Thursday, December 31, 2009


So what is this one about?
Welp, the 'flix tells us
In this sports drama based on real-life events, director Clint Eastwood tells the story of what happened after the end of apartheid when newly elected president Nelson Mandela used the 1995 World Cup rugby matches to unite his people in South Africa. Based on John Carlin's book, the film stars Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the scrappy South African team that makes a run for the championship.
Additionally, the 'flix subtitles this film as "The Human Factor." Odd.

And how much did I pay to watch?
$14.25 (YIKES) in the director's hall. And that was after we had a delicious dinner and I spent like another $30. I'm spendin' it like I've got it friends!

And what did I think?
OK. So here is the thing--and if you've been here for awhile none of this will come as a surprise to you--I love two things about this movie very much: 1) Clint Eastwood (even though he didn't grace us with his on-screen presence) and 2) South African accents. Especially the South African accents.

The story itself was somewhat trite. Not really that surprising. However, I can't call it trite because it is an actual true story. But, it is pretty much exactly what you would expect. You have a country that has been suffering under apartheid-- well, you've only been suffering if you are black; with a new black president--who the white South Africans don't like--who is about to change the entire country, a shitty Rugby team that no one likes, and the 1995 World Cup of Rugby.

Hmm, in the Hollywood movie scripting of the universe lets think about how this will go...
1) the country will unite under the president--but only after some infighting among the blacks and whites
2) the team will get better and qualify for the World Cup
3) the country will unite in favor of the rugby team
4) the team will win the world cup

And I am not even giving anything away, because I am just telling you what the Hollywood formula would be.

There was a really, really good line from Nelson Mandela in the movie though, something about forgiveness (which is super important to me) but I wasn't able to remember it or find it. I didn't write it down right away. BIG mistake.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I am disappointed in you Clint Eastwood--you and your old hotness--and how not innovative this movie was in either story or direction. I mean, it was ok and all, but it wasn't that new or innovative or creative or anything. Personally, it wasn't even that emotionally affecting, which is what I think he was going for. But those twit-boxes at the academy will love it. Instead of Mr. Eastwood winning for Gran Torino (which he should have) he might actually win for this. The academy is SOOOO predictable. *lesigh*

It does get a 6 though. Why? Because you know it gets an extra point for the South African accents ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Away We Go

So what is this one about?
The 'flix tells us
Buoyed by the news that they are expecting their first baby, Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) embark on a journey to locate the perfect place on the planet to raise their child. But their quest inevitably yields many unexpected surprises. Sam Mendes directs this quirky comedy while Allison Janney, Catherine O'Hara, Josh Hamilton, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jeff Daniels co-star.
And how much did I pay to watch?
Honestly, with how few netflix movies I've turned around I wouldn't be surprised if it would have been cheaper to purchase it.

And what did I think?
I guess the thing I cannot comprehend at this point in my life is the idea that being married, or even being with another person, will become your life. Like, waking up with the person, doing whatever during the day, and coming back to that person becomes your life. That having a kid and spending all your time with the other person is your life. That whole two of us against the world thing. I just am not at a point in my life where I comprehend that.

I think about other people I know who have lives with a very significant other and I truly have a hard time understanding it. And I don't know if that says I am destined for a life of loneliness or what, but it is sort of depressing.

BUT, this movie was amazing! God, Jim Krazinski is just so flipping cute. And sweet. And adorable!

What was so amazing about it? Well, for one thing, it was hilarious. Allison Janey was out of control. When they go to Arizona we--I mean Mel and I--almost lost our shit. She is hilarious. Jim Gaffigan was funny too. But not nearly as funny as Allison Janey. Then Maggie Gyllenhall was hilarious too, again, not nearly as funny as Allison Janey, in the really uncomfortable Ricky Gervais way.

It was also poignant and heartfelt. The story in Montreal was so excellent and real and sad. And so necessary in the plot. I think this is probably the doing of Dave Eggers--you know, Mr. Depressing real life author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He wrote this movie with his wife, apparently.

