Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movie List - December 2011

Okay so, what with all the drama in my life from the past month, I'm just now getting around to my December movie list and also wrapping up the totals for the year.

1) Annie
2) The Family Stone
3) Burlesque
4) Melancholia - Really good but somewhat confusing film I saw at the OKC Museum of Art
5) We Bought a Zoo
6) Breaking Dawn
7) The Help

And going from my posted movie lists I only watched 205 movies last year. I would have thought it was more than that. But, I guess not. Needing sleep, money and sunshine probably put a damper on my movie time.

So, that's my 2011 wrap-up. Hopefully 2012 will be much better in so many ways.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Grey

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Why? Why? WHY did I go see this movie? Don’t get me wrong. It was good but my muscles are so sore from the incredibly intense scenes. I don’t know what I expected. Judging by the trailer I should have known what was coming. I was hoping there would be a little more to it. There was but only just. Oh! I remember now why I went to see this. Two reasons. It was free. And Liam Neeson. Enough said. I took my cousin, Leann, with me this time. I’m still waiting for the day I ask her to go to a pre-screening and she just laughs and hangs up on me.

This film is about a group of oil drillers in Alaska whose plane crashes in the middle of nowhere and those who survive not only have to find their way out but have to do so while being stalked by highly territorial wolves. That’s it. There’s not much else. I guess I should mention the poignant walk down memory lane that the men take while sitting around the fire. Other than that it’s wolf city, baby.

I’d like to give a big shout out to the writers of this film. It must have been extremely difficult to find other words to use as filler between expletives. I just discovered that this was based on a short story called “Ghost Walker”. It would have to be a short story because no one could stand over a hundred pages of F this and F that. Yeah, there was a LOT of craziness going on but come on people. Save the good words for when times are really trying (to put it mildly).

If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen most of the movie. If you haven’t seen it and think you might want to watch The Grey then skip the trailer altogether. To say this was intense is a bit of an understatement. We were completely unprepared for most of the bad parts. There were way too many jump-out-at-you scenes, a.k.a. cheap scares. Leann was a bit embarrassed about this but I’m still going to mention that at one point she screamed. I can tell on her because I know that I at least squeaked a couple times. If the people next to us hadn’t talked through the entire movie they might have laughed at our responses. It couldn’t be helped though. These film makers are evil. Evil I tell ya!

I can’t fault any of the men in this film as far as doing their acting job goes. I can, however, fault some of the characters. Two in particular ticked me off early on and I was actually hoping bad things would happen to them. I got my wish with one of them. I was really angry about the second. I’m gonna ruin part of the movie for you and say that this guy just gives up. He just sits down and tells the guys to leave him. He’d hurt his knee earlier and didn’t feel like he could go on. Why was I so mad about this? Had he stayed with them he could have slowed the wolves down a little bit. What is one of the main truths about surviving in the wilderness? You don’t necessarily have to outrun whatever is chasing you. You just have to outrun whoever you’re with.

I’m having a really hard time writing this as I don’t want to give too much away. I’ll just go ahead and break it down although it’s really unnecessary. Please keep the kiddos away from this movie. It's way too eeeewy!

Sex/Nudity – Ummm…no. They’re in Alaska in the freezing cold. Leann kept getting frustrated with Liam's character. As mentioned before, it's freezing cold. He was wearing this nice, thick coat and would NOT put the hood up. Just wouldn't. Crazy.

Cussing – Yes. It made up about 90% of the script.

Drinking/Drugs – Yes to drinking but I didn’t notice any drugs. There was a bar scene at the beginning in which this might be possible but that would be it.

Violence – YES! And it’s not pretty either. You’re mixing people with angry, hungry wolves. You know it’s gonna get messy. There is a lot of blood and it’s free-flowing in a couple instances. Gross. Spoiler Alert…Here is where one of the big rules of scary movies comes in to play. Do NOT, under any circumstances, take a pee when you’re all by yourself and something bad is after you. Just don’t. Nothing good can come of it.

Intense scenes – Definitely. Even after typing all this I haven’t been able to loosen up. I had to force myself to relax during the relatively tame scenes but it got to the point, with so many in-your-face scares, that I just couldn’t chill completely.

