Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fall and Football and a Cry for Help


I am so hopelessly far behind on my reviews. Nine, possibly 11 movies (if you count the 2 foreign films I saw), to be exact. I do plan on catching up but I'm going on vacation soon so they're going to have to wait a little while longer. By the time I get them posted they probably won't be showing at the theater any longer. I hope that's not the case. I haven't seen any terribly bad movies lately. It's been kinda nice. Oh wait. I lied. I did see a very painful to watch movie at the OKCMOA (OKC Museum of Art for those who were wondering) last weekend. It was called Elena. It was Russian with English subtitles and it won all kinds of independent film awards and it was supposed to be film noir and it was awful. A lot of nothing happened. If I hadn't had a ticket to the film that followed I would've left but since I had to be there anyway... So, to sum up, I will catch up. Don't watch Elena. Unless you like to be bored. Then watch away.

Now to the point of today's rant...I mean...post. It is THAT time again. No, not State Fair time. That's in a few weeks. It's football time! Wahoo! It's my absolute favorite time of the year followed very closely by any time it snows. Just keepin' it real. We had OU season tickets most, if not all, of my life until I was in college and my parents moved out of state. I wish wish wish we'd been able to keep them but since my sister and I moved out of state shortly after, it was less than financially responsible to hold on. Fall meant/means OU football to me and even though it's been years since I've been to a game the season still feels like something's missing without my Sooners. In person, not TV. It's not the same no matter what Spike (He's a K-State alumni/fan, so what do you expect?) or anyone else says. Sooner fans are just awesome. I don't recall ever sitting near anyone who made any of the game day experiences bad. We were all there to support our team. We screamed for the touchdowns. We booed for the bad calls. We jumped up and down. We pounded our feet. We even hugged if something absolutely spectacular happened. We made that stadium roar! I was there for all that but I was there for the band too. I was there for the Drum Major Strut. I was there to see him run down the field while performing a back bend and practically drag his big, furry hat on the turf. If you've never seen this you are missing something fun. I was always excited to be at the games but it was that drum major who sent my heart in to spasms. That shouted to me, "This is game day and you are here! Welcome home!" Go Sooners!!! "Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner!" Everybody sing!

What does all this have to do with you? The OU part? Maybe not a lot if you're not a Sooners fan. I just wanted to share a much-beloved childhood memory. We're actually here today to talk football...movies.

I attempted a favorite sports post a while back and it sunk like a lead ball. Apparently I made some wrong choices. I think it's time I made amends but I need some help. I am going to spend this season watching as many football movies as I can. What I need from you is your favorite football movie of all time. I also want your not-my-favorite-but-you-still-should-see-this football movies. They don't have to all be the serious Rudy or Remember the Titans type movies. If Necessary Roughness is your favorite, shout it out! I promise I will watch each and every one, if they're available, and then share what I've decided are my [possibly new] favorites. I will even watch Brian's Song again, if it's on your list, even though I'll be a sobbing mess by the end of it. If you have a list of so so so incredibly bad football movies send that list too. I can share the ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WATCH THIS warning with the other 2 people who voluntarily read my blog. Please leave your favs/not so favs in the comment section below. I have mine set to "Monitor" as this is a family-friendly site so it may take a while for yours to appear. As long as it's clean it will show up.

I want to become immersed in the gridiron. If I can't go see my Sooners in person I'll watch them on TV and then watch your movies to share in the victories and defeats. It's gonna be all football all the time. Until hockey starts. Then they have to share me. So, send me your lists and I'll get to crackin'.

"O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A ay. Our chant rolls on and ooooonnnn!"

P.S. To you OSU fans out there, please note that I cheer for the Cowboys too...as long as they're not playing OU. My grandma (one of the biggest sport fans ever!!!) taught me that it's okay to be an Oklahoma fan and not have to choose until Bedlam. I just can't share many OSU football memories other than OSU band day when they invited different Oklahoma high school bands to play during half-time. Organized chaos at its finest. Just don't ask me to sing the OSU fight song. I know it not.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Savages (R/131 Min.)


