Okie kiddies, it's movie review time again. Here's a run-down of just some of the movies we've watched in recent weeks along with my comments and recommendations.
1) Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This is a quirky film about Peter, a songwriter/composer who lives with film and tv star Sarah Marshall. Sarah breaks up with Peter after a 5 year relationship and so he decides to take a vacation to Hawaii to help mend his broken heart. Unfortunately Peter chooses the same island and resort that Sarah has also decided to visit. Putting the obviously ridiculous coincidence aside, this is a funny little film. It drags a bit in the middle (as many films do) and the ending is predictable. However, there are both funny and odd moments in the film that kept our interest, like the surfing instructor who lays out the same line to all who visit his stand, and some of the moments with customer service employees at the hotel who take pity on Peter. Then there's the very comedic crying scenes of Peter and his lonely cereal bowl moments. And then there's Sarah's new love interest, british rocker Aldous, whose huge ego and blatant self-centeredness coupled with his "love and peace my dear friend" complexity make him quite funny. His ability to stay calm in all situations only adds to his character. And one last little addition: there's nudity in the film, only it isn't female nudity. It's the male this time. Front and back (or as Mr. N pointed out "they showed his penis THREE TIMES"). Quite refreshing when we're so bombarded with female butts and boobs in most films.
2) Definitely, Maybe. This stars Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) as Maya, a young girl whose parents are going through a divorce. While visiting her father, she wants to know how her parents met and how many other girls he dated. (In one scene, she asks her dad, who has just told her about 3 women he slept with prior to marriage, "Dad, what's the male word for slut?" Dad comes back with "They haven't come up with a name yet.") Much of the film dives into dad's past, where Maya has decided to turn it into a game whereby she tries to guess which of the women he is talking about turns out to be her mother. A decent film to rent. Kind of smarmy in a disney sort of way in a few scenes, but overall it's a storyline that kept us wanting to know who the mother is. And the obvious question: Will mom and dad's love for Maya be enough for them to stay together or is divorce inevitable?
3) A Streetcar Named Desire. Ok, so I probably don't need to write about this one or say whether I recommend it or not. If you haven't seen it, see it. If you have, see it again. It's a dark and disturbing look at love and obsession. With the acting brilliant, the black and white film providing the perfect mood (wish more films would opt for that) it's no wonder it's a classic. And for those who haven't seen it and are a Seinfeld fan AND you have wondered why Elaine yelled "Stellllllllaaaaaa" during the episode where she and Jerry went to Florida and she was looped up on pain pills, watch the movie and you will understand. And who cannot resist the young Marlon Brando and that amazing body. Those biceps. Y U M M Y. Although by the end you hate his character so much, he ain't so hot to look at.
4) Burn After Reading. Classified as a "dark comedy", this Coen brother's film (Fargo was another of their films) stars Brad Pitt as a bumbling/sweet gym dude, Frances McDermond as his co-worker and partner-in-crime and obsessed with getting plastic surgery, George Clooney as some married Department of Treasury employee obsessed with sex and discreet affairs and John Malcovich as recently ousted CIA operative whose wife is having an affair with Clooney. Upon his termination/quitting (depending on how you look at it), Malcovich's character decides to pen his memoirs. His wife, thinking that filing for divorce will land her a permanent relationship with Clooney, secretly gathers her husband's financial records and somehow his memoirs end up on the CD. Thereafter, the CD ends up being accidentally left in the locker room of the gym where Pitt and McDermond work. Pitt thinks they're on to something top secret upon finding out the author of the records is Malcovich. He and McDermond cook up a plot to hold the CD for ransom and will return the information to Malcovich in exchange for $50,000. A series of mishaps soon follows. Part of their attempt at the big money includes going to the Russian Embassy, thinking the Russians would be interested in the top secret U.S. Intelligence information they assume is on the disc. This film really held my interest from the get-go. Brilliant comedy. And Pitt and McDermond are excellent together. I hadn't seen Pitt pull off a comedic role like this and I have to say, he was very very good at it. However, the dark really took over near the end with a gruesome murder scene and at that point, the humor dissipated and was replaced by violence. So I guess I am saying watch and enjoy 3/4 of the film but be prepared to watch the comedic element abruptly end and (possibly) prepare yourself to be turned off by the violence in the remaining scenes. Of course I realize some enjoy such films, so it may be to some people's liking. It just seemed to put on the brakes and go off in a whole new direction that didn't follow the energy of the film up until that point.
5) Tripping The Rift: The Movie. This is some CGI/animated flick that Mr. N chose. I watched maybe 10 minutes of it and was not entertained. I found the material stereotypically offensive in its juvenile-like references to sex and the world at large. Mr. N fast-forwarded through most of it and was equally as unimpressed. I would think this would suffice to the male/under 25 crowd. Likely with a lot of beer drinking going on to boot. Not impressed.
6) Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. Another Frances Mcdermond film (she now tops my list of favorite actors). Set in 1930's (or so) London, Guinevere Pettigrew (Mcdermond) has once again lost another job as a governess. She seems to have difficulty in keeping her opinion to herself. In order to avoid homelessness, she plots her way into taking the job as a social secretary for an American actress, Delysia Lafosse, who despite being a bit flighty and holding a rather high opinion of herself, is nonetheless innocently good hearted, well-intentioned and likable. Never having worked as a social secretary before, Miss Pettigrew must deal with the competing love interests of Ms. Lafosse, help her keep her social and professional life in order and ensure Ms. Lafosse selects the best man. She pulls it all off beautifully, despite some real comedic mishaps and near-misses. She also finds herself faced with the possibility of finding love herself. A wonderful, refreshing, charming, comedic film with wonderful costumes and even more wonderful music (jazz and big band).