October 31, 2012

Hyde Park on Hudson - Alice Tulley Hall

Mike: The New York Film Festival is going on right now, and as usual, we're pretty much sitting it out. For a few reasons - not much to see, prices are too high, and tickets for the stuff we do want to see are gone before they go on sale to the general public. The first screening of Hyde Park on Hudson was sold out, until I happened to notice that new tickets went on sale later on. At $25.50 that was a bit steep, but whatever. The movie was just okay but I'm glad we went because we met Sting and Wallace Shawn at the end (they were waiting to get into the next screening).

So Bill Murray as FDR. It pains me to say it, but it doesn't really work. At times he's convincing, but at other times he seems incredibly miscast. It's a decent performance, and despite its Oscar double whammy (historical figure AND handicap) I doubt we'll see Murray competing for the gold in January. Murray is a brilliant actor but he has a certain style. And while he's someone with incredible range, the role of FDR is a bit outside of it.
Equally miscast is Laura Linney, who is in her forties and here plays a character in her forties... but who somehow behaves like a teenager. It added to the overall inconsistency of this film. Way more impressive and delightful were Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt, and Samuel West and Olivia Colman as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. In fact, the storyline involving the British visitors was way more interesting than the plotline involving the Murray-Linney relationship.
But it's not at all terrible. The film takes full advantage of its beautiful setting. And while Murray and Linney don't deliver their best performances, they're sufficient. And that's basically what Hyde Park on Hudson is - sufficient, but not the greatness I had hoped for.

Erica: I agree that Bill Murray has had better performances. I think this movie will get overlooked by the Academy in January for Daniel Day Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln, but only time will tell. This movie was ok. The acting was fine, not great and Murray as FDR is definitely not believable (I have thought that since I saw the first trailer). We did get to see it a few months early (despite paying $25 per ticket) so I guess there is an advantage there. Meaning, it is one less movie we need to see on an already overcrowded plate of Oscar hopefuls come December/January. The highlight of the screening was meeting Sting (you can't say that everyday). I have to agree with Mike that the British royals storyline was WAY more interesting than FDR's and the best part of the movie is the picnic between the president's family and the royal family. That was very entertaining but the rest of the movie was a typical historical movie and some parts felt like it dragged a bit too long. 

October 30, 2012

Looper - UA Court Street 12

Mike: We invested in a bunch of passes for Regal Cinemas, which are good for any film that's been in theaters more than 12 days. So Looper was one of the films where we kind of held off for a bit, in order to take advantage of our discount passes.
Even though it had been out for over two weeks, Looper nearly filled up a medium-large auditorium on a Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, the audience mostly kept quiet. Mostly. The couple behind us kept whispering to each other, trying to figure out the plot.
Looper really builds up well, creating a fascinating future world and an interesting time travel plot. But about three quarters in, you begin to realize that there's no way to satisfactorily resolve the film. Happy ending or unhappy ending, a film needs to end in a way that makes you leave the theater with a fulfilled feeling. Looper, cool as it is, doesn't do that, building to an ending that you probably won't like.

Erica: As Mike said, Looper is a really cool film....until the last half hour. Disappointed with the ending, you leave puzzled as to why the director chose to end the film the way he did. Also, it takes a while to get over the prosthetics that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wearing to look like Bruce Willis (which I personally do not even think he does). The rest of the movie is really good and very well done. If there was anyway to end the movie differently then you would have a great movie instead of a good movie.

October 29, 2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever - AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13

Mike: Celeste and Jesse Forever offers a new kind of relationship comedy drama, chronicling the post-divorce experiences of a young couple who are still in love. Much like this Spring's The Five-Year Engagement, it offers plenty of laughs but keeps the story a bit more grounded. Films like these are breathing new life into the tired romantic comedy genre.

Erica: I enjoyed this movie as it was a fresh take on the romantic movies that seem to always be the same movie. Instead of seeing the story of how 2 people fall in love and get married, we follow a couple who recently got divorced and their love for each other after the fact. This was a sweet, charming movie that is recommended for those who want a fresh take on a romantic comedy.

