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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Adams’

Readers:  CAUTION – this LONG post is a review of three movies which are not very good.  Unless you are really interested in the movies (or my writing skills enthrall you), I would just skip this post and come back some other time…  You’ve been warned!
Today’s review is for the three movies in the Cruel Intentions series: Cruel Intentions (1999), Cruel Intentions 2 (2000) and Cruel Intentions 3 (2004).  Of the three films, only CI:1 had a theatrical release.  Both CI:2 and CI:3 were straight to DVD.  (And, yes, there was a reason for this.)
First a little background…  I haven’t seen any these movies before.  I like Reese Witherspoon.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a “fan” as I can only recall seeing her in “Legally Blonde” and “Sweet Home Alabama“.  I did see her in “Walk The Line“, but, to be honest, although I am a Johnny Cash fan, I didn’t think much of the movie and didn’t even remember Witherspoon being in it until I looked her up for this review.  To tell the truth, I used to get her confused with Meg Ryan.  Anyway, Witherspoon was showing as one of the main characters in the CI:1, and the series was on sale on Vudu bundled three for a tenner, so I thought I’d check them out.  After all, how bad could they be?
Cruel Intentions — movie review
The first (chronologically) in the series, this movie stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil (the rich bad girl), Ryan Phillippe as Sebastian Valmont (the rich evil step-brother), Reese Witherspoon as Annette Hargrove (the nice girl), and Selma Blair (the dumb rich girl).  Anyway, the rich sister and brother just like to spend their time ruining other peoples lives, so they set out to ruin Annette’s and Selma’s.
Blah, blah, blah, the evil brother ends up falling in love with the nice girl and dies saving her from being hit by a car.  He gets hit instead.  Annette and Selma then get back at Kathryn by publishing Sebastian’s diary with all of its stories about Kathryn.
Is this any good?  No.  Not really.  It’s kind of interesting to see Geller and Witherspoon in early roles, but other than that, there is not much to recommend this film.  It is supposed to be a “dark comedy”.  I guess it’s dark, if you call teenagers being sadistic towards one another “dark”, but it’s NOT funny.  The movie is rated “R” for language, drugs and suggestive sexual activity (straight and gay).  The movie received numerous MTV awards (back in the day), for whatever that is worth.  I gather it is / was popular with teens and I guess you could also say that Geller’s character is a strong female lead role – if you are into defining “strong” as cruel, evil and manipulative.
Final recommendation: weak.  I really don’t think today’s 18+ teens will think watching mid-twenty-somethings play high-schoolers, will appeal to many folks these days.  Having said that, it is the best of the three.
Cruel Intentions 2 — movie review
Although this movie was the actual sequel, it is meant to be the prequel which introduces Kathryn and Sebastian as step-relations and kind of kicks them off as sophomores in their “la-de-da” high school.
This time Kathryn is played by Amy Adams and Sebastian is played by Robin Dunne.  This time the two nice girls are played by Sarah Thompson and Keri Lynn Pratt.  There is a twist at then end where one of the “nice” girls ends up being a bad girl working with Kathryn to humiliate Sebastian.
Is this any good?  No.  Not really.  Amy Adams is the only actor I know from this movie.  That’s not to say the others haven’t done well.  I just never watched their TV roles and I’m not aware if they’ve made it in movies.
Anyway, another “R” rated movie.  Again, language, drugs and sexual themes (including some nudity).  The production quality is not as good as the original.  If there is one saving grace, it is this movie actually has brief scenes which have humor.  I didn’t find them “Ha-Ha” funny, but they were “smile a bit” funny – which is more than can be said for the original.
Final recommendation: weak.  Again, other than seeing Adams in an early role, there is very little to recommend this film.
Cruel Intentions 3 — movie review
This is an “un-sequel” sequel.  The characters are rich, but they are in California, not New York City, and they are in college, not in high school.  So, as a “teen drama” it’s not very “teen”.  The only relation to the to other movies is there is a “Merteuil” in the movie: in this case cousin Cassidy, who I guess is Kathryn’s cousin.
Kristina Anapau plays Cassidy Merteuil (still a rich bad girl), Kerr Smith plays Jason Argyle (another rich kid from the same NYC high school, but apparently no relation), and, Nathan Wetherington plays Patrick Bates (another rich bad boy) a random rich kid who gets assigned to room with Jason.
Again, another “R” movie with language, drugs and sexual themes and scenes.  In this case, there is an actual (though brief) sexual scene.  They are not pornographic, but this is probably just a shade from being “X” rated.
So, is there any plot?  Three rich college students are bored with casual sexual relationships, so they set up schemes to ruin the lives and relationships of other students – just to prove they can.  Yeah, basically the same plot as CI:1 and CI:2, but at college.  Blah, blah, blah, twist at the end to punish Patrick for being a rapist, before Cassidy and Jason both go back to being jerks – on their own and together.
Final recommendation: very weak / skip it.  The acting is slightly better than CI:2, but there is none of the humor of CI:2.  The actual camera work is better than CI:1 or CI:2, but just having a sharper picture, doesn’t make for a better movie.  This is the least interesting of the three in the series.
Series final recommendation: given ’em all a miss.  I guess bored rich kids being manipulative jerks is (or was) the definition of “teen drama” at the turn of the millenium.  I would compare this series to the “teen horor / slasher” series from the ’90’s, but (again being honest), I tended to only watch one “I Know What You Did” or “Jason” or “Holloween” movie and never went back.  I probably should have followed my better instincts at the end of CI:1.  The better part of six hours of my life wasted when there are so many good movies out there to watch (or re-watch).  Oh, well…  Someday, I’ll learn.
If any of you who’ve suffered through this post were teens (or twenty-somethings) twenty years ago (when these came out) AND you watched these films, I’d be interested to know what you thought of them at the time.  Please do NOT feel the need to re-watch them to update / refresh your opinion on my behalf.
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On This Day In:
2018 United States
2017 Out Of Luck
2016 Wavelengths Of The Earth
2015 God Said What To You?
2014 Not Saying
2013 Ears And Tongue
2012 The Story Of Joe (Middle-Class Republican)
2011 Happy Birthday, Diana
Depending On Kindness