The heat in Oklahoma has been a tad overwhelming as of late so instead of killing my a/c in order to keep cool this past Saturday (okay, so now it was 2 Saturdays ago), I took advantage of AMC’s air conditioning instead. I saw four movies and managed to pick ones that weren’t too terribly bad. Yea, me! But!!! If I did have to choose which movie was the worst, Savages would be it.

Savages is the story of O, Chon and Ben, a woman and the two the boys she is in love with. Yup. That’s right. A love triangle if you will. And a love triangle if you won’t. The boys grow primo pot for medicinal (and not so medicinal) purposes. A big drug cartel in Mexico heard about their booming enterprise and wanted in on the action. They ever so kindly invited Chon and Ben to become a part of their operation and share the knowledge. When the boys declined the offer, the head of the cartel had O kidnapped. The head of the cartel apparently doesn’t quite dig what the boys will do to get O back.

The movie opened with O (Blake Lively) narrating. She explained that just because we hear her it didn’t mean she’s still alive. This automatically made me think she survived because the film-makers seemed to be going out of their way to trick us. Those sneaky so-and-so’s.

As mentioned above, Blake played the part of O, short for Ophelia. She was the female (obviously) part of the love triangle that is O, Chon and Ben. She was so absolutely the clueless damsel in distress. Or she’d just killed too many brain cells doing drugs. You be the judge. The only time we saw any spunk was when she spat on someone. O, you go, girl. For some reason Blake, as an actress, bugs me. I have absolutely no idea why. From everything I’ve heard about her she seems like a genuinely nice person. And she’s a FOODIE! I really want to like her acting. But I digress. O appeared to be clueless about what her boyfriends do. She knew they sold pot but that seemed to be where her knowledge ended. I would think that, in the drug world, they would either keep her completely in the dark or tell her everything. I would be wrong.

Chon was played by Taylor Kitsch of whom, as you might recall from previous posts, I’m not a huge fan. For the same reason I’m not a huge fan of Blake. No idea. Chon was in the military and served overseas; permanently changing his way of thinking. He was the bruiser of the group. If Ben can’t talk someone in to paying what they owe for the drugs, Chon goes in and gets it. He has no problem beating the stuffings out of or killing someone.

Ben (played by Aaron Johnson) was the pacifist of the group. He abhors violence in any form which, as you can imagine, came in handy when trying to help rescue his sweetie from the thugs in the drug cartel. I was there to see an action film so Ben sort of faded in to the background for me. He was basically the 2nd damsel in distress.

Salma Hayek is Elena, the head of the drug cartel. While Elena can be quite civil, and even sympathetic, she doesn’t balk at allowing people to be tortured in very disgusting and painful ways. Of course, if it wasn’t disgusting or painful it wouldn’t be torture. She seemed to be untouchable but, at one point, inadvertently mentioned her Achilles heel. Whoopsy. Fortunately the boys were paying attention.

The part of Elena’s head henchman, Lado, was played by Benicio Del Toro…and his hair; neither of which were fun to watch. John Travolta played Dennis, a cop sitting on both sides of the fence. He was so incredibly sing-songy and whiny. I didn’t care for him much either.

The one actor I really liked (Demian Bichir) wasn’t in the movie for long and I don’t like that I liked him seeing as he was another of Elena’s top guys. Demian played the part of Alex, a loyal member of Elena’s cartel. Very bad things happen to Alex. Very, very bad things.

I should have led with this little factoid but this is most definitely NOT a movie for kids. It earned its R-rating. Let’s see why:

Sex/Nudity – Sex. Most definitely. O had sex with both her boys; individually and altogether. There was also a rape scene (short, but there nonetheless). Despite all the lovin’, none of the bits and pieces were shown. I thought we were going to make it through without seeing anyone’s parts and then they went and showed the upper portions of Lado’s lady friend. Why was this necessary? Did they really think men wouldn’t like this film if they didn’t get to see one pair of boobies? Ridiculous!

Drinking/Drugs – Yes and Yes! The alcohol was minimal compared to the drugs. I knew going in to this that it involved pot and other drugs but it bothered me that they made it look good. Not good enough that I want to jump on that train. It’s just a part of their lives like smoking but one step further. I’d worry about kids getting the wrong message but, once again, kids should not be watching this movie!!! Of course, we saw the bad side of drugs too so that evened things out a little bit.

