Month: May 2011

Annie Hall

Year: 1977
Directed By: Woody Allen
Written By: Woody Allen

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been a lover of movies my whole life, in many ways they have taught me how to live.  My dad was a movie theater manager when I was born and for years I grew up with those big giant screens for babysitters.  At five years old I was watching Tim Burton’s Batman  by myself as my dad worked.  It was always like this until my dad changed careers and by that time I worked two jobs, one at a video rental store and another as a movie builder at the theater (yeah, like Tyler Durden in Fight Club).  My point here is that I have always had heavy exposure to many films, I have always studied them, learned from them.  Despite this, it wasn’t until I was 22 that I saw this movie, or any Woody Allen movie for that matter.  Personally, I attribute this fact to my southern heritage, the south does not like Woody Allen.  He is a yankee through and through, he might as well have New Yorker stamped on his forehead, and then there was that thing with his step daughter.  I like to think of Woody Allen as a mathmatical equation that equals “hated by south.” However I did love this movie the first time I saw it and I still think it is hilarious today.

Woody Allen is without doubt very eccentric, and I can completely understand why he is the kind of film maker that people either love or hate.  I don’t love him by any means, he has made 47 films and this one is still the only one I have seen, and I was actually required to watch it for a film class.  His style is very unique and that is what I appreciate about this movie so much.  This has long been hated as the movie that robbed Star Wars of the Academy Award for best picture in 1977 but that was a justified win.  This movie is smart, it’s clever, and it’s witty.  This movie isn’t for everyone because Woody Allen isn’t for everyone, but if you have the opportunity to see it give it a chance, it may surprise you. If nothing else, see this to catch sight of a much younger Christopher Walken, playing Diane Keaton’s brother Duane.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time Ryan told me that he wanted to watch this. All I knew of it was that Woody Allen was the voice of the main ant in the movie Ants. I really enjoy this film. It is set in the point of view of a guy that is nothing like myself, so I find this story very interesting. I also find him completely whinny and complaining all the time. I also think the cinematography in this film is really nice. The cameras follow the characters walking down the street and captures in such a realistic way. The way the extras are nonchalantly walking the streets not paying attention to Allen at all. It is very nicely done.  The best part about this film is Diane Keaton. She is so young a vivacious in this film. Years after watching Annie Hall for the first time, I was watching an episode of That 70s Show where Foreman goes on a date with his mom to see Annie Hall. He admits on the way home that he couldn’t stop looking at Keaton’s breasts, which can be pretty embarrassing for a teenager and his mom. Later that episode, they do a spoof of it where Topher Grace plays Woody Allen and Laura Prepon plays Diane Keaton. It is hilarious and unfortunaltely, everytime this movie is mentioned, my mind goes directly to that 70s show first. Allen’s character is someone that all men need to learn from. What not to in a relationship and “what never to say to a woman.”

If you like movies more than the average joe , then this is one that you need to see as it definitely holds it’s place in movie history.

NEXT MOVIE: Antitrust (2001)

Movies Not To Watch

I AM NUMBER 4

I was watching a rerun of SNL earlier today and there was a commercial skit where men were getting hair transplants. However the problem at hand was that the hair on the back of the head was too fair, so they had to find courser hair for this new procedure and used pubes in the transplant.  That’s what Alex Pettyfer looks like in this movie, like he got a hair transplant and put pubes on the top of his head. The stupid looking pube hair just adds to the stupid look he already has on his face the whole movie. This kid is a horrible actor, I really doubt we will see much of him in the future. This movie is for children, it has a strong Nickelodeon feel to it. I’m not going to waste anymore  time thinking about this movie, it was a waste of time and I don’t know what we were thinking when we rented it. This is an awful movie all around, don’t make the same mistake we did!

