Indie Gems: The Good Girl

'The Good Girl' is a subtle film about an unhappy woman named Justine (Jennifer Aniston) working at a discount store in some nowhere town. She hates her life, and her husband, Phil. (John C. Reilly) When a quite, withdrawn young man named Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes to work with her, she finds herself intrigued and they start an affair. This could be her once chance to change her life for the better, will she take it?

This is the kind of movie I wish Jennifer Aniston would do more often. I'm so sick of her rom-coms. She actually showed a lot of talent in this. I like her dramatic side. I liked the flow of this movie, the majority of the scenes took place in the "Retail Rodeo" where they worked. It made the film look low budget, but in the best possible way. John C. Reilly is a tremendous actor in my opinion because we all know he's hilarious, but he's also capable of being so unlikeable and mean. We get to see that side of him in this film. Jake Gyllenhall does great as a disturbed young adult as well, not quite as extreme as his 'Donnie Darko' character, but he and Aniston have great chemistry. Parts of the film don't really work, like a slightly over the top sub-plot about a co worker dieing from (allegedly) bad blackberries, but it's definitely Aniston's best work to date, and worth watching.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Look, you got your choice to make, destroy your marriage and break your husband's heart,...or have sex with me right now." - Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson)

Quick Ramblings!

I've been a huge slacker lately on my reviews. After the holiday weekend I'm going to try to update more regularly.

In the world of movies, here's what I've been up too lately

Quick Reviews:

Toy Story 3 Grade: B I thought it was cute. My dad and I went to it on Father's day because he took me to the original when it first came out. (aww) I remember not liking the second film because of the new characters, where as the new ones in this film helped. Good for Pixar. They'll see you at the Oscars, Dreamworks.

Splice Grade: C- Splice had a great cast and a cool concept but really just made me go "what the hell?" one too many times.

The following trailer is making me even more excited for 'Inception'

and the following stills are making me even more excited for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" They're from the trailer, which debuts tomorrow online. Thanks Snitch Seeker.

Random Ramblings: It's Frances McDormand's Birthday!

This is a new column I thought would be fun to write. I originally started writing one a few days ago when it was Nicole Kidman's B-day, then I got lazy and just never finished. Basically what I will do is on my featured actor/director/writer's birthday, I will name my favorite project of theirs, my least favorite, their most bizarre/fun, and their most underrated. I'll also name one film that I haven't seen yet that I probably should, and if you've seen it, tell me how you felt!

Let's start with Mrs. Joel Coen, shall we? Happy Birthday, Frances!

Favorite Film: Almost Famous There was a lot of things I loved about this movie. The entire cast gave the best performances of their careers in this film and it all came together so nicely.

Least Favorite Film: Fargo I understand that I am absolutely in the minority with this one. I hated Fargo. Absolutely hated it. I HATED the phony over enunciated accents. I hated the geography errors. (William H Macy's character meets the kidnappers in Fargo, ND then somehow runs a bunch of errands and makes it back to Minneapolis, MN in one hour? What!?) Brainerd is North of Minneapolis, Not South! wouldn't know any of this unless you lived in the area, but if you did, this would all be very, very annoying.

Most Bizarre/Fun: Laurel Canyon I dug this little indie starring McDormand, Christian Bale, and Kate Beckinsale. I saw it long after it had first came out. I happened to catch it on IFC one morning when I was just lounging around it and it's quite a gem of a film. Bale plays McDormand's uptight son who movies in with his mother for a short time. He's into his work. She's into smoking dope and the laid back lifestyle. There's a great random shot towards the end of the film of a man lying on a floatie lounger being pulled across a swimming pool by a little motorized speed boat that I love.

Most Underrated: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day When I first saw this, I thought for sure this had Golden Globe written all over it both for McDormand and for co-star Amy Adams. It was just so cute, and both ladies were so charming. I usually don't care much for chick flicks, but I never understood why this film didn't catch on with a wider audience. I thought it was a lovely film. Great performances, interesting story, and good costumes. (which is saying something when you notice that sort of things) Blood Simple is a runner up for most underrated, but something tells me more people saw Blood Simple than Miss Pettigrew

Film to see: Aeon Flux! Just kidding...there's a reason I haven't gotten around to that assumed mess. Looking through her filmography. I've never seen "Mississippi Burning", "North Country" or "Friends with Money". What do you think?

Indie Gems: Little Miss Sunshine

All through the 2006-2007 Oscar season this film was referred to as "The Little Film that Could." It's a very true statement for this sleeper hit. This film literally came out of nowhere and captured nearly everyone's hearts.

"Little Miss Sunshine" follows the slightly dysfunctional Hoover family and their road rip to get young Olive (Abigal Breslin) to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. They all pile into their VW Van. There's Richard, (Greg Kinnear)the business obsessed father. Sheryl (Toni Collette) the caring mother. Crabby Grandpa/coach Edwin (Alan Arkin). Mute brother Dwayne, (Paul Dano) and suicidal uncle Frank. (Steve Carrell) We follow the family as they try to stay sane, and learn lots of lessons on the way.

The thing that made this movie so wonderful was that all the characters are rather conflicted, but still manage to be charming. Writer Michael Arndt could've let this story go in a depressing direction, but he didn't. With every tragedy, there was a joke. For every failure, their was a lesson. You could tell by the end of the film that even though this family spent a good portion arguing, they really did love each other.

