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HOLIDAY MOVIE REVIEW

After a couple months absence, I’m back reviewing again.  Kicking it off with a Thanksgiving movie review

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

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Written & Directed by: John Hughes

Starring: Steve Martin & John Candy

Original Release: November 25, 1987

Steve Martin and John Candy make a delightful mismatched pair in this festive movie.. Despite the predictability, the script delivers loads of laughs and numerous comical situations. Some of the best scenes are between Martin and inconsiderate customer service workers, most notably the Marathon car rental lady.  I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at some of insane coincidences that kept bringing Martin and Candy back together, but since it also brought a colorful array of strange characters was forgivable. . The music has that classic 80’s plus John Hughes vibe that is lighthearted and danceable. While not remarkable this classic 80’s film of a holiday traveler’s worst nightmare come true is enjoyable from plane to train to automobile.

8/10

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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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Holiday Movie Review

 

It’s Labor Day so it only makes sense to review a movie about the holiday, well set on the holiday weekend.

 

LABOR DAY

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Written & Directed by: Jason Reitman

Starring: Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin

 

Although led by strong performances from Winslet and Brolin, the snails pacing of Labor Day left something to be desired. I’m not a fan when scenic shots blind me, so the over-the-top let’s prove it’s a hot summer’s day cinematography was annoying. What saved this movie from being a let down is the score. I was completely enchanted by each eerie yet sweet melody as each note set the mood perfectly. Also Winslet, as I hinted earlier, gave another brilliant performance that left me reeling while Brolin left me swooning as he played the escaped felon with a heart of gold. Pacing and cinematography aside, I still found Labor Day an enjoyable tale of love and longing.

  

8/10

 

 

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Magic in the Moonlight

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Written & Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Colin Firth & Emma Stone

You have to love Woody Allen, he’s found his magic formula and sticks to it: witty dialogue, whimsical score, unique plot, and interesting characters.  Sometimes the combination churns out brilliance, other times something average, and rarely a failure. “Magic in the Moonlight” falls in the average category, nothing to rave about but still enjoyable. I’ll admit I was distracted thinking about how Colin Firth played Amanda Bynes’ father 10 years ago and now is playing Emma Stone’s love interest and she’s younger than Bynes. Despite the awkward chemistry between Firth and Stone, they both deliver great performances. Although the movie starts out with a unique premise, it quickly turns into a predictable run-of-the-mill romantic comedy that leaves you chuckling in the right places but for me rolling my eyes at the cheesy genre conventions.

7.5/10

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Throwback Thursday Review

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Pretty Persuasion 

Original Release: August 12th, 2005

Directed by: Marcos Siega

Written by: Skander Halim

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Ron Livingston, James Wood

This may not be an Oscar worthy movie in the Academy’s eyes, but it’s perfection in my book. The script is biting, witty, pushes boundaries without going too over the top, and the humor is wonderfully dark and edgy. The score delights flowing from light bouncy tunes to sharp instrumentals to whimsy romantic tunes. Evan Rachel Wood plays the conniving teen and every line she delivers is with the perfect amount of seduction, bitchiness, and heartbreak. All the supporting cast adds to this superb film, from James Wood playing the asshole father, to the Elisabeth Harnois play ditzy Brittany, and Jane Krakowski playing the determined news reporter. Although I do consider this film a “guilty pleasure”, I wish I didn’t because it’s pure entertainment.

10/10

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Throwback Thursday Review

 

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The Good Girl

Release Date: August 7th, 2002

Directed by: Miguel Arteta

Written by: Mike White

Starring: Jennifer Aniston & Jake Gyllenhaal

 

“The Good Girl” isn’t good, it isn’t great; it’s raw, riveting, and real. I know most people go to movies for an escape but the bleakness of the film is what makes it so powerfully moving. Aniston shines as the depressed wife yearning to break free from her monotonous prison, and really needs to take more of these edgier roles. Gyllenhaal and his piercing eyes break your heart as mentally unbalanced Holden. The cautious beautiful score enhances the simple yet provocative script all set against understated rural cinematography. This is the definition of an underrated gem.

9.5/10

 

BONUS REVIEW:

(Meant to post this last week but darn technology malfunction)

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Ever After

Release date: July 31st, 1998

Directed by: Andy Tennant

Written by: Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant, & Rick Parks

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott

I’m a huge fan of classic stories with a twist, and this reimagining of Cinderella has become an instant favorite. The chemistry between Barrymore and Scott is sweet and believable, but they are both no match for Huston’s portrayal of the wicked stepmother, a truly brilliant and underrated performance. The entire supporting cast entertains, doing justice to a clever script that creates realistic nuanced relationships between its characters. The whole script is wonderfully paced, nothing rushed or prolonged, every moment adds to the story. The score is whimsy and light-hearted through but intense and vibrant when needed. If you are looking for a fun reinvented fairytale with a strong feisty female lead, Ever After is it.

9/10

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Lucy

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Written and Directed by: Luc Besson

Starring: Scarlett Johansson & Morgan Freeman

Entertaining but confusing is the best way I can describe this movie. I’m not sure if all the scientific parts went over my head or were convoluted to begin with, but the overall message about brain usage hits us over the head with a sledgehammer ten times and it’s not any kind of revolutionary theory. The cinematography tries to be edgy and chaotic to intensify the action sequences but in the end just feels like sloppy disconnected editing. The attempt to make Lucy an interesting character fails, aside from the cute banter with the boyfriend in the beginning, there isn’t any backstory so when she becomes the killer femme fatal it lacks a true motive and all her actions are disjointed. Johansson play the underdeveloped character with her usual charm and is one of the reasons the movie is somewhat successful. As long as you don’t over think Lucy, you will find it a pleasant film, but if you are searching for substance and answers, look elsewhere.

7.5/10

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