Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl (trailer)

The Official Trailer for Lars and the Real Girl. The film opens nationwide tomorrow.

This Weekend at Your Local Theater...

The Rock's The Game Plan has been the number one movie in the country for two weeks in a row. I'm sorry, but that is just sad. When an ex-wrestler makes a Disney movie and it beats out a film with one of this decade's funniest actors, (Ben Stiller!) its wrong.

This weekend offers several films that could well be future Oscar contenders.

After Dorchester homie, Mark Wahlberg received an Oscar nomination for his hard-headed role as Sargent Sean Dignam in The Departed, he probably thought playing a cop in any movie would give him the clout he needs to win the coveted, bald statue.

This weekend, he stars in We Own the Night alongside Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes. This crime drama centers around brotherly conflict. Joaquin Phoenix plays nightclub owner, Bobby Green, who becomes involved in an underground Russian Mafia scandal. His cop brother, Joseph Grusinsky (played by Marky-Mark) and deputy father (Robert Duvall) get involved, chaos ensues and Bobby is forced to chose the side of crime or to save his family.

According to "The Buzz" on IMDB:

"It's like The Departed -- except they're brothers! And they know it! Anyone jonesing for some post-"Sopranos" mafia action should get their fix with this one. Although director Gray's serving up more borscht than spaghetti, as his Yards crew reunites to take on the Russians and a bad guy who looks like he should be fronting Gogol Bordello. Phoenix, who had us at "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," looks equally sneering and sweaty here, while fellow Oscar nom Wahlberg has come a long way since the Funky ... See? We can't even say it. Adding Duvall as their daddy makes this one of the most perfectly solid casts we've seen all year; from what we've heard, they have to work extra hard to make up for."

Also opening tomorrow is Michael Clayton, the lawyer drama starring George Clooney. The film marks writer Tony Gilroy's directorial debut.

According to an article in yesterday's Washington Post, this film brings back a nostalgia for flicks from the 1970s, the tumultuous years when every movie that hit the theater became an instant classic.

"As subtle and unflashy as "Michael Clayton" is, it feels both nostalgic and incredibly fresh, reminding viewers that movies weren't always about fireballs, flatulence and merch-friendly franchises. Many viewers will no doubt walk out of "Michael Clayton" not just puzzling over its plot twists, but wondering why so many movies in the '70s were this good, and why so few today are. "The audience [then] was tuned up for that kind of movie," Tony Gilroy says. "That's what people expected when they went to the movies."

This film follows in house "fixer" lawyer, Michael Clayton who works for one of New York City's biggest corporate law firms. His basic job is to "take care of" the dirty work involved in his bosses' lives but when one of them sabotages a case for his own good, Clayton has a lot of work to do to mend everything (and one) involved.

According to the review in the New York Times:

"He works in that rarefied gray zone where the barely legal meets the almost criminal and takes lunch at the private club. Michael isn’t a member of that club; he just mops up its mess, soothes its Botoxed brow and slips a fat envelope of thank you to inconvenient witnesses. There’s a dirty kind of glamour to this world, with its rich trappings and its Ivy League smilers with their gutting knives. Its ugliness seduces as much as it repels and entertains."

Another film that stars one of my favorite actors, Ryan Gosling, is the indie-flick Lars and the Real Girl. My suggestion to whomever reads this is to go rent Gosling's Oscar nominated performance in Half Nelson. His performance as a drug addicted inner city junior high school teacher makes me think he can turn any role he is given into an award winning performance.

Lars follows Gosling as the namesake, a 27 year-old churchgoing boy who lives his life day by day and never ventures out of his small town nor his brother's house. For a change of pace, he buys a plastic doll over the Internet. The doll becomes his "girlfriend" Bianca, a Brazilian model whom he introduces to everyone. His family and everyone else in the town, embrace it and according to the New York Times, "go along with his fantasy."

The movie, was written by Six Feet Under alum, Nancy Oliver and directed by Craig Gillespie.

"Judging from early reviews, there are film critics who are worried that people will never hear Ms. Oliver’s humanistic message because of the prurient-sounding plot. “‘Lars’ might at first sound like a movie you wouldn’t want your kids to see,” is how The Hollywood Reporter put it, “but it has a heart of gold.”

All of the films opening this coming weekend sound intriguing and really, anything is better than The Rock.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And the Winner for the Best Movie Website Is...

If you don't already know what I am going to say then you haven't been doing a good enough job of reading my blog!

Of course I am talking about the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). It has a whirlwind of information for any fan of movies or television. The site features the top grossers of the week, with links to the films, updated celebrity news, trivia and links to other related movie and television news topics.

The site is sort of like a blog in itself. If you become a member, you can comment on whatever actor, T.V. show or movie you would like. You can also rate movies as well and make a profile that others can look at and compare movie tastes with. Sometimes, if you read the posts, members will get into long heated discussions over who so and so is dating or if they think a plot to a certain Indiana Jones movie was well put together. It is funny how many opinions there are out there and how many people will actually post them on a website!

