Monthly Archives: May 2011

Trailer treasures

I didn’t get to see any of the Memorial Day blockbuster releases last weekend (i.e. Hangover II) but my viewing needs were fulfilled by scouring the Internet Movie Database for movie trailers instead.
Miranda July’s The Future is the most highly-anticipated film for me in the coming months, but I recently discovered several other strong contenders for a very exciting big-screen summer and fall.

George Clooney’s The Descendants, about a father trying to re-connect with his daughters in the absence of his wife, is endearing and seems to be a good mix of comedy and drama. My favorite silver fox can do no wrong in my book, but I hope The Descendants will be a refresher from The American.

Then Take Shelter caught my eye as a thought-provoking thriller about a man with visions of doom and gloom that threaten his family’s safety, or do they?

The IMDB powers-that-be hooked me in with those two, only to keep it up with a Joseph Gordon-Levitt release, 50/50. The role looks somewhat like Gordon-Levitt’s performance in The Lookout, but a little more light-hearted.

Beginners, a 2010 release, is getting a lot of media buzz right now and I am interested to see Melanie Laurent in a post-Inglourious Basterds role. She stars as Ewan McGregor’s love interest and their relationship is put to the test after family secrets are suddenly cast out into the limelight. I read that director Mike Mills incorporates some of his own life story into the film, which usually makes for a sound plot and script if the casting is done right. Even before the film’s release, I have no complaints.
As if those titles weren’t enough to add to my movie list, I wandered onto the IMDB Indie site after seeing a thumbnail for A Little Help. I am intrigued to see Jenna Fischer sans The Office again — don’t get me wrong I have no complaints about the Jim and Pam banter — but I think she shows more potential on the big screen. Fischer delivered a solid performance as Michael Douglas’ daughter in Solitary Man and A Little Help, where she plays a widow restarting her life and taking care of her 12-year-old son, could give her a cinema career boost.
I am glad there are films coming up that show promise on both the wide-release and independent film circuits. At least the above titles aren’t out yet and I will have time to cross Incendies, Everything Must Go, and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris off my list. So many movies, so little time. 

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story

The main reason I rented It’s Kind of a Funny Story is because Zach Galifianakis is in it. And, his performance is the main reason I ended up liking the film.
He plays a patient in a mental hospital where one day a 16-year-old named Craig (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself in because he thinks he’s depressed. Galifianakis, playing Robby, does have somewhat of a comedic aim at his character, but it’s definitely toned down from The Hangover or his stand-up routines. Robby befriends Craig, soon to be known as “Cool Craig,” and in a week in the hospital they both figure out their path in life and how to deal with the struggle of complicated families and factors that brought them to check in in the first place. Craig, I think, is partially dealing with teenage strife and needed the time in the hospital to figure out the source of his angst. At first I thought his situation trivialized what the other patients experienced and struggled with, but in the end it actually defined it more and brought me to a level of understanding. It’s Kind of a Funny story is based on a novel, and I think the film’s one downfall is not being able to fill in the blanks and provide more context to the character’s lives.
I’ll read the book someday, and recall how Galifianakis shined with his subdued humor while keeping the serious side to Robby’s character in check. As long as there is some light-heartedness to it, I think Galifianakis could do similar films after this performance.
On a side note, I also recently watched him in Due Date. The plot didn’t interest me so much, but it was actually a better-than-expected kind of “buddy comedy” with Galifianakis delivering a good number of the punch lines.  

Obviously I’m signed up to see his return as Alan in Hangover II, but the next two projects on Galifianakis’ list have me in a full Zach Attack.
First, there is The Muppets, and the current filming of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Yeah, that’s going to be amazing.

No Strings Attached

I was in need of a rom-com refresher after a bad experience with How Do You Know a few weeks back. I got a coupon in the mail to order a Pay Per View movie and thought, well if I can get it for free, I want to see it. My main reason was the cast of Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson, and I didn’t even really research the plot. Big mistake. I know as much about it then as I do now since I didn’t even finish watching the movie, it was THAT bad.
I’ll probably never learn, and it’s not entirely my fault.
I am convinced a good percentage of women are preset to need to watch one of these cliche girl-meets-boy yarns every now and then, even if the result is most often disappointment.

