FlixChatter Review: Passengers (2016)

passengers

Directed By: Morten Tyldum
Written By: Jon Spaihts
Runtime: 116 minutes

I heard about the premise of this one a few years ago when the project was still stuck in development hell and for some time it was meant to be a vehicle for Keanu Reeves. Well, now we’ve got two of the biggest young A-listers as leads, but what attracted me was still the premise of what could’ve been an intriguing psychological sci-fi thriller.

Well, if you have seen the trailer or tv spots, the studios pretty much marketed this as two passengers who’re stuck in a spacecraft traveling to a distant planet when they’re awakened 90 years early. Within 10 minutes of watching it, you’ll realize that isn’t quite the case. A giant asteroid hits a part of the spaceship, causing a malfunction that triggers Jim’s sleeping pod to open 90 years early. Apparently in the future we still age as we do today, so of course Jim is going to die of old age before he reaches his destination. The first 15 minutes or so are pretty entertaining when it was just Chris Pratt‘s Jim Preston all alone on the ship wondering why he’s the only one awaken on board. There are some funny moments, i.e. how it takes 50+ years for his SOS message to reach earth and the machine says ‘we apologize for the delay.’ Ha! It helps that Pratt has that aw-shucks likable charm that the film puts to good use, but he could only sustain it for so long before he’s starting to get on my nerves.

passengers_pratt

When does Jennifer Lawrence enter the picture, you ask? Well, to talk about it would spoil the premise, so I’ll discuss that later in the spoiler section. I could tell you that her character’s name is Aurora Lane. Heh, the Sleeping Beauty reference is just way on the nose it’s lazy. And is ‘Lane’ meant to be an homage to Lois Lane as Aurora is a writer? [shrug] Speaking of Lois, there is a space *walk* halfway through that evokes the flying sequence in the first Superman movie… and of course Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. In fact, Passengers made me recall so many other [read: better] sci-fi movies: 2001 Space Odyssey, Sunshine, Ex Machina, etc. but in a bad way because it could barely hold a candle to those films. Oscar-winner Lawrence herself doesn’t really get much to do in this movie. She’s pretty much reduced to a damsel in distress, one with questionable principles no less, by the end of the movie.

passengers_aurorajim

I have to admit the visuals of the movie, which is basically just the set design of the spacecraft Avalon, is stunning and sleek. It’s like a pristine, futuristic mega mall, complete with state-of-the-art rooms and all kinds of amenities such as bar, dance studio, swimming pools, etc. The special effects of the pool losing its artificial gravity whilst Aurora’s swimming in it is pretty cool to watch. But it’s to be expected from a movie with a $100+ mil budget, and this movie is pretty much all style no substance. Director Morten Tyldum (whose gone Hollywood since making the Danish indie film Headhunters) seems more concerned with the actors’ physicality/physiognomy than their psychology. In a dramatic moment where Aurora’s supposed to be feeling emotionally distressed, the director shows off her svelte physique in a snazzy bathing suit that tells you nothing of what she’s feeling. Apparently Jon Spaihts‘ script was from the coveted Black List, though you wouldn’t know it from the final result.


For a movie built on the romance of the characters, there’s zero emotional resonance here. Mostly it’s because most people wouldn’t be able to easily reconcile the fact that a bored, lonely man basically does something so selfless. Obsession is NOT true love, no matter how slick Hollywood tries to package the story nor how attractive the actors they hired to sell it. SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read): At one point Aurora calls Jim a murderer for waking her up to keep him company, and that description is absolutely justified. There’s no denying that Jim basically stalks Aurora in her pod, then proceeds to robs her out of her future and deceives her into falling for him. No matter how you look at it, he’s a creepy dude who doesn’t deserve our sympathies, yet the filmmakers want us to root for him.

