Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Five Year Engagement:  At Long Last Love!

My friend Carol and I went to see The Five Year Engagement this past Thursday evening.  Why?  Because I really wanted to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  So how did we end up watching another movie?  It's simple really.  Marigold is in limited release.  The theatres in which it is playing are not accessible to my friend on a weeknight in Greater Boston.  It's the traffic.  There are some activities that we just don't do because of our health.  One of them is drive in rush hour traffic needlessly.  It's just not good for the blood pressure.  So, having agreed that we were both free to see a movie that evening, we chose another movie. 

The Five Year Engagement stars Jason Segel as Tom Solomon as a rising chef who meets Violet Barnes, played by Emily Blunt, a behavioral scientist student.  They live in San Francisco.  One year after they meet, Tom proposes to Violet.  Everyone is happy.  Then Violet is offered the opportunity to further her career in Michigan.  It's a two year commitment.  Tom willingly goes along with this, it's only two years, right? 

My impression was that the plot of this movie would have a series of setbacks for this couple along the lines of someone in a body cast for six months, someone would be exposed to a toxin and have to be quarantined for three months, someone would have to nurse a relative back to health out of state or in another country thus delaying the wedding,  or perhaps someone would get stranded in Indonesia and be unable to leave because there is no airstrip and the docks were destroyed.  At least, this is way I would have written it. 

But no.  Tom ends up a worker bee in a deli while Violet has her dream job.  Then she gets a promotion and her job is extended.  There are some interesting characters along the way.  There are funny moments.  It is a humorous film.  Just not what I expected.  I expected a bit more slapstick.  I don't want to have write spoiler alert so you will just have to trust me when I say there is a lot to this film.  It does touch on many different points in a relationship.  However, it is not a chick flick.  It is a comedy.  So, I give this one a C.

Safe! But from what?

Yes, another movie post.  I'm getting caught up here.  The ladies went to the movies a few weeks ago.  It had been ages since we'd all got together.  All four of us at the same time.  It was a miracle.  However, the selection of films wasn't the most compelling so we ended up viewing Safe.  This is the Jason Statham action/adventure movie.  We usually don't opt for this type of film but pickings were slim.

(Did you know that Jason Statham was a British Olympic diver before he became an actor?  I didn't.  Just a little trivia for the day.)

The plot premise involves a "black ops super cop" named Luke Wright, played by Jason Statham, who had been hired by the NYC mayor, played by Chris Sarandon, to clean up the streets.  Luke Wright, being disgusted by the corrupt government officials, becomes a cage-fighter.  Having ideals, Wright refuses to "throw" a fight.  This causes the head of the Russian mafia, Docheski- played by Sandor Tecsy, to lose a great deal of money.  It's not good to anger Docheski as this causes Docheski to murder your wife and then threaten to murder anyone you become close to.  So, Wright ends up living in a homeless shelter barely existing.  He finds himself seriously contemplating suicide when he becomes aware of Mei, played by Catherine Chan, as she works her way through a subway station avoiding several men who are obviously searching for someone.  This snaps Wright out of his mental haze and puts him into "protector mode".  From this moment on, we're in action adventure heaven.  It turns out that Mei has escaped from being abducted by the Russian mob (Docheski's people) who took her from the Chinese Triads who had absconded with her from China where she had been forcibly removed without her consent from her family.  Mei is a math prodigy with an eidetic memory and is being used to keep the bookies in NYC honest without a paper trail.  At least, that's the story cooked up on which to base the movie.  But hey, we're not looking for Oscar material, just a reason to have guns, fists and car chases.  The Triads are headed by Han Jiao (James Wong).  Mei has had to memorize a really, really, really long number that turns out to be the combination of a safe that holds millions of dollars......

Anyway, you get the point.  There is a lot going on.  There is more going on than originally meets the eye.  It's not just the Russian Mob and Chinese Triads because corrupt politicians are around and the mayor once hired Luke Wright.  It's an action adventure movie so there will be lots of you know what.  Mercifully, it's short, only 94 minutes.  So I give it an A- because it hit all the right notes.  Plus, in the previews, we found out there will be a sequel to The Expendables!
Hungry for a new post!

