Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Let Me In"

I didn't expect that "Let Me In" would be my cup of tea - Fandango.com says that it's rated "R" for "Strong bloody horror violence." However, the film ended up surprising me, in that its actual content - when one looks further than the bloodshed - told an interesting story, and one that we all might be able to relate to, even as humans.

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, "Matching Jack") doesn't have a lot of friends and is being bullied by his fellow classmates, so when Abby (Chloe Moretz, "Kick-Ass") moves in across the hall from him, he is happy to be able to make a new friend. From the very start, however, something is off about her - she tells him that they can't be friends, and she doesn't wear shoes while walking in the snow, even though she says her feet aren't cold. Abby lives with a man Owen presumes is her father (Richard Jenkins, "Eat Pray Love"), and they pretty much keep to themselves. Soon, against Abby's initial decree, she and Owen become friends, and it is then that he learns the truth about her: she "needs blood to live," as she tells him, and although she's 12 years old, the same age as him, she's "been 12 for a while now."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Secretariat"

I told people yesterday that I was "finally" going to get to see "Secretariat," which is a little ironic because it won't be out in theaters for another two weeks. However, my parents had seen it at a Livonia screening two weeks earlier, and there was an earlier Southfield screening that I hadn't been able to go to. Luckily, Jackie from Free Is My Life was able to hook me up with a ticket to this one, and we definitely go the VIP treatment, as the tickets were set up through Disney: we got to skip to the front of the line and had reserved seats. I was prepared to like "Secretariat" after the rave reviews I had heard, but it actually ended up surprising me—in a mediocre way. It was a bit slow for the first half or so, but then it picked up rapidly during the second part of the movie.

Penny Chenery (Diane Lane, "Nights in Rodanthe") is called home for her mother's funeral, and she learns that two of her mares are pregnant by one of the fastest horses around. She decides to commute between the farm and Denver, where she and her family live, so that she can see the foal be born and grow up. The rest is history: Big Red, or "Secretariat," as he is later called, becomes one of the fastest horses ever, and to this day his Derby and Belmont Stakes records have not been beat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"You Again"

I had tickets to see "the owl movie" last night (aka "Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole") but when I won tickets from The Oakland Press to see "You Again," I of course decided to see that instead. The trailer looked funny and it was a movie I had been wanting to see for a while. The movie was cute overall, but unfortunately after starting out very funny, the humor level deteriorated during the rest of the film.

Marni (Kristen Bell, "When is Rome") is flying home for her brother's wedding, when she finally hears from her mom (Jamie Lee Curtis, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua") whom her soon-to-be sister-in-law is: Joanna (Odette Yustman, TV's "October Road"), aka JJ, aka Joanna's "arch nemesis" from high school. Needless to say, even though it has been eight years since she graduated, she is not too pleased about this, and it gets even worse when she meets Joanna, who pretends not to remember her from high school, going as far as to say "It's great to meet you!" Marni tries to tell her brother Will (James Wolk, from the Hallmark TV movie "Front of the Class") how evil Joanna is, but he refuses to believe her. Marni soon realizes that she's going to have to take matters into her own hands before Will marries Joanna and ruins his life forever. Things get even more complicated when Joanna's Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver, "Avatar") comes to town for the wedding; Marni's mom realizes that they went to high school together, and indeed were even best friends up until their senior year prom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

I was excited to see this movie. The trailer looked great, and after seeing the original "Wall Street" (from 1987) on DVD a few months ago, I was happy to see Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas's character) making a comeback. After the sequel droned on for over two hours, however, I was definitely reconsidering my excitement.

Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen") has a great job on Wall Street working for his mentor, Lewis Zabel (Frank Langella, "The Box"). When the crash of 2008 starts to hit his company, though, Jacob suddenly finds himself on the brink of unemployment. When Bretton James (Josh Brolin, "Jonah Hex") offers him a job at his rival company after Jacob makes his stock almost crash (he's impressed with Jacob's skills, apparently), he takes it, so he will have the opportunity to enact more revenge on Bretton. Jacob's girlfriend, Winnie Gecko (Carey Mulligan, "An Education"), tries not to get involved, as she acutely remembers the "wheeling and dealing" her father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, "Solitary Man"), did on Wall Street when she was younger, which put him in jail for eight years. What she doesn't know, however, is that Jacob has secretly been meeting with Gordon, and that he wants him and Winnie to reconcile.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Town"

"The Town" is the second major feature film directed by Ben Affleck, and although I haven't seen his first, "Gone Baby Gone," I had heard good things about it. The trailer for "The Town" looked great and I was hoping the movie would live up to it; in fact, the movie actually ended up surpassing my expectations.

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck, "Extract") has been robbing banks with his crew for a while now, but this is the first time he and his buddies take a hostage - bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall, "Please Give"). They release her unharmed but she is still traumatized. When his buddy James (Jeremy Renner, TV's "The Unusuals") suggest that one of them checks up on her to make sure she doesn't have any info that could jeopardize them, Doug volunteers for the role; what he doesn't know, however, is that he will soon fall in love with her, even though she has no idea he was part of the bank robbery. Meanwhile, Doug and James and his friends continue to execute bank robberies, and they become closer and closer to getting caught every time, since FBI man Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm, TV's "Mad Men") is hot on their tail.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Flipped"

I had wanted to see "Flipped" at the advance screening back in August or so, but it was too far for me to drive. It was then announced that although the release date for some cities (mostly major ones, like NYC, LA, etc.) would be August 27th, "Flipped" had no release date yet for Michigan - rather ironic, since much of it, if not all, was filmed in Ann Arbor, and many area residents allowed their classic cars to be used during filming. "Flipped" was finally released in Michigan this weekend, and although it didn't fully live up to my expectations, I am glad I saw it.

