Archive for December, 2010
In a time of emotional turmoil for both, George (Paul Rudd) and Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) meet for an innocent blind date, things do not go well and the two part ways. Meanwhile, Lisa is also in the process of starting up a new relationship with a professional Baseball pitcher named Matty (Owen Wilson), and George is being investigated for illegal business practices– something his father (Jack Nicholson) is actually responsible for. As the hand of fate moves, George and Lisa keep meeting, checking in with each other as their life journeys keep sailing in similar circles. In the end two questions remain, will Lisa actually fall for George instead of Matty, and will George take the fall for his father to keep him from a life in prison? So, it’s a romantic comedy, and, given that romantic comedies generally have low demands by any standards I was doubtful but hopeful the cast would be able to make this one shine. As a result, it’s with mixed emotions I offer this write-up. While there were a handful of genuine chuckles written here, and the subject material seems based in some sense of reality…sort of, I can’t say this was a laugh riot; rather, the driving comedic nature of the film instead seems to be a dry schadenfreude. From an acting level or production perspective the film seems decent enough to make a pass, but ultimately the lack of a really fresh and compelling script sinks this one before the ship ever really sails, writer/director James L. Brooks has done better. Worth a matinee for fans of the genre but better off as a rental. How Do You Know is rated PG-13.
Nina (Natalie Portman) is an aspiring professional ballet dancer, driven to hunger for success by her mother (Barbra Hershey). When the ballet director (Vincent Cassel) decides to produce the often sleepy Swan Lake, but with a twist, Nina aims for the lead part. The twist being that the same dancer will take on the role of the innocent white swan and the role of the darker and more passionate black swan. Able to easily tap into the concepts of the white swan, Nina seems perfect to embrace the role; however, her goals for perfection and ultimately innocence make her less of a desirable candidate for the black swan. With the help of fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), Nina learns in order to embrace the role of the black swan she’ll have to let herself go and dig into her darker untapped persona. But, to what end will she have to reach, and what will be the price of perfection for both roles? One to watch out for indeed, it’s almost as if the film serves as an amalgamation of Director Darren Aronofsky’s previous works, with a dash of Kafka and perhaps Fight Club, and I loved it. The psychological thriller aspect of the film works as the perfect foil to show the seedy underbelly of the professional dancing world, illustrating the strains on family, psyche, and health, all for the sake of art. Meanwhile, acting from the ensemble flows and feels real, the cinematography has the distinctive Aronofsky hand-held feel to it at times which is a plus and a minus. But the overall takeaway is still great. A dark ride, but worth it. Black Swan is rated R.
A mysterious woman who’s being monitored by Interpol named Elise (Angelina Jolie) is called to meet up with her husband, a man on the run for two years for tax evasion and embezzling over $2 Billion from an angry gangster. En route Elise is instructed to pick a man of similar size and build to her husband to serve as a decoy for all parties interested. In this case she chooses Frank (Johnny Depp). Unbeknownst to Frank, he’s now a target for both the mob and the authorities. But as the case may have it, Elise is also a secret British agent, Frank would appear to be in good hands, or is he? Twisting and turning, the two must band together to find freedom, but who will foot the bill? For a film that appears to be all about action and adventure from two of Hollywood’s most desirable actors, this one unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. You might even be able to classify it as pulp cinema. Two pretty actors, check, slow and thin meaningless plot, check, exotic locations, check, a few chase scenes, check. Add in a half baked twist or two and you’ve got The Tourist. And, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these components, the big takeaway leaves you hungry for something with a little more substance. A mindless matinee at the most, but more rental-esque, The Tourist is rated PG-13.