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Archive for the ‘at the movies’ Category

Apr-3-2010

at the movies: greenberg

this movie can be dismissed as  another middle aged fantasy about a 40 year old gen x’r who is involved with a 25 year old girl…but here’s what i appreciated about it. and its not what you think. the movie gets the kafka-esque, unbearable lightness of getting older right…not old as in the winter years…but the late summer and with the fall around the corner. what do we make of these years? we don’t think we’re that old but as ben stiller as greenberg discovers at a party with 20 somethings…we are not cool. kids think that we are smirk worthy.

this is a movie about being 40.

there are a few tracks outlined for the 40 somethings: ben’s brother who is living the dream with wife, kids, baller house and 7 week vacation to vietnam(7 weeks????); ben’s best friend who has given up youthful things including drugs and other risky behaviors for a shot at domestication; ben’s ex who is now old and uncool….and then ben who is stuck doing….nothing. since the brother’s trajectory is not accessible all, what will the rest of us choose?

greta gerwig is fantastic as florence….a sweet, lost everyday girl…she gets it pitch perfect as a real 20 something who says things they would say including things that make no sense…there’s no overscripting or overacting. this movie is just as much about her as it is about the title character. she’s just as confused about being 20 as greenberg is about being 40. too many choices…too much time…not enough answers and if there are any, our defenses are on dismissal.

since i am turning 40, this movie was haunting especially in the connection and romance level. ben/greenberg has nothing in common with florence but she’s the one he wants. kind of. when he tries to romance his ex who he is on equal footing with, its forced and she doesn’t want anything to do with him either. so what’s the point of acting your age?

there is also the burden of carrying your regrets. the energy and hubris of youth does not always serve us and your former friends are now here to remind you of the sum of your choices.

there are not a lot of answers….that’s the post modern way. but there is a lot of emotional connection. also the post modern way.

i liked this movie a lot and would watch it over again to get all the nuances and layers. for example, i could have reviewed the movie as most have as a shrink analysis.

i don’t think i would buy this movie. and i must warn less profane readers that there are some strong sexual scenes though they are played for laughs…or is it for sadness. theresa would have thought that there was too much talk.

Posted under at the movies
Mar-13-2010

at the movies: shutter island

its a mystery in multi-dimensions perhaps even through the fourth wall …the question during your stay is what’s going on?

there’s a missing inmate and leonardo has been tasked to find her. then weird things start to happen. it is a tense, atmospheric thriller that would benefit from a better editor as its too wordy for its own good.

there are only a couple of possibilities that you have been trained for if you have watched movies before. don’t analyze too deeply and you’re in for a trippy treat. get too smart and you’ll be bored early on.

as an aside, i love the opening scene where leo, best known for his boat movie is shown getting seasick.

this was ok. some parts worked and too many other parts dragged. theresa would have been alternatively bored and annoyed. i may watch it again to see if the threads really do line up with the ending but i don’t think i will buy this.

Posted under at the movies
Mar-6-2010

at the movies: hurt locker

one of my friends asked what i thought of the hurt locker and my response was huh? didn’t i do a review of this already? but turns out another casualty of fatherhood is memory. decreased sleep has turned me caveman like. so here it is before it loses the oscar to avatar. last year at the same time, i posted about waltz with bashir thinking for sure that it would win and make me look like a genius. instead, it was more caveman than prophet.

i associate this movie with what my friend with a degree in film told me: when a movie starts, rachet up the anxiety. the audience loves to squirm and feel it deep in their soul. and that is what hurt locker does. it is unsettling, air gasping anxiety.

the main character defuses bombs. and i’ve read how bomb handlers describe their jobs: boring. after awhile, you know what to do and becomes mundane. but to the audience watching, it is still nerve fraying.

what makes this movie unique is first the much publicized female voice with kathryn bigelow as the director. but i can’t tell if the talk leans girls can do action too or look what girls do with action. the stress levels are so off the charts especially on a large screen, i didn’t care about the sex of person behind the lens.

a more important perspective is how it portrays war. it is neutral…as neutral or un-heavyhanded as possible. both hawks and peaceniks will find ammunition.

i liked this movie but it may have been too tense. its like the strongest roller coaster that also bruises you up a bit. theresa would not have liked it. i may watch it again for the rush but not at night because i’d be up for awhile.

