Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crazy Heart

Thanks to the very kind people at WXRT Chicago, I won passes to yet another movie screening. This time I saw Crazy Heart. It’s a good movie with a really great soundtrack. And actually, before the movie, we were treated to a live performance of the Oscar nominated song, The Weary Kind, played by the songwriter himself, Ryan Bingham. Words can not express how amazing this was. An Oscar nominee playing live before a screening of his movie is definitely not something you get to see everyday. I’m not a huge country music fan, but this guy is the coolest.

The movie is pretty cool too. Jeff Bridges plays a very complicated musician named Bad Blake. Bad is, or was, the epitome of cool. He is reminiscent of Johnny Cash and looks quite similar to Kris Kristofferson. Bad Blake, while dirty and probably smelly, is charming and funny. He is destined to become a cult favorite not unlike The Dude.

Bad is pretty much at the end of his career. When he’s not playing gigs at bowling alleys, he’s drowning himself in whiskey. His agent books him at ridiculous places around the country and Bad has to drive an old pick up truck to each one. I mean, that sounds like a country song right there. His agent also represents Tommy Sweet, a country star played by Colin Farrell. Tommy is the new face of country music and he has a large and young fanbase. Bad’s fans are mostly old hags, but he does not hesitate to sleep with them. The agent has been begging Bad to do some duets with Tommy, but Bad refuses out of obvious jealousy.

It’s all very depressing but Jeff Bridges plays Bad with such charm that we can’t help but laugh a little bit. Things start to look up for Bad when he meets Jean, a very young writer and single mother played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. For some reason Jean falls for Bad. The chemistry between the two is phenomenal even though she’s young and beautiful, and he’s pretty much the walking dead.

Maggie plays Jean very well but I wasn’t sure what her motivations were. Perhaps this was a problem with the character she played. She’s adamant that she wants to stay away from bad men, but then falls instantly for Bad, and I’m not sure why. He's gross. I thought the story would supply us with a little background on her – that maybe she had daddy issues or something. But really her character is kind of a mystery. She has an adorable son that she’s very protective of, but then she keeps letting Bad come over and play with him. And you just know something bad is going to happen. Not that Bad does anything wrong intentionally, he’s just kind of an idiot sometimes. There’s a lot of buildup to these bad things but it takes a really long time to get there. In fact the whole movie is kind of long. And with all the depression it gets a little tedious. Luckily, there are enough funny and relatively uplifting moments to break it all up.

Jeff Bridges is a great character actor and he really makes this movie. He gives Bad a lot of charisma so we want to see him rise above his depression, even though his life is so pathetic. His performances on stage are so convincing, it’s hard to believe that Bridges is an actor and not a country music star. The songs themselves are just as good and could pass for real songs. Some of them were covers, I’m sure, but the fact that I couldn’t tell them apart should mean something. Bridges interpretation of Bad is so authentic Crazy Heart seems like a biography in the vain of Walk the Line. But Bad Blake, as far as I know, never existed.

Crazy Heart is a pretty decent movie. It’s a little slow and a little long and extremely depressing in parts, but it comes around in the end. I think Bridges will win the Oscar. He definitely deserves it – the character was so demanding emotionally and physically. I mean, he’s drunk and vomiting one second and hobbling on crutches the next. Not to mention the fact that he sings all the songs. Maggie did a good job too, but I don’t see an award in her future, at least not for Crazy Heart. Especially when she is up against Mo’nique. (Did I place that apostrophe right?)

And thanks again to my friends at XRT. You keep giving me free stuff. And to throw in a live performance by Ryan Bingham too – you guys are the greatest! Thanks, now can you stop playing so much U-2?

3.5 cowboy hats

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear John

You couldn't pay me to see this:

But I might see this:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - get excited!

I don't usually post trailers, but I've never been this excited to see a movie. Seriously, there's a billboard on the tollway that I slow down for and just stare at. Well, that sounds lame, but you know what I mean. When I'm not thinking about my own writing projects, I'm thinking about movies that somebody else should make. This is one of them. And it just so happens to be directed by my favorite man of all time. You may think that Burton is a cliche, and overhyped, but to that I say, go bite a Jabberwocky.

