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kaye_spivey


For The Love Of Movies

Reviews for the average movie patron.


Green Tea
kaye_spivey




Welcome! If you're here, you like to watch films.
My name is Kaye Spivey, and you have found your way to my LiveJournal account.
I am a college student and an aspiring writer. I am, as of yet, largely unpublished with the exception of a few poems to minor publications.


I watch a lot of movies now that I'm in college, and some of them are so bizarre that I feel I must share an opinion on them with the world so that other people who love movies can enjoy them too.
Please enjoy and feel free to comment!

Paul
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Paul- Simon Pegg and Nick Frost make an alien film, this time not even trying to be cool. They play homage to nerds everywhere with this 2011 British comedy.

If you liked Hot Fuzz and/or Shaun of the Dead then you're going to enjoy Paul. Graeme and Clive are a pair of blokes traveling to America for the very first time to go to Comicon in San Diego and then take a tour of America's most extraterrestrial sites. Along the way they just so happen to run into--what else? An alien. However, he's a bit more savvy than either of them expected. It turns out he's a fairly cool guy who just needs a bit of help getting home. Thus begins the adventures of two nerds with a fugitive alien.

This movie is filled with wit, cult movie references, and in true Pegg/Frost style, explosions. If you consider yourself a nerd and think of going to Comicon as the epitome of a darn good time, this movie bows down to you. On the other hand, if you're not a fan of comically sacrilegious movies that endorse science and evolution, this might seem offensive to you. 

Lots of big SciFi idols make appearances, but go to IMDB if you want to spoil yourself for that. I personally thought it was incredibly funny. R rating is mostly for language.
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Magic Mike
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Magic Mike- Steven Soderbergh and Reid Carolin's idea of a male stripper movie starring Channing Tatum with Matthew McConaughey.

This is nothing like a male stripper movie, so if that's what you're going in for, this is only going to disappoint. Although there are good strip scenes, we never see an entire strip performance, mostly it's several short shots of many performances in a row and then extremely long boring parts where a plot about how Channing Tatum's  character, Mike, doesn't really want to be a stripper. Instead he'd like to start his own business building things. However, the stripper lifestyle, which is rather demonized in the movie, is a life of drugs and partying, and he's finding it hard to get where he wants from where he is now. 

Honestly I was disappointed. The movie is really intense rather than fun, and it focuses heavily on drug use. There's violence and a lot more female nudity than expected, especially considering it's a movie about male strippers, and for being such buff guys there were an awful lot of scenes with them fully clothed. The writing is really not good, and although the scenes sort of mimic life, it leaves these extremely long pauses where the characters just stare at each other or act awkward. 

Personally I was really excited to see it, but didn't end up liking it at all. It was really poorly written and interesting characters like Olivia Munn's Joanna were brought up and flushed out without being fleshed out and she actually added nothing to the plot besides being one of the most fascinating characters. Matthew McConaughey was really creepy in this movie, but he was also one of the best parts. Channing Tatum was fine and has nice arms and can dance like no one's business, but it was sort of disappointing that he was the main character. Alex Pettyfer looks like he might be the main character for a while as Adam, but he sort of serves for a foil or replacement to Tatum's Mike. The drugs focus around him for a while and then he fades out. Matt Bomer was in this too and I looked forward to seeing him, but he's hardly in it. He was incredibly gorgeous, but also kind of creepy.

This is a decent sort of 25-35-something's intense getting-out drama, but it is not a good male stripper movie and it's not aimed at women.

It was boring, it was awkward, and if you do a google search for your favorite actor with his shirt off you're going to get more action than you'll get from the film. Although it was advertised toward a female audience, I can't see it appealing only to women, since there are a lot of strip scenes but they really aren't that long and if you're a woman who wants to go to see hot men stripping and dancing, you should save your money. You can find better and you can find something aimed at you and not something that felt like a man's version of what women might want to see. Straight boys? You really might like it, but I'm not recommending anyone go out and see it.

EDIT: Apparently Magic Mike is actually sort of about Channing Tatum's actual life, so if you're interested in that it could be a selling point, but for me it just emphasizes how bad the writing was and how misleading the commercials are. Also there's a romance that sneaks up in the movie and at the end I think we're supposed to cheer for but not a single person in my theater was feeling it. 

Prometheus
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Prometheus- The 2012 prequel to the Alien movies starring Noomi Rapace with Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron. 

A pair of scientists interested in humanity's origin think they've discovered the secret to our creation on a moon many lightyears away. The mission gets funded by a wealthy gentleman and they set off. However, our creators are not what they expected.

This movie is sort of a cross between Star Trek and a slasher flick. I happen to be one of the few people who has not yet seen Alien (although I will and if seeing it has any baring on the understanding of this movie I'll add an edit at the bottom) but for most of the movie I was stuck wondering "Why?". Spoilers ahead.

No one's motives made much sense and none of them were fleshed out, leaving me wondering if anything would be explained in Alien. For example, other than spite, why was David (Fassbender's character) trying to sabotage everyone? It was assured to me that he was programmed evil but there was no explanation of that in the film itself. You had to assume he had some hidden reason, but without having seen Alien I don't know if it was even answered there. Charlize Theron was incredible and played an interesting character, but she was not fleshed out at all. Her motives seemed weak at best and here's another spoiler: her character didn't make it to be explained in Alien. In fact, all the characters were interesting but 2-dimensional. There were weak if any motives for character's actions and you had to suspend rather a lot of disbelief to go along with it. Also, why that part at the beginning of the movie? What did that add to the film at all?

That said, the acting was incredible, the special effects and the setting were incredible. The gorey scenes were not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy both sci-fi and slashers you're going to love this one. There were long scenes of intense acting, a bit of well played humor, and then some very shocking and fairly gross moments of action, violence, and gore. It was fascinating, but you don't come away feeling as if you've watched a stand alone film or even learned anything that would make Alien better (again, an edit at the bottom if seeing Alien changes my view on that).

If you are a die-hard Alien fan, you've probably already seen Prometheus. If you like action movies, this isn't quite it, but if you like slashers you might really like it. I would wait for it to come out on DVD and rent it rather than seeing it in theaters. The effects are spectacular, but there are better movies out this season.

Cabaret
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Cabaret- The 1972 movie version of the musical based on a book of the same name, this is Liza Minnelli's big role.

Cabaret is set in 1931 Berlin. It focuses around the shady Kit Kat Club and  Liza Minnelli's character Sally Bowles, an eccentric nineteen year old entertainer at the club. She starts a rocky romance with a young writer, played by Michael York, as well as with a rich married man, while the Nazi party rises up around them and the politics and danger in Berlin becomes increasingly dire. The movie discusses serious issues such as sex, sexuality, politics, religion, and even abortion all under the veil of music and performance and comedy.

This is probably the best movie ever made. That sounds like an overstatement, but the story, the characters, the acting, the filmwork, choreography, focus, subtlety, etc, was all handled so perfectly pulled off so well that I was literally left in shock. The music is, of course timeless. This is the movie that made Liza Minnelli's career for a reason, because she's endearing and funny in a role that could so easily have been either annoying or overly dramatic. The layers of plot and story fit together beautifully and the ending doesn't reveal everything but you're still left with a sense that you know without a doubt what happens next. It's chilling. 

I don't know how I went so long without seeing this movie and recommend that everyone sees it. It's a clever, important, fantastic movie.

Red State
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Red State- This is Kevin Smith's 2011 semi-political horror/action flick set in middle America focused around fundamentalists with a crazy agenda.

This movie is about a more radical family than the Westboro Baptist Church Phelps. Basically the focus of the movie is around a family who are as bad as religious fundamentalists can get and they're packing heat. Three teens go out looking for sex and get mixed up in their very dark, disturbing agenda and things go to hell from there.

This movie sucked. It starts out like maybe it's going to be political and you think you know who your heroes are and the tension is set up really well, and then it changes and you think it's going to be focused more on a horror type of plot. About halfway through the movie all of that is tossed out and suddenly becomes this weird, shoot-em-up movie of less than even B quality and any sort of set up or premise is tossed out. By the end, logic is tossed out too and if you were attempting to stomach the violence and disturbing aspects in hopes that the movie itself would turn around or be interesting in the end or the writing would improve, you're just going to be let down. It had literally no redeeming qualities.

Basically, if you want to see a horror or action movie, find another one. Anything else you can find will be better written, more consistent, or more satisfying. If you're looking for a political movie about fundamentalists I would suggest you go elsewhere too because the heavy-handed messages the movie seems to be trying to delve into early on get tossed out and become almost a farce of themselves.

The Adventures of TinTin
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The Adventures of TinTin- Steven Spielberg directed, Stephen Moffat wrote, and Peter Jackson produced this award winning 2011 animated feature based on the popular comic book series.

