Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Above Average Awards: 2012

While Argo has taken the lead in the race to Oscar glory, it's time for me to correct the mistakes of the people who supposedly know how to vote for film awards. For those of you who came to this expecting me to give every award to The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises, I'm afraid you will be disappointed. Although I may consider myself an "average" film viewer, I am not a shallow critic, so there will be a lack of storyless, characterless action flicks on this list. In my list for 2012, I refer a good bit to my list from 2011, so check out last year's list before you move forward all clueless and such. I hope you enjoy reading and hopefully agree with what my list has to say about the year that was 2012...


Best Actress in a Comedic Role
This year's list for best actress in a comedy is full of smaller roles, which is quite pleasant. I love having the opportunity to recognize people in smaller roles, so I am glad that these actresses were able to shine in their respective performances. In fact, only one of the actresses on my list had a role as the main character. Enjoy...

#5-Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect)
While I didn't care for Pitch Perfect as much as the rest of the country seemed to, there is no denying how great Rebel Wilson was in this film. Actually, she is amazing in everything (even real life). I can't get over how freakin funny she is, so I had to put her on my list. Many of you will dispute her being #5, but it's my list! I make the decisions!

#4-Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed)
Although Safety Not Guaranteed is nowhere else on this list, it was one of my favorite films of 2012, and I find Aubrey Plaza's one type of character extremely hilarious. She is great on Parks and Rec, but, in Safety, the show was all hers. To give her credit, she did a great job of embracing the lead role, and you can easily tell that the whole film is built around her attitude and great acting abilities.

#3-Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust)
Although her character was not very integral or prevalent in Wanderlust, she was the one character that I longed to see more of. Wanderlust was full of great surprises, but no one was funnier than Watkins, so she deserves some recognition! Hope to see more of her in the coming years.

#2-Iris Apatow (This is 40)
What an amazingly cute and hilarious performance from the youngest daughter of This is 40 creator Judd Apatow. Without Iris Apatow, This is 40 would have lost many laughs, and it would have brought out the awkwardness of the parent-child relationship that was really strange. Truth be told, it probably wasn't much of a performance, so Judd Apatow probably gets many laughs out of Iris in everyday life.

#1-Catherine Zeta-Jones (Rock of Ages)
If you've seen Rock of Ages, then you know just how funny Zeta-Jones's turn as the Governor's wife was. She did a great job of making me laugh--a much better job than Tom Cruise. Because she comes off as a fairly serious person, in my opinion at least, it was great to watch her branch out and dance around in the church house! Kudos to Zeeter (as my father would say), and kudos to Rock of Ages for not sucking as much as other mainstream musicals tend to.

Best Actor in a Comedic Role
The entire comedic film world had a tough time getting going in 2012, which was very disappointing. Much like 2011, 2012 was dominated by one great comedy and accented by many other mediocre films. Fortunately, in these mediocre films, there were many hilarious performances that kept me laughing. There was just a struggle to put together an entire hilarious film. The following actors made me laugh my butt off this year, so kudos to them. I will say that this is the only acting category on my list that does not feature a child actor. So, to the male children of the world, start making me laugh!

#4-Sacha Baron Cohen (Les Miserables)
Les Miserables was undoubtedly one of the most serious and sad films that I have ever witnessed. However, Sacha Baron Cohen's ability to lighten the mood, in any film, carried over quite nicely. After having my emotions drained by Anne Hathaway's amazingness, it felt good to laugh. While much of his work may be questionable, there is no denying his ability to bring laughter to a room.

#3-Zach Galifianakis (The Campaign)
For the second straight year, Zach Galifianakis finds himself on my list of best comedic actors. His turn as a below-average joe who runs for congress was absolutely hilarious. The best thing was how different this character was from the Alan-type character we have all grown to love. Kudos to Galifianakis for trying something a little different and succeeding.

#2-Seth McFarlane (Ted)
Let me start by saying just how genius Seth McFarlane is. Was Ted the funniest movie of 2012? No. But, the fact that McFarlane could think this character up is a testament to how hilariously smart he is. I'm not even a huge Family Guy fan, but the clever nature of McFarlane's humor baffles me at times. He deserves the praise.