I also think this is cool, and I'd totally buy it if I were a girl or into the whole emo thing. Urban Decay's Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows (Get it? Eye shadow! Women are so clever.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Lovely Bones

I feel like there’s been a rash of stinkers lately; a lot of movies I thought I’d enjoy but didn’t. Am I expecting too much? Have I become too cynical? Do I get too excited about movies, walking myself into the inevitable disappointment? I think the more disappointed I am in Hollywood, the more excited I get about future releases, and then of course I’m let down again. It’s a downward spiral. I refuse to be cynical, though. Conan O’Brien told me not to be. So, I’m just gonna keep on looking forward to movies and not let those let-downs bother me. So, Lovely Bones, you have no power over me!

This movie sucked - for real. I know respectable movie critics should use smarter words than that, but it’s the only word I can think of. It sucked me in with fabulous previews and Imogen Heap songs. It sucked me in with, “A Film by Peter Jackson”. And then, inevitably, it blew. This was the film equivalent of that old sideshow act, Man Eating Chicken. You think there’s some crazy chicken in there eating people, but it’s really just some man eating fried chicken.

Peter Jackson is a talented epic director; the Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit, King Kong – all epic movies. The Lovely Bones, to me, is a small story, centered on the lives of a small family in a small town. I’m sure the producers chose Jackson as director with the heaven sequences in mind. It seems like he focused more on CGI than on developing an actual story. The characters were not developed, the pacing was slow, and there wasn’t any excitement. I understand the story is a somber one, but in any drama we need a little tension or pieces of a puzzle coming together.

As an audience, we see melancholy moment, followed by weird heaven stuff, and then back to melancholia. And we have no idea what is even going on up there in heaven. Did Susie Salmon take the red pill and travel to Strawberry Fields? Seriously, heaven looked ridiculous. I felt like I was watching my sister’s Lisa Frank trapper keeper come to life.

Not really my sister.

I guess there is the argument that since it was Susie’s heaven, she would see images like that being a fourteen-year-old girl. But according to Susie’s weird little friend, she’s not in heaven. Apparently it’s the “in-between”. So is it her subconscious making these images appear? Not sure. I think Jackson should have scrapped the fancy schmancy heaven stuff and taken a minimalistic approach. I picture that episode of Family Ties when Alex’s friend dies in the car accident. The two of them talk and reflect on life on an empty stage. This produced the opposite effect that The Lovely Bones did. The audience has no choice but to reflect on the stories being told.

I also had issues with these two side characters that I assume had bigger roles in the book. There’s the dreamy older boy, Ray, and the psychic girl, Ruth. Neither of them is developed nor do they add anything to the story.

"You are beautiful Susie Salmon, by the way did you do my history homework?"

Susie apparently loved Ray, and Ray apparently loves Susie. I didn’t really buy that. He looks more like her principal. After Susie dies, she sees Ray in her In-Between (ha ha). There is one ridiculously cheesy moment when Susie finds him waiting for her by a lake, and his face reflects off the water. It looks more like something out of Twilight than anything I’d expect from Peter Jackson.

I expected Ruth to be an interesting character, but she added absolutely nothing. I thought for sure she’d help Susie’s family solve the mystery, but she doesn’t. She just sees Susie sometimes and is like, “Oh weird. Hey Susie.” The only time Ruth uses her mad ghost whispering skills is at the end, and it’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in any movie ever. Imagine if the movie Exorcist mated with an episode of Saved by the Bell. This scene would be that couple’s baby. It's a very ugly baby.

The other characters, while on screen more frequently, aren’t all that interesting either. Mark Wahlberg plays a concerned dad who misses his daughter. That's great but I think if I were looking for my daughter I’d be randomly punching people on the street until they confessed, not just kinda moping around like a sad sack. Rachel Weisz plays the mother, but she’s barely in the movie. That’s disappointing because she is attractive. Susan Sarandon is a fine actress but her part as the grandmother was just irritating and didn’t fit the movie.

There were just too many unlikable elements in The Lovely Bones. I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t like it. The only positive thing about this movie is Stanley Tucci. What a guy. I swear, I’ve liked every one of his roles – even in The Devil Wears Prada. He's really good in this and is extremely creepy. So, Stanley, you earned The Lovely Bones one sticker. Congratulations.

I've waited forever for a reason to post this:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...