The story starts off with journalist extraordinaire TinTin buying a model ship, but he is immediately warned against it. Someone else is looking for the ship because of what’s inside, and that ends up bringing a lot of trouble down on TinTin and his dog, Snowy. What’s hidden inside the mast ends up dragging TinTin into an old pirate’s feud between Haddock and Red Rackham full of vengeance and intrigue.

Honestly, the movie is kind of dumb. It was the kind of movie that makes you feel like you’re being spoon-fed, but you don’t want to eat anymore.

The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Can we just talk about how they did the skin and hair? But they don’t make up for silly and overly-convenient plot twists, stupid situations and all those moments when the characters finally realize things that make you want to stand up and yell, “DUH!” Not to mention convenient little subplots throughout the story specifically designed to make things either easier or harder for the hero, not to serve the plot.

Everything eventually dissolves down into an excuse for a very cool but very unlikely pirate ship fight that, although fun to watch, feels like a non sequitur and leaves the same impression when it reoccurs. There is a ridiculous and overly dramatic chase scene over a few scraps of paper in which they literally destroy everything. Those scraps of paper appear to be the plot of this movie, but ultimately only serve to set up for a sequel, leaving this movie feeling unfulfilled and pointless.

The storytelling and transitions feels like they should be cool, but are mostly annoying. In the end, the whole thing with the model ships ends up being way too complex for what the plot actually turns out to be, and since nothing is resolved it feels like you just wasted a couple hours of your life for nothing.

Everything is too obvious. Everything always happens too conveniently, and you constantly feel like you’re being talked down to. I figured out what was going to happen about 10 seconds in, but all the characters ran around being dramatic and acting like idiots. I couldn’t have predicted the scale of the dramatic fight scenes, but who possibly could have? They were ridiculous. Honestly I’d have liked fewer of those and more of a plot.

I’ve never read the comics, but if the point was to imitate them, then that’s fine in terms of characters, but I have to ask why they’d spend the time making such a beautiful animated work and then just churn it out with a crap storyline? Is that just what’s in fashion now? Distracting with spectacular graphics and hoping we’ll ignore how bad the writing is? Basically, the theme I got from this movie was, “We did it because we can.”

For all the praise it got and for how spectacular the names attached to it are, TinTin was enormously disappointing. I honestly can’t believe that Stephen Moffat was the writer. Usually he’s so good at handling plots, but this was silly. I would never watch it again.


Starter for 10
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Starter for 10- James McAvoy stars as Brian Jackson, a somewhat awkward boy who just wants to be clever and fit in at Bristol University, but he has to learn that making mistakes is just a part of life. 

This movie, out in 2006, is set in 1985 is based on the novel by David Nicholls, but ends slightly differently, more upbeat and more inspirational.

Brian Jackson dreams of being on University Challenge, so he joins the team right away, falls for the cute girl, popular girl, but continues to struggle with his awkwardness and other people's expectations all leading up to one big embarrassment and how he pulls through it and figures out who was there for him all along.

If you've ever felt like you're trying too hard and not getting enough back, if you're a college student, or an awkward person, or just love James McAvoy, go see this movie. It's enlightening, it's uplifting, the acting is great, and if you pay attention you can actually learn quite a bit. 

Enchanted
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Enchanted- Disney's 2007 cure for the common Princess movie, Enchanted stars Amy Adams as Giselle and breaks the fairy tale boundaries by crossing over from animation into live action.

The movie starts as a parody of classic Princess tales, where Giselle is singing with her animal friends and waiting to be saved by her prince. He doesn't exactly save her, but they decide to be married at once, which his evil stepmother doesn't like because she wants to keep her crown. To get rid of Giselle, the evil stepmother pushes Giselle through a well that leads to downtown New York, where she's overwhelmed by the crowds and the rudeness of commuters and hobos before she runs into Robert Philip, played by Patrick Dempsey, and his daughter Morgan, played by the charming Rachel Covey. He begrudgingly takes her in and she strives to turn New York into a fairy tale (and if you're a bit squimish, there will be issues when she tries to clean), including a charming scene in the park, while she waits for her Prince to rescue her before she realizes that maybe she doesn't need to be rescued after all.

If you're a Disney Princess movie fan, you'll spot obvious references to each and every one of them. Mostly in satire, but often as just a part of the action. It's not a bad movie, but I had some problems with it. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

First of all, she talks about finding her true love through song, and a man with dreadlocks sings to her in the park, which sparks a huge parade, and I found myself rooting for him to come back and be her true love, much to my disappointment. Patrick Dempsey seemed too old and too annoying throughout the entire movie and he and Amy Adams, who was fairly hysterical as a human cartoon and deserves props for her acting, had no chemistry. 
My second problem was with the chipmunk. Big spoiler here, but at the end of the movie, Giselle takes up the sword to slay the beast herself, and just when you start thinking that Disney is about to do something radical and amazing, the writers laugh at you and say "Oh no! She's still a woman. We'll have her sidekick rush in and save the day." ... Really? That was the stupidest thing I've ever had to watch. You remember watching The Road to El Dorado and realizing Chel was thrown in so that Miguel and Tulio wouldn't come across as lovers? This chipmunk is an even bigger bullshit character than that. His only purpose through the whole movie is to assure that Giselle doesn't come across as too independent or strong. It was ridiculous and if their intention was to create a strong, new Disney Princess, that ruined it for me. They've failed.

I don't recommend this movie as part of the Disney Princess set, but as a romantic comedy that sorely wasted many awesome chances at being a great movie, it had its moments. In terms of whether or not you'll like it, I'd compare it to Life-Size

Cowboys & Aliens
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Cowboys & Aliens- This could easily be the most American movie ever made. Western American History, Western American Fiction, Western American Culture, and American Ideals, come together to make this maybe not the blockbuster hit of the summer, but a very fun 2011 movie that's well worth seeing.

First we start off following Daniel Craig's character, who wakes up in the desert and doesn't know who he is or how he got there. It's sort of in The Bourne Identity mode. We learn that he's strong and he's smart, and then he gets into town and we begin to meet some of the other main characters. Amoung them are Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Noah Ringer (the kid  who played Aang in The Last Airbender). Then, the aliens attack. Apparently they've been attacking a lot, and the device on Daniel Craig's arm is both a warning and the strongest weapon they have against the aliens as a group rides out to rescue their loved ones who were taken during a raid.

SPOILER: They do show the aliens in the movie. Some people said that ruined the movie for them, but it really doesn't. The movie just switches modes from a traditional Western to an Action/SciFi. The transition isn't jarring, it works really well. It takes this from two kinds of movies that have already been made to a movie that hasn't been done before. It's very successful.

I don't think this movie is going to be winning anything at the awards this year, but I would recommend it to anyone. That said, if you don't enjoy very violent films, for example, if you tend to avoid action or westen movies, you might not like it because there is a LOT of that. For reference, if you saw District 9 and liked it, this movie is sort of that movie turned around, so you're likely to enjoy this one too. It is a good movie, and if you missed it in theaters, it is worth getting to watch at home.

Letters to Juliet
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Letters to Juliet- 2010 romance about coming back to the perfect person, and being where you're meant to be, starring Amanda Seyfried.

Sophie goes to Verona, Italy on a pre-wedding honeymoon with her fiance, but he's so obsessed with his new restaurant opening that he spends the entire vacation finding suppliers and learning new Italian recipes. This gives Sophie a lot of time to explore, and eventually she finds her way to a place where women write letters to Juliet, the tragic heroine from Shakespeare's famous romance. A group of women take it upon themselves to collect the letters and write back, and while helping them, Sophie finds a letter that has been hidden at the wall for decades. She writes back and not long after that, the woman who wrote the letter, Claire, comes to Verona. Sophie meets her, and helps her find her long-lost love again.

This movie has a lot of strong female characters and a truly touching plot. SPOILER ALERT. The one problem I had with it was Sophie's eventual love interest; Claire's grandson Charlie. I spent the movie hoping they wouldn't end up together. It was the sort of situation where she could so easily do better, and the idea that her fiance neglectful and wasn't the one for her really didn't make up for the insecure ass Charlie was. They had no chemistry, and even when they did begin to develope some as the movie went along, they never had the "star-crossed lover" dynamic that this movie was aiming for. Christopher Egan, who played Charlie was just not good in that role. The story of Claire finding her long lost love was touchingly romantic, but Charlie and Sophie falling in love never worked for me.

The movie was incredibly romantic, well written, and even inspirational. Sophie aspires to be a writer, and when she's able to achieve that in the end because of writing about her adventures with Claire in Italy, it makes for a powerful transition between Claire's romance and her own.

