Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Grand Adventure? "We Bought A Zoo"

Did you ever see "August Rush"? No? You should watch it. Why am I bringing a movie about a musically gifted orphan on a post about a widower buying a zoo? Because, they felt very similar to me. In both good ways and bad. Let's take a look, shall we?

We Bought A Zoo
Directed by- Cameron Crowe
Written by- Aline Brosh McKenna and Cameron Crowe, based on the book by Benjamin Mee
Top Billed Cast- Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and Thomas Haden Church

This movie has all the makings of a feel good classic: cute kids, animals that need saving, financial risk, fast-approaching deadline, and the beginnings of a romance. Benjamin Mee loses his wife, leaving his two kids Rosie and Dylan motherless, six months before the start of the film. We find them functioning, but barely. Dylan, at 14, is in constant trouble at school and his father isn't sure how to communicate with him. Benjamin, *never* "Ben", sees the only way to move forward is to move away and decides to take his family far away (9.2 miles from the nearest Target, to be exact), to start a new adventure. 

* The score to this movie, much like that of  "August Rush" though not quite as innovative, was great. The music was distinct but not over powering and is memorable without taking away from the movie.

* Maggie Elizabeth Jones. If you don't know who she is, I have a feeling you will soon. She plays the youngest Mee, Rosie, and she is incredibly cute. While she doesn't really do anything overtly profound or mind blowing, she has this presence and draw that makes even those of us that don't really find children all that appealing, start to reconsider that notion.

* Subtlety. I can't quite put my finger on it but something about Johansson's performance in this movie struck me as intriguing. The best way I can think to describe it is to say that she spoke small. Not that her lines were short or clipped or sounded choppy...just that she said almost as much, if not as much and more, in between lines as she did during them. Her performance, overall, was very different than any of the other things I've seen in her in before. In a good way, I suppose.

* Cinematography. This is actually a pro and a con because though a LOT of the shots were really pretty and well executed, there were a few that could have been nicer if not for the massive CHEESE fest that happened to be stationed near by. More on that below.

* There are some actors in some movies that are able to properly convey emotions without the utterance of a single word. This movie had a lot of moments where silence spoke louder than roars. And, believe me, there were lots of roars.

* I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss make up. I mentioned subtlety before and I'm going to mention it again. I only really noticed make up twice in this movie...well, by this I mean I noticed it in scenes that one might not should really notice make up. In other words, I liked not noticing it very often. Mascara and eyeliner have their place and their purpose but this movie was not about pirates or princesses, so I was glad it was left at the trailers.

* While I thought Johansson's performance was quite interesting, I almost felt like we didn't get to see enough of...something. I had hoped that the epilogue might explain some things but either her character was not one that actually existed, or she was based off of somebody no longer in the picture. Either way, something was missing.

* I almost put this in the Pros section but...just couldn't. The animal selection for this zoo, I just wish we had a better idea of what all was there from the start. While the animals highlighted from the beginning were VERY consistent and props for, at least seemingly, using the same Tiger in every shot, there were some parts where it seemed like they were saying "oh yeah! we have a serval and some warthogs and hundreds of different species of snakes and..." with no real thought to scale given.

* I understand that this movie is based off of a book which is based on a true story, so I understand that there are parts to this whole thing not explained in a 2 hour movie. Still, I do expect some bit of reality in respect to the number of snakes one can "lose" in a scene. What struggling zoo, funded only by an inheritance of a limited nature, orders a shipment of what looks like *hundreds* of varying species of snake?? If they couldn't even afford to feed the grizzly bear, which I will come to in a moment, how on earth do they expect to maintain that many habitats? I was just confused.

* On to the grizzly. In one scene this bear is, apparently, wandering through town? And the very next shot he's back on zoo property but still loose. I was confused as to how he traveled that distance, you know the "9.2 miles to the nearest Target" that was drilled into your head through the whole movie, in such a short amount of time. Upon reaching said bear, Mee is disarmed of his tranq gun for a full minute at least before a shot is heard and the bear goes down. All other characters who were off screen when this shot was fired congratulate him on shooting him...I guess he used magic?

* Have I mentioned yet how far away they lived from the nearest Target? 9.2 miles. Have I stated that they bought a zoo? They did. Both of these things were repeated throughout the entirety of the film. Funny the first time, cute the second, annoying the third, and obnoxious the fourth, fifth, sixth....There's a long running joke and then there's over used quips. While some might find these bits endearing, it annoyed me. Having at least two entire scenes devoted to, basically, a single line is kind of annoying.

* Maybe if I read the book this bit wouldn't bother me but I'm a firm believer in making films enjoyable for readers and watchers alike. I think that if you have time, which the copious amounts of wind/sunset/raindrop/etc shots indicate that they do,  then it is your duty to show developed characters. I honestly believe there was one character who never said a single line and at least two others that only uttered a minor thing in one scene. If we are expected to like these people, expected to enjoy their triumphs and feel their pain...we need to know them. I do not enjoy being expected to know a person's thoughts by the way the light reflects off their hair. It's pretty, but it isn't practical.

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG and is fairly clean. It does deal with death, both animal and human, so be prepared to talk about grief and how it effects different people in different ways. Viewer beware..

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of the movie. I loved the score and, I think, Johansson's performance was interesting enough in and of itself to see it again. It's not a movie that is necessarily outstanding on any front but it does it's job and it does it well. You are transported, briefly, to this world and you want to see it work out. The struggles aren't necessarily original and the path to success has certainly been traveled more times than we can count, but the journey is still worth watching. Cameron Crowe does not disappoint with his way of connecting shots and breathing life into seemingly lifeless scenes nor do the performances, though mostly silent, of the supporting cast. 3/5 stars.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wondering about "War Horse"?

It's been a while...a LONG while, actually, but I've decided to try and revive this ol' thing! I've seen a few movies since the last post, but nothing all that amazing or horrible. Today I saw War Horse. It was good.

War Horse
Director- Steven Spielberg
Written by- Lee Hall and Richard Curtis; based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo
Top Billed Cast- Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullin, Emily Watson, & David Thewlis

This story is structured very much like the classic "Black Beauty" in that we start with the birth of a horse and follow that horse from home to home throughout the film. Horses in war are not allowed to choose sides; they can't decide to only fight the "bad guys" and it is no different for the hero in this story set during World War I. Though he has many names, and struggles through many challenges, this "war horse" keeps his wits about him and touches countless hearts in the process.


* This movie is pretty. I'm not sure if they filmed it all/most of it on location in France or if they used another country, whichever it worked. There are countless shots in the film that are just brilliantly executed.