Aside from the unethical decision of the protagonist, it’s hard to root for either of them as we just barely knew them. No character development than mere superficial hints of their professions prior to their space journey. There’s also no real threat for any of the characters, even at the most dire scenario when all hell broke lose in the spaceship. Don’t even get me started with the bombastic finale. The mechanical failures in the ship feels like a cop out plot to avoid facing the morality of the story, while also conveniently give the protagonist a ‘get out of jail’ free pass. As for the rapport between the two leads, well they may seem like buddies in interviews, but there’s no chemistry between them as a couple. The hyped-up sex scene is pretty lame and I never believed them for a second as two people falling in love.

passengers_sheen

Well, I’ve described this movie in the worst possible way and I actually like it less the more I think about it. The only bright spot here is Michael Sheen as the android bartender, but he’s barely around often enough and his talents is wasted on this role. It’s also nice to see Laurence Fishburne popped up briefly, though his appearance can be considered a cameo. He did have one memorable line in the film delivered the only way he could, which only vexed me that he’s not around longer.

There’s really not much to recommend this movie. But the biggest disappointment of Passengers for me is that there’s an intriguing story here buried under studios’ meddling. It has the potential to be a haunting sci-fi that makes us ponder on our humanity, but all the thought-provoking bits gets swept under the rug [or more appropriately here, thrown out to space] in lieu of a generic space action adventure. No amount of star power can save a flawed script, pair that with studio meddling and you’ve got yourself a real cinematic misfire.


Have you seen Passengers? Well, what did you think?

///

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Ghostbusters (1984) & Superman Returns (2006) rewatch + The Adventurer: Curse Of The Midas Box (2013)

weekendroundup

Well this weekend’s viewing turns out to be pretty eclectic. Given that I saw the screening of the new Ghostbuster movie (review up later this week), I was inspired to re-watch the original. I honestly can’t remember when I saw that one, probably when I was a teen years ago, so my memory of it is hazy.

Well, just like the reboot, the cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver is truly the best thing about the movie. I enjoy the camaraderie of the ghostbustin’ team, which is the main strength of the new one as well. So yeah, I’d say the original movie still holds up very well, though I actually find Rick Moranis‘ character a bit irritating. The movie is obviously funny, but the comedic style is pretty different from the new one, which isn’t a good or bad thing. Having seen both movies last week, I’m more convinced of how absurd the controversy is over the all-female cast. I suppose haters are gonna hate, I just can’t fathom the idiocy of it all.

Speaking of Bill Murray…

Sunday is often reserved for indulgent viewing for me, which is the time I usually watch my fave period dramas. But for some reason I was in the mood to watch Superman Returns. I can’t believe that movie is 10 years old! It’s funny how remakes/reboots often made you reflect on the older movies. Now, I never hated this Bryan Singer version apart from the whole Superman kid absurdity, which I think is the weakest link of the movie. But rewatching it this time around made me like it a bit more. I like how geeky Brandon Routh‘s Superman is as Clark Kent, and that rousing airplane rescue scene is still awesome. Yeah it’s definitely more of a rom-com at times (which Singer himself admits), but you know what, I enjoyed that whole flying scene of Supes & Lois. Oh and Parker Posey is a hoot to watch here, esp. the scene where she’s fan-girling over Supes!


Lastly, I watched this UK adventure flick The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box. Heh, that is one clunky title and the movie itself isn’t that much better. Honestly, I only watched it because of the awesome Welsh actors in it: Aneurin Barnard (in the lead role), the always watchable Michael Sheen and Ioan Gruffud. Sam Neill and Lena Heady played the villains, so even though it’s still fun to watch these talented actors, they all deserve a much better movie!


It’s supposed to be Indiana Jones meets Hugo (as Aneurin played a teenager here), but it’s nowhere near as good as either. I concur with Rodney’s review and rating of it here, which is too bad given the talented cast and promising plot. I agree that the score by Fernando Velázquez is the best thing in it, he happens to also score the great soundtrack of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies.

Tomorrow night I’ll be watching these two wacky-but-fabulous London ladies wrecking havoc in style…

AbFabPoster


So that’s my weekend recap. What did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

FlixChatter Review: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

FarMaddingCrowdPoster

I have to admit the first time I heard about this novel was a few years ago when Richard Armitage’s character in the Christmas edition of Vicars of Dibley mentioned this Thomas Hardy’s novel as his favorite. Well, I remember reaching about what that novel was about and was immediately hooked. So a headstrong woman in Victorian England attracts three very different suitors, I definitely like the sound of that.

