Entries tagged with “George Clooney”.


Wish you were here and making the walk into heaven!

Ohmigod, this is so amazing, I’m seeing more stars than Capt. James Kirk on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise at warp speed 5.4, look over there– J Lo, you go girl– and George Clooney, love you in E.R., and there’s that tall blue lady from Avatar— you were incredible sugar, glad goodness beat evil on Pandora, oh, and there’s Meryl Streep and she’s got Sandra Bullock in a headlock and is giving her face some fist kisses, and there’s Jeff Bridges and he’s got his bathrobe with a caucasian in hand, go, Dude, abide, and here’s Katheryn Bigelow and she’s wearing a bomb suit designed by Jason Wu, absolute stunning, and over there’s her ex-hubby, James Cameron who’s being carried into the theatre on a king’s throne– nice touch with the children tossing rose petals as he whips them lightly– oh, and lookit over there, Mo’Nique wearing nothing but a feather boa and a welder’s helmet, oh, wait, is that– yes it is, look–Ken Watchons, who did some amazing grip work on Precious, and behind him is what’s her name, you know, the really beautiful woman who was in that movie about the thing that happened that one time, you know, the one that’s in color–oh, I need a paper sack, I’m hyperventilating here…

We’re talkin’ movies, babe. Big honking blockbustery movies. The kind of movies that make sitting in the dark with a bunch of total strangers worthwhile and not as sleazy as it sounds.

I once heard there are two types of movies. One type is character-driven stories; timeless tales of the human condition that most people will empathize with and plug into on an emotional level. The film Up in The Air is one of the best character-driven movies in a long time.

Type two are visually-driven tales; movies that are eye candy that take you places where reality cannot. These movies are less about character and more about creating worlds of wonder.

You can have facial hair but your Avatar will be naturally clean-shaven. Sweet!

Right now you can treat your eyeballs to a couple first rate visual wonders: Avatar set in the year 2154 and Sherlock Holmes circa 1891. Movie magic creates the world of the past and worlds of the future, and all you have to do is sit, watch and claw popcorn into your cakehole.

You can get a fix of Avatar in vanilla 2D flat screen, resplendent depth of field wonderment 3D or in your face 3D IMAX. I slipped on the glasses and did 3D. I suggest you at least do 3D since this film is a quantum leap forward in CGI technology and you may as well get the full effect (no, there aren’t any extreme 3D tricks like bullets coming at your head).

On the plus side, this movie is like the Lord of The Rings movies: must-sees to see what computers can do to replicate vivid imaginations. Avatar is a visual smorgasbord and your eyeballs will feast ’til they puke.

There is a story here. It’s plodding and predictable; a mash-up of genre cliches that will give you a constant sense of deja vu and make you feel guilty about man’s intrinsic inhumanity toward fellow man. (Sigh.) I napped in places and still felt the movie was dragging and need some chainsaw editing. The music was a waste of musicians. The score is featherweight with no sticking power at all.

But I forgive Avatar its sins because the visuals on Pandora, where the freakishly tall blue peoplish things called Na’vi live, are spectacular. James Cameron spent six forevers making this film, inventing a lot of the technology that enabled these incredible images, so I’ve got to give the dude his due– it’s eye candy that’s orgasmic for the optic nerves. This film weighs in at almost three hours, so drink some strong coffee, slip on the 3D glasses, watch one-dimensional characters and see how cool technology is in the year 2154. Great advancements have been made everywhere, except in wheelchair design (what’s the deal, science, where’s the love?).

Sherlock with a six pack? Sir Arthur must be spinning.

Another pretty impressive eye candy display is Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. It’s not the Sherlock that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created, this is a testosterone-amped Sherlock who’s James Bond-ishly played by Robert Downey Jr. He’s intellectual, yes, but he’s also kick-ass physical. Sherlock’s got an ex-lover played by the lovely Rachel McAdams. She’s done him wrong but he still pines for her. Can he trust her?. I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ to nobody.

Sherlock’s proverbial sidekick, Dr. Watson, is no doddering old fart here– he’s Jude Law, hardly the dumpy, frumpy Watson we’ve grown up with.

