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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Annette Bening

Girl Most Likely (2013)

Best way to get your man back? Fake-kill yourself. Just you wait, he’ll be back in no time.

Imogene (Kristen Wiig) seemed to have had it all: the boyfriend, the writing job, the fancy apartment in NYC, the much-needed separation from her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening). However, it all goes down the drain once she loses one aspect, and then it becomes a domino effect from there on in, which makes her fake a suicide-attempt, in hopes that it will bring her boyf back to her. It doesn’t. But since she pulled a risky stunt like this, she can’t be trusted on her own so is now forced to live with her said gambling-addicted mother, her new boyfriend, a supposed CIA agent by the name of George (Matt Dillon), her geeky brother (Christopher Fitzgerald), and some tool that’s been renting out her room for quite some time (Darren Criss). It’s all bad for Imogene at first, but she soon realizes that maybe her old life wasn’t as great as she may have seen it as being. That, or she just didn’t amount to shit. Something like that, I think.

Alright, let me just put it as simply and obviously as I can: This movie is a total mess. It’s a total mess that I wish I avoided, but I just couldn’t turn down a screening invite to because of the big name’s attached and an odd crush I’ve had on Wiig for quite some time now. It seemed like it was supposed to be good from the outside-looking-in, but it just is not because the whole movie can’t rise beyond it’s one-note premise. Even when it tries to, it does it so miserably, that it has nowhere else to go but downhill from there. Problem is, it’s already down at the bottom of the hill. So seriously, where the hell can a film go if it’s already at the deepest, darkest hell of the hill?

Clothing: Way. Too. Colorful.

Clothing: Way. Too. Colorful.

I have no clue. That’s what I’m still struggling to figure out, but I don’t care too much about this movie or the explanation to figure out what.

I know I sound like a miserable git that can’t have fun, even if the movie is terrible but no, no, no! This movie is really bad and actually surprised me because it started off fine. It had a good premise, a good start-up to where we are thrown into this girl Imogene’s life, and are left to figure out what she’s going to do with the rest of it. It’s a perfect set-up for a pretty good dramedy, if there was one to be found here, but there isn’t. Instead, it’s just a whole slew of repetitive-jokes that get old from about the first 5 seconds that they’re introduced. However, the movie doesn’t care and will more than love to bang them against your head, until they’ve been implanted in your brain when you leave, just so you have something worth remembering. Maybe the creators didn’t have that much effort in their systems while making this movie, but I’m just in a sinister mood. So leave me be, dammit!

Let me take the time to tell you some of the running-gags that these characters have, and will never, ever let you forget about. Imogene’s the only lucky one here who comes out surprisingly unscathed, except for maybe the joke that she’s too old for the people she hangs out around. She wears a Friends t-shirt for about 10 minutes, she dresses like a grand-mom at risque night-clubs, when it’s made abundantly clear that she’s probably around her mid-to-late 30’s, and constantly reminds everybody that she’s in a totally, different day and age than all of them combined. That’s her joke, I guess if I had to reach out for one. Wiig milks it for all that she can and comes up pretty successful at times, but feels like she’s trying way too hard to be all awkward and odd, but for no reason.

Moving on, we have her gambling-addicted mother that cannot stop mentioning winning some sort of poker/blackjack game, even when her own daughter’s in the hospital because of an apparent suicide-attempt. Also, she likes to make sandwiches. A lot of sandwiches to be exact. Don’t know why this is meant to be shown as a joke, as if she’s a goof-ball or something, but it does not work, no matter how hard to Bening is trying to make it so. And she really does try. Poor gal. Matt Dillion has his joke where he’s a mysterious, shady CIA-agent that’s also involved with the samurai code that has him talking about some odd morals and rules that he must live by. Oh, and before I forget: He likes to eat the sandwiches that Bening’s character makes for him. That’s right, he eats sandwiches. What a bunch of jokesters these people are!

Now I know why I didn't like him. Bastard.

Now I know why I didn’t like him! Bastard.

Then, we have the brother who’s your typical, anti-social nerd. He practically lives in his room, one filled to the core with crabs, lobsters, and all sorts of other creatures, I’m sure, and doesn’t talk to girls at all. Hell, he barely even leaves his room and when he actually does, it’s only to work at the shop he owns which, you guessed it, sells crabs! Fitzgerald is more than up to the task of trying his hardest to make this character work or even be funny for that matter, and actually had me chuckling at least once or twice, but the script treats him as a total dweeb, one that will never, ever get laid, no matter how many crabs he ditches. Poor guy.

