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DRINKING BUDDIES is brewed with care

20 Jan

DRINKING-BUDDIES

Sometimes love is all about timing, Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at Chicago brewery. They are best friends that like to drink and flirt with one another, but struggle with romantic feelings because they are dating other people. Writer and director by Joe Swanberg gives a different, but realistic look at relationships that go on in the restaurant industry. Their connection resonated with me, even though I spend my time on the other side of the bar. The actors’ portrayal becomes dynamic when alcohol becomes part of the equation. It looses the characters up and blurs the emotional reactions in the process.  Actions speak louder than words, and this film’s best scenes are those moments of silence. Like most bar relationships, I am left with wishing there was more to it.  Drinking Buddies is brewed with care, but I did not want to order another round.

WORD COUNT: 150

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG does not live up to its title

13 Jan

the-desolation-of-smaug

Many people exclaim the second installment is much better than the first film, but I do not think that justifies a favorable review for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I do not know whose greed is worse, the dwarves trying to steal the Arkenstone, Smaug and his liar of stolen goods, or Hollywood’s penchant for drawing out this modest size story into an unnecessary trilogy length of films. I am angry at Peter Jackson  and this franchise in general. The first film was boring and the second film accomplished absolutely nothing accept ticket sales for Peter Jackson and the addition of characters that do not belong and a storyline that do not exist. I’m serious. I am angry with this irresponsible greed.  However, at this point I feel obligated to see the third film because the first two films have not given me a satisfactory movie to enjoy. The Desolation of Smaug does not live up to its title.

WORD COUNT: 159

Chuck’s Grade: D

Adam’s Grade: B

Starlet shines

26 Sep

STARLET-FILM

The title hints to the world that will be explored in this film, but it does not prepare you from the reality of the situation, until you are fully invested in Jane’s (Dree Hemingway) likeable character. She is a working adult film actress that befriends an elderly woman, Sadie (Besedka Johnson). Initially, her motivation is fueled by guilt, but their relationship develops into something much more than an ordinary friendship. The given circumstances will appear strange and uncomfortable to mainstream audiences, but there is something about Jane’s character that allows audiences to forgive her poor choices, at least temporarily. Director Sean Baker makes some bold choices that most filmmakers would never consider, but he successfully executes his vision in a way that keeps people talking about the characters and their relationships, as opposed to reducing the film to a single scene. Starlet shines.

WORD COURT: 143

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B

WARNING: This film contains strong sexual content.

Elysium is worth the trip

10 Aug

ELYSIUM-FILM

Elysium is Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up film to his sleeper hit District 9. Set in the year 2154, the wealthy live on a man-made space station called Elysium while the rest of humanity is stuck on Earth working and dying for crumbs. Max (Matt Damon) agrees to sabotage Elysium, but the Secretary Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster), and her key enforcer Kruger (Sharlto Colpey) stand in his way.

Blomkamp’s story can heavy-handed at times because this is non-fiction. The technology and special effects only enhance his metaphors about class, immigration, health care, and the environment. There is a balance, but your politics will impact your perspective and enjoyment of the film. Like District 9 it is difficult to separate the message from the entertainment. For the cast, Damon fits right in while Foster appears lost in space, however her executioner arm, Colpey is menacingly good. I look forward to Blomkamp’s next project. Despite its minor flaws and Jodie Foster, Elysium is still worth the trip.

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: B-

Only God Forgives is a polarizing acid trip

8 Aug

ONLY-GOF-FORGIVES-GOSLING

Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Drive felt like a polarizing acid trip. You either love or hate his approach to filmmaking. It is stylistic with substance to back it up. Only God Forgives is no exception, but I found the stylistic side dominating the substance in this film. The symbolism and metaphors mix with the spirituality as audiences follow Julian (Ryan Gosling), a drug-smuggler living in Bangkok is compelled to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s death.

Unfortunately, the plot is thin and its pace is uneven. However, Larry Smith’s cinematography is beautiful and his distinct color pallet collaborates with Cliff Martinez brooding score to help Beth Mickle achieve her dark and dangerous production design. This film will surely divide audiences because Gosling appears lost at times and is not technically equipped to carry out the martial art requirements of this role. The sublime succumbs to the ugly underworld and the film cannot recover.