Cursing – Yes!!! I tried to keep track but gave up. I was really surprised by Salma Hayek. She had a potty mouth big time. Comparing it to 21 Jump Street there wasn’t as much but there was still a lot.

Violence – Yes. And lots of it. The movie opens with men getting their heads cut off with a chain saw. We didn’t see it happen but we heard it and saw the after-effects. During an excessively brutal torture scene I think I saw/tried not to see a guy’s eye hanging out of the socket. Yuck! Once again, it wasn’t the blood that made me almost gag. It was the spit. What on earth?!?! It could have something to do with the fact that I didn’t watch most of the gory scenes.

Despite being apathetic towards a good number of the actors, I still thought this was an okay movie for what it was. I’m not going to recommend that anyone run right out and see this but if you’re in to drugs, sex and violence you might want to rent it. There really wasn’t anything that makes me say, “You must see this on the big screen!!!” Even the 2 or 3 car explosions weren’t big-screen-worthy.

The one thing I absolutely disliked about this movie was the hostage exchange scene. I don’t think I would have ever had any desire to see Savages again but that scene clinched it. I HATE scenes like that. The only time I’ve ever liked that kind of scene was in Run Lola Run. If you’ve seen that film then I just ruined part of Savages for you since it’s basically how the entirety of Lola was filmed. I would recommend that movie (but not for kids). It was kinda fun. If you really want to see Savages I would suggest waiting ‘til it comes out on DVD so you can rent it or go to one of the cheap-o showings. I’m glad I did.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hope Springs (PG-13/100 Min.)

Here’s a good start to a blog post (picture that with the new sarcasm font). I’m pretty sure this review is going to suck pond water but I’m going to try anyway. Tonight I went to see the movie Hope Springs. I knew there were going to be uncomfortable and, more than likely, sad scenes due to what I saw in the trailers but it also made it look as if it might be somewhat funny. If you saw the trailers, that’s all the funny you’re gonna get.

Arnold and Kay are in a rut. Unfortunately, Kay is the only one of the couple who recognizes this fact. (I know couples like this. I’ve been part of a couple like this.) Kay cashes in one of her CDs and spends $4000 on a week of intensive marriage counseling. As you can imagine, being the clueless boy he is, Arnold is less than thrilled about this little surprise. The counseling is uncomfortable, to say the least. And if you’re thinking the title of the film gives anything away please note that Hope Springs only has to do with the name of the town through darn near most of the movie.

I saw this by myself, no surprise there, and there were parts I was a little uncomfortable with. It’s one thing to watch a movie in which a couple is having sex but this was on a completely different level. I’m not talking porn here, people. I’m talking the struggles of a couple who haven’t been intimate in nearly five years and are trying (at least one of them is) to find their way back. Oy!

Hope Springs starred Tommy Lee Jones as Arnold and Meryl Streep as Kay. As I’ve mentioned before, I kinda like Tommy Lee. There’s just something about him. I wasn’t feeling it as much in this movie though. He did too good a job at being the thoughtless, gruff, jerk of a husband. He seemed to only notice Kay when she put his food on the table or turned the TV off and sent him to bed…in a separate room. Or when she said or did something he didn’t approve of. He was very demeaning and I didn’t care much for him at all. Kay was basically there to keep him from being alone and self-dependent. He did actually put forth some effort at one or two points and I thought it was very sweet but until then I lost any fondness I previously had for Tommy Lee. Oh! And one scene alludes to the fact that it's not her, it's him but it NEVER explains why! So frustrating.

