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10 Apr

A Blip of a Movie Review: “The Town”

Alternative Title: “This Should Erase My Debt for Gigli”

Short Plot: A band of four Charlestown neighborhood guys are expert bank/truck robbers who work for an aging thug. When one bank job goes a little awry, they become concerned about one specific witness they had to kidnap and then set free. Ben Affleck follows her to make sure she isn’t going to spill anything to the FBI and through an odd meeting begins to get involved with her without telling her of his involvement with the robbery and her kidnapping. He then has to keep the relationship a secret from his partners in crime. He’s done with this criminal life and wants to leave and get out, but there is always another job to do and pressure to do it. Can he do a final job and get out? Will the girl find out about his secret? Will the guys find out about Ben’s relationship?

Pros: Ben Affleck is actually a good actor here but an even better director, Jeremy Renner deserved his Oscar nom for this film, it has one doozie of a chase scene – probably one of the best I’ve seen in years, the plot sounds a bit unreal and melodramatic but totally works, an action film that almost had me in tears, and the rare film where you root for one of the criminals rather than the “good” guys.

Cons: A slight quibble that the last 5 minutes feel like it was added for test screening audiences.

Verdict: Had I actually seen this last year it would have easily made my “best of” list – even a contender for the top film. I’ve never been a fan of Ben Affleck, but this changes everything. He really did a great job acting, but the real props should be saved for his directing. He reminds me of one of the middling actors who truly came to life when they directed – folks like Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford (minus the excellent films they starred in before directing, obviously). I was thoroughly engrossed by the film, even more so than I expected. As mentioned, I didn’t much care for the last few minutes of the film and there was a point they could have just stopped and ended it and it would have been brilliant. Regardless, the film overall still was terrific and I’m hoping Affleck can continue to make quality films like this.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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17 Jan

A Blip of a Movie Review: “The Fighter”

Alternative Title: “I Am a Contender, Ma!”

Short Plot: Two Bah-ston brothers fight their family, addictions, other boxers, and each other. The older brother is a local boxing hero gone downhill while the younger is now getting his chance in the ring. But can he do it without the pull of family dragging him down? Does family obligation trump potential dreams and success? This is based on a true story, so if you know the boxers, you probably know the outcome.

Pros: A quad set of performances that are tops of the year, a sports story where the emphasis is not on the sport, characters that are so real it almost make you uncomfortable (in a good way), and terrific boxing scenes.

Cons: Not really anything, but because it is really driven by the performances, the story and script take a bit of a backseat and since it is based on a true story it can only be dramatically enhanced so much.

Verdict: You can just tell by watching this film that it was a labor of love for Mark Wahlberg. Everything feels authentic. Christian Bale is truly amazing as is Melissa Leo – who is turning into one of my favorites very quickly. These are performances that truly take acting to a high art form. Bale and Leo just won Golden Globes which sets them up well for Oscar time. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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02 Jan

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Black Swan”

Alternate Title: “The Turning Point Meets Hitchcock”

Short Plot: Natalie Portman is on the verge of being a prima ballerina, but also on the verge of losing it. A kooky mom, a crazy ex-ballerina, an ambitious new dancer, a driven director, and her own tremendous pressure are working against her. Is someone messing with her? Is she going nutty? Can she pull it together and shine as the swan queen? Can she stop scratching herself? Hmmm…

Pros: Natalie Portman is terrific, Mila Kunis also rocks (and they rock it together…), the crazy vs. real plot keeps you guessing, it’s a good commentary on the pressures of being perfect, and some nice semi-gruesome SFX.

Cons: If it wasn’t for the tour de force of Natalie Portman, this would just be a standard psycho drama, Barbara Hershey channels Carrie’s mother (not real well), some plot items don’t quite gel, one effects scene (meant to be a mental vision) was comical instead of being intense (with the audience laughing), and what is that scratching? Fleas?

Verdict: The film itself is a slight bit of psycho drama that isn’t as deep as needed to be a standout. However, watching Natalie Portman transform, go crazy, and really dance is what makes this a success. If you took this film, cast a basic hot-at-the-moment pretty girl, and edited in a lot of stand-in dancing, this film would have tripped like a clumsy ballerina. Someone said it wasn’t what they expected as they thought is was going to be more like a “Fatal Attraction” thriller, which it ain’t. A very butch football-like guy was overheard saying “I really liked the music.” But I think the comment that sums up the movie was “bitch be crazy!”

Rating: 3 out of 5 Blips •••

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13 Dec

1st Annual theBlippity Awards

As the close of 2010 approaches, theBlippity has taken a look at the highlights and lowlights of the year for the first annual awards. Without much ado, here it goes:

Favorite Album:  “Head First” by Goldfrapp – I probably played this the most of any this year. “Rocket” and “Alive” were stuck in my head all summer and I loved the retro 80’s feel. It was just the perfect album at the perfect time for me. Is it potential classic in years ahead? Nope. Is it full of great imagery and deep lyrics. Don’t think so. Is it even a great album of any sort? Not really. I just know that when I had this playing all I wanted to do was put on some glam make-up and start singing in a hair brush. And to those who passed me on the highway and I was rockin’ in the car to this – I apologize for burning your retinas.

Favorite Underrated Artist:  Bleu – he got a new album out this year, “Four,” and it did not disappoint. He’s got songs out there done by other popular artists but still has yet to hit the big time himself. Here’s hoping he does sometime soon as it would be well deserved.