#1-Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street)
From the first time I saw this movie, I thought it was highly likely that these two guys would end up numbers 1 & 2 on my best list for 2012. However, I could not figure out which one was better. I have watched the movie at least ten times and have even watched with the sole intention of determining a clear winner. But, I couldn't do it! Both of them were just so, so freakin hilarious, and I loved the movie oh so much! For Jonah Hill, this is his second time on my best list, but, last year, he made it in the drama category for his role in Moneyball. He truly is a phenomenal actor, and I remember his humble beginnings in Accepted, a real throwback to my early high school days. As for Tatum, this is his first time to make the list but hopefully not his last. If he can keep it coming with hilarious performances, I won't even mind taking my girlfriend to see a movie in which he stars (with all the flesh-lusting and what not). These guys were absolutely amazing, and I assume that everyone would agree.

Best Actress in a Dramatic Role
When I started narrowing down this list, in early December, I had a hard time coming up with enough names to fill out a list. However, as December and January passed, I started having a hard time figuring out who to leave off! Kudos to the ladies who made this list, and I hope that future years contain this many amazing female performances...

#6-Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
While Zero Dark Thirty fell short of my expectations, Jessica Chastain was absolutely amazing as the only character that actually had a storyline. There were a few moments when I was scared to death that she was going to rip the heart out of one of her colleagues, which was much different from her role in The Help last year. I guess you can say that this is Chastain's second straight year on my list, considering I included every woman on The Help last year, so congrats to her. I'm sure she is thrilled to be on here!

#5-Noomi Rapace (Prometheus)
Unfortunately, Prometheus was not all I thought it would be, but Rapace's performance was much more than I had expected. If you've seen the film, you have seen the "robotic procedure" scene. That scene was no doubt the kicker for me. I was watching in IMAX 3D, and I couldn't quite believe how raw that scene was. Rapace, along with Michael Fassbender stole the show and made the film worth watching, regardless of how confusing it was.

#4-Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
If you didn't enjoy crying while Anne Hathaway was singing "I Dreamed a Dream," then you should definitely steer clear of The Impossible. Naomi Watts was absolutely amazing in this role, and the film was even better. She did a great job of acting like a mother and made me care, as if she were my own. I highly doubt that you have, so go watch this movie!

#3-Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
It's highly unlikely that many of you have seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I want to encourage you to check it out. The story is absolutely amazing, and it really makes you appreciate what is our societal norm. Wallis's performance will absolutely blow you away. I promise! It's amazing what a six year old can do with very little training. After seeing her on Leno, I knew I had to watch the movie, and I was not disappointed!

#2-Sally Field (Lincoln)
While Daniel Day-Lewis is receiving the most Lincoln-centered praise this Oscar season, Sally Field is the most deserving of the entire cast. Her performance was absolutely brilliant, and, considering she is ten years older than Daniel Day-Lewis, her effort and emotion means that much more. When I am in my 60s, I will be thinking only about retirement. Let's hope that retirement is still far away for Sally Field.

#1-Anne Hathaway (Les Miserable)
If you somehow missed out on Anne Hathaway's performance in Les Miserable, let me challenge you to go and figure out some way to see it very soon! She was absolutely amazing! Sure, the part and the infamous song that it contains would give anybody a chance at ample recognition for their performance, but I don't know if I've ever seen a performance that encompassed as much emotion as Hathaway's. It amazes me that anyone would be able to embrace a character in the way that Hathaway did. She has always been someone who I found nice and cute, but, now, I have a huge amount of respect for her talent. Let's hope that she continues to give us performances as great as this one.

Best Actor in a Dramatic Role
In a year that featured so many great dramatic films, it was very hard to narrow this list. Just like last year, it is the only list that recognizes seven performances/films. I hope that you agree, at least somewhat, with the list that I have compiled.

#7-Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
The Master had me confused from the moment it started, making it 2012's The Tree of Life. However, there was no denying the amazing acting in this film, lead by the oddly odd Joaquin Phoenix. His performance blew me away, even though I had no clue what the heck was going on. I don't know about you, but I think that defines talent.