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Leap Year”  (2010)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 2010 rom / com, “Leap Year“, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  Adams plays a real estate stager (someone who “cons” buyers by making property look nicer than it is) and Goode plays a bitter / sarcastic pub owner / innkeeper.  The third main role is played by Adam Scott.  He plays Adams’ cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy.
Anna (Adams) goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend (Jeremy / Scott) on February 29th (duh, “Leap Year”), on the way, she meets Declan (Goode).  A series of comedic incidents ensue.  Blah, blah, blah.  They fall in love, but try to deny it to themselves.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Boston with her boyfriend – now fiance, Jeremy.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Ireland and her true love.  Happy ending, kissing at sunset.
Is this any good? Does it work as a rom / com?  Yes, and yes.  There are only two issues: 1) getting soaked in the rain (repeatedly) and pelted by hail, is miserable, not romantic; and, 2) people seem to walk incredible distances extremely quickly.  Aside from these two minor breaks with reality, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly.  I particularly enjoyed the old men’s banter in Declan’s pub. A perfect stereotype of an Irish pub.
A couple of other points: I’m not sure if I’ve type-casted Scott or not, but he was completely unbelievable as Adam’s boyfriend.  I didn’t think I was an Adams’ fan, but I’ve seen her in multiple roles (“Doubt“, “Man of Steel“, “Julie & Julia“, and “Arrival“), and, okay, I’m sold.  She’s pretty good.  In those other movies, I don’t think the camera “loves” her.  In this role, it does.  And, then there’s Goode…  Watching the movie, I thought: “This guy is great!  I wonder what else he’s done?”  So, of course, I looked him up and he was in “Watchman“, “The Imitation Game” and “Downton Abbey“.  All of which surprised me because (suddenly) I said: “Wow!  He was good in all of those, too!”
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As a fairy-tale rom / com this is a better than average movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the two leads and the various predicaments they got into and out of.  It’s not a believable story / movie (see above), but it’s got beautiful Irish scenery and I found myself wanting them to have the happy ending.  That, in itself, is a pretty high recommendation for any rom / com.
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On This Day In:
2017 Explaining My Equally Meager Results
2016 Every Tool And Every Chance
2015 Something That You Love
2014 Not Really At All
2013 Listening And Deserving
2012 I’m Still Not Certain
2011 True, False And Useful

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Okay.  So I’m “supposed” to have been trying to get back into my reading (the main source material for this blog).  Instead, I’ve been watching a lot of movies.  Now, don’t get me wrong, movies are also a big source of material here, but I do tend to go overboard sometimes.
 