October 26, 2012

Cloud Atlas - AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13


Mike: We got another invite for a Warner Bros. media screening, so we happily took advantage of it. Especially since it was Cloud Atlas, the latest film from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, which I'd really been looking forward to. I'd heard mixed things. People seem to be kind of split on it, with some folks really loving it and others dismissing it as uneven. Personally, I loved it and it didn't disappoint me in the slightest. But I can totally see where those dismissive arguments come from. Me, I loved just about every minute of it, and thought that the enormous scope and spectacle matched its incredible ambitions.

Erica: First thing before I continue...this movie is LONG (2 hours 52 minutes). So before you run out to the theater, take that into consideration. Luckily, it didn't feel that long. I did feel like it dragged on a bit and easily could have had its run time cut down. I think the highlight of the movie for me was seeing each actor playing 7 or 8 different roles as you wondered who they were going to be next. We all know Tom Hanks can act, he has Oscars to show for that, who surprised me the most in this movie was Jim Broadbent who is always a character actor in British films. His characters, I feel, good the most laughs and best responses from me (although  may be biased as he was in Hot  Fuzz). The stories are engaging and the three hours, luckily goes by fairly quickly.  I feel there is something in this movie for everyone, but with all the mixed reviews and the very long run time, only time will tell.

October 18, 2012

Taken 2 - UA Court Street 12

Mike: Erica was out of town and I had a free Regal ticket (from our That's My Boy fiasco) in my wallet, so I walked a few blocks down to the UA Court Street 12. It was Saturday afternoon on opening weekend. Normally not something I'd do, but this was a movie that Erica had no interest in and I'd have to find a timeslot to see it in by myself. So off I headed, fully aware that it was going to be crowded and rowdy.

As it turned out, it wasn't that bad. Both the crowd and the movie. The room was filled about 80% to capacity, but the audience kept it together. A rarity. I didn't even see anyone with kids. The movie was on par with the first Taken. If you go see the movie, you'll get exactly what you expect. I was fine with that, since I kind of dug the first one. The premise is a bit different so that it's not a complete retread, but there is one minor issue: The bad guy is really, really dumb, and his motive (revenge for the deaths of his sons in Taken 1) is equally dumb.

October 16, 2012

Bachelorette - VOD

Mike: There's often a reason that films go the VOD route. Sadly, Bachelorette is no Margin Call. To me it seemed that Bachelorette couldn't really make up its mind on whether it was an outright comedy or an indie dramedy, resulting in something that had funny moments and even some poignant scenes but was ultimately uneven. It boasts some good performances from Lizzy Caplan, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Scott, but one of the problems is that most of the characters aren't likeable.

Erica: This was not a super memorable movie. I wasn't thrilled by this movie at all. It was alright, not great. To me, it seemed like they were just trying to cash in on the success of Bridesmaids. Even though I did not like Bridesmaids it was an original and fresh idea with a cast of comedic women front and center. Bacheloreete was just a mess and wasn't even really that great of a movie. I didn't really care what happened to anybody. It wasn't as raunchy as Bridesmaids or The Hangover even though it tried to be. It even had the token fat girl like in Bridesmaids. I say skip this movie in favor of something that will actually make you laugh.

October 15, 2012

3,2,1...Frankie Go Boom - VOD

Mike: We're big fans of some of the people who appear in this film, like Chris O'Dowd and Lizzie Caplan, so we were anxiously awaiting Frankie Go Boom (as it was titled before the VOD-friendly 3, 2, 1... was added (that makes it show up at the top, get it?)) to premiere on video on demand. It's set to come out in theaters in a few weeks. We like seeing movies on demand because it saves some money - the cost was $10, which is less than a single movie ticket. And because it's time efficient. To see a movie at the theater, you have to go there, watch trailers, wait, watch the movie and then go back. We like going to the movies, but we get plenty of that experience, so it's nice to see a new movie sometimes and save the money and 1 1/2 to 2 extra hours.
So Frankie Go Boom had a great cast and the storyline sounded funny. We were expected to be amused at the very least. Boy were we wrong. Frankie Go Boom was one of the unfunniest films we've seen this year. Nothing in this film works, and it's altogether boring as hell. What a disappointment. If the studio is hoping for word-of-mouth to propel this stinker for its theatrical release, they're in for a major letdown. 

