Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Julie & Julia

As stated at the beginning of the movie, Julie and Julia is about 2 true stories, put together in parallel.

Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, is a customer service representative in post-9-11 New York City at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation who answers calls about victims and complaints about the new proposed tower.

Julia Child really needs no introduction. But if you lived under a Chia Pet your whole life, then Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, is a famous chef that was on public television and taught the world to cook French foods with her unique voice and accident-prone style mannerisms.

In the movie, Julie needs some direction in life as she hates her job and her so-called friends, so her husband convinces her to do something, like blog about something she enjoys, like cooking. Julie then goes on to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook in 1 year and blog about all of them.

Meanwhile, we follow Child's life in France with her husband who works for the American government. She went to a famous French cooking school, then began teaching cooking classes, and then collaborated with friends to write their own cookbook.

Meryl Streep was phenomenal in this role. Of all of the movies that I've seen her in, this is easily the best. She characterization of Julie Child was dead-on. The adorable Amy Adams, on the other hand, plays a bit of a whiny obsessed girl who can get a little bit annoying at times, but I always try to remember she's playing a character.

At one point in the movie Julie mentioned that they could make a book or a movie about her experiences. I immediately thought that would be a great idea, then I realized that I was watching that movie. Duh.

Streep was nominated for many Best Actress Awards, winning a Golden Globe for her performance, and the movie received a nomination from the Golden Globes for Best Picture.

Directed by Nora Ephron, no relation to teen idol Zac Efron, the movie also stars Stanley Tucci as Child's husband, and Chris Messina as Julie's husband. Julie and Julia is 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for some potty language and some minor sexual imagery, though I think they threw that in there just to get the PG-13 rating. Otherwise, the movie was harmless.

I really enjoyed this movie and thought most of it was hysterical. Streep had me laughing all the time. And Amy Adams is always nice to look at. My only criticism is a couple of jabs at Republicans. One was deserved as it dealt with Joe McCarthy, who was a paranoid idiot. The other was totally unnecessary and even illogical. You'll see what I mean. Despite this, I give Julie and Julia 4 stars.

Monday, January 25, 2010

District 9

I finally got around to watching District 9. The previews present the movie as a suspenseful science fiction movie of intellectual proportions. But they didn't show the bugs.

The first 10 minutes of the movie had me glued. It was really well done and, indeed, was very suspenseful. It was basically a series of interviews about the events looking in hind site.

Then they showed the bugs and then the Wikus Van de Merwe character (Sharlto Copley). Is it just me, or did he seem like one of Eric Idle's characters from Monty Python? I could totally picture him pitching commercials or being the tourist in European Vacation. And this made me laugh.

And then the people starting communicating with the "Prawns", who did not speak English, but rather a guttural squeaking. Fortunately, everyone understood each other. And I laughed some more. Is this a comedy? And then the Nigerians moved in. Hysterical. And I'm pretty sure this was not the intent.

On a serious note, I did find a parallel between the treatment of the Prawns and the treatment of illegal immigrants, which our government prefers to call undocumented workers (what if they're not working???).

Nevertheless, the movie is about how the South African government has decided to move in to District 9 where the Prawns are living and move them to an alternate location in an effort to rid the area of crime and alleviate the health concerns. However, during the search, seizure, and removal, Wikus is infected by some liquid and slowly becomes one of the Prawns. Now the government wants him, too, but for experimental purposes.

Now Wikus must fight for his life and has a different perspective on the life and adversities of a life as a Prawn.

Directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces and the upcoming A-Team movie), District 9 is 112 minutes long and is rated R for bloody violence, language, and bugs.

Also starring in the movie are Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, and Sylvaine Strike, all actors I've never heard of.

I got a good laugh at the expense of this Sci-Fi movie, but the storyline isn't too bad. If you have time, you may get a kick out of it on multiple fronts. I give District 9 3 stars.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In The Loop

I love politics. I love humor. Combining them would be like should be like the olfactory orgasm that a dog gets when he hangs his head out of the window as you're passing a garbage dump. But, sadly, this was not the case.

