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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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Throwback Thursday Review

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Extract

Original Release: September 4th, 2009

Written & Directed by: Mike Judge

Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig

 

Mike Judge delivers his normal dry satirical humor in Extract, but the overall flavor falls flat. The beginning showed promise but the further into the movie the more it began to drag. Judge tried to add so many small plot points to add humor but it overloaded the script and didn’t garner any laughs from this viewer. Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig play their roles well but they’ve all had better roles. The standout from Extract was Beth Grant, a small-part  veteran actor, who shined as crabby line person, Mary.  People looking for the next Office Space should look elsewhere.

 

7/10

 

 

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Foreign Movie Fridays

I forgot a throwback review yesterday but decided to add a new feature to my blog: Foreign Movie Fridays.  

And just to show you how weird my taste is  I will start it off with this unique Greek Gem.

DOGTOOTH

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This movie was interesting to say the least. Aside from the shaky chopping off heads camera work, it was a brilliant movie. There was no structured plot in the traditional sense,  just really snap shots of three teenagers’ confined lives and how they dealt with being so isolated. The movie at times felt like a mess, but I think that was the point: the messy cohesion of children being trapped by their parents’ ideas. In the end you have a well-made movie that was well acted with an intriguing premise. Avoid if you are a run of the mill, plot must have beginning-middle-end kind of person but if your taste is as eclectic and unusual as mine then give it a go.

 

9/10

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When The Game Stands Tall

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Directed by: Thomas Carter

Written by: Scott Marshall Smith

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Alexander Ludwig

 

This is one of those movies where every important plot detail is given away in the trailer that is even more unnecessary given its clichéd and predictable sports movie plot. The movie is complete with stereotypical tough love dad who only cares about his son wining football record, loving black grandma who is proud her baby is getting out of the bad neighborhood, and superstar jerk who thinks he doesn’t need the team. The only cliché they are missing is the devoted cheerleader girlfriend, and that’s probably because the movie didn’t take the two minutes to develop any female characters outside the supportive wife. Although the football games were executed nicely, there was no suspense because you knew which games they were going to win and lose and all the false build up felt forced. Jim Caviezel gives completely uninspired performance and it’s a wonder how he was able to rally his team back together again since he sleepwalked through every interaction he had with another human being. This was suppose to be an inspirational story about how a team dealt with its first lost in forever, but instead it came off as whiny white kids with problems while it glazed over black kids dealing with actual tough situations.

 

5/10

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If I Stay

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Directed by: R.J. Cutler

Written by: Shauna Cross

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz

This film had such an interesting premise but was brought down by a bland script and average acting with the exception of Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz does her best job to save this movie from being a clichéd teen love story with an over-the-top melodramatic score. Even more amazing is how she was able to act off Jamie Blackley’s way too laid back rocker Adam.  Blackley played the rocker part well but love-struck teen was no where on the radar, he had a blank look every time he interacted with Moretz, and his body language said “I don’t give a f**k.” Somehow Moretz was still able to look into his eyes and emote enough for the both of them because I felt her slowly fall in love, the pain over their fights, everything about her performance was completely earnest. With the cello being a central part to story, it could have served as the perfect narration tool, the audience could feel what’s going on in Mia’s head, instead we got clunky heavy handed dialogue that bogged down the script further. This is the type of movie that’s suppose to have you crying along with the characters, and believe me, I’m a huge crier, but for the most part I was just rolling my eyes.

 

7/10 (really 9/10 for Mortez’s performance, 5/10 for the movie)           

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Throwback Thursday Review

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Dirty Dancing

Original Release: August 21st, 1987

Directed by: Emile Ardolino

Written by: Eleanor Bergstein

Starring: Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey

As a female child of the 80’s it might be blasphemy for me to say this but aside from the killer soundtrack “Dirty Dancing” is nothing but your average boring star-crossed lovers story. Swayze “bad boy with the heart of gold” caricature barely straddles the line and he plays neither side well. As for Grey’s sweet innocent Baby, she plays the poor little rich girl routine nicely. I always forget it’s a movie set in the 1960’s because the movie as a whole has a very 1980’s feel. I find Baby and Johnny’s final dance to be cheesy and hardly entertaining. I wish I loved this movie more, but its flat characters and basic script made the love story incompatible with me.

7/10

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