Archive for January, 2012

A good movie for winter

I recently watched the movie Soul Surfer, based on the book of the same title. The book and movie both tell the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack.

The movie seemed slow at first, but that might very well have been because I knew the shark attack was coming. What is impressive about the story is Bethany’s live after the shark attack. She’s determined to still surf.

The story is about Bethany’s courage and determination, and the faith that keeps her going even when it seems impossible. It’s a good story, inspiring even, and a nice one to watch in the middle of a winter far away from warm water.

The Grey

*spoiler alert*

I don’t usually give away much of the plot in my reviews of new movies, but I decided to make an exception for The Grey.

I was quite annoyed by the movie. It violates one of the most basic rules of stories–if no one is left alive, then no one can tell the story. It’s a simple but logical rule.

The plane crash was done almost too well, to the point of being rather horrific. A lot of the wolf parts were good, too, but I wasn’t convinced by the way the wolves looked up close.

But really, none of that mattered because I couldn’t buy the story. If no one lives, no one lives to tell the story. That’s the reason Hamlet begs Horatio not to kill himself–Horatio needs to live on to tell the world Hamlet’s story. If having a survivor is good enough for Shakespeare, shouldn’t it be good enough for the rest of us trying to tell stories?

Quote Quiz – ANSWERS

1. “You’re handsomer than most of the dads, and have more hair.” – Rosie, We Bought a Zoo

2. “You soaked his underwear in meat. That is so wrong. Funny, but wrong.” – Tom Baker, Cheaper by the Dozen

3. “Very good. But brick not hit back!” Chong Li, Bloodsport

4. “Sorry about the crowbar, kid. You’d be surprised how many people want to steal scrap. But, man, once I make it into art, I can’t give it away. I mean, what am I? A junkman who makes art or an artist who sells junk? You tell me.” – Dean, The Iron Giant

We Bought a Zoo

The viewer can get the premise of the movie We Bought a Zoo from its title. What is interesting about the movie is that it’s still good, even though it’s obvious where the story is going. Part of that is because of the secondary characters that fill out the story.

The main character is an adventure journalist, Benjamin Mee. He has two children and has recently lost his wife, so he decides the best way to keep his family together and to help them heal is to start over. So they buy a zoo.

Some of my favorite secondary characters, the ones that really add depth, are Thomas Haden Church as Duncan Mee, Benjamin’s brother; Elle Fanning as Lily Miska, one of the zoo workers; and Angus Macfadyen as Peter MacCready, the hot-tempered zoo “genius.”

One aspect of the movie that I especially enjoyed was the idea that it helps to get out and do physical work to, in a sense, clear one’s head, help heal emotions, and grow closer to other people. It’s a message that almost can’t be stressed too much in our technological era.

We Bought a Zoo is a movie the whole family can watch, especially since part of the message is about the importance of family.

Haywire

It seems that every so often a wrestler, boxer, or martial artist will enter into the acting ring, with varying results. After all, for as unbeatable as someone like Chuck Norris is (insert Chuck Norris joke here), he’s not a good actor. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a surprisingly good actor, though. And many people love Jackie Chan.

So what new can Gina Carano bring to Haywire? Not only is she a decent actor (if only for the fact that she’s got a good presence and doesn’t over-act), I certainly believed that she could hold her own in the world of black ops. In fact, I haven’t found a woman fighter that convincing since Ziyi Zhang burst onto the scene. After all, as much as I enjoyed the movie Salt, it was a real suspension of disbelief to believe that Angelia Jolie could be a CIA agent capable of taking down anyone in her path.

Carano, on the other hand, has the presence of someone who not only knows she can take down an opponent, but has done so numerous times in reality. It’s a bit of a shame that the plot of Haywire wasn’t better. It wasn’t too bad, but it’s hard to get a story right when it’s told out of sequence.

One should know going into Haywire what type of movie it is–action-adventure, driven by hand-to-hand combat. It’s not a deep movie, but it’s an enjoyable one.

Quote Quiz 1.20.12 – ANSWERS

1. “What are you doing opening your mouth in my kitchen? You owe me $200. I don’t want another word outta you!” - Alice Ward, The Fighter

2. “Oh, well, I wouldn’t worry about Pip. He is very brave. I remember this one time, when the poor wolf was being chased by Little Red Riding Hood around his grandmother’s house, and she had an axe… oh, and if Pip hadn’t been walking by to help I don’t know what would’ve happened!” – “I don’t really remember that version.” – “Well, that’s because Red tells it a little differently.” – Giselle and Morgan, Enchanted

3. “You’re a cynical, exploitive, mean-hearted creep who wouldn’t know real love if it bit him in the armpit!” – Maggie, Runaway Bride

4. “You shoulda taken the cake, mon!” – Odessa, Tower Heist

Live Show

I will be going to a live show tonight, A Desert of Snow, being held at the JC Reiland Center. I think I shall enjoy it immensely, especially since I will get off work early so I can be there on time!

Here is some more information, printed in today’s Jamestown Sun:

http://www.jamestownsun.com/event/article/id/152765/group/Diversions/

The one and only Benny

I’ve been thinking about Benny Hill and his Benny Hill Show recently, perhaps because I watched a couple episodes. It’s a classic show. It also seems quite obvious to me that Hill influenced people like the Monty Python crew. I must say, though, I think he was better. Benny Hill could probably not have made a movie the way the Monty Python folks did, but his forte was the short scene. And it’s quite amazing how much he could pack into a moment!

Contraband

Sometimes there are few things better than a good action movie. The problem is, many directors seem to think that if there are enough explosions, car chases, and or gun battles in the movie, no one will notice that there is no plot. Contraband is one of the action movies that does have a plot. It also has good acting.

The main character, Chris, played by Mark Wahlberg, is a former-smuggler gone straight. However, his brother-in-law is still attempting to be a smuggler, and failing miserably. To save his family, Chris must pull off one last smuggling job.

Chris’s best friend, Sebastian, is played by Ben Foster, and it’s hard to get a read on him, which works perfectly for the part. Giovanni Ribisi is also excellent as a slimy criminal named Briggs.

Contraband manages to combine action with slower scenes in just about the perfect mix. Maybe some people would like more action, but I enjoyed the quieter moments, since they added to the story.

It’s an entertaining and well-done action movie, one worth watching.

Girl With a Dragon Tattoo

Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (the American version) is based on the wildly popular book of the same title, written by Stieg Larsson.

I’ve heard rave reviews about the movie, but I found it rather tedious for a thriller. I also thought it was more than disturbing and rife with nihilism. Of course evil and darkness exist and should be discussed, but there are different ways of doing that. This movie seems to celebrate darkness even though the main characters are trying to catch a killer. (Also, the rating probably should have been NC-17 rather than R.)

Lisbeth Salander, the “heroine,” calls herself insane, and she’s at least disturbed. I’m sure some people like her because she can take care of herself, in the sense that if people mess with her, they will pay. But she is also not concerned about legalities or morality. Of course, not many of the characters seem concerned about morality.

I came away from the movie thinking about a quote I discussed with my mom recently. It’s one that seems applicable, perhaps especially because it has many interpretations. It is, ”The best revenge is living well.” In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “Food for thought!”