Archive for the ‘Review’ Category
24 May

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Bridesmaids”

Alternative Title: “Estrogen Hangover”

Short Plot: Kristen Wiig is a woman’s whose life is teetering on the line of mediocrity (about to tip to the down side) who is asked by her best friend to be her maid of honor. Things unravel when she meets the rest of the bridal party including her best friend’s newest rich bitch buddy, who is doing her darnedest to take over the maid of honor spot. And things go from bad to just plain horrible. And the rest of us just laugh along the way…

Pros: Kristen Wiig is a revelation, the script is solid, there are plenty of lewd language and gross gags to keep the men dragged to this movie happy, and Melissa McCarthy is now my new goddess of comedy.

Cons: Oddly enough, there is not much to complain about here. Some of the situations are a little over the top, but for a comedy like this they don’t seem too outlandish.

Verdict: Kristen Wiig was really terrific. This could have easily been a plain comedy role that would have worked fine, but she really acts and takes it to a higher level than what is typical for a comedy like this. It is actually her quiet moments that are the most affecting, but her breakdown at the bridal shower was both hilarious and made you cringe at the same time – not an easy thing to accomplish. Melissa McCarthy gets the MVP award as she steals most every scene she is in. I knew she was excellent already from watching “Mike & Molly,” but this woman is ready for her close up! I’m so in love with her now.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips ••••

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29 Apr

A Blip of a Movie Review: “Water for Elephants”

Alternative Title: “Dehydrated Pachyderm”

Short Plot: Robert Pattinson is on the verge of a beautiful life, but then it all falls through in an instant. He is homeless and penniless and ends up riding the rails and getting involved with a traveling circus run by a brutal tyrant. Of course, the tyrant has a beautiful wife and soon the hero is deeply involved with the circus and the wife. Can they follow their true love and escape the evil husband? Can someone get the elephant some damn water?

Pros: A film like this better have great sets and design (and it does), Christopher Waltz is wonderfully cast as the dark-edged circus owner, Robert Pattinson is actually pretty good, Hal Holbrook was the best part of the film, and I like the elephant.

Cons: For the first time ever Reese Witherspoon was miscast (though I still love her dearly), the characters never really gel together, this should have you crying by the end and it does not, the climactic “disaster” scene is a non-event, and all that elephant ever got to drink was lemonade and whiskey.

Verdict: The whole film was a bit sluggish and I really did not care about any of the characters. There are deaths of people and animals and yet I was not really moved by any of it. The filming was well done and I appreciated the sets and detail, but the story left me a bit cold. The best parts of the film were the segments with Hal Holbrook who is looking back on his life. You only see him at the beginning and end, which is unfortunate. Had he narrated the whole film and had they cut back to him several times (like they did with Jessica Tandy in “Fried Green Tomatoes”), it might have had more impact. Overall I was disappointed. I didn’t read the book, but from my understanding had they followed elements of the book better, it could have been a terrific film. But this result leaves me as empty as a circus tent after the show with only the horse poop to clean up.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Blips ••

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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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21 Feb

A Blip of a Music Review: “Live: The Storyteller” by Todd Snider

Alternate Title:  “Nouveau Prine”

Pros: Double CD where the focus is both on the songs and on Snider’s stories/comments, prime performances solo and with a solid backing band, nice sound, and a very appreciative audience who are prepared for the great music and the “18 minutes.”

Cons: While there are many good song choices and fan faves, some of the big ones like “Beer Run” are missing as well as some of his quiet and sweet pieces (which may have been lost on the large Bonnaroo crowd anyway), and although the music is terrific, the title is “Storyteller” and a couple of more yarns would have balanced out the disc a bit more.

Verdict: I have loved Todd Snider since his first disc in 1994, where he was more rocky than the hippy-ish folkster he is now. But the progression from that debut through to “Storyteller” has been gradual and he has really developed into more than just a folk singer with some good songs. He has allowed himself to be who he wants to be and has applied that to his craft both in the studio and in live concerts. Due to this and the potential to tell “stories between songs that may last up to 18 minutes,” he has slowly been gathering a very loyal following that resembles some of his forerunners like John Prine. And it is well deserved. His stories are quirky and funny and lead directly to and from songs that were inspired by these tales. “Storyteller” captures all of this quite well and even better than his last live disc “Near Truths and Hotel Rooms.” It is almost like folk performance art with a healthy dose of hippy wisdom, mushrooms, and a clever wink.

Hear This:  “Sunshine,” “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance,” any of the story tracks

Skip This: You can’t really skip anything here – it is all essential to the performance.

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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