Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5
This is a fun, witty movie, in large part due to the excellent acting, from the leads, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (I never tire of watching him, check out Cyrus which most people have probabaly not seen), to the bit players like the Chemistry teacher who’s tongue tied in the presence of pretty boy Channing in her classroom. I might have laughed more if I hadn’t already seen some of the best parts in previews about ten times. So the 11th time is almost a yawner, but there are plenty of gems, such as the non-explosive car chase scenes, and the genuine chemistry between the guys, including genuine chemistry experiments by real (cool) nerds. Yes, the tables have turned in today’s high school where dumb bullying jocks no longer rule; true cool is now defined by eco-awareness and respect for studious, gay students. I guess some of today’s real-life students (see Rutgers’ recent bullying conviction) didn’t get the memo.
Oh, look for a surprise non-credited showing at the end of someone you will recognize, as well as the most blatant teaser for 21 Jump Street II coming next. Bring it on!
Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5 (originally posted during SXSW) – Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in this comedy. The movie-makers take the title and premise but little else from the old TV show that helped launch Johnny Depp’s career. This movie has lots of hilarious/farcical moments and no potential source of laughs is off limits. Hill and Tatum make a great comedic duo and it’s fun to see their high school persona’s flip as they return. This has a great cast including Rob Riggle, Ice Cube (very good) and others. There was a great Q+A after movie. Jonah Hill was hilarious and it seemed like all involved had a great time making this movie and it shows on the screen. This opens next week and except for those who don’t like rude/crude is highly recommended. This is the type of movie that is best when seen in a crowded theater so I recommend seeing this early in it’s release.
IMDB – 21 Jump Street
Rotten Tomatoes – 21 Jump Street
Here are just a few thoughts on the festival and the movies I’ve seen so far.
The BabyMakers – 2.5 out of 5 – A raunchy, farcical comedy starring Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn. It picks up in the 2nd half as the main male character decides to steal back previously donated sperm from a sperm bank when he learns that his sperm count is now too low. The raunchiness reminded me of There’s Something About Mary (but not nearly as good). This movie was ok but not very memoable..
Indie Game: the Movie – 3 out of 5 – A good documentary about the making of video games. This is not about the big corporate teams that make games but the individuals who have grown up playing video games and now have a dream of creating their own games that will have mass appeal. This is about rue geeks/nerds who get caught up in their dreams with different levels of success. The focus are the authors of Braid, Super Meat Boy or Fez. Has anyone played any of these games?
Waiting for Lightning – 3.5 out of 5 – This was a very entertaining documentary about Danny Way and his attempt to skateboard down a huge ramp and jump over the Great Wall of China! It jumps back and forth between preparations for his jump and telling his life story. His story is interesting with lots of obstacles he had to overcome. Lots of great footage of his daredevil jumps (including successes and fialures and jumping on to a skateboard ramp from a helicopter!) and his dedication to his sport(s). It’s a great story and good tension as the jump approaches and the building of the giant ramp completes. I give this one 4 out of 5 and recommend it for everyone – you do not need to like or even care about skateboarding.
Safety Not Guaranteed – 4 out of 5 – I really enjoyed this comedy. Excellent performances by Aubrey Plaza (similar to her Parks and Rec persona), Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson. The plot focuses on 3 reporters following up on an ad looking for a person to join Mark Duplass’ to travel back in time. But it’s really the characters interactions as they move forward with their lives and overcome some of their problems. The comedy is good and you develop a connection with the characters. Definitely go see it when it comes out. This had an excellent Q+A afterwards with the director and stars.
Girl Walk // All Day – 4 out of 5 – This is an exuberant, fun and totally unique ‘dance music film’ set to the latest mash up album by Girl Talk in the streets of NYC. The music is awesome. There’s not much of a plot. It’s basically just 3 people (other professional dances sometimes join them) as they dance to Girl Talks’s latest album throughout the bustling city. Some people join in, some are oblivious and some enjoy watching. The energy never ebbs. Some of the locations included the subway, Yankee Stadium (during a game), Staten Island Ferry and many more. I wonder if this will have copyright issues with all the music but hopefully they have those resolved. Below is a picture of several in the audience dancing during the final credits!
I did not see the Joss Whedon produced Cabin In The Woods as I am not a big horror genre fan but I heard a lot of good things about it from people on lines. So Keep your eyes out for it.
For those in Austin, I attended a movie last night at the new Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane. It is the best drafthouse yet. They didn’t put seats where the first 2-3 rows would normally be and each table is just for 2 seats so there’s no more need to climb past people or crawl under the table! Check it out.
Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
Thin Ice was very entertaining with lots of good plot twists and turns. Greg Kinnear plays an insurance agent living in frigid Wisconsin with financial and other problems. When he meets Alan Arkin’s character, he sees an opportunity to take advantage of Arkin and resolve his own problems. Things don’t go according to plan and that’s when the numerous plot twists start kicking in. You may anticipate some of them but you wouldn’t expect all of them.
Greg Kinnear is good as the unscrupulous insurance salesman but I enjoyed Alan Arkin’s performance more. Billy Crudup also provided some comic relief.
With a wintery setting in Wisconsin and some similar plot lines, this film is reminiscent of Fargo. Although not as good as Fargo, Thin Ice is definitely worth seeing.
IMDB – Thin Ice
Rotten Tomatoes – Thin Ice
Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5
I finally got around to seeing the non-talkie The Artist, which has been touted by many as one of the best of 2011. I cannot rank it as one of my ten favorites for the year, especially since my eyelids kept trying to close on me. I guess it’s the best that could have been done without any dialogue, and the leading characters were certainly charismatic and expressive, especially Uggie the wonder dog (best supporting actor candidate?). If this had conventional dialogue, it would be evident how banal the story line is. I loved the last 5 minutes however, which was cleverly done, but in retrospect I’d rather spend my entertainment time watching some of the episodes of Treme I have saved on my dvr at home. Bill C., please pipe in with your review, I believe you liked it more than did I.
Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5
This film did make my top 10 list, although I understand (and expected) Bill I to enjoy it less than I did. I viewed this homage to a bygone era of Hollywood movie-making as fresh and unique. I enjoyed the nods to Douglass Fairbanks, Chaplin (see A Dog’s Life if you get the chance), Rodgers and Astaire, A Star is Born, Singing in the Rain, and a bunch I’m sure I missed.
The performances (dog included) were all top-notch (they are all great smilers except for the dog) and, like Bill I, I really enjoyed the ending. There were a lot of nice little moments in the film as well. I agree with Bill I that the plot was very basic, especially compared to many of today’s movies, but for me that was consistent with some of the movies it was paying homage to and added to its charm.
Bottom line: I enjoyed this a lot, but if you’re looking for a plot-driven movie, this might not be the movie for you.
Photo added by Bill I.
The Artist – IMDB
The Artist – Rotten Tomatoes