When Bryce (newcomer Callan McAuliffe) moves to a new neighborhood as a young boy, he is promptly greeted by Juli (Madeline Carroll, "The Spy Next Door"), who immediately wants to become friends with him. He is of the age where boys are made fun of for hanging out with girls, however, and so Bryce does his best to avoid Juli. This goes on until about the 7th or 8th grade, when, due to a series of events, Juli decides she no longer likes Bryce. The problem is that he now likes her - he's "flipped," so a friend of his says.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"The Social Network"

When I joined Facebook in March 2005, before the end of my senior year of high school, I didn't really know what it was. I had received an email invite from a friend, and when I logged on it turned out there were about five people (out of 500 or so) from my graduating class who had also registered for it. The profiles looked a little something like this and the concept was simple - upload a profile picture and some information about yourself, including your school, relationship status, and interests. Over the last five years, Facebook has evolved in many ways, and now it's not just about sharing information - there is a Marketplace where you can list your apartment to sublet, a Games section, and tons of ads and other things to keep one occupied. The profiles have evolved from something slightly more complicated than the original to something that now has multiple tabs for your Wall (where friends can leave you messages), photo albums, and other information. I knew the site had been started by then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, shortly before I joined "The Facebook," as it was then known, but I had no idea of the amount of controversy surrounding both the idea of Facebook and how it was started. The movie "The Social Network" illuminates this, and does it within a movie that is not only slick, but interesting too.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, "Solitary Man") finds himself bored in his Harvard dorm room one night, and he decides to make a website called Facemash.com, which compares two girls from Harvard and asks viewers to rank whom is hotter. To do this, he hacks into the mainframes of all the Harvard houses and their respective "facebooks". His site gets 22,000 hits within four hours or so, and he soon finds himself in front of a Harvard disciplinary board for hacking. Meanwhile, Divya (Max Minghella, "Agora") and the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron (newcomer Josh Pence and Armie Hammer, TV's "Reaper", respectively) hear about Zuckerberg's exploits and decide to approach him with an idea: they want to make a website called The Harvard Connection and have it be a "facebook" of sorts. It's a little like a dating site but only Harvard students can join. Zuckerberg agrees to work on the site for them, and then proceeds to give them the brush-off for the next two months or so; within these two months, he gets the idea of The Facebook from their Harvard Connection idea, and proceeds in enlisting his friends to work on it. The Facebook soon goes live and the twins and Divya are furious, as they believe Zuckerberg stole their idea, even though the code used for the website was written by him. As The Facebook becomes more and more popular, expanding to schools beyond Harvard and even at a few European schools, they finally decide to sue him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Easy A"

First off, it is refreshing to see a movie that is actually funnier than its trailer. I had seen the trailer for "Easy A" several months ago, and I remember thinking that it looked hilarious. I had tickets to see "Secretariat" last night, but since that is not coming out until October 8th, when tickets for "Easy A" became available I decided to see that instead, and I'm glad I did.

"Easy A" is about Olive (Emma Stone, "Zombieland"), a typical high school girl. Her friend, Rhiannon (Aly Michalka, TV's "Phil of the Future"), is always probing for details of Olive's non-existent love life, so one day Olive makes up a story and says that she had a one-night stand with a college guy. The class "bible-thumper," Marianne (Amanda Bynes, "Sydney White") happens to overhear, and the news spreads like wildfire. Soon, Olive is branded a "slut", which is ironic since she is actually still a virgin. She actually enjoys the attention, however, because it's preferable to being unnoticed like she was before. Her friend Brandon (Dan Byrd, TV's "Cougar Town"), who is bullied at school because he is gay, enlists her to pretend to have sex with him, so that he won't be bullied as much, and she agrees, in order to uphold her reputation. Soon afterwards, her reputation as a slut grows even more, and all of a sudden she is "open for business" - other gay and not as handsome guys pay her (in the form of gift cards) so that they can say they've "hooked up" with her. As one would imagine, things spiral out of control from there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Machete"

First of all, this screening was at 5pm, which was a little early. From the trailer I could see it would be a "slice 'n dice" movie but it had a pretty good cast, so I decided to go see it. Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal, Cheech, and Don Johnson, I could see why you were in this project - you needed the money, I get it - but the rest of you? DeNiro, Jessica Alba? You could have much better than joining this cast.

Machete (Danny Trejo, "Predators") is hired by Booth (Jeff Fahey, TV's "Lost") to kill the infamous Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro, "Everybody's Fine"), who has taken a hard stance against illegal immigration in his bid for re-election. What Machete doesn't know, however, is that Booth actually works for McLaughlin, and is trying to generate publicity for him. Meanwhile, Immigrations officer Sartana (Jessica Alba, "Valentine's Day") has been tracking the immigrants in the area for a while and notices Machete, since he is a new face in town. She soon realizes that he is a part of the shooting of McLaughlin (or so she thinks) and she goes to find him, not knowing that he has been played and was not actually the shooter.