* Remus!! Ok, sort of. David Thewlis is in this movie but he's kind of a bad guy so while I like him enough to put him here based on performance in this movie, let's be honest it's really because I love "Harry Potter".

* As a dog trainer, and one that has worked on sets before (small ones...but still), I always give props to trainers that make it work. Whatever group was hired to supply the horses to play the two main horses in this movie, I give them MAJOR props. While, yes you do have to suspend disbelief a bit, and I'll touch more on this in the Cons, overall these animals did an incredible job. Horses can't bark, they can't whine, they can't really convey emotion with a tail wag or eyebrow twitch like a dog can, and yet, you feel like these horses could. They worked brilliantly together and gave the audience something to root for.

* Stunts. Honestly, running full out on a horse carrying a sword while side by side with other people running full out on horses carrying a sword...that's intense. Add in a few hundred more horses, hundreds of infantry men fleeing said horses, and a fully equipped camp and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. Disaster did NOT strike, though! I love watching battle scenes because it's such a great way to judge a movie. If you can see hesitation, see the actors waiting for a cue, you know it's probably not that great of a movie. A good battle scene is like a dance: calculated and coordinated to the minutest degree but flowy and beautiful and seemingly effortless. War Horse was like a Broadway dance number mixed with an Olympic ice skating final: it was superb.

* Either they had THE most realistic animated horse I've ever seen or the best trained stunt horse I've ever seen. Either way, there's one scene that is so painfully well done that I'm still trying to figure out how they did it. I won't spoil anything but I think you'll know it when you see it.


* I realize that it's a period piece and that it's set in England where people have varying degrees of accents and what not. I also realize that this movie was made by ACTORS, people trained to do different accents while enunciating. Apparently, if you do a period piece, set in England, that stars a are no longer required to speak clearly.

* This movie is about a war. Wars, typically, have two sides and those two sides, typically, are pretty easy to identify based on outfits and language and what not. I got lost in this movie. Yeah, it's a family film so everybody needs to speak English but...if we're all speaking the same language with, sometimes, the same accent, can we at least have totally different colored uniforms? Hats? Something? At the start, it was REALLY easy to tell and I appreciated that immensely. Perhaps it was Spielberg's intention to make it harder and harder to tell the difference as the story progressed, I don't know. I personally did not enjoy not knowing who to cheer for.

* Resolution. I won't go too in depth here for fear of spoiling but there's a few things left unsaid that I thought should have been. Nothing major but I had a few questions after it was over that I would love to know the answer to. Perhaps I should read the book?

* While I praised the cinematography in the Pros section...I can't say the same for the last few shots of the film. I'm sure they shot it in front of a green screen or just "touched" up the background after they shot it at one time of day with another time of day. Either way, the sunset...I suppose that's what it was...was just, ugly. It was either too bright or not bright enough, I can't be sure. I was not a fan.

* If you're doing a movie about animals and you're going to need more than one (which, they all need more than one), PLEASE do your homework! I get that you need one horse that stands, one that runs, one that limps, etc etc...but can you at least keep them all the same type? We went from Paso to Warmblood, to Thoroughbred, to who knows what else. Body type matters! Gait matters! Continuity matters!

* Most of the CGI was great..and for me to compliment CGI is a big deal. There was one bit though that I just can't get to stop replaying in my head. It's not that it was horrible or anything and the transition back to live-action was almost seamless. It's just that..horses don't bend like that. Or if they do, they don't get up and run away from it.

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13 and can be hard to watch at times. There are lots of scenes involving dead horses and dead soldiers. Be prepared to discuss World War I and the people of the day's views on animals as more of a tool than a pet. I don't recall any cursing but there could have been a few mumbled words that I missed (see the Con regarding enunciation). Save for the violence and death, it really is a good family movie. Viewer beware..

Over all, I liked this movie. It might seem that I was a bit harsh on certain aspects of it but it is a film I would see again. Not too gory with a lot of heart. 3.5/5 stars.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The elephant in the room

Let me preface this review with these four words: I read the book.

And then these four: This review contains spoilers.

If you have not read the book and plan to...turn back now. If you have not seen the movie and plan for the wild-arrangement of asterisks. You'll know it when you see it. Reader beware...

Water For Elephants
Director- Francis Lawrence
Written by- Richard LaGravenese and based on the novel by Sara Gruen 
Top Billed Cast- Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz

Ah, the circus. The real circus. This is a story about the circus. Sort of. The circus is the setting, the people are the story. Robert Pattinson plays a young man who, having lost his parents, his house, and his career in one foul swoop, set off to try and fine a new path in depression-era America. He stumbles onto a train..but not just any's the train for the greatest circus on earth! Well, behind Ringling..but we won't talk about them.


* At the start there was great usage of lines from the book directly into the script. And I liked that a lot. In my opinion, if you're going to have a movie based so heavily on a need to treat it with respect and use the lines the author wrote for her characters as much as possible. After all, the book was a best seller first so obviously the dialog she wrote was more than sufficient for character growth and development.

* I LOVED how the train seemed almost..melodic at the beginning. They really used the chuff-chuff-chuff and the horn to punctuate the cadence of the scene.

* I love big scenes in movie. No, not scenes involving big things. I like scale and this movie had several good large-scale scenes. One of which was the first time they showed them setting up for the show. Lots of equipment and lots of actors but well done.

* Really enjoyed the score in this movie. It was soft when it should be and swelled when it needed to.

* They seemed to really capture the era with the lighting and and tone of the filming, I appreciated that.

* Christoph Waltz..just wow. As sad as I am that they cut out Big least they cast an actor capable of combing the roles. Well done.

* At this notes kind of just morphed into various praises for Waltz. Therefore, he gets two asterisks.

* I think this line kind of captures not only what the circus is about, but also what movie making is about: "To talent...and illusion."

* The filming style, for the most part, wasn't overly mind blowing but there was one scene in which you really see a change in Waltz' character and they showcased this by switching to a handheld..and it worked. I'm not a huge fan of handhelds because they're so shake a lot of the time, but this time it was good.

* Though there were a LOT of things that were different from the book (and I do mean a LOT), they did seem to pay homage to it at times and I especially appreciated the inclusion of the lemonade scene, even though it was different.

* At first, I really wasn't feeling Reese Witherspoon's performance. She just didn't seem passionate enough. But, as she described her (totally wrong) backstory, I finally bought it.

* My notes, ever entertaining, describe several things that I liked..but I'm not entirely sure what I was talking about. Something about an instrument that I appreciated, fly noises, and good fog use? I'll go with that.

