Yes Man Review

January 8, 2009

yesmanpostertopReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Carl (Jim Carrey) lives a solitary  life, declining every invitation that comes his way. When he is encouraged to change his ways,  Carl begins to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes his way. This new found vocabulary word opens up a new world to Carl and a great many adventures.

Review: This film is not without its moments. Jim Carrey gets back to being his  comedic self and nobody–I mean nobody–is better at playing the off-beat character than Zooey Deschanel. She’s come a long way since Almost Famous–and here’s  a quick fact, her  dad is an Academy Award winning cinematographer–we here at The Net Flicker love cinematography! Maybe we can set up a guest blog for Mr. Deschanel–he can tell us everything he knows about his art–although, chances are we still won’t really know what he does for a living.

Getting back to the review–again, the movie had its moments. As with most comedic movies with far-fetched plots, things are at their funniest when things are going smoothly. Hence, Yes Man delivers a solid comedic punch when Carl is experiencing the time of his life saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes his way. However, what comes up must come down in the 2 bit comedy world. As Carl starts to question his life altering methodology the laughs come to a sudden halt. The entire second half of the film is a waste, it’s a bore–in fact, I would go so far as to call it a tragedy–it had all the makings of a solid comedy–and then it just tanked. I went from a jovial movie goer to someone who couldn’t wait to find the nearest exit–this was in a matter of about 15 minutes.

On the upside, Rhys Darby turns in a surprisingly good performance as Norman, who plays a role that I can only describe as being similar to a 12-year old Michael Scott–rather, a 12-year old British Michael Scott–or was it Australian? Tough to say, but a good performance nonetheless.

Rating: 5.5

Recommendation: A nice DVD rental for a few good laughs; don’t expect anything more.


The Visitor Review

January 2, 2009

large-thevisitor

Reviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) is an emotionally detached widower who teaches an economics course at Connecticut College. On a visit to New York for a conference Walter finds an illegal-immigrant couple domesticating his rarely used apartment. A friendship is formed between Walter and the couple, especially with Tarek (Haaz Sleiman). However, everyone’s life gets a bit more complicated when Tarek is thrown into an immigration detention center.

Review: I wanted so badly to like this film. It had all the elements–a good yet understated cast, an up and coming director, three Independent Spirit Awards, plus–it was a middle of the year DVD release, which meant I could watch it before awards season. It’s not that it was a bad film, it’s actually a pretty decent flick, it’s just not the film I wanted it to be. I was expecting a story centered around Walter learning to live again–and there is some of that; the relationship between Walter and Tarek represents that part of the story line. Tarek teaches Walter, an uptight college professor, to play the bongo drums–and Walter does so on the street, in the subway station, wherever he can. This is the part of the story line I appreciate, Walter learning to play the drums–really learning to play at life again.

My biggest resentment with the movie is that it’s too subtle, even for me. The truisms aren’t deep enough–they are visited, then forgotten just as quickly. The two best scenes of the movie come as bookends, one at the beginning (with his piano teacher) and one to close the movie. The remainder of the film is rather dry, it has its fair moments, but at other times it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open.

Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass both turn in worthy performances–but Jenkins may lose some attention of the viewer because he plays a boring old professor so well, maybe too well. Still, this is a nice story that is will add more recognition to director Thomas McCarthy’s rising career.

Rating: 6.6

Recommendation: If you’ve got the chaps to sit through the subtle performances and the uneventful plot, you’ll come out the other side with a nice story. I am glad I watched this movie–but I’m not sure I ever want to do it again. Just as a rule of thumb, if you’ve ever said, “Will Ferrell is a comedic genius” this probably isn’t the movie for you.


Wall-E Review

December 30, 2008

pixar_walleReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: All alone on a planet that has literally turned into a dump, WALL-E lives a simple life. He manages the eternal supply of garbage and longs for a better life. WALL-E is love-struck when EVE, a female probe bot, arrives on his planet. However, as with all females, there is more than meets the eye as WALL-E soon becomes involved a great space adventure.

Review: I guess I don’t understand what all the hype is about. This seems to me like an animated short that got stretched into a full-length feature film. I would have liked it a lot more if it was a five-minute introduction to Ratatouille than a $5.65 rental at Blockbuster. There’s about three minutes of actual story in this movie filled with a plethora of cutidies performed by Wall-E. Now, I understand that this is a children’s film and so it will certainly entertain its target market, but anyone with any IQ over 75 should be downright bored.

Also, it’s kind of a rip-off of 2001: A Space Odyssey. From the design of the ships assistant bot, to the ship turning on the captain, to the severe lack of words, I would think Pixar hired Stanley Kubrick if I didn’t know any better.