#6-Tom Holland (The Impossible)
While Naomi Watts is receiving all of the praise for The Impossible, Tom Holland was the one that stole the show for me. Without Holland, Watts is nothing more than a woman who survived a tsunami. With Holland's great performance, you really care for both his and Watts' characters in the way that you would care for your son or mother. This young man has a great future ahead of him, so look out!

#5-Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Although Daniel Day-Lewis is not topping my list for his performance in Lincoln, he was amazing, as was the film. If you have any preconceived idea about the way Abraham Lincoln may have acted, I promise that Day-Lewis will destroy your ideas. I know Day-Lewis does his whole "become the character" thing, and it paid off for him, yet again, in Lincoln. I just didn't think it was THE BEST performance of the year. Also, he creeps me out a little.

#4-Hugh Jackman (Les Miserable)
As you can easily tell, just from looking at this picture, Hugh Jackman went all out for his role in Les Mis, and it paid off. All of the actors were great in this film, but I can't even imagine the amount of time that Jackman put into his performance, considering he was the lead. I was tired just watching him in my comfy theater chair. However, he did an amazing job and is very deserving of his Golden Globe win! I just wish he would give up Wolverine, because we have all had enough of that.

#3-Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
If you have seen Perks, then you know just how great Ezra Miller's performance is. If you haven't, then you need to check it out. In my opinion, this film and this performance should have received more Oscar attention but oh well. Miller is fantastic as the gay friend of the lead, as his character is not flamboyant or showy but, instead, independently confident and hilarious. I look forward to seeing Miller in other films in the future, which looks to be very bright for him.

#2-Alan Arkin (Argo)
I was quite surprised with how great Argo turned out to be, and, while I have loved Alan Arkin in past roles, I have never seen him fit quite as well as he did in this film. His dry humor, accented by John Goodman, turned Argo into the film that Zero Dark Thirty longed to become. I had trouble defining this role as comedic or dramatic, but I decided on dramatic, because the role was not completely intended for humor. It was just genius to include the humor along with the ample amount of suspense that the drama brought about. Congratulations to Mr. Arkin for receiving all of the accolades that he has for this role. He is certainly deserving.

#1-Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Because of The Academy's weak spot for historic performances, Daniel Day-Lewis is destined to win best actor at the Oscars next week. Unfortunately, they will be rewarding the wrong guy, in my opinion. Bradley Cooper may have picked a bad year to try to compete in the Best Actor category for an Oscar, but he will be getting my award for best actor in a dramatic role, after blowing me away in Silver Linings Playbook. Maybe I am just a sucker for performances pertaining to sick people. Last year, I picked Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance in 50/50 as the best in this category. Also, I am a sucker for performances that are both funny and dramatic (Gordon Levitt in 50/50, Arkin in Argo, Miller in Perks, Jonah Hill in Moneyball, Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, and the list goes on and on and on). But, seriously, what is better than laughing while being moved emotionally by a performance. So, kudos to Bradley Cooper for blowing me away and being the best of the best in 2012.

Best Comedy
In case you haven't heard me complain about it to this point, 2012 was probably the worst year for comedies in like forever! As a result, the list for Best Comedy is extremely shallow this year. A comedy, for me, is a film that focuses solely on making you laugh, which is why a film like 50/50, from 2011, did not make the list as a comedy, but rather as a drama, because of the serious nature of the storyline. My views differ from that of The Academy and maybe filmmakers in general. They tend to think that, if you laugh once, the film must be a comedy. So, now that you know how I judge, you can check out my list for Best Comedy in 2012...

Wanderlust was one of the biggest surprises in 2012 for me, and it made me laugh my socks off. There were so many hilarious moments in this film. I even laughed at Paul Rudd's jokes! While I love Paul Rudd and his movies, he, alone, has failed to make me laugh before 2012. However, if you have yet to see the Wanderlust scene where Rudd is trying to pump himself up for sex, you have yet to live! I laughed so freakin hard at that scene, and it may be the only reason Wanderlust made this list. Nevertheless, kudos to Wanderlust for being the only film that came anywhere close to 21 Jump Street in 2012.