* I don't normally include the viewer's reactions to movies in my reviews but I thought it spoke for the film that hardly anybody in the audience said anything for the first 60 seconds after the credits began to role; nobody jumped up; no loud complaints. When people finally started to stir, they were whispering. I don't think I heard an actual voice until I was in the hall...and there were other movies getting out at the same time so I'm not sure which group was doing the talking.


* I was really excited to see the older version of RPats' character (Jacob)...but then he spoke. And I couldn't understand him. Is annunciation really that hard?

* I couldn't really decide if the voice overlay was a good thing or a bad thing so I put it here. It was interesting..but I don't think it was necessary.

* Camel...great character..poor actor choice. I just didn't like the way he delivered his lines.

* When Sara Gruen described the circus in her book and she mentioned a Giraffe...I didn't picture a baby one and I doubt she meant one either. In fact, I'm pretty certain she did not since she described its massive body and what not. Did circuses have baby exotics? Yes. Did this one? Maybe. Did it have a baby giraffe? I don't think so.

* RPats...since your character is a (almost) vet who's father was a large animal vet and who was planning on taking over the practice...shouldn't you know how to lift a horse's leg??

* I hate hate hate hate cgi smoke. It never works.

* If a horse has an abscess or is foundering to that's not going to walk as nicely as that one did.

* Call me the spatter police, but sheesh..he was wearing white and the shot was at point blank range...but there was no blood. None.

* Marlena's backstory. I just can not wrap my mind around why screenwriters feel the need to change such a non-important (to the character development) plot point needs to be changed sooooo much? I mean, it's not like they changed it a little, like added a city or changed some no, what they had her say was just a complete lie and I didn't understand it.

* Either they have an extremely talented makeup artist on call 24/7 on that struggling circus, or Marlena has magic quick-heal skin.

* If you thought you were going to get to see some awesome stunts by Reese Witherspoon and her stunt'd be wrong. I was under the impression that they were going to do all these cool things with her and the elephant and her and the horses. Nope. It was rather lame.

***************_____________****************** (told ya you'd see it! If you hit the "end" button and scroll up, you'll be safe)

* As one of the major plot points in the book, the whole "jake" incident is not hard to remember. In the book, Camel offers Jacob some and he does NOT drink any. So when Camel gets sick...Jacob has a moment of "Thank goodness I didn't drink it!". Yet, in the movie...he drinks it and is miraculously fine.

* I was not a fan at ALL of the way they depicted the menagerie escape. It was jumanji-like.....and that was lame even then.

****************************______________________***************** (safe now)

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG-13. You should be prepared to talk about spousal abuse, the great depression (specifically prohibition), and the circus way back when. There is smoking, drinking, a strip tease, and (a bit more than) implied sex. Viewer beware..

This movie. The parts that I liked, I really liked. The parts that I didn't like, I hated. It's not that I was in love with the all. It's the fact that I saw no need, no real reason, behind the changes they did make. Heck, in my notes I even praised parts of it that they changed because it made sense; they didn't have all day, they needed to tell the story. But the bits that they changed weren't left out..they were just different. Still took up time, still cost money..just not the same. 3.5/5 stars.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Conspirator

Wow. Quite a bit to discuss with this movie and less of it positive than I'd hoped. I'm still not exactly sure how I felt about it. Hopefully, by the end of this review I will have formed a true opinion.

The Conspirator
Director- Robert Redford
Writer(s)- James Solomon & Gregory Bernstein
Top Billed Cast- James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood, & Tom Wilkinson

This movie is, essentially, about the trial of Mary Surratt: The mother of one of the many suspected conspirators behind the Lincoln assassination. It's a study of ethics and poses the question: even if somebody has committed such a heinous crime, do they not still deserve a fair trial? If you were asked to defend a suspected murderer, would YOU act on their behalf and really try to discover the truth? If it interfered with your day to day life? Cost you your job? Your husband/wife? How far would you go to defend what you believe in?


* The color scheme was very consistent from the very first scene.

* I appreciated that they didn't actually *show* Lincoln; it was always the back of his head, his legs, or his profile. There was one single shot that showed his face (other than drawings, which I don't count). Although I'm aware that there are lots of actors that are capable of portraying him and look like him, I think Redford made the right choice with this.

* They did a very nice job with the sound mixing. I think a lot of people don't realize the importance of good sound until it's missing. I try to hear as much "noise" as I can, and this movie did really well with the bugs and what not in the background. Yea for crickets!

* There was a moment when I felt like I was watching CSI: 1800s, and for me, that was fun.

* I'm not sure if she reads this blog but if she does...Whitney, your horse was in this movie! From the slightly dappled winter coat to the star on his forehead and right down to the measly mane (sorry Dusty!), he was definitely a fine steed.

* While they might've had a mixed cast ("Southerners" & "Northerners"), they didn't skimp on pronunciations on either side. I can't even recall how many times I heard "ExacTly", and this made me smile.

* The way this movie was shot was interesting and I felt like at any moment, Wishbone was going to come running on screen in a cute little costume.

* Clarence Sweetwater (Stephen Root). It's ok, you don't have to know who this is. Just know that when I saw him, I smiled and therefore, this is a pro.

* I liked the word choices in the script. I realize that it was a period piece and, therefore, most of the script is going to sound different but that doesn't make the word "writ" sound any less cool in my mind.

* Robin Wright and Evan Rachel Wood did really well in this movie, I was especially impressed with Wright's choices with her character. Wood was a tad over dramatic at times but, the era was also a lot more dramatic in some aspects.

* For a film with several of its leading actors being from countries other than the US, the accents were quite consistent.


* Ok, I had to look this up (actually, I've had to look a lot of things up for this list), but...hats. Hats in the 1860s were primarily outdoor accessories. Were they worn inside? Yes, on occasion, but mostly when going out "calling" or just running errands. Once inside some place they were invited (dinner, a play, a trial...), they would remove them. Maybe if only one or two people were wearing hats it'd be one thing but...all of them? That's a tad intense. I'm not just talking about little hats or even the hats worn a bit later in time as more of a fashion accessory, I'm referring to just a tad fancier than your average Little House bonnet.

* I'm not sure how much of this was director/actor choice but MAN was there absolutely ZERO chemistry between McAvoy and Bledel. Sheesh people. I get that he went off to war and is a changed man but come on, even at the beginning of the movie you couldn't give us something? Anything?

* After shooting the President, Booth rode out of town quiiiiiiiite slowly. I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to get away from somebody, I try to get my horse to run *faster* than the guy on foot. (Note: I'm actually not 100% sure if the guy I'm talking about was Booth..that sequence of events is kind of a blur, but I know that this guy did shoot/attempt to kill somebody and was running away).