In stories like this, casting is crucial and that’s why I approach this review more from that angle. Let me start with the heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

FarMaddingCrowd_Bathsheba

I love the fact that Bathsheba is played by Carey Mulligan who’s appropriately free spirited and convincing as an independent young woman. A woman living in 19th-century England would not straddle her horse like she does when she rides, and she works the farm just as hard as any man.

When she first encountered Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer, he’s immediately smitten and it’s easy to see why. Matthias Schoenaerts, who somehow reminds me of Viggo Mortensen in this role, portrays Gabriel with deep vulnerability. He’s all doe-eyed with a hint of smolder… not the steamy kind of smolder, but one infused with such sincerity that makes it easy to root for him.

FarMaddingCrowd_BathshebaGabriel

Their two lives somehow turned out drastically different — Bathsheba became wealthy when she suddenly inherited her uncle’s estate, whilst Gabriel came to a misfortune in one tragic night. The interesting dynamic of their circumstances only adds to the intrigue of their relationship, especially given how a female boss was quite a rare occurrence back in the day. I like how the film shows how Bathsheba tried to defy convention the best way she could, to make in a man’s world and be taken seriously as a farm owner.

The next suitor is more of Bathsheba’s equal in terms of economic status though he’s considerably older in age. Michael Sheen gives a dignified presence to William Boldwood, but also the appropriate sensitivity of someone who’s financially successful but one who’s been unlucky in love. The relationships between Bathsheba and these two men are especially engaging, it’s made a bit trickier by the fact that Boldwood likes Gabriel and appreciate his fervent loyalty.

FarMaddingCrowd_BathshebaWilliam

I’ve mentioned in this post that the casting of the third suitor is disappointing. Sergeant Frank Troy is described as a handsome, irresponsible and impulsive young man… so I imagine an actor with devilish charisma and undeniable sex appeal for the role. Well, no offense Tom Sturridge but you ain’t that person and you certainly did NOT convince me as someone Bathsheba would risk everything for. Thus, her abrupt decision seems so out of character and doesn’t feel true.

Yes, the much-talked-about swordsmanship scene in the woods was beautifully-filmed but that’s more of a testament of Thomas Vinterberg‘s directing and his ability to create such an ethereal ambiance. I wanted to THAT scene to take my breath away, to be rendered speechless and all tingly from the sheer passion of the two characters, but it just wasn’t to be. The love scene that follows also lacks any kind of eroticism, which made the entire relationship lackluster. It also didn’t help that Sturridge just doesn’t look like a soldier or someone with a hint of danger that could tame or intimidate a woman like Bathsheba. I believe that charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

FarMaddingCrowd_BathshebaTroy

The way the story unfolds is rather predictable. Yes it’s based on a novel so people who’ve read it would’ve known how things turns out, but for those who haven’t, Vinterberg didn’t create any suspense that’d make us guess who Bathsheba will end up with. But Vinterberg’s strength behind the camera is creating a lush and atmospheric look that serves the story well, thanks largely to his frequent collaborator Charlotte Bruus Christensen who also did the cinematography for The Hunt.

There’s a certain melancholy in the film to be expected but it doesn’t feel corny or contrived. Mulligan and Schoenaerts who share the most screen time have a lovely chemistry… the way they steal glances every chance they get is the kind of stuff romantic dramas are made of. Apart from that, I was kind of expecting something a bit more unconventional from Vinterberg. I was so impressed by The Hunt and this one seems like a lesser film by comparison, though it’s not exactly an apples and oranges kind of comparison, but in general sense. This feels more Hollywood, safer and less edgy, but thankfully there are still things I like about it.

I have to say that the fact that sound went out for about 3-4 minutes during the final scene between Bathsheba and Gabriel! It was excruciating because it’s supposed to be a key emotional scene. The sound came back 2 minutes before the ending but still, that was awful that it happened. I’m not going to fault this film for that snafu of course, but the miscasting of Sgt. Troy is a big one for me. It did not derail the film but it prevents the film from being a truly compelling and fiery romantic drama that I had expected.