#1-21 Jump Street
Last year, I gave my top three comedic actor awards to three men from Horrible Bosses, and those performances locked up the 2011 Best Comedy award for Bosses. This year, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were able to accomplish the same for 21 Jump Street. I'm going to assume that most of you have seen the movie and agree with me that it is the best true comedy of 2012. No other comedy came anywhere close to touching this amazingly hilarious remake of the classic television show. I won't go on too much, because I have talked about this movie in almost every review of a comedic film, since March. I'm so glad to hear that a sequel is in the works, as I can't wait to see these two reunited for the sake of my laughing!

Best Drama
What 2012 lacked in comedy, it more than made up for in drama. As you may have heard, this year's Oscar race is slam packed with contenders, and no one can tell you for sure who is going to win. So many of the nominated films would have easily won best picture over the past few years, but they just picked a bad year to be great. Next year, we may see the mediocrity return. So, enjoy the greatness while it is still here, and make sure that you check these films out, when they hit the DVD shelves over the next few months. As for criteria, I just pick the films that I think were the best at being what they were meant to me. You wouldn't compare The Hangover to The Dark Knight, so why should they be judged on the same platform? My best drama list looks a bit different from the Oscar nominee list, as do all of my other lists. However, three of the nominees did make the list, and I encourage you to check them out. If more people would watch these films, rather than A Good Day to Die Hard, America would be a much nicer place!

#6-The Impossible
Even with Les Miserable in the field, The Impossible would definitely be #1, if this award were given to the most emotional film. No movie brought me closer to tears in 2012. Kudos to Naomi Watts and Tom Holland for connecting with the audience in a way that made us feel as if we were part of the family. I know Hattiesburg has a lot of destruction, but, seeing the results of the tsunami, I can't even imagine being in that situation. Warning: do not watch this film without tissues, and do not be afraid of a little blood! If you can handle those two things, you will be pleasantly amazed at what The Impossible has to offer.

As the current favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars, Argo certainly was a surprisingly awesome thrill-ride. Although I don't believe it is the best of 2012, it is deserving of the recognition. Also, Ben Affleck should have gotten his nomination for Best Director. I just really hope that Argo doesn't win solely because of the Academy's mistake. Nevertheless, to anyone who has yet to see Argo, see it! This film will have you on the edge of your seat, even if you know what is going to happen.

#4-The Avengers
The Avengers is a perfect example of a film that should be judged according to its own expectations. Nobody even thought about giving an Oscar nom to this money-making, popcorn-induced thriller of a superhero film. I don't understand how people didn't recognize how amazingly perfect this film was. We laughed (Robert Downey Jr.), we cried (Agent Coulson), and we got pumped (Hulk smashing Loki). Although The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero film of all time, this film is the greatest unrealistic superhero film of all time. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for being so freaking awesome and for giving us a great film, regardless of what the Academy says.

#3-Silver Linings Playbook
Maybe I am a little bitter about The Avengers, but I am so glad that the Academy recognized how great Silver Linings Playbook is. There is no doubt in my mind that this film had the greatest ensemble of cast members, regardless of how many made my list. Everyone was so normal, and the story was so modern and real. It's hard to believe that it is being compared to the other films on this list, because it is the least dramatic of them all. If you do watch this film, prepare to get your laugh on. However, the emotional connection to the characters and their situations kept me from movie this one over to the comedy category. David O. Russell is 2 for 2 with me, as I loved The Fighter as well. If there is one film on this list that everyone will love, Silver Linings Playbook is that film, so go watch!

#2-Les Miserables
As you've heard me say at least 300 times by now, Les Miserables is the one and only musical that has been able to blow me away. I don't know how differently I would've felt about this film if I had seen/read/heard the classic story before. Fortunately, this experience was my first and only with Les Miserables, and it was quite special. As a close runner-up to Silver Linings Playbook for best ensemble, in my book, I was just so caught up in these characters. I even went back to watch it again. Christmas was made special by Les Miserables, and I can't wait for the DVD to come out