This is the type of romance movie all women should see, (as women are clearly the target audience.) But I think a sensative man would love this movie just as much.

Arthur
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Arthur- The 2011 remake of the 1981 movie about a billionaire who never learns to grow up until he has to. The title role is played by Russell Brand, with Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, and Geraldine James.

Basically, Arthur is a playboy drunk who is heir to an enormously wealthy corporation, but he's threatened by his mother to be cut off unless he marries Susan, the heiress to another wealthy corporation who his mother believes will be able to control him. He's fine with going into an unhappy marriage at first, because he would rather have the money, but then he meets Naomi, and for the first time in his life, things are happening that make him realize how much he needs to stop drinking, grow up, and become part of the real world.

The movie has its moments when it is incredibly funny, but a lot of the premise and certain situations are incredibly unlikely. I've never seen the original, so I don't know if they just had bad writing to work with or if the movie didn't translate well to a modern context, but it wasn't quite on all the way through.

I saw this movie because I love Russell Brand and find him hysterical, but I don't think I would have enjoyed the movie otherwise. He pretty much played himself, which worked fine for the role, but aspects of that made other things weird. Jennifer Garner's character, Susan was very intense, which she played well, and she was also very sort of refined and collected, but that breaks down at an odd place at the end. Helen Mirren plays the nanny, and although she's fantastic, she just doesn't seem like the sort of person who would have allowed Brand's character to grow up the way he did. It was just little things like that that bugged me through this movie.

To be honest, it was more heart-wrenching than funny altogether. If you're looking for a kind of sweet and quirky movie, or if you love Russell Brand then you should like this movie. Otherwise you should look for something else.

Death at a Funeral
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Death at a Funeral- A 2007 British comedy about a disfunctional family gathering for a funeral. Comedy insues, partly due to mislabeled drugs, and partly due to none of the family knowing the deceased quite as well as they thought they did. 

Matthew Macfadyen stars as Daniel, the son of the deceased, who is living under the shadow of his successful novelist brother, Robert, played by Rupert Graves. Although the family is trying to be proper and respectful, everyone seems to have something to hide, and when drugs are accidentally released into the mix, everyone's secrets and frustrations come boiling to the surface, along with some terrible puns, hysterical scenarios, great acting, and even a bit of danger.

I have not seen the American remake, as the trailers didn't appeal to me, but when I happened to see a trailer for this version I was laughing so hard I had to go find it right away. I don't know how it stacks up, but if you have any taste at all for good, wry, British humor, this is brilliant. 

I Love You Phillip Morris
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I Love You Phillip Morris- Based on a true story, this is a very emotional romance starring Jim Carrey as Steven Russell, and Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris.

Steven gets started on scams to make money because, as he says, being gay is expensive. This lands him in jail where he finds he fits in perfectly. Then he meets Phillip Morris. He wants to do anything and everything he can to make Phillip happy and to be with him forever, but what started out as lies and scams turns into an obsession that barrels out of control until the one thing that's keeping him away from the love of his life, is himself.

I loved the movie and cried through many parts of it, but to be honest, the premise was shifty. I understand it's based on a true story, but it just didn't work for the film. The back story at the beginning could have been easily cut in order to make the premise more believable and honestly I think Jim Carrey was miscast. Ewan McGregor was good in the role of Phillip Morris, but it was very hard to believe that Jim Carrey's character was actually gay, and it was even harder to believe that people bought into his scams. He proved in many instances of this movie what a talented actor he is, but in the parts that are most vital for the character of Steven to be believed I think he fell short.

If you are looking for a touching, tragic love story, this is right for you. It's mostly fantastic and it was only Jim Carrey that really irked me.

Easy A
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Easy A- Olive never  meant to start a rumor that she was sleeping around, it happened due to the pushiness of her best friend, and she went along with it, even after it had gone way too far.

This movie is a great comedy and has some big actors in it including Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive's parents. They were almost the best part of the movie and I came away sincerely wishing they were my parents, but Emma Stone was hysterical and perfectly cast as Olive. The writing was witty and she knew her way around it.

There are a lot of social and moral issues in this movie. You could compare it to Saved! in that way, although this one was funnier and more direct about a lot of issues. The one-liners and internal monologue alone make this movie amazing, but there's also a romance and honesty underlying the comedy. It's successful in many of the same ways that The Breakfast Club was successful. It's in your face, but it's very well played out.

Even though this movie is a bit progressive, with lots of very obvious sexual innuendo and some strong language, it manages to be the kind of movie a teenager wouldn't be embarrassed to watch with their parents.

This was a great overall movie. If you do like The Breakfast Club, or even if you like Emma Stone or are looking for a good comedy, you will enjoy this movie.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen- This 2003 adaptation of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's graphic novel is the exciting adventure  that brings together the characters from some best loved classic adventure novels under the guise of a league, and demonstrates why their stories have had the fortitude to endure the ages.

If you're an avid reader of classic stories, you may enjoy this movie simply to pick out the different characters and what stories they come from. You have Allan Quartermain from King Solomon's Mines played by Sean Connery, Mina Harker from Bram Stroker's Dracula, Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaTom Sawyer playing the part of an American secret agent, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde,  Rodney Skinner as the Invisible Man, and Dorian Gray. As well as villianous portrayals featuring The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera, and Sherlock Holmes's own Professor Moriarty

Basically, the world is on the brink of war, and these classic characters have to come together to stop the mastermind behind it. However, something is wrong. One among them is clearly a spy.

It has a James Bond sort of plotline, and is mostly an excuse to throw major literary characters together in one adventure. However, it is fun. It is an enjoyable movie, despite inaccuracies and perhaps some faults in the writing. It's the type of movie that you can watch and love again and again. I highly recommend it, especially to literary buffs.

"When uniforms were black, and grown men wore them."
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The Man in the Iron Mask-
 The thrilling 1998 adaptation to Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers sequel stars Leonardo DiCaprio and the cast who bring to life Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D'Artagnan in King Louis' France where they try to overthrow the King by replacing him with his estranged twin, Philippe. 

I'm an enormous Musketeers fan, and this movie has been one of my favorites for a long time. The plot revolves around the intrigue that there was a second son born to the throne, a twin to Louis XVI. However, this twin was sent away at birth to avoid a sibling rivalry for the throne. When Louis discovered the existence of his twin, he had him locked away with an Iron Mask covering his face so no one would ever know.

However, Louis is a cruel king, and in order to stop his war and bring prosperity to France, Aramis hatches a plan to replace the king with his twin. Of course Aramis asks the help of his truest friends, Porthos, Athos, and D'Artagnan, each played respectively by Jeremy Irons, Gerald Depardieu, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne. These Musketeers will fight to the death for what they believe in, even if it means facing the entire Royal army of Musketeers.

This is a very good adaptation to the book. It is constantly exciting and easily accessible even to people unfamiliar with The Three Musketeers legend. The accents are all over the place, but the the sword fighting is wonderful and the story is fantastic. Leonardo DiCaprio does a fantastic job playing both the cruel hearted Louis and the kind Philippe. 

I recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. If you love romance and sword fighting, this is for you.

Water for Elephants
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Water for Elephants- This year's unlikely love story with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon based on the bestselling novel by Sara Guren.

I have not read the novel, but to be honest, my impression from the film was that this was a less likely version of the same story as The Illusionist. This time, Robert Pattinson's character, Jacob, loses his parents during the Great Depression, doesn't get his veterinary license, and becomes a train-hopper. Luckily, he happens to board a circus train. Despite being very likely to be kicked off 
or killed many times, he somehow manages to stay on and fall in love with Reese Witherspoon's character, Marlena, who is the wife of the circus boss, August, played by Christoph Waltz.

Reese Witherspoon was fantastic in this movie, and Christoph Waltz was a convincing villian, but otherwise I couldn't say this was the best movie I've ever seen. There's a lot of violence, mostly to highlight the gritty, behind the scenes, real-life of being part of a circus train. However, despite this hard lifestyle, Robert Pattinson's character continues to be a bit of a wimp through the entire movie. The plot was unlikely and all the circumstances seemed contrived.

For example, the first thing a friend said to me after seeing the film was, "Why did they pull him out of his veterinary test to tell him his parents were dead? It's not like they would be any MORE dead after he finished the test and go his license." 

That's not to say it was a terrible movie, it was just unlikely and a bit odd. It had it's moments of glory, and if you enjoy Depression-era, Prohibition love-stories that involve the circus this could very well be the movie for you! Also, if you're a fan of Robert Pattinson, I didn't think his acting was great, but I'm sure he's part of the selling point for this film.

I would not go see it again nor recommend it to a friend, but it wasn't a terrible movie all in all. All the animals were incredibly well trained and exciting to watch.

