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Friday, May 27, 2011

First Look: "50/50"

Seth Rogan is poking fun at cancer again in the upcoming dramedy 50/50. This time he trades his Funny People co-star Adam Sandler for Hollywood's IT boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a story about one guy's (Gordon-Levitt) struggle to beat cancer before it essentially beats him. And how does he do it? Apparently, by laughing it off. Check it out for yourself. It actually looks kinda good. 50/50 hits theaters September 30.

First Look: "The Whistleblower"

Oscar winner Rachel Weitz takes on the controversial role of real-life US cop Kathryn Bolkovac, who went to Bosnia to serve as a peacekeeper and ended up blowing the lid off a major sex trafficking case in the upcoming drama, The Whistleblower.

Political dramas are always iffy on the big screen, but this one looks like it may be pretty good. Plus, Weitz has a great cast with including David Strathairn and Vanessa Redgrave. Check out the trailer below. The Whistleblower is in theaters August 5.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Look: "The Guard"

Brendan Gleeson tends to choose dark comedies pretty wisely (example: In Brudges). This time he's teaming up with Don Cheadle for the buddy cop comedy, The Guard (which Cheadle also executive-produced). Gleeson stars as an Irish policeman who is partnered up with straight-laced FBI agent (Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. Trailer doesn't seem to sell it, but perhaps they don't want to spoil allthe good parts for us...The Guard heads to theaters September 22.


First Look: "I Don't Know How She Does It"

Sarah Jessica Parker trades her Manolos and one-night stands from Sex and the City to spit-up and playdates in the upcoming comedy I Don't Know How She Does It. She stars as Kate, a wannabe high-powered exec who struggles to balance her overwhelming life at home as a wife and mom of two with her equally overwhelming life in the office. As she oddly impresses her male counterparts at the office with her keen balancing skills, her husband (played by Greg Kinnear) is perfectly content with his wife bringing home the bacon.

The concept seems a bit too dated to be funny, but Parker is charming in the trailer. And, really, anything with Seth Meyers is bound to have at least a few laughs. Check out the trailer for yourself. I Don't Know How She Does It, which also stars Pierce Brosnan, Kelsey Grammer and Christina Hendricks, heads to theaters September 16.


First Look: "The Descendants"

Hollywood's eternal bachelor George Clooney is settled down as a family man and father of two in Sideways director Alexander Payne's upcoming drama, The Descendants. Struggling to build a closer relationship with his two teen daughters after his wife's accident, Matt (Clooney) finds being a more checked in father poses a few difficulties, and exposes his own regrets and shortcomings.

Payne, who also directed About Schmidt, seems drawn to impossibly dull movies that try hard to be somewhat profound. Let's see how this new one goes. The Descendants, which also stars Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, and Matthew Lillard, hits theaters December 16.


First Look: "Shark Night 3-D"

The director behind Final Destination 1 and 2 David R. Ellis taunts a few unsuspecting teens with a cheesy ode to the classic Jaws movie in Shark Night 3-D. Switch out Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider and add scantily-clad no-name teen actors desperately trying to escape that same underwater creature and you've may have just the kind of cheesy you're looking for. Too bad this movie isn't coming out in the summer so we can give it a pass by throwing it in the cheesy fun summer movie pile. Instead, Shark Night 3-D heads to theaters September 2. Check out the trailer below.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Tribeca Films: "Last Night"

First-time director Massy Tadjedin breaks down the walls of a relationship between a young married couple (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington), while in turn revealing both their weaknesses and desires in the taut romantic drama Last Night.

Joanna is a New York hipster, by way of Europe, who marries her college sweetheart, the well-suited corporate exec Michael, after a flighty, on-again/off-again affair with Alex (Guillaume Canet). They live in a swanky loft in New York City overlooking the fashion flood of the high-end meatpacking district. Their personalities appear to be very different and their love for one another seem to tip more toward respect than adoration. But when Joanna meets one of Michael's colleagues, the voluptuous Laura (Eva Mendes), she feels threatened and accuses Michael of having an affair with her. This confrontation leads to hurt feelings, misgivings, and insecurity between the couple. When Michael goes out of town on business, Joanna is left to feed upon her own angry words and wonder what they really mean, and why she said them. Meanwhile, Michael is doing the same thing. Most of the movie is then spent separating the couple in two different segments, and exposing who they are as individuals--their temptations and weaknesses--and how they act on both.

Slickly written and finely acted, Last Night is at its core a character study. Not only is Tadjedin, who also wrote the screenplay, analyzing these characters, but the characters are analyzing each other. We see Joanna get the third degree from one of one of Alex's friends, but Michael is grilled by Laura. Neither of those characters even know Joanna or Michael, but their sharp unwillingness to expose themselves has left them vulnerable to speculation and weak in their inhibitions. The wall of sexual tension throughout the movie could have only been sliced with a chainsaw. It rides that fine line of being sexy, without being overtly sexual.