* I'm sure they don't hold exclusive rights to it but, Planet of the Apes has a very famous line that was used in this film. I only saw that movie once (and it was the remake) and yet I still recognized it.

* Remember how I noted in the Pros section about it feeling like Wishbone was going to come running in any second? He never showed. This whole movie felt sooooooooo PBS. It's not really a bad thing, I guess? It just was really weird.

* In one of the scenes with Mary Surratt and Fred Aiken (Wright and McAvoy, respectively), Mary quotes Psalm 139. As a former member of a youth choir that sang this song pretty much every week at rehearsal, I know it well. Yet, when Aiken finishes the verse, Surrat says "You know your Proverbs". Sure, she could've just meant that as a general term..but it still bugged me and I'm ok with it if I'm the only one.

* I gave props to the sound people earlier but they really failed in the re-dub department. I truly don't understand why there seems to be such a need for this or why nobody can get it right. Sound mixing is an art, that I get, I just don't get why people seem to be so bad at it. All the time.

* In one scene McAvoy is walking down a dark street...or is he??? -insert Twilight Zone music here-. Either the lighting was so bad that it made him look invisible, or they tried some weird layering technique with the film.

* Zero resolution. I think I'll leave it at that on this one. There might've been resolution to the more "important" plot line but there was no resolution to several others.

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13. It's pretty clean minus some drinking, a war scene, and hanging. Be prepared to discuss the events surrounding the assassination of Lincoln as well as the ethics surrounding the trials following. Viewer beware...

This movie confuses me. I like period pieces. I like Lincoln. I like Robert Redford. I like Alexis Bledel. I did not like this movie. It was over two hours of a horrendously slow plot. I understand that trials back then, and even now, are slow but 1 witness a day? Like 3 questions MAX per witness? It just seemed that this might've done better on that network it already resembled so much, PBS.

I made a note that the fight they were fighting in the movie is basically the one we're fighting today: stay true to the constitution? Or, give the people what they think they want?

I just didn't feel it. I was frustrated with the lack of  "oh my gosh, I can not believe that just happened!"s and "these performances are amazing!"s...not even that many "wow, look at that set..this is such a well done movie!"s. It felt cheap. It felt long. And I was disappointed. 3/5 stars is being generous.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A How To Guide

In today's fast paced society, it seems that even simple tasks such as enjoying a good movie are becoming increasingly more difficult. No matter the genre, time of day, or what Leading Lady/Man is on screen, people can't seem to drop their lives for the required 90+ minutes in order to take in what they're watching. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people checking their email, updating facebook statuses, or even texting the person sitting RIGHT next to them during a movie. I, too, am guilty of this crime.

Having Movie ADD is not a very good thing if you're expected to have a semi-coherent opinion on what you just watched. So, I've come up with a few ways to combat this problem and I'd like to share.

1. Arrive just before the previews...if you sit around in the theater for too long, your Movie ADD will kick in long before the roller-coaster.

2. Sit in the middle. Now, not only will this help with the viewing, but it will also keep you from being sucked in to watching the people (who don't read these tips) run in and out of the theater for who knows what reason.

3. Not only should you sit in the middle, but you should also sit where you can put your feet up on the seats in front of you. If this isn't possible, take a big bag (which you'll want anyway..see #4) so you can prop your feet on that. The more comfortable you are, the less you'll fidget and the less your eyes will be pulled off the screen.

4. Snacks. Now, I know movie popcorn isn't everybody's cup of tea but snacks really do help keep you focused. Why? Because, in today's world we're used to doing at least 10 things at once so when we DON'T have something else to occupy us, we go searching for it. For instance, right now I'm watching TV, reading another blog, talking to two people on messenger, and eating baby goldfish snacks...all while writing this post. What the popcorn does is keep your hands and mouth occupied while your eyes and brain are focused on the movie.

5. While I advocate snacking, I do advise not to go overboard on the drinks. Speaking from personal experience, having to visit the lavatory halfway into the film does not enhance the movie-going experience. If you're like me, you won't want to get up lest you miss an important part, so you instead sit in misery for the duration. If you do decide to get up, you either have to work out the important details yourself oooorrr rely on your movie buddy's best description of the chain of events...yeah.

6. Change your cell phone's screen brightness to something so low that makes trying to see it not even worth the effort.

7. Go see movies at night. Yes, it's more expensive but it's scientifically proven that our sight and hearing senses are stronger at night so that makes the movie experience that much better. Plus, the later it is (unless it's a midnight premiere)....the less crowded and, therefore, less distracting. AND you can wear your PJs!

8. Watch the previews...I know some people see them as a waste of time, but it helps you get focused and primed for what's about to happen. A good preview set will have you well into what's happening on screen and you will have lost track of how long they've been on and, if they're really good, what movie you even came to see. I feel it's important to have this few minutes to get out of reality before the story even starts.

9. Don't answer your phone. Remember the days when people didn't carry their phones everywhere? Often left them at home and didn't have to charge them for over a week? I barely do...but I remember enough. In this day and age, if it's a life and death matter, the person in question will text you that. While I don't advocate actually texting during a movie, I feel you'll know if it's imperative to do so. When you answer a call, you're not only missing potential key plot points, but you're also taking yourself WAY out of the movie AND distracting the people around you no matter how quietly you think you're whispering "I'm in a movie, can I call you back?".

10. Don't expect anything. This is probably the hardest thing to do, especially for me. Before I go to a movie, I've IMDB'd it to death and know just about everything about it...from the star's first ever acting gig to the name of the pig's trainer. So it can be hard for me to go in without a pre-formed opinion. If I go in expecting to love a movie, I often find myself hating it. If I go in thinking I'll hate it, I sometimes kind of like it but don't want to admit it*. So, try to be neutral.

*Please note that, 99% of the time, if I say I hated a movie..I legitimately hated it.

I hope these tips help you like they do me! I still can't really enjoy "at home" movies unless I watch them on my computer because of my extreme Movie ADD. Sad day. Hopefully a new movie review coming at you this weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Director- Joe Wright
Written By- Seth Lochhead & David Farr
Top-Billed Cast- Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, & Cate Blanchett

Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan are father and daughter living in the wilds of...well, I'm not really sure where they are. But, it's cold. Very cold. And Eric..Erik is training Saoirse...Hanna, to fight. Not only fight, but to kill. Teaching her everything he knows about how to survive and also all that he knows about how to make sure Cate...Marissa, does not.

I didn't take too many notes for this movie. Not because I didn't want to..but because I couldn't type and keep track of the movie at the same time.