The only thing I didn't especially care for was the ending. And maybe it was because I didn't really want the movie to end or maybe it was because the final seemed sort of obvious. But, either way as a whole it was very enjoyable.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
This is definitely one that I will purchase. Keep your eye out at Target... my birthday is in March.

I give it a high 9. Like I said, I didn't care for the ending too much but it was otherwise entirely enjoyable!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

So what is this one about?
How is it even possible that I haven't reviewed this movie yet?!?! I started this blog in summer 2008 (when I was in Oregon with D) and I have reviewed every movie I have seen that I haven't already reviewed. How is it possible I haven't watched this movie since then?! How?!?! I barely believe that it is. But, well, here we go!

Eternal Sunshine is my #1 movie of the 2000s decade--as I declared to the Bob and Abe show--AND according to wikipedia
"The film was lauded by critics as one of the best films of 2004, and in recent lists, has been acclaimed as one of the best films of the decade"
so I find it nearly impossible that someone reading this blog wont know the plot, BUT, I will let you know anyway.

The 'flix tells us
"After learning that his mercurial ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), has undergone an experimental medical process to purge all memories of him, mild-mannered Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) opts for the same procedure. But during the operation, he decides he doesn't want to lose what's left of their relationship and tries to conceal her image in his memory cells."

And how much did I pay to watch?
I didn't pay anything for this. I own it. And you should too, because it is excellent.

And what did I think?
Well, like I said, I think this is the number 1 movie of the 2000s decade. In fact, I think I will put up my best of list before the end of the year (though, this is neither here nor there). It is not even a contest. But why do I think that?

Well, Michel Gondry is an excellently, creative artist. His films are mesmerizing and a little spacey--sort of cartoonishly hilarious like my favorite episode of Flight of the Conchords Season 2, "Unnatural Love" which he directed--but entirely fun and fresh. I would also recommend The Science of Sleep. Without Gondry's artistic eye this movie would not have been as excellent.

However, without Charlie Kaufman's (whose photo on Wikipedia looks a lot like Gondry's) script, Gondry's direction wouldn't have had the forward motion it needed. That is why ESotSM was so much better than Be Kind, Rewind. Gondry and Kaufman are like the Thomas Jefferson and the George Washington of 2000s film. They are both excellent alone, but they are wildly successful with each other--George Washington was an amazing leader, but without Jefferson's Declaration of Independence as a backing document what would General Washington have been fighting for? Likewise, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, but without Washington putting the military support behind it, he would have been just another hot intellectual. Wasn't that sort of off topic? Yes.

Ok, so back to the point. What do I love about this? Everything! I know I am being continually vague, so I will try and be more specific.

I love the actors/acting. Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst (sad, sad, Kirsten Dunst), David Cross, Tom Wilkinson and even Mark Ruffalo. Everyone is just so sad. But it isn't sad like Before Sunset sad, but it is a more hopeful sadness. The point is one that I really like. Something like, the people you love you'll love no matter what. The memories of both Clementine and Joel were erased and they still found each other. Even Mary and the Doctor found each other again. There is something so optimistic yet still depressing about that. It is optimistic because it shows that maybe there are people you are really supposed to love and be with in your life. It is depressing because, in Mary's case, sometimes things don't work out but you can't help being in love with the same person. She was right though, erasing your memories is wrong.

Every person you meet in your life--or date, or don't date but want to--they all teach you something about who you are, what makes you happy, or what you are looking for. You can't erase them because they've all made you a little what you are. You eventually stop caring, or missing them, or you wish they just weren't around anymore, but you can't just erase them. (Unless you erase them from facebook or your cell phone book--which is very cathartic and awesome!)

Lastly, it is Gondry's artistic direction. The visuals are so whimsical and they help to break your heart. As the memories are erased and the visuals disappear you, as the audience, feel that vanishing feeling. You want so badly for the main characters to not disappear from each other because you know that they are so good together. And because of the non-linear story you can't really tell that they are going to end up together.

