Category Archives: 2010

The Back-Up Plan (2010)

I have a feeling you and CRM-1014 are going to make beautiful babies together.

— Dr. Scott Harris

The only reason why I wanted to see The Back-up Plan is because I wanted to see Alex O’Loughlin shirtless. That’s it. I didn’t care about the ridiculous plot, the cookie cutter storyline or the one dimensional characters. I wanted to see him take his top off. That is all.

Zoe (Jennifer Lopez) is a pet store owner that is tired of going the traditional route of finding a guy, getting married and have a family. She is tired of dating losers. She decides to cut out the middle man and be artificially inseminated by Dr. Scott Harris (Robert Klein) with sperm number CRM-1014.

After leaving the doctor’s office, Zoe has a feeling of euphoria. Like she is living in a world full of rainbows and unicorns, when she tries to hail a cab and another guy, Stan (O’Loughlin) get in the same cab she does. Here is the meet-cute. Isn’t that nauseating to watch? Where the fuck did he come from? He must have flew across the street to not get hit by a car. They fight over the cab until both of them get out in frustration. They bump into each other again at the subway. Coincidence? Hmm…

Zoe joins a support group for single mothers headed up by Carol (Melissa McCarthy). They are content about not  having men in their lives. Zoe had yet another run-in with Stan at a farmer’s market when he at a booth selling cheese from his farm, Little Goat. they have a little miscommunication when they meet again — small world — at a book signing for the Dog Whisper,  Caesar Milan. Stan asks her out on a date.

Things are moving fast when Zoe finds out that she is pregnant– not by Stan, but by the sperm she purchased at the sperm bank. How can Zoe tell Stan about what she has done? Will he forgive her?

The movie is fluff. That’s all it is. I am not surprised that the movie is not good. I expected it. The only good thing about this movie is you guessed it, topless Alex O’Loughin. It is nice to see.

Judgment: I suggest googling Alex’ pics from this movie online. Don’t bother with this movie.

Rating: 5/10

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Buried (2010)

I’m buried in a box. I’m buried in a box!

— Paul Conroy

Buried was one of my most anticipated movies of 2010. I never got the chance to see in theaters, because it was so hard to find it. When I saw it on the shelf, I had to picked it up. I thought the concept of one man onscreen for a 90 minutes movie sounded interesting to me especially if its Ryan Reynolds. The movie is enjoyable but it’s not 127 Hours.

Iraq, 2006. A CRT contractor, Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in complete blackness. Paul realizes that he is bound and gagged. He manage to get himself free. He pulls out a Zippo lighter to shed light on that he is in a wooden crate. He tries to break the crate open, but he realizes that it is buried underground in the middle of the desert.

Paul hears a cell phone vibrating near him. He picks it up, but the script is in Arabic. He misses the call. He dials 911 and tries to explain to the operator (Kali Rocha) about what happened to him. He was taking kitchen supplies to a community in Baqubah when his convoy was ambushed by insurgents. The rest of the contractors were killed and he is the lone survivor. The operator cannot help, because 911 is US service. No use for the Middle East.

Paul frantically calls his family, but they don’t pick up. Then, he tries his wife, Linda’s (Samantha Mathis) cell. Straight to voicemail. He gets the number to the FBI from 411 and explains his dire situation, but he is constantly being transferred to different people. He finally gets in touch with Dan Brenner (Robert Paterson) that works with the program to help people in Paul’s situation.

There is the problem of him being in the box. Paul calls the missed call and it is from his captor, Jabir (José Luis García Pérez) who thinks that Paul is a soldier. Paul thinks that Jabir is a terrorists. They both have misconceptions of each other. His captor wants to see him suffer and holds another fellow CRT member, Pamela Lutti (Ivana Miño) captive. He has two hours to get 5 million dollars or he will be buried alive. With only a cell phone with half of battery power left, a Zippo, a pencil, a faulty flashlight and a pair of glow sticks, he doesn’t have that much time left.