* Superb sound mixing. Might not sound like a big deal but man, when it's done's a very big deal.

* Very quick open, which I liked.

* The use of the accents in this movie was really awesome. Hanna's changes in hers were particularly distinct.

* The pace and scale of this film was really great

* I loved how you could see Hanna experiencing these things for the first time..and I actually believed it.


* I'm putting this in here not for the average reader..but for those that were paying attention during the movie. Poor poor Vincent. Hopefully he lived a better life than Trudy.

* When they went to pick up Hanna..she sees the very bright helicopter light yet these people are dressed in extreme camo? I saw no point in that.

* You'd think that living in isolation for so long would make father and daughter remarkably close..this was not the case.

* I really hated the house of Grimm. But more because it creeped me out than because it was badly done.

* I was a tad thrown by the fact that Hanna claims to have not experienced music. I could understand having no records or the like...but she implies that they've never sung or done anything.

* I was a tad insulted by the end but am kind of excited at the prospect of a Hanna: 2 (doubt this will actually happen).

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG-13 and is very violent. There is implied sexuality and quite a bit of gore. Viewer beware..

In the end, I liked the movie. I wish I had taken more notes so I would be able to further explain why I liked it..but I didn't. 4/5 stars.

Sooooo it seems that Hanna is the winner here! It was close though. I really enjoyed the process of watching all of these movies..and while they weren't Oscar contenders (most likely..), they were entertaining and that's the whole point!

Soul Surfer

Soul Surfer
Director- Sean McNamara
Written by- Sean McNamara, Deborah and Douglas Scwartz, Michael Berk, and based on the book by Bethany Hamilton.
Top Billed Cast- AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and Carrie Underwood.

Bethany Hamilton is a teen surfing sensation! She's won the regionals and is preparing for nationals when her life changes forever. While out training with her best friend and her father, a shark attacks. The movie chronicles her journey back to the top.


* I couldn't decide if I liked the chemistry between Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid or not..I mean, it was kind of awkward but kind of cute? I suppose that's a pro.

* They did a scene of night surfing and they had all of them wear the glow-sticks....that was a neat concept

* I looooved the water shots! They really utilized the underwater cams (or had extremely good CGI..)

* Speaking of CGI....good work on the arm!

* I had noted that I disliked the use of the dog at first..but then I found out that it was played by Bethany Hamilton's own I put this as a pro instead.


* Before I go an further..I have to ask: Why...why...WHY did they cast Carrie Underwood in this movie? I could tell that she was trying. I really could. But I just didn't get it.

* A lot of the shots were just too quick to process. One millisecond is not enough time to form an opinion.

* The script. I mean, I wasn't expecting anything amazing but there seemed to be a lot of in-between-time. A lot of time between expressed thoughts. Or something..I'm not really sure, it just wasn't that great.

* There were a LOT of unnecessary build-ups to un-climactic events. We don't need a major orchestra swell every scene.

* The shark...oh the shark. Jaws didn't die. Sorry to inform you.

* I did see the "ghost arm" once..barely there but..def there.

* Some awkward transitions such as from shooting a shark to shooting a picture. Just not ok.

* Lots of product placement. This actually made me laugh in the theater. I know, you do what you gotta do :)

* They had an *amazing* translator. She was practically IN the Thai lady's HEAD.

* I understand that this is an inspirational true story and that Bethany Hamilton credits God for her amazing recovery and all that she's able to do, but, I really hate church scenes in movies. It always feels sooooo contrived. I just can't even focus on the real point of the scene because I'm so distracted by these actors pretending to worship. They could really believe what they're saying, I don't know..I hope they do!

* I hate to put this here because I know it's practically impossible to do a water movie without them but..nose bubbles. Never attractive.

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG. There's blood but nothing major. The biggest thing you'll have to discuss is the loss of a limb and how that does and doesn't change a person. Viewer beware..

Overall, I didn't flat out hate this movie but I also wasn't expecting all that much. I was surprised at how great the shots were and the surfing was awesome. I think that it was better than I expected. 2.5/5 stars.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Battle is on..

Between Battle: LASoul Surfer, and Hanna! What are they competing for? Stars, of course! Whoa...three movies in one post? Yes..I went a tad crazy. But then I here they are!

Battle: Los Angeles
Director- Jonathan Liebesman
Written by- Christopher Bertolini
Top Billed Cast- Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, & Bridget Moynahan

Basically, Aaron Eckhart is a Marine that has put in more than his time and has just gotten his retirement approved when, you guessed it, aliens attack. I took a lot of notes for this movie..again, amusing to read back over. Maybe one day, I'll just post the notes and let those speak for themselves.


* The CGI-work was pretty darn good...for an alien movie, this is important.

* The scale. When I'm watching a movie, especially one with lots of fight scenes, I feel that often the choice to stay right on the main character is a poor one...the shots are so close you can hardly make heads or tails of what's going on. While this movie had some too-close-sequences, there were a LOT of really great open shots!

* All of the choreography that goes into these battle scenes is just so incredible. Everybody has to be on their toes and remember so much. The best is when it *looks* like chaos..but we all know that true chaos and a movie set don't really get along.

* They did a really good job with the set designs and the props; so much debris to keep track of.

* I really liked the way they designed the ships

* The use of alien goop was nice

* This movie made me jump..there are few that can do that to me (at least to this extent). Despite my feverish note taking, I got drawn in and I liked it.


* While this movie had great scale, it was a tad too Blair Witch for my liking with the filming. I'm all for realism when the time calls for it but I am not all for motion sickness in a movie theater. A good balance is key.

* Little do you know walking in that you will have to remember like fifty-gazillion names! I made up my own for them. It worked for me.

* So..the aliens communicate. And they sound a lot like the aliens from Signs. Yes, aliens are way popular and I'm sure it's hard to be original but..come ON.

* Aaron Eckhart...I just felt that his character was left too harsh. I mean, he has a backstory and we know it hurts him but at some point during this whole thing, he should break. least show some sort of emotion.

* The power goes out. The tv works.

* This is an ALIEN movie. Most of the world is dying. And always, love abounds.

* I can't help but see Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent..curse the ONE superhero movie I watch for ruining this actor for me for life.

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG-13. There are INTENSE battle sequences, frequent use of the Lord's name in vain, and a lot of alien guts. Viewer beware..

Overall, I liked this movie. I liked the pace and the intensity. Was it predictable? It's an alien movie...of course it's predictable. There was one line that I really liked, it sounds really cheesy and I'm aware of that but still, doesn't this just sound so profound coming from Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent growl?
"Discard any lingering doubt." 3.5/5 stars.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Unknown...or is it?

