7.29.2013

You're Killing Me Smalls!

Hello, readers! I'm dreadfully sorry about the lack of posts as of late, I'm afraid I've been very much swamped in my editing duties at work. It's not that I don't have reviews for you (I did see The Wolverine which was decently entertaining,) but if I'm going to take the time to write about anything, it would be about something that happened a little over a week ago. The time I got my friends and I into the biggest pickle ANY of us had ever been through. Of what do I speak? Well you see...last week I celebrated in a very incredibly cool way, the 20th Anniversary of a film that holds a special place in my heart (and undoubtedly a spot on my Top 100 favorites, coming soon to moviesnmayhem.) The movie? None other than the 1993 classic: The Sandlot.

How exactly did my home state, where the movie happened to be filmed, decide to celebrate the big anniversary? By flying out the cast and having a big celebration that culminated in a screening of the film on the actual lot where the movie was filmed. The celebration was open to all, but the screening was only available to a precious few....half of whom were waiting in an autograph line throughout the entire course of the film just to get their memorabilia signed. But this girl never for a minute stood in line, and yet her baseball was the second one of anything to be signed. What can I say? It pays to have friends of the Utah Film Commission (Thanks Tom!) Other highlights included a brief chat with the director (I got to touch his replica Marlins hat from the movie!) and Patrick Renna AKA Hamilton Porter giving me a friendly acknowledgement. Oh and the Q & A was quite fabulous too. I loved hearing all of the casts' favorite lines, especially that squints' was the underrated pinched shut line! And no, there weren't really any pickles I got my friends into at the event, other than them almost dying of allergy attacks caused by the Sandlot herself...but hey we all had fun regardless! And let me say thank you right now to Laura for letting me raid a few choice pics to be able to share with you!






Seeing the film like this was an absolute joy for me. The whole time I watched the film, I couldn't help but think I was sitting on the spot where twenty years ago magic was created... and I don't say that lightly. To me, The Sandlot has always been a classic from the first time I saw it to fiftieth. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the film is able to appeal to people of all ages no matter what stage they're in when they see it. This is because the film successfully portrays both the wonder you feel when you ARE a kid, and the nostalgia you feel as an adult looking back. Few films are able to do so with such precision, and as such are all the more special for it. At the event, it was quoted that in his initial review of The Sandlot, Roger Ebert likened the film to the Christmas Story of summer movies. What an incredible compliment! And yet a truer comparison I cannot think of. Both films have the truly impressive ability to take me back to how I felt as a child.





Now I'll admit, I certainly have a bias as this film is very much intertwined with my childhood...but even as an adult I know it's not just nostalgia that makes me love this movie. It's a magic that can never be bottled twice. It's the script, it's the cast and it's the union of the two under the influence of this director. It's what happened 20 years ago on a field I was very lucky to visit. Heaven knows that if 7-year-old Emily had known that the location of the Sandlot was so close to my house I would have been there every day of every summer of my childhood. What can I say? I loved it then, and I love it now. The Sandlot is always worth revisiting. 

7.12.2013

Godzillas vs. Transformers

If I were to give you any advice if/when you decide to go see Pacific Rim, it would be.. if you're seeing it in IMAX 3D.....whatever you do DON'T SIT IN THE FRONT ROW. Unfortunately, I had no other choice at my screening and believe me I suffered the consequences. As such, I'm not sure how much this affected my reading of the film, and so I can't really tell how accurate my opinion will be to what I might feel like if I had seen it in other circumstances. When you have a huge headache fogging your brain for two hours, it's hard to see clearly. But in terms of brainpower, this is the type of movie where it will be necessary to shut off your brain anyway.


While I was in line to redeem my passes for this film, a little girl who was accompanying her father decided to make conversation with me and asked what movie I was seeing. When she didn't recognize the title of the film, she asked what the movie was about. I told her "It's about these big scary monsters that come to earth, and these robots that fight them." She said nonchalantly "Oh. I've seen that movie before." I laughed and told her she was probably right...we probably all have seen this movie before. And well...she was pretty much spot on. That said, the action that you are no doubt seeing this film for is pretty spectacular. The other stuff? Well...that's where things get a little dicey.