Unfavorite Album:  “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West – there are obvious targets each year for just plain bad music, but why constantly pick on them? We know it, they know it. Instead I’ll focus on an artist I just have never understood.  Not one note of this egotistical turd has ever made me interested in him. And yet critics are swooning over this album as the best he has ever done and it’s a masterpiece. To my ears, it was a master piece-o-crap.

Unfavorite Overrated Artist:  Taylor Swift – She is sweet and adorable and personable. And I think she does have some kind of talent above the norm and is capable of writing a tune. However, a barely passable voice and okay writing should not propel someone into the stratosphere of superstardom in a nanosecond. Plus, an Album of the Year award AND getting to sing with Stevie Nicks? Blasphemy I say!

Favorite Song:  “Wheels” by Heart – Along with the Goldfrapp songs above, this hardly left my player. Talk about retro – this was just pure Heart doing what they do best, like it was 1976 merging into the future. With an interesting producer (Ben Mink – k.d. lang’s collaborator) on board really pushing them, they rocked and rolled right back where they should be. And I’ll mention once again – any car company’s ad agency should be drooling and slapping this into one of their commercials.

Unfavorite Song:  “Whip My Hair” by Willow – Yes, okay, I admit. I downloaded this and it is in my workout mix for the gym. I can’t help it. I have some kind of sick obsession with the song. But what grinds my ears the most is that freakin’ chorus. Just repeating and repeating until your ears begin to bleed and your head wants to explode like a bat to a zombie’s head. It is unrelenting. And, worst of all, it sticks in your head like a 3-day hangover. So while I kinda like the song and when it comes on I get a little smile on, by the time it is over I just want to smash my head through a window in order to pass out and forget it…but I don’t even think that will work.

Favorite Movie:  “Inception” – Thus far, since a lot of the real Oscar fare is not readily available yet, I’m gonna tag this as my favorite. It was strange, sometimes incoherent, and left you scratching your head, but for me I liked all of that. It made me think and kept me entertained the whole time. Some of the effects – like that hallway fight sequence – left me breathless. In a year of truly bland movies, this was the stand out and the one that I’d watch again anytime.

Unfavorite Movie:  “Burlesque” – Not because it was an awful movie, but just for the disappointment factor. I was really hoping this would work, but for me it did not. Have I mentioned that there is no Cher/Christina duet?  That alone is worthy of unfavoritism – in fact, I’d call it a sin. Shame, shame, shame!

Favorite TV Show:  “The Walking Dead” – I was really surprised at this gem. TV shows and even movies on this subject are usually about as intelligent as their subjects (zombies!), but this is the very rare case where the writing, production, and cast all came together to create something terrific. The first season only had 6 episodes and left the cast on the run again. I can’t wait to see where their journey takes them and who (or what) they will encounter. I am concerned that the writers won’t be able to keep up this momentum, but for now I’m totally hooked.

Unfavorite TV Show:  “Mike & Molly” – I kinda had hopes that this would be a good solid show, but so far it is a total disappointment. It doesn’t help that I only like one of the leads (the terrific Melissa McCarthy) and that a lot of the writing falls way south of flat. Besides Molly, the only highlight to watch for is Swoosie Kurtz as the mother. She has the best lines – probably because she is really the only name draw here. I almost had soda squirting out my nose when she was talking about “the welcome mat” (I can’t explain that here…), but a couple of great lines does not make a great show. Again, not horrific like a lot of the junk the networks tried to sell us, but a real disappointment.

Well, those are theBlippity’s for 2010 – subject to change, no deposits no returns, no shirt no shoes no service, take it or leave it. Now, I’m going to go over to Taylor Swift’s house and sit down and really explain to her why Beyonce had the best video of all time. And then take her over to Kanye’s so the three of us can karaoke to “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Categories: Commentary, Movies, Music, TV Tags:
01 Dec

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Burlesque”

Alternate Title: “All About Divas”

Short Plot: Cher runs a burlesque-style club that is in financial trouble. Christina Aquilera is an Iowa girl with stars in her eyes who wants on the stage. Can she make it in L.A.? Can she sing in Cher’s club? Can she take down the reigning club diva? Can Cher get out of debt? Can Christina find a boyfriend? Can conflict arrive on both fronts via McSteamy? Can Stanley Tucci be any gayer…again? I don’t think I’m ruining anything by saying the answer is “yes” to all of these.

Pros: It is great to see Cher on screen again looking fab, Christina is actually not too bad, the sets and costumes are terrific (natch), there are a couple of snazzy numbers, and it made me wish a club like this existed somewhere because I’d love to go.

Cons: The plot is wafer thin and could seemingly snap at any second, and although she’s not too bad, Christina should keep her day job, the direction of the musical numbers was choppy and dizzying, is almost like a strange love child of “Cabaret” and “Showgirls” (but not in a good way), the musical numbers were not consistent (you would never hear a power ballad at a burlesque club), overlong for the teeny plot, and the worst possible sin was committed – there was NO Cher/Christina duet…WTF?!

Verdict: Not horrific, but not good either. Cher was basically Cher, but I like that and have missed her in films. I really wanted more from the pairing of the two divas, but there was not much interaction between them and, again, no duet. I still don’t understand that one. And there was one terrifically laughable part where Kristen Bell, the reigning diva at the club argues with Cher and tells her “the day after your honeymoon I slept with your husband!” Well, Kristen is supposed to be like late-twenties max and Cher seem half-century. So how old was Kristen when she did her husband? Like 8? I was semi-entertained for a while, but overall I was really disappointed. Not good enough to recommend and not bad enough to be camp.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Blips  ••

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