Darren Criss doesn’t really have a joke to his persona, mainly because a rock has better comedic-timing than him. I don’t know who this dude is, but Darren Criss is not a name I want to see anywhere near another comedy I see in the near-future, because he is not funny and doesn’t even seem to try at all to be so. He’s just there to look pretty, be a forced, romantic-interest for Wiig’s character, and sing Backstreet Boys songs because that’s apparently what all heterosexual dudes do, especially when they’re trying to bang somebody like Kristen Wiig. Maybe that’s what I need to do in order to win her over? Just maybe I will.

Consensus: Girl Most Likely has some promise of a generic, but entertaining flick that has a nice heart intact, but is neither and tries to fulfill both sides of the equation, and still falls apart while trying to do so, much to the dismay of the talented cast (except for Criss) on deck.

1.5 / 10 = Crapola!!

"So, you guys ever heard of Scott Joplin? You know, cause I'm soooo old."

“So, you guys ever heard of Scott Joplin? You know, cause I’m so old.”

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Running With Scissors (2006)

Cue the jokes about how this movie runs with scissors and ends-up tripping.

At the age of twelve, Augusten Burroughs (Joseph Cross) finds himself amidst Victorian squalor living with his mother’s doctor’s bizarre family, while she (Annette Bening) goes off and becomes a total drug-addict, amongst other fucked-up things. Oh yeah, and it’s hard for little Augusten since not only is he a poet at such a young age, but he’s a gay one at that. Yay!

I never read Augusten Burrow’s 2002 memoir of the same name, and despite what all of the literary hipsters that I know continue to tell me, I still don’t ever plan on reading it, either. I’m not much of a reader as it is but with material that’s all about people being all wacky and strange just for the sake of being so, definitely rubs me the wrong-way, especially when it’s done in a flick like this.

See, the fact of the matter is that you can make a movie about a bunch of near-functional nut jobs that can still be a bit whack-o in the brain department, but are at least likable and understandable enough to connect to. Writers/directors like Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach can do this, and do it very well, but writer/director Ryan Murphy is not one of them, nor does he come even close. Instead of making these characters a bunch of whack-o’s that you actually feel something for, as if they were normal, functioning human-beings, you just seem them as whack-o’s with nothing really nice to say or do throughout the whole, dreadful 2 hours.

All you do throughout this whole flick is see a bunch of crazies yell, hoot, and holler at one another, and just do a bunch of random crap to each other that would seem almost too weird to be true (but trust me, this flick wants you to believe it’s source material REALLY IS TRUE!), and in ways, totally is. You never, not for one second, actually believe that all you see on-screen is actually how things happened in real-life for Augusten and if it did actually happen, it sure as hell shows you that it wasn’t a story that needed to be shown on the big-screen in the first-place, mostly because there isn’t much here to hold onto. I would say that the characters are worth the shot of standing-by and listening to, but even that’s a bit of a far-stretch since they are only there to be nothing more than just a plot-device of sure craziness. Watching people act all wacky and wild can be fun every once and awhile to watch, but as time goes on, there needs to be more substance brewing from underneath and that is just not here.

"And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven't felt the same."

“And that little bitch that played the psycho ballet dancer won! Ever since then, I haven’t felt the same.”

Maybe the fact that I never read the memoir was the reason why I didn’t like it all that much, because there was a lot of crap that happened or was said here that I just didn’t understand. The whole idea of people looking at every single bit of life’s details with a clear-view and making something out of nothing, simply annoys the hell out of me in real-life, and even worse, annoys the most when I see it in a movie and that’s all I saw here. Everybody speaks as if they just got done reading Hemingway and felt the need to rant and rave about what life is all about, and it’s okay at first because it makes sense to why these characters are so strange, but it becomes to be a bit of a bore and unbelievable. You know, just like the rest of the characters and the movie itself. Heck, there’s even a scene where Brian Cox is checking out his crapola (be ready to hear that term sooner or later) and talking about what it’s shape, size, and formation means to his life and everybody else’s around him. Did I get it? No, but would I have had I actually took time out of my lazy day and read the memoir? Probably not. It’s just the type of writing that annoys me and shows that people have nothing else better to do with their way of contracting humor, then just showing a bunch of ridiculous and crude things to really shock you and make you feel as if you’ve seen something from another planet. However, I think I was on another planet when I saw this movie.

