Archive | November, 2011

Hawaiian Sun Shines Hope into George Clooney in The Descendants

30 Nov

A troubled man in a beautiful paradise.

Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) wrote and directed The Descendants, his first movie since 2004. He has won an Oscar, among other awards. However, I will admit that I have never seen one of his films. I went into this movie with a clean slate and an open opinion on this critically acclaimed writer/director. In hindsight, I’m glad I did. It is hard to keep bias out of your reviews if you know a lot about a movie before you see it. The director or actor’s past films create expectations and stereotypes that often pollute reviews for their new movies. Having never seen a Payne movie before, I can honestly say that I believe he did a fine job with The Descendants.

George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven, Batman & Robin) plays Matt King, a Hawaiian native who is the sole trustee of 25,000 acres of pristine Kauai land. Since the trust is up in seven years, Matt and his large assortment of cousins are almost through with the process of selling the land for a large amount of money. Selling this land will be a huge financial boost for the Hawaiian island, but also a terrible change in lifestyle for the natives. During this stressful process, Matt’s wife suffered a head injury from a boating accident and is in a coma. Continue reading

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After 12 Years, The Muppets Put on a Show for the Ages

29 Nov

The Muppets are icons in American culture. They teach important lessons to their viewers. Naturally, we all take away something from watching their films. What gift did you get from your viewing? Children? Ice cream? Those are both plausible possibilities since the Muppets believe that those are the two most important gifts to receive in this world. However, seeing as your local cinema (hopefully) wasn’t handing out babies and ice cream cones with your ticket purchase, it is to be assumed that you came away with the third most important thing in the world: laughter!

The Muppet's froggy leader: Kermit.

Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is the human star, writer and puppet enthusiast that got the ball rolling on this much needed reboot for the Muppet franchise. Segel plays Gary, along with his other human co-star and future fiancé is named Mary, played by Amy Adams (The Fighter, Enchanted). Together they travel with Gary’s “puppet” brother and Muppet enthusiast, Walter, to go visit the old Muppet Theater. Continue reading

Newest Twilight Breaks Nothing in Filler Film

22 Nov

The Twilight movies have become more of a cultural experience than an actual movie franchise. When you go in, certain things can be expected to happen, both on the screen and from the audience. You can expect a thick, gooey layer of cheese to spread over every second of the film. You can expect a lot of longing and intense stares in spots where real acting is usually shown. You can expect to see a lot of Taylor Lautner’s rockin’ abs. Having fun yet? But what did you expect when you bought your ticket? Luckily, plenty of entertainment can be found on what happens in the audience. The target audience of married women and pre-teen girls gasp, ooh, giggle and awe at the most cliché parts while the normal audience that was dragged along snicker derisively more and more openly as the film, as well as the series, continues. People yell things like, “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” the first time either character steps on screen. Finally, the good old-fashioned whispered mockery transpires between friends because we all know how bad the movies are compared to the mediocre books. While The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is by no means a good movie, when taken in context it is a much better film than the first two films of the franchise.

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Melancholia Symptoms: Depression and Delusions of a Good Film

21 Nov

I wish this could have happened earlier in the movie so I wouldn't have wasted so much of my time.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, melancholia is a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions. In the Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dogville) film of the same name, it also represents a planet hurtling towards Earth. The main character of the film is Justine, who is played by Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, Marie Antoinette). She exhibits some form of the mental condition melancholia in the film even though she is only ever referred to as being sick. The star opposite Justine is her sister Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams, The Science of Sleep). The two sisters and Claire’s son Leo, played by newbie Cameron Spurr, weather out the end of days alone together after Claire’s husband John, played by Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys, 24), kills himself in the face of impending doom. After I finished watching all two hours of this pretentious artsy film, I can’t say that I really blame Sutherland’s character. Melancholia was not an enjoyable or enlightening experience. Continue reading

J. Edgar Hidden In Shadow While Stars Shine

16 Nov

J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio

In the late 1920s and early 30s, the United States’ national police force was built from the ground up by the hands of one man. For the next half a century, this same man lead his force through the difficult times of both World War II and the Cold War, as well as the growth of minority civil rights in America. He directed in the fight against the impending Bolshevik uprising and spread of communism on the home front. J. Edgar Hoover is one of the most influential men in American history, and his contributions to the safety of the U.S. shaped the nation into what it is today. While director Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) may not have created a perfect film representation of Edgar’s life and times, Leonardo DiCaprio’s (Titanic, Inception) performance stands as an exceptional tribute to the mysterious man who watched over America during troubled periods. Continue reading

Saluting A Decade of Superior Spartan Service in Halo

15 Nov

A banner is hung at a local GameStop in VA in honor of the midnight release of Halo 3.

By: Adam Dodson

It was 10 years ago today when Microsoft made it’s first stride into the realm of console gaming with the original XBOX. In a market largely dominated by time-honored Japanese names such as Sony and Nintendo, the American Microsoft needed a huge launch title to help boost sales and push it’s way onto the televisions of gamers across the world. This title was Halo: Combat Evolved. The very existence of Microsoft in the console gaming industry can be attributed to the success of Halo: CE. Without this exclusive game, the XBOX could easily have fallen to the wayside in the stead of its already established competition. But how could this relatively unknown game, created by an unknown developer, create so much success in the XBOX’s infantile and most vulnerable stage? Continue reading

“Nebraska” Brings New Places, Old Faces for Dexter

14 Nov

Dexter takes pleasure in his after-work activities.

While I’m still on the fence of where this religion-fueled season of Dexter is taking us, lets forget about the Doomsday Killer for now. Lets forget the back and forth feelings I have about Deb and Quinn. Lets forget about how much of a b***h LaGuerta is. Lets get down to the roots of what makes Dexter, Dexter. Lets get down to what makes it such an exciting show, and what draws people in to one of the most popular cable series shows on television. That draw is Dexter’s constant inner struggle with his Dark Passenger. This episode takes a step back from the sixth season and reminds us viewers what this amazing series has been showing us about Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) all along. Continue reading

The Evolution of Daryl on The Walking Dead

13 Nov

The online discussion boards are still raging with complaints about season two of The Walking Dead. Apparently they haven’t read my article: Season 2 Shuffles Along With The Walking Dead! However, there is one thing that seems universal in the dark world of Zombie Georgia; Daryl Dixon has evolved into the most interesting and enjoyable character to watch. The relatively short road from being the obnoxious redneck to being the steady rock for fans to cling to in this crazy series has been fascinating to see unfold. Let’s reflect back and see how this charming crossbow-toting cowboy has won over all of our hearts.

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Justin Timberlake’s In Time is Out of Sync

9 Nov

Justin Timberlake has taken Hollywood by storm.

Who ever thought that one of the guys from *NSYNC would be the lead in a major motion picture with as cool of a concept as In Time? As a small child I just thought that boy bands were stupid, so I held little faith in Justin Timberlake’s career outside of being in some weird barbershop quartet +1. All infantile prejudices aside, I am a big JT fan. His surprising breakout performance in The Social Network was definitely up there among the better performances. His small role in Bad Teacher was the only bearable one to behold in that horror show of a comedy. Then he really blew me away in No Strings Attached Just Friends with an enjoyable performance and great chemistry with the sexy and funny Mila Kunis. Which now brings us to In Time. In the space of one year, Timberlake has been involved with/starred in four big movies. I’d put him at 50/50 for good movies in 2010 – 2011. Unfortunately, In Time didn’t necessarily help his track record. Continue reading

Sequence Analysis of District 9 – The Documentary Style

8 Nov

District 9 is one of my favorite Science-Fiction films. Last semester, I took a film studies course and for our final paper we had to do a sequence analysis on a film of our choice. I am intrigued by Neill Blomkamp’s introduction of the film’s reoccurring theme of the social commentary of the South African apartheid through the documentary film style. I decided to do further research into the effects of the particular film style and analyze how it effects the rest of the film. Even though this film came out a little over two years ago, it is still an interesting piece to look into. Please excuse the length, as it is longer and in a completely different style than I would write for an article for this blog. Enjoy and come away feeling enlightened.

The 2009 SyFy mockumentary provides an interesting analysis on the documentary style.

Famed American filmmaker, Pare Lorentz, defines a documentary as, “a factual film, which is dramatic.” Documentaries also stand out from other mediums of non-fiction films for providing an opinion, and a specific message, along with the facts it presents. One of the things that the documentary style has contributed to modern day media is the mockumentary style. In this style, the subject matter is fictitious. However, it is still shot in the documentary style format. One example of this would be the television series, The Office or the film, This is Spinal Tap. One more commonly found reason behind using the mockumentary style is to analyze or comment on current events and issues by using a fictional setting. District 9 is a prime example of this as it is a social commentary on the Apartheid in South Africa. What sets District 9 apart from other mockumentaries is the science-fictional spin that it portrays. While the Apartheid obviously wasn’t about aliens vs. the citizens of Johannesburg, the film still speaks loudly on the issues raised during the troubled times in South America during the mid to late 90’s. The reason that the social commentary is valid is because of the way in which the film was shot. The science-fiction mockumentary film, District 9, is grounded in reality through the use of documentary style filming. Continue reading