Monday, March 24, 2008

Enchanted vs. Ben Affleck...

"Enchanted" (2007), "Gone Baby Gone" (2007)


Amy Adams in "Enchanted" (Disney) and Ben Affleck... in one of his gay roles (20th Century Fox) before directing "Gone Baby Gone."

Verdict: Watch them both.

"Daaaamn, Ben Affleck..." was an often occurring exclamation while a couple friends and I watched the first half of "Gone Baby Gone" for the first time the other night on the new movie-rental feature of iTunes. We were blown away--I mean, we all knew the boy could write because of "Good Will Hunting", but it could be argued that Matt Damon saved that one and Ben's pansy movie-role choices lately would add up to a sappy solo-directorial debut that only his brother would agree to star in. Until I began watching that fabulous, fabulous film. The boyfriend proclaimed, "It's the Chinatown of our generation!"...just as the little girl fell off the cliff and our 24-hour rental from the day previous expired (damn you, iTunes Movie Rentals!).

Okay... before you think I've completely lost it... 40 minutes later (after having to download the entire film AGAIN), we saw the SECOND HALF of the movie (I thought it had 15 minutes left, tops) and it fell straight into sub-plot blender like a bad episode of "Murder She Wrote." Surprise twist-and-turn endings are not your forte, Mr. Affleck, especially if they last 50 MINUTES. Which is too bad, because Casey Affleck, Ed Harris and Amy Ryan were fantastic and the dialog was the shit. In any case, we had a good 'ol time with our wicked-smawt Baston fauckin accents fa tharestatha night.

What does this have to fauckin do with "Enchanted"?

Simply that, I watched the Disney flick the day before and told said-friends that I quite liked its self-realizations about fairy-tales-meet-the-real-world. Like when Prince Edward (James Marsden) sees the damsel, Giselle (Amy Adams), for, like, a minute and--with hilarious satire--asks her to marry him tomorrow; or when Giselle sings the cleaning song with Manhattan vermin in place of the woodland creatures of the fairy-land Andalasia; or when, after some time in NYC, Giselle asks Prince Edward if they can date first.

So by the end of the night (and several six-packs of beer later, if I remember correctly) my friends were pretty pissed that I said I liked "Enchanted" earlier and then didn't like "Gone Baby Gone". Well, that seriously oversimplifies things--it's not that I didn't like it, I just think Ben fucked it up at the end--but there you have it.

Both available on home video.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)


Verdict: Sure, why not!

I'll admit... I went to watch this movie for the free goodies and give-aways and still almost backed out of it. Which there in and of itself explains the problem with this movie: getting anyone to go to the theater to watch it. My boyfriend wouldn't come near it ("that movie's for girls"), and the combination of it's two leading actresses (Francis McDormand and Amy Adams) made me wonder if I should expect Enchanted or Fargo. What was this movie about, anyway?

Going beyond the gads of girl candy --makeovers, love triangles, giggling, pretty dresses--the acting is fantastic, the characters are very likable, the script is super, and there's a prince charming and happy ending. Amy Adams is as good as ever and enhanced by the quick-witted dialog that is so 1920's England. However, I wanted to see more: Lee Pace ("Michael"), singing and dancing, blond in McDormand's hair (that mousy brown was very unflattering.)

If you have some time between shopping or want to take your mom, sister, or best bud to an easy-on-the-eyes and entertaining movie--or if you're keeping an eye on that Amy Adams--then yeah, go see it. You'll like it.


Opens today in D.C.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

VANTAGE POINT (2008)


Verdict: Oh hell no.


The film Vantage Point promises lots of suspense and scandal when a terrorist plot against the acting American president on a diplomatic visit to Spain is viewed from eight perspectives and turns into a major shoot out, car chase, and explosion-bonanza, complete with good ‘ol American-bashing and Mathew Fox expelling silly Spanish dialog. Actions junkies out there will be satisfied. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t offer much else, especially any reward for sitting through eight individual storylines (the viewpoints of eight characters who play a role in the plot, taken one after another, in mime of the Japanese classic Roshamon) besides a good fit of the giggles and some resentment.

This first major feature for director Pete Travis pretty much blows it. The film may claim eight perspectives but not one that’s new, unique, or intelligent, and collectively misses any commentary on the plot of global terror—despite it’s real-life implications. I think of stereotype-changing films like Crash or Paradise Now and I cringe at this movie's box office numbers. Okay, perhaps Vantage Point is meant to be nothing more than an exciting plot that takes place in a contemporary climate. In that case, give me one linear storyline rather than eight useless character perspectives and save me the pretext and the trouble.

Not only were the perspectives ineffectual but also the formula for getting from one to the next was exhausting. Each point of view begins with a dramatic rewind montage (think intro to Battlestar Galactica) to return us again to the pre-bombing-and-shooting minute of twelve hundred hours. From the first rewind, the audience collectively understood that it was destined to see the whole day’s events again but with someone new… and seven more times. Everyone laughed. And laughed. And laughed (times seven).

Then there’s the flat-out offensive. The viewpoint is of the Moroccan terrorist mastermind to me argued an attempt at some complexity in the film beyond an average American action... OR, an outlet to deliver some shocking and evil dialog to viewers haunted by Axis of Evils and ├╝ber-terrorists. He gives a line, “Just like American arrogance to think they’re always one step ahead,” minutes before the death and carnage about to take place (which we’ve already seen twice). The two taken together and delivered by a shallow character who shoots a president and detonates a bomb from his mobile phone lost what little commentary could be found in those words and turned them into pure abomination, and even I—open minded as I am—squirmed in my seat.

In the end, the hero (Dennis Quaid, as the honorable Secret Service Agent) saves the day not because of some meaningful resolution but because a little girl runs into the street and the villains are thwarted. (“Mr. President…I’ve got you,” declares Mr. Quaid as the audience snickers.)

The aftertaste is worst of all. In our social climate, where the media has a great affect on a public filled with fears and threats, everyone could stand more intelligent discussion of complicated issues. Maybe then the guy in the audience, who, after the terrifying explosion goes off again, may not have blurted out, “And we want to elect a woman president?”

Proof that Vantage Point will not change any stereotypes, and worse, might amplify them.