It's been awhile since I've posted movie reviews, so here's a quick look at what's playing.
City of Ember--If you're stuck with kids between the ages of 8-14 some weekend, there are worse ways to spend your time. It's a safe, cliche-filled movie where the kids get to save the day. It's nothing to rave about, but doesn't suck, and unfortunately, that's usually about as good as it gets for 'family-oriented' movies.
Bill Murray plays the mayor of Ember, an underground city powered by a generator that was built to last 200 years and...you guessed it...it's been more than 200 years since they've been underground. Two plucky kids (Saoirse Ronan, the Oscar-nominated teen from "Atonement" and Harry Treadaway) refuse to accept the status quo and wind up literally leading their city from darkness into the light.
It's an apt metaphor for our current political situation where we've been in the darkness for far too long, and the young folks need to lead us into zero carbon emission light.
The real star of the show is the set, if that gives you any indication as to whether you rush to go see this film or not. City of Ember is a pleasant diversion, and probably the only movie currently playing in its genre that you can take the kids too that doesn't have any significant sex OR violence.
After you see the movie, you might want to read the book.
Quarantine--Do not waste your money on this movie under any circumstance. Not in the theater, not as a matinee and don't even bother when it comes out on netflix. It's not worth a viewing.
Filmed in the same faux-reality style of Blair Witch and Cloverfield Park, the movie is shot entirely with a jittery hand-held camera that WILL make you nauseous sometime during the first 30 minutes of the movie--and that's BEFORE the action starts and the technique makes matters even worse.
If the producers and director's intent was to make a movie so bad that it makes you feel like throwing up, they've succeeded.
Note to aspiring filmmakers: hand held shots are overdone, and reflect poorly on your ability to craft a shot. There are *rare* situations when hand-held shots create a feeling of being in the action for the audience, but MOST of the time, it disassociates the audience from the action because the movement of the camera distracts, rather than engages.
If you're a film maker and can't afford a dolly set up--fake it. Strap your camera to a bicycle, a shopping cart or anything with wheels that will give a *smooth* flow to the action.
And plan your shots--it's just lazy storytelling to stick a camera behind your main character and only tell the story from that POV. You can create a might tighter story and dramatic tension by giving the audience reaction shots from multiple points of view.
Enuf on that. Don't waste your money on Quarantine. Go eat a couple of hot dogs at Costco and stick your finger down your throat to get the same effect.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: I was talking about this movie in the office the other day, and one of my co-workers asked "isn't that a movie for teenagers?"
Alright, I suppose it is...but I still give this an enthusiastic THUMBS UP as a great date movie. Sure, the topic matter is mostly young love, but doesn't everyone feel young at heart and like to remember what it's like the first time you find someone who just seems so *right* for you?
Nick and Norah is full of snappy lines, great music, funny scenarios, one hilarious movie-stealing performance by Ari Graynor who simply chews up every scene she is in. And a recurring bit with a piece of gum that was soooooo funny, it had the audience literally talking to the movie characters out loud in response to the 'bit'.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist brings you back to the time when music was everything, you found meaning in every song and staying up all night led you to the most amazing revelations of your life...and to that person you were meant to be with.
Starring the infinitely charming Michael Cera (the boyfriend in Juno) and Kate Dennings (the daughter in The 40 Year Old Virgin), Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is the kind of smart movie for teens...and the teenager inside you...that reminds you of what is GOOD about being young.
There are a few inconsistencies in the movie that are entirely too minute for most audiences to notice or care about, and those are the only reason this film doesn't get an A+.
Religulous: Bill Maher travels the world asking Christians "do you REALLY believe in all these wacky stories in the Bible?"
If you're familiar with Bill Maher, you know his left-leaning, anti-religion spiel and will be highly amused and entertained. If you're a hard-core fundamentalist, this definitely isn't your type of movie. If you're somewhere in between....you'll probably get quite a few laughs from the movie, and then alternate between thinking that Maher is a real butthead for the way he questions people's faith, and then admiring him for walking into a lions den with a steak tied around his neck.
There is one absolutely BRILLIANT moment in the film where a US Senator from Arkansas defends his beliefs by responding to a Maher question with a condescending reply "well, Bill, you don't exactly have to pass an IQ test in order to become a US Senator."
The look on the senators face as he *immediately* recognizes that he probably shouldn't have said that on camera is worth the price of the movie ticket alone.
The last 5 minutes of the movie provide the greatest irony you will ever see on film--Bill Maher preaching about the ridiculousness of a literal interpretation of the Bible and its perceived ill effects on society.
Uh, Bill...I don't think you make your point about how stupid it is to believe what the preachers say by....preaching.
If you're a left-wing pinko tree hugging liberal, go see this movie. If you're from a red state, stay home. If you're somewhere in the middle, check out Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, and if you think that's funny, then go ahead and see this movie too. It's good, but won't change your mind or really engage you to have a deeper discussion about religion in America beyond what you already believe.
On my list of flicks to see this week: W. and Apaloosa.
What have YOU seen at the movies lately, and what did you think of it?