Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist Review

February 14, 2009

nick_and_nora

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: Two teens Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) are thrust together by a chance encounter, turned first date. The two endure a night in New York City looking for a rock bank, The Fluffy’s (or is it Fluffies?) The two seem to have nothing in common, but their love of similar music and their confusion of teenage life.

Review: Just to mix things up here at The Net Flicker. I’ll give a bulleted summary of my reaction to the movie.

  • Michael Cera is absolutely hilarious with dry comedy. For him to play someone so socially awkward I’m convinced he’s at least partially socially awkward in real life.
  • Tris (Alexis Dziena) is really hot, and she is actually a month older than me, despite looking young, so I can say that.
  • There’s something endearing about the authenticity of the relationship between Nick and Norah. I guess my point is, it makes sense that they would connect.
  • The bathroom scene with Norah’s best friend Carolina (Ari Graynor) was absolutely disgusting and unnecessary.
  • The movie was predictable, though you probably new that before you started watching it.
  • I liked the speech about the Beatles and hand holding.
  • You have to at least snicker at the Seth Myers and Andy Samberg cameos.
  • A couple of parts that I laughed out loud included a handi-napkin, and jokes about Nick’s haircut.
  • The entire running joke with the chewing gum is stupid.
  • Also, let me just say, never, ever, put your foot near my face. It’s a sure way to get punched by Average Joe.

Rating: 5.9 (+1 if you are really into Indie Rock, +1 if you’re 15-19)

Synopsis: It’s a fun, light-hearted film that movies quickly and gains some additional points based on it’s solid soundtrack, Cera’s dry humor, and a solid view of New York city. The two leads are both talented, but I typically like more demanding movies. It’s worth a rent if you’re looking for something light or fall into either of the categories that would acquire a “+1” from the rating.

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The Reader Review

February 1, 2009

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Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: The movie takes place in post WWII Germany. A teenager has an affair with an older woman. Approximately 10 years after the affair mysteriously ended, the boy, now a law student, re-encounters the woman as she stands trial for a war crime offense.

Review: Let me start by saying that The Reader was a good film and that Kate Winslett (in spite of my disdain for her) was great, as was 18-year old David Kross.

[Note: I don’t like Winslett because from what I hear she was a real bitch to all the locals, cast, and crew while working on The Life of David Gale in my hometown. Apparently Russell Crowe is notoriously hard to work with as well. I still like him. End tirade.]

The movie dragged a bit at first, but Winslett and Kross immediately brought their characters to life. Winslett played the older woman, Hanna Schmitz, and Kross really impressed me playing the younger version of Michael Berg, the boy who has the affair with Schmitz.

I thought their chemistry was solid and even more authentic because of the fact that it was awkward at times, the way I envision affairs with older women to be (I wouldn’t know). The Reader is accurately named because the young Michael Berg often reads to Hanna, and it comes back into play later near the end of the film.

The film contains graphic nudity (I wonder if Kross was scared to be naked with Winslett?), and some intense post WWII issues, but that isn’t what makes this film (thought it may be what got it nominated for an Oscar). It is the films ability to manipulate you into becoming enraptured by the affair, and then surprised by Hanna’s secret when she stands trial. It makes you question the way you feel, and I love films that have the ability to do this.

Where this film fell short for me was primarily the core of the elder Michael. Why is he still so haunted by Hanna when he was only 15 at the time of their encounter? Why was Ralph Fiennes relatively mediocre in his portrayal of the character? I would’ve liked to know more motive and rationale behind the Michael character (and maybe Winslett’s amazing performance just overshadowed those issues.) And as I mentioned, the pace was a bit pedestrian at times. I’m an Average Joe, it’s tough to hold my attention.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: I do not think this movie deserved a nomination for the best movie of the year, but it’s a good film. Don’t get caught up in the WWII surroundings and think it is better than it is, but watch it for Winslett’s performance, and appreciate both Kross’s surprising performance and the film’s ability to manipulate your emotions.


Starting Out in the Evening Review

January 28, 2009

startingoutReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Frank Langella plays Leonard Schiller, a once great author who is mercifully approaching the end of his life. While working on her thesis, Heather (Lauren Ambrose) has the opportunity to work with Leonard, who has long served as her literary hero. As expected, the two form a friendship that is simultaneously beautiful and somewhat inappropriate.