3halfReels


Have you seen this film? Well, what did YOU think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Quick thoughts on ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ + Bloggin’ Break

EverybodysChattin

Happy Thursday everyone! What a week it’s been. I went to the Christopher Nolan lecture at the Walker Art Museum on Tuesday and last night was the Far for the Madding Crowd screening. My post on both of those would have to wait until I’m back from vacation. But I have to share my first reaction about the latest Thomas Hardy’s cinematic adaptation:

In the novel, Troy is described as “handsome, vain, young, and irresponsible,” he is to be Bathsheba’s sexual awakening, but from the second Troy’s introduced on screen (played by Tom Sturridge), he just did NOT fit my idea of such a character. SPOILER ALERT [if you don’t want to know the plot, don’t read below the photo]

He looks more like someone from some boy band like One Direction with his full head of hair and effeminate-looking face and body. The swordsmanship scene is well-directed but Troy himself didn’t leave me breathless… and naturally the sex scene lacks passion. My girlfriend asked me as we walked out the theater if Troy is supposed to be some soldier wanna-be or something as he just doesn’t have that strapping look of a military man. Heh, I haven’t seen the 1967 version but Terence Stamp looked far more convincing as Troy. It’s a pity because I have no problem with other two male actors (Matthias Schoenaerts and Michael Sheen), and I adore Carey Mulligan as the heroine Bathsheba.

Bathsheba_Troy_MaddingCrowdYou may accuse me of being biased given how I feel about Stanley Weber these days, but seriously, if only I had been a casting agent for the film, I’d cast him as Troy in a heartbeat. He’s played a charming, sexy bad boy with aplomb as Juan Borgia, someone SO devilishly bad but oh-so-irresistible. I’m sure he can work on perfecting a British accent, but charisma, especially of a sexual nature, is not something an actor can train for.

Now that I got that out of the way… let’s get to those great links, shall we?

Josh did his May Oscar predictions whilst Andrew posted his 4 Ways a Best Picture roundtable. Never too early to talk about awards I guess.

Tom and Mark are hosting the Decades Blogathon. Spots are filling up fast!

Andina just posted her top 10 fave movies of 2014, glad we agree on the #1 pick!

Speaking of top 10, Chris got me all nostalgic in this post of top 10 Janet Jackson songs

To celebrate her 5th blogaversarry, Mettel Ray have been posting a bunch of top 5 lists, the latest one being Top 5 Trios

Over at Dan’s Top 10 Films blog, Rodney posted his top 10 Films of cinematographer Andrew Lesnie who just passed away

On to reviews…

Margaret, Sidekick Reviews and Melissa did a recap of the latest Game of Thrones episodes

Lots of foreign movie reviews that have been popping up this week, which is interesting as I’ve been watching a ton of French movies and videos 😉

Jordan reviewed this Spanish/Danish film Jauja

Steven reviewed Au Revoir Les Enfants (Goodbye Children)

Keith reviewed L’avventura

And last but not least, Jay posted some mini reviews including some terrible movies you should avoid!


Time for a Blog Break!

Well my hubby and I be going on a week-long vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We’re going to Tampa for a few days and then Orlando to visit…

WizardingWorldHPWizardingWorldHP2I’ve been wanting to check out the Harry Potter theme park for some time. I always enjoy going to these type of stuff, makes me feel young again 😉 But I’m also looking forward for some r&r at some of the best beaches in the area, like Clearwater Beach, visit Greek town Tarpon Springs and maybe head south to Sanibel Island!


So see you in about a week, folks! If you have any travel tips for the Orlando/Tampa area, please do let me know.

Five for the Fifth: February 2014 Edition

FiveForTheFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s one and only blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Whether you like it or not folks, movie franchise is a trend that’s here to stay in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the young adult demographic. As soon as a YA novel hits it big, you can bet a movie, no franchise is in the works.