One great thing about this movie was John Ratzenberger. He had a minor role; I just love that he’s in every animated movie.

I may be being too hard on this movie, especially for kids. It does have some humorous quirks and serves as a cautionary tale regarding the careless effects that humans can have on their planet Earth. I suppose I was just expecting more from Pixar’s highly anticipated movie.

Rating: 3.1

Recommendation: My recommendation is to not listen to me on this one because every real critic seems to love it and it will be a great film for the kids. I don’t understand the love affair though.


The Wrestler Review

December 29, 2008
Rourke Delivers a Truly Iconic Performance as The Ram

Rourke Delivers a Truly Iconic Performance as The Ram

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is a wrestler twenty years past his prime. Struggling to find his place, Randy tries to start a relationship with a stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), and rekindle a relationship with the daughter he abandoned (Evan Rachel Wood).

Review: You cannot help but invest in Robinson as he navigates his life like a prizefighter years removed from being a master of his craft. Rourke turns in the second best acting performance I have seen this year (aside from Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight), and Tomei isn’t too bad herself.

The movie is shot in a very documentary like fashion that lends itself well to the inner workings of these small-time professional wrestling circuits. The movie provides a very authentic look into the camaraderie of the wrestlers in the locker room, as well as, the actual matches. This is a sport that chews up athletes and spits them out; google dead wrestlers if you don’t believe me.

This movie shows how the upkeep of the sport can drain your bank account when a wrestler is no longer a top draw. It shows how lonely life on the road can be, and you can’t help but empathize with The Ram (whether he deserves it or not) as he clings to hope of a relationship with the stripper, Cassidy. Like a wrestler, Tomei plays an older stripper, in an industry that seeks youth.

For the Film Snob, there’s even a solid mini-speech or two, and I love when The Ram, referring to the ring, says, “Out there is the only place I don’t get hurt.” I also loved the ambiance as The Ram walks down long corridors to go to work in the grocery deli, and the charisma he shows even in this role. You will see what I mean.

It’s no secret that the life of The Ram somewhat parallels Rourke, the actor. Perhaps this is why Rourke is capable of delivering a truly iconic performance.

Despite an amazing performance from Rourke, and exceptional authenticity and direction from Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), the movie’s rating suffers just a bit because it lags just a bit in the first half, and though it may have been necessary I thought the father-daughter subplot could’ve been orchestrated a little better.

Rating: 8.6

Recommendation: It’s not as good as The Dark Knight or Slumdog Millionaire, but this is a great film that you should go to the theatres to see, if for nothing else than Rourke’s Oscar (mention at least) worthy performance. This is definitely a film that I consider one of the top 5 I’ve seen in 2008, and one I will be proud to own.


Vicky Cristina Barcelona Review

December 23, 2008
Maria Elena from Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Maria Elena from Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Synopsis: Two close friends spending the summer in Spain encounter a Spanish lothario for whom they both have feelings. Neither is prepared for the re-emergence of his ex-wife and their intense, crazy relationship.

Review: Critics will tell you that this movie is a tragicomedy. I will tell you that I did not particularly get the humor. (Okay, so Penelope Cruz is a little funny). That does not change the fact that Woody Allen has provided us with a solid film, built on the foundation of intelligent dialogue.

People like the Film Snob will tell you that this movie is intensely romantic inspired by the beautiful backdrop of Barcelona. In fact, he asked me if it would make him want to pack up and move there the way that Manhattan made him want to move to New York. My answer is that I don’t know because I usually do not notice stuff like that.

Maybe you have been told it is about the collision of art and love. Coming from an Average Joe like me, I think it is a semi complex look into feelings versus thoughts. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two very different women. They are the girl you want to bring home to your parents and they are the lover you wish you could have. Javier Bardem is great as Juan Antonio and Penelope Cruz steals every scene she’s in as Maria Elena, Antonio’s estranged ex-wife.

I think you will find yourself resonated with one of the women. Either you want the predictable comfortable life you settle for, or you want the crazy, intense, semi-tragic life that Cristina longs for. Most of us realize that we fall under one of the two approaches, yet we also know that you probably need somewhere in between to live a truly fulfilled life. That’s what this movie is about, at least for me.

Scarlett was the weakest of the main actors, but she wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. What is Allen’s obsession with her anyway? The movie might drag a little for some, the narrator helps with that, though he got on my nerves as I thought the movie could stand alone without his explanations.

Rating: 8.2

Recommendation: You can watch this as a chick flick if you want. There’s definitely romantic aspects to it, but I think I would prefer to digest it fully as its’ lessons pertain to my own life. If you’re a Woody Allen fan, this is a no-brainer from the start.