Review: What a great movie title–Starting Out in the Evening–that is the reason I watched this movie. Well, that and Frank Langella. This is a familiar story in some regards–the elderly genius is rejuvenated by the young love interest. Although, the plot is not quite that simple because Leonard is not quite that simple.

Langella’s performance is really what saves the film. He plays the character perfectly–taking Leonard from typical to exceptional–from static to dynamic.

One more thing that I’d like to note is that I did like that the movie didn’t wrap up in a nice bow. Leonard doesn’t meet Heather and be cured of all his recent writing ailments. Heather helps him to enjoy the last chapter of his life–not write a new one.

I could go on, but to be truthful–I don’t have much else to say about the movie and I don’t wish to waste the reader’s time. I will say this one last thing–at one point Leonard references a book critic who describes his style as just trying to “read the hell out of the book.” I think that’s a great quote–I’m going to try to watch the hell out of some movies. That is all.

Rating: 6.1

Recommendation: If it’s on tv and you like to watch movies about the human drama then go for it. Otherwise you’re going to want to avoid.


Revolutionary Road Review

January 25, 2009

revolutionary_road_hautReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Based on the Robert Yates novel, Revolutionary Road tells the story of the Wheelers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett) as they experience life’s struggles.

Review: Let me first say this–from the previews it seems like all the Wheelers do is argue, and while there is a great deal of back-and-forth between the couple–it’s not all the movie has to offer. The Wheelers live in the suburbs of Connecticut and in doing so are quite out of place. While they are admired by the neighbors, they have always dreamt of a bigger life, a better life. Their discontempt with this suburban lifestyle, complete with two kids and a bad career, is driving an insurmountable wedge between the marriage.

The performances of Winslett and DiCaprio are noteworthy, but Michael Shannon absolutely steals the show. He plays John Givings, the psychotic son of the Wheeler’s neighbors. His role is to deliver the ultimate truth–and he does so with no apologies, no sincerity, and no regard for human feelings. I have to say that I love this character. I wish everyone was more like this psychotic ox of  a man–and I think the Wheelers share my sentiment. At one point they even reference the absurdity of living in a town where the person they most relate to is on short-term leave from the town’s mental institution.

This is a solid film strictly due to its wonderful acting. As mentioned, outstanding performances were turned in by Winslett, DiCaprio, and Shannon–but also by Kathie Bates and Dylan Baker. The story is interesting enough, but this could have easily become a film in which you have to sit through the dry, boring story to benefit from the courage of this plot. However, with this great ensemble–the audience feels bound to the success of the Wheeler family–cheering when they succeed and sorrowing when they fail.

Also, the score for this film is wonderful. I cannot believe it was nominated for an Oscar. It is one of the few times I have ever noticed a score, but I think it is a huge part of this film. It’s almost like an additional character. Look forward to it.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: If you’re a dialog fan like I am than this is a movie for you. There are great life truths embedded throughout the picture. If you’re taste is more tied to action or comedy than you need to avoid this film at all cost–although, John Givings does deliever one ridicilously funny line to Mrs. Wheeler–so that’s something I suppose.


Seven Pounds Review

January 17, 2009

Seven Pounds Smith Dawson

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: The jist of the story is that Will Smith’s character, Tim Thomas, has a dark secret, and he sets out on a quest for redemption by changing the lives of seven people.

Review: Here’s a movie that the critics hated, and the regular viewers seemed to love. Well this Average Joe falls somewhere in the middle.

First of all let me preface this review by saying that I usually love Will Smith’s work, and have always been a fan. Not in the sense of an acclaimed actor, but as a talented actor who is always entertaining and solid in the sense that you know what to expect and it won’t be bad. Well, I got news for fans of Will Smith, he wasn’t very good in this film.

Why does this matter? Because I think a great performance from Smith could’ve made this a good film, but what I got was disconnected garble. Though I had some inclination, I wasn’t really sure what Smith was up to until halfway into the film, and by that time I didn’t really care. There were a lot of holes in this film, and that really disappointed me because I was so intrigued by the trailer.

As Smith’s character works towards his goal, he begins to fall in love with Rosario Dawson’s character, Emily Posa, a woman with a severe heart condition. There are people that will say the romance took away from this intriguing jigsaw puzzle of a plot, but the romance and the genuine, authentic way it came about was one of my favorite parts of the film. Dawson’s performance wasn’t bad at all.