#1-The Perks of Being a Wallflower
For the second year in a row, a quirky, funny, relatable film is topping my list for best drama! This year's choice was not as easy for me, but I am absolutely confident in my choice of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. As you know, I like to laugh at my drama, but I also like for it to be relatable. Out of the films on this list, Perks is certainly the most relatable for me, at my age. Don't let me lead you on, though. My life is not anywhere close to as dramatic as these character's, but they are relatable somehow. Now, for the biggest confession I have made on my blog ever, I will share, with you all, something that very few know. After falling in love with this film, I have begun to READ THE BOOK!!! If you don't know me, this isn't very exciting. But, if you do know me, you know how much I DON'T read. In fact, I believe this is the first time I have ever read a book AFTER watching the movie. I have never really seen a point in it, until this film. So, now you know how much I enjoyed this coming of age tale. Make sure to check it out, especially if you are a younger reader. I believe that you will greatly enjoy it!

Although I doubt you agree with my list 100%, I hope that you somewhat agree with it. If you do disagree, please comment with your opinions. I would be glad to hear them! If you read through each and every description for each actor/actress/film, you receive a gold star. If you scrolled through and just looked at the names, you saved a lot of time. I have reviewed many of the films on this list, so go check out what I had to say about each film, in more detail. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Tornado Week

As I prepared to share my experiences from this past week, I realized how hard it was for me to write about something other than movies. While it excited me to realize my improvements in writing about movies, I was a little worried that I couldn't formulate a way to talk about my regular life. On Sunday, many of my friends in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, had their lives tossed around for fifteen seconds and changed forever. While I sat comfortably in bed at my parents house, a tornado rolled through the densely populated area that I currently call home, and, for the first time in my almost two years of blogging, it is time for a post that has absolutely nothing to do with movies. Due to my inability to completely collect my thoughts, this post may be a bit random, but hang in there.

As time passed on Sunday night, the pictures and videos continued to appear on The Weather Channel, CNN, and our local NBC channel, but there was nothing I could do. It was late, and the roads were covered with no telling what. Without the daylight to guide their way, most people were blocked from helping or even assessing the damage. I felt helpless, not for myself, but for the people who didn't "live two houses over." I wanted to go pick everyone up in my tiny Chevy Cavalier, cook them some food, and give them my bed, but there was nothing I could do. The problem wasn't going to be fixed in one day, one week, or one month. All I could think was "Somebody out there doesn't know how much God loves them," "Somebody doesn't know that everything is going to be ok," and "Why couldn't it have been me in their place?". So I watched the TV and looked for ways to help in the days to come. Then, I slept.

On Monday morning, a little over twelve hours after the tornado hit, I headed to Hattiesburg, and I dreaded seeing ANY of the destruction that I knew would. As I arrived, via I-59, I could easily see where the tornado crossed the interstate and some of the destruction it had caused. Much of my day was spent doing school work and figuring out what I could do to help on Tuesday. There was very little road access, until later in the day, making it difficult to reach the people who needed help. So, I finished the school work that needed to be completed before returning to class and prepared to get my hands dirty on Tuesday. As usual, I spent a lot of time on Facebook, but, this time, I was trying to make folks aware of various opportunities to help those in need. Also, the pictures were hard to resist. The streets I travel on a weekly basis were changed forever, and, as much as it disgusted me, my eyes were drawn to the destruction.