Alan Arkin winning Best Supporting Actor was nearly an upset. (I, like many other thought Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls) had it.) Arndt won best screenplay. Little Abigal Breslin got a Best Supporting Actress nom. The biggest honor for this film was that it was nominated for Best Picture, and actually had a shot at winning.

LMS made such an impact at the Oscars that now whenever a charming Indie comedy makes it into the Best Picture Race (ie Juno) they are referred to as "This year's Little Miss Sunshine."

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "I'm madly in love with you and it's not because of your brains or your personality. It's because you are so beautiful." - Grandpa Edwin (Alan Arkin)

Review: The A-Team

Fact: Liam Neeson is better than most people. I'm serious, I love this guy. He can do no wrong. Neeson might not be on your list of action stars just yet, but he will be. He's proven he can kick some ass. (Taken) Carry an entire drama. (Schindler's List) Lend his voice to awesome flicks (Chronicles of Narnia, Ponyo) and video games. (Fallout 3) When he tells you to "release the Kracken!" You'd better do it. But he's not the only great thing about 'The A-Team", the rest of the cast; Bradley Cooper, Rampage Jackson and Sharlto Copley all excel at bringing the this once loved 80's TV show characters back to life.

I don't remember the original TV show and I've only seen a handful of episodes, so I can't really compare our new heroes to our old. The film follows our four army officials who meet in Iraq and are framed for a crime they didn't commit. After doing some time in prison, they break out and will stop at nothing to clear their names.

I really enjoyed this film, it was perfect summer fun. I've already gone into how much I enjoyed Neeson, but I'm also loving newcomer Sharlto Copley. This guy who had never acted before burst onto the scene last year when he absolutely killed 'District 9' and now he shows that he's got great comedic timing as well. Bradley Cooper is surely more than just a hunk. He's really taking Hollywood by storm, we'll be seeing a lot more of him. Rampage Jackson probably had the hardest job, taking a role made famous by Mr. T. He nailed it. He's definitely got the same tough appeal that Mr. T has.

I loved the over-the-topness of the film, it was a great popcorn movie. The only part I didn't really care for was Jessica Beil's character, but one weak link isn't enough to ruin the film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I believe that no matter how random things may appear, there's still a plan." - Hannibal (Liam Neeson)

Indie Gems: Little Children

'Little Children' is an intense character study of the suburban life. First we have Sarah, (Kate Winslet) a lonely housewife with a hard to handle child and a husband that prefers to be held up in his office watching porn. She doesn't want to be like the other mothers at the park. She chooses to "observe" them rather than be one of them. Soon, a man they call "The Prom King" enters the park with his child. They are all to afraid to talk to him, so they bet Sarah $5 to get his phone number. When she speaks to Brad (Patrick Wilson) she's intrigued by how easily he opened up to her, not to mention his good looks. This simple meeting starts a love affair between the two. Brad's wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is the sole bread winner in the house, she makes documentaries and thinks their son is absolutely perfect. Her and Brad never quite get the alone time he wants. We also have a side story about Ronnie (Jackie Earl Haley), a recently released sex offender (he did 2 years for exposing himself to children) who is having a hard time adjusting back into normal life. He understands he has a problem, but he's bullied by an ex-cop (Richard Pierce) who posts fliers all over the neighborhood and shouts at him in the middle of the night with a megaphone.

The interesting part about 'Little Children' are the alliances you sort of form when you are watching. I rooted for Brad and Sarah to run away together, even though what they are doing is completely wrong. For a split second, I felt bad for Ronnie for being taunted, though a later scene with him on a date changes that feeling. The story is told by a narrator and it adds so much. It's like you're reading a book. The performances are remarkable as well. This really was Jack Earl Haley's comeback role, he was absolutely creepy and vulnerable at the same time. Winslet and Wilson are also top-notch, as always.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "It's not the cheating. It's the hunger - the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness." - Sarah (Kate Winslet)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Sneak

This is the exclusive sneak peek that aired during the MTV Movie Awards. I only tuned in to see the clip, and judging by the "highlights" of the show. I'm glad I missed most of it.

What makes this clip exciting is that it's got scenes from both part 1 and 2. We still don't know where the film will be split, but it looks great so far!

Review: Prince of Persia

I can't complain about staring at a shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal for 2 hours. I didn't want to start my review out like that, but it's true. That was the best part of this film.

'Prince of Persia' is based on the video game of the same name. Like the game, there's lots of jumping around coming from Dastan (Gyllenhaal) in the fight scenes. I appreciated that. It was cool to see. This film is definitely all about the visuals and not so much about the plot. Rouge Prince Dastan joins forces with Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton, who doesn't really act, just talks..and talks...and talks)to fight off evil. It wasn't particularly engaging. It could've used more humor in my opinion. I felt like the film was just going through the motions instead or trying to get the audience's attention.

The effects were alright. Not amazing, definitely not horrible. This might not have been the best film for Director Mike Newell to helm. Action isn't really his thing. He managed to screw up 75% of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (although most of that was probably Steve Kloves's fault) Newell's better with emotionally driven material. This was lacking that. Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are all fine actors, and while this script was probably awesome on paper, it ended up being just average. That's probably the best word to describe this film; "average".

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "You're welcome to search me for it, but you'll have to be very thorough." - Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal)

Memorable Audience Quote: (I'm going to assume this guy was kidding) Before the film even began some bloke mentions to his companion that "This is going to be bullsh*t because Gyllenhaal isn't even Persian" - Thanks Captain Obvious, at least it's not Tom Cruise trying to be German again.