I’m not quite sure who to recommend this to. I will never see it again because of the cheap scares alone but I do have to admit that it was well-made. The landscapes were breathtaking and the director knew just what angle to use to get the biggest jumps out of the audience. So rude. Leann said to say that if you enjoy movies like The Poseidon Adventure, Alive, Towering Inferno, etc. then you’ll like this. I’m going with the stereotype and say that this is a man’s movie. If you want to sit around and watch what happens happen and then grunt about how you would have done things differently then this is the movie for you.

We did not stay through the credits. We were cold. We were sore and we had had enough. I think I’m going to take Leann’s advice and take a muscle relaxer or five and jump in a hot bath.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Underworld: Awakening

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“When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrioress Selene leads the battle against humankind.“ Summary from IMDB. Warrioress. Tee-hee. That makes me giggle. No idea why.

This review is going to be short and well, not so sweet. It’s about murderous vampires and werewolves. Go see Twilight if you want sweet. If you’ve liked all the other movies in this series you’ll, more than likely, like this one. There was lots more action than talking this time around and they catch you up pretty quickly instead of bogging you down with back-story. If you haven’t seen any of the previous Underworld movies, you might want to skip this review and watch them if you like Blade-type vampire films. If you don’t like vampire films at all, even the cute, huggable vampires, then this movie is most definitely not for you. “Run away! Run Away!”

The trailer for Underworld: Awakening is missing an important element. Yea! And I’m not going to share it with you either. Speaking of missing, Michael - not to be confused with my ex-husband - makes only a very brief appearance, dang it! I like Michael. When he’s not all vampiry/wolfy he’s all kinds of cute. The end of the film sets things up for yet another Underworld. Wahoo! Hopefully we’ll see more of Michael in that one.

This is rated R for a reason. These are not shiny, happy vampires and lovesick werewolves. These are I’d-just-as-soon-rip-out-your-throat-as-shake-your-hand critters. Even Selene. Especially Selene. I do not recommend this for children. Period. Exclamation point.

I actually stayed through the credits this time. Nothing happens. You’re welcome.

Contraband

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“To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.” So says IMDB. And so say I. I do like that this summary is missing something though. Am I going to tell you what? Nope.

My expectations for Contraband were a tad low so I can appreciate the fact that I ended up liking it. Granted, it’s a no-brain-required action/crime/thriller. It’s nice to not have to think every once in a while. I did guess who all was with the bad guys early on so be warned; the predictability is somewhat high. Fortunately, the oh-so-kind movie folks actually left some details out of the trailer. I love it when they do that. No sarcasm intended.

The acting was okay save for a couple of characters. Giovanni Ribisi as the drug lord, Tim Briggs, was so incredibly annoying. Minus the guns and bodyguards I don’t think I would ever take someone like him seriously; which begs the question, how did Tim get his position of power in the first place? He really is not the sharpest tool in the shed. The other two characters/actors who annoyed me were Andy (the brother-in-law), played by Caleb Landry Jones and Danny, played by Lukas Haas. The former was an idiot who should have talked things over with someone else instead of making his own decisions. The latter was a big whiner.

I did like Kate Beckinsale’s character, Kate Farraday. She does attempt to stand up for herself. Unfortunately, she’s going head to head with guys who are stronger than she is. I loved that she refused to put herself and her children in a car whose driver had been drinking. Thank you for that PSA in the middle of the film.

This film is rated R for good reason but here comes the breakdown anyway. Sorta.

Sex/Nudity – I don’t think so but I honestly don’t remember. Sad but true.

Cussing – Most definitely.

Drinking/Drugs – Yes, to the drinking and of course, to the drugs. The story involves a drug lord.

Violence – Yes. People get shot or beat up. Kate gets smacked around.

If you like action/crime/thriller-type movies you’ll probably like this. If you like Mark Wahlberg movies you’ll probably like this. If you like Kate Beckinsale movies you’ll probably like this but you’ll probably want to jump on-screen and smack the bad guys. I’m just sayin’.

I didn’t stick around to see if there was anything during/after the credits. I had yet another movie to watch.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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I meant to read the book and watch the original movie before I saw the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but neither of those things have happened yet and I really wanted to see this on the big screen. So I did. And I liked it. Most of it. I see now why this is such a popular book/film.

