Girl on Films: A Sampling of Recent Movies

I don’t do movies too much but, they’re constantly in the news these days with the awards season upon us and the whole THE INTERVIEW debacle.

So, let’s start there.

THE INTERVIEW

Pay-Per-View

Fair UseIn case you were on a media black-out for the past couple of months, THE INTERVIEW is a film directed by  Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen and written by Dan Sterling (screenplay), and Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Dan Sterling (story).  It stars, Seth Rogan, James Franco,  Lizzy Kaplan, Randall Park and Diana Bang. It was produced by Columbia, L-Star Capital and Point Grey Pictures.  Columbia is a division of Sony Entertainment.

It features and American talk-show host who gets an interview in Korea to interview Kim Jong-Un.  When the news breaks he is approached by the CIA and requested to assassinate Kim Jong-Un using Ricin on a special bandaid. When they get to Korea the plan goes awry and mayhem ensues.

The North Korean government took exception to the plot of the film as early as June of last year calling it terrorism.

On IMDB.com they report:

In late 2014, Sony Pictures was the victim of a major hack of their computer systems in which confidential corporate information and several unreleased complete movies were posted for public consumption. Among reams of other information, the budget for this movie was released, revealing (among other things) the film’s total cost ($44 million) and the salaries of its stars,…., There were also line items in the budget for $74,000 for two tigers, their handlers, and special “tiger accommodations,” as well as $250 for a “table of weed, coke, pills and panties” (although only $241 of that was spent). The FBI announced it had credible evidence the hack was orchestrated by North Korea in retaliation for the film’s storyline, which involves a plot to kill the real North Korean leader, a claim that was quickly denied by the North Korean government.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2788710/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

This entire event felt like a publicity stunt; you could not buy publicity as perfect for a movie as what North Korea did for this movie.  My husband insists it is not a stunt because of the involvment of the US government and the kind of information that was released in the computer hacking.

The movie’s original release was cancelled due to threats from North Korea to attack movie goers, SONY, and the western US.  It was then released in a very small number of theaters, followed by release on YouTube, and other online viewing options and then last week it was released on Pay Per View.

We decided to watch it last Friday on Pay per View in the comfort and safety of our family room.

Upshot:
The movie is funny; funnier even if you enjoy bathroom humor along the lines of BRIDESMAIDS and THE HANGOVER.  My husband laughed hysterically.  It really is a “guy” movie.
It is also fairly bloody, with death and blood being presented gratuitously and as humorous.
While I found it funny I felt guilty about my laughter; laughing at this kind of stuff must be wrong. Right?

James Franco is channeling several talk show hosts, including Graham Norton. He actually does a pretty good job, as does the rest of the staff.  I never actually realized James Franco was funny.  I would have a very hard time letting go of myself to be that ridiculous.

The movie is very offensive.  The North Koreans surely overreacted hugely by threatening to kill people over it, but equally offensive films about our government or the Christian religion would garner as much or more antipathy.  I’m thinking of several films about Christ in particular.

The North Koreans, actually all Koreans and possibly everyone, should be offended.  I was offended by the blatant racism in the movie. And, I have no sympathy for Kim but this is no THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING or any other film from the cold war.  This is tasteless, offensive and disrespectful to humanity in its portrayal as funny the death and killing of innocent people as well as the bad guys.

While offensive and in bad taste, the writers, producers, actors, directors and anyone else involved is certainly entitled to make it as a matter of freedom of speech.  Whether they believe it to be high art, a political statement or wish to portray the ridiculous ideas and behaviors of people all over the world, I can’t say.

I watched, I laughed, I said “Ugh, gross.”

