Monthly Archives: October 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

It can be risky to rewatch nostalgic movies that seemed great in the 1980s and are connected to memories of your youth, but luckily Adventures in Babysitting is still as awesome as it was years ago. There’s really no other word to describe it.
I’ve been reserving movies at the library lately and for some strange reason Adventures in Babysitting was available immediately while some more recent films on my list have 300 + requests. But, the 1987 Elisabeth Shue tale of a night of babysitting gone unrealistically wrong came to me just in time for a post-Halloween bash viewing while I enjoyed some couch time on Sunday. I love a good intro montage to “Then he kissed me” and thinking back to how at 17 I though Shue’s character, Chris Parker, was so cool — as did the kids she babysits for.
Some scenes did come off as more cheesy than I may have noticed whenever I watched this movie originally, but it didn’t ruin my trip down memory lane. The 1980s clothes, music and references were a welcome flashback to the era I grew up in. If for ANY reason you have not see Adventures in Babysitting, watch it now. I should be bringing my copy back to the library tomorrow.
Moving on, I also rented Chinatown (which I have seen but want to again) and The Big Chill (which I have