The movie opens to Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song”. Don’t be too impressed that I knew the name of the song. I had to ask Spike. I tried asking him what the name of the song is that contains the line “Valhalla, I am coming!” Didn’t ring any bells. Then I sang the battle cry. He knew exactly what I meant. Fortunately he’s used to me bursting in to song so this didn’t phase him at all. But, I digress. This music is played over what I thought were some really cool computer generated scenes but they became more and more disturbing as the song progressed. Still, considering the movie, it totally fit.

This is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just been found guilty of libel and ordered to pay a hefty sum which diminishes his life savings to almost nothing. Soon after, he is officially hired by Henrick Vanger, the patriarch of a well-to-do family, to write his (Henrick’s) memoirs. He is unofficially hired by Henrick to investigate the 40-year-old murder of his niece, Harriet.

This is also the story of Lisbeth Salander, ruled legally incompetent as a child, who is now a ward of the state (due to circumstances we discover during the film) and whose guardian has just had a stroke, forcing him to give up his guardianship. Lisbeth is now at the mercy of the state and the man who takes over as her guardian. Despite her upbringing, and possibly because of it, she is a talented investigator and is able to stomach evidence that many people couldn’t. Mikael needs an assistant so he hires the person who dug up all the information on him for Henrick. Lisbeth.

From the descriptions above it doesn’t sound too terribly exciting and certainly not close to 3 hours of exciting but it held my attention from the very beginning. There are some twists and turns and, though I hate to admit it, I did not figure out who killed Harriet before they were revealed.

The two things I absolutely did NOT like about this film were the three, yes three, rape scenes and what happened to Katt. Had those been left out I would recommend this to more people.

Once again, I liked pretty much all the actors. Daniel Craig (Mikael) stayed true to his contract (I made this up in a previous blog). We get to see him in only his unders. Come to think of it, we may have gotten to see him in his altogether from the back side. How on earth could I have forgotten that? Anyway… I don’t think I’ve seen Rooney Mara (Lisbeth) in anything else. I take that back. I looked her up on IMDB. I just saw The Social Network the other day and she plays the part of Erica Albright, the girl who dumps the main character at the beginning of the movie prompting the tirade on his blog about what a not very nice person she is. So there. In Dragon Tattoo she was completely convincing as the misunderstood private investigator with a horrible past. You get to see all of her in this film. I think the rating needs to be bumped up a bit. Christopher Plummer plays the part of Henrick Vanger. Is he becoming popular again? I think he’s been in several recent movies. Thank goodness the movie Priest didn’t ruin things for him.

I hated/loathed/despised Nils Bjurman, played by Yorick van Wageningen. I feel about him the way my dad feels about Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He mentioned one time that he can’t watch anything with Louise in it without thinking about her character in Cuckoo. I saw it. I completely understand. I will, more than likely, never be able to see Yorick in anything else without thinking about Nils. There is a special place in the underworld (no, not Kate Beckinsale’s) for people like him. Was I pleased with what happened to him? Oh yeah. And then some. Did I want to see it? Not especially.

Children should absolutely NOT watch this movie but I’ll go ahead with the breakdown anyway.

Sex/Nudity – A resounding YES to both. And adultery seems to be okay with everyone. I found it very odd how this was portrayed.

Cussing – Oh yeah.

Drugs/Drinking/Smoking – Yes. Yes. And…Yes.

Violence – Definitely. The rape scenes and a couple other scenes including violently (I probably didn’t need that adjective but you get the point) graphic crime scene photos. What Lisbeth does to the murderer is kinda gross too. Okay, no kinda about it. It was gross. All of these scenes were hard to take but the one that made me lose it in the theater happened to an animal. No, I didn’t hurl but I was so glad the closest people around were about 10 rows in front of me.

If you can overlook the rape scenes (I really don’t feel right even typing that) and you like a good thriller then this is the movie for you. If you are 17 or younger (I’d actually say under 21 at least but I don’t get to make the rules regarding ratings) or you’re one of my relatives (or most of them anyway), I wouldn’t recommend this. Despite what I said in the first sentence of this paragraph you might want to consider reading the book first; although my imagination does tend to be a bit more inventive than what I see in most movies. If you do decide to brave it and would like a heads up regarding the rape scenes so that you can either excuse yourself or hide your eyes and plug your ears for a minute or two send me an e-mail and I’ll let you know when to run for cover. I wish I’d had a warning.

