REVIEW: Young Adult

Young Adult
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Diablo Cody (screenplay)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson and Collette Wolf

Mavis Gary is one of the most fully realized movie characters in recent memory, and certainly of 2011.  In the span of Young Adult’s 90 minutes, Diablo Cody’s writing, Jason Reitman’s directing and Charlize Theron’s acting fuse together seamlessly to show us her demented, delusional inner workings.

In an early scene, Mavis is going to meet up with an old flame from high school named Buddy (Patrick Wilson).  She enters this small town bar with a tight, skimpy black outfit.  As she looks around the bar, judging every other patron there, the camera shifts to a POV shot as if asking us to judge them too.  When the waiter comes to her table, she rudely tells him to take back the silverware and bring her a drink. Buddy enters, and she lights up with a grotesque fakeness that she dons almost as often as her snide glare.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Elizabeth Meriwether
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline

Now more than ever is it hard to believe that the director of rich character pieces like Juno and Up in the Air is the descendant of Ivan Reitman, the director who gave us Ghost Busters, My Super Ex Girlfriend and now this movie.

While his son Jason Reitman frequents himself at award ceremonies for his films with scripts — ones that he often writes himself and is noted for — and story that go beyond his contemporary and minimalistic filming style, Ivan has been piling up money directing a handful of forgettable film and producing even more.

His latest work is No Strings Attached, a film no different from the rest. Pairing Ashton Kutcher with recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman in Hollywood’s latest “just friends who have sex” romantic comedy. The trend of these films is at a jam-packed time, with Love & Other Drugs and this summer’s Friends With Benefits­. The latter bringing Justin Timberlake and Portman’s Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis together for a similar sexploitation. Continue reading

Eleven movies to watch for in ’11

Sure, there will be plenty of crap released this year just like any other.  We all have another delightful Transformers installment to look forward to in the summer, and the coming winter months are when Hollywood dumps its crap that wouldn’t make money during prime Christmas season.  So, while the award contenders from last year and the buzz-kills duke it out in January and February, here are our picks for what to watch for the rest of the year.

The Tree of Life (May 27)– Terrence Malick has made some of the most visually stunning movies ever to grace the screen.  Film-wise, he hasn’t made as many as other auteurs his age, but his mark is no less indelible.  With The Tree of Life, he will most likely twist audience expectation for what a “summer blockbuster” with A-list stars is.  Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are headlining in this tale about a young boy in the 50s who “witnesses the loss of innocence.”  The hypnotic trailer is almost as vague as that description, but infinitely more beautiful.  It draws you in without ruining it.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)- Fresh off his hot streak with The Social Network, David Fincher attempts to Americanize the already explosively popular book series and its Swedish film adaptations.  It will be hard for him to do worse than the original Dragon Tattoo movie, which captured the atmosphere but gutted the story of Stieg Larssonn’s original.  The story, about a hacker and a disgraced journalist teaming up to hunt down a serial killer, is the perfect fit for Fincher.  Here’s hoping Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are also up for the dark twists and brooding revelations.

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The Big 10: No Easy A’s

Out of the dozens of reviews we’ve done since we started this blog, we’ve had only 10 A’s.  For a movie to deserve a perfect rating here, it doesn’t have to be perfect: it needs to be different.  It has to bring something new to the movie table, or do something old so well that it feels new.  Here are our 10 ‘A’ reviews, as diverse as an obese teenager’s quest for societal independence or a man avenging his father’s death in 19th century America.  (Side-note:  though we rarely hand out straight A’s, we’ve also only awarded one F… to a movie ironically called The A-Team.)

Amélie

Being John Malkovich

Casino Royale

District 9

Gangs of New York

A History of Violence

In the Loop

Precious: Based On the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire

Up in the Air

Where the Wild Things Are

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Up in the Air

Up in the Air
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (screenplay) Walter Kirn (novel)
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga and Jason Beitman

There is something about Jason Reitman’s ability both as screenwriter and director that enables him to do the most audacious tasks. Whether it’s clearing the smoke on the dubious debate between government and tobacco industries, bringing life to a taboo tale of a pregnant teen or travelling the gap between corporate America and the American, Reitman is always on board.

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is in a business that thrives off of America’s deteriorating businesses. The old school corporate executioner travels all over the US, city to city, visiting companies with lists of middle managers and other white collars who are to be fired due to the economy. When bosses are too cowardly to break the bad news, it is Bingham’s job to sweep in and let them down as softly and suavely as his persona, which is why he does his job so well. In addition, he gives them a load of garbage about all the new opportunities and resources available to them. It only makes sense that he gives motivational speeches about the same sorts of subjects at business seminars and conventions. He does it well, and he loves doing it. Living a life of a nomad business man is exactly what he wants, so that he can detach himself from family, materialism and miserable grounded lifestyle led by the people which he fires.

Bingham is flying high until his company looks toward a young ivy-league hotshot (Kendrick) who proposed the company begin using an online model to cut out the travelling budget, putting Bingham’s job and lifestyle out of business. The new challenges he now faces are similar to the great challenges America is facing. Streamlining and digitizing isn’t just for corporations anymore, it’s for people, and it’s making us change the way we look at business and our lives. There is a constant back and forth between the traditional and the new.  It is an interweaved story of relevance and at the forefront is a fantastic character who must understand why he’s wandering through the world and what he needs to start bringing with him. Continue reading