Are those good enough reasons for loving this movie? Answer: yes.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
The first time I saw this movie it was at the house of a boy who I really liked. He said it was one of his favorites, but I was too busy being excited about being near him that I didn't pay attention to the movie. It was a little too complex for 22 year old Julia to figure out when I wasn't even giving it my attention. I could tell it was good, but I couldn't tell how good. So I would have given it a 7 (but because Netflix has deleted the reviews I wrote I can't give you the official story).

So then I bought it and watched it again, and I felt like I had a grip on what was going on, but I couldn't be sure till I watched it again. And when I did it understood how fantastically amazing it is. So it very deservedly gets a 10. (As if there were any doubt)

Seriously, it is worth the effort. It is so pretty visually, with such a pretty/sad story. You'll like it. Go watch it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

So what is this one about?
Well, the 'flix tells us,
In this supernatural thriller, the Campbell family's move to Connecticut takes a mysteriously dark turn when a series of shocking paranormal events reveals that their inviting new home is a former mortuary with a sordid past. Based on a true story, this terrifying tale stars Virginia Madsen and Martin Donovan as the well-meaning Campbell parents, Kyle Gallner as their cancer-stricken son and Elias Koteas as the enigmatic Rev. Nicholas Popescu.
Sweet! Popescu, a Romanian!

And how much did I pay to watch?
Oh, I don't know. It is impossible to tell! But, let me say what I've said before... likely too much compared to blockbuster, what it was worth, etc. etc. etc.

And what did I think?
The preview for this movie was scurrrrrrrry. And the opening credits were gross, bloody, and Ring-like creepy. So I had very high expectations.

Of course, like practically every horror movie I watch, this one was shit shit shit. Typical. And I even watched it on Halloween, but that didn't add to the "ambiance" of scary movies. Harrumph. In fact, there was really nothing about this movie that was scary at all--well, besides the gross/bloody credits.

The plot was sort of overly difficult and convoluted so it wasn't very easy to understand. There was actually so much explanation for the events that were going on in the house that I 1) stoped caring and 2) stopped paying attention. So, when they said the names of like old ass dudes who used to work at the mourgue I didn't really know who they were referring to. Why couldn't they have just said "the kid" or "the owners"? Don't you like how I act like I am impressive and then say I can't even follow, nay, didn't care to follow, the assanine plot of some retarded horror movie? Yeah, I like it too.

It even had an equally predictable/typical Ring-like twist at the end! Oh, did I just ruin it? No, because you really shouldn't be watching it anyway.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
So what does this movie get? a 2. Lame!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Precious: based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire

So what is this one about?
The 'flix says,
Viciously abused by her mother (a riveting Mo'Nique) and pregnant by her father, Harlem high schooler Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) has an unexpected chance at a different life when she enrolls in an alternative school. Teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton) encourages her, but Precious must battle unimaginable barriers everywhere in her life. Lee Daniels directs his drama that features appearances by Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.
That's a pretty accurate description.

And how much did I pay to watch?
I don't really remember, but I think I got in free for this one as well, at the Cinema Arts.

And what did I think?
What did I think? Hmmm.

Well, I see ads on the tv that call Precious "uplifting" and "inspiring" and I think to myself, um, did we see the same Precious? Would you call KIDS uplifting or inspiring? Dude, Precious was all kinds of effed up. I am sure you can tell that just from the Netflix description. This girl's life--this real girl, apparently--was beyond horrible. Two kids by her own father?? A mother who made her daughter her slave?? Oh yeah, that sounds real uplifting.