Now, you’d think this movie would be a character-driven tale, after all you have a couple of the most famous characters ever created trying to foil evilniks. But no, it’s more of a visually-driven film. And that’s not a horrible thing. The re-imagined characters are fun and interesting and that’s fine by me.

The computers worked overtime to create a stunning 1891 London. The effects are seamless, the art direction meticulous, sumptuous and filling. Oh, Guy Ritchie does his Guy Ritchie camera tricks, the wah-wah over-cranked slo-mo shots here and there, but fortunately he doesn’t beat the horse dead.

This Sherlock is a fun action flick with plenty of chases and fights and thrills. It’s a romp, and Hans Zimmer’s score is terrificly eclectic and fun.

Robert Downey Jr. is great, as usual, and Jude Law brings his A-game. It’s a movie well-worth seeing, just don’t expect it to be the Sherlock you know and love. For Pete’s sake, even his pipe’s changed!

No special effects, explosions or fights-- but can it entertain?

The last must-see movie is Up In The Air, a film of modern day timeless human connections with no big CGI work or explosions, fights or chases. This movie is my favorite of the bunch.

Not to belittle the other two films, but frankly, there wasn’t much that stuck with me after I left the theatre. Oh, we had a good time in the dark, but it wasn’t a lasting relationship. Just disposable images. But Up In The Air, this is the real deal, a terrific story of fresh interesting characters and a timeless explorations of the human condition.

Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) has a wonderful natural touch with human stories. In this one, George Clooney is a road warrior who specializes in downsizing corporate America. He’s a very busy boy. He is a cynical philosopher king who believes in traveling light, physically and emotionally. By and by he falls for Vera Farmiga and he mentors Anna Kendrick in the art of the hatchet. The screenplay is textured, nuanced and wise. If you expect this to be a comedy you will be disappointed. It’s amusing, compelling and seductively romantic. Most of all, it’s a movie that makes you think about life and living.

And that’s the kind of movie that endures beyond movie making techniques for me.

 

Careful Analysis Pays Dividends For You

My Careful Analysis Pays Dividends For You

Four movies for your two eyes, two ears.

“Burn After Reading”– You need to manage your expectations on this one, people. It’s being marketed as a comedy. If you walk in, sit down, fold your arms and say “O.K., clown-boys, make me laugh!” you won’t enjoy this movie as much as you should. Yes, there are some laughs in “Burn”.  Some laughs. But mostly it’s a quirky character-driven intricately plotted web of intrigue, vanity and stupidity. 

This is the latest offering from Joel & Ethan Coen (who some call “The Coen Brothers”, I call them “Those Kooky Coen Kids”). They’re hot off the Oscar-heavy success of “No Country For Old Men” and here they definitely toss a change up from the heavy drama of that jewel.

I’ll eagerly to see anything the Coens make, after all they’ve made some of the most interesting and enjoyable films of recent times:  “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Miller’s Crossing”, “The Big Leboski”, “Fargo”, “Raising Arizona”, “Blood Simple”, “Barton Fink” and more).

In “Burn After Reading”, you’ve got star power galore with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich. You’ve got nepotism with Frances McDormand playing a lead (she’s the wife of Joel Coen, but she’s always terrific and probably doesn’t need the inside connection). You’ve got great character actors in Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons. You’ve got a free-wheeling story that just keeps spinning inter-connected plot lines and catapults the story along to a conclusion that is fulfilling, believable and as arbitrary as life itself.

I did miss Roger Deakins, who has been the director of photography for just about all the later Coen films. “Burn” does not have the cinematic grandeur and camera movement as previous Coen flicks, but it does keep you moving and guessing and enjoying the ride, so what the hell, enjoy your time off Mr. Deakins… but please come back soon. I miss you.

“Tropic Thunder”– There’s a reason this film is doing some serious box office business: it does what a comedy is supposed to do, give your lungs a healthy workout. This is one seriously funny movie.