They
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They- I don't know why I haven't posted about this before. This is the movie I pull out if a friend asks me if I have something really REALLY scary to watch. There may be scarier movies, better thrillers... but this one does it so well you really don't need to go out and find the others, you just need to find the light switch and make sure it stays on while you indulge in "They."

This movie came out in 2002 and stars Laura Regan as Julia and Marc Blucas as her boyfriend, Paul. This is one of those where you need to be paying attention, because although the movie is trying to imply that there is, indeed something in the darkness that's out to get adults who had night terrors as children, it is constantly planting evidence that Julia is really just unstable. The fact that you can't be sure whether or not to believe the perspective you're being shown helps to drive the overwhelming suspense, and never getting a clear glimpse of what is lurking in the dark keeps the terror alive.

Great acting, great story. You should do like me and, if you're just looking for something to make your heart pound and the hair on the back of your neck stand on end while you cower under a blanket in a well-lit room; this is your movie.

The Darjeeling Limited
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The Darjeeling Limited- This is artistic sort of film from 2007 about dysfunctional brothers trying to reconnect on a train in India after not speaking for a year. It stars Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman with guest appearances by Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, and Natalie Portman.

This movie ended up being very heartwarming. In fact, it almost felt like a fantasy. The way the movie is filmed and written it's like you're seeing their journey in India from the perspective of these three American brothers, and that it doesn't matter what's really happening because this is how they're experiencing it. Most of the movie feels like it's going to be very dull or depressing because of long pauses and many things repeating over and over again throughout the plot, but superb acting and well-placed dashes of humor kept me interested all the way through.

There was also a lot of very, very obvious symbolism. They start off with a lot of baggage which they carry around, they each have a quirk to their character that was sparked by an event in their past that you slowly learn about as the story progresses, and by the end they "lose their baggage." Literally. 

Even so, I enjoyed this movie. On the surface it's sort of mind-numbingly obvious about certain things, it's also one of those films that really makes you think and connect the dots. For the acting alone it's worth watching, but I would definitely recommend it.

The Joy Luck Club
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The Joy Luck Club- This 1993 film about Chinese women and their American daughters is based on the best-selling novel by Amy Tan and is just as good a piece of story telling as the book.

Four women make up The Joy Luck Club. They are best friends who each escaped a difficult and tragic life in China to create a new life for their children in America. The story weaves flawlessly between the stories of these women and the stories of their American-raised daughters. In the end, no matter how difficult the struggles they've been through, they all come to realize that the greatest power a person can have is the belief that they are worthy, and the most powerful love of all is the love between a mother and her daughter.

This is not a chick-flick. This is a very powerful piece of story-telling woven into a history of Chinese-American culture. However, this is a movie about women. It is their lives and their stories that are being told, and this movie, more so than the book, paints men as the primary causes of grief and hardship in many of their lives. 

It is a heartbreaking film, but one I think everyone should see. That being said, I'd give the book a higher recommendation than the movie, but the movie does full justice to the book and is worth your time.

X-Men: First Class
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X-Men: First Class- Before Xavier started his school for mutants and the fight against Magneto and humanity  began, they were all just children trying to be normal. This is the story of how the original X-Men were formed, and why they split.

If you've been a fan of the X-Men movies but were sorely disappointed by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, take a deep breathe and prepare for your faith to be rewarded, because Marvel has redeemed themselves. First class has a strong cast, a great writing, and cool graphics. 

In this movie we learn about some key X-Men character's pasts; how Charles Xavier and Mystique grew up as siblings, what Magneto was up to since he first discovered his powers at the concentration camp, how Beast got changed, as well as getting to meet some favorites from the comic books that haven't featured in previous movies such as Emma Frost, Riptide, and Azazel. 

James McAvoy in the role of Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender in the role of Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) really carry the movie, playing off each other and creating a believable friendship that makes the knowledge of them as future enemies heart-wrenching. Jennifer Lawrence also plays a really incredible Mystique, convincing the audience completely of the reasons she left Charles, who was like a brother to her, to follow Magneto. 

I think I'll go as far as to say that this was my favorite movie of the live X-Men series. Marvel has outdone themselves. Even if you aren't a fan I'd suggest you go out and watch it, and if you are I don't know why you haven't gone out to watch it already.

Burlesque
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Burlesque- A movie starring Christina Aguilera and Cher. It's about what you'd expect, a simple romantic plot, fantastic music, and great actors.

Christina Aguilera's character, Ali, escapes her small town life hoping to make it big in Los Angeles. She finds her way into a night club called Burlesque run by Cher's character Tess who she has to prove herself to in order to in order to get her big break. When she does, it ends up being exactly what Tess needs to save her club from being bought out. I believe if you enjoyed the movie Chicago, you're probably going to like Burlesque as well.

This movie has an all-star cast. It has Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, and Alan Cumming among others. They all play these exciting characters with interesting subplots, but none of that is explored much. It seems like the writers came up with this fantastic, intricate plot, but they had to cut it back in order to feature a whole lot of show-stopping musical numbers.

The music is amazing. You've got two very powerful voices controlling the scene, but the songs aren't set up quite like a musical. The singing isn't meant to exactly advance the plot, it's all transition-music and show stoppers. They are singing because they are great singers, not because it's a musical. The result is a sound track you'd want to go out and buy, but a lot of moments in the movie which feel like you've transitioned into a music video.

But like I said before; if you enjoyed Chicago then you should enjoy this movie as well. It is heartwarming and very romantic with strong characters and I was pleasantly surprised by Christina Aguilera and Cher's capacity for acting.

True Grit
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True Grit- The 2010 remake of a John Wayne classic based on a serial by Charles Portis is exciting, but nothing like what I expected based on the hype.

The story is about a smart, headstrong, fourteen year old girl named Mattie Ross who seeks to avenge the death of her father. Miss Ross, played by Hailee Steinfeld, enlists the help of a drunk, old Marshall called Rooster Cogburn, played by Jeff Bridges. They're joined on and off by a Texas Ranger called LeBoeuf, played by Matt Damon. Mattie Ross defies everyone's opinion that she's just a little girl and can't handle herself, and sets off headlong into Indian territory to go after her father's killer, Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin.

What surprised me most about this movie is how in the trailers and reviews it was largely portrayed as a Jeff Bridges movie, when quite clearly Mattie Ross was the main character. To be honest, I wasn't entirely wowed by Jeff Bridge's performance. I'm told he played the role similarly to John Wayne in the original movie, but someone who had never seen the original would come away with only the impression that he was hard to understand.

I was then absolutely shocked to find that Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor in a Leading Role for his supporting role in this film, and Hailee Steinfeld was only nominated as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her lead part. That seem incredibly biased. It made me wonder if other people had been watching the same movie I had.

As far as I could tell, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon had about the same part to play in the movie: their characters were seeking Tom Chaney, interested in reward, and ended up assisting Mattie Ross on her mission of vengeance. Why is it that in the awards the young actress was demoted and the old actor was promoted? It seems like credit should be given where credit is due. Hailee Steinfeld should have been nominated for best leading actress as her portrayal of the main character was wonderful and deserved it.

Overall the movie was good. It was fairly short compared to other modern Westerns, but it was a good movie. It was not as epic as the hype made it sound, but there was plenty of action and adventure. It had a very different focus than I was expecting, but I believe that made it more enjoyable. 

It was a good movie and a fairly basic western. I'm glad I saw it, but I wouldn't be rushing out to buy myself a copy.

Thor
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Thor- Marvel has figured themselves out and have turned this comic book series into a superb superhero classic that absolutely anyone  will enjoy. Chris Hemsworth plays the title character along with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as the love interest Jane Foster, and a generally fantastic cast.

Thor is the oldest son of Odin and next in line for the throne of Asgard. But he is wild and reckless and has a thirst for battle which gets him into trouble and causes his father to strip him of his godly powers and send him to Earth to teach him a lesson.

I won't give anything away, because this is a must-see and I suggest you catch it in theater to receive the full effect of the stunning computer graphics designs, but Loki was easily my favorite character. All the other Norse God characters from the comic book were charming in their own way and were both funny and awe-inspiring, but the complexity of Loki's character actually shocked me. Commonly depicted as a trickster, I didn't expect much out of Tom Hiddleston's Loki except that he would be a typical jealous younger brother, but he played a very emotional, complex character with depth to his motives and actions. I would easily go see this movie again just to further examine Loki. 
 
That, and Chris Hemsworth's abs. 
 
Ladies, if you had any doubts about whether you wanted to see this movie, the minute when Chris Hemsworth is shirtless is absolutely your selling point. So worth it.
 