I’m not an overly huge fan of Meryl Streep. Yes. It’s true. I never have been. Do I hate her acting? Absolutely not. I think she’s a good actress. She’s just not someone for whose movie I’d line up. Wait. That’s not fair. I pretty much won’t line up for any movie unless there are fewer than 10 people in front of me. Back to Meryl. I think she did a great job in this. Kay mentions, in one of the counseling sessions, that Arnold never touches her. She meant more than the brief peck on the cheek as he’s walking out the door. He doesn’t hold her hand or hug her or make any of the little but oh-so-big gestures. The therapist told them he was giving them homework. They had to go back to their hotel and just hold each other for a while. Kay started to tear up and my heart broke for her. What must her life have been like if something that simple could make her cry? Oh wait. I’ve experienced that first hand. Maybe that’s why it hurt so much. Wow! Sorry for that brief confession. There were a few times when I wanted to just shake her because of all of the wishy washiness but mainly because I’ve been there too. I was that person. Yuck! I don’t like resembling characters in a movie unless they’re happy, beautiful, skinny people. True story. Let me [quickly] state for the record that as much as I’d like to blame everything on Arnold, he was not the only one at fault in the relationship.

Steve Carell was the therapist. I thought that with Steve in the movie it had to be funny. Right? Have you seen Dan in Real Life? Less funny than that. “You’re a murderer of love!!!” Sorry about that. Flashback to Dan. Steve just wasn’t funny. And he wasn’t supposed to be. It was so weird seeing him straight. You know what I mean. He was the cause of some of the more squidgy [for me] scenes. I can’t even begin to imagine being asked some of the things he was asking. Outside of a slumber party, I mean. I think I remember having one of those. Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if real therapists ask questions like that in which case it doesn’t make me question that you hear about so many couples (or parts of a couple) who don’t want to go to counseling. I think I’d be all, “That is SO none of your beeswax!” Or something a little more adult.

There is absolutely no reason to take a child to see this movie. There is absolutely no reason a child would want to see this movie. It’s just not a very good idea. Despite that, I’m going to break it down for you.

Sex/Nudity – No nudity but at least one attempt at sex and one success. Just keepin’ it real here. There’s also a self-help scene and a very sad-attempt-at-a-movie-theater scene. This film may be about couples’ therapy but it seemed that the basis of it was sex.

Cussing/Cursing – Not much cussing but quite a bit of cursing. What’s the difference? Well, in my world cursing involves God and they involve God and Jesus often in Hope Springs. I am happy to say that while cussing doesn’t affect me as much as it should, cursing most certainly does. There is absolutely no place for it in any movie.

Drinking/Drugs – There was a bar scene in which Kay had a couple glasses of wine and something a little stronger. I didn’t catch what it was. Kay and Arnold shared wine and champagne at the hotel.

Violence – Just violence of emotions. No one was struck or intentionally hurt physically. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Intense Scenes – Of a sort. As mentioned previously, I’ve seen sex scenes before but what they showed here seemed as if we were being let in on something extremely private and personal. I felt like a voyeur. Not a very good feeling.

I spent my [five minute] drive home trying to figure out who I would recommend this movie to. Should I recommend this to perfectly happily married couples so they can look at it and laugh that they have it so much better? No. What if it brought up an inkling of a doubt? I don’t want that on my conscience. Should I recommend it to couples who are likewise in a rut? I’m not sure. If it would open some eyes then I say, “Yes! Go see this movie and mend your apathetic/lackadaisical ways!” If it would cause more hurt in one or both members of the couple then I say, “Please stay away unless you think it’ll make you feel better knowing that someone out there understands.” I am going to totally ruin this and tell you that it does end well but the getting there was as painful for me as it was for the characters. Almost anyway. All the happy in Hope Springs happens in the last few minutes and the credits. I’m not sure the hour-and-a-half of drama and hopelessness was worth it. If you’re thinking of going to see this alone…don’t! Drag a friend along with you. It’s got to be less depressing to have someone there to share in the experience. I hope.

P.S. Hope Springs was brought to you in part by: Coldwater Creek, Barnes & Noble, Sprite, lots and lots of liquor (I couldn’t read the labels), EconoLodge, Dr. Pepper, French’s Mustard (I recognized the bottle but didn’t see the label), ESPN, Dasani and last, but not least, Coca-Cola. I think I’ve figured out where they got the funding for this movie.

P.P.S. Looking at the movie poster I have to comment on a couple of things. "A comedy by the director of The Devil Wears Prada". I want to know who thought this was funny. If it was you...okay then. And then, "Fall in love again this August." This makes me think of movies like You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle where it's a cotton candy kind of romantic story. This movie? Not so much.