I thought that it was an interesting concept of all the action happening in a confined space like a makeshift coffin. I felt there was something not right about the way the action went. How could Paul be buried underneath the ground and constantly breathing hard, screaming, yelling? The oxygen would have run out fast by halfway through the movie. There was a moment in the movie where I said, “What the fuck?” The movie lost me for a bit.

Judgment: It was a nice experiment that needs a few tweaks.

Rating: 7.5/10

Inside Job (2010)

Inside Job won the Best Documentary award at last year’s Oscars over such notables as Restrepo and Exit Through the Gift Shop. I was surprised when it won, because I have never heard of the movie until it won. Like most documentaries, it was not played in regular theaters during 2010. Watching this movie made me angry that people are profiting over other’s suffering.

Writer/director Charles Ferguson takes a pointed look at the genesis of the economic meltdown in 2008 that lead to the recession that the world is now under. Matt Damon narrates all the keys components of how greed would drive people to do dangerous things that affect peoples’ jobs, homes and life savings.

It all stems from the deregulation of banks which have destroyed the way that they are being run. If there are no regulations on loans, then the head honchos wouldn’t gobble up private banks like a midnight snacks to grow bigger and bigger. Banks have borrowed money from the people who they serve to spend it on themselves, fellow business partners and their friends.

During that faithful days of September 15, 2008, Lehman Bros and AIG filed for bankruptcy. They knew that their clock was ticking down months before everything turned to shit. Nothing was being done about it. There were insiders that predicted the way that Wall Street conducted their business practices would result in an economic collapse of global proportions three years before it happened.

When the banks collapsed, trillions of dollars were lost, unemployment tripled, people lost their houses, and the top CEOs are ranking in millions of dollars to live off of it. Some of the people that were responsible for the collapse are currently serving under the current administration to help with the crisis.

It pisses me off that people could be so greedy and heartless that they would break the law or sense of mortality to stay rich. It boggles the mind that they are people struggling to sustain themselves that there are people who were responsible for it and have not been brought up on charges.

Judgment: If you have affected by the recession in any way, you must see this movie.

Rating: 9/10

Eat Pray Love (2010)

Maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic. It’s just the world that is and the only real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

I haven’t heard glowing remarks for Ryan Murphy latest directorial effort, Eat Pray Love, based on the best-selling novel. I was in the mood to see fluffy romantic comedy, because I was having a crappy day. Well, the movie did not put me in a better mood.

Julia Roberts plays a travel writer named Elizabeth Gilbert. She travels to the most gorgeous places in the world, but she doesn’t have the best life. Her husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup) is very unsure about what he wants to do with his life. It causes conflict with the two, because Elizabeth wants to have kids, but she sees that will never be the case. At a party, Stephen holds Delia’s(Viola Davis) baby like hold a big bag of poop.

Liz have an epiphany when she is reminded of the words from a wise man from one of the places she visited, Bali, Ketut (Hadi Subiyanto) that she will have a major change and that she will come back to find herself. Liz decides to leave her husband, but she winds up in the arms of a vegetarian actor, David (James Franco). Their relationship is on the fast track, but Liz reminds herself that she has either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy.

She wants to take a vacation for a year to find herself and find inner peace. Her loved ones think that she is a fool for doing such a thing. She wants to visit Italy to find comfort with herself, India to reconcile her mind and body and finally Bali to fulfill Ketut’s prediction for her.

I thought that the movie was going to be like Under the Tuscan Sun where a woman is in a crossroads in her life and she is trying to find herself. I get that what was Ryan Murphy’s intention, but it did not translate well on-screen to me. I saw glimmers of it here and there, but not that much to keep me interested in the story.

There is something about Julia Roberts that bothers me. I don’t know if it’s the way her face looks, those three veins protruding out of her forehand that freaks me out.

You have a solid cast with Richard Jenkins as Richard, a man from Texas trying to have a solace in an ashram or Javier Bardem as a businessman who is trying to woo Liz. The story was rushed is some ways and dragged on in others. I kept thinking throughout the movie, when will it be over? It was over two hours long. It felt like five.

Judgment: There was a choice of watching the theatrical or the director’s cut, I thought why bother with the director’s cut.