Thor is easily the most female-friendly superhero movie I've ever seen. There's no sexually objectified love interest, no gratuitous love-making scene (which contributes towards making this movie perfectly kid-friendly) and the two leading female characters are the War Goddess Sif who is a fighter and in absolutely every way an equal to her male counterparts, and Jane who ends up being Thor's love interest, but who is a scientist and is never dressed in a sexual manner at all, wearing instead casual clothes which are logical for her character and profession. Without overtly drawing attention to themselves, the women are natural, powerful characters in this movie on a level that is rare in this genre.
 
I absolutely recommend this movie, and you shouldn't be afraid to bring your girlfriend, boyfriend, parents, children, or even grandparents along because they will enjoy it too. It is primarily an action movie, but it also has a story, incredibly complex characters, and a beautiful design. Enjoy.

Eat Pray Love
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Eat Pray Love- This is heartwarming somewhat New-Age 2010 drama staring Julia Roberts and based on the true story written by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a story about a woman who went through a bad divorce, suffered major depression, and went to find herself in a year-long journey through Italy for pleasure, India for spiritual awareness, and Indonesia to find balance.

I have to recommend the book primarily. It is a fantastic piece of nonfiction with tons of character and is exciting, enlightening, and enjoyable. The movie, however, was very different. It felt a lot more stand-offish especially in Julia Robert's portrayal of Liz and lost a lot of the sarcastic good humor of the book. Both are love stories, though that was more centralized in the movie. The movie also felt more "destined to happen" as many events and characters were combined in the movie in a way that made all the occurrences seem more like fate. This wasn't a bad thing, but it seemed less like real life and more like a romance story.

It was a good movie. I found myself feeling calm and enjoying it, but not as thoroughly as I enjoyed the book. The transitions between places were not very distinct in the movie, which made it feel jumpy and also very drawn out in parts. It felt like you'd need to have read the book to keep up with what was going on, but at the same time, having read the book you would find yourself dealing with the aforementioned frustrations.

It was a beautiful movie visually, but I wouldn't necessarily jump to see it again. Do yourself a favor and read the book, and then if you love it you can come back and watch the movie as a reminder of some of the key points.

The Runawys
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The Runaways- Don't let any preexisting dislike for Kristen Stewart or Dakota Fanning be your reason for skipping this account of the 70s teenage all-girl rock band; The Runaways. Both girls pull their weight in this movie, directed by Floria Sigismondi, and the drama, the love, and the music will make you want to run out and buy old Runaways albums before the movie is even over.

The story follows how Joan Jett, played by Kristen Stewart wants to start a teenage, all girl rock band, their climb to fame, the hype, the drugs, and their disbandment. There's plenty of sex, both referenced and directly stated, and lesbian action between Stewart and Fanning, which you'd think would have made this movie a huge hit in theaters. 

I'm a fan of Joan Jett, but I went into this movie not expecting much, as I've never been a fan of either leading actress. Surprisingly, Kristen Stewart played a very convincing young Jett, and Dakota Fanning was also very good as Cherie Currie. In fact, the whole cast was convincing as a rock band; tough young teenage girls who looked and acted the part perfectly. 

I definitely recommend this movie, especially for fans of Rock and Roll. It has a bit of an independent-film feel to it, and my biggest issue was the volume, as it switched rapidly from very, very soft to very loud. All in all I think it was a very good film. 

An Education
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An Education- All her life Jenny was supposed to go to Oxford and get an education. Growing up in the 1960s, being smart enough to go to a good school was a very big deal, that is, until she met David and he showed her a life of riches and excitement.

This movie was recommended to me, and I'd been meaning to see it and am thrilled that I did. In fact, I saw it almost immediately after reading Jane Eyre, which is a story it purposefully parallels. Jenny struggles with life, with being a student, and with what getting an education really means. Is it alright to go off and marry and have all her dreams come true, provided by a wealthy older man, or can she really rely on him? What is the schooling she's been getting really good for?

This is one of those movies that make life, happiness, and school seem equally important and which, partly subtly, gives a good reason for each, and an emphasis on how to find a balance.

This is an absolutely incredible story through and through, and though it's very relevant to life today, it also gives a distinct picture of what life was like for English women in the 1960s. 

Definitely a must-see, which I'm grateful I watched.  

Tangled
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Tangled- The newest Disney Princess movie can't stand up musically to Disney's past standards, but the story and the incredible characters are more than enough to make up for the cheesy songs.

I was actually surprised how well Tangled followed the Grimm Brother's story of Rapunzel. Considering the darkness of the story, Disney kept some surprising details true to the original.

Basically, Rapunzel is a princess who at birth was stolen away by a witch and locked in a high tower where no one can find her. In this story it's because she has magic hair that keeps the witch looking young. This gives a better reason than just a rope to let the witch up for Rapunzel having extremely long hair. Rapunzel is lovable, smart, tough, charming; all the best qualities for a Disney Princess. But the very best characters are Maximus, the guard horse who acts like a dog, and his nemisis, Flynn Rider, the attractive, charming thief. Then there is also the witch, Rapunzel's "mother" Gothel.

The relationships in this story are so intricate and believable that it really keeps your interest more than anything else. Of course there's the romance between Flynn and Rapunzel, but also the cat-and-mouse banter between Maximus and Flynn and especially Rapunzel's mentally abusive relationship with her mother. Donna Murphy voices the most incredibly hate-able witch ever. Until the very end-- where you have to give credit to this being a kid's movie-- the power Rapunzel's mother has over her is so believable and frightening that you're never in doubt about Rapunzel's 18 year captivity in the tower.

That's also an interesting point: Rapunzel's 18. Disney princess are getting older. Remember when they were mostly 16? This seems like a sign of the times.

I can't emphasize how cheesy that music was, nothing at all like the quality we had from Princess and the Frog, but this story was undeniably wonderful. I adore this movie and will watch it again and again, laughing through it every time. 

Slumdog Millionaire
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Slumdog Millionaire- I finally saw the 2008 Academy Award winning film from directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan. It absolutely deserved the awards it received.

This movie is about a boy named Jamal who grew up in the worst of the slums in India. He and his brother got by after their mother died by basically being crooks. But like all good romances, there was always a girl, and even though their lives tore them apart violently, destiny kept bringing them back together. To win her, Jamal participates in the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. He answers all the questions correctly, but who could believe that a boy from the slums could know all the correct answers? Surely he is cheating his way to victory. 
This movie talks about a hard life in a hard place and the perseverance and love that can overcome it.

There was a lot of controversy about this film regarding the dance number at the end. People say it seems very out of place, and for an American film it might be. However, a dance number at the end is perfectly common in a Bollywood film. The movie is as authentically Indian as possible, and the dance is just meant to enhance the experience.

So I can't believe I waited so long to see this. It was an incredible movie. It was shocking, it was sad, it was fun, and it was romantic. I recommend it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1- The exciting beginning of the end of the popular Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Harry, Hermione, and Ron race to find the Horcruxes to stop the evil Lord Voldemort, but at what cost?

If you plan on going to see this, you need to be a fan of the books or have at least followed the previous movies. This movie covers almost exactly half of the seventh book. Harry and friends learn what the Deathly Hallows are and their camping excursions come to an end.
SPOILER- It ends after they escape from the Malfoy's house and land on the beach and bury a dear friend.

Honestly I was not surprised by this movie. It's possibly the best made of the series, so I applaud the director, David Yates, and crew for choosing to split the movie into two parts. It really worked for them. 
There were several places where they realized that the corners they'd cut in previous movies were a huge problem for them come this one.
For example: At the very beginning a random redheaded man shows up with the group to take Harry to The Burrow. He sticks out his hand and essentially says, "Hey! I'm Bill, Ron's older brother. I got mauled by a werewolf once." The audience is fully expected to understand that this all happened off-screen in the previous movie and that Bill is now marrying Fleur from the fourth movie. We will never meet Ron's brother Charlie, I'm afraid. 

So really, if you haven't been watching since the beginning, reading the books, or aren't a fan, don't start with this one! It may be one of the best made films of the series, with some very good acting, but you can't possibly start from here. It's advancing as a series and it's made for the fans. Start yourself at the beginning.

If you have been following along, you'll really like this one, I promise. 

Amelie
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Amelie- One small discovery changes her small, private life, and her new do-good outlook changes the lives of others in this Academy Award Nominee French Romance Film, Amelie. 

The movie revolves around her world, beginning with her birth. It involves uninteresting people and uneventful things leading to major changes and exciting happenings. It's a very realistic, modern Paris, seen through the eyes of a shy girl who longs to help others without having the brave spirit required to help herself.

This is a very easy movie to relate to despite bizarre and fantastical happenings. If you enjoy romance and fantasy on a regular basis then you absolutely must see this movie. It's a cute, unique movie with a happy ending but also a tone of life-lessons and adventure beneath the silliness.