So, let’s start this month’s edition with a trailer of another young adult franchise hopeful. In case you’ve never heard of this before, DIVERGENT is the first of a trilogy of books by a New York author Veronica Roth. Here’s the premise:

Beatrice Prior, a teenager with a special mind, finds her life threatened when an authoritarian leader seeks to exterminate her kind in her effort to seize control of their divided society.

Check out the new trailer just released yesterday:


Now, I barely remember what being a young adult feels like, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this genre, i.e. The Hunger Games. I must say I’m more intrigued the more I hear about this dystopian actioner, looks like it has potential and I think that has a lot to do with the actress playing the young protagonist.

DivergentStills

I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley as George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants, in which she impressed me. I’ve also been reading rave reviews of her performance in The Spectacular Now, and she also has another indie drama in the works called The Fault of Our Stars. The 22-year-old seems to be *groomed* to be one of Hollywood’s next leading lady, and I think she has the chops. But what this film will attest is whether she can be a box-office draw. Kate Winslet lends some sophisticated menace as the film’s antagonist, whilst Theo James (another Brit who’s easy on the eyes) plays Woodley’s mentor/love interest.

Thoughts on DIVERGENT and/or Shailene Woodley as a leading actress?

……
2.  Switching gears to one of cinema’s biggest leading man Russell Crowe who’s trying his hand at directing his first feature.

CroweDirectorialDebut

Per Variety, we’ve got the first look of The Water Diviner, which is filming in Australia and later in Turkey. Here’s the premise:

The film is set four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Australian farmer Connor (Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action, where he forges a relationship with the beautiful Turkish woman (Olga Kurylenko) who owns the hotel in which he stays. Holding on to hope, and with the help of a Turkish officer, Connor embarks on a journey across the country to find the truth about the fate of his sons.

Some of the supporting casts include Turkish actors and some relatively well-known Aussie actors like Jai Courtney (A Good Day To Die Hard) and Isabel Lucas (Immortals), hmmm not exactly screaming quality ensemble at this point, plus the executive producer is… Brett Ratner?? But y’know, I’d be willing to give Crowe the benefit of the doubt. If his directing skills is even half as good as his acting, it’d still be a decent film, ahah.

So what do you think of Crowe’s debut?

3. A pair of actor and director named Michael is having a birthday today.

Director Michael Mann turns 70 & British actor Michael Sheen turns 44.

Michael_Mann_Sheen

Some of you might know Michael Mann is one of my favorite living directors. He may not be the most prolific, having only done less than a dozen feature films, but he’s certainly one of the best. Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans and Collateral are some of my absolute favorite films. I’m looking forward to his mystery thriller Cyber starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis about what else, computer hacking. Apparently some of the filming locations include my native hometown Jakarta, according to this Indonesian article. Can’t wait to see that!

As for Michael Sheen, it’s interesting but two of the roles I remember him most are Tony Blair in The Queen and as a vampire breed Lucian in the Underworld franchise with his former wife Kate Beckinsale. He’s also memorable even in supporting roles like in TRON Legacy and Midnight in Paris. I still need to see Frost/Nixon, but I’ve heard he’s excellent in that one. I’m looking forward to seeing him in Far from the Madding Crowd, a drama directed by The Hunt‘s director Thomas Vinterberg.

What’s your favorite film[s] from each birthday fellow?

NicCage_pondering4. Good ol’ Nic Cage is always making the rounds in casting news. Hopefully his mountains of debts is getting shorter that he can finally make some decent films again. He’s reportedly in talks to do a heist thriller called Men with No Fear [per Deadline] Well it sounds right up his alley as Nic seems like the kind of *fearless* actor in that he doesn’t seem to care what people think, ahah. Here’s what it’s about:

The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a small-time neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge.

Bryan Singer is apparently producing this through his production company Bad Hat Harry. It doesn’t strike me as a challenging or career-making kind of role for Nic, but at this point, we can only hope anything is better than Stolen [facepalm]

What do you think of this casting news… or better yet, what role would YOU suggest Nic Cage to take on?