What I like most about this website is its accessibility. Picture yourself watching the newest Stephen Spielberg flick in your living room. You think to yourself, where have I seen that guy before!?! Hop onto the closest computer and within twenty seconds you have "that guy's" full resume right in front of you, from every movie he has ever been in, to every guest starring role he has ever had on television. It truly is amazing for that one purpose. Because of IMDB there is no more wondering for days where you have seen someone before! I can say for certain, the site has saved me from a lot of stress.

When you look up a particular film, you can find out the filming locations, if the film has been nominated for any awards, the box office business that the film has done, memorable quotes from the film and so many other great things you would never normally know.

Let's take Knocked Up for instance:

According to the IMDB site there were many "goof-ups" in the film. Some are listed below and they are funny so when you get to see it, watch out for these!:

  • Continuity: In the beginning of the movie when Alison is driving her sister's two daughters to school, the older daughter is shown wearing her seat belt, but then the camera cuts back and she is not wearing a seat belt anymore. Then for the remainder of the scene, she is wearing a seat belt again.

  • Crew or equipment visible: In the scene in Alison's Boss's office, where Alison's pregnancy is being discussed, a crew member can be seen reflected in the window behind Jill. The crew member can be seen moving about.

  • Continuity: Allison's earrings change during the scene when she's being weighed in the doctor's office. At first they are stones, then they change to gold hoops.

  • Continuity: When Alison is interviewing on the red carpet when she is pregnant, the camera guy over her shoulder is present for a profile shot, then disappears on a head on shot

  • Revealing mistakes: When Alison is arguing with Ben in her car, there is no rear-view mirror installed on the car (presumably to give the camera a better shot of them).

  • Continuity: In the scene where Ben and Alison are drinking and dancing the night they meet at the club, her hair alternates between neatly up and down. When they are shown exiting the club, her hair is once again neatly pulled back.

  • Factual errors: Ultrasound images did not correspond to stated gestational ages, and are off by many weeks.

  • Continuity: In the scene when Debbie is fighting with the bouncer outside the club, Allison has no visible pregnancy belly, on a later scene when they are sitting on there curb, her belly is huge. Her stomach size also keeps changing from big to small throughout the movie.
The film grossed approximately $148,734,225 and won a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Hissy-fit, which went to Ryan Seacrest who guest appeared in the film.

The possibilities of information are basically endless on this website, which is why I go to it every time I watch a film. You not only learn a lot, but are also entertained, which is the best form of learning anyway!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Knocked Up Trailer

Watch the trailer for Knocked Up then rent it.

"Knocked Up" is as Real as it Gets

The camaraderie of buddies, the difficulties of forming and keeping relationships and starting a new life are all themes in this summer's mega hit Knocked Up.

Brought into the world by writer and director, Judd Apatow (who penned such masterpieces such as
Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin) begins his film with a look at polar opposite characters Ben Stone and Alison Scott. At the beginning of the film, we see Ben, portrayed by Freaks and Geeks alum, Seth Rogen, a slacker among slackers, smoking an insane amount of pot and playing wrestling games in the pool with his roommates. In comes Alison, played by Grey's Anatomy star and Emmy Winner, Katherine Heigl a hard working twenty-something girl, who's alarm clock chimes every morning at 7 a.m. and who is offered a promotion to an on-camera personality at her job at E! the Entertainment Channel in Los Angeles.

It is clear that Alison, who lives with her older sister Debbie, Debbie's husband Pete and their two young daughters, is not exactly settled into her young adult life but is trying to be. And Ben is living the fantasy of any stoner not yet ready to be responsible in any aspect of life.

Alison and Ben cross paths at a trendy club when Alison and Debbie go out to celebrate Alison's promotion. This is where the actual reality of the film comes into play. Apatow's writing is fabulous as he sets the stage for their impending future relationship and tie to one another. The awkwardness of their first meeting is greatly portrayed by Heigl and Rogen, who first speak when they find it hard to get a bartenders attention. Obviously the alcohol plays the key role in their inevitable late night hook-up, but the tongue-tied dialogue and morning after routine are hilarious and true to life, especially when Alison is leaving their post hook-up breakfast and shys away from Ben's cheek kiss. It is reality at its best.
According to a review by the New York Times:

"This improbable — and improbably persuasive — love story is embedded in what looks at first like a nest of sitcom clich├ęs. The central would-be couple, Ben and Alison, represent the kind of schlub-babe pairing seen more frequently on television than anywhere else."
Cut to 8 weeks later and Alison is interviewing a celebrity on E! when she starts throwing up.

"Well are you pregnant?" asks one of her co-workers.

"That's impossible," says Alison, "you need to have sex to get pregnant."

And as she utters these words, she suddenly realizes...

I liked this movie a lot the second time around. I originally saw it in the theater with who else but my seventeen year old brother. I thought it was too long and still do. There are many scenes that I feel the film could have done without. After talking to my friend about the film, he mentioned that without those scenes, the 9 months of her pregnancy would not have been portrayed correctly. I feel as though I am used to Apatow's films being shorter; the usual 90 minutes a comedy like that should be.