Doubting? Just listen to the movie's tag line: "She'll change your life."

Megamind
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Megamind- A hysterical twist on a classic plot from the director who brought you Madagascar. This movie stars such voice talents as Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and David Cross and is well worth your time to go out and see.

Basically, some people are meant to do good and some are meant to do evil, at least, that's the way the world appears to work. But after years of losing again and again to Metroman and the forces of good, it looks like Megamind might have actually come through and won one. However, with the city under his control, what is there exactly for a super villain to do? There has to always be a balance between good and evil, and the bad guy never gets the girl.

This movie is absolutely hysterical, completely touching, and will make you feel like a great big kid no matter what age you are. The graphics are incredible and the 3D was really good, though I don't believe seeing it in 2D would at all change your experience. Even at the most depressing of times, this movie maintains a high level of hilarity. All the superhero/villain stereotypes are hit upon and exploited as well as plenty of social norms. 

All around it's a movie you need to see. There was really nothing disappointing, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

The Social Network
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The Social Network- This is the movie about the guy who created Facebook. Do not miss your chance to go see it. Directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg and Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, this movie basically follows the lawsuits that centered around the creation of the most popular social networking site ever invented.

I honestly believe that if you use Facebook (and admit it, you do) you need to see this movie. This will probably be the movie that defines this era of internet technology. 
Basically, the movie portrays the creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, as a self-centered jerk who ends up screwing over his only friend, Eduardo and a few other Harvard students just because he can. But in the end, even he is just another loser who sits around refreshing the same page all day hoping for his friend request to get accepted. Throughout the movie you grow to hate most of the characters deeply, but can't help but feel sorry for them as over and over again someone is getting completely screwed.

I can't vouch for how much research went into making this movie. In fact, I believe it's based on a book and I can't vouch for how much research went into the book either. But if the accuracy is as close as it claims to be, then you might just feel ashamed by your addiction to this website, or in awe of the genius and douchebaggery behind it. But don't lie, you'll Facebook your friends about it afterward.

Absolutely go out and see this well written and well executed movie filled with fantastic acting and plenty of humor. It's worth your time to see what is out there defining your life, and your generation. 

The Machinist
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The Machinist- This 2004 movie follows the paranoia of a man who hasn't slept in a whole year. Directed by Brad Anderson and starring a completely emaciated Christian Bale, this is a thriller worth seeing.

Basically, Christian Bale's character, Trevor Reznik hasn't slept in a whole year. People are beginning to notice something's wrong with him, he's experiencing deja vous, things are starting to go wrong at work. Slowly, he becomes more and more paranoid.

The genius of the movie is that we are left following an unreliable perspective. Everyone around Trevor thinks something is wrong with him, as an audience we can sense that something is wrong with him, but he can't perceive the difference between real and imaginary and it causes just enough doubt to make this movie exciting.

As far as thrillers go, this one is fantastic, and it has a sad, but satisfying conclusion. I recommend you see it, but don't go just to see Christian Bale in skeletal form, his lack of body fat slightly impairs his acting. 

The Haunting in Connecticut
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The Haunting in Connecticut- A 2009 horror movie directed by Peter Cornwell that is based on a true story and guaranteed to give you chills. 

Matt Campbell has cancer. He's trying an experimental treatment, but the hospital is far away and he can barely take the long drives back and forth. His mother, Sara, desperate for her son to live, goes searching for a house in town, and thinks she's found the perfect home. The problem is, it used to be a funeral parlor. Other than being creepy, this doesn't seem to be a problem at first, but then Matt starts to see things. The treatment seems to be the cause, or is the house's past even creepier than they could have expected?

Expect everything to catch fire in the end. This movie does a fantastic job of tricking you into believing it's a psychological thriller and then leaping in your face just when you least expect it. There are more dimensions to this movie than it lets onto at first and as they grow more complicated the danger rises.

This is pretty much a perfect horror/thriller movie. It's not overly gorey, it's not overly confusing, and yet it still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat with goosebumps on your arms.
If you're looking for a good October Horror movie, this should definitely be on your list. 

Ever After: A Cinderella Story
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Ever After- Calling itself the "real" Cinderella Story, this 1998 romance directed by Andy Tennant is heartwarming and strong, standing out among all other Cinderella remakes as the most genuine, passionate, and having the greatest lessons to tell.

Drew Barrymore stars as Danielle, this story's "Cinderella" with Anjelica Huston as the evil stepmother, and Megan Dodds and Melanie Lynskey as the stepsisters. 

This story begins like any other Cinderella story. Danielle's father brings home a mother for her, a Baroness with two daughters. Everything seems perfect until he suffers a heartattack and dies, leaving Danielle fatherless and the Baroness trapped on his estate. Danielle grows up living the life of a servant to her stepfamily, but has a moment of bravery when she dresses like a noblewoman (a thing unheard of for servants to do in the time period this movie is set in.) and goes to pay to bring back the husband of one of the other servants who the Baroness sold to pay her taxes. There she runs into the Prince, their second meeting as he was the one who gave her the money to pay for the servant back. He in infatuated with her for speaking her mind and for being so mysterious. She then goes to live a double life: one of a servant, Danielle, and one of a noblewoman called Nicole, after her mother. Then marriages, love, intrigue, and Leonardo da Vinci come together to bring you an enchanting Cinderella tale.

I've seen this movie many many times, and it's one of the only movies starring Drew Barrymore that I can stand. The writing, for the most part, is elegant and the plot, while familiar is also unique. This is a romance I can watch again and again and never get tired of.

Once
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Once- A 2006 Irish drama directed by John Carney. This movie revolves heavily around music and doesn't waste your time with any unnecessary dialog or details.

A typical boy-meets-girl scenario, a man who plays music on the streets to earn extra money in Dublin is confronted by a woman who thinks the song he's written himself is beautiful. She pursues communication with him and they end up playing music together and ultimately recording an album with some other street performers. 
This is not a typical romance. The whole movie is incredibly romantic between this man and woman, but they both have someone else they're planning to get back to. As the girl points out at the end, their only purpose for being together was the music, which dominates the storyline. Once the music's been made, they have to part ways.

There are a lot of interesting details to this movie that make it unique and interesting. The main one is that the movie runs for 85 minutes, but neither the main male character nor the main female character have a name. I didn't even realize until the credits were scrolling by that they'd never called each other anything. In retrospect, that minor detail gave an enormous amount of depth to the nature of their relationship.

The filming is in an independent style, but the quality of the film isn't independent at all. And since it's really the music that makes the movie, please listen to this song as an example and decide based on your enjoyment of it whether or not you want to watch this touching movie, rather than my review.
www.youtube.com/watch
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Bright Star- A devastating but beautiful period drama concerning the life and passionate love of the famous Romantic poet, John Keats. This movie came out in 2009 and was directed by Jane Campion and stars Ben Whishaw as Keats, and Abbie Cornish as Fanny, his love. 

The story is told mostly from Fanny's perspective. In the beginning she is a young but sharp girl with a skill for sewing and a mind to become a successful seamstress. When she meets John Keats she is taken with him and immediately begins to develop an interest in poetry; chiefly his. 
The story follows the twists and turns of their romance, as he pursues his life as a poet, leaving her behind and devastated, up through their engagement, and finally his final leave for Italy, where he dies at the young age of 25. 

 If you typically dislike having to follow along with jumps through time that are not made clear, this is not the right movie for you. However, if you are a romantic with a taste for period British dramas, or just an acute interest in poetry, you should really love this movie. The ending may leave you a little depressed, but the theme is love and poetry is the way through which it is expressed.

I greatly enjoyed this movie, but I have an interest in Keats that normal viewers may not share. If you're looking for romance, check this one out. If not, pass it by.

Once Upon a Film
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Once upon a Film

Once Upon a Film- Called "A Fairy Tale for Cynics," this 2007 off-beat New York romance from the director Decker was powerfully moving.

Stella has been taking longer than is probably healthy to get over her ex boyfriend, Simon, and her best friend, Emily is worried about her. Emily tries to set Stella up on a date, hoping she'll move on, but there's one problem. Stella's obsession with Simon is on a schizophrenic level. She sees him in her room and talks to him and when her vision of him shows up, she freaks her blind date out and he leaves.
Luckily, Stella's hope for normalcy isn't completely lost because someone she'd only just barely met at a film showing, a film critic named Derek has fallen head over heels for her. He'd been obsessed since the first time she mentioned her favorite romance was Harold and Maude and when Stella and Emily run into him at a movie theater, he sees his chance to get to know Stella better, and she sees her chance to get over Simon.