Posted under at the movies
Feb-27-2010

at the movies: avatar 3d imax

winter means more independent than blockbuster fare though i’ve been spending most of my time catching up on indie releases from late 2009 than from early 2010.

usually: no indie here. just blockbuster.

what can i say that hasn’t been said about this movie? and who needs me to say anything? who hasn’t seen this yet? if you admit that you haven’t, people look at you like you’re backwards. …like you just said that you still use an outhouse instead of indoor plumbing. jeremiah stone is going to respond to queries with “no avatar. but i do own an outhouse.” even osama bin laden has seen avatar. mr. stone said mr. qaeda probably saw it in cave-max.

we waited for real imax or classic imax at the lincoln center amc.  if we’re going to see it, we want the deluxe experience so that we only have to see it once. a few imposter imax’s(smaller screens)have cropped up in the city and around the country. but at our genuine imax,  it had been sold out since it came out including 2 or 3a screenings! we discovered from imax-philes that it is one of the biggest imax’s in the world with one that rivals it existing in australia. these nerds drove all the way from western pennsylvania to catch it at our local theatre that we frequent. even after so long, the rush was fierce: i got these tickets on a monday for a saturday evening showing and they were sold out before thursday.

so…the movie.

incredible visuals. average to eh story.

i don’t need to see it again. it didn’t do that much for me beyond the spectacle. theresa was bored but also said it was pretty. but 3d tv’s may sway my mind in the future.

(the future, conan?)

Posted under at the movies
Feb-20-2010

at the movies: up in the air

winter means more independent than blockbuster fare though i’ve been spending most of my time catching up on indie releases from late 2009 than from early 2010.


not many would consider this indie fare because of the recognizability and the commercial success but the sentiments and elements are there. for those who protest, i ask if you thought everything wrapped up nice and neat with the story lines? i argue that its open ended as anyone’s story, fiction or non-fiction.

the movie features george clooney as himself. really and not really. single, cool, calculated, compassionate on his terms, sexy, fun, clever, oceans 11, globe trotter. his job is to fire people so that the workers do not go postal on the real bosses. along the way, he has to train an idealistic intern for the job and maybe even in life. also, a mirror image female foil serves as a mirror for george as the three of time philosophize about what is worth living for.

its also a travel, road trippy type movie which is a plus.

brilliant. i want to watch this again as soon as i can for the great humor, dialogue and sharp dissection of post modern life in 2010. it has a message without being preachy. its hopeful and heartbreaking in the same breath. it might make you squirm a bit and serve as your ghost of christmas future. maybe that’s why it was released around the holidays.

i would like to own this one day so that i can watch this over and over again.. theresa thought it was awesome. the hype about it being a new classic is real.

Posted under at the movies
Feb-13-2010

at the movies: the road

winter means more independent than blockbuster fare though i’ve been spending most of my time catching up on indie releases from late 2009 than from early 2010.


this was not on my watch list because of the brutality advertised. a post apocalyptic road trip with father and son attempting to carry the flame of life amidst cannibals, vicious gangs and similarly desperate people.

i am glad i got to see it.

first, it was not as gore-y as projected. there are some dark parts….maybe many dark parts…depending on your tolerance level…but much of the darkness is created in your mind rather than on the screen. perhaps even more disturbing but also haunting in a meaningful way.

second, its not just gloom for gloom….the purpose of life and the value of life is reflected upon…the beauty and preciousness of life is explored in this crucible of despair at the end of the world. is life worth living for the sake of living? or as battlestar galactica asked-are we worthy of existence? does our way of life justify our existence?

third, there are some tender, magical movie moments that arise out of a love of a father for his child in grave danger. perhaps i saw this at just the right time.

i would watch this again! there are some memorable episodes worth seeing and learning from again. there are also some scenes that are cringe worthy because of the lack of humanity. i doubt that i would keep a copy on my shelf. theresa would take a pass on such sadness.

Posted under at the movies
Feb-6-2010

at the movies: brothers


winter means more independent than blockbuster fare though i’ve been spending most of my time catching up on indie releases from late 2009 than from early 2010. i watched brothers based on jim sheridan directing, reportedly great acting turned in by the cast and for a chance to hear the new u2 song rolling through the credits. too bad, this was not a great sheridan outing and the theatre accidentally turned off the sound after the last scene. luckily, the performances did create engagement…but not throughout.

the trailer does a good job not giving away everything though the basic plot structure can be gleaned from it.  two brothers, one respected and one black sheep are the focus of the film. the beloved brother is sent on another tour of duty while the tolerated brother continues to waste his life away.

during a flight mission, the soldier brother is captured but is thought to be dead.  the rest of the film chronicles the transformation of both siblings resulting from this including their eventual reunion and  relationship there after.

while many will complain that the movie was plenty long, ironically i think it isn’t long enough. the passage of time is essential to transformational epics and there weren’t enough connective tissue moments to show the nuances and development.  for example, the time from mourning to life returning to normal via almost slapstick comedic episodes transitioned too quickly. and too suddenly after that, the family was brought together again. more scenes would have allowed us to linger in each emotion.

natalie portman is miscast. she is too attractive and thus distracting. in fact the movie makes constant reference to her radiance as if everybody knew it too.

i don’t think i would watch this again. except maybe to hear the u2 song. but i probably will just find the song on itunes. theresa would have been bored.