Such was the case with No Strings Attached, a highly-anticipated choice for both my sister and I. The first half actually started out good and stayed true to the title. The main characters, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are “sex buddies” and think they can successfully pull off not getting attached to one another on a more serious level. Carla and I both knew the characters would fall in love, but hoped it would at least not be in typical rom-com fashion. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, the last half of the movie just completely fell apart, and cliches ensued.
There was a first “real” date, then a fight of some sort, an emotional eating scene involving donuts, and a mandated moment involving one of the characters almost missing an important event to try and win the other one back. In the case of Emma and Adam, she almost misses her sister’s wedding to go see him, only to find out he’s with another girl (who of course is not the right one, just a rebound) and so it continues …
Sorry, I hope I didn’t ruin it for anyone.
In No Strings Attached the creators should have stayed with the unconventional style of the first half (as possible anyway with this type of movie) or go the way of all the others and keep the cliches consistent throughout. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
I guess I shouldn’t complain because I knew full well the risk I was taking by watching this movie, and any others in the genre for that matter. And because I’ll likely succumb to the urge again.
Why? Other than my very scientific reasoning that women just can’t help but watch these movies, I also keep going back because now and then I find an enjoyable flick to make up for all the duds. I admit I liked He’s Just That Not Into You and The Break-Up and always will have a soft spot for Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.
Luckily for me TBS was playing the more recent Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan combo (but not recent enough to be beyond dial-up internet) on TV last weekend. That is until that pesky possible tornado got in the way and knocked out my power. Even more lucky for me I have the DVD, and my rom-com faith will soon be restored.

What would you watch if the world were to end tomorrow?

To be honest, I haven’t read anything about this supposed rapture or end of world tomorrow, but decided it would be a good time to make a final movie list should I never be able to watch them again. This idea came about after a discussion with a coworker today, our priorities for doomsday are in sync, apparently.
IF the world were really going to end, watching movies wouldn’t be a bad way to spend the last hours. I have a Netflix queue that is too long and many scraps of paper around my apartment with “must sees” written down, so I’d want to feel a little bit more accomplished in that realm before it all goes away.
I’d start by going back to my childhood with my favorite favorite cartoon, Friz Freleng’s Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie. I’d have to find a VHS player by tomorrow, but they’ll probably be falling out of the sky with the end of days and all. Then I’d move on to some family favorites like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Money Pit and Major League where the characters seemingly face catastrophes, but somehow survive. Moving forward I’d pick some titles that get my brain going and cause me to “think” about the real meaning of the plot, like Donnie Darko, Memento, Mulholland Drive or Requiem for a Dream. Those are all pretty heavy pictures, so I’ll throw a little hope in the mix too with The Baxter, 500 Days of Summer and Lars and the Real Girl. To pay homage to my cat Fletch, I’d watch the best movie ever by the same name and then some Sixteen Candles to round out the 1980s. Finally, I’d have to pick something I’ve always wanted to see, but never got to. When I was 13 it would have been Kuffs with Christian Slater, because I had a huge crush on him. I’ve since crossed that off my list, so what will it be to end it all? My aforementioned coworker (and movie convo buddy) Debb and I thought a good final film should be something fitting with the actual world ending, and she suggested Fight Club. I’m looking at my DVD collection directly to my left and see it there on the second shelf, so I should be able to fit in a viewing as part of my final watch list. The best part is, the world’s not going to end anyway, so I have plenty of time to revisit David Fincher’s brilliant brain twister and then pick that one film I’ve always sought after but isn’t coming to mind. Maybe I’ll even make one!