This is a really wonderful love story for those who are feeling like they've got no chance left at finding love. Stella's character is cynical and a bit of a bitch most of the time, but as the movie progresses you get to appreciate her position a bit more and really root for Derek to make his move. It is a chick flick, but not a terribly cheesy one, just sweet and a little weird.

In a few ways it reminded me of the webcomic Girls With Slingshots though I'd not accuse one of copying the other to any extent.

I enjoyed the movie. It made me happy, and soundtrack was great, I'd not hesitate to recommend it to anyone though it's not something I'm exactly dying to go see again and again.
 



The Pianist
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The Pianist- I finally got around to watching Roman Polanski's 2002 Academy Award winning film, The Pianist starring Adrien Brody. It was, perhaps not what I'd expected, but breathtaking in every sense of the word.

The movie takes place in Poland during WWII. Wladyslaw Szpilman is a well liked pianist for a major radio program is a member of a well-to-do Jewish family. As the Germans take over, slowly the family loses everything, and then is moved to the Warsaw ghetto. After struggling to survive in the ghetto and still somehow managing to stay together, his family is going to be moved with the other Jews to a concentration camp. However, this is not the story of a concentration camp that I expected it to be; because due to his connections from his life before the war, Adrien Brody's character is saved at the last minute before boarding the train. Forced to leave him family to their fate and never see them again, he goes into hiding. The story then becomes the difficulties and dangers of being an escaped Jew in hiding in German-occupied Poland. Much of the action takes place around him as Szpilman, a pacifist, watches the goings on through windows. It is his love and passion for piano that keeps him focused, sane, and eventually nourished and safely found.

It was a touching, though horrifically sad movie. And who could ask for anything else given the subject matter? There is no light-hearted feel like in the 1997 movie Life is Beautiful. Life was hard, and in hiding you must rely on the aid of friends who are risking their life for yours. Szpilman became malnourished, injured, a scavenger, watching many people around him fighting for their lives on both sides and ultimately losing.

It deserved all the awards it got, and quite possibly more. However this is not something you want to just watch on a whim as it is depressing and for best results should probably be followed up with a light hearted flick if you intend to sleep at all in the next couple of days.

The Last Airbender
Nenene
kaye_spivey



The Last Airbender- This is M. Night Shyamalan's representation of the first season of the Nickelodeon cartoon from 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Trying to stuff a full season of a successful and well-loved cartoon into a couple of hours seems like a difficult task, but Shyamalan surprisingly did it. No, there's no plot twist in this movie, and although it doesn't perfectly follow the cartoon's progress through the first season, it touches on most important bases and stayed true to the fans.

Actually, being a fan is a bit of a requirement for this movie. Hardly any time is wasted on explaining things. Though all things are sort of explained by the end, it's largely in passing, and with no basic understanding of the story you might miss how important things are later on. This said, if you are a die-hard fan you have to keep your expectations to yourself. This is not a cut and paste copy of the cartoon. Although the basic plot is kept, many elements are changed rather dramatically.
The one change that bothered me most is that bending is different from the show. Whereas in the cartoon bending the elements is part of learning a martial art and the element moves with the body; in the movie they make bending more like a summoning art, where the element tends to follow from a source only after the bender has done certain movements.

For those who don't know, the basically plot is this: The world is comprised of four basic nations, Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. The Avatar, the only being who can control all the elements, has been missing for a hundred years. In his absence the Fire Nation has waged war on the other nations. Katara and her brother Sokka live in the Southern Water Tribe and stumble across a boy in the ice. When they free him, it is discovered that his name in Aang and he is the Avatar, and this brings the Fire Nation upon them. Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation has been banished by his father and cannot return home to have his honor restored unless he brings back the Avatar. So he takes to hunting Aang down, chasing them to the Northern Water Tribe where Aang has gone on his journey to master the four elements so he can restore peace.

I am a die-hard fan of the cartoon and have watched it all the way through twice within the last month. It was difficult to not be miffed about the small details changed or left out in the movie from the cartoon. But getting over it, I really enjoyed the movie, keeping in mind that there will logically be two sequels to finish up the plot. That, and the director wanted to keep true to the cultural aspect of the story and pronounced some of the character's names more traditionally to their respective backgrounds than the show did.
My brother, who has not seen the show and knew nothing about it but what I'd ranted about previously, went with me. Having no preconceptions, he said he largely enjoyed the movie. Visually it was spectacular, the acting was great, and the plot was easy enough to follow, though he knew there were details he was missing.
It was the two friends I went with, who had watched the show a while back when it was on TV who enjoyed it then, that liked this movie least. They had problems with the actors and storyline and the concept they used for the bending. After it was over I had to remind one of them that this only covered the first season, which ended in the same place.

The movie is rated PG. It is visually spectacular: arguably the best visual effects to date. The costumes are beautiful, and the set is fantastic. Honestly, if you set your expectations aside and just go with the flow of the movie, you will enjoy it  and you won't be sorry you went.

Avatar
Nenene
kaye_spivey



Avatar- Having now seen James Cameron's Avatar twice, now on a small screen and not in 3D, I felt I had enough perspective on the movie to write a review. There has been a lot of praise for this movie, and also a share of criticism. This is my two cents on the movie.

Basically the plot goes like this: Our paraplegic hero, Jake Sully, an ex-marine, wakes up from a six year stasis and has arrived at the hostile planet of Pandora. He's there taking over for his twin brother, a scientist who died just before he was supposed to set off for Pandora. Jake's brother was part of a project trying to communicate with the natives of Pandora, the Na'vi, using Avatars bred from human and native DNA. Jake takes over his brother's avatar and goes with the scientists as a body guard. His first day out he ends up trapped in the jungle overnight and meets one of the natives, Neytiri. After being shown a sign by their god, Eywa, Neytiri takes Jake to their home city. Learning this, the military on Pandora asks Jake to get close to the Na'vi and convince them to leave their Home Tree, as a large supply of a very valuable mineral called Unobtainium is stashed there. He agrees, but as he learns about the Na'vi he begins to see that the destruction the humans wish to cause will destroy the Na'vi, and must take a side.

Reviewers have compared this movie to Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, and FernGully, and it's true. No matter how great James Cameron thinks the writing is, this story has been done, and the dialogue is weak. He wrote Aliens and Titanic, and yet Avatar's writing was disappointing. There are no epically memorable lines and since the plot is standard there is nothing to really even say about that. In fact, for how much praise he got for this movie, nothing James Cameron would have done for it is what made it enjoyable.

What made Avatar exciting was the incredible design of both the planet of Pandora with it's plants that respond to touch and it's exciting landscape, and the Natives. The Na'vi are so intricately designed that after a while they seem more natural than the humans do to watch.

I have to admit that I expected little to begin with from this movie, because although the 3D effects were absolutely perfect, I was among those miffed that the title had to be "Avatar" and usurped to position of The Last Airbender, which was also originally called "Avatar" after the Nickelodeon show it is based on, and pushed The Last Airbender's release back to July 2010, when they were meant to come out the same month. However, they are not comparable, even though their titles overlapped.
Regardless, I thought Avatar was an exciting and enjoyable movie, though not the best I've seen and not one I'm leaping up and down to see again unless in 3D. Though it is just PG-13, I'd not recommend it for children.



Prince of Persia
Nenene
kaye_spivey


 

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time- You'd not know this was a Disney-made movie except for the traditional storytelling style and the tender, hinted romance. Directed by Mike Newell and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Molina, this video game-turned-movie has just set the new standard for video game adaptations.

If you enjoyed the game then you will not be disappointed by the movie. It follows the plot of the game not exactly, but well enough to avoid any frustration from fans.
Basically Persia is in process of conquering most of the middle eastern lands, and the King, with two blood sons ends up adopting an orphan boy off the street after witnessing his courage and determination. This boy's name is Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and in the future he helps his brothers conquer a holy city after his uncle assures them that the city has been making weapons for their enemies. The conquest of this city ultimately leads to treachery and the death of the King, which is blamed on Dastan. The Princess of the city helps him to escape after seeing that he has recovered a knife from the invasion, a sacred knife that turns back time. Now Dastan must convince the world that he did not kill his beloved father while avoiding death on all sides.

The movie is set up much like a video game. There are levels and tasks to do in each place and boss fights before moving on. However, this didn't detract as I'd feared it would. It gave the movie a nice, traditional structure to follow and holds a great deal of appeal for video game fans. There's also a rather obvious romance that tries to deny itself through most of the movie before giving in. If you don't let that bother you then it doesn't detract.

If you liked the game then do see the movie, it's worth it. Also if you enjoy action movies with lots of fancy stunt work or just Arabian plot lines, you'll enjoy this. And if you're a Jake Gyllenhaal fan then you definitely need to see him all beefed up and missing his shirt.