But even if it wasn’t funny, it’s a pretty good action-adventure film thanks to some beautiful cinematography by two time Oscar winner John Toll and excellent directing by Ben Stiller.

Stiller co-wrote this yukfest with actor Justin Theroux and the incomparable Ethan Coen (moonlighting while Joel slept with wife Frances).

The premise of the movie is the making of a big budget movie based on a  best selling book about the Vietnam War called “Tropic Thunder”.  

The main attraction is Robert Downey, Jr., playing 5-time Oscar-winning Australian actor Kirk Lazarus. Kirk is the ultimate method actor so for the role of an African-American sergeant, he has a controversial skin- tinting procedure. Downey plays it to the hilt as brother fighting for The Man. But a white dude playing black does not play well with fellow actor Alpa Chino, who really is black, played superbly by Brandon T. Jackson. 

This is the year of Robert Downey, Jr. With this role and playing the lead in “Iron Man”, he stars in two of the best movies of the year, with another promising one (“The Soloist”) on the horizon.

Ben Stiller gobbles his scenes as the Sly Stallone-like mega-action-fading-star Tugg Speedman. His obsequious agent is ably played by Matthew McConaughey (who amazingly plays the entire role shirted).

Jack Black plays a drug addicted co-star who’s made his fame in a series of successful ‘fart films’ (can you say “Eddie Murphy”?) and now wants to be taken seriously as an ACTOR

And the big buzz of the film is Tom Cruise playing an obnoxiously overbearing ball-busting studio head. Cruise has great make-up, rage and screen presence, and you can tell he loved every minute of playing this outrageous jerk.

This movie is decidedly politically incorrect, raunchy, sophomoric and foul– so if you’re easily offended rent “The Sound of Music”, eat taffy and pray for a gentler world. But if you’re up for some good laughs and fun pyrotechnics, grab a chair and kiss a couple hours goodbye. It’s well worth the trip.

“Vicky Christina Barcelona” — Woody Allen is a machine who’s been churning out movies for 42 years. He earned his chops as a master of comedies, defiantly made a series of soberingly depressing dramas and has bobbed about with light dramas, comic capers and interesting character studies. This movie is one of his human stories.

Vicky is played by the beautiful Rebecca Hall. She’s a confident woman engaged to a Mr. Conformity in NYC. She is more pragmatist than poet. She believes she knows herself and her destiny.  She marches through life with firm footed certainty.

Christina is played by the luminous Scarlett Johansson. She’s a flighty insecure woman who is looking for love in all the wrong places but remains a hopeless romantic. She is open to possibilities and growth, unsure of every step she takes but knowing it will lead to something that could be better. She is an artist on her journey of discovery.

Vicky and Christina are enjoying a summer holiday in guess where– Barcelona (boy, the movie’s title gives away the entire story). They encounter an egocentric artist named Juan Antonio, wonderfully played by Javier Bardem (it’s hard to believe this is the same dude who lugged around the bovine-skull-crushing air gun in “No Country For Old Men”). He is on a hedonistic bender, on the rebound from a toxic relationship with his ex-wife, Maria Elena (played by Penelope Cruz).

Juan Anotonio proposes a threesome to Vicky and Christina. He loses that proposal, but gets involved with each beauty individually. He and Christina become an item, his unstable ex enters the scene, more things happen and then some other things happen, too.

I’ll say no more except this movie is a must-see for anyone who ponders the human condition and enjoys adult stories that make your brain contemplate life. Good on you, Woody.

“In Bruges”– You’ll have to rent this puppy, but go ahead and get it in your queue today. This tale of two hired killers in the Belgium resort Bruges is a fun romp well acted by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell (his performance here is almost good enough to wipe away the stench and sin of starring in “Alexander”). Ralph Fiennes is their irate boss back in the U.K., and as you probably guessed, there is a racist dwarf (sorry, little person). 

It was written and directed by celebrated Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. This is an impressive debut for an incredible talent. It’s beautifully shot with a hauntingly beautiful musical score. Don’t even get me started on the impressive work of the Best Boy.

Give it a go. You’ll love being In Bruges, and won’t soon forget the trip.