Oh me...this movie was actually different than I imagined which I thought was surprising. I mean, how "unknown" can a movie plot be? Especially for me? 

Director- Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer(s)- Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell, and based upon the novel Out of My Head by Didier Van Cauwelaert
Top Billed Cast- Liam Neeson, January Jones, & Diane Kruger 

What's this movie about? You guessed it! Man gets into an accident and suddenly he can't seem to get his wife and colleagues to believe they are, in fact, his wife and colleagues. Such a tragedy. We watch as Dr. Martin Harris struggles to try and make sense of this new "reality". Car chases and explosions abound.


* Diane Kruger. The last time I saw her was in National Treasure (let's not count that second thing they called a sequel, k?), so I was quite excited to see her in something new. Though I feel she did the best she could with what was there, this isn't a total "pro".

* This movie didn't go the way I thought it was going to go. I mean, I had it mostly figured out 5 minutes in, but I have to give it credit for going a completely different direction. I guess, though, they kind of HAD to go in a different direction since every other facet of the movie is practically identical to every other movie on the planet.

* In my notes I complimented the transition sequence from the credits to the first scene but, honestly, I don't remember enough about this to call it "good". I'll take my word for it though.

* I also noted that the color tones were good. I could really see the cold, which is always important in my book. One of the best examples of color-usage (in my opinion) is the CSI series: within the first 30 seconds of any episode from any of the shows, one can tell where it takes place (Vegas, Miami, or NY).


* Whyyyyy is it that these actors can't annunciate?? I mean, with all the training they have at their disposal, they really can't hire a decent dialect/dialog coach? I have a really hard time believing that. There's only so much growling I can handle in a movie...especially when the main character is also responsible for a real "growling" character: Aslan.

* January Jones. I certainly hope she does a better job in Mad Men, because she was seriously lacking in this movie. From scene numero uno I hated her character and her portrayal. I'm really not sure why they cast her. Popularity of Mad Men? Really? Is that all it takes these days? Could we see Lea Michele cast as Anthony Hopkins wife just because Glee is popular? That'd be only a tad more awkward than the January Jones & Liam Neeson pairing...only a tad.

* So many plot holes and so many pointless deaths. I really just thought the whole thing was a bunch of writers and producers sitting around saying "here's a boring bit, let's introduce a minor charrie and then kill 'em off in wildly unlikely fashion...that'll buy us, what? 5-10 minutes? sounds good".

* Are there no rules in these other countries? I'll just leave it at that.

* Diane Kruger, though she tried, was really trying to play her role younger than I felt she should have. I mean...again, with Aslan as your leading male, you really can't have him gallivanting around Europe with a twenty-something-acting female lead believably. Sure, he'd see something in her..but what would she see in him? He's obvi got MAJOR issues. Too complicated. Oh, and while we're on the subject of Diane Kruger...what the HECK with that character's backstory? South Africa? Why?

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13 and contains loads of violence, some brief sexual content, and profanity. Be prepared to also discuss some of the finer points of World War II. Viewer beware..

This movie was just not that impressive. I mean, I didn't expect it to be...but my pre-set thoughts were not changed upon the end credits. 2.5-5 stars just because it wasn't exactly how I thought it would be. Later this weekend I'll be posting my review of Battle: LA, in an out wifi this week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just Go With It

I feel the need to emphasize how often one line in this movie was said. You'll know it when you see it.

Just Go With It
Director- Dennis Dugan 
Writer(s)- Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling, I.A.L. Diamond, Abe Burrows, Pierre Barillet, & Jean-Pierre Gredy
Top Billed Cast- Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, & Brooklyn Decker

Adam Sandler gets dumped on his wedding day and therefore feels the need to trick every woman in his life after this point into believing that he is married to an abusive spouse. Just go with it...Eventually, he finds "the one" and, unfortunately, she's already fallen prey to his trick so now he's in a pickle. He convinces his assistant (Aniston) to pose as his x-wife and even hires her two kids to play his children. Chaos ensues.


* I know this isn't really a movie-related pro (well it is..) but man, my notes from this movie are funny. I enjoyed re-reading over this stuff trying to figure out what on earth I was referring to by such things as "that was easy..or not.." and "what's with preggo and company?", lol, ok so maybe it's only a pro to me..

* I love when a movie utilizes pre-established actors & actresses to play minor roles. Cameos are there for a reason and too many filmmakers don't know how to use them well/too many actors & actresses turn up their noses at roles that aren't Oscar worthy, or maybe I should just blame their agents?

* I actually felt that Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston had good chemistry, which I did not expect. At all.

* Bailee Madison is cute in her own little way. I enjoyed her character though it was over-written at times.

* Nicole Kidman was actually quite funny in her role. Why she can't do a proper American accent after all these years is beyond me but, I suppose I should just go with it..


* I understand that this is an Adam Sandler comedy and that exaggerations are kind of his "thing" but did he REALLY need a nose the size of Texas&ahalf in the first scene? I don't think so. It's not like he has a Michael Jackson nose in real life...he could've just added a tiiiny piece on top and we would've gotten the joke.

* I kind of feel sorry for this movie. Why? Because in 5 years (probably less) over half of the script is going to be misunderstood by the audience because of all 5-billion references to popular culture today. I mean, really, how do writers think this is a smart move?

* So much emphasis went on the ring and when it went where...are we, the audience, really that dumb? I don't think so. Plus, that little tid bit was in every single one of the previews and how often do people, these days, go to see movies without seeing at least one preview?

* Who the heck is Brooklyn Decker and who thought it would be a good idea to give her a leading role as her first ever acting gig? It almost made everybody else in this movie look incredible because she sucked so bad. And whoooo names their female-supporting-character "Palmer"?? Now that, I can't just go with..

* Whoever was in charge of casting the extras needs to re-evaluate their job choice.

* What kind of Doctor and assistant have private (VERY private) conversations in front of patients? That's just not ok.

* Do we really have to just go with a practical homage to Pretty Woman? I mean..was Jennifer Aniston supposed to appear *that* bad off? And why the need for 15-gajillion shopping bags for supposedly one day of pretending?

* Speaking of the "make-over"...I understand that extensions exist, but why did she need them? Why not just get her hair shaped up? Revitalized?

* I hate when TPTB dumb things down for the viewers, whether that be in a sequence like the ring thing that I already mentioned, or in sequences that are sooooo obvious anyway that there is def no need for a music change or an awkward close-up...

* I still don't get the purpose of the fake sheep. Please, if you were able to just go with it, explain it to me?