Posted under at the movies
Jan-9-2010

at the movies: a serious man

its at this time of year that a lot of indie movies come out in time for oscar consideration…and usually my favorite time of year to watch obscure movies no one else will talk about. having a baby changes a lot but i’ve still been able to sneak in some time to catch up on some indies released pre-christmas

thankfully, the previews do not give away too much and i won’t either. i know sometimes people are frustrated that i give sparing details on the films i review….that’s on purpose! i like being able to discover a film with very little exposure.

i decided on seeing this movie based on the coen brothers at the helm and the subject matter of figuring out the world from a biblical(in this case jewish)perspective when the crap hits the fan.

the world is mad but we tolerate it as long as things are moving along for us. but when things don’t, as the lead larry gopnik experiences, then we are forced to figure out issues like meaning and purpose…and god? the problems he/we/all y’all face are both tragic and humorous in even painful doses. but is there anything more than what is on the surface? this dark comedy muses and philosophizes.

so this is not for everyone…..liked no country for old men? there will be blood? i heart huckabees? being john malkovich? synecdoche, new york? you’ll like this. never heard of these movies? tickets for the alvin and the chipmunks are plentiful.

on a personal note, larry visits a number of rabbis with varying degrees of experience, motivations and spiritual maturity. its dead on.

i loved this movie…and would watch it over and over. its deep, metaphoric, laugh out loud in the way life is laugh out loud(ie seinfeld and curb your enthusiasm). i think theresa would like it too but just not as much as i did. i might pick up this gem as i doubt anyone else will have this to borrow.

Posted under at the movies
Jan-2-2010

at the movies(holidays): fantastic mr. fox

i live a few contradictions or at least a few things that don’t quite fit. i celebrate the holidays as holy: days as in God is vital and these are not just days off. but also i embrace the substitutes that my non-believing friends may indulge in while i am in my house of worship.

the new house of worship….the new synagogue is the movie theatre. this has replaced the old place where people gather on the weekends and holidays…where they are taught reality and ethics, much like how sunday school worked for me back in the day. consider how chick flicks inform us about how relationship and marriage ought to be.

i frequent both houses of worship….secular and spiritual. it is the intersection of the two that i am drawn to.

this is my long winded musing as to say that holidays means movie going!

this for me is the perfect movie.  realism through the prism of surrealism. the joyful melancholy of life. wes anderson. children’s movie not made for children.  madness. it appeals to my sensibilities.

i recoiled at the desciption that this was a cartoon or even an animated movie. its stop motion with puppets that can only be done for love or loopiness. certainly not for loot, though things like this can make money. but unlikely for a payday…so i’ll assume its love that powers the visuals that live up to the nothing you’ve ever seen before cliche.

its a caper film ala ocean’s 11 starring mastermind george clooney trying to go clean but he can’t resist the art of the steal. its always about one more gig. one more deal. one more comeback. and why the cuss do we give it in the first place.

as always with wes anderson, its about feeling comfortable in your own awkward self while finding the juicy, abundant beauty in the mundane.

i will buy the criterion edition of this film and watch it over and over. it is likely the only dvd i will buy in 2010 while on my dvd fast. the one exception claimed in 2009 if it does come out on criterion. if not, i will likely pass until the special edition arrives.  i will make zoe memorize it by heart much like my other daughter, stephanie has already.

theresa thinks the movie and joseph are fantastic. she sees a lot of me in the fox.

Posted under at the movies
Dec-19-2009

at the movies(holidays): christmas carol in 3d imax

i live a few contradictions or at least a few things that don’t quite fit.  i celebrate the holidays as holy: days as in God is vital and these are not just days off.  but also i embrace the substitutes that my non-believing friends may indulge in while i am in my house of worship.

the new house of worship….the new synagogue is the movie theatre. this has replaced the old place where people gather on the weekends and holidays…where they are taught reality and ethics, much like how sunday school worked for me back in the day. consider how chick flicks inform us about how relationship and marriage ought to be.

i frequent both houses of worship….secular and spiritual. it is the intersection of the two that i am drawn to.

this is my long winded musing as to say that holidays means movie going!

i was not planning on seeing this but theresa and her dad wanted to see ninja assasin and i am not down with gore fests. later, they said that they did not like their selection either. we also had theresa’s younger cousin with us so i took her to see a more kid friendly option.

this was great! it is imaginative, literary, moving and life affirming….just like good old fashioned movies used to be. i had a magical, holiday, christmas-y time and what’s amazing is that i know this story. who doesn’t? scrooge, 3 spirits of christmas, tiny tim…….i know what’s coming and it still did it for me. can i confess that i had tears forming?

the visuals are lush and i got to see it in 3d and imax(well…fake imax…smaller screen but still pretty powerful). computer drawn human beings have never looked realer…the genre has evolved past the scary mannequin look. the 3d is not gimmicky but rather adds texture drawing us into a real world.

i would watch this over and over again(in 3d and imax). i would consider this as a great christmas tradition right up there with other classic movie renderings of the same story.  i think theresa would love it too. and she hates fake christmas.

Posted under at the movies