Archive for March, 2012

Quote Quiz 3.30.12 – ANSWERS

1. “Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80’s movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.” – Olive, Easy A

2. “This is our moment to shine, to show them what we’re made of!” — “In my case it’s a rare metal called afraidium. It’s yellow, tastes like chicken… Buck-ah!” – Rodney and Fender, Robots

3. “Because I’m your nuclear deterrent. It’s working. We’re safe. America is secure. You want my property? You can’t have it. But I did you a big favor. I’ve successfully privatized world peace. What more do you want?” – Tony Stark, Iron Man 2

4. “It’s a gift. And a curse.” – Adrian Monk, Monk

Hug the cactus!

I just re-watched Sherlock Holmes and Ironman 2, and seeing Robert Downey, Jr. reminded me of this clip I saw. You may not agree with everything he’s saying, but I think it’s quite a statement:

He’s talking about how Mel Gibson helped him out when he was coming out of the low point in his life. And I really enjoy the term he used, “Hugging the cactus,” for learning to deal with past issues. It’s an interesting concept, and one that probably everyone could learn something from.

Downey has become someone worth admiring. He always had talent, and now he’s harnessed his talents, cleaned up his act, and blown everyone out of the water. He seems to be quite a guy!

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games is wildly popular, and now fans can watch the movie adaptation. Along with its popularity has come a discussion of whether or not it’s too violent, since a large part of the plot deals with children being forced to kill each other in a dystopian world.

The main plot of The Hunger Games, both the book and the movie, centers on Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old who volunteers to enter the Games in place of her twelve-year-old sister. Two tributes, a boy and a girl, are chosen from each district and they have to fight each other until there is only one survivor. While the adaptation is fundamentally true to the book, there are important things left out or glossed over, such as the internal conflict the main characters go through when faced with their part in the Games. However, the violence is treated with relative taste and discretion.

The Hunger Games is an interesting change from the Twilight movies (some people have compared the two, based on the popularity of both) which certainly have violent moments, plus a lack of character development. Another plus for The Hunger Games is Jennifer Lawrence, who shines as Katniss–she’s fierce, vulnerable, believable, and conflicted. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, on the other hand, struggles to show a range of emotions without over-acting.

The violence in The Hunger Games does bother some people, but it’s not a new phenomenon. It seems that a book like Lord of the Flies–which deals with the violence children perpetrate toward each other when unsupervised–must not be required reading anymore, which it should be. Sometimes the strongest deterrent to violent behavior is an accurate illustration of where violent behavior takes the perpetrator. So at the least, The Hunger Games can serve as a way to engage young people in a discussion of violence, totalitarian rule, and morality.

If you don’t like dystopian stories or futuristic science-fiction, or if you prefer when girls wear corsets and have a fainting couch nearby, you probably won’t like this movie. If you’re interested in seeing how teenagers have to deal with a situation they’re forced into, one they feel they have no way out of, you will probably enjoy this movie. And it’s gotten people talking about some interesting issues!

Quote Quiz 3.23.12 – ANSWERS

1. “Telephone call? Telephone call? That’s communication with the outside world. Doctor’s discretion. Nuh-uh. Look, hey – all of these nuts could just make phone calls, they could spread insanity, oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all these poor sane people, infecting them. Wackos everywhere, plague of madness.” – Jeffrey Goines, Twelve Monkeys

2. “I never told you, but you sound a little like Dr. Seuss when you’re drunk.” – Anna Crowe, The Sixth Sense

3. “I’m gonna get out of bed every morning, breathe in and out all day long, then, after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out. And then, after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.” – Sam Baldwin, Sleepless in Seattle

4. “What’s the matter, Danny? Never taken a shortcut before?” – Nicholas Angel, Hot Fuzz

21 Jump Street

The movie 21 Jump Street is based on the TV show from the 80s (perhaps made famous because it helped make Johnny Depp famous). I’ve never watched the TV show, so I don’t know how similar the movie was to the show.

The movie is about two new cops, played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who aren’t very good at their new job. They helped each other get through training, becoming friends in the process, even though they disliked each other in high school.

The movie basically becomes a vehicle for crazy high school students, drugs, vulgarity, and teenage humor. The best moments of the movie are when the writers clearly had their tongues firmly in their cheeks, and were able to mock themselves for remaking something old and for going with stereotypes over originality.

