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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

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Goolphipp Award: 4.5 (No Peanuts Chucked)

I saw Cirque du Freak solo the first time, then I dragged Goolsby the second time. I’ve already invested twenty bucks into this movie. I’m plotting to beg, steal, or borrow all the books. I thought this movie was wonderful. Great characters, great action, vampires, a bearded lady, small hand-biting little monsters, and a great big spider – what more do you need? This movie isn’t a little kid movie…and it isn’t quite a grown-up movie…and it isn’t quite High School Musical. It’s quirky and resists labels. But definitely know your kid, because it’s not Cinderella. I thought the performances were solid. The plot was great. I want people to go see it, and I’m hoping against hope that they make the second movie. This one is going to added to my collection, make no mistake.

Phipps overall: 4.5
I wave the freak flag.

I loved this movie. It was my special brand of quirky. I think this movie got swept under the rug because it has “vampire” in the title. Everyone knows that vampires are getting pimped out left a right since the craze of Twilight. Cirque du Freak is not Twilight, and it is not a romance – it’s pure awesomeness!

As Phipps said, the target audience is a bit varied, but I think most adults will appreciate some aspect of this movie. I particularly like the Snake Boy, played by Patrick Fugit who starred in Almost Famous. The makeup artist did an awesome job. Stellar.

On a more high-level topic, I think this movie is reflective of a modern family. Family isn’t always your own flesh and blood, it can be a group of like-minded freaks. I felt like I became part of the freak family, and I liked it. This movie surprises you left and right. John C. Reilly who plays the vampire was on spot! It was so refreshing to see him in a more mature and subtle role.

And if Phipps gets those books, I’ll be borrowing them too!

Goolsby overall: 4.5
I loved the small goblin hand-biting guys.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

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Goolphipp Award: 3.25 (Worth 11 Bucks)

was never a big fan of Where the Wild Things Are growing up. But I am a fan of children's fantasy movies, and that's what this film promised in the preview. Crazy amazing Wild Things.

I had a hard time with this movie. I liked some of the pieces, which bears mentioning - performances, costume, cinematography. The whole cast did a wonderful job. The Wild Things did look awesome...CGI faces looked great. Cinematography was solid.

I didn't like that the pace was slow. I know director Spike Jonze was focusing on emotion, but it just took too long to get it. I would be amazed by something, then bored. It felt a little forced at times.

The comedic moments were stellar. I wish there would have been more. This movie was like a stone in your stomach - I needed more laughs and less raw emotions. I have a firm belief that the major camps of people fall into one of the Wild Things. I would be Judith, voiced by Catherine O'Hara. (And I swear, they modeled the ram-like Wild Thing after Seth Green.)

Even so, the biggest problem I have with this movie, is Max never says he's sorry - to the Wild Things or to his mother. I was simply flabbergasted. That's not the message I want to go out to kids. Because this is what I heard, "You don't have to say sorry no matter what you do or who you hurt. People will just know. Especially if you give them a hug." But as a grown-up, I know that isn't true. People need to hear the "I'm sorry," combined with the hug. I will not be showing this film to my children until they are old enough to disregard the "non-sorry policy" that Wild Things promotes.

AND this film showcased a big sister, Claire, who didn't take care of her kid brother when he was crying. It was really sad, and an insult to big sisters everywhere.

I wanted to get lost and run wild in this movie, but that just didn't happen.

Phipps overall: 2.5
Put together well, which saves it.

I grew up with this book, and the short cartoon feature that circulated when I was a kid too. I have always loved anything animal based. I approached this movie differently. The biggest gimme in the movie was the characters. It's hard conveying consistent personality in heavy hot costumes. The faces were CG enhanced of course, but that doesn't mean that takes care of everything. The people who have to do the live action do a fantastic job. A true character has to be believable in physical actions as well. From the quiet, never heard Seth Green lookalike goat named Alexander, to the loud confident Carol, these wild things came to life.

I was very excited to see this movie, and I think it gave me what I wanted the most. Awesome live action costumes and seamless CG integration.

On the other hand, it was much more intense than I anticipated. I think the raw anger emotions could have been relayed in a less destructive manner. A dirt clod fight with giant beasts is unsafe! And come on, someone's arm gets ripped off! Who cares that there wasn't any blood, it is still an appendage! Comedy was selective but well placed as Phipps said. The stick arm replacement Douglas receives takes the cake.

All in all, I got what I was looking for- beautiful cinematography and awesome costumes. Parents should really think about taking their children, but as an adult, I can overlook the message and appreciate what I love.

Goolsby overall: 4
Still worth it I think.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Other Man

Photo courtesy of andyatthemovies.comGoolphipp Award: 1.8 (Wait for DVD)

Point blank, I’m a fan of Liam Neeson. He’s the reason I went to see this movie. He is my old man crush. I only knew the basic plot, nothing else. I was confused for about half the movie, more than half probably.

Perhaps I missed a key line, but for the life of me, I could not figure out if Lisa, played by Laura Linney, was actually dead or if she just disappeared. Liam Neeson’s character Peter obsesses over his wife’s old lover. The other man is Ralph, played by Antonio Banderas. Random casting – it was a weird mix of people, but worked I guess.

The plot is complicated, lies, and some more lies. The movie was playing at our local indie movie theater, and the movie produced what you would expect. It was strange. Some types of movies you have to put in a box to digest later. That’s what I had to do. If you go see it, or eventually rent it on DVD, and want to talk about it, let me know.

I think they could have handled the transitions in the movie better. It was too jagged for me understand. They needed to work on the overall composition. The sound mixing was also horrible, but it could have just been the theater.