It’s even worse, though, when you take into consideration at how freakin’ uneven this whole thing is. My buddy and I were just bored one night, decided to watch this because it was under the “Comedy” section on On Demand, and for the first 30 minutes, neither one of us were laughing. We weren’t laughing because what the flick was trying to do and shove down our throats, wasn’t funny (even though it really isn’t a funny movie), but it was because there was nothing really funny actually happening. It was just a bunch of dark, sarcastic drama that I didn’t know whether or not I was supposed to feel weirded-out by or just go along with it and see if I ever lighten-up to the dead-pan tone and feel. I never did and to be honest, I don’t think the flick itself did, either, because there was just way too many moments where the film changed itself-up. One second, you’ll be watching a scene of some cooky lady eating doggy biscuits, and then after that, you’ll get some heartbreaking discussion between an estranged mother and son. It’s all-over-the-place and constantly changing tones from right-to-left and that is not as fun or entertaining as it sounds. It’s obvious and it never stops to be, and that’s why I just wanted somebody in this flick to die and spice things up. I’m sorry, it’s just the thought-process I go through when a movie sucks THIS BAD.

The only, real saving-grace to this whole flick is the ensemble cast of characters that do all that they can here, but in the end, fall prey to a terrible script and direction. Joseph Cross is fine as our lead, Augusten Burroughs, and is serviceable as a kid that obviously has a lot of problems with growing-up, being a poet, being gay, and not really having a connection with his mother. It should have been a lot more relateable for most kids going through, or have been through teenage-angst, but it’s oddly not. It’s just a kid having a problem with a mother of his that just so happens to be hopped-up all of the time. Hey, I don’t know if that’s everybody else’s life story but if so, well, you just may be able to find something to suit your fancy here.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Right about now is where breakfast would be the second-thing on my moment.

Actually, the real stand-out of this whole cast is the woman who plays that same hopped-up mother, Annette Bening. Bening is great as this drugged-up, but somewhat schizophrenic that does all that she can to make herself happy, but in the end, just can’t. Bening can play a bitch like no other and she’s great in this role as a mother that’s never there and when she is, is like a freakin’ plague of problems. Yeah, she’s a mean, old woman that seems like she really deserves a nice kick in the teeth by not just me, but anybody, but regardless, it’s still impressive to see from here, especially considering the fact that the girl keeps all of the energy alive and well in this dead flick. And by “dead”, I mean Grateful Dead because let’s be honest, you may just want to be high for this movie. It would probably help a crap-load, although, it obviously didn’t help me with anything.

The rest of the cast is fine too, but none of them can really keep up with Bening. Brian Cox plays Dr. Finch, a slimy psychiatrist who seems to be doing people favors, but also has a bit of a dark-side to him as well that’s maybe not so favorable. Cox is great, what else is new by now? Evan Rachel Wood plays the skanky-looking daughter of his that definitely should have been in this movie a lot more, considering she brings a lot of fun and wit to the screen, when everybody else seems like they’re falling asleep (count me in on that nap). Same could almost be said for Gwyneth Paltrow as the total kiss-ass of the family, Hope, and definitely seems like she got a role for herself that displayed her looks, her beauty, and her knack for comedy. Sad thing is, she’s not that funny here. Not her fault, writer’s fault. I was also very surprised to see a very good performance from Joseph Fiennes, who plays the gay boy-toy of Augusten and just so happens to be the only boy of the Finch family. Fiennes rarely shows up in anything now but it was nice to see him when he was a bit wild, wacky, and free. Too bad he had to be all that, especially in a shit-pile like this.

Consensus: Despite that obviously seems like they’re game for this type of material, it really lets them down as every character is unlikable, distasteful, annoying, and terribly unbelievable, almost to the point of where the whole 2 hours and 2 minutes of Running With Scissors seriously makes you take that title into consideration with your own life. It’s a drastic way of thinking, but it’s the truth.

2/10=Crapola!!

Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can't wait!

Looks like my backyard, come hoarders season. Can’t wait!

The Grifters (1990)

Do con-men and women really look this dashing? If so, I’m not cut-out for the job.

Lilly Dillon (Huston) is a veteran con artist who begins to rethink her life when her son Roy (Cusack), a small-time grifter, suffers an almost-fatal injury when hit with a thrust from the blunt end of a baseball bat, right after a failed scam. However, she doesn’t realize that her boy has fixed himself up with a dame (Annette Bening) that may not seem to be all that she appears to be.

