scene shifts from John’s apartment and him walking around New York as he speaks.  John becomes more and more emotional as he realizes what his life has become. 

The cinematography can be a bit distracting from his story.  However, his retellings are poetic and hold your attention effectively, regardless of how ADD the camera switches can be.  The erratic of an alcoholic’s experiences is what makes the scene changes relevant to what is being said.  The fourth wall is broken as John shares his thoughts with others.  This will draw audiences in, making his past more tangible to us, even though we only get to know him in such a short amount of time. 

Overall, “I Had A Heart Once” is a passionate and bold piece.  Though existential in nature, the emotion builds at the perfect incline to the end of the short film. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Flight" (2012) Review

                 Last year, Robert Zemeckis released “Flight,” a drama about a bad combination of a drunk pilot and a malfunctioning airplane.  Denzel Washington stars as the victim of circumstance; alongside him are John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly and Bruce Greenwood.  The director of “Cast Away” brings us a film with an interesting concept, but predictable end. 

                After a night with a flight attendant, alcohol, and illegal substances, Captain Whittaker (Washington) boards his 9 am flight from Miami to Atlanta.  Still influenced by drugs and experiencing extreme sleep deprivation, he flies the plane, and it malfunctions midflight.  The worst-case scenario becomes reality for him, as he lands the plane.  However, some lives are lost. 

                After waking up in a hospital bed with a few injuries, he learns the crash is being investigated.  With the help of an attorney and a representative from the airline union, Whittaker undergoes the investigation, knowing what he did was wrong, but does little to express this till the very end. 

The film has a steady first half-hour, but once the crash scene comes and goes (as you sit on the edge of your seat), it begins to drag a bit.  However, this was expected.  The first scene becomes the foundation of the film.  The events on the aircraft are analyzed.  Throughout the remaining two hours that fatal flight is dissected, as everyone tries to figure out what happened.  Whittaker attempts to cover up his alcohol problem, which is difficult.  It does a pretty effective job on holding one’s attention. 

The intense opening is just enough to hold you over for the rest of the film, as you wait to see what happens in the end.  If you have seen the trailer for “Flight,” you basically have seen the film at its highest points.  Except the ending, of course. 

It is difficult to get back into the film once the crash scene is over.  The beginning is the focal point, and the rest of the events aren’t exactly elusive.  As an audience, we know what happens.  It becomes a matter of whether or not everyone else can piece the puzzle together. 

                The concept of “Flight” was very interesting.  When I originally saw the trailer for it, my pulse was racing, even though I knew for a fact that the plane crash was completely fictitious.  It made me beyond uncomfortable.  However, last year was a big year for films.  It is no surprise “Flight” got lost in the midst of “Argo,” “Lincoln,” and “Django Unchained.”  It did not receive as much recognition as it should have.   Washington shines in the film, but his supporting cast does little to add to the film overall. 

                The subplot of Whittaker’s romance with Nicole (Kelly Reilly), a recovering drug addict does just enough to add to the film, since her problems make Whittaker fully realize his own. 

                With a two nominations from the Academy, including best actor in a leading role (Washington), “Flight” is worth the watch.  If you can sit through nearly three hours of “Lincoln” knowing he will get shot in the end, you can sure as hell view “Flight” not knowing the outcome.           

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Despicable Me 2 Review

            Three years after the premiere of the heartwarming animated film “Despicable Me,” its sequel has finally arrived.  “Despicable Me 2” resurrects Gru, his three daughters and many minions, along with introducing new characters that are just as lovable as the former.  Anyone who loved the first film will like this one just as much, if not more. 

            Steve Carrell returns as Gru, the villain-turned-adoptive father of Margo, Edith and Agnes.  After settling into his new life taking care of his three daughters, Gru realizes something is missing; a mother for the girls.  Meanwhile, after swearing off evil doings to be the father he thinks his daughters need, Gru gets recruited by the Anti-Villain League to deal with a new criminal. 