In this latest bunch of movies I’ve watched: “Superman Returns“, “Man of Steel“, “Limitless“, “Quartet“, “Terminator: Salvation“, “The Amazing Spider-Man“, and “Chariots of Fire“.  Obviously, given that large a number, I won’t be able to do more than give a cursory review and recommendation.
 
Superman Returns” came out back in 2009.  I’ve only seen the movie twice before this viewing – once on original release and then once on TV.  To be honest, I was not impressed either time.  The main problem I had with the movie was the “green kryptonite”, which is supposed to be deadly to Superman.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know what the problems are here.  Anyway, with the release of “Man of Steel”, I wanted to get psyched for the new movie, so I thought I’d rewatch the latest version.  Believe it or not, even though I didn’t particularly like the movie, I do own a copy of the DVD.  I collect comic-book movies and Superman is one of (if not the) the most important comic characters in comic book history.  So Friday, before going to see the new version, I sat down to watch it.

Reaction?  Much better than I remember!  It’s not a great movie, but it is a decent comic genre movie.  The star, Brandon Routh, makes a good Superman and Kevin Spacey makes a decent Lex Luther.  The film has a lot of problems, but it’s not bad as entertainment goes.  Spacey is much less “campy” in this Lex than Gene Hackman was and I feel that makes the movie a lot better than “Superman -the Movie” from the 1970’s.  This version doesn’t have the insider jokes which graced the 1978 version, so it will never be a classic among true fans, but it is a good, solid version.  Final recommendation: good but not great.  Enjoy it at home with pop corn!
 

 

Man of Steel” came out last weekend and I went to see it on the Saturday morning opening with my daughter Rebecca.  She is not a comic nerd, but does know some of the background.  She thought the movie was very entertaining and I thought it was terrific.  The movie starts out with a major re-imaging of Krypton – straight out of Avatar.  The movie progresses with lots of background info about Superman growing up and trying to find himself – blah, blah, blah – jump to costume.  Not bad.  Looks cool, but it abandons the red underwear outside of the blue pajamas.  Okay. I can live with that…

Bad guy (General Zod) finds Superman on Earth and demands his surrender to save the planet.  Big battle (20 minutes, I guess, but it felt longer).  The end.

Is it a good movie?  Yes!  Is it the best Superman yet?  It avoids camp, but has a few (maybe too few) moments of humor.  Everyone is saying they were going for the “darker” Batman type of movie.  The problem with that is Superman is NOT a dark hero.  Anyway, other than a few minor points (and the lack of humor), I’d say this is every bit as good as the Christopher Reeve version(s).  The overall cast is very strong and Henry Cavill is a “hunk” as the man in blue.  I gather he had to bulk up for this role and he is a LOT more buffed than Routh was in his version.  I’m a Kidder fan, so Amy Adams doesn’t do anything for me as Lois Lane, but she’s okay.  So, final recommendation: if you’ve gone to go see Iron Man 3, you need to go see this as it’s better all around.  Highly recommended!

 

Limitless” is a good Sci-Fi movie about a guy who takes drugs to use all of his brain (instead of just the 10-20% we all normally use).  Does he get away with it?  Does it improve his life?  And most importantly, is the movie any good?  Shockingly, yes, yes, and yes.  Despite the moral implications of getting ahead by using “performance enhancement drugs”, he does use them and he does get away with it.  Does it improve his life?  We’re left with the impression it did and it does and by extension, we should too.  Is the movie any good?  Yes.  It’s got decent action, a little skin, but no sex, reasonable special effects (if you believe that’s what being on drugs “looks” like), and the acting isn’t all that bad.  I enjoyed the movie (despite the moral implication mentioned) and give it a good recommendation.

Final comment, I don’t recall seeing Bradley Cooper in anything else, but he’s very good in the lead role.  I’ll look for more of him in the future.

 

Quartet” is a comedy/drama about old people in a retirement home.  Not just any home mind you, a pretty posh layout because the residents are all famous singers and musicians.  And not just any singers, but the finest quartet of British opera singers since WWII.  The movie is filled with heavy-weight British stars and is beautifully cast and shot.  If you like “fun” movies with great music and terrific older actors who still have “it“, you will thoroughly enjoy this movie.  It is, of course, very unrealistic, but who cares – it’s wonderful!  Final recommendation: Highly recommended!
 