5. Now lastly, since Oscar is less than a month away… Morgan compiled a whole bunch of interesting Oscarama stats about what kinds of films get nominated by the Academy.

  • OSCARBestPictureEnvelopeComedy only makes 7% of the nominees
  • Romantic dramas really do seem to be popular with the Academy
  • Only eight foreign films have been nominated for Best Picture [Wish this year’s one of them as The Hunt deserves to be in the main Best Picture category]
  • Once in a while, sequels do make it to the Oscars. These are the eight movie sequels that were nominated for Best Picture:
    Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
    The Bells of St. Mary’s
    The Godfather Part II
    The Godfather Part III
    The Silence of the Lambs
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    Toy Story 3
  • This is quite startling to me… 60 (or 11 %) of Best Picture nominees have been remakes.

Morgan came to an astute conclusion… The Academy doesn’t just like to keep nominating the same type of film, it likes to keep nominating versions of the same film.

Now, my last question to you are two-fold: Do you think Oscar should nominate more comedic films? If so, which ones do you think deserve to be nominated for Best Picture?


Well, that’s it for the FEBRUARY 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks.

Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Weekend Roundup: ‘Midnight in Paris’ review

Happy Monday, everybody! It’s actually a Columbus Day holiday here, but no, I didn’t get a day off 😦

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, wherever you are. Well, mine was quite lovely. I took a much-needed blogging/computer break on Saturday to spend the entire day outdoors starting with a jog around the beautiful Lake Calhoun with friends, then off to a small town south of the Twin Cities to go hiking and take in the gorgeous Fall colors. This has got to be the best Autumn season ever with hardly any rain and temps holding in the 70s and 80s!

But guess what, despite my hectic weekend, I actually had time to see not one but two movies, no, NOT the weekend box office winner Reel Steel, not even sure I want to rent that one. I finally caught Midnight in Paris at a local indie theater, and The Beaver that’s been sitting on our counter for a whole week.

Midnight in Paris

I feel that the less you know about this film the better, which is why I’m not going to go into the plot details too much and just leave you with this IMDb description:

A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

For most people, the appeal of this film is likely to be the ever-so-prolific Woody Allen. But his work has been hit and miss for me so the appeal of this film for me is the enchanting city of Paris and boy, this film practically doubles as a tourism video for the City of Lights. Seems like Allen’s love affair with Europe continues [his last few films were filmed in London & Barcelona] and cinematographer Darius Khondji indulges him with gorgeous shots of his city muse.

I had some doubts about Owen Wilson in the lead role but he turned out to be perfectly cast as a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter who calls himself a ‘hack’ and longs to finally finish his novel. His comic timing as Gil generates plenty of laugh in the scenes spent during the day with his fiancée Inez’s family and friends, but his wide-eyed bewilderment when the clock strikes midnight is even more fun to watch.

Again, I’m glad I didn’t know much about the plot as what Gil encounters from midnight until the wee hours is full of surprises! Checking out the characters’ name on its IMDb would easily give it away but I suggest you refrain from doing that unless you don’t mind being spoiled.

Like most of Woody Allen’s films, this one is comprised of a large ensemble cast including Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody and also feature a small cameo of French first lady Carla Bruni. I also didn’t know Tom Hiddleston [Thor‘s Loki] is in this one, so it was a pleasant surprise! The usually likable Michael Sheen and Rachel McAdams portray their unsympathetic characters quite well, Sheen especially as the smarty-pants college professor friend of Inez. Marion Cotillard is lovely as always and her role as the free-spirited French beauty Adriana seems tailor-made for her. Her scenes with Wilson are easily the highlights of the movie for me.

I’m so glad I finally caught this film before its theatrical run is over! My hubby was initially reluctant to see it but he ended up loving it as much as I did. It’s truly an enchanting and magical film that’s full of whimsical yet poignant dialog complemented by beautiful scenery. It’s quite predictable how Gil will come to his senses by the end, but his journey to get there is wonderful to watch. I’ll definitely be seeing this one again.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What did you think of Midnight in Paris? 