American Wedding

Year: 2003
Directed By: Jesse Dylan
Written By: Adam Herz

RYAN’S REVIEW

Like the second movie, this is also very stupid and follows that same pattern of comedy sequels I went on and on about in the American Pie 2 entry.  However I think this movie gave Seann William Scott a good platform to be funny and increase his popularity.  While I thought he over did it for most of the second film I don’t get that impression from this one.  It’s funny, but I tend to forget this movie actually stars Jason Biggs, it’s only watching it now and during the last couple of films that I even remembered who he was to begin with.  I know that probably sounds stupid, but I always think of this as Seann William Scott’s series and he is at his best in the third film.  I also hold the belief that no matter what kind of movie, or television show is being made, when you add gay guys into the storyline it gets better. This especially holds true with comedies, their characters are often exaggerated and very vibrant but they breathe life into otherwise boring story lines.

I remember expecting very little when I watched this movie for the first time and being pleasantly surprised when I laughed the whole time.  This movie is the reason I bought the trilogy pack when I saw it, that and because I don’t like gaps in a series I have collected. I was surprised to find out recently that there is a fourth film being made for an early 2012 release.  I guess that was extraordinary news for Jason Biggs, he must have turned back flips when he got that call from his agent.  In truth I look forward to another American Pie, titled American Reunion, and I will probably go see it when it comes out.  It’s because I found this movie so funny that I would even give a fourth movie consideration.  American Wedding is a funny movie and a must see if you like the series, it is worth your time to watch.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I liked this one so much more than the second one. The first, the original is still my favorite, but I find this one funny and outlandish, but believable. I feel like we all have a Stifler in our lives. We try to hide him from our parents, family and some friends. We have one too, don’t worry. Ryan is right when he says this is his movie. For the longest time I thought that Stifler was the only character that Seann William Scott could play, but now having seen him in other roles (Role Models, Southland Tales) I know that he is actually more than just the asshole Stifler character. That makes him funnier to me somehow. He really does shine in this film. The writers here really know how to embarrass a character, which makes for a great story line. Very funny movie, if you have seen the first and second one, give it a go.

NEXT MOVIE: Annie Hall (1977)

American Pie 2

Year: 2001
Directed By: J .B. Rogers
Written By:  Adam Herz

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a funny movie, but it’s nothing great.  Were it not part of a trilogy package I don’t know that we would own it at all. This is all more of the same really, the movie isn’t that much different from the first.  Classic scenarios from the original are redone and taken a step farther and popular characters from the original are given expanded roles.  It’s a typical sequel to a popular comedy, they are all the same.  Something we should think about this week before going to see The Hangover 2 this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I think that The Hangover 2 will be hilarious, I’m just saying that it will only be more of the same.  Several scenarios from the first film will be taken a step further, this is obvious already as Stu has a tattoo on his face, a step up from pulling his own tooth out in the original.  Certain popular characters from the original will have expanded roles, I imagine this will be Ken Jeong, his star has been rising.  Still, don’t let me discourage you from seeing the film, The Hangover 2  will be hilarious, I will be going to the theater to see it myself.  Sometimes cheap shameless humor is good for the soul.

All the aspects of the typical comedy sequel are here.  Several classic scenarios from the original are taken a step further all through the film.  Instead of getting caught jerking off by his parents Jim is caught having casual sex for the first time.  Instead of drinking cum laced beer Stifler is given a golden shower by John Cho. Finch bangs Stifler’s mom again blah blah blah, this list could go on forever. Certain popular characters from the original film are given expanded roles.  Seann William Scott gets a lot more screen time but I think he was a little over the top for most of the film.  However Eugene Levy also had an expanded role and he is very funny. There is no substance to these pointless comedy sequels that are rushed into and through production but they are always good for a laugh.  This movie is stupid, but it’s not that bad.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it but it’s not a total waste of time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think this movie is OK but it will never beat the first one in my opinion.  I like the reference to the original and the title in the opening scene when Jim’s mom drops an apple pie. I also love that they are off on a trip together after high school. For me, it went along with the time period that I was in. I think it is a really funny movie. At the time I laughed my ass off and thought nothing was funnier, but then Apatow starting making films. It’s funny, but I’ve seen funnier.

