Friday, August 30, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

IMDb plot summary: A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.
Directed by Joss Whedon. Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, and Fran Kranz.

FINALLY. Oh, it had been such a long time since I'd seen a new movie I really liked, and this one hit the spot. The cast here is just perfect. Seeing all these Joss Whedon people felt like seeing old friends, but they also did a spectacular job tackling the language and the motivation. I especially want to mention Fran Kranz, who made Claudio much more likable than in any other version I've seen; Amy Acker, whose speech demanding revenge was chilling and incredible; Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk, who only had a couple of lines but made me laugh with almost every single one; and, of course, Alexis Denisof, who captured the pompousness and self-absorbedness of Benedick in a way that made his character both likable and laughable.

The movie looks great, sounds great (loved the music!), and made me laugh. Well worth the watch. I can only hope Whedon doesn't get too busy going all blockbuster on us and is willing to tackle more Shakespeare in the future. 4.5 stars.

Flickchart: #276 out of 1957, below Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and above Beginners.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Admission (2013)

IMDb plot summary: A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption.
Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, and Nat Wolff.

Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are two actors who I just always find likable. No matter what movie they're in, I root for their characters and hope their lives end well and want them to win. So why did I want so badly to punch them in the face during this movie?

The movie starts off with two fairly unlikable characters to begin with, has them make worse and worse choices, doesn't for one second show them actually acknowledging the badness of those choices, has a brief throwaway line indicating ONE of them MIGHT be changing their ways for a second, and calls that good. There's no character growth, and character growth was desperately needed here. The premise is a fun one - we don't see a lot of stories told from inside the university admissions office - but the characters were thoroughly unlikable from beginning to end. 1 star.

Flickchart: #1677 out of 1956, below Thoroughly Modern Millie and above Thr3e.

3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom (2012)

IMDb plot summary: Frank Bartlett has been tortured, embarrassed, and humiliated by his brother Bruce -- usually on film -- his entire life. Now that Bruce is finally off drugs and has turned his life around, things should be different. They are not.
Directed by Jordan Roberts. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, and Lizzy Caplan.

First of all, it is crazy weird to see Chris O'Dowd doing an American accent. Secondly, this movie doesn't quite work. It's got an interesting plot, but it all smacks a bit too heavily of "ooh, look at us being quirky" indie drama-ism. None of the characters really have any depth to them, and the resolution is very unsatisfactory. A nice concept, but falls apart because of overly cutesy execution. 2.5 stars.

Flickchart: #916, below The Fourth Kind and above Casino.