Last Night isn't just a film about adultery; it's a provocative movie exploring the sexual prowess that builds at the mere thought of adultery.

Rating: A

In case you missed it, take a look at the trailer for Last Night here:

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Look: "The Muppets"

The beloved Muppets are back wreaking havoc on the big screen. This time, they're bringing along a few humanoids along for the ride--Amy Adams, Jason Segal, Emily Blunt, Zach Galifianakis, Danny Trejo and Rashida Jones, to name a few. he furry gang team up to take on a stuck-up tycoon who's threaning to take over their old stomping grounds. Check out the new trailer below. The Muppets invade theaters November 23.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

DVD Review: "Somewhere"

Director Sofia Coppola seems to have a weak spot for the tortured lives of the rich and famous. She won an Oscar for writing about an aging Hollywood star bewildered in Tokyo in the understated 2003 dramedy Lost in Translation. And last year she gave us the lackluster ode to the woes of being a Hollywood star in Somewhere. And, to tell you the truth, this routine is getting a bit old.

Stephen Dorff stars as Johnny Marco, a somewhat lonely thirty-something actor who spends most his nights partying and getting entertained by scantily-clad doublemint twins after enduring long days at various photo shoots and movie sets. Just as he's whooping it up on the sunset strip, he gets a visit by his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), who disrupts his fabulous way of life by offering a big dose of reality.

While he tries to maintain his playboy status by still offering kinky sleepovers and jet-setting across the world, Cleo's stable presence and girlish nature humbles him. But Johnny's relationship with his daughter, while cute, doesn't cut through his real problem, which appears to be his battle with adulthood. Or, is it that he's not finding much meaning in his life anymore? Either way, audiences aren't sure whether he actually finds that meaning in Somewhere.

The movie is deathly slow and seems to float aimlessly to nowhere, despite what the title suggests. There's no distinct growth with either character. And random appearances by Benicio del Toro and Michelle Monaghan offer no guidance. Dorff does manage to muster a pretty solid performance, but we don't feel invested by his rather flimsily-written character. So we're not compelled to watch or find out where their story leads. Somewhere is like a slow-moving bullet with no clear aim.

Rating: D+

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Bridesmaids"

Getting chosen to be a bridesmaid when you're single is often like a rite of passage. Besides the fact that you've now got a ton of activities you have to plan on your shoestring budget, you usually end up examining your own life (i.e. wondering when you're finally going to graduate from "casually dating" to walking down the aisle). Face it, your best friend has moved up to the big leagues and you, well, haven't.

In Bridesmaids, Kristin Wiig stars as Annie, a hilariously awkward thirty-something semi-professional down on her luck. She loses her business, her man and her mind all in a matter of weeks. With finances tight, she's forced to live with not one but two weirdo roommates and put up with a crappy job every day. Then her best friend and partner in crime Lillian (Maya Rudolph) goes and gets engaged on her. Of course she's happy for her pal, but Annie can't help feeling like she's slowly being singled out as (gasp!) that pathetic single friend for whom things never seem to go right.

So Annie sets her sights on being the world's best maid of honor for Lillian. That is, until she meets Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian's glamorous new friend (and fellow bridesmaid) from her fiancé's side who she's "only known for ten minutes" and tries to take over the whole wedding extravaganza, constantly one-upping Annie's low-scale pre-wedding activities. As she and Helen hysterically play off each other's wedding antics and compete for Lillian's friendship, Annie must also contend with the other wild femmes in the bridal party, Rita, Becca, Megan (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy). All the while, Annie is reaching a crossroads in her personal life in the form of a new love interest (Chris O'Dowd). If you love Wiig's senseless wit and over-the-top performances on Saturday Night Live, you'll adore her in Bridesmaids. Wiig, who also co-wrote the script, teams with real-life best friend Rudolph (whose usual humor is unfortunately severely downplayed in the movie), and carries the movie effortlessly, proving she is a bonafide movie star. The rest of the bunch were no slouches either (McCarthy's sublime raunchiness nearly steals the show from Wiig).

Although the movie is tons of fun and at times really heartfelt, thanks to Wiig's beautifully nuanced performance, there are some parts that dragged. Some of the more vulgar parts could have been cut in half and the audience would have still gotten the point. And some of the more dramatic scenes could have been edited better.

At its core, Bridesmaids is about friendship--losing it, needing it, and gaining it--and less about contending with its male brethren of comedies like The Hangover. Sure, it neatly avoids a lot of the fluff found in many chick flicks and replaces it with crass shenanigans, but it adds touching moments when they're needed most, providing for a smart, less clichéd comedy. Take that, fellas.

Rating: B

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Look: "Fright Night"

Continuing Hollywood's obsession with 80s remakes is Fright Night, the redux of the 1985 campy thriller starring Chris Sarandon. The new version follows Anton Yelchin as the high school school who suspects his creepy neighbor (played by Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Fright Night, which also stars Toni Collette as Yelchin's mom, heads to theaters--in 3D--August 19.