Iron Man 2
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Iron Man 2- This is the sequel to the first Iron Man movie, and boy is that pretty much exactly what it is. If you've not seen the first one don't waste your money going to see this one until you've seen the previous. It will not be worth it to you.

Robert Downey Jr. is still in the lead role as Tony Stark, but this time the villain is Mickey Rourke who gives a stunning performance, although, for being the super cool, super smart bad guy, he's never more than a temporary nuisance. Basically he's trying to test Iron Man's abilities out by challenging him and wants him to fall from the public opinion in a really harsh way, but keeps being seemingly thwarted. Because that is not achieved by this movie I'm thinking Iron Man 3 will be coming out in the near future.

Really, this movie is a lot like a second episode of a mini series. It follows the first one, introduces some cool new things, but doesn't stand alone or advance the plot dramatically. For example, Pepper Potts and Tony Stark are still not quite a couple by the end of this movie.

There are really good things though. Of course the graphics are perfect. They're tasteful, even though a massive amount of things blow up, and they work hard to make you really jealous of Tony Stark's computer. As graphics go today, these are pretty much as good as anything is ever going to get in cinema. There's also Scarlett Johansson to look forward to. She doesn't play a hugely major role in this particular movie, she seems more like a lead-in character for a later movie, but she's definitely hot.

The main reason to watch Iron Man 2 is to stay after the incredibly long credits to get a sneak peak of what Marvel's new movie is going to be. I won't give it away, but if you're a nerd, it'll be pretty exciting.


Brick
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Brick- This 2005 movie by Rian Johnson plays out like a detective story. You start out with what happened: A girl is dead. Then we work back to the beginning to learn who the girl is, why she was killed, and how that effects Brendan; the main character and self-proclaimed detective of the movie.

Largely this is a film about drugs. Everything happens or happened because of drugs and if you aren't savvy with the lingo you might get left behind on key elements of the plot. The characters are all supposed to be of high school age, but not a one of them actually acts like a high schooler. Organized crime, smuggling, heroism, and death are all pretty normal high school concepts in the world of this film.

It's hard to give a summary without giving away too much of the movie. It moves at a relatively slow pace and you have to pay close attention to stay a step ahead of Brendan (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in what is probably one of his most unnaturally stoic roles. Expect no emotional range from him throughout the whole of the movie.) or to keep from becoming bored by the seemingly ridiculous story.

This is a good movie; it just gains nothing from the main character. Once you've met Tug and The Pin things really start to look up as they add a whole new dimension of interest to the film, but up until then Brendan seems to have his own agenda that he's simply not sharing with anyone for any reason.

It's been recommended to me strongly that a person give this movie two shots before constructing an opinion about it. You miss a lot the first time through that will make subsequent viewings twice as exciting. If this is the kind of thing that bothers you, this might not be the movie for you. But if you like Independent films or movies about organized crime and mystery, you might really enjoy this one.

Bunny and the Bull
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Bunny and the Bull- This is an English film done by director Paul King (director of the The Mighty Boosh) which came out in 2009 and showed at film festivals from the UK to Canada.

The movie starts out fairly independent-film like. The main character, Stephen, has been suffering from  agoraphobia for a year now and has become anally OCD. Slowly he starts being reminded of a trip he had by looking at or interacting with the things in his house . Soon we meet his best friend, Bunny, and the trip they had together begins to unfold. This part starts off rather light and playful. Moving from independent looking to seeming like a children's story. They decide to take a trip across Europe using money won off a horse race and go from boring attraction to boring attraction. Then Bunny takes over choosing where they'll go and  they meet up with Eloisa and Stephen begins to fall in love. But nothing is that simple and the story starts to turn darker. Eventually the children's story guise is lifted and we begin to see what the dark truth is that's keeping Stephen inside. Although the story moves slowly at first, it picks up pace steadily, becoming increasingly more and more captivating as the story moves along.

The acting is great, the script is amusing and the set design is incredible! Everything is made out of paper or made to look like toys. There's an amusement park made out of gears to look like the inside of a clock.

There is a great deal of humor that won't necessarily reach all viewers, and so I can't recommend this film to everyone. A good rule of thumb is that if you enjoyed The Mighty Boosh, you'll probably enjoy the movie, though I'm not saying you won't like it if you didn't. I'll warn you that there is male nudity and a good deal of cursing in this film. Otherwise it is a good deal of fun and well worth seeing.

Bunny and the Bull hasn't quite reached the States yet, but it's just come out on DVD in the UK now so I'm sure you can find yourself a copy!

Because I think it will convince you to see it, here's the TRAILER.

Alice in Wonderland
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Alice in Wonderland- I'd read some reviews and expected to be very disappointed with this Tim Burton movie, but pleasantly, I went away feeling quite happy to have seen it.

You have to remember that this is in no way supposed to be the original Alice in Wonderland story as told by Lewis Carroll. Alice is 19 for starters, and this is her second trip to Wonderland, though she doesn't remember her first. Everyone is expecting her to be the champion for the White Queen in the battle against the Red Queen, but she doesn't think she's strong enough.

Honestly, the movie plot was about that what you'd expect from a made-for-TV movie, not from a cinema movie. Things just sort of happen just because it works that way up until the end when the story suddenly greatly resembles The Wizard of Oz. The 3D effects were fine. They were nothing to raise a fuss over, but they were nice. I don't believe they added anything vital to the experience, but it was fun to see in 3D anyway. The make-up was really the biggest problem I had. Although many of the costumes (not all, I'm disappointed to say) were beautifully done and added a lot to the scene; by and large the make-up was just terrible. It was distracting from the actor's expressions, which could be what Burton was going for, but just try not to stare at that line on Johnny Depp's nose in half his scenes wondering why it could possibly be there.

Not to say I didn't love the movie. Many many elements were clever and lots of fun. The March Hare and the Cheshire Cat were two particularly lovable characters, and even though he appears to be rather frighteningly made up, Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter was very lovable. Helena Bonham Carter didn't disappoint for an instant, and managed to outdo herself even under the pressure of a huge head. Anne Hathaway was another who, although playing a character who was decidedly 2D, was absolutely darling. Beyond character, the little references to different games that go on between the characters and even the botch rendition of the poem "Jabberwocky" was really fun. The movie seems to be made especially for nerds who appreciate the books and who like to play chess, checkers, or cards, all of which are highly represented.

When all's said and done, you leave the theater feeling rather good about yourself and like you could go out and get something creative and wonderful accomplished. Don't expect more than a made-for-TV-movie plot, and don't expect much out of Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) but do go see it.

 

Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Christmas Cottage- Don't wait until Christmas to go out and see this heartwarming movie about life, love, and art.

This 2008 movie is about the artist Thomas Kinkade and his influences from his small town and his family and the man who taught him "why to paint", a character played by Peter O'Toole.

After coming home from college for the Christmas holidays, Thomas and his brother learn that their childhood house is falling apart and that their mother has not been able to keep up with the mortgage payments, so they go off to get jobs. Thomas is offered a job painting a mural of the town. At first he thinks of it only as a job, but then his aging mentor, Glen, tells him that he has to put his heart into everything that he paints, and Thom begins to draw inspiration for the mural off of what makes the town really special: its people.

This movie is supposed to be about the inspiration behind Thomas Kinkade's painting "The Christmas Cottage" but even if you don't know who he is, if you just want to be touched deeply by stories of hope and love then this is a movie you need to see. Art transcends time and, no matter what your art materializes as, it should always be done to the very best of your ability and with all your heart behind it. That's the thought left to the audience after seeing this movie. I highly recommend it.

Cry_Wolf
Nenene
kaye_spivey


Cry_Wolf- Jon Bon Jovi is in this movie! Who'd have thought he could even act? But he does a good job. This was a Thriller that came out back in 2005 and has a bit of a Breakfast Club feel to it.

Owen Matthews transfers to a new private school in a town where a young girl was recently murdered, and her killer has not been identified or caught. The first girl he meets is named Dodger and, due to his infatuation with her, he falls in with a group of friends who are more than ready to bend the rules. They start out by just sneaking out and playing games, but things escalate as they decide to make up an identity for the mystery murderer and send out their made up description to everyone. Suddenly, the line between the game and reality starts to blur for Owen, and he begins to question who he can trust.

This movie seems like just another thriller that didn't make it very far, but it's incredibly well made. The twists are surprising, and the dialogue is not as cheesy as you'd expect for a movie like this one. The idea that you never know who you can trust and who is just leading you on is very expertly set up.

I recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good thriller or slasher and wants something with more substance and less blood than Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine. Also, if you claim that The Breakfast Club is your favorite movie of all time, you'd probably enjoy this one.

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