Tuesday was my favorite day of the entire week, as I actually had the chance to go out and help people that I didn't even know. Luckily, all of my close friends and relatives had little to no damage, so I had the ability to help strangers. Their gratitude and smiles made the entire day worth while. If you know me, you know that I do not enjoy physical labor, but, for once, I was ready and willing to do whatever was needed of me. I remember my desire and inability to help the people in Joplin, MO, when the tornado hit there a couple of years ago, but, now, I had a chance to help folks in my back yard. I don't say these things to sound holy or happy about what happened. Rather, I want to show how satisfying it can be for any of you reading this to get out a serve the people in your community. Whether there is a tornado or not, people in your community can use your help, so be ready and willing to assist those around you. After helping clean up one house, I happened to pass by the university for the first time, on my way to lunch. I am not uber romantic, but I like to think that I can be at times. Also, I do not share my emotions with most people, so it is rare that you will hear me talk about things like this. Anyway, there are three things in life that really get at me, on an emotional level. 1) Baseball... the game that my father taught me to adore, which just makes you feel better about life in general. 2) The Movies... a place where you can go, put your life on pause, and participate in someone else's for a while. 3) The campus at The University of Southern Mississippi... a place full of life and excitement, where many of my memories are stored. My campus life began as soon as I was born, as evident by the photos of little me at football games in my black and gold. When I decided to head to USM for my undergrad, I don't think it was much of a surprise to anyone. However, it was a surprise to me when I truly fell in a love with the university that I had admired my entire life. Very few things can put a smile on my face like a walk across campus on a cool, spring day, and, many times, I have relied on those walks to do so. So, when I saw the front of MY campus, post-tornado, it was very, very tough to swallow. Had I seen pictures? Of course. But, they just don't compare. Originally, I thought that I had made it through the tornado without losing anything of my own, but I was wrong. I lost trees, an old house, a few windows, some little pillars on top of my entrance, the light that tells me I can cross Hardy St. and go to class, and so much more. I know that so, so many people lost so, so much in this tornado, but almost everyone in Hattiesburg, MS, lost something. For me, it was the ability to be romantic about my campus for a while. Right now, it just saddens me.

Wednesday, I sat at work from 8:30 to 5, bored out of my mind, waiting for another customer to desire my expertise in the area of analyzing swimming pool water. Normally, I find work fulfilling, and I believe that I enjoy earning money more than most people. However, Wednesday was much different, and that sense of fulfillment was nowhere to be found. Instead, I desired to be in the neighborhood where I was on Tuesday, lending a helping hand. Nobody needs their pool in the middle of February, but everyone needs a warm home. I was never able to comprehend why I had to waste my time at work that day, but it was what had to be done. After I got off, as the sun was going down, I went to eat at my girlfriend's house, where she discussed her day of clean up at the university. I was very jealous, but I didn't want to seem holier-than-thou, so I kept it to myself. Then, I came home and started writing this story about my tornado week, hoping it might influence somebody's day, whenever I decided to post it. As I wrote, all I could think was "Why did this happen?". I was trying, in my logic-filled brain, to explain to myself the unexplainable. Then, I was reminded that there were no fatalities, and that got me thinking that maybe God just needed something to wake us up. There are so many situations where it is a total miracle that somebody survived. Maybe, God just wanted to say "Hey, you! Look at my power and my grace!".

On Thursday, February 14, America's day of monetary love, it was time to get back to class. I was able to avoid the front of campus, but the day was just so weird, as everything was just kind of off. However, I did have the chance to cook for my lovely girlfriend. This day made me very thankful for her and her love, as she was only about half a mile from the tornado when it came through the Oak Grove area. You never know what might happen, so you shouldn't wait for a "day of love" to show those around you that you love them. That's what I got out of Valentine's Day this year. Also, the sun came out on Thursday. FINALLY!!!

While I did have to work on Friday, the day actually felt pretty normal for the first time since the tornado hit. I realized that we will all get used to seeing the homes that were destroyed, just like we did after Hurricane Katrina. It's just going to take some time. The highlight of Friday was the first USM baseball game! Like I said before, baseball makes me happy. So, I was excited to be happy, after a fairly sad week. After my third romanticized thing was hurt by a tornado, it was nice to have my first romanticized thing swoop in and save the day. I froze my buns off, but we won the game and the day!

Early Saturday morning, over 200 volunteers met at my church, First Hattiesburg, to help with clean up from the tornado. Once again, I was saddened by the fact that I couldn't be there to help, but, you know, stupid work! Regardless, I was excited to hear that my church was continuing to make such an impact in the community. I am so thankful to be a part of such a great church family, and it gives me a great sense of peace, knowing that they would be there for me, if I were in need. Also, on Saturday, I finished writing this synopsis of my tornado week. It is already nice to look back on this event and reflect, not only on the events of this week, but also on how they have had an impact on my life.

