Dec 19 2012

The Guilt Trip

Andrew Brewster (Seth Rogan), inventor of a non-toxic and totally safe super cleaning spray is about to journey across the country to pitch his product with all the major retail outlets. Days before his adventure is to begin, Andrew’s widowed mother (Barbra Streisand), confides in him the origins of his name— her first true love. A little sleuthing on the internet and Andrew finds his namesake; and, as it turns out he’s single. With the idea of helping his mom find love again, Andrew invites her to journey with him and help the two reacquaint. More than he bargained for, road tripping with mom might be a bit too much, how will the two survive the trip together?guilttrip Taking the buddy/road trip comedy to the expected level of mother and son interaction, the guilt trip feels fairly mediocre…But I feel bad saying that…Oy vey! Not as quick witted as we’ve come to expect from Rogan, and a fairly formulaic performance from Streisand leaves us with a not so stand out-ish flick that’s enjoyable enough but still lacking real luster. Really more of a matinee, don’t hurt yourself over thinking this one; however, do call your mom afterwards. The Guilt Trip is rated PG-13.

Dec 14 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Before the adventures of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Frodo’s cousin Bilbo Baggins(Martin Freeman and Ian Holm) went on an adventure of his own. Led by Gandalf the wizard (Ian McKellen), Frodo and a troupe of 13 other Dwarfs set out to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor; an adventure that will take them into the dens of Mountain Trolls, Goblins, Stone Giants, and more as they make their return. It’s on this journey where Bilbo meets Gollum (Andy Serkis), a strange creature in possession of a magical ring, a ring with origins that will later be revealed in the Lord of the Rings. It’s also on this journey where a dark power, referenced as a Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes apparent to the rest of the wizard community. Forging their way to the Lonely Mountain Director Peter Jackson has broken up J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit into three films. A feat that almost feels exploitive, especially considering the actual length of the source material and the ground covered in this first film; and this is a beast of a film clocking in just under three hours in runtime. That aside, the story seems to remain true to the source material, so there’s little surprise there. Acting feels hit and miss from our ensemble. But how does it look? Well, here’s perhaps the biggest controversy and fault of the film. You see most films are shot at what’s called 24 frames per second, meaning there are 24 little pictures per second whizzing past the projector and onto the screen for your eye to enjoy. That’s a standard that looks great, what we’re used to in cinema, and has been in place for zillions of years. Why does this matter? Well, Jackson made the artistic choice to shoot the film at 48 frames per second, this would provide higher definition for action sequences and make the CGI look really amazing, but the tradeoff is that the camera’s look and movement has a distinct “Daytime Television” look to it. And, when you have Gandalf the Grey and Bilbo Baggins standing in very fake costumes on very real sets, the dichotomy is viciously distracting. Overall, this look almost dissolves the cinematic illusion and despite the high cost, looks and feels cheap. Bottom line, value wise, it’s matinee worthy but don’t hold your breath for real magic quite yet. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13.

Dec 14 2012

Hyde Park on Hudson

In 1939, Highly regarded president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and first lady Eleanor (Olivia Williams) hosted the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) for a brief stay at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson in upstate New York. It was a pivotal time, World War II was moving closer to England and U.S. assistance would certainly be necessary. But, while the royals were seeking support, FDR had several personal battles of his own– in particular his multiple mistresses, one of which was a fifth or so cousin named Daisy (Laura Linney). Detailing a little known side of FDR and a definitive moment in history, Hyde Park on Hudson is their story. Examining love, politics, the charisma of a leader, and the drama of life director Roger Mitchell works to expose the humanity of one of the nation’s most regarded presidents through the eyes of the women who loved him. And, while the film doesn’t really stand out from others in the genre artistically, the feminine angle does provide for a fresh and noteworthy look. From an acting standpoint it’s refreshing to see Murray in a role where he has to apply himself a little more than the norm, the rest of the ensemble shine nicely in response. So while this probably won’t shake things up at the box office, from an academic and historic standpoint don’t write this one off either. Matinee perhaps? Hyde Park on Hudson is rated R.