A man who believes that the universe gives signs about his life joins… MoreA man who believes that the universe gives signs about his life joins with his brother on a destiny-ridden adventure.
If you were to say that this film is too pat, too convenient, and overall eye-roll inducing, I would understand, but what do you expect from a film whose thesis is that the universe is guided by a cosmic plan?
The plot unfolds deftly with the requisite number of "must-happens," and Jason Segel gives a very good performance as the hapless Jeff. Ed Helms plays Pat as a man who is more fucked up than his brother but hides it better, and this is Helms's strength.
Overall, yes, I understand that it's hokey, but I found myself inspired and smiling by the end of this film, and it's one of the Duplasses finest efforts.
Set against the background of political turmoil, a radical and a… MoreSet against the background of political turmoil, a radical and a milquetoast writer fall in love.
A saccharine love story, when this film succeeds it's because Robert Redford was just absolutely dreamy in his prime. He was also a great actor, working with a subtle strength and playing off his natural magnetism. However, most of the time, there is little that any actor can do to save this meandering script. There is a certain truth to relationships that flounder because there is too much work involved, but this theme is more developed in real life than in cinema, and this film doesn't do much original.
I've never been a fan of Barbra Streisand as a cultural icon or as an actress, and while I can't say that there was anything horrible about her acting, there wasn't anything extraordinary either.
Overall, this film is another reason to love Redford, but the story is weak.
A jazz pianist and a flamenco dancer fall in love but split during… MoreA jazz pianist and a flamenco dancer fall in love but split during political turmoil.
This foreign animated film is a nice albeit predictable love story. The characters make all the mistakes of youth, but the story is told with a certain deftness that made me forgive the film its inadequacies. The animation is good, naturalistic at times, frenetic during the jazzy scenes, attempting to take on the "look of the music," and oddly sexy where appropriate.
Overall, I enjoyed this film even if I didn't think it had anything new to offer.
Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman explore men's grooming… MoreMorgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman explore men's grooming and its relationship to masculinity.
What Mansome could be is an examination of masculinity in modern day pop culture, post-feminist movement. In fact, it could be the documentary version of all the strengths of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. But instead its reliance on extreme reactions to male hair and its profile of a modern-day fop do little to deliver any salient cultural criticism. What emerges are the outliers of our society -- a man with a massive beard and a man who spends more time preening than most birds -- and I finished the film learning nothing new about the macrocosm and learning only dismissible factoids about the microcosm.
Overall, Mansome, considering its wealth of talent, doesn't live up to its potential.
A cat burglar helps a policewoman find the mob boss who kidnapped her… MoreA cat burglar helps a policewoman find the mob boss who kidnapped her daughter.
Eminently forgettable, A Cat in Paris doesn't offer much. The plot is fairly basic, and the revenge fantasy is overbearing and lacking in any subtlety. The animation is neither realistic nor stylized.
Overall, this is a short film, but I can't say a lot about it because it doesn't say a lot for itself.
The Muppets must reunite to put on a show and save their theater.
Like… MoreThe Muppets must reunite to put on a show and save their theater.
Like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle a few years ago, The Muppets cashes in on its nostalgia, supposing that the audience misses their bygone days. And while I vaguely remember enjoying the show as a child, there isn't much about the original that this film brings back. Whereas The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle had some remarkably funny puns, there isn't much to laugh at here. I chuckled a couple times, mostly at the remarks by the two curmudgeonly spectators, but there weren't any guffaws. Most disappointing were the musical numbers with the exception of Chris Cooper's rap; during her songs it seemed that Amy Adams was forcing a grin, knowing she should look happy. The plot unfolds just as anyone knows it would.
Overall, I wasn't impressed by this film, but Muppets fans might find something worth liking if only for the nostalgia.
Here is the thesis of the book: Republicans use social and religious… MoreHere is the thesis of the book: Republicans use social and religious issues to motivate lower income people to vote against their economic self-interest.
As you can see, the thesis of the book is very interesting, and it would be good if there were a film that explored this thesis with specific examples, math, interviews with candidates, profiles of Republican supporters, liberals' work using reason and logic to convince Republican voting bases to switch their votes, and a look at the root of the political shift in the southern demographics. But this film does none of that. Instead, in the words of Kyle Smith of The New York Post, "It's condescending, it's vague, it's unfair and, ultimately, it's pointless." The film presents a few "enlightened" liberal southerners and a lot of Christian fundamentalist southerners. In the end, the film doesn't rise to the level of any political commentary, not to the degree that the book did.
Overall, I was very disappointed with this film, and like most things, one would be better served by reading than watching the film.
A Soviet train engineer hooks up with a German woman in the Siberian… MoreA Soviet train engineer hooks up with a German woman in the Siberian hinterland -- much to the disapproval of his Soviet compatriots.
I'll start by saying that I'm not sure that I fully understand this film; I think that one might need a more extensive knowledge of Russian post-war history than I have in order to understand this film's context.
I can only respond to what I see, which is a hyper-masculine world of competition and an environment of anti-German prejudice. These two themes are explored in the main relationship, but whether the film is critiquing, lauding, or merely presenting these aspects of Russian post-war life is still unclear to me.
I can also say that I didn't enjoy the film. There wasn't a lot to like, and I had trouble following it. All of the characters are undesirable people.
Overall, as I believe I made clear, I wasn't able to get a good handle on this film.
A teenage computer hacker accidentally starts a World War III… MoreA teenage computer hacker accidentally starts a World War III simulation with a military supercomputer.
In the oeuvre of "the machines are winning" films, like Dr. Srangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb or The Terminator, Wargames ranks among the best of in this genre. If that's not enough, in the oeuvre of Cold War era peace films, like Fail Safe and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, Wargames's message fits witth the best of these as well. Without being terribly preachy, the film deftly expresses these two sentiments -- the over-determination of technology on our lives and the stupidity of Cold War era foreign policy. Particularly, "I was going to learn to swim" was a very nice touch.
Matthew Broderick was such a great actor in his younger days. He was so understated. His work was similar to a young Dustin Hoffman, and while his recent work has fallen off slightly, it's always great to revisit Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Biloxi Blues, and this film, Wargames to see how great he was.
I found the plot predictable, and the bit with Falken and the helicopter was too deus ex machina for my tastes.
Overall, this is a very good film about concepts that remain relevant today.
Chely Wright is the first American country music star to come out as… MoreChely Wright is the first American country music star to come out as gay.
I'm not a fan of country music, and I had never heard of Chely Wright until I saw this film. What emerges from the film is a portrait of Wright that is inspiring and positive. She seems like a genuine person and a good role model of GLBT youngsters.
However, when she begins working with image coaches and turning her coming out into a media event, I found myself less sympathetic to her struggles. I understand her counter-argument -- that coordinating a media spectacle allows her to do the most good for others in her situation -- but I nevertheless wasn't pleased that what I was seeing was such a carefully designed product.
Overall, I found the film well-made, and by the end I liked Wright, but that's about all the film asked of me.