In the Loop is a dark comedy about the interactions of different people as the United States and the United Kingdom are preparing for war against a Middle Eastern country. The movie isn't about the President / Prime Minister, per se (though I hate that saying), it is about the people that make it happen. It's the ministers, the operatives, the generals, the secretaries, etc...

Staring in the movie are James Gandolfini as Lt. General George Miller, the arrogant career military guy that isn't taking any crap from any civilian policy wonk, and Peter Capaldi as the perpetually cursing arrogant Scottish civilian policy wonk who wants to rip everyone's head off and poop in their neck.

I never really got into the plot of this movie and soon lost interest. It may have had something to do with the constant cursing and threats upon everyone. I just didn't find the abusive behavior funny.

Directed by Armando Iannucci, In the Loop is not rated because of excessive smack talk and cursing. The movie is 106 minutes long.

Not the worst movie I've ever seen, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I give this one the dreaded 2 stars. Avoid at nearly all costs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Another in a series of movies about war in Iraq, The Hurt Locker follows Bravo company, a group assigned to disarm IED's (Improved Explosive Devises).

The plot is not very complex and there really isn't much of a story-line in the movie. It's more on the lines of a documentary which is being reenacted. I couldn't find information stating if it was based on a compilation of true stories, but I suspect that it was. The storyline was written by Mark Boal who was embedded with a bomb squad in Iraq.

The movie follows several long sequences of events when IED's are discovered and must be disarmed. There is a lot of tension throughout the movie as Iraqi spectators gather and watch the bombs being disarmed. No one knows if any of the spectators have remotes to explode the devise or if they will come under fire during their mission.

I anxiously watched the movie from the edge of my seat wondering if the next bomb would detonate while it was being disarmed. Tension remained high throughout the entire movie. Additionally, there is a sequence where the company inadvertently rendezvous with a British outfit, one character which is played by Ralph Fiennes, and they suddenly are engaged in a firefight with insurgents from a distant home on the hillside.

The movie is a bit long - about 2 hours and 10 minutes, but I had no trouble sitting through the entire thing. The Hurt Locker is directed by Kathryn Bigelow (ex-wife of Cameron Bigelow, director of Titanic and Avatar), and she hasn't directed a big movie since K-19: The Widowmaker starring Harrison Ford in 2002.

The Hurt Locker also stars Jeremy Renner as William James (the disarmer), Anthony Mackie as JT Sanborn, the leader of the group, Brian Geraghty as Owen Eldridge, the somewhat incompetant rookie, and Christian Camargo as John Cambridge, the social worker who is concerned about your feelings.

Filmed in Jordan and Kuwait, The Hurt Locker is Rated R for war violence and language. Reading about production of the movie, it was excruciatingly hot during filming and they were shot at several times while filming only 3 miles from the Iraq border.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this movie. I didn't leave hollering "Get 'er done, America!" like a Southern redneck. The movie really opens your eyes to the stress that our soldiers face every day in war and the movie does a great job of making you feel like you are in the middle of it.

I give The Hurt Locker the coveted 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Not much for romantic dramas, I decided to give this one a try as it came at romance from a different angle. An attractive young lady named Beth (Rose Byrne) who always wears skirts moves into an apartment building and is intrigued by one of her cute neighbors Adam (Hugh Dancy). However, after some awkward interactions, Adam finally admits to her that he's not crazy or weird, but rather he suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of Autism.

Up to the challenge (only because she finds him cute), Beth does some research and decides to become romantically involved with Adam, though she quickly learns of the limitations of their relationship. Adam, meanwhile, continues to go through his own challenges in life, many of the things that we would take for granted.

Meanwhile, Beth's big-shot father (Peter Gallagher - remember him and his eyebrows in Summer Lovers with Daryl Hannah?) is up on corruption charges and may go to prison, adding to the stress of her life, a life in which Adam is unable to provide the needed attention and affection that Beth needs.

The movie did not end as I had expected, but it did end nicely. I think the movie does a good of shedding light on Asperger's.

Directed by Max Mayer and also staring Amy Irving, Adam is Rated PG-13 for thematic material, which I still don't understand, sexual content, and language. The movie is 99 minutes long.

Not a blockbuster, nor the best movie you'll ever see, it did earn the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. I enjoyed the movie enough to give it 4 stars.
My Zimbio