 

INTO THE WOODS

Seen at Theater

Johnny Depp as the Wolf in INTO THE WOODShttp://movies.disney.com/into-the-woods/

Into the woods is a movie musical adaptation  of an Broadway musical of an amalgamation of fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood.  It was originally written by Stephen Sondheim and James LaPineIt’s all tied together with an original tale of the Baker and his wife who are trying to start a family but learn that the witch next door has laid a curse on their house. (learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Woods)

We rented the dvd of the musical years ago and found it remarkably long and longer.  We did not finish it.

The movie stars an ensemble cast: Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blount, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Chris Pine, Daniel Huttlestone, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman and Lilla Crawford.  It’s a cast comprised of headliners and mid-liners and people who may never have had a line before.

The score is full of ear worms; that is, catchy tunes that you will hum on your way to the grave (Into the woods,…)  But, there are few Broadway musicals which translate well to film and this is no exception.  While there were interesting parts it never quite gelled through the Baker’s character. I didn’t believe James Corden at all as the Baker.

It did have a high production value, in all but, I think, the makeup and costuming.   At times I could tell The Wolf’s claws were simply gloves and sometimes Streeps “witch” makeup was well blended and looked like a clay masque.

My favorite performances were those of Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen who play brother princes.   They have a hysterical scene where they proclaim the agony of unattainable love. Chris Pine looks s skinny as Kristen Stewart in TWILIGHT.   Anna Kendrick does a wonderful job acting through the lyrics of her songs.

I could have waited to see this one at home.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM THREE

natm3_photo11
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM Still http://www.nightatthemuseummovie.com/index.php?page=home#about

Seen at Theater

I enjoyed this Ben Stiller movie franchise through the first two which featured a down on his luck divorced dad who stumbles into a job as a night guard at the NY Museum of Natural History and finds out that when the museum closes for the night the denizens come to life.  I can;t really recall what NATM 2 was about.  This entry was mostly interesting to me because it was Robin Williams last movie before he passed away last fall.  I found that really hard to watch; what happens to his character and his character’s body sadly prescient.

Otherwise I found the plot a little stale, and the addition of Rebel Wilson and Dan Stevens to the cast really didn’t do anything.  Rebel Wilson was great in Pitch Perfect, but just plays the same over the top character in every thing I’ve seen her in.  Her one character seems to be a large woman with a healthy sexual appetite who has no qualms about her size nor any idea that it is not the societal norm for “sexy.” Yay her!
Dan Stevens as Lancelot is, well, British. He would have done well to stay safe and secure on Downton Abbey.   Why would a museum of natural history have a portrayal of Lancelot, an at best, mythical person?

This is another movie I could have waited to see at home.

 

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

Pay Per View

In this Woody Allen film Colin Firth plays a skeptical illunsionist in the 1910s or 1920s who sets out to debunk a medium’s performance,  and hence end her affair with the son of a wealthy family.  Emma Stone plays the medium and Marcia Gay Harden plays her mother.

I liked this movie. It did seem that Colin Firth looked substantially younger than the last time I saw him in a movie. Just Saying.

Allen’s movies are definitely a product of his vision and bear his stamp very broadly.  There’s something very natural about his actors’ acting.
What was hilarious in this is that Firth essentially reprises his Mr. Darcy proposal.  My husband joked that he would never live down that role.  This was fun and had great period details but I would have felt overcharged if I had gone to the theater to watch it.

Favorite Movie in the Past Six Months?

HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY

seen in theater and at home

If I were to recommend one movie over any other in recent memory it would be THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY, with Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Manish Dayal (as the young chef, Hassan).  Not only is it a beautiful story about personal change on the level of an epiphany,  nationalism and snobbery, but Manish Dayal gets a four Michelin stars for his dishiness alone.  In my mind Mirren should get a best actress award from someone for her job in this movie.  She is so versatile in her roles.  And the young French-Canadian actor, Charlotte Le Bon, who plays Hassan’s love interest, Marguerite is charming in the simplicity and subtlety with which she plays her role.   Plus, she has slightly imperfect teeth — a huge, lovely and daring thing for an actor to not have straightened, capped and bleached.