Erica: This movie is just awful. I was expecting this movie to be really funny and it just wasn't. To be honest, I don't really remember much about this movie that was memorable and the scenes with Ron Perlman are extremely disturbing. The movie is good in theory and concept, but not in execution. I say skip this movie. It is definitely not worth the money (VOD or otherwise). 

October 05, 2012

The Trouble with the Curve - Cobble Hill Cinemas

Mike: As a Clint Eastwood superfan, I can't tell you how I excited I was when I heard that he was coming out of semi-retirement to act in another movie. And as a Clint Eastwood superfan, I can't tell you how disappointed I was after seeing this movie. It's not terrible, but it's loaded with schmaltzy sentimentality straight out of a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Eastwood seems to be reprising his Gran Torino character, which was interesting in that film but here borders on self-parody. Amy Adams has the more meaty part, and every moment on screen she seems way below her league (and that's coming from someone who generally doesn't care for Amy Adams). Justin Timberlake isn't in the movie too much, but still provides the majority of the film's countless eye-rolling moments (beware of eye-strain).
But even cheesy Hallmark films are sometimes fine family entertainment. I tried not to be so cynical while watching this movie and ultimately I enjoyed it. But considering it might be Eastwood's final performance, it's a letdown.

October 04, 2012

Arbritage - Cobble Hill Cinemas

Mike: Richard Gere is one of those actors who just keeps making movies and usually gives a good performance but too often is overshadowed by his co-stars. Finally, Arbitrage gives him his moment to shine. Arbitrage might not be the best movie - there are some questionable plot points that leave it a bit more to be desired - but it's sufficiently engaging and highly recommended simply due to Gere's performance.
I went to see this movie by myself because Erica wasn't interested, so I caught a matinee at Cobble Hill. Unlike the UA Court Street 12 a few blocks away, Cobble Hill still offers decent matinee pricing. There's no stadium seating and some things are a bit outdated, but the crowds are a bit less ghetto. Fair trade-off.
While seeing Arbitrage, I did have a strange experience - one that's never happened to me before. Two 40-something women sat two rows in front of me. They came in together but sat three seats apart. One of the women kept looking at her phone, which was annoying, but you know me - I'm not one to be confrontational, so I just sat and boiled. About two-thirds into the movie though, something peculiar happened. One of the women got up to use the bathroom. While she was gone, the other woman took out her cell phone, turned on the camera, pointed it at the screen, and began recording the movie. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This went out for at least five minutes. I was considering going into the lobby and alerting a staff member, but then the other woman came back and she stopped. I guess she was just recording the movie for her friend so she could see what she missed after the movie. Crazy...

October 03, 2012

Dredd 3D - AMC Clifton Commons 16

Mike: I never read the comics, but I did see the much-derided Stallone film from 1995. And while I thought it was bad, I did enjoy it. I thought the commercials and trailers for this new Dredd looked absolutely awful, in particular Karl Urban's facial expression. It looked as if he was doing a bad Stallone impression, which puzzled me because I thought they were trying to distance themselves from that film as much as possible. I remember first seeing it on the cover of Empire Magazine or Total Movie Magazine a few months ago and could not believe that A) they were going with this, and B) they put this on the cover of a magazine. My expectations were pretty low.
Karl Urban still looks hideous with that helmet on, and he keeps looking that silly for the duration of the movie. But aside from that, Dredd's a pretty fun film. It's sort of a throwback to Verhoeven's RoboCop and sci-fi films from the early to mid nineties. In terms of action scenes and sci-fi go, Dredd really delivers.

October 02, 2012

End of Watch - AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13

Mike: I think Erica has a problem with Jake Gyllenhaal, so this was another one I had to go see by myself. I tend to dislike found footage films and think the faux-documentary style of The Office and Modern Family is way over-done at this point. End of Watch begins with the premise that everything is being taped for a school project, but it quickly becomes apparent that the handheld cameras aren't the only angles you see. Then what's the point? It's silly, but I went with it anyway, even though I was constantly distracted by the mix of camera angles. End of Watch is at its best and its worst when it doesn't take itself too seriously. When it's just a cool cop movie, it's great. When it gets a little carried away with the buddy cop relationship and other cute scenes, it's embarrassing. Overall, I had a good time but I would have preferred to see it told in a more traditional way. And without Anna Kendrick.

I think I had a problem with the entire cast....