My first problem with the film is, if you've seen any of the trailers, you've already seen the entire backstory this movie gives. I felt that there was so much unexplored territory in the story that was set up that was far more interesting than the story we got. The setup essentially is what I told that little girl: monsters come to earth, and robots fight them. Still....a movie CAN work with such a thin premise (and I'm not saying the film totally DOESN'T....I just wanted more from it,) but all of the pieces have to be in place. I think one of the biggest things that make or breaks a movie for me is not mind blowing action sequences....but rather strong memorable characters. That's what sticks with me. In fact, in searching my blog for previous posts on Pacific Rim to make sure I didn't use duplicate pictures, I found my preview post on the film and I said the following: Personally I'm hoping the characters can be good enough to make it truly memorable....the world doesn't need another Transformers.

Unfortunately, this film only had two (POSSIBLY three) side characters that really lit up the screen, and everyone else was two dimensional.  Charlie Hunnam is a fine lead (visually and otherwise,) but, unfortunately, his character lacks much of a personality....but then again so did all of the characters besides the scientists. It's kind of a problem in a movie like this when you make pretty much ALL of your characters expendable. Remind me again why we care if the monster eats these guys? I don't know...it just was kind of interesting to me to see these lead characters get these grand entrances...when none of them were really earned at all. If they knew they were making a b-movie reveling in action sequences only, I felt like they just should have gone all out and made ALL the characters as stereotypical as possible with cheesy dialogue galore.

Still. Some of the action sequences were just absolutely stunning and are definitely worth seeing on the big screen. More than just a few moments had me riveted and on the edge of my seat. The film is enjoyable and entertaining for long stretches at a time...... it's just not something that you'll remember for years to come. I wish more filmmakers would understand you can achieve BOTH....but in this reviewers' opinion, it's only the former. So shut off the brain cells and enjoy what you can....and whatever you do, don't sit in the front row! EMILY RATING: 6.9/10

7.10.2013

Relocation Relocation Relocation

And now the story of a (somewhat) wealthy Emily, whose living situation abruptly changed when her apartment flooded, and now had no choice but to keep herself together. Yep. On the night of the 4th of July, a whole bunch of water made its way through my window and made my room unrecognizable. Luckily there was minimal damage to my personal belongings... but I was rendered "homeless." Yes, I was planning on moving out in a month anyway, but the surprise move out still happened to be quite stressful. So I decided to turn lemons into a LIST. First I thought flood movies (The Impossible and Big Fish came to mind..) but then decided on the funner topic of movies where a characters living situation abruptly changes (and you guessed it, Arrested Development came to mind, though I've written enough about that lately)....in hopes to find just a few circumstances worse than mine.

SEINFELD -  One character and his living misfortunes instantly came to mind: George Costanza. "My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents." The silver lining here is that anyone in a similar situation CAN'T have it nearly as bad as George because there is no way anyone's parents are worse than his.

SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON - Say it's not financial woes that change your abode....but rather you find yourself stranded on a desert island. I thought of Lost and Castaway, but Swiss Family Robinson is the REAL master of this scenario. If you lose your normal cushy way of life, might as well build a GIANT treehouse(s) and ride wild animals for fun!



HOUSESITTER - Goldie Hawn is the PRO of changing living situations with this and Overboard. Both films have their cons that come with her new situations though. One involves a debatable rape and living in squalor with a carpenter and his obnoxious children....and the other involves living rent free in a spacious house but having to pretend that Steve Martin is your husband. I honestly can't decide which situation would be worse! Haha. But at least her nonstop lies in Housesitter wins her a loot of free stuff....so this one probably gets the edge of more tolerable.


GHOSTBUSTERS - This is the ultimate scenario to make me feel better about my life. Sure my apartment flooded....but at least it wasn't taken over by a demon named Zuul. It would be an awful nuisance to have my eggs boil on the counter, open my fridge and find a demon world, or get possessed while watching a t.v. show. Life could be worse!!

BRIDESMAIDS - "We'd like to invite you to no longer live with us." That has to be one of my absolute favorite lines from this movie...one that makes me laugh just thinking about this. I definitely have thought about saying that before to roommates I've lived with, but being told that? Ouch.  And coming from HER roommates??/ Even worse. Basically, this movie is a good one to watch if you need a pick me up in ANY area of life because Kristen Wiig's character probably has it worse than you.





STAR WARS -  Well....I didn't have my house burned to the ground with all my remaining relatives in it (that I know of anyway.) So that's a plus! Or you could have it like Princess Leia and have your whole planet destroyed. Who knew she had so much in common with Superman... or Spock for that matter! But I guess homes destroyed is a small price to pay for saving the galaxy?