I have no idea if anything happened during/after the credits. I had to hustle my tuckus to the next movie.

P.S. I did a little extra research on the author of the trilogy, Stieg Larsson, and found that the books were published posthumously. The reason for the graphic descriptions of violence against women in the tomes was due to guilt over Stieg witnessing a gang rape when he was 15 but doing nothing to stop it. The girl’s name was Lisbeth and when he tried to apologize for not coming to her aid she refused it. It has been said that these books are his way of apologizing.

P.P.S. And on a lighter note, this movie was brought to you by Coca-Cola, Marlboro cigarettes, Wikipedia, Google, Purell and, most especially, McDonald’s. I like trying to catch brand placement in movies. Ramen may be in there too but I don’t remember actually seeing the bag.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Man On a Ledge

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Man on a Ledge was another free pre-screening that I would not have minded paying for. I took Spike with me this time and thank goodness it wasn't one on which we felt the need to walk out. I'd have never heard the end of it. Trust me. Ask him about the coffee pot I inadvertently made him miss out on.

Let's see what IMDB has to say about it:
"As a police psychologist works to talk down an ex-con who is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, the biggest diamond heist ever committed is in motion..."

Well, yeah. For the most part anyway. If by "biggest diamond heist ever" they meant "biggest diamond" heist then it's probably true. Neither knowing how big the diamond in the movie is nor how big the real biggest diamond in the world is I have no way of judging. But it's a pretty big honkin' diamond. Does the size of the diamond have any relevance to this movie? Possibly. And I just caught another mistake in the summary. If by ex-con they mean guy who just escaped from prison then yes, yes he is. If that was a typo and they meant ex cop then they were right on the money. Oh! And it's not the rooftop. It was the 21st floor. Did they even watch the movie?

I can't say a lot about this film without giving anything away. I will say, though, if you haven't seen the trailer, don't watch it before you see the movie. Please, please, please. I managed to avoid the trailer on this one and then came home and watched it after. So glad I did. Why do they give so much away? I just don't get it.

There wasn't a whole lot of action in Man on a Ledge but it didn't really need it. It kept my attention most of the time. The only reason I can't say "all of the time" is because, once again, I chose the seats by all the people who needed to make comments during the show. In all fairness to me, we got there early enough that when we sat down no one else was anywhere near us. And in all fairness to them, they really weren't all that bad. At least it wasn't constant.

I'm not going to go into character descriptions as I liked pretty much all of them. I do have to mention that Ed Harris does play a good bad guy. And I totally sympathize with the girlfriend. I don't think I'd ever love anyone enough to go in to that vent. No way. No how. But, maybe I just haven't met the right guy yet. And speaking of the girlfriend, let me just say that the men out there are gonna like her...a lot. Especially in one certain scene. There's no nudity but knowing how guy's minds work, there doesn't need to be.

Let's head to the break-down, shall we?

Sex/Nudity - None.

Drinking/Drugs - Definitely drinking. I didn't notice any drugs.

Cussing - Yes. In English AND Spanish.

Violence - Yes but not gross. A man gets shot in the chest and you see the blood on his shirt a little bit later and there are some fist fights but that's about it.

Bull hockey moments - A few. I can't lie. There were a couple scenes in which the audience didn't quite believe that would/could ever happen. But once you get past that it's still a good movie.

Intense scenes - Well, yeah. Sorta. That's what kept us in the theater. Especially watching him walk back and forth on that ledge. Knowing the klutz I am, I would've fallen the minute I set foot outside the window. Would've made for a very boring movie.

The one damper I have to put on this film is that it is highly predictable. Spike is usually HORRIBLE about figuring out whodunnit in movies even though he's a very intelligent person. He had this one sorted out relatively quickly. Okay, two dampers. They left us with a few unanswered questions. And the techs did NOT sweep the entire room for prints. They didn't check the one area he neglected to clean. Despite that I still liked it. The only people I wouldn't recommend this to are young kids because of the rating and the things mentioned in the breakdown. I will see this again.