Calling this movie a “thriller” would not be doing it any justice, and I’m still contemplating on whether or not it’s the good type of justice, or the bad. Good, mainly because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool, but at the same time, bad, because it has you siked and ready for a story about a trio of cons that never tell the truth, always seem like they’re up to something, and always know to make a little extra-dough by playing to cool. See, it’s not the type of film about cons that you’d expect. It’s not filled with a big-heist, it’s not filled with thrilling suspense and action to hold you over, and it’s not even really filled with that many twists or turns. Instead, it’s sort of like the day-time soap opera version of a movie about cons and that’s both good, and bad. It’s very love-hate with me here, and I think you’re about to find that out.

The problem I ran into with this flick was that I feel like it would be going-on in such a slow, tedious-pace that it almost felt deliberate. Most movies that have this slow pace, usually do it for the same reasons that this flick did it, but it works a lot better for them since it’s exactly how the story should be told and judges how effective it will be to the viewer. However, with a story/movie like this, the slower-pace doesn’t quite work as well as it might think and continued to piss me off, because every time the film felt like it was really getting somewhere and picking-up itself and all of the pieces it was leaving on the ground, it would just stop, take a moment to pause, and jog it’s way through.

"Hayyyyy, aren't you that gal from the Addams Family? Where'd your black hair go?"

“Hayyyyy, aren’t you that gal from the Addams Family? Where’d your black hair go?”

It was like me in a 5k mile run. I start off so perfectly, then I realize I put too much energy into the first 5 minutes, then I decide to slow things down, almost to the point of where I begin to walk, then, I get some inspiration and energy in my step and begin to run again, and then so-on, and so-forth, all up-until I get to the finish-line and everybody treats me like I just cured cancer, even despite me coming in 2nd to last place. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it goes with me (I obviously always win those runs, obviously…), but that’s how I felt with this flick and I feel like director Stephen Frears was just toying with me on-purpose. In some ways that works and makes the flick seem less predictable as it strings along, but in other ways, it just feels cheap and sort of like the director wants to be like the characters and play a sick, cat-and-mouse game that some people may not be too happy with in the end when they find out what’s to come of it all.

However, I can’t hate on Frears too much because no matter how slow and languid the pace got, I was always interested in seeing what was going to happen next. The story definitely takes it’s fair-share of detours into the past and they are definitely what feature the most energy and fun of the whole flick, but whenever it focuses on these characters, what they’re doing now, how they’re getting their money, and who’s playing who, the film still stays fun, if not all that energetic as the flashback sequences. Seeing cons do their thing like no other is always a blast to see on-screen and rather than just having it be a flick that exposes trick-after-trick, we get more of a balanced look at how broken and dull some of these cons lives are, and how money cannot buy them happiness and instead, only buys them more trouble. You actually care for these characters and that’s only what raises the stakes even more when the unpredictable-factor of this story comes into play, and you feel like you have no idea where it’s going to go or how, you just know that somebody is playing somebody. Then again, when you think about life and all that is: aren’t we all?

"Nope, Warren's still bigger."

“Nope, Warren’s still bigger.”

Okay, away from the philosophical ramblings of a 19-year-old film critic, back to the movie at-hand here. Yeah, the Grifters. I think without this trio of leads that the flick features, it probably would have folded underneath it’s own weight but thankfully, this trio of leads are here and are here to give some magnificent performances that stick with you, long after the flick is over. Before ’90, John Cusack was mainly known for racing randomly in the streets and always knowing the right Peter Gabriel track to have the ladies swooning, but once the year 1990 actually hit and this flick came-around, people began to look at him differently and realize something about him: this guy’s all grown-up. Cusack never really got a chance to stretch his acting-skills back in those days, mainly because everybody thought he was made for just hooking-up with high-school girls and in a way, they may have been right, but Cusack proved them all wrong and showed that the guy could play a sly, evil son-of-a-bitch that was as slick as they come and didn’t know when to stop pulling-in jobs and ranking-up the dough. Cusack always seems like a believable character and that’s all because the guy never over-does his whole cool essence and look to his act and always seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody else in the flick, as well as the audience themselves, yet, we always like him and cheer for him as things begin to go South for his hormones and his job. I guess being a con is considered a job and if so, he definitely must have had to won “Employee of the Month”, at least once.