* Finally......We paid for the ticket, we were told what theater we were to go in, we saw the posters on the way in....WHY do you have to CONTINUOUSLY throw the title of the movie into scenes??? We get it! I don't *want* to "just go with it" anymore!

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13 and, as with most of the newer Adam Sandler stuff, it's fairly clean for a pg-13. There is, however, crude humor, partial nudity (I don't remember this, though), brief drug references, some sexual content, and language (I always love when they put this in the rating thingy..what movie, technically, DOESN'T contain "language"? :P ). Viewer beware..

This movie did make me laugh and I'm not opposed to seeing it again..for $1. I mean, it's a comedy and as such it did fulfill its purpose. I'm not sure that one can really expect much more from a movie like this. 3/5 stars. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back on Track..sort of

After a lot of procrastination and loss of inspiration, I'm back. I'm still not really sure how to get this blog formatted the way I imagine it should be, but I'm going to "suffer" through it and try and find that magical mixture somewhere along the way.

First things first: This blog will contain SPOILERS*, so reader beware.

*A spoiler is information that some viewers might deem crucial to the plot or end-game and therefore feel that it should be saved for the movie itself. I LOVE spoilers. It saves me lots of disappointment and stress to know whether or not a film/tv show is going to be as horrible as I imagine it to be. Plus, who doesn't like to know stuff before, practically, anybody else?!

One last thing before we get started: Go see "The King's Speech"! I mean, how many people have to tell you before you listen? It's still playing for a reason! *Although, if you happen to be visiting Providence Theaters, avoid going to see the movie if it's playing in the last theater on the left (right wing) beside the "party room".

The Adjustment Bureau
Director- George Nolfi
Writer(s)- George Nolfi, based on the short story Adjustment Team by Phillip K. Dick
Top Billed Cast- Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, & Anthony Mackey

Firstly, I only typed "T" into the search bar and it automatically brought me to this movie. I love technology. 

Basically, this movie is about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. No, really! Ok, so, mostly it's about deciding what to do with your life. Is your plan THE plan?

On to my personal favourite part!


*Can you say chemistry?? Emily Blunt and Matt Damon can! At first it almost felt contrived because it was so intense but, by the end of it I was addicted. 

* Cinematography was pretty cool..I mean, not mindblowing, but pretty good.

* Great usage of doors. You'll have to see it to understand what makes this a pro. But trust me, doors can be quite amazingly complex objects.

* I'm not sure if I've seen a movie quite so water-filled (without water being the mode of transport) before. Also, the last time a movie was made that gave water such a unique purpose was Signs (M. Night reference for the win!).

* Though the writing often left me shaking my head, the actors did a really nice job with what was there. 


* As mentioned above: the writing. I'm no screenwriter, nor have I ever completed a single story (I try, really I do), but when I can picture the script in my's never good. I know I've said that before, but it's just such a big part of the movie-going experience for me. I feel like I can tell when an actor doesn't like or believe in their lines because it's so poorly delivered. It feels flat and soulless. I'm sure writing dialog that properly portrays the appropriate message at the perfect time in the plot is a very tricky process and props to those of you that can do it and do it well..I just feel that it's SO important to keep viewers IN the movie. If I'm able to tell you what level of Angry Birds the people two rows down from me were on...I was not appropriately drawn in to the film.

* The doors. While I made them a Pro, there were some things that could've been a lot better. If there is such a BIG focus on said doors and the way they work and how they don't work...shouldn't there also be a focus and cOnsIstaNcY on which type of doors we use?? I think so. Again, if you haven't seen it, you won't really understand what makes this a con.

* The End. What the heck? I was so drawn in, so wanting to go along with these characters, to discover as they discover....and then, it happened. Nothing. Anticlimactic much?

* Though I think that this is mostly how the character was written..I got kind of tired of Harry being sooooooo mopey all the time. Especially by the end. 

* It's all in "blue" is it? Pretty sure the "plan" was in black. Once again, *where* are the continuity people? Fact checkers? Editors? Anybody?

* Everyone knows that in this day and age everybody is google-able. 

* Minor though it is, if hats are the key (oh me, I crack myself up), then mayhaps some superglue would fix the flying issue? Simple solutions people, simple solutions.

Now Mother..
This movie is rated PG-13 for some brief language, violence, and some sexuality.

Over all, I give this move 3 out of 5 stars. Really creative idea, brilliant cast, but such a wimpy response. I'm not going to say that this movie is in the leagues of Inception or even The Matrix, but I do give it major props for certain aspects being just plain inventive.  I'll still probably own this movie. I want to like it a lot...I just wish the script was better.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

While You Wait

So, I've decided to change some things up here as I feel that just a "pros & cons" list isn't cutting it. While I figure out exactly what/how I'm going to do, though, here is a list of must-sees & can-live-withouts!

Must Sees!

* (Almost) Anything from M. Night Shyamalan, especially the earlier stuff: The Sixth Sense & Signs. Now, I personally LOVED The Village but from what I've heard, I stand in a small crowd.

* About A Boy - A good mixture of humor and...depression?

* UP - I'm not sure why people think this movie is so boring! I loved it. Really pretty and very adorable plot.

* I've said it once and I'll say it again... go see The King's Speech!

* Now, I just saw this movie last night and the review is coming but I'll go ahead and recommend Rabbit Hole. The score is really nice and the story, though some might find it quite depressing, is well written and performed.

* Even though I really really really despise the total and complete LACK of a proper storyline, the amazingness of the visual effects in Avatar, alone, make it a "must see".

* If you haven't already, you really should see Despicable Me.

* Even if you aren't an animal lover (or a fan of Claire Danes), you should really still see Temple Grandin. Beautiful story and amazing performance.

* One of the funniest movies I saw last year, Easy A.

We can live without...

* Valentine's Day. Yep, that star-studded movie was one of the worst I saw all last year. I can't even pinpoint a single thing that made it so cringe-worthy, it just wasn't good.

* Anything Twilight related. Sorry to all you "TwiHards" out there...these stories (what? there was WRITING involved???) are just so poorly written and badly performed. I still don't understand the attraction of this saga. I might have to write an entire post detailing my disdain for this topic.

* Dear John needed a lot of help. I tried to read the book...couldn't get through it. I'm not sure how I made it through the movie.

* Speaking of Amanda Seyfried and movies I could barely get through, Letters To Juliet was atrocious.

* Not only is this movie disturbing on multiple levels, it's scientifically inaccurate and that's why The Human Centipede is on this list.

* I'm not even sure why The Knowing was even made. I'll leave it at that.

