Wednesday, March 08, 2006

February Movie Review

Well, I’ve been meaning to post this for at least a week now, but time has gotten away from me. That said, February was a good movie month for me. I love movies, but unfortunately, don’t get to actually “go to” the movies very often. My goal is to at least make it to the theatre once a month this year. It will most likely not happen every month, but I will try.

I do, however, have TiVo, and because of that, am watching a lot more movies at home now. I’ve never been a “blockbuster” person, going out to pick out a movie, having to watch it in a certain amount of time in order to return it, that’s just too structured and constricting for me. And it requires leaving the house to go find a movie when I do have some time to actually watch one, and that is usually the time when I just want to sit back and watch something right then and there. With TiVo, I have this huge catalogue of movies that I’ve been saving, so every now and then, I can have an evening of just watching a few back to back.

It also makes it easy to find movies I might want to watch in the future, even if they are on at 3AM, and save them for a more appropriate time (when I’m awake).

That said, I watched one Theatre movie this month, one DVD, and the rest were either tivoed, or Lifetime movies, which were on when I was at home sick.

The Theatre Movie:
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Antarctica, you know this movie is the story of Johnny Cash and June Carter, and has won a gazillion awards. I personally think it deserves every award it receives, and was very excited to see Reese win at the Oscars. I thought she was excellent, and was pleasantly surprised by her singing. I have always liked her as an actress, and she didn’t disappoint once again. Joaquin Phoenix, in my opinion was just incredible. Not only did he do a wonderful job portraying the angst ridden and tortured Johnny Cash, but he really did an amazing job with the music. He was enthralling to watch, and damn it if I didn’t walk out of the theatre with a new Hollywood crush. The movie was fantastic. 5 out of 5 stars for me.

The Silly Movies:
New York Minute
Starring: Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen
Yes, I love stupid little teenybopper films. They are mindless entertainment, and a nice distraction from the day to day of trying to be an adult in this world. This movie was cute. It is the tale of twin sisters who spend a day in New York City being chased by a truancy officer, trying to foil his attempts to catch them, and trying to make it to an appointment on time. It was your typical story of twin sisters who are complete opposites, and find themselves in the middle of an adventure a-la Home Alone style. Stupid pranks and silly escapes ensue, and they save the day, everything and everyone lives happily ever after. Something like that anyway. Like I said, silly, but cute. 3/5

Starring: Tia Mowry and Tamara Mowry
Not exactly sure how I wound up watching two twin movies this month. This is a silly Disney movie about twin sisters separated at birth, who are reunited on their 21st birthday, only to discover that they have magical powers and are actually from another dimension. Typical good v. evil story, where evil wants to take over the world, and they are the only ones who can save it. Cute, but predictable and corny. 3 ½ /5

The Lifetime Movies:
It Had To Be You
Starring: Michael Vartan, Natasha Henstridge
Tale of a man and a woman who meet when they are planning their weddings, to other people. They spend a weekend running into each other, and making their plans (finding a band, registering, etc.) together. As would happen in any Lifetime movie, they fall in love, but as they are both planning weddings, there is much angst and “we can’t be together, it’s not right”. Sappy, cute, again predictable, but still entertaining. 4/5

Starring: Heather Graham, Taye Diggs, Sandra Oh, David Sutcliffe
Well, Taye Diggs was in the movie, so of course I had to watch it. That said, it also starred Sandra Oh, who is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses, and the premise of the story was cute. Heather Graham plays an independent single woman, who is, as her friends call her “wedding phobic”. Her father gets sick, and she ends up running his “Wedding Bells” magazine during his illness. This leads not only to hilarious hi-jinks, but also, of course, an unexpected romance, and possibly a change of heart, maybe? Maybe not? She’s not so sure. It was really cute, funny, and I really did enjoy her philosophy on life. At one point she is wearing a t-shirt, which reads, “I think, therefore, I’m single”. I want that shirt! I was however disappointed that the movie took the typical “a single woman is not truly happy until she minds a man, she only thinks she is” road. I could have done without that, but it was a romantic comedy after all. 4 ½ /5

The rest:
Van Helsing
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale
Van Helsing is the hero who captures and kills all the mythological monsters of yesteryear: Jeckyl and Hyde, Werewolves, etc. He goes to Transylvania to find and destroy Dracula. I had no idea this movie was a comedy. If it wasn’t meant to be funny, oops, because I found it hilarious, but not necessarily in a good way. It was your typical good guy v. monsters flick, but with a bit of sarcastic and just silly humor thrown in. It really wasn’t that great a movie, but it was entertaining enough. 3 ½ /5

Rebel Without a Cause
Starring: James Dean, Natalie Wood
I love this movie. I’ve seen it more than once, but it had been at least 10 years since the last time I saw it, possibly more. I think I picked up on a lot more of the subtleties this time. It’s a classic, so reviewing it feels inappropriate. The acting may have not been the greatest, but who cares? It is a coming of age story of a troubled young teen that moves to a new town and has trouble making friends. James Dean is…well, he’s James Dean. 4/5

