Archive | April, 2010

‘Sherlock Holmes’ Review

30 Apr

Sherlock Holmes

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams

Director: Guy Ritchie

Director Guy Ritchie has an old detective story to thank for being the vehicle that finally showed him some box office success.  Sherlock Holmes, starring the versatile actor Robert Downey, Jr., came out swinging and is another impressive character for Downey to add to his expansive resume.

The recent retelling of the famous detective focused on Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law), as they try to solve the mysterious reemergence of presumed dead criminal, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong).  Hanged after performing black magic on citizens of the town, Blackwood is determined to take control of the world with his powers.

Holmes is also faced with the appearance of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a self-professed criminal, with whom he has a lengthy past.  Adler has more than one reason for reappearing in Holmes’ life and she may end up causing more harm than even she realizes.

Downey is a once in a lifetime kind of actor.  He has the ability to play any role thrown at him and with exquisite grace.  His turn as Holmes gave him the opportunity to play an iconic literary character.  He is charismatic, sarcastic and utterly enjoyable to watch in this role. 

Downey and Law have a remarkable chemistry onscreen as well.  They played off each other and made it appear effortless.  Law is an intriguing actor, himself.  He definitely held his own against the genius that is Downey.

The production value of this film is admirable.  The set designer went for broke trying to make this time period come alive.  The costumes, scenery and everything in between was done brilliantly.  When a film is able to take the background and surroundings and make them a character in themselves, it only adds to the dimension of the film.

I have mixed feelings on McAdams in this role.  She pulled it off, but I can’t help but think someone else may have worked better.  She had a decent amount of chemistry with Downey, but I hoped for more.  If her character shows up in the sequel, perhaps there will be more developed between the two.

Downey has another franchise on his hands with this film.  The story is amusing and the action is also exciting.  Ritchie does a great job showcasing the violent scenes mixed in with actual story.  This is definitely a film worth checking out.

Advertisements

‘It’s Complicated’ Review

30 Apr

It’s Complicated

Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin

Director: Nancy Meyers

No one tells adult stories quite like director Nancy Meyers does.  She takes real people in grown up relationships and gives them life.  It’s Complicated is another gem from Meyers and stars Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

Jane and Jake (Streep, Baldwin) have been divorced for 10 years when fate (or hormones) throws them back together at their son’s college graduation.  Following a non-stop evening of food, dancing and drinks, the former exes reconnect emotionally and physically. 

Once back in reality, Jane and Jake still feel the need to be around one another.  Jake, who cheated on Jane with his now-wife, feels happy and alive when he’s with his ex.  Jake believes that a second go-around with Jane may not be that crazy of a thought.  Jane enjoys feeling vibrant again; she is finding it exciting to step outside of her comfort zone as well.  The past problems with Jake are not far from her mind though and she is hesitant about going any further with him.

Complicating matters are their three adult children, who are on the verge of finding out what their parents have been up to.  In addition, Jane is starting to fall for Adam (Martin), the architect who’s working on the renovation of her home.  After Adam experiences a  too close for comfort encounter with Jake, he begins to reconsider his new-found relationship with Jane.

Torn between the man who captured and then broke her heart and a man she barely knows, Jane must decide what the best choice of action is.  Should she think with her heart or with her head?

The casting of this film was amazing.  They were all full of joy and lit up the screen.  The family felt real, like they were more than actors simply cast to play a family role.  I liked that the children (Hunter Parrish, Zoe Kazan, Caitlin Fitzgerald) were relatively unknown actors as well.  They brought a freshness to the scenes that may not have been possible with more established talent.

Streep and Baldwin shared a completely unexpected chemistry.  They fit so well together in this film it was a pairing I never thought would have been so successful.  Martin’s role in this film was quite different from what I’m used to seeing.  His performance was subdued and even in the more humorous scenes, he held back.  It was a pleasant change to see.  John Krasinski (Harley) was a perfect choice for the soon-to-be son-in-law.  Not only is he funny, but he’s coming into his own more and more with each project he takes on.

This movie has a great family dynamic, is funny in off-beat ways and is touching.  Meyers knows how to create characters that the viewer cares about and this film is no different.

 

Heap of Hollywood 4/29/10: Breaking Dawn advances, Ricky Gervais is coming back

29 Apr

Heap of Hollywood is your chance to read about some of the latest news and casting updates around H-town!

News:
*TNT’s Southland is coming back for a third season.
*Ricky Gervais made an impression and will be back to host the January 2011 Golden Globes.
*Summit Entertainment finally announced that Bill Condon will be directing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.
*ABC Family has cancelled 10 Things I Hate About You.

 

Casting:
*Richard Gere & Topher Grace will be starring together in the film, The Double.  Filming is set to begin in Detroit in June.
*Dwayne Johnson is set to star in the film, Protection.
*Shia LaBeouf will star in the film, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.
*Greg Kinnear & Katie Holmes are set to portray JFK and Jaqueline Kennedy in the History Channel’s miniseries, The Kennedys.

 

Additional Information: EW, Variety, Deadline, THR

 

New Movie Friday 4/30/10

29 Apr

What are you doing this weekend?  Want to check out a new movie?