Anjelica Huston plays his mommy, who just so happens to be 14-years-older than him and shows you that the gal can, as usual, play a strong-willed and big-brained, female-lead like no other and as much as this may seem like a convention of hers by now, I still can’t hold that against her. Huston’s great with this role and you always wonder whether or not she is Roy’s mom, his lover, a past-fling, or simply, just some chick who’s trying to play a con on him and get his stash of cash. Like the rest of the characters in this trio, you never know what’s up with her and what her next move is going to be, but like typical, Huston-fashion, she always keeps you guessing and interested. Still, I was just waiting for that wig to come off. I could not believe how legitimate it truly was in terms of the story and setting.

80's, teen heart-throb he is no more.

80’s teen heart-throb he is no more.

The best out of this trio, and the one who really stands-out among the rest is probably Annette Bening as Myra, the fellow-squeeze of Roy. Bening, no offense to her or her looks, has never really been the type of actress that I could really declare “sexy”, “hot”, or even one that I would just have to take to bed, if I saw her in real-life (because they all would go to be with me, let’s face it), but here, she totally had me re-think that. Bening uses her flair for sexuality and nudity to her advantage and has her character come-off as a bit of a tramp, but a smart tramp at best, and a tramp that knows exactly what she’s doing, even if the others may not be able to catch onto it right just yet. Out of of the three, you’ll be wondering the most what side Bening’s is on and when you finally get your answer, you may be shocked, you may not be, but what you will be, is surprised by how much Bening uses the look and feel of sex-appeal to make a character that’s full of it, really, really work.

Consensus: Stephen Frears’ direction definitely makes you feel as if he is just playing with you, just in-order to be more like his subjects, but that’s why The Grifters does, and does not work in it’s own right. However, you can’t deny the charm and power that is within these three performances and it’s just wonderful to see them act each-and-every-single-one of their asses off, even if the pace seems to not be serving them the full-plate that they so rightfully deserves.

7/10=Rental!!

Possibly the gayest look John Cusack has ever given another man caught-on-film. Ever.

Possibly the gayest look John Cusack has ever given another man caught-on-film. Ever.

Oscar Predictions and Thoughts for 2011

So as everyone among the film community know, it is Oscar time babyyyyy!!! So that means get ready for some of the biggest upsets, wins, and probably tearful moments of the year. It was a great year in the film, and this is what has all come down to it people. The big night, and here are my predictions, I hope I do well.

Best Animated Feature: Will Win: Toy Story 3 Should Win: Toy Story 3 Wild Card: How To Train Your Dragon

Best Documentary Feature: Will Win: Restrepo Should Win: Restrepo Wild Card: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Foreign Language Film: Will Win: In a Better World Should Win: Dogtooth Wild Card: Biutiful

Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short: Will Win: Can’t say I care too much

Best Editing: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Black Swan

Best Cinematography: Will Win: True Grit Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Visual Effects: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Alice in Wonderland

Best Sound Editing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Unstoppable

Best Sound Mixing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Social Network

Best Art Direction: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Costume Design: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Alice in Wonderland Wild Card: True Grit

Best Makeup: Will Win: The Wolfman Should Win: The Way Back

Best Original Score: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Inception

Best Original Song: Will Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Should Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Wild Card: I See The Light (Tangled)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: 127 Hours

Best Original Screenplay: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld Should Win: Melissa Leo Wild Card: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actor: Will Win: Christian Bale Should Win: Christian Bale Wild Card: Geoffrey Rush

Best Actor: Will Win: Colin Firth Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg Wild Card: James Franco

Best Actress: Will Win: Natalie Portman Should Win: Natalie Portman Wild Card: Annette Bening

Best Director: Will Win: David Fincher Should Win: David Fincher Wild Card: Tom Hooper

Best Picture: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Toy Story 3

I must say that this is a pretty solid year for the Oscar’s this year. All the nominees look just about right the only problem is how will the picks turn out? This year, everything seems like it’s coming down to Old School (The King’s Speech) vs. New School (The Social Network). The past couple of years The Academy (I hate that word) has been looking more towards hip, new films to win it’s Oscar Best Picture. Films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and American Beauty have all been unconventional new films that have seen their taste of Best Picture gold. But there has also been countless period piece wins for films such as Gladiator, Shakespeare In Love, and The English Patient. Also, many other major award shows have already presented the Best Picture win to The King’s Speech which is really chasing up people’s noses, as many other award shows have been choosing The Social Network as theirs. In my opinion, I liked Inception more than both of them, and yeah it’s nominated, but in all honesty it has no chance of winning. When it comes down to it I think that The Social Network should win, because it is an age-defining film, that went from being known as “The Facebook Movie” to being known as the top contender for every Oscar it’s nominated for. I hope that The Academy goes for the new school, because if they had The King’s Speech win, everyone would feel robbed really.