NEXT MOVIE: American Wedding (2003)

American Pie

Year: 1999
Directed By: Paul Weitz
Written By: Adam Herz

RYAN’S REVIEW

Every generation has that classic high school movie they really identify with. I think the best high school films are timeless, but the one that identifies your generation is always a little more special.  This movie is my generation’s great high school movie and there were several that came out while I was in high school.  So many that the parody Not Another Teen Movie was made while I was still there.  None of them could stand up next to this one though, it was bold, daring, immature, funny, and we got to see a great set of boobs on Shannon Elizabeth. When this movie came out the word M.I.L.F. became a household term that is still going strong eleven years later.  Stifler was such a great character that there are a ton of low-budget straight to video movies made about his siblings, and Seann William Scott has been able to carry that exact same character into several other films with great success.  I have never seen any of the spin-off Stifler movies but there are many of them and I think Eugene Levy has reprised his role in many or all of them.  The Seann William Scott movies I’ve seen Stifler in were Road Trip, Role Models, Old School, and probably several others that I am forgetting.

I love this movie, I thought it was funny eleven years ago and I still think it’s funny today. I think it is a classic, if I remember correctly it was hailed as the Porkys of the 90s.  As a high school movie it is right up there with the other timeless greats like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  These movies take us back to a time when we were young, when we faced complicated problems that meant something at the time but didn’t really matter, a time when life was more simple. American Pie was smart and clever and really funny, it has its place next to those other classics, and I will always love this movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie’s intro says it all. How crazy embarrassing would that situation be? You should have already seen this movie, If you are reading this and haven’t seen the movie, where the hell have you been for the past 10 years or so? The intro sets up the entire franchise. It is the classic teenage, high school movie that focuses around what most teenagers focus on, sex. The movie in its entirety is hilarious. It captures all of the things about high school that are embarrassing, funny and true. I think that even today it can still hold a light to what goes on in high schools. To this day, if anyone around me says, “This one time….” I think we all know how to finish the sentence.” I will always have a special place in my heart for this hilarious comedy.

NEXT MOVIE: American Pie 2

American Beauty

Year: 1999
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: Alan Ball

RYAN’S REVIEW

I got my first job when I was16, in the year 2000, at a video rental store called Action Video.  In 2000 when I started, this movie was the most popular film rented. We only carried VHS tapes then, we even had a machine that’s sole purpose was to rewind the tapes. It seems like forever ago now, eleven years later.  This movie is dear to me because it takes me back to that time, a time when life was different.  So much changed so suddenly shortly after this film came out.  DVDs for one, the cell phone explosion (Ricky does his business with a pager), digital media, social networking, and the evolution of the internet. Some of these things were around when this movie was made, but they hadn’t become center to our society the way they are today. American Beauty shows us a different America, one that’s easy to forget these days.

This was the first film directed by Sam Mendes, who was recommended by DreamWorks founder Stephen Spielberg for the job.  I am a fan of Mendes, specifically because of this movie, I also thought Road to Perdition was excellent.  Alan Ball, more famous today for his role in the popular television series True Blood, wrote the screenplay and received a lot of credit for the film’s success.  Kevin Spacey won the Academy Award for this movie, it’s unfortunate that it has all been downhill since this movie.  I think Kevin Spacey is a great actor, but the last ten years of his career has been full of duds.  A couple of his movies have been alright but I tend to forget them because his performance failed in comparison to this one.  The rest of the cast was fantastic, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Annette Bening, Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley, and Peter Gallaher all did very well in this movie.  However, I think that only Chris Cooper has been able to continue making good movies.  The others tend to pop up here and there occasionally and you remember they were great in this movie.