Rating: 4.5/10

Easy A (2010)

The rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.

— Olive Penderghast

Easy A is one of those that I wanted to see, but I was hesitant to watch. Maybe because that is could have sucked, just another chick flick or maybe the high praise for the movie would give me high expectations for it. A friend of mine wanted to watch the movie via Netflix Watch Instantly while I was over at her place. The movie was surprisingly good.

Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a typical high schooler. She doesn’t belong to a particular clique. She wants to find a date. She is interested in long-time friend, Todd (Penn Badgely) who is the school mascot, the Woodchuck, but she is too chicken to tell him how she feels.

Olives lies to her best friend, Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) about going on a “date” to get out of a dorky camping trip thrown by her parents, Rosemary (Patricia Clarkson) and Dill (Stanley Tucci)  to stay home alone. When Olive is grilled about the date until she lies to Rhiannon that lost her virginity to a college guy.

The news spread throughout the school like a virus when the ultra-conservative Marianne (Amanda Bynes) overhears what Olive said. The Christian group at school, which Marianne is the leader, want to help Olive and go to the English teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church) to talk about the shame she should feel when they are discussing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”

The kids at school suggest that she should wear an “A” on her chest, which she takes it as a challenge. Instead of being on the defensive about the rumor to stop it, Olive put more fuel on the fire. She changes her clothing and wears the A on her chest proudly.

A couple of the boys from school try to take advantages of Olive’s supposed reputation by paying her in gift cards to tell the school that they had slept with her. The fun and games are over when the accusations become out of Olive’s and could destroy other people’s lives.

The movie reminded me that I miss Dawson’s Creek. You have these kids that have this dialogue that no one would eve say, but it works in this movie. The dialogue is fucking hilarious. I wish that I could have been in that high school where everybody is cool and new age from the adults to the students to Olive’s adopted brother, Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins).

I really enjoyed this movie until the last act of the movie where it got into familiar territory that bugged me.

Judgment: This movie could be the next Clueless.

Rating: 8/10

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The Kids Are All Right is one the of movies that I regretted not seeing last year. I was kicking myself because I wanted to see the movie from my Julianne Moore blog-a-thon for LAMB Acting School 101. The movie was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay. After hearing the tremendous buzz around this film, I was a little disappointed with it.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) have been in a committed relationship for over twenty years. Like with every relationship, they have hit a plateau. Nic is the sole breadwinner of the family working as a doctor, while Jules is starting up a landscape architect business.

Recently celebrating their daughter, Joni’s (Mia Wasikowska) 18th birthday, their family dynamic changes when Joni and her half-brother, Laser (Josh) snoop around their moms personal belonging to find the identity of their birth father. The sperm bank calls sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo) to ask him if her would like to see his kids. He agrees.

Paul initial meeting with the kids comes off awkward as Joni is more receptive to getting to know Paul and Laser is more guarded. Laser lets the secret meeting with his birth dad slip when his moms question his relationship with best friend, Clay (Eddie Hassell). Nic and Jules think that the kids should not meet Paul again until they have a chance to meet him.

When the family meets Paul, Nic is weary about him whiles Jules is open to getting to know him. When the conversation turns to Jules business, Paul wants to hire Jules as his landscape architect for his overgrown backyard. The relationships between everyone changes when an indiscretion threatens to tear the family apart.

I think that screenwriters Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg have created a fully realized family that you are not bothered that the family has two moms.  I did feel that some plot points were not explored enough with Laser’s friendship with Clay, Paul’s flirt-flirt with Tanya (Yaya DaCosta) or Joni with her friends, Jai (Kunal Sharma) and Sasha (Zosia Mamet).

A couple of things really bothered me with the movie was the grainy-ness of the film. I don’t know if that was Cholodenko’s intention for that to happen or it was the transfer to DVD. Also, the indiscretion felt familiar, because it was a plot point in Queer As Folk. It was like okay.

Judgment: It feels like an accessible movie that everyone could enjoy.

Rating: 7.5/10

Let Me In (2010)

 Do you think there’s such a thing as evil?