Hello everyone!

I'm back!  Yes, I've been gone awhile.  Sorry about that.  I apologize for the neglect.  I did actually see three movies and was too lazy to post right away.  So, here we go.  On April 6, 2012, I had the pleasure of viewing The Hunger Games with three lovely ladies to celebrate their birthdays.  As you may know, I take my nieces out to celebrate.  It's so much more fun to have an outing than simply hand over some store bought item.  We'd rather make a memory.  I wish I had had this opportunity to spend time with my older relatives having one-on-one times now that I think back.  But life was different "in the old days".  It's a new century, we get to do things our way.  Yay!  Since the day we chose happened to be my sister-in-law's birthday, we included her!  A trifecta!  We went to see The Hunger Games as we had all read the first book.

Let me start with the cast and crew:
Suzanne Collins:  Author of the book
Gary Ross:  Director of movie
Jennifer Lawrence:  Katniss Everdeen
Elizabeth Banks: Effie Trinket
Woody Harrelson: Haymitch Abernathy
Stanley Tucci: Caesar Flickerman
Donald Sutherland: President Snow
Josh Hutcherson: Peeta Mallark
Liam Hemsworth:  Gale Hawthorne
Lenny Kravitz:  Cinna
Wes Bentley:  Seneca Crane
Willow Shields:  Primrose Everdeen
Amandla Stenberg:  Rue
Music:  T Bone Burnett and James Newton Howard
Costume:  Judianna Makorsky

Fans of the book are Fans.  And, I guess, I am one of them.  I enjoyed reading the series and found the story well done with a good message for the young adult market.  The theme is political and involves making choices.  Morality is certainly a big factor here.  Darker than the Harry Potter series.  I didn't read the Twilight series as other nieces (we're a large family) had said not to bother.  The movie stayed true to the book as much as possible.  Small changes made to move the story along didn't affect the overall theme but cut the running time to 2 1/2 hours.  I imagine it was a different experience for those who hadn't read the book.  It comes down to having the background knowledge and therefore able to fill in the blanks and make connections.  It's a great film for the fans of the book.  Oh, damned with faint praise.

Here's my issue:  the movie should be able to stand on its own.   I realized that I was able to enjoy the movie because I had read the book, knew the story and was subconsciously filling in the blanks with "prior knowledge".  For fans of the book, the movie did a great job.  But for everyone else, not so much.  I'm not sure how "not so much".  One friend of mine who saw the movie without reading the book wasn't enthused.  She saw the movie with someone who had read the book and liked the movie a lot more.  The movie failed to deliver to the non-readers.  Not a good thing.  This loses the audience for movies two and three.

Enough about the movie.... let's get down to performances.  Or at least the performances I enjoyed.  First, Jennifer Lawrence.  Fabulous.  I knew she would be.  Her performance in Winter's Bone made her a natural to play Katniss Everdeen.  Katniss is the same character as Ree, just a different story.  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. - well of course.  Perfect.  Haymitch is a has-been alcoholic.  Woody Harrelson can pull off this role with one hand tied behind his back.  Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman.  Why does this man turn in performance after performance and not have an Oscar?  The  movie was well-cast.  Elizabeth Banks was fun as Effie Trinket though not quite as annoying as I'd expected her to be.  Lenny Kravitz was a good choice as Cinna, the stylist.

T Bone Burnett always delivers on music.  And he does here.  Costumes were designed by Judianna Makorsky.  She had a lot of work to do and she met the requirements.  I see an Oscar nomination and I think perhaps an award.  I know it is early but I think there's a winner here.  I was somewhat apprehensive about the stadium costumes but these lived up to the descriptions in the book and maybe even topped them.  Very impressive.

Overall, I give the movie a B, mostly for effort.  It was fan-pleasing.  The work that went into the movie was excellent but the movie itself doesn't stand alone.  That said, I look forward to the next one.  My recommendation for those who haven't read the books and are interested, please do read the books.  It will make the movies that much better.  For those who don't care, don't bother.  But it is worth the time.