As for Best Actor, I think that Firth deserves to win for all his years dedicate to films, but Eisenberg fully deserves it. I think what the Academy is doing more and more now, is honoring actors & actresses not for just a certain performance they had, but their careers and saying that it’s their time. I don’t mind seeing stars like Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, or Colin Firth win an Oscar, because of the career they have but I’d rather see the “best performance of the year award” go to the BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.

When it comes to the Best Actress category, it seems like Natalie Portman is the sole winner for here, as she has won almost every single Best Actress nomination at every award show. However, there is once again that little idea that it’s Annette Bening’s “time” to win, as she has been nominated twice, and still has not won yet even though her career has been going on for so long. I want Portman to win, and most likely she will, but I still have a feeling that The Academy may pull something out of their pockets and surprise us all with a Bening win.

I’m very disappointed that my main man Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director this year. He was snubbed for The Dark Knight, and now he’s being snubbed again, and it just pisses me off knowing that certain directors that do such a good job with daring material, don’t get the credit they deserve. I think if Nolan was nominated, he should have won, but I know it’s The Oscars, and not everything works out the right way.

This year had great films, and I’m glad to see that the Oscars have turned out to be this way. I loved 2010 as a year, and the films made it awesome. Here’s to 2011, and let’s just hope that the Oscars are awesome.

Thanks everybody for always reading, and keep on checking!!

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

One of those cases where I expected way too much in the first place.

Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), the children of same-sex parents Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), become curious about the identity of their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) and set out to make him part of their family unit, often with hilarious results. But his arrival complicates the household dynamics, and nobody is sure where or how he fits in.

This is a pretty much the same premise you can get with any other family dramedy anywhere else, the only exception is that it’s got a spin……there’s two mommies. As the world is changing, so are movies, get used to it.

Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko does a pretty good job here of making all these characters feel legit. The film itself focuses on the all 5 members of this “family” and each and every one of them are unique in their own special way. They could have all easily been used as just plain and simple plot devices to get the story moving on, but instead they all feel real, and it’s actually really cool to see how every character’s opinion is different from the other, and how each reaction is different from the other.

The problem with me was the script. Don’t get me wrong I did like how they actually touched on a lot of subjects such as marriage, love, and family, but it all didn’t hit me like I wanted it to. On a comedy level, it’s pretty funny, in a more awkward way which really surprised me. There were times that I was actually cringing in my seat, by how painfully awkward this really was. If that’s how real life is though, then damn, I may just have to go Trojan on that one. However, the drama wasn’t having me totally affected like I was expecting. There were many emotional scenes, but the problem was that they didn’t go the extra mile to touch on its dramatic subjects. There is one element in this film that seemed like it could have been really, really dramatically played out, but instead they just chill and handle it silently. In all honesty, that certain situation would have been handled with fireworks all over the place, not just silent. I don’t know that’s how I see it, but besides that I didn’t get emotionally attached like I was expecting.

I have to say that this cast is what makes this film. Playing a bitchy, over-controlling, and strict momma is never easy to make likable, but somehow, Annette Bening makes that happen. She is perfect as Nic, with her Ellen DeGeneres look, and she has a lot of emotional scenes and it all feels true to the point. You can feel her anger, and you can see why she is, the way she is, but she doesn’t have us hate her. Which is hard to say about a lot what other actresses could have done to this character. Julianne Moore is very good as this hippy-like Jules. She does really well with this character making her seem less stupid, and more confused with what she wants, and it really plays well. Mark Ruffalo is what shines here. His character, Paul, is so cool, and laid back, that really cannot wait to see him every time he’s on screen. In a way, he’s used as a plot device, but Ruffalo makes it more than just that, and has us love his screen presence, even when he’s just standing there, and doing his cool guy smirk. Hopefully an Oscar nomination will come for all three of these peeps. Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson play the two kids, Laser and Joni (chill names for kids), and they play their characters well, but they spend too much time moping around. I wish they had more effective scenes, showing their insight on a lot more that was going on, but with what was given to them I didn’t mind that much.