While my story may not be as interesting or relevant as someone who lost their house, car, church, or pet, it is a story that I wanted to share. I wanted something to look back on, as I remembered this event, later in my life. So, I hope that you found something that helped you in some way. Whether that help came from my words, my actions, my thoughts, or my prayers, I hope I helped. Don't be fooled into thinking that you can't help or that the work has already been done. Get out and help! Nobody can make this stuff go away, but we can all try to help.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Side Effects

After seeing so many amazing films in December and January, it was hard for me to get excited about watching a "regular" movie. However, I missed the theater, because it's like a second home for me and all. I have seen the trailer for Identity Thief at least 300 times, so I decided to skip out on the big moneymaker this weekend. The trailer for Side Effects was a bit vague, which always intrigues me. Also, this is director Steven Soderbergh's final film, as he plans to retire from directing. This mind brought us many great films, such as the Ocean's trilogy, Magic Mike, and Erin Brockovich, so it is worth noting. While my expectations were not very high, I was hopeful that my 2013 movie-watching calendar would get off to a great start...

The depth of the Side Effects plot was very surprising, and, towards the end of the film, I think everyone in the theater was a little confused about how many different elements were crashing down on one another. The various twists and turns were not complicated, but the explanation of those twists was not at all clear, making it a little hard to follow. However, it was quite interesting, and the addition of an insider trading incident enticed the business part of my brain. The best part was how long the drama was held out. Normally, the twists and turns all happen at the end of the film, but that was not the case with Side Effects. Instead, the twists kept rolling through the entire second half of the film, which I enjoyed.

Unfortunately, the Side Effects characters didn't quite live up to the story in which they were placed. I am a fan of each and every actor that starred in a major role (except maybe Zeta), but they just weren't as good as they could have been.

This reference may be overkill by now, but I loved Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. Hopefully, he will begin to choose his roles more wisely and stay with roles similar to his Jump Street character, because he certainly can't play a Wall Street guy. His role of Martin Taylor, husband to Rooney Mara's Emily, was very dull and undoubtedly the worst of the film. Also, Laila Robins, who played the partner of Jude Law's Dr. Banks, could have been the worst actress I have ever seen in my life. I don't know how someone that old could possibly have stayed in the business for so long, but it was just plain awful.

Rooney Mara was able to channel her inner Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for her role as depressed wifey Emily Taylor. The character was not anywhere near as intense as ol Lisbeth, but her attitudes were similarly depressing and sad to look at. She did a great job, but I would really like to see her play a different character in her next role. Maybe she could even smile! As Dr. Banks, a psychiatrist with patient problems, Jude Law was as good as ever. For some reason, he comes off to me as a very genuine guy, which is good in a film where you are the supposed good guy. I will not tell you what becomes of Banks and Emily, but their relationship provides many twists and turns. Some good... some not as good. At times they don't interact too well with one another. However, the characters, by themselves, are great.

My first actual 2013-released film was not at all a disappointment, as Side Effects kept me interested and guessing throughout. The performances were not spectacular, but that is coming from the mind that last witnessed the amazing ensemble of Silver Linings Playbook, in which the acting was amazing. Regardless, the story was the focal point of Soderbergh's Swan Song, and he went out with a bang. Now, we must pray that 2013 can keep it up and produce many more memorable moments in film. I give Side Effects 3.01 out of 5 stars and warn you to check with your doctor before watching this film. Also, make sure aren't pregnant, nursing, or maybe becoming pregnant during the film. See what I did there!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Great Expectations: February 2013

January was quite a big month for the blog, with a large number of posts and a huge increase in traffic. So, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who takes the time to read each post, and I hope you like what you read!

As we head into February (the month of love), you can expect the theater to be engulfed in lovely couples. I will probably be included in that engulfment, so don't think that I am being sarcastic or critical. We couples are quite lovely. However, romance is not the only thing that will fill the theater in February. There will also be many, many ZOMBIES!!!! That's right, folks... The zombies are taking over. Now that American s have gotten off of their vampire kick, it's time to move on and romanticize a different classical villain. And, if you thought 2012 was zombie-crazed, just wait. I promise that 2013 will be the year of the zombies, and I'm not sure how excited I am about that. Nevertheless, we will embark on this journey together, and, hopefully, we will not get a humanity-altering virus along the way!

Here are some films to look out for in February:

Warm Bodies (February 1)

Side Effects (February 8)

Identity Thief (February 8)