P.S. I have no idea if there was anything during or after the credits. We got swept up in the tide of people leaving and I didn't get to see. Sorry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goodbye, Bobo

On December 27th, the greatest fur-baby known to man passed away. You were my friend, my confidant, my woobie, my comforter. You slept in my hair, along my back (sometimes wedged between me and the back of a chair or the sofa), on my belly, curled around my arm. Not all at once, mind you. When I was at home you spent most of the time near me. If I was watching TV and sitting on the couch at least one paw had to be touching me. When I got home from work you nagged me. And nagged me. And nagged me. When you wanted food you nagged me. When you wanted to be picked up you nagged me. When you wanted to go outside you nagged me. Now you're gone and it's too quiet.
Dad used to tease me about squeezin' the stuffin's out of you. It's true. If I was sad you'd stick your slimy nose in my face to show that you were there for me. If I was excited about something you'd look at me as if I'd lost my mind then shake your head and leave the room. If I was happy you'd sit next to me and purr your quiet little purr. When I talked to you you'd talk back. When I got on to you (you know you really really liked to walk under my feet as much as possible) you'd go hide but come back a few minutes later to make amends. You liked to ride around on my shoulders. I think it made you feel tall. You hated all men except my dad. You looked like Elvis because you walked around with your lip raised. (He was missing one of his top fangs so his bottom one pushed his lip up. Very entertaining for people but sometimes very painful for him. The men thing and the tooth thing had something in common. But I won't get in to that.) You hated it when I went out of town and did everything you could to prevent it. You seemed to forget each time that I could easily lift you out of the suitcase. And you voiced your anger upon my return at being left but forgave me quickly. I hate that I only had you for a couple hours after returning from this last trip. You cuddled in my lap for a little while and then I left you to go see a movie. I just didn't know what I had accidentally set in motion.

We went through so much together. You jumping out of the third floor window when you were just 3 months old. I'm not saying you tried to end things right then and there but jumping out a window right after losing your manhood did make me wonder. Riding across the ocean in an airplane. Riding in an even smaller airplane and making everyone listen to you voice your opinion from the cargo hold. Several moves across the country. Living with Chance, the stupid cat who tripped me while I was walking downstairs. I truly believe he was in cahoots with "the man". A divorce. Living in a teensy tinesy apartment with absolutely no room to move. A niece (mine) who was too small to hold you but did it anyway. Thunderstorms (you hid under the bed until you realized that I'd protect you). Snowstorms (you loved these because the really good ones meant I'd be staying home). Earthquakes (who thought I'd ever be able to say that?). Your buddy,Gizmo, setting his own tail on fire. (Don't ask.) He's not the brightest of critters.
This house just isn't the same without you. No one grouses at me while I'm cooking in the hopes that I'll give in and share my food. No one leaves a perfectly good tiled kitchen to throw up on the living room carpet almost every morning after scarfing down their food. No one scratches on the door while I'm trying to relax and take a bath. No one shreds my arms when they're only trying to show that they're content or my legs when they're sitting in my lap and something startles them. The only thing I really minded was the puke. That was just gross. All of these things could be trying at times but without them your absence is so much more obvious (that's not the word I was looking for but it's the best I can do).
Words will never be able to express all that you meant to me. You couldn't quite make the loneliness go away but you sure did put a big dent in it. One of the books I'm reading contained the following description. “A cat that you’ve shared a bed with, until the feel of that fur, that small body is like your pillows, or your sheets, just a part of a safe night’s sleep.” I think that author must have met you at some point in time because that description is most definitely you. I loved you so much and let you down at the very end. I am so sorry for your pain but I thank you for letting me say goodbye. I'm also sorry that you died having to listen to my spaz crying. That is so not the way to go. I would've sung to you but for some reason my singing always made you leave the room. So rude.

No fur-baby will ever be able to take your place. You were one in a million and I am so thankful for the sweet lady in Belgium who found you for me. To say you will be missed is the understatement of the century but I know you'd understand. Goodbye my friend and thank you.

P.S. To those of you who read my blog I promise I'll return to our regularly scheduled programming soon.
P.P.S. I'm really not a bad singer. At least that's what Gizmo tells me.