When he meets Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), a member of the Anti-Villain League who becomes his partner, his world gets turned upside-down.  They work together to search for the evil-doer, and fall for each other along the way.  While at work on his new mission, Gru attempts to balance his daughters’ lives as they start to grow up more than before. 

            Accompanying Carrell and Wiig are the talents of Miranda Cosgrove, Ken Jeong, and Russell Brand.  For an animated film, the voice acting was stellar. 

            “Despicable Me 2” was just as good as the first one.  Its predecessor was hyped more than it deserved, and the same is the case for this one.  Both offer a predictable plot line.  The heart of a villain whose intentions are blurred between lines of good and evil is melted when he meets three girls looking for a father figure.  In “Despicable Me 2,” this time Gru is searching for a mother figure to assist him in raising the girls who mean the world to him.  In both films, there are happy endings. 

            Nothing less can be expected for a children’s movie.  There is not enough time in the hour-and-a-half picture for complicated plot twists.  

However, it is impossible to deny that this movie is cute.  “Despicable Me 2” is all about the little things.  The comedic aspects aimed at a young audience are sure to please.  However, those older will enjoy this movie as well.  Carrell’s accent and diction he uses as Gru never fails to make me laugh.  It’s all about the little things in this film.  Nuances ranging from the fart jokes to the conversations Gru has with his daughters are memorable and adorable. 

What really makes the film is the Minions.  Gru’s hundreds of assistants are little yellow creatures who help him with his day-to-day activities are beyond cute.  When I saw the first one, I immediately wanted to acquire at least ten of them.  The feeling still hasn’t faded.  In fact, it is even stronger now.  The little things they do in this film are sure to make anyone laugh.  Their babbling and the physical comedy they offer truly make this film worth seeing, if you were on the fence thus far. 

“Despicable Me 2” is your run-of-the-mill summer animated picture.  Light, heart-warming and funny, this film is a nice escape to brighten up a dreary summer afternoon.   Comparatively-speaking, this animated movie is one of the better ones out there to see nowadays. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Best Romantic Comedies

Crazy, Stupid Love (2011): Shakespearean in nature and filled with an amazing cast, “Crazy, Stupid Love” is a quintessential rom-com.  Starring Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, “Crazy Stupid Love” mixes miscommunications and misinterpretations into contemporary California.  Emily (Moore) asks Cal (Carrell) for a divorce because she had an affair.  Cal’s whole world gets thrown into disarray until Gosling offers him a chance to rediscover who he is. In this film, everyone falls for the wrong person.  You laugh, you cry, you root for Steve Carrell and then wish him hell.  But like all Shakespearean plays, this movie leaves you reminded that love perseveres all. 

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003): Starring Mathew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, this film is the perfect guide to what not to do when you meet the man of your dreams.  A journalist who covers the “How To” section in her magazine, Andie (Hudson) volunteers to write a piece on how to lose a guy in ten days.  Ben (McConaughey) makes a bet with his coworkers that he can make a girl fall in love with him in ten days.  By happenstance the two meet, initiating a rollercoaster of a relationship. As Andie pushes Ben away with her turn-offs, she falls for him, and Ben falls for Andie even though he only needs to seduce her for his bet.  Filled with dramatic irony, you will cringe as much as you laugh at the nuances Andie and Ben share throughout their relationship.  “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” is an off-beat yet equally hilarious rom-com. 

Wedding Crashers (2005): Though it isn’t as chic-flick esque as many romantic comedies are, this film features Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn at their finest.  These two comedic geniuses would play improvising lines off each other over games of pool, and it clearly shows their work paid off.  Veterans of crashing weddings to meet girls, Wilson and Vaughn crash their biggest wedding yet.  As though this wasn’t a challenge enough, they run into trouble when invited back to Secretary of State Cleary’s house (Christopher Walken).  Wilson longs for something more with Clare Cleary (Rachael McAdams), while Vaughn is clung onto by an infatuated Gloria Cleary (Isla Fischer).  Not a line is wasted, and although it’s not your conventional/stereotypical rom-com, it is definitely funny and romantic in its own way. 