As I have already mentioned, this movie came out during my formative years and it meant something to me then and it does now too.  I found comfort in the message this movie sent and learned to love the art of film making with this film.  You glance at suburban America and everything seems normal, but when you “look closer” you can see how messed up everything is.  My family situation was bizarre at the time, it was comforting to see a movie about a much more bizarre family. I found this story fascinating and the way the film was made entrancing.  I would say Lester Burnham had a big influence on the person I was during my later teenage years, and maybe to an extent today. I think this is an awesome movie and I love it, if you haven’t seen it then it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love any movie that starts out by saying, “This is the day that I die.” We spend the entire movie waiting for him to die somehow. By the end it seems like everyone has a reason to want him dead and you have no idea when or where it’s coming from. This movie is a must see movie for movie lovers. It is an award winning movie to top it off. It has something for everyone and I think it paints the picture of a hopeless man in the most perfect of ways. From jacking off in the shower to the lava lamp he sets up in the garage, I love the way the movie portrays Kevin Spacey. It is also through and through one of those eerily creepy movies. It is strange and some of my favorite ones are strange stories. I think this movie is also very nostalgic for me. Ryan used to have this poster hanging up in his room at his mother’s house when we first started dating. It was one of the first (of many) times that I heard “What do you mean you have never seen American Beauty?” I love this film and I definitely think anyone would benefit from watching it. Besides, since the rapture didn’t actually happen…what else is there to do?

NEXT MOVIE: American Pie (1999)

Alpha Dog

Year: 2006
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Written By: Nick Cassavetes

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is based on the real life murder of Nicholas Markowitz in 2000 on the orders of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood.  This was a real life story worthy of a movie but I am always skeptical about a movie “based on a true story.” There is no such thing as a movie that portrays actual events accurately however people always believe that they do.  Some movies that claimed to be based on actual events never happened at all, i.e. Fargo, The Strangers. Occasionally a movie does a better job, this is one of those.  I’m not saying this is an accurate representation of what really happened to Nicholas Markowitz, but from the little bit of research I have done I can see that Nick Cassavetes took the project seriously.  Films based on real life can try their best to be accurate but they always inevitably rewrite the story for their own purposes. For example, the victim having a three-way in the pool before his execution and the last-minute effort to call off the hit by Johnny Truelove.  Maybe these things actually happened, but it seems like it was added into the story on purpose, for effect.

This is not the greatest movie ever, but I enjoyed it.  There are several young promising actors who give very good performances in this film as well.  Anton Yelchin is on his way to a very successful career and he does hold up well as the centerpiece to this film.  I for one am in full favor of Justin Timberlake’s venture into films.  He is a very talented entertainer and I find his versatility impressive. One of the reasons I like this film is because of his performance.  This was one of his first films and I think he nailed it, it made me respect him more as an entertainer.  I am not a big fan of Ben Foster but he was awesome in this movie, real badass. Emile Hirsch probably deserves mention here but I am not a fan and I didn’t think his performance in this film was anything special. There are also the seasoned veterans who add their talent to the cast.  Bruce Willis can only make any movie better and Sharon Stone has a ferocity that doesn’t age.

This movie was made shortly after the events it portrays and that does tend to bother me under most circumstances.  I think that it’s ridiculous to make a movie before the entire story is told.  This movie for example, maybe there is a more interesting story in the life of Jesse James Hollywood during his life on the run in Brazil.  It’s not prudent to make this film so soon, nor was it to make a movie about Mark Zuckerberg when the guy is still in his 20s.  Is Hollywood so desperate for material that they will make a movie about part of a guy’s life? I like this movie, but I do think it screams of the lack of original ideas coming out of the movie industry these days. I wouldn’t set this film at the top of any “movies to watch” list but if you get the opportunity sit down and check it out, it’s worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is made so beautifully. It completely captures the characters it sets out to. The movie is set up to make you feel sorry for certain characters in the film. You know what they are doing, but there are some in the film (Justin Timberlake) that were portrayed in a light that somehow made him “better” than the others. He hung out with kid and got to know him a little bit. Because this movie is based around a true story it sucks you in a little bit more. People love stories that are based on real life, take reality television for example. People love it. You can relate to real life. I remember the first time I watched it and the desire at the end to see it end differently. It has a surprise ending that may not be expected if you didn’t know the whole story going into.I didn’t know the story. I really like the acting, the story and the portrayal. A definite must see movie.

NEXT MOVIE: American Beauty (1999)