Matt Damon

Ah, another week complete in the news business. Oh, wait, there is one more update to share: Matt Damon is not dead. How do you like them apples? Earlier in the week (this post is delayed since Blogger wasn’t working yesterday and most of today) my sister sent me a text, “omg Matt Damon died.” I nearly kicked the bucket myself, but also couldn’t even believe that would be true. She was at work and said someone told her the gossip, but checked trusty CNN and couldn’t find anything. I tried Google news and the most reliable celebrity gossip source: E!, but didn’t find anything either. Carla did some more digging and  discovered that someone actually had the hair-brained idea to make this up two years ago and issued a story that Damon’s body was found in a park where he had gone camping. As if. I never even heard about this in ’09, thankfully. The brief moment where this could have actually happened was enough shock for me in one day. He’s one of my favorite actors and in the Zillmer family we’ve started a rumor of our own that maybe Damon is our long lost brother. My mom found a picture of my Dad that we think shows a striking resemblance to Damon. Ok, it’s more of an inside joke (well not anymore) than a rumor we’ve tried to spread. But, see for yourself.
This whole (very minor) fiasco of Damon’s fake death did have some benefit in that I was able to see news about some of his upcoming projects that I didn’t know about. I’ve already been looking forward to his roles in the film Margaret and We Bought A Zoo, but his IMDB queue shows a lot more on the horizon. It also goes back to the beginning of his career, which was a nice trip down memory lane. And I didn’t know he was in Mystic Pizza or had an uncredited role in Field of Dreams. I first saw him in The Rainmaker and have been hooked since then. I am ashamed to admit there are some of his DVD titles I own that I haven’t seen: including The Good Shepard, Syriana and Stuck on You (it was on sale). So maybe I’ll start there to catch up on his work. I was able to see True Grit and The Adjustment Bureau in the theater, but have a couple of other newbies like Hereafter and Invictus on my short list. I really am fan, I swear, but who has the time?
And now I heard he is going to start directing, I’ll never be able to keep up. But, I’m glad all is well in the Matt Damon world and he’ll keep gracing the big screen. Now that I’ve taken the time to inform anyone who might have possibly also heard this news this week (I doubt it), I am signing off for the weekend. Happy Friday! See a Matt Damon movie!


There was a lot of horsin’ around last weekend during my visit home for Mother’s Day and my dad’s birthday. My sister Carla and I ventured to our parents’ house in northern Wisconsin Thursday night to enjoy a longer weekend. Friday we did some antique shopping at Aunt Esther’s Attic and I picked up a retro table. Carla cleaned out the place, stocking up on great finds such as a pair of very cool horse-shaped bookends that I am continuing to be jealous of.
Her selection was very fitting with our weekend visit, since it fell at the same time as the Kentucky Derby and the annual party at the local bar in town.
Inspired by Carla’s expert taste in interior design and all things Derby since watching Animal Kingdom win the race, I have been on the search for my own horse-themed decor for my apartment.
Maybe I’ll start with a framed portrait of Secretariat, since we watched the movie about the Triple Crown-winning race horse after the festivities Saturday.
I’ve always liked horses, from one of my favorite movies as a kid being Black Stallion to loving to go riding while at summer camp.
But, I didn’t know much about the story of Secretariat. The movie depicts his life and how he won the Triple Crown in 1973, setting several records .
It’s a Disney picture and very family friendly, but still can capture the attention of adult crowds with Diane Lane’s performance and the behind-the-scenes look at the most popular horse races in history.
I know I’ve strayed a little from my typical movie review model here, but the great times with my family that led up to watching Secretariat made it all the better of a viewing experience. Sticking with the equestrian theme, I next have to check out First Saturday in May, a documentary. It’s been on my Netflix queue long before I recommended it to my mom and she and my dad both enjoyed it. That’s saying a lot since my dad rarely watches new movies. I’ll take any recommendations for similar films to fit in this category, please.
In the meantime, go Animal Kingdom!

Wet Hot American Summer: Revisited

Sometimes, there’s nothing like watching a film that falls into my oldie, but goodie, category. Especially when it’s one with a cult following, a host of stars who have gone on to conquer the comedic scene and big screen success, and well, Paul Rudd.
That’s right, “You taste like a burger, I don’t like you anymore.”
Please, please, if you haven’t seen or heard of Wet Hot American Summer, it’s time to check it out.
The film is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, so if you have seen it, now is the time to reminisce about the flannel shirt scene, the quick trip to town, and good ol’ Victor and his short shorts.
As a product of a summer camp childhood, I can especially appreciate this bug juice and Capture the Flag caper.
The plot centers around perhaps the most critical point of summer camp: The last day. Romances are ending, or beginning in some cases, and the all important talent show needs to be pulled off before everyone leaves. But at Camp Firewood there is a crisis on the way that could just ruin it all.
What happens? Well, I guess you’ll just have to watch. In addition to discovering the greatness of Michael Showalter and seeing Bradley Cooper like I’ve never seen him before, I learned a new way from Wet Hot American Summer.
As barbecue and cabin season approaches in Minnesota, I say there is no better way to spend the next several months than like it’s the last day of summer camp. Then, meet me at the picnic table in 10 seconds and we’ll write all about it in our gournals.