ZOMBIELAND - After the destroyed home/world scenario, there's the destroyed RACE scenario. So I guess I should just be glad that it wasn't a zombie apocalypse that forced me out of my place. I'd be super depressed if all my friends started eating each other and I had to band together with a bunch of strangers to stay alive and all...

BEETLEJUICE - Or I could be dead. And forced to share my house that I worked so hard to get just the way I wanted (even if their's is WAY ugly...) with a crazy eccentric artist (been there done THAT...that's Clint's problem now! haha!) who wants to change EVERYTHING and her moody gothic stepdaughter (who I weirdly get along with?) Yeah...it could definitely be worse.





JUST LIKE HEAVEN - Take the last scenario, change it to that I'm in a coma...and instead of an artist, a depressed slob moves in....and we find love once we overcome our issues together. Wait that's not so bad!

RATATOUILLE - Like the last one, they couldn't ALL be bad scenarios. This time, we'll make our way out of the gutter and into a PARISIAN apartment with a magnificent view. Yeah. That's the life.



Well, I hope you enjoyed that RANDOM list. It definitely made me feel a little better...minus the fact that I'm not moving to Paris again anytime soon. Any other crazy living situation movies I missed? Believe it or not...there are actually quite a few!

7.03.2013

Hi-O Silver!

July. How did you come so fast? Just like that we've burned halfway through the summer....and pretty much entirely through all the GOOD summer blockbusters that I've looked forward to all year. Now marks the beginning of "the rest." The Lone Ranger personifies that and is the perfect movie to lead the way. Actually...scratch that. White House Down would actually have been the proper marker. But like White House Down, (though in a less preposterous fashion) Ranger is FAR too long and tries to do too much. And I'm afraid too many pieces are out of place which makes those problems all the worse. I don't think this is a bad movie, but not really a good one either. If I were to compare it to anything it would not be the first pairing of actor Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski: Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl, but rather it's ugly little brother: Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest.

The Lone Ranger serves as the origin story of both the titular character John Reid (Armie Hammer), as well as his trusty companion Tonto (Johnny Depp). Their back stories are interesting enough but are unfortunately padded with some dreadful lulls in the storytelling. The pacing of this movie is not its friend. ESPECIALLY (and I can't say this enough...) with the horrible framing device used to tell the story. We begin in 1933 where a little boy visits a traveling carnival and sees an exhibit for the Native American....but finds that there's more story to be told than meets the eye (and also random side note: let it be said the makeup in these sequences is on the verge of disturbing.) Well, no harm is done though right? It's fine enough....until they show it 80 times when you just want to stay where the real story is. This aspect of the film, really pulled me out of it and took away greatly as no real purpose was served. That example underlies a great problem in general with the film: it meanders...and should be more to the point. If the storytelling was more concise...much of the movie's problems would be solved. But not all of them.

As much as I LOVE Armie Hammer (and do believe he did a good job in the role,) it is Depp, in one of his less memorable roles, that is tasked with the burden of carrying this film. I think this is again largely due to the script, but Depp kind of has the tendency to just take over, which is understandable. They have decent bro chemistry (hey better than Foxx/Tatum!) and I think did the best with what they were given...but it's not all that memorable. The comedic element in particular is lacking, and at times on the childish side (when will our culture outgrow poo jokes?) All in all, there was just something missing....and the supporting cast didn't really help out much either (besides Helena Bonham Carter in a way too small role.) I respect Ruth Wilson from her Jane Eyre days, but she made for rather a blah love interest saddled with an obligatory son to be put in constant danger. They basically added nothing but dead weight.

But after that rant... let me say the film is not without merit. Firstly the cinematography of the film is very beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the familiar scenery (the color grading was nice too.) Seriously, there are some beautiful shots here. And like I previously mentioned, I DID enjoy the performances of the leads...I only wish they had had a better script to work with. A script that was as focused as a few of the action sequences were. In fact, it's a shame the whole movie couldn't have been as frenetically paced (with that fantastic theme) and outright fun as that last action sequence....because THAT was masterfully done. I only wish it had come sooner before the film started dragging. I don't think this film overcomes its flaws, but I'm gonna be kind. It's certainly no Wild Wild West. EMILY RATING: 6/10