Midnight in Paris (2010): Directed by Woody Allen, this movie teaches an important lesson: no matter how much you drink in Paris, unless you are Owen Wilson you won’t travel back in time.  After getting a little too tispy at a Paris winetasting, the aspiring author Gil (Wilson) is transported to 1920’s Paris, where the modern arts flourished.  He embarks on a love affair with Adriana (Marion Cotillard) a flapper,and mingles with Pablo Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This movie does teach that life is unsatisfying no matter what time period you live in. Romantic, beautiful Paris and a fabulous cast including Kathy Bates and Rachael McAdams makes this film a must-see. 

The Five Year Engagement (2012): What if you get engaged to your soul mate, but can’t plan a wedding for any sooner than five years after the proposal?  “The Five Year Engagement” plays out this scenario in the form of Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.  Hopelessly in love with each other, the pair must make huge sacrifices for each other to further their careers.  Pressures of work, families and adapting to new lifestyles strain the bond that Segel and Blunts characters’ have.  It assesses the question of whether or not love can last through all, no matter how strong the love.

It’s Complicated (2009): Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep have excellent chemistry in this film.  Ten years after divorcing, (Streep) and Jack (Baldwin) go out one night in New York.  After a few drinks and some reminiscing of their marriage, they embark on a love affair.  Confused and excited, they try to hide their happenings from their family and friends.  However, this bittersweet adventure doesn’t run smooth. Featuring John Krakinski and Steve Martin, “It’s Complicated” is a comedic reflection of whether or not we can honor that the decisions we made were right. 

Love Actually (2003): Various vignettes compose this rom-com, as viewers follow the lives of eight different couples living in contemporary England.  December before Christmas in London makes the perfect backdrop, giving all viewers the warm-fuzzy feeling, and with the heartwarming stories laced in enhances the overall film.  Featuring the talents of Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, and Keira Knightley, “Love Actually” is a classic romantic comedy that holds your attention with its various stories glued together. You will fall in love with everyone just as much as they do with each other in this film.

When Harry Met Sally (1989): Brought to you by rob Reiner, “When Harry Met Sally” poses the question of whether men and women can just be friends. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan star in this film as two friends who meet each other over the course of several years. Crystal believes that men and women can be friends without sex getting in the way. Ryan disagrees, as some women believe that what can seem a simple compliment can be called out as a pass. This film traces Harry and Sally through their relationships, as Harry and Sally meet up and reminisce over love lost. Ryan and Crystal’s chemistry is flawless, as life takes them back to each other various times.  The soundtrack is also pretty stellar, as Harry Connick Jr. is the main attraction of it. This film will leave viewers sure that love isn't hopeless, and worth the risk.

French Kiss (1995): A disheartened Kate (Meg Ryan) heads to Paris, in fear that her fianc√© is straying from her.  On her flight, she meets Luc (Kevin Kline) a Frenchman, and their meeting drags her into his plant smuggling.  Kate searches the country for her fianc√© with Luc, but the time they spend together makes them fall for each other.  Ever twisting and turning, their adventure teaches them that sometimes if you let go of someone, you can find someone better when you least expect it.  Quirky and light-hearted, “French Kiss” is a wonderful film that proves you can find love in the most peculiar places. 

27 Dresses (2008): Stuck being a bridesmaid for 27 weddings, Jane (Katherine Heigl) is about to be one for the twenty-eighth time.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the man her sister was marrying wasn’t someone she had been secretly in love with for quite a while, plus plan the wedding.  When she meets Kevin (James Marsden), her world gets turned upside-down further, as he clings onto her possibly to advance his own career as a writer.  This film is a lighthearted reminder of how even when things seem completely hopeless, it is important to stay true to yourself.  Even if you always say yes to others, it is important to put yourself first every now and again.  Although it is a pretty stereotypical chick-flick, “27 Dresses” is a must-see for anyone who loves staring at James Marsden for a good couple hours.