— Owen

I wanted to see Let Me In for a long time, because I gave high praise for the Swedish version, Let the Right One In. I h ave no idea what prevented me from seeing it, but my other sister-in-law rented the movie — she loves vampire movies — and I told her that I wanted to see the movie. After she was done with that, she lent it to me. This happened after midnight and a full moon rising before my SIL festival was supposed to start. That might be why I was disappointed with the movie.

 The setting transforms from the desolate of Sweden to the stark black, gold and white landscapes of Los Alamos, New Mexico 1983. We meet a lonely boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is constantly bullied by Kenny (Dylan Minnette) and his cronies, Mark (Jimmy “Jax” Pinchak) and Donald (Nicolai Dorian). Owen dreams of the day to get back on the assholes that torment him everyday.

One night while looks out of his bedroom window, Owen sees a little girl, Abby (Chloë Moretz) and her Father (Richard Jenkins) moving into the apartment next door. He notices that it is March and she doesn’t have any shoes on.

The audience sees that the new neighbors are not what they seem to be. The Father stalks in the night to kill virile young men and drain them of their blood. A Policeman (Elias Koteas) tries to figure out who is killing this men solely for their blood.

Owen and Abby meet each other on the jungle gym in the courtyard of their apartment building. They begin to build a friendship while Abby helps out Owen with his bully problem and Owen keeps Abby’s secret from others.

To those people who have seen the Swedish version — which I have subtitled and dubbed — I thought it was infinitely better this version. I did stay faithful to the original, but it lost the hidden mysteries that were in the original. The origin of Abby, the relationship between Abby and her Father, etc.

Some things were changed for better, but mostly for the worst. I know that the screenwriters wanted to get rid of the peripheral characters, but those characters made the world more dangerous. You did not delve into Owen’s broken home and his parents relationship. It was barely touched on. It could have been great with the Virginia (Sasha Barrese) character and her transformation.

I felt cheated with this movie. I have no qualms in saying that the movie was at times boring to watch. The leads were very morose and monotone that I prayed for the movie to be over.

Judgment: There were so many chances for the film to be as good as Let the Right One In, but it didn’t.

Rating: 6/10

Just Wright (2010)

In this game every shot counts.

I have decided to start this “SIL Festival” because my sister-in-law has been busting my chops for not reviewing black movies. It’s not like I don’t enjoy black movies. My reasoning for not reviewing them as much is because they are not that many black movies to choose from. These movies are representing me and my culture. I don’t want to support a movie that is trash just because black people are in it. I want to see quality movies that are not Pootie Tang, Soul Plane or Car Wash. I saw that Just Wright was on cable over the weekend. Perfect timing.

Queen Latifah plays Leslie Wright, a physical therapist living in a fixer-upper house with her god-sister, Morgan (Paula Patton) who is determined to marry a NBA player and be a basketball wife. Leslie’s father, Lloyd (James Pickens, Jr.) tries to be the handyman of the house with disastrous results. Leslie’s mother, Janice (Pam Grier) constantly nags Leslie about finding a husband.

Leslie is a huge New Jersey Nets fan. She is following the winning streak of star player, Scott McKnight (Common), but Morgan is looking to score a baller husband. A chance meeting at a gas station changes the course of everyone’s life when Leslie is invited by Scott to his house for his birthday party.

Leslie thinks that she is vibing Scott when fate steps in the form of Morgan trying to scoop up Scott for her own. It seems to works. Scott falls for Morgan and they have a whirlwind courtship that lands them getting engaged.

Everything was going great with Scott being selected for the All Star Game, having a beautiful fiancéand possibly re-signing with the Nets for a tenth year when he injures his left knee. His whole life turns upside down when he loses his fiancé, career and self-respect. It wasn’t until a determined Leslie gives him the chance to build himself back up their relationship changes.

I was surprised that Scott was not portrayed as the typical NBA player with a huge ego to go with his huge contract. Scott was a humble, low-key, down to earth kind of gentleman that was not followed by an entourage full of agents, bodyguards, groupies and wannabe ballers. Common as Scott is a breath of fresh air and he is not bad look at either. I did enjoy the chemistry between Queen Latifah and Common.