Goolsby overall: 2
Meh, if you feel in the mood to be confused and want to watch a handsome old man, go for it.

This movie was like being in the middle of a tangled ball of yarn. Not only are you all tangled up, but the ball starts to roll down some stairs. I was completely confused the entire time. The fog just never cleared up.

I was confused by the character of Lisa. I didn’t understand if she was dead or if she up and left Peter (played by Liam Neeson). I didn’t understand her whole deal…even after the script finally gets around to explaining it. She’s at the center of the movie, but it’s like looking into a black hole. You know what it is, you know what destruction it has caused, but you don’t understand why. She remains a mystery. I have to say this, she did wear a great pair of red high heels.

Antonio Banderas was quite impressive as the “other man.” I’m with Peter, as he grudgingly admits that “he is rather wonderful.” The other supporting cast did a fantastic job as well. You see, the problem with this movie is not the actors and their performances or even the cinematography or sound – it’s the actual storyline. It spins you in circles, and when you are good and dizzy, it lets you fall.

I’m not sure when this was filmed, but I would have thought that this movie would hit a bit too close to home for Liam Neeson. It was rather painful to watch.

Phipps overall: 1.75
I’m still confused.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Whip It

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Goolphipp Award: 4.75 (No Peanuts Chucked)

Okay, clearly these last couple reviews have been more of a rant for me. Let me start off with setting up my viewing mood for this movie. I was standing in front of a theater with friends, happy and ready to go see this movie. Out of no where I get a water balloon chucked at me from some convertible full of high-school morons. Hit my shoe. I was mad. Very.

So then I proceeded to watch this movie. I loved it. Drew Barrymore delivers a stellar movie on her big time directing debut. I was concerned when I found out she was directing and starring in it that she might overpower it. I was wrong. Her role was supportive of the story and characters. Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar, aka Babe Ruthless. I loved the catchy roller derby names. This movie is your typical rebel against the norm movie, but presents it in a different view. We get to see a strong mother figure, who some what force-feeds her daughter the beauty pageant mantras. I also appreciated seeing a delicate father-daughter relationship.

There is this moment where Drew Barrymore’s character Smashley Simpson, “koalas” her boyfriend. A koala is something that I hold dear. To properly koala someone you suddenly attach yourself to someone else’s body, then, don’t let go. It’s similar to a flying squirrel, but stealthier since you don’t have to get the running start. That won me over hands down. This movie delivers plenty of physical comedy, quirk, and everything else you need.

The only downside? Not enough physical contact. It’s about roller derby; I want to see some heads fly! Well not decapitation, but at least more brutal assaults. A few more hip checks and I would have been a happy, happy camper.

Stupid water balloon.

Goolsby overall: 4.75
Just what I needed.

I love this movie. I almost don’t want to say too much about it, because I don’t want to spoil it.

I will warn that it is more of a drama that you would expect from previews, but it doesn’t disappoint. There is enough comedy to keep the drama in check. As whole, the movie is fun and light. It makes you want to go out and join something like a roller derby league – to find that something you really love and commit to it.

Drew Barrymore shows potential to become a really wonderful director. Look at Clint Eastwood – judging from the spaghetti westerns, nobody would pegged him to be an amazing director, but he is. Choosing this movie as her mainstream directorial debut, well, it shows smarts.

Thinking back, I’m surprised at the character development. It was pretty impressive. I can look back, and remember the growth of each character. I’m talking about the scores of supporting characters! Bravo to writer Shauna Cross, Barrymore, and cast for pulling that off.

This movie, which is based off of a novel by Shauna Cross, is in turn based off of a derby league in L.A. I’m quite curious about what the real life event is like. I’m almost positive it involves more physical contact. Like Goolsby, I would have liked to see more ladies throwing elbows, hip checks, falls, and well, fancy rollerskating moves. This is one area where Barrymore and Ellen Page need some work.

That being said, go see this movie. I don’t think you will regret it. (Parents, I think 14 is the youngest you should go without a prescreening. It gets a little adult sometimes for elementary school kids.)

Phipps overall: 4.75
Nearly a perfect movie.

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Goolphipp Award: 2.5 (See the Cheap Matinee)

Performing arts and drama. I’m curious after seeing this film what the original is like. I guess this movie just wasn’t my cup of tea. There were some amazing performances. A lot of talent in the film, but I wasn’t blown away by anything.

I think the best part of the film for me, or the story line that I liked the most, was the character of Joy played by Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (gosh that’s a long name). She gets a role working for Sesame Street, and it just made me smile. Who wouldn’t want to work for Sesame Street?! Dream job.

Anyway. Not much to say about this one. The cast is very talented, did a great job.

Goolsby overall: 2.5
Nothing special for me, but it also didn’t disappoint or surprise me.

I’m with Goolsby on this movie. I’m usually a sucker for musicals or dance movies, but this movie didn’t put stars in my eyes. There were a couple great musical performances, which I then ran home and purchased on iTunes. I thought Asher Book’s vocal performances were top notch. Naturi Naughton also has a great set of pipes.

But there was something missing. There was no magic.

There were a lot of adults at our showing to see a teen movie, and I can only attribute this to the original, which won their heart 30 years ago…and never really let them go. That magic, that draw, of the original was missing. I’ve never seen the original, but my fellow audience members showed me that it might be worth seeing.

This movie didn’t grab you. It didn’t make you want to be a dancer or a singer. It didn’t make you want to dream big.

Phipps overall: 2.5
Buy the soundtrack, rent the DVD.

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