I’m not going to give away the nuances of the plot or the ending, but I will say that for me the jigsaw was one that’s pieces weren’t really going to fit together from the start. The ending itself didn’t bother me as bad as the way we’re left with no explanation for why Barry Pepper’s character, Dan (Thomas’ best friend) would take part in all of it (best friend or not).

The movie aims high with its message, but it doesn’t make me care enough throughout to give the ending the umph it set out to achieve.

There are a lot of ifs here. If there were a few less holes in the plot, if Smith turned in a stronger performance, if it didn’t try so damn hard to be mysterious and puzzling. Those ifs are what separates it from being a really solid film.

Rating: 6.1

Recommendation: Had the potential to be a really good film, but fell short. If you’re a Will Smith fan, you might be disappointed, but this one is worth a casual rent if you have already seen everything you really want to see.


Slumdog Millionaire Review II

January 10, 2009

slumdog460

Reviewed by: The Film Snob
Also reviewed by: Average Joe

Review: Average Joe mentioned that this film was his favorite of the year–I’m going to have to stick with The Dark Knight as my champion of 2008, but Slumdog Millionaire finishes a close second. The plot is really one of brilliance. I don’t want to give too much away–so I’ll just tell you that the plot has a nice rhythm to it–both the backstory and the current events unfolded in an intelligent manner–as events transpire in real time, the viewer discovers the event’s relevance through the backstory–and it is the backstory that is so spellbinding, as the story takes you from Mumbai-to the Taj Majal-and back to Mumbai again.

Also, you learn what a slumdog is–so that’s good.

Another interesting aspect is the subtitles. This may not be that big of a deal to most, but I really enjoyed the format of the subtitles. Now, for those who are a hesitant to see the movie, most of it is in English–so you won’t be reading the whole thing. Anyway, the subtitles were done in a pop-up manner with colored backgrounds and I’m telling you it rocked my world.

The film also has a beautiful theme to it. I can’t really say any more without giving away plot details, but you’ll see it when you get there.

And Average Joe, I know you didn’t compare this movie to Rocky IV–I just know you wouldn’t do that. I feel shameful even putting a Rocky movie in my Slumdog Millionaire review–somehow it just seems unclean–this blog post needs a shower–clean all that Rocky stench off of it.

For my fellow Lost fans, there is a bit of an Eko/Yemi theme here between the pair of brothers in this movie. Salim does what he needs to in order to protect his younger brother, Jamal. As a result Salim’s life is one lived in sin, while sparing his brother from this life. Although, don’t get the idea that Salim is any sort of hero–he messed Jamal’s life up real good.

Rating: 9.3

Recommendation: If you’re lucky enough to have this film playing at your local theatre it should definately be your film of choice. Whatever the means, you’re going to want to see this movie sooner rather than later because it’s soon going to be all the buzz–I suppose it already is in some circles.


Slumdog Millionaire Review

December 27, 2008

Reviewed By: Average Joe

For me this was the best film of the year so far. It edges The Dark Knight by a slim margin.

Synopsis: The film is about Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) who appears on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. More successful than anyone anticipated, Jamal is taken into custody and has to explain how he knows the answers. As he is interrogated he is forced to explain, through a series of flashbacks, how he came to know the answers. Through the course of this process we learn a lot about Jamal’s life growing up in very tough circumstances.

Review: Danny Boyle’s film is incredible. Not only is it innovative and fresh, but the cast, virtually unknown to America moviegoers, does a phenomenal job. Set in Mumbai, the films flashbacks and story of coincidence are beautifully intertwined. The story of Jamal, his brother Salim, and Jamal’s love, Latika, an orphan girl, is a tremendous tale that felt very real throughout.

While you may anticipate a grim tale about a struggling and transitioning city, you don’t get that. You certainly see many aspects of Mumbai and Boyle’s work is definitely visually stunning (I also really enjoyed the soundrack), but this movie has an intense underdog spirit about it. Whether it’s Jamal as an underdog, the city itself as an underdog, or the movie succeeding with an American audience, you will find yourself rooting for all of them the way you root for Rocky to beat the Russian.

While the movie worked from a formula it never felt forced. All the elements worked strategically together to create the best film I have seen this year.

Rating: 9.1

Recommendation: Do not look at the Indian names that you do not recognize and skip on this film. Whether you are a fan of drama or action, there is something here for you. Watch it with your family if you kids are teenagers because the violence scenes are not that graphic, and it is really a compelling story that may move you to tears, and will leave you smiling.