Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Charlie St. Cloud"

I went in to this movie not knowing much about it, except that it is based on the book, entitled The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. Zac Efron is widely known for his roles in the "High School Musical" movies, so I was also wondering if he'd be able to pull off acting in a dramatic movie. His acting was average, but the movie itself was a pleasant surprise.

Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron, "17 Again") seems to have it all - he's just graduated high school, he has a sailing scholarship to Stanford, and he has a little brother (Charlie Tahan, "Nights in Rodanthe") who adores him. All of that changes, however, after a fatal car accident, in which he survives but his brother does not. Charlie defers from Stanford, and we then flash-forward to five years later, in which he is working as the groundskeeper at the local cemetery where his brother is buried. He reunites with Tess (Amanda Crew, "Sex Drive"), a high school classmate of his who intends to sail around the world, and there seems to be something between them; she is leaving for her journey soon, though, and she will be away for six months.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"The Kids are All Right"

I had chosen to see a preview screening of "Salt" over "The Kids are All Right" this past Wednesday, but it was still a movie I wanted to see, so a friend and I made the trek to Royal Oak, which is currently the only local theater that has it. I was expecting it to be fabulous because it had 96% on RottenTomatoes; disappointingly, however, it turned out to be a movie that is more of a "critics pleaser" and not the type of movies I like to see.

Nic (Annette Bening, "The Women") and Jules (Julianne Moore, "Chloe") have a lovely life together with their two biological children, 18-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska, "Alice in Wonderland"), who is on the cusp of leaving for college, and 15-year-old Lazer (Josh Hutcherson, "Bridge to Terabithia"). Their children were conceived by the same sperm donor - technically Nic is Joni's mom and Jules is Lazer's, but the two kids refer to them collectively as their "Moms." Lazer is curious and wants to get to know their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo, "Date Night"), but since he isn't 18 yet, Joni must make the call for him; little do they know how one phone call will completely change their lives. They end up meeting Paul, their donor, and they like him immediately; Nic, however, distrusts him, and Jules isn't sure what to think. Paul's entrance into their lives ultimately shows the flaws in both Nic and Jules's marriage and in their family unit as a whole, and it is something with which they have to learn how to deal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More "Transformers 3" set photos

More photos from the Chicago set, courtesy of Brian Garfield:

A post-apocalyptic Chicago




Burnt-out car

















Shooting at someone/something

















A crew member surveys the wreckage

"Transformers 3" filming in Chicago

"Transformers 3" has been filming in Chicago over the past few weeks, including last weekend, when my friends and I were there visiting. Parts of Michigan Ave. has been roped off, and one of my friends was lucky enough to able to get a few pictures of the set:

(photos courtesy of Joyce Tseng)
Bridge being lifted up
















Looks to be some sort of racecar






















Filming by the Inter-Continental hotel, Michigan Ave.















Big truck on the set



















According to IMDB, "Transformers 3" will be released on July 1, 2011. Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam, and Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely will be replacing Megan Fox as Mikaela. Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Francis McDormand, and John Turturro also star.

"Salt"

I almost didn't get to see the screening of "Salt" because I won tickets from a marketing company but never received them in the mail. Luckily, a friend of mine had extra tickets, so I was able to attend. "Salt" is definitely one of the flashiest movies I've seen this year, but sometimes flashy can't always make up for lack of substance.

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie, "Wanted") is an agent in the CIA, whose cover is that she works for a financial institution. She's married to Mike (August Diehl, "Inglorious Basterds") and has an overall happy life - until, one day, she is accused of being a Russian spy. She immediately goes on the run, presumably to make sure her husband is safe, and the CIA agents chase after her, though it's obvious that she can outrun, out-shoot, and evade them very easily. Her colleague, Ted (Liev Schreiber, "Repo Men"), insists she's innocent, but as they chase her from city to city, he begins to doubt himself.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"The Way"

"The Way" was screened by Grace Hill Media, and the rep at the screening informed us that we were about the third audience in the United States who has seen this movie. We were then told that Emilio Estevez, the director and actor in the movie, would be around after the movie for a Q&A session. When Emilio stepped out after the movie to answer questions, he introduced another "special guest" - his father, Martin Sheen, who played the main character in the movie. Needless to say, having two acclaimed Hollywood stars in the house was a special treat, and I am glad that I liked the movie as well so that I can give it a positive review.

Tom (Martin Sheen, TV's "The West Wing") gets a phone call one day that his only son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez, "D3: The Mighty Ducks"), has died in Europe while starting his journey on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. They hadn't been close since Daniel's mother died, but Tom is devastated nonetheless, and he flies to Spain to collect Daniel's body to bring it back to the U.S. After a policeman in Spain explains the significance of the Camino to Tom, however, and what the journey would have meant to Daniel, Tom decides to embark upon the journey himself. Along the way, he meets others making the pilgrimage as well, and he begins to connect to the world again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Inception"

I was prepared to be dazzled by Inception because it had scored 100 percent on RottenTomatoes.com after early screenings, and my expectations were not only met, but exceeded. The Tomatometer rating has since dropped to about 90 percent, but don't let that put you off. Inception is the type of movie that I want to see when I go to the theater: one that is not only clever, but also mindblowing.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio, "Shutter Island") is a trained thief of an unusual kind: he breaks into people's minds and steals information from them while they are sleeping. He misses his two children, however, and when he is offered a case by a businessman (Ken Watanabe, "Memoirs of a Geisha") who promises to get him back to the United States, he takes it. Instead of stealing information, though, he wants Cobb to use inception, and plant an idea into the head of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, "The Dark Knight"), heir to a massive business empire. Cobb's associates are skeptical that it can be done, but with the right people and "architects," Cobb assures them that it definitely can.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Dinner for Schmucks"

The trailer for this movie made it look like it was going to be either hilarious or incredibly stupid. What it ended up being, however, was a mix of the two, and it definitely had some scenes that made the audience laugh hysterically.

Tim (Paul Rudd, "I Love You, Man") is hoping to be promoted at his job at a financial company, and when his boss extends him a dinner invitation, he can't refuse. The only catch is this: each employee is to bring a "person of special talent" to dinner - aka, an idiot. When Tim literally runs into Barry (Steve Carell, TV's "The Office") after hitting him with his car, the two become friends of sorts, and Tim asks Barry to the dinner. Barry's specialty is making dioramas with dead mice dressed up in costumes, and Tim thinks that this "talent" of his will be just the thing to win Tim his promotion.