Judgment: I felt that the movie was a little too sickly sweet and some parts for me.

Rating: 7/10

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)

We all have baggage.

— Ramona Flowers

Film nerds everywhere were almost salivating over the release of three-time Omie Award winning, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I was one of those people, but I didn’t have the dollars to watch the film at the time. No, wait, that was when I saw The Town instead of this, right. Big mistake that was. I was bummed that I didn’t get the chance to see it until now.

The movie starts with the classic Atari 8-bit making over the opening credits. You know that it’s going to off-kilter from there. The titular Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old nerd from Toronto that between jobs and is dating a high schooler named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott is the bassist in a band named Sex Bob-omb with lead guitarist, Stephen (Mark Webber), his morose ex-gf drummer, Kim (Alison Pill) with Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) hanging around them.

Hearing the band play obviously bad music, Knives is convinced that they are awesome and should go into Battle of the Bands to get a record contract from G-Man aka Gideon (Jason Schwartzman).

One day, Scott meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at a library. He falls hard for her and wants to know everything about her when they meet again at a party. He convinces her to go out on a date with her. What Scott doesn’t realize is that in order to date her, he has to get past her seven evil exes.

The movie is a Nintendo style video game come to life with the pop up points, life points, the way the exes explode when they are defeated. There is one thing that I didn’t enjoy was Michael Cera’s obvious stunt double that had a Raggedy Andy mop top on his head. That threw me for a loop.

It was nice to see something different in a quirky romantic comedy. I think that this movie is too cutting edge for me. Everybody seems to love the film. I like it. It’s probably going to be one of those that I have to watch again to fully appreciate it. It might happen with The Big Lebowski. Who knows?

Judgment: If you like to see a guy with the built of a Holocaust victim beating the crap out some people, this is your flick.

Rating: 7.5/10

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Forty thousand years of human language, and there’s no word to describe our relationship. It was doomed.

— The Ghost

I was interested in seeing Roman Polanki’s, “The Ghost Writer“. I wasn’t because of his arrest in Switzerland when the movie was in post-production. The movie came out in the film wasteland of the first three months of the year from the previous Oscar season the upcoming summer movie season. It was stuck in the middle with Shutter Island. I think that it was shafted in my opinion.

Based on the book “The Ghost” by Robert Harris, it deals with the death of a previous ghost writer that was supposed to penned former British Prime Minister Adam Lang’s (Pierce Brosnan) memoirs. Another ghost writer is summoned (Ewan McGregor) to finish what the previous ghost writer started.

This Ghost doesn’t know anything about politics, but the people interviewing him for the position: his friend, Rick Ricardelli (Jon Bernthal), Roy (Tim Peerce), Sidney Kroll (Timothy Hutton) and Jon Maddox (Jim Belushi) think that he would give the perfect outsider looking in perspective the manuscript needs to be a bestseller. He is hired for a month-long assignment that will get him $250,000.

The Ghost learns that Lang has a dirty past of transporting terror suspects to a secret location and torture them. He wonders if he is getting in too deep right out of the gate. He goes against his gut to travel from London to New England where Lang’s vacation house is located.

Arriving The Ghost meets Lang’s loyal secretary, Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall) who shows him around the compound. She has him sign a confidentiality agreement before seeing the manuscript which is not allowed to be removed from the premises.

Meeting Lang and his long-suffering wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), The Ghost wants to know why the previous ghost writer under such mysterious circumstances. The more he gets into the mystery, the more he realizes that it’s not just another writing assignment to him.

I have seen a number of political thrillers and yes, the movie have the clichéd reveals and twists, but there were some parts of the mystery that had me in bated breath. It was intriguing watching everything unfold the way that it did. I thought the unsung hero of the his movie is Olivia Williams. She should have gotten more attention for her nuanced performance as Lang’s wife.

Judgment: It was an enjoyable ride that I wouldn’t mind taking again.

Rating: 8.5/10

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