Would you like further proof? Let me provide you some more information from the description of the novel.
The novel is set in Harlem in 1987. Precious Jones lives with her mother, an invalid, and her father, a drug addict. She is obese, illiterate, and pregnant with her second child. In the beginning of the novel, she explains that she has been repeatedly raped by her father since she was seven, and is pregnant with her second child by him. She even tries to commit suicide to get away from it all but it does not work. Her father is married to someone else and living with Precious’ mother, who lives off of public assistance and social security checks she receives for Precious’ first child, "Lil' Mongo", who has Down Syndrome and lives with Precious’ grandmother. Precious cooks, cleans, and waits on her mother constantly.

So, I was also interested to see this movie because I read somewhere that Mariah Carey is unrecognizable. That is a fallacy. I picked her out right away.

So, to return back to the novel, and it's plot which was shown in the movie,
While in the halfway house, Precious joins an incest support group where she meets other people who have suffered, finding solace in knowing that she is not alone. Attempting to transition to life on her own, Precious' mother unexpectedly appears to tell her that her father has died from AIDS. Precious discusses this with her friends at school and they convince her to get Abdul and herself tested. Abdul is negative and Precious is positive. In the end, Precious finds her freedom and security in knowing that she can care for her son and herself on her own.
Wow. How uplifting.

And look at me. I don't even feel bad to spoil this for you. It isn't like you don't see it coming.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
I guess it was good enough, but I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone. I give it a 5.

An Education

So what is this one about?
The 'flix tells us
Jenny's (Carey Mulligan) Oxford-bound teen life is undistinguished in 1961 London until she's given a different kind of education after being immersed in the beguiling but hazardous world of cultured and much-older David (Peter Sarsgaard). Even Jenny's father, Jack (Alfred Molina), is intrigued by him, but her school's unimpressed headmistress (Emma Thompson) works to keep Jenny's entire future from crumbling under David's influence.
le sigh. ooooh David.

And how much did I pay to watch?
Nothing, because my comrade at Cinema Arts let me in for free. And not just me but my mom and my host sister.

And what did I think?
In some ways, I'm a little jealous of the main character, Jenny. A guy like Peter Sarsgaard--so hot--and he opens her young eyes to fancy places, in glamorous clothes, with cosmopolitan friends, and the possibility of big adventure and happy ever after. How could I not possibly be wildly jealous, actually? Why can't I find a fabulous man like him. Even with his secrets, and his issues. Even though it all gets ripped away. Why can't I find someone like that? It'd be fun.

Actually, now that I think about that, I think it might help me have a more favorable opinion of this movie. If I were Jenny, thin, glamorous, with Peter Sarsgaard in love with me, I would maybe make the same decisions as her. EXCEPT--and maybe my pity for her is waning-- I wouldn't act like I was too fucking cool for school, too cool for my parents, too cool for everyone around me. That is why I don't feel bad for her.

Now, if it were me, and I were dating a guy who um {SPOILER} was dating someone else--or was married--and i HAVE dated someone who was dating someone else, and I had no idea, and I was sad. I mean, it just makes you feel so shitty that you were tricked. And you had no idea. And I had no idea. Now, I would know that I could come back from it, and I did. But it might have taken a while. Or it actually didn't because I was able to think to myself "Um, wtf? I am not wasting a second more thinking of him" Then again, I didn't tell everyone else in my life to eff off because I picked a guy over every other thing in my life.

So, the question is, Why did everything get to end so well for her? I mean, sometimes when you make really really stupid decisions you have to work harder then she did in order to come back from it. Everything was solved for her so easily. And it pissed me off.

It was hard to hate her because she was so adorable. like Jenny Lewis and Zooey Deschanel, sort of weak in appearance but a real fireball underneath. But that sort of made it easier to hate her, because why did everything get to be so perfect for her?

Not fair. Then again, what is?

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
Well, I liked it. The clothes were gorgeous. And the people were quite good looking. Especially my love Peter Sarsgaard. And I was surprised to find out David's secret.

But, like I said, I didn't have much sympathy for Jenny. Because she was an unapologetic bitch.

So I give it a 7.