Everyone’s a Critic: Reviews from FlixChatter Readers

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic series. Today we’ve got an Oscar nominated flick and two sports movies from a golf and soccer enthusiast. Special thanks to Becky, Scot and Alan for taking the time to contribute to FlixChatter!

Crazy Heart (2009)
by Becky Kurk

My sister from California was visiting a few weeks ago, and we both wanted to see the The Blind Side, but it vanished from the theater one day before we planned to see it. Crazy Heart was her second choice, and since she was from the “away” team, I let her win the coin toss.

Turns out Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake) performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. He plays drunk and down-and-out so well it hurts to keep watching him. In fact, I think his role was over-written. I mean how many times do you need to see him vomit or pass out before you get the hint that he’s got a problem? Not as much as we have to watch. So that leaves little left for the rest of the characters. I have no idea why his love interest (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is the least bit interested in him, and there’s nothing in the story that even hints at it. I really think Maggie is a good actor, but her performance here is not Oscar-worthy. That’s not her fault, it’s because of the weakly-written character she has to play. And I don’t know why one minute Colin Farrell (Tommy Sweet) is his musical rival, and then suddenly Bad is his opening act. Sweet then strongly encourages him to write original songs for his band to finally start making some money again. Strangely, Bad turns him down, and again, we have no way of knowing why. Colin, however, gave a subtle but surprisingly good performance.

There’s very little in this film to get you to care about any of the other characters. On the plus side, however, even though I’m not a country music fan, I was surprised I didn’t totally hate the music. And the beautiful panoramas of the Southwest are worth seeing. The story line has been compared to Tender Mercies, The Wrestler and Walk the Line – I haven’t seen the first two, but Walk the Line hits it out of the park compared to Crazy Heart, which barely gets to second base.

….

The Damned United (2009)
by Scot Mattison

Michael Sheen takes on the role of one of England’s all-time great and controversial football managers, Brian Clough. The movie looks at Clough’s 44-day reign as the coach of Leeds United and the events that lead up to the doomed Leeds side.

Colm Meaney plays Don Revie, Clough’s nemesis and predecessor at Leeds. Clough’s sets out to change the playing style of the existing Leeds team, players loyal to Don Revie, and a team Clough has openly criticized for playing dirty. Clough attempts to endear the team to him by telling them “You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly”… surprisingly, this doesn’t produce the desired endearing effect.

An ok script filled with very rich characters. I can’t say the movie captured the whole that was Brian Clough though. Lacking is a charming, working-class, boozer quality…  which leads to a “campy” feel to some of the scenes. The movie does do a good job of creating many uneasy moments, and Sheen does a great job of portraying the over-confident and egocentric manager, delivering his lines with a “nasally-condescending-Cloughie” quality. A good watch for football lovers and anyone that enjoys seeing off-center historical characters.

….

The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)
by Alan Markham

The Greatest Game Ever Played
is not the “greatest movie ever made,” but it is pretty decent as far as golf flicks go. The movie is based on a book written by Mark Frost (well known golf writer), and even if you’re not a huge golf fan, I think those who like sports movies would appreciate this story.

The basic premise of the movie is the story of Francis Ouimet’s (played by Shia LaBeouf) rise to golfing fame in the early 1900’s. The movie begins with Ouimet’s life as a caddy, and as a relative unknown in the golfing world, and follows along with his growth and ultimate success when he wins the 1913 U.S. Open at age 20. The key moment is when Ouimet takes on Harry Vardon (Tiger Woods of the day) in a head to head match. The outcome seems predictable, but the fact that it actually did happen makes it more entertaining. No fire hydrants or smashed Escalades here, just good clean fun.

As I mentioned, the storyline is expected, but I feel it still has enough interest to hold your attention throughout the entire movie. The acting is decent, cinematography is great (from a golfers’ perspective), and the story is entertaining. If the movie were a golf score, I’d give it a par.

Edit: This movie was Bill Paxton’s directing debut. As a teen, Bill caddied for golf great Ben Hogan in Fort Worth, which might’ve explained his enthusiasm for the sport.