I'll probably do another more of these lists in the future. Stay tuned for more in depth reviews!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Phoebe In Wonderland

Thus far with this blog, I've been writing about movies I've seen in the last few months. So recent enough that I haven't had to re-watch anything. Today, I ran out of fresh material. So...rather than venture out into the nasty rain or re-live a bad movie, I decided to watch a newer favourite. Enjoy!

Phoebe In Wonderland
Director- Daniel Barnz
Writer- Daniel Barnz
Top Billed Cast- Elle Fanning, Patricia Clarkson, & Felicity Huffman

This movie is about the very imaginative Phoebe Lichten and her struggle to decipher fact from fiction.


* Within the first 10 minutes of the film, you're already aware of one of the major themes (and no, I'm not talking about Alice in Wonderland): Felicity Huffman's resentment of her current living situation; trying to wear too many hats without complaints.

* I love the vibrancy of this movie, everything is vivid and eye catching but not in a gaudy or overwhelming way.

* Elle Fanning is such a brilliant little actress, I never once doubted her role. While, yes, I'll admit that for the majority of the film I was stuck on the "That's Dakota's little sister!" thing so that was a bit distracting, but overall I felt she did fantastic.

* Cinematography is really great in this movie. It's on the "artsy" side, but I think it goes with the flow of the film very well.

*  I loved Patricia Clarkson in this movie. Such passion behind her role.

* The acting, in general was pretty darn good. Were there some rough patches? Most certainly! But, the fact that the majority of this movie is carried by children (who, a lot of the time, have had very little on screen time) kind of makes those rough patches "ok".

* The bedroom scene with Phoebe and her mother makes me cry every time. That's right, ME, cry. I'm not sure what it is about that particular scene that moves me so, it's just so beautifully done.

* I love how frustrated Felicity Huffman's character gets when everybody tries to tell her that Phoebe isn't "normal". In her mind, if Phoebe isn't normal, than it must be her fault and that's not something she's ready to come to terms with. I think the progression of this realization is really nice.

* The score on this movie is very cohesive and enjoyable.


* Little classmates of Phoebe...unless you've read the given piece of audition material, you really can't know it word for word and you most definitely can't perform it with inflection and such mockingly-intense-feeling. This actually goes for Phoebe too.

* When do these kids get all this free time at school? No wonder graduation rates are so low these days, kids are left unattended for large portions of the day and are creating weird, aerial view houses.

*  For being SO raw and bloody, Phoebe's hands seem to heel overnight in some scenes. Continuity anyone? Anyone?

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG-13. There is some mild cursing (there is 1 F work but it's pretty muffled) and one scene where sex is...discussed (if young girls talking about what they thought they read in a sex-ed book really counts as "discussing"). The main theme of the movie is diagnosing Phoebe, so be prepared to discuss the out come of that, though they do a very good job of that towards the end of the film.

I really like this movie. Could I pick it apart further and complain about other aspects of it? Yes, most definitely. I think what makes it such a good movie to me is the fact that though they took such an old story (Alice in Wonderland), it was done in such a way that it was completely new. Everybody felt so genuine and endearing that the small things (such as getting the syncing right during the music number...) are pushed into the corner. 4/5 stars from me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

True Grit

Interesting movie this week. I thought for sure that I liked this one up until the very last scene. It's amazing how easy it is to go from "this is a pretty great movie" to "I can't believe I thought I liked that" for me. Kind of sad, but interesting none the less. 

For those that wonder "why does she keep watching these movies if she hates them so much?", well, I watch for the same reason as most people: Entertainment. What I find entertaining isn't the same as most people, I know, but it's still entertainment.

True Grit
Director- Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Writer- Charles Portis (Novel), Ethan Coen, & Joel Coen
Top Billed Cast- Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, & Hailee Steinfeld


* Hailee Steinfeld did a really nice job with what she was given. Her delivery was excellent and her character well developed. 

* The word usage was really nice and typical of a Coen script. It was insanely formal but with flow.

* Being the Out-West junky that I am, I really enjoyed the scenery and scale of a lot of the shots.


* Jeff Bridges...I can't understand you. Seriously, it was pretty much 1 out of every 3 words that I got. 

* This movie is set in the mid/late-1800s, right? Then why the heck are we spouting "I'm only 14..." every five seconds? At that time and age, one should be at the very least courting...if not married with 3 kids under tow. One most definitely should not still be in braids and shorter-hemmed skirts. I read the Little House books, I know how it works.

* I was really conflicted by the Matt Damon character. Was I supposed to admire his bravery? Feel sick to my stomach at his apparent walking-the-fine-line-of-pedophilia? Or just find him a joke all together?

* I'm not completely sure, but I think they might've employed the most out of shape horses in Hollywood. These are lawmen that we are told go allllll over the west in search of outlaws and yet, their horses have less muscle tone than your average trail steed? Right.

* Does NOBODY check continuity anymore? Cup moves an inch, I can understand that. Wisp of hair is moved, I get it. Horse & Girl are COMPLETELY dry after swimming across a river less than 60 seconds ago....that, I don't understand. 

* Apparently they spent so much on the poorly toned horses that they couldn't afford a proper graphics artist. SHOT..(2 seconds later) explosion. It looked like your average TV quality wound (Not even Grey's or CSI level, more like a Lifetime movie). 

* So, you're trapped in a deep hole and you can't wiggle your ankle free. To your left is a dead guy with a knife on his belt. What do you do? Pull the body over, grab the knife and go? Yeah, that would've been my choice too. Apparently not what Mattie Ross would do. Oh no, instead, she'd prefer to pull the body over, open the chest cavity...see some "hibernating" snakes, freak out, and use more energy than it would take to pull the knife out to shove said body down the hole. What a waste.

* Speaking of Mattie Ross....amazing how little "older" Mattie looked like younger Mattie. It can't be that difficult to find an actress that at least RESEMBLES your main character.

* My last (sort of) beef with this movie is the song choice for that very last scene. This whole movie we've listened to a pretty good score. And then, as the now one-armed, Mattie walks into the sunset over the picturesque knoll...we hear it. The BLASTING of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms". I understand the context and the power of the song. It just did not fit in with the overall feel of the film.

Now Mother..

This movie is rated PG-13, mostly for violence and tense scenes. Most of the main characters smoke & drink and there is one scene of drunkenness. Viewer beware..

I give this movie 3/5 stars. Why so many when I obviously had a lot of issues with it? Well, I give it credit for making me think I liked it up until the very end.

I decided to only review one movie this week so you'll have to stayed tuned to see my thoughts on The Dilemma and whichever movie(s) I decided for Time-Warp Tuesday!