It was also humorous to find out that Johnny Depp is in the movie, pretty much from the beginning. But it wasn’t enough to make me like the movie. I guess I’m still looking for comedy that involves wit, and not just vulgarity.

The Artist

Every now and then a movie comes along that is deserving of the hoopla it receives. The Artist is definitely one of those movies. In fact, it’s one of the better movies I’ve seen recently.

The plot is simple, and, yes, it really is a silent, black-and-white movie. It’s also brilliant. It shows that a good, human story can be told by the characters reacting to what happens to them, the context of their situations, and the acting ability of the stars. And it’s not completely silent. Sound is used to wonderful effect in a few scenes, besides, of course, the soundtrack which runs through the whole movie.

Honestly, there were moments I forgot I was watching a black-and-white silent film. The Artist uses all the modern tricks of cinematography and seamless editing and combines it with the best of what older movies had to offer. And it made one of the best, most pleasant movies I’ve seen recently. If you get a chance to see it in a theater, do so.

Quote Quiz 3.16.12 – ANSWERS

1. “If they can dye the river green today, why can’t they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?” – Biggs, The Fugitive

2. “Are you going to make me sleep in the tub again?” – Gerry, P.S. I Love You

3. “But you get tomorrow’s newspaper, which, may I add, is a real ice-breaker.” – Chuck, Early Edition

4. “I can’t believe we’re breaking into the school. Who does that? Nobody does that. Idiots do that.” – Charles, Super 8

5. “Now you listen to me; I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives, and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself ‘slightly’ killed.” – Roger, North by Northwest

It’s not just me!

I like to read Joe Morgenstern’s movie reviews, published in the Wall Street Journal every week. I was interested to see what he had to say this week, since he reviewed John Carter. It seems that many people didn’t share my view that it was a ridiculous movie.

Morgenstern goes even further–he calls it, in his headline, a “Red Dwarf of a Martian Adventure.” Ouch! He goes on to ponder why a previously successful director, Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo), should have done so poorly this time around. He says it might have something to do with the differences in the managing of Disney and Pixar.

Morgenstern also said that while Taylor Kitsch is “buff and handsome,” his performance is one of “snoozifying earnestness.” To him, one of the main weaknesses is that no one in the movie seems to be having any fun, and that as a whole it suffers from a “deadly heaviness.”

One thing I like about Morgenstern’s reviews is that he usually has something positive to say. Not so much this time. I probably didn’t think the movie was as bad as he did, but when one considers how much money Disney spent on John Carter, my opinion starts to agree more with Morgenstern’s.

John Carter

The movie John Carter is based on a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs–best known for his Tarzan stories–who is also a character in the movie. The premise is that Burroughs uncle, John Carter (a Civil War veteran) manages to travel through time to Mars and back.

Since the story was written before a lot of modern movies with similar themes, it wouldn’t be fair to say that it borrows ideas from other stories. In fact, it might be the other way around. However, there are a number of moments in the movie that look similar to other movies. I noticed similarities to Star Wars, 300, Avatar, Pocahantas, and Braveheart.

Taylor Kitsch, who plays John Carter, is somewhat lacking in acting skills. The way he delivered some of his lines made me laugh, even if they weren’t humorous. It didn’t help that some of the lines were really cheesy and rather full of cliches.

The plot of John Carter is also predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing. And it was at least funny, although there were moments when it was unintentionally funny. The biggest intentional gag of the movie, the Martians calling Carter “Virginia” instead of “Carter,” gets old quite soon. The unintentionally funny moments, however, continue through the whole movie.

John Carter is an amusing romp of a sci-fi adventure movie, but it is seriously lacking any depth. Viewers will probably enjoy it, as long as they don’t expect it to be anything more than a flashy Disney movie about an earthling on Mars.

Quote Quiz 3.9.12 – ANSWERS

1. “We can do incredible things. We can change this country. I’m gonna win this thing. Look me in the eye, Henry, and tell me that you don’t want to be a part of it.” – Jack Stanton, Primary Colors

2. “Hey, don’t get sentimental on me. Makes me think I’m gonna die.” – Frank, Unstoppable

3. “Mr. Carter, are you trying to be bad at this?”  –  “Nah, it just comes naturally.” – Ms. Garber and Landon, A Walk to Remember

4. “I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they’re great… and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn’t enough. You’re out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you’re strung out on bedspreads, Ken. That’s serious.” – Jack, Mr. Mom