WORD COUNT: 157

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is remembered

30 Jul

FORGETTING-SARAH-MARSHALL

I have been a fan of Jason Segel and Judd Apatow since Freaks and Geeks. I was excited to see him take the lead role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel wrote himself the perfect part as the jilted boyfriend trying to overcome a recent break-up with a famous TV star (Kristen Bell), and then the infamous first sighting with her new boyfriend (Russell Brand). Putting this relationship behind him becomes a challenge, even after meeting Rachel (Mila Kunis).

Although, Peter is trying to forget Sarah, audiences remember this romantic comedy as one their favorites because everyone has had at least one break up they have tried to get over. It has a likeable cast, clever humor, and some lighthearted moments that resonate with the hopeless romantics. Like many break ups, the drama can drag out longer than it should, but the story is solid and it propels Segel to another level in his career.

WORD COUNT: 157

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Conjuring will scare you immensely

23 Jul

the-conjuring

The Conjuring is based on the true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who your parents would know from their work on the infamous Amityville house. It has been some time since I have seen a horror film that delivers the kinds of chills that The Conjuring does. I was scared, even though I am old enough to know better.

I love director James Wan’s filmmaking style. His camera movements are executed with precision and contribute to overall performance and production. The film does a fine job at developing the characters simultaneously. When Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) move into a farmhouse with their five daughters, their family is terrorized by a spirit and must ask for help from Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga). The Conjuring uses some old-school horror film tactics to make audiences shriek, which I think is a good thing and a nice change of pace.

WORD COUNT: 155

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A (too scared)

The Way, Way Back

22 Jul

THE WAY WAY BACK

The Way, Way back is a coming of age film written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. It is your typical Sundance Film Festival featuring a talented cast and a story of a socially awkward character finding his way through the “normal” world of irrational people, until he gets to a place that makes sense for everyone, including the audience. It is a good story but at the same time a “safe movie” that gives some great insight on self-identification and understanding the way of the world.

Maybe I am out of touch, but Duncan’s awkwardness seemed unrealistic to me, although it helped create an interesting character. It wasn’t believable. For me, Owen (Sam Rockwell) was the reason to watch this film. His performance knocks it out of the Water Wizz water park while Trent (Steve Carrell) and Pam (Toni Collette) are a great team and provide the necessary obstacles for Duncan to avoid.

WORD COUNT: 157

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Descent: What are friends for?

12 Jul

the-descent-film

Most people fear something and The Descent delivers a fright. It is plain scary. Who would have guessed a British horror film would be one of the creepiest films to date. Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is invited by her friends to explore a cave in the mountains. A rock falls and blocks the spelunkers from leaving. With limited supplies, the tension among the friends rise, but things get much worse when a savage breed of creatures show up.

Neil Marshall has created a movie that dwells on several different fears: claustrophobia, darkness, and the fear of the unknown. The direction and cinematography are executed in a way that captures the fear and reveals the characters going through an array of emotions. Unfortunately, the acting is average and the banal first act prevents it from becoming an all time classic. However, The Descent will scare you and it is great to recommend to one of your unsuspecting friends. What are friends for?

WORD COUNT: 160

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Perfection (short film)

22 Jun

PERFECTION-SHORT-FILM

Perfection is a short film that follows the development of an Asian-American girl attempting to meet her mother’s expectations as a child, and later her own high standards as an adult. Writer/Director Karen Lin uses the Milton Bradley game, Perfection to illustrate the pressures the main character is under to succeed. Lin continues to return to the game and its timer to build tension throughout the film. There are no words, but the message is heard loud and clear. The film progresses nicely and there is an effective crescendo to the climax, but many people would like to have the main character’s problems, such as becoming a great violin player, a scholar, and a successful career woman. The position of privilege and status make it difficult to feel empathy for the main character, but I can appreciate Lin’s effort and recognize the talent of a director that wants to do something meaningful with her films.

WORD COUNT: 155
Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: B