Here is what’s new in theaters on Friday 4/30/10:

A Nightmare on Elm Street – Katie Cassidy, Jackie Earle Haley
                                                                    Samuel Bayer (director)

 

Furry Vengeance – Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields
                                             Roger Kumble (director)

 

The Good Heart – Brian Cox, Paul Dano
                                         Dagur Kari (director)

 

Harry Brown – Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
                                   Daniel Barber (director)
                                  *Limited Release

 

Please Give – Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt
                               Nicole Holofcener (director)
                              *Limited Release

‘Crazy Heart’ Review

29 Apr

Crazy Heart

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Director: Scott Cooper

A washed-up, alcoholic country singer is the type of character it took for Jeff Bridges to win his first Best Actor Oscar this past awards season.  Crazy Heart tells the story of Bad Blake (Bridges), a man on a journey, who’s trying to make ends meet by playing for whoever will listen and whoever will pay him, even if that means playing in a bowling alley.

Content with drinking his whiskey by day and making music by night, Bad meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a local journalist whom he finds to be more interesting than the run of the mill townies he’s used to.  After spending a few nights together, Bad moves onto his next gig and isn’t sure whether he will see Jean again or not.

Bad’s stubborn attitude is what stands between him and a chance at resurrecting his career.  He’s given the opportunity to open for Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a former protegé of his.  He is reluctant to play second fiddle to someone he taught the game to.  Realizing that he can’t support himself or his drinking habits without money coming in, he decides to take the job.

Jean and her son come to visit Bad and during one of his many drinking binges, he loses Jean’s son.  Jean has had enough and packs her bags to head back home.  With the loss of two more people he cared deeply for, Bad must either clean up his life or die miserable and alone.

Bridges was meant to play this role.  I can’t seen anyone else being able to accomplish what he did with the character of Bad.  Along with the accolades he received for this film, he gave actors, directors and viewers everywhere an opportunity to watch a no-frills, no special effects, straight up dramatic performance.

Gyllenhaal is a magical actress.  The emotion she brings to the characters she plays is unlike any other actress of her caliber.  Whether she’s playing drug addicts, sex-obsessed secretaries or an average mother, she always gives performances that are heartbreaking.

Farrell was the surprise of this small film.  Playing Tommy Sweet was the sort of role Farrell needed as a reboot for his career.  After many years of extracurricular activities that soured his name in Hollywood, he gave an uncredited performance as a country singer.  He is so brilliant in the smaller, independent films he makes.

The other character that must be mentioned is the music in the film.  Sung mainly by Bridges and Farrell, the soundtrack is beautiful.  Not only is the film about music, but it lays the foundation for the emotion felt by the characters throughout the film.  The lyrics are raw and real and Bridges put every ounce of himself into singing the songs as his character.

This character-driven film is outstanding.  The performances are first class and the music tears at your soul.  This is definitely worth checking out; especially in the age of films like Avatar, Crazy Heart shows how a human acting and portraying a character won’t ever be outshined by CGI effects.

Sneak peak at ‘Scream 4’ poster

28 Apr

 

 

I don’t know about all of you, but I cannot wait to see what director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson come up with for their latest film, Scream 4.

Craven recently talked to EW and said that the newest flick will be shot in Michigan and not California like the previous three films.  He also said that he’s signed on for a fifth and sixth film as well.

Original Scream actors Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette are all signed on to return for the film.

‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’ Review

28 Apr

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Starring: Zachary Levi, Jason Lee, David Cross

Director: Betty Thomas

Live-action films based on 80’s cartoons are never going to be Oscar caliber works of art.  Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, however, was just about as far away from a work of art as you can get.

This sequel follows the smash 2007 hit, Alvin and the Chipmunks.  The first film surprised audiences and raked in over $200 million.  Not the best movie to begin with, the first one shines in comparison to what the “Squeakquel” delivered.

After teaming up with Dave Seville (Jason Lee) in the first film, the Chipmunks are now ready to start attending school in the newest film.  They are forced to do so without Dave though, as he was involved in an accident that requires him to stay in the hospital.  That’s where Toby (Zachary Levi) comes in.  He ends up being in charge of the Chipmunks while Dave is healing.  He is young himself and not in any position to be taking care of three boys.

While attending high school, the Chipmunks find that their popularity doesn’t translate to everyone they come across.  To top things off, they meet three young ladies, the Chipettes, who they have more in common with than they realize.    The Chipettes are working with Ian (David Cross), the former music executive, who still has a bone to pick with the Chipmunks.

Ian ensures that the Chipmunks and Chipettes are forced to compete against each other in a school competition.  Life without Dave may also destroy the relationship of the brothers.

This movie just was not very good.  From the opening scene of a family watching the Chipmunks in an igloo to the pop culture overload, this film left much to be desired.  A viewer shouldn’t ever have to worry about hearing a Donald Trump catchphrase (“You’re Fired”) while watching animated chipmunks.

This sequel veered too far away from the original film.  By having another character (Toby) take over the fatherly role Dave played in the lives of the chipmunks was lazy.  Even though this is based on a kid’s cartoon, the producers of this movie took away the heart of these characters. 

Even the music was lacking in this film.  The Chipettes sang more, but even their songs were frustrating.  What I liked about the first film is that the songs they sang were from various times, not only recent hits. 

Kids will still like this movie, even though the story is lacking.  I feel this film was made strictly to make money and that is irritating.  This would have made money regardless of the storyline, but it wouldn’t have taken much to be a little more creative and not slack just to get a quick, money-making sequel out.