But regardless, every single character in this somewhat lengthy feature, seems like a real person, people that I could actually relate to and would like to be friends with. There is no witty dialogue that I would not normally hear from my own friends, and the emotions from both Ben and Alison when they find out she is pregnant are as true to life as can get.
However, what remains a steadfast criticism of this film is the fact that getting rid of the "mistake" as Alison puts it, is never really an option. Jonah, one of Ben's roommates suggests it by calling it a "shmashmorsen" and no one in the film ever actually mentions the word abortion. When Alison meets with her mother, her mother urges her to "get rid of it" and have a "real baby" later in life. Even though abortion is mentioned, it never becomes a real option for Alison. According to a June article in the New York Times, abortion is a topic not brought up in many films because it would alienate a certain part of the audience.
"Alison, who has just been promoted to her dream job as an on-camera television personality and asked to lose 20 pounds, is torn over whether to keep the man, not the baby."

"Perhaps directors of feel-good movies don’t want to risk portraying their heroines as unsympathetic characters."

Either way, Alison makes an effort to make a relationship work with Ben. Throughout their time together, Alison and Ben do fall in love. At first disturbed by the "job" he has with his roommates of gathering nude scenes from films and putting them on a website,, Alison is later seen helping the boys, watching films and finding the exact time in movies where the stars are in their birthday suits. And Ben becomes more mature. Instead of going out paint balling with his friends, he helps Alison pick out a crib, brings her to her gynecologist appointments and even buys himself an array of baby books to learn all he can. They change one another in many good ways. Alison becomes less hard headed and more relaxed and Ben begins to realize that being responsible also has its perks.

They are still very different though and suffer a big fight after an earthquake rocks the neighborhood in the middle of the night. Ben cares more about saving his precious bong than he does about his pregnant girlfriend. To win Alison back, Ben realizes that he must make a large change in his life. He settles down and gets a "real job" at a web design company and even purchases a condo. It is endearing to watch the 23 year-old wallpaper a section of his newly furnished bedroom for the upcoming child.
The two reunite though during her labor and delivery and realize that they can make it through their differences because they know that the other offers what they need in themselves.

The film also touches on the relationship between Debbie and Pete who went through a similar situation as Ben and Alison and were forced to get married through an unplanned pregnancy. Even though Alison thinks they are wrong for one another, Debbie and Pete do in fact love each other and work at their marriage as much as possible, seen when Debbie thinks Pete is cheating on her, when in reality he is part of an underground fantasy baseball league with other bored husbands.
"In this case the buoyant hilarity never feels weighed down by moral earnestness, even though the film’s ethical sincerity is rarely in doubt. The writing is quick and sharp, and the jokes skitter past, vanishing almost before you can catch them. Rather than toggle back and forth, sitcom-style, between laughter and tears, Mr. Apatow lingers in his scenes long enough to show that what is funny can also be sad and vice versa."
I laughed throughout all of the dirty humor that Apatow puts in all of his films, but the raw reality behind every line in is what I loved most about this movie. It is a film laced with humor, love and those undeniable aspects of life that you wish you could take back but when it comes down to it, are what make life worth living in the first place.

Mockbuster Vs. Blockbuster...Who Will Prevail?

Imagine sauntering through your local Blockbuster or searching for the latest releases to add to your queue on Netflix. As you search, you come across titles such as Transmorphers and Snakes on a Train. Wait a second...

These aren't the movies that were so hyped up and sold out within minutes of opening! They are, however, copy-cats made from movie producing company, Asylum and according to an article in Sunday's New York Times, are actually boasting quite a profit.

The company produces these so-called "mockbusters" to coincide with the release of the actual blockbusters. They release them on DVD just prior to the release of the big name in the theater.

"Those films, Asylum says, turned a profit, too. At a time when digital cameras, computer editing and online video enable D.I.Y. auteurs to compete with B-movie studios, the Asylum has nonetheless become a self-sustaining success story."

Apparently, the company discovered the beauty of the B movie by accident when Asylum's owner, David Michael Latt produced his own short version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds and released it on DVD when Stephen Spielberg and Tom Cruise's big blockbuster hit the theaters.

According to the article, the film clearly wasn't as successful as Cruise's hit, but it still turned a profit and thus a company of what Latt describes as "tie-in" films was born.

Before they began making tie-ins, or mockbusters, Latt and his partner, David Rimawi, whom he founded Asylum with, produced low-budget horror films.

"Whereas the Asylum had a well-defined audience as a horror-movie company, the mockbuster strategy aims at a broader and shallower demographic: some viewers have seen the real blockbuster and want more of the same thing, no matter how lo-fi; some are genre geeks, interested in low-budget adventure and sci-fi films; others rent the movie thinking it is something else (Web sites are rife with the scornful entries of duped film fans)."

So next time you see a title such as Alien vs. Hunter or The Da Vinci Treasure you better look again because you might end up coming home with the mockbuster instead of the blockbuster. But you never know. These doppelgangers might be better than their counterparts...