Terminator: Salvation” is the latest in the “T” series (and yes, it does have a mercifully brief CGI role for Arnold in it).  This time, we’re back in the future and we’re trying to save John Connor’s father.  This is before the father has grown up enough to go back in time to become John’s father.  Yeah, I know, it’s all a bit of a paradox…  Anyway, lots of fights, guns, explosions, special effects and hero saving the day.  More or less everything you expect in the “T” series.  Does it work?  Is the movie any good?  Not really, but yes.  The first time I saw this was in original release.  I was seriously NOT impressed.  I did pick up the DVD and it’s sat on my shelf (unopened).  So….  I tore the plastic off and rewatched it.  Much, much better with time and distance.  I’m not sure why, but the story made no sense to me when I first watched it but it did this time through.  Go figure.  This version lacks the originality of the first movie and the break-though special effects of the second.  Having said that, it’s better than both T-2 and T-3.  At least, I enjoyed it more.  Again, go figure.
 
The Amazing Spider-Man” is the reboot of the series which I reviewed (Wall-Crawler Reboot) back in July of 2012.  That was a fairly long review, so you can go check that post out if you want to know more.  Suffice it to say my “highly recommended” rating still stands.  I would add that I was incorrect about it not standing up as well on the smaller screen.  I enjoyed it very much even though I only have a 32″ screen on my computer / DVD player.
 
Chariots of Fire” is a retelling of the 1924 British Olympic track team’s trip to Paris.  The movie came out in 1981 (yes, it’s over thirty years old now), and was up for (7) and won multiple (4) awards including best picture and original score.  I found the side-ways commentary about the classes in British society to be particularly interesting.  Needless to say, it’s a brilliant movie even if it’s not entirely historically accurate.  Final recommendation: this is a MUST see film.
 