Overall, I think I was just expecting more as a whole from this film. Back when I first saw the trailer, I was freakin’ out over it, and wanted to see it so bad, and the reviews poured in, and it just seemed like the greatest thing ever. However, I guess with what I got, I was just bummed out about. I thought this was going to be different from your every average family dramedy, but instead it just ended up being basically the same, and a lot of the ways certain scenes ended, I wish they ended differently. But hey, in the end, I guess it was an “all right” experience. I’m catchy as anything.

Consensus: The story isn’t as effective as I was expecting, and the plot feels a little all too familiar, but the characters are rich, and the performances keep this film running, even though you want more.

7/10=Rental!!

The American President (1995)

If only Obama was as cool as Michael Douglas.

Widowed U.S. president Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), one of the world’s most powerful men, can have anything he wants — and what he covets most is Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a Washington lobbyist. But Shepherd’s attempts at courting her spark wild rumors and decimate his approval ratings in this romantic comedy. Rob Reiner directs, and Michael J. Fox and Martin Sheen co-star.

The reviewers who moan that this is a liberal propaganda movie have missed the point, plain and simple. This is a story of romance in the White House, a unique theme which is a new and fresh idea. The politics were a backdrop and used to keep the movie moving.

The writing here is smart and very good. Its funny without making itself too funny, so you don’t take it seriously. There are still plenty of moments where this film actually takes an idea that was big in politics during the 90s and sets it in this film, and it works so well here. The comedic timing this film has makes sure it balances out a great deal of smart comedy but also important ideals about politics that were going on at the time.

This movie effectively shows the human side of a president. There is no political pretense or agenda, this is and old fashion pure charmer that wins with clever script, great acting and likable characters. And most of this has to go the performances from its wonderful cast. Douglas is starting to grow on me a bit, even though he is basically playing the same one he always does but the charm works well here cause he still has a side that even the president you wouldn’t think had. Annette Bening is even better playing Wade with the great comedic timing but also wonderful sense of realism that leading ladies like Diane Keaton and Jodie Foster all go for, and she does that plus a lot more. Their chemistry in this film builds over time and it feels real and you could actually see these two together in office.

The problem I had with the film was that its satire that the film looked for didn’t hit the marker so well like it could have. I think the film was trying to poke fun at George Bush when he was in the office, and how politics have changed into being more controversial than real, was a little stretching its boundaries. Also, the Richard Dreyfuss character was just stupid cause he only played this bad guy that was one-note the whole time and barely ever changed at all during the movie.

Consensus: The American President doesn’t succeed with its satire and patronizing, but still is written and directed in an old fashioned way that its new and fresh, while Douglas and Bening give out a believable chemistry between the two.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

In Dreams (1999)

If only this film was a dream, it would have been less painful.

Claire Cooper’s (Annette Bening) peaceful family life takes a chilling turn when a mysterious serial killer (Robert Downey Jr.) invades her seemingly idyllic New England town and starts haunting her dreams with dark clues to his next deadly moves. Unable to convince the police, her doctor or even her husband of her link with the madman, Claire must confront the killer alone, before another terrifying dream becomes a reality.

This film is notable for just being so stupid and weird, and I can’t quite say I disagree. This film has one of the most over-blown stories I have ever seen. There are times in this film where I actually wondered what was going on, and thinking maybe the whole twist at the end of the movie is that we are all in a dream. Eh? Sadly that wasn’t the truth.

Nothing is right about this very un-scary scary movie. The story is a mess, a ridiculous jumble of scary-movie cliches with logic gaps you could taxi a 747 through and totally unbelievable characters doing totally absurd things. And then they just added in an even worse dream sequence that was even more stupid than ever. Sometimes it was just so laughable I couldn’t help but start belching with laughter.

If there is one good thing that this film has, and its look. The visuals are actually good to look at in some scenes, and although they are completely laughable they still have a good look.

The lead character has to be THE single most annoying character ever put to film. Loud, obnoxious, self-centered…has to be the center of attention at all times even when she’s causing a multiple car collision – she puts everyone around her in danger just so she can be loud and awful. It’s not Annette Bening’s fault, you know…she’s a good actress…but man oh man the character is just a plain old loud dink of a creep, and she endangers everyone around her. Downey is often brilliant, but he’s just hamboning here.

Consensus: Though it has lush visuals, In Dreams feels like a dream with so much confusion, terrible lines, and over all a movie that will just turn out to be absurd as it goes on and on.

1.5/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!

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