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No Good Deed

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Directed by: Sam Miller

Written by: Aimee Lagos

Starring: Taraji P. Henson & Idris Elba

 

 

No Good Deed is a feel good “chick-flick” disguised as a psychological thriller, complete with neglected frumpy housewife, the single best friend, and mysterious sexy stranger. The beginning has a nice slow build till you get to the main action of the film. For once, the woman in danger actually makes smart decisions that fail only to continue to build the suspense, which is frustrating. Elba played the villain with threatening reserve perfectly fitting that of a psychopath while Henson and her horrible wig played the fighting back housewife with the her normal vigor. The camerawork and score try a bit too hard to prove how thrilling it is with suspenseful music and of course it’s pouring rain shots. The story hits all the right, albeit predicable, notes with a way too rushed happy ending, but still packs an enjoyable punch.

 

7/10

 

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The Skeleton Twins

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Directed by: Craig Johnson

Written by: Mark Heyman & Craig Johnson

Starring: Kristen Wiig & Bill Hader

My eyes were transfixed on the screen from start to finish, fearing I would miss a beat in this darkly funny film. No surprise, Wiig and Hader had perfect brother sister chemistry; the surprise was how they were both able to leave me utterly speechless at the subtle grandeur of their raw performances especially at the darkest parts of the film. The script was biting, rhythmic, relevant and refreshingly honest. I was left wondering how old Milo and Maggie were, a minor detail but it distracted me enough to take me out of the moment especially with Ty Burrell cast their former teacher. The musical score was subdued with the best lip-synched musical number since “Stepmom.” This movie is more than a great character study with two standout performances, it’s a near perfect masterpiece that’s a must-see.

9.5/10

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Foreign Film Friday

Finding Fanny

Country: India

Pre-note: I thought this movie was going to be a mix of Hindi and English with a majority of it being Hindi, but nope all in English but for some reason they still had English subtitles which annoyed me.

 

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Directed by: Homi Adajania

Written by: Homi Adajania, Kersi Khambatta

Starring: Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia

 Endearing and warm with perfect amount of funny and saucy mixed in made Finding Fanny a delight to watch. I immediately fell in love with old gentle soul, Ferdie and cheered him on in his quest for love. The story flowed nicely and threw in nice elements of humor and surprise while building up to the climax. The quintet of actors all played nicely off each other, but there was no standout or truly remarkable performance. The musical score was a lovely blend of bright plucky strings and tender deep melodies; I could have listened to it all day.   Whether it’s Bollywood or Hollywood, this tale of finding alost love gets my thumbs up.

8/10

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Throwback Thursday, yet again

Under The Tuscan Sun

Original Release: September 26th, 2003

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Written and Directed by: Audrey Wells

Starring: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh

“Under The Tuscan Sun” is your everyday run-of-mill romcom that follows the sad recently dumped girl who goes on a life changing trip plot conventions. The script is subpar filled with cheesy come-ons and things I hope an actual woman would never say or think. The beginning tries to force feed you all the reasons you should sympathize for Frances, but because of the rushed and lazy writing it feels to contrived thus creating an unsympathetic lead. It wasn’t for Diane Lane’s lack of effort; she gave a good life to the very bland uninteresting Frances. Sandra Oh plays the token-minority sidekick adding the perfect amount of generic advice but adding nothing of substance to the film. I don’t expect much from silly little romantic comedies, but still found “Under the Tuscan Sun” to be disappointing and unsatisfying.

5/10

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Happy Birthday Evan Rachel Wood

One of my favorite actresses, Evan Rachel Wood, turns 27 today. So in honor of her birth, I will review the movie that made me first fall in love with this quirky young actress.

Thirteen

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Written and Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed

Thirteen could have easily become a melodramatic lifetime movie special but instead is an honest look of a young girl’s struggle to assert her independence and be seen as cool. Evan Rachel Woods gives a phenomenal, gut-wrenching performance as Tracy. How she uttered the words, “no bra, no panties” are seared in my brain forever. The music and soundtrack matures and darkens the more Tracy is lost in her new world of sex and drugs. The low-budget cinematography is apparent but doesn’t distract too much due to the strong script and performances. This is a powerful story lead by an extraordinary young talent and small but great supporting cast.

 

9.5/10

 

Other great and favorite performances  from Ms. Wood:

Kimberly Joyce in Pretty Persuasion see review here

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Stephanie in The Wrestler

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Harriet Frankovitz in Digging to China

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Veda Pierce in Mildred Pierce

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Emily Lindstrom in  Little Secrets

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The Identical

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Directed by: Dustin Marcellino

Written by: Howard Klausner

Starring: Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd

 

It took everything in my willpower to not walk out of the theater while watching The Identical as it had no redeemable qualities. It’s even more disappointing because they could have taken so many directions with the separated-at-birth songster brothers but choose the most preachy clichéd route instead of choosing to do parallel storylines of how both boys grew up and how the poor one became famous while the preacher kid only dreamed of fame. The script was painful to the ears and for some reason had the character farthest removed from the main action narrating the story, which was irritating especially because she said nothing of value or importance. The knock off Elvis songs were bland and just confused me to as why wasn’t the famous Drexel Hemsley just an Elvis impersonator, since he’s obviously embodied after him. Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd were horribly miscast, while Judd tried her best to be charming, Liotta figured yelling every line with a constipated face is how you portray a preacher. This movie became a chore to watch and felt I should have been paid to endure the longest hour and a half of my life.

 

1/10

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Foreign Movie Friday

Ida

Still playing in some theaters around the USA.

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Country: Poland

Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski

Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Starring: Agata Kulesza & Agata Trzebuchowska

 

Understated, beautiful, dark and surprising. Ida tells the story of a nun in the 1960’s who embarks on a journey before taking her vows. The story is intriguing, genuine, and heartbreaking at times all shot in black & white cinematography that did tend to linger longer than necessary. The juxtaposition between Ida and her Aunt Wanda, as well as life in convent versus outside is executed with tremendous finesse. And oh my God, Agata Trzebuchowska’s eyes, even in black & white, conveyed every nuanced emotion the young nun was going through. I don’t want to divulge too much because part of the enjoyment for me stemmed from knowing it was only a story about a nun, but this Polish film deserves any and all praise it receives.

 

9.5/10

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