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On This Day In:
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Today’s three movie reviews are for “Doubt“, “Atlas Shrugged” and “Captain America: The First Avenger“.  The first two are new and the last is a second(/third) opinion.
Doubt” is the story of a new nun/teacher who may or may not be right for the job, an older nun/principal who may or may not be acting in good faith to protect her charges and punish evil, and a priest who may or may not be molesting a child (or children).  First off, did he or didn’t he?  The movie is not meant to provide any resolution.  If that’s your cup of tea, fine; most of the time, it is not mine – so that’s a minus to me.  (I’m simple and I like resolution…  Even if I have to think to get there.)  My bet is he did not.  Second, can you commit sin if it is for a higher (“a good”) cause?  Well, this assumes the intent was to reach the higher goal.  In this case, I “doubt” it was (pun intended).  Third, can a new person (trained to be obedient/subservient) be led astray by a superior?  In this case, easily.
Meryl Streep plays the sister superior / principal and she does it with a cold steel many people seem to remember fondly.  I don’t.  I attended a Catholic grammar school and the principals I had there were every bit as kind and loving as the other nuns and lay teachers.  Was the portrayal then, accurate?  I have no doubt, that for many, it was.  Just not for me.  In any case, Streep plays the part well and definitely deserved the nod of the Oscar nomination.  Without spoiling the ending, I found the final scene between the two nuns, completely unbelievable.
Amy Adams plays the new sister / teacher.  This new nun is very much the way I remember most of my younger nun teachers.  Was she (the nun) believable in her faith, love for her students and desire to teach?  I believed her (in the role), so I would say yes.  Was she (the actress) great in the role?  No, but she played her part well.  Adams also appeared in “Julie, Julia” and in “Leap Year“, and I liked her very much in those roles too.  Three very different roles for Adams who seems to be defying type-casting (at least for now).
Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the priest.  I haven’t seen Hoffman in much so it’s hard to make much of him in this role.  I loved him in most of it and then he fell off the cliff for me.  He spends most of the movie as a kind pastor and pleasant man.  He then has a few tense moments which demonstrate strength and commitment to his ordination.  However, in the final confrontation, while admitting nothing, he completely surrenders to the sister superior.  While it could happen that way, it just didn’t strike me as believable.  He did whatever he did (in the past) and there is no explanation of it (let alone a description of his sins).  I just didn’t buy the scene and therefore the movie fell flat for me from then on.
Finally, much was made of Viola Davis’ role as the mother of the child who may or may not have been molested.  Her scene was powerful and moving.  The only problem was that it really was nothing but a side issue to the main purpose of the movie.  Was the movie about the child or the relationship between the three main characters.  I believe the latter, so this scene, while powerful, was nothing but a distraction.
All in all, as well shot as the film was, as well acted as it was by the main characters (and Davis), I find it difficult to recommend the movie whole-heartedly.  Like a murder-mystery with a “surprise clue” unknown to all but the brilliant detective at the end, the movie was ultimately unsatisfying for my taste.
The second movie I watched was one I was looking forward to seeing at the theater, but then never got around to going to see: “Atlas Shrugged“.  The movie is based on the novel by the same name and kind of – but not really – purports to defend capitalism from the scourge of socialism.  The book is over 1,000 pages and has the time to develop the arguments in much greater detail than does the movie – even though the movie is promised (“threatened”?) to be a three-part opus.  Despite part-one being a commercial and theatrical failure, part two is under development and is scheduled to be released in late summer before the 2012 presidential elections.  I haven’t heard any word if part-three is seriously being considered.  I suppose that will depend on if the “devil-socialist” President Obama gets re-elected or not.  But I digress…
I read the book (in fact, almost all of Ayn Rand’s major works) back when I was in my early 20’s and full of myself.  I was convinced a dedicated, hard-working person (like me for instance) could change the world and make money doing it (not necessarily in that order).  If we could only get rid of all the socialists and deadwood.  Over time, I realized this attitude is symptomatic of mostly young folks with more potential than a real history of accomplishment.
BUT HOW IS THE MOVIE???  Well, both good and bad.  First, the bad — the good-guys are mostly good-looking, hard working, dedicated folks who also happen to be moderately to filthy rich and flit from party to dinner to social engagement.  The bad-guys are oily, weaselly, short, plump (males) or tall, slender and frigid (females).  Not that anybody is type-casting or anything…  How’s the acting?  See type-casting above…  Does the movie explain Rand’s main points?  Well, no.  That probably would have slowed down an already crawling pace.  Not only does the movie not try to explain the bad-guys reasons for doing anything (blame it on corporate greed and management laziness, or social programs which only benefit the lazy), it doesn’t really explain why those who can (the good-guys), do.  We’re left with “for the money”, but when offered a chance at monopolistic wealth, one of the main good-guys passes on the chance because he wants to “earn it” his way (more precisely: “own it, because I created it”).
Was there anything good about the movie?  Surprisingly (given the above comments) yes, quite a bit.  I liked the special effects, even if they were cheesy at times.  There is an extended scene of a high-speed train racing across the country which I really enjoyed (but I am a train enthusiast).  The two main characters: Taylor Schilling who plays Dagny Taggart of Taggart Transcontinental (a train company) and Grant Bowler who plays Henry Rearden of Rearden Steel are typical young and beautiful unknown actors who have a certain amount of chemistry together up until consummation.  After that, it’s like four different people (the two actors and the two characters).  Schilling is acceptable in the role of Taggart because the movie goes out of the way to mention hers is inherited wealth.  Bowler is less so, because the movie gives the impression his character (Rearden) is self-made, but he appears to be far too young for this to be the case (maybe just poor casting).  Interestingly, Rebecca Wisocky who plays Lillian Rearden (Henry’s wife) is refreshing in her role as a rapier wit, frigid wife.  But, for me, the “best” thing about the movie was the visual contrast between the futuristic “art-deco” world of the rich in stark contrast with the “Blade Runner” desolation of the slums for the rest of us.
Final answer: recommend.  It’s not a great movie and I don’t really believe it even makes the attempt to convey Rand’s arguments/philosophy, but at the end, you are still left asking:  “Who is John Galt?” — and that’s probably the whole point.
A final comment:  I do think there is a “great American movie” out there, but it will be about “corporate socialism” versus “regulated capitalism” and not capitalism versus government sponsored socialism/mediocrity.
The third movie I watched this week was “Captain America”, which I watched with my daughter, Sarah.  It was her first time viewing the movie.  I saw the movie twice last summer – first in 2D and then in 3D.  Again, this is a very patriotic, “rah-rah” America movie, but to expect anything less is naive.  I didn’t notice it before, but there were a number of points in the movie which were shown in slow-motion and which were obviously intended to be shown in 3D.  Sarah pointed this out.  She was not overly enamoured with the film.  The main character is played by Chris Evans who does a good job in this role.  He’s big and buffed, square jawed and blond, and he suits both sides of the role – the wimpy kid and the super-hero patriot.  The movie is a serious attempt to move the comic to the big screen and it works.  It also has a surprising amount of comedic one-liners in it, which help to lighten the movie enough to make it “fun”.  I will say, it wasn’t as good seeing it the third time as I remember it.  The jokes were funnier (or still funny), but the action wasn’t quite as good.  Still, I recommend this movie as being one of the better comic-book class adaptations.  It’s also a good primer for the Avengers movie due out soon.
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