While You Were Sleeping
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Peter Gallagher, Bill Pullman, Peter Boyle
Cute love story of a woman who pretends to be the fiancé of a man in a coma who she’s been crushing on, and falls in love with his brother. It was cute, sweet, and Sandra Bullock was her typical adorable self. She’s one of those actresses that you either love or hate, and although she may not always pick the best movies, I enjoy her. This was a typical wrong place wrong time love story. It was cute. 4/5

The I Inside
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Piper Perabo
Story of a man who wakes up from a near death experience to find himself in a confused state where he’s traveling through time and finding all is not what it seems. I’m a huge fan of Ryan Philippe usually, so I thought I’d enjoy this movie. It was weird, freaky, and I kept expecting it to make sense. It did not. The ending left much to be desired. 2 ½ /5

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Regina King, Kerry Washington
This is, of course, the Ray Charles story, which won Jamie Foxx, all the awards a few years back. Because of all the hype the movie received then, I really thought it was meant to be a tribute to Ray Charles. If so, I would ask nicely that the writers of this movie refrain from ever writing a tribute to me or anyone I like. All this movie succeeded in doing, in my eyes, was make Ray Charles seem like a tremendous jerk. The movie itself was well done, and I loved the way they would jump back into Ray’s childhood memories, it was gripping. But, unlike in Walk the Line, where Johnny Cash, although also drug addicted, and a womanizer, manages to come through as troubled, and tortured, and therefore, somewhat of a victim, so likeable in a way, here, Ray just comes across as rude, self-entitled, and cruel. I’m not sure what exactly they were trying to convey, but respect for Mr. Charles it wasn’t. I understood the demons he struggled with, but didn’t feel it gave him a right to become one himself. And since the movie leaves off about 40 years ago, I’ll tell myself that he did straighten himself out, and become a better person for the last 40 years of his life, and just try to forget the image this movie created in my mind. That said, the movie as a movie, was excellent. 4/5

If Only
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Paul Nichols
Samantha and Ian live in London where he is a businessman about to make a major presentation, and she is a music student about to graduate from a prestigious music school. They love each other, but Ian doesn’t know how to love and appreciate Sam properly. When she is taken from him, he realizes what he had, and when he is given a second chance, he pledges to make things right before it is too late. This was a very sweet “I wish I could find a man like that” kind of love story. It is also a tearjerker on more than one occasion. It is hard to say what I really want to say without giving too much away, so I’ll stop here. 4/5

Starring: Brekin Myer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bill Murray
I found myself watching a lot of movies with the same actors and actresses or the same themes this month. Strange. Anyway, this is the story of the big orange lazy cat, and his owner. When his owner gets a new dog, Garfield feels snubbed. But when the dog is kidnapped, it is up to Garfield to save the day. Silly live action movie with a computer animated (or something) cartoon cat. It was silly, bordering on stupid, but still funny and entertaining. I wasn’t expecting a work of art here. 4/5

Miss Congeniality II, Armed and Fabulous
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Regina King, William Shatner
Gracie Hart is back, only this time she’s been made into the “face of the FBI” and is an overly made-up, highly styled Barbie Doll. That is, until her friend from the beauty pageant is kidnapped, and Gracie sets out to save the day. Sandra Bullock and Regina King are great together in this. It wasn’t quite as funny or sweet as the first one, but still highly entertaining. 4/5

Starring: Angelina Jolie
Note to self, do NOT watch movies about supermodels that die of aids in the 70’s when you have a cold. This results in a blocked ability to breathe. This is the true life story of Gia, a 70’s supermodel who contracts HIV, and later dies of AIDS in a time when the disease was just beginning to become rampant. It was an excellent movie, but depressing as all hell, I think I went through at least half a box of tissues watching the last 30 minutes or so. 4/5

The DVD:
Starring: Jesse L. Martin, Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, Rosario Dawson, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Tracie Thomas
Based on the Broadway musical by the same name, with most of the original cast members (all but Dawson and Thomas are original), this movie was fantastic. I had seen Rent on stage quite a few years ago, and it was great to see the play with “movie magic”. Beautifully shot, the music was incredible, the actors naturals. I was extremely impressed with Jesse L. Martin’s performance, and his singing ability. Taye digs and Rosario Dawson also pleasantly surprised me with their musical talents. For those who don’t know, Rent is the story of a group of young “bohemians” living in New York City during the time when AIDS is becoming widespread. It deals with the disease, homosexuality, drug addiction, love, friendship, life and death. It was funny, emotional, sad, gripping, and extremely well translated to film. 5/5
DVD Extras: I had to make sure I mentioned the extras on the two disc DVD I bought, because the second disk contains a documentary about the life of Jonathan Larson, the creator of Rent. I knew of the story of Larson’s life, but didn’t know the details. It is a story made for the movies. The documentary was excellent. It was interesting to hear from the original cast members who knew him when all the Rent action was starting, and his family and friends, who knew him before. I’m pretty sure I cried more during the documentary than the actual movie. There went the rest of my box of tissues. 5/5

So, let’s review, in February I watched:

Two silly movies about twins, two movies about famous singers with drug problems who cheat on their wives, two Sandra Bullock flicks and two with Jennifer Love Hewitt, and two movies about AIDS in the late 70’s/early 80’s. And a bunch of made for TV movies that left a lot to be desired. I MUST diversify in March.


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