First Look: "Straw Dogs"

Kate Bosworth and James Marsden star as a young couple who move to her southern hometown where newlywed bliss collides with local mischief in the remake to the 1971 thriller Straw Dogs. Check out the trailer below. Straw Dogs invades theaters September 16.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Look: "Horrible Bosses"

While Jennifer Aniston desperately tries to remain relevant, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day star in Horrible Bosses, a comedy that looks like a raunchier, wilder version of the classic ode to corporate nightmares, Office Space (also with Aniston). The guys plot to murder their annoying bosses (played by Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell), with the help of Jamie Foxx. Check out the new trailer below. Horrible Bosses heads to theaters July 8.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

First look: "Colombiana"

Zoe Saldana has been giving Michelle Rodriguez a run for her money in the "tough girl" roles lately. Up next? Saldana stars in Colombiana, about a young girl who grows up to be an assassin after witnessing the murder of her parents in Bogotá. Check out the new trailer below. Colombiana, costarring Michael Vartan, hits theaters September 2.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Early Review: "Thor"

"The answers you seek shall be yours, once I claim what is mine."
The classic comic book story of the god of thunder Thor hits the big screen this weekend to battle it out with the current box office champion--and fellow popcorn flick--Fast Five. And, you know what? It's kinda good.

Witty, charming and very current, the big screen adaptation of Thor is sure to catapult its star Chris Hemsworth (whose wife, Elsa Pataky, ironically stars in Fast Five) to leading man status. If you're a comic book junkie, you may know that the almighty Thor is all set to take over the land of Asgard from his elderly father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). But then he starts showing off, in a beautifully orchestrated showdown in the Frozen Land, consequently getting himself, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and their posse in deep you-know-what. Daddy Odin begrudgingly intervenes and saves the day, but later exiles Thor from the land after stripping him of mjöllnir and the rest of his powers.

Where does he end up? On Earth, powerless, and totally out of his element. Desperate to return to his realm, Thor seeks solace with a group of geeks, um, scientists played by Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings, who gives him a real lesson in humility. Hemsworth makes what could have been a silly plotline--complete with cheap medieval references in the modern world--and makes it really entertaining. But the major plotline, the volatile relationship between Thor and Loki, whose taken over as king of Asgard, is most intriguing (in part due to the captivating performance by Middleston).



There's a terrific faceoff between the two that's dramatic, over-the-top and popcorn delicious, leading up to a nice setup for next year's The Avengers. Thor doesn't try to be take itself too seriously or be more than what it is (really, a guy in search of his magical hammer), but it remains engaging throughout with comedic clips from not only Hemsworth but Dennings with excellent special effects. If your mom wants to steer clear of the generic romantic comedies coming out this weekend, take her to see Thor on Mother's Day. Simply because it's a darn fun watch led by a fantastic cast.

Rating: B

First Look: "Conan the Barbarian"



The 1982 B movie classic Conan the Barbarian is getting the 2011 B movie treatment to infiltrate the summer popcorn season. From the looks of the somewhat lame trailer, Jason Momoa is stepping into the title role formerly played by the former Governator. You may already know the story: Conan sweeps across the continent of Hyboria to avenge the murder of his father and the demise of his village. Check out the new trailer below. Conan the Barbarian, costarring Rose McGowan and Ron Perlman, invades theaters August 11.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

5 Rules For Watching "Fast Five"

"Chances are sooner or later, we are gonna end up behind bars or buried in a ditch somewhere. But not today."
Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Paul Walker, Tyrese and Ludacris are back as car thugs being chased down by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his cop crew in the fifth installment of the high-octane Fast and the Furious franchise, Fast Five, which roared into theaters this weekend racking up an estimated $83.6 million. If you're planning to see it, here are five rules of thumb you may want to consider first:

1) Check your brain at the door. This one is really important, so write it down if you have to. You can't go into this movie concentrating on the plot and analyzing it. And forget trying to figure out whose the better actor (it's a draw; the entire cast is bad), or what Vin Diesel is mumbling about at times (it's really nothing important anyway). Just sit back and watch it go.

2) Appreciate a body well done. No matter what you're into--boys or girls--you'll go gaga over the spectacle of well-oiled bodies trickling through the streets of Rio de Janeiro in the movie. From The Rock's sweaty biceps to newcomer to the gang Gal Gadot in her teeny weeny bikini, there is something for everyone.



3) Plan accordingly. The movie runs 130 minutes long, without previews, so make sure your schedule is blocked out for this chunk of time. Even though the movie is a bit long, the infinite amount of car chases and wickedly entertaining, death-defying action scenes helps time fly by.

4) Pick a side--The Rock or Vin Diesel? It's only right. And you must know going in. So are you ride or die for the car-snatching ex-con Dominic Toretto (Diesel) or do you wanna smell what The Rock is cooking? Spoiler alert: there is a duel. And it's a good one. So choose wisely.

5) Stick around after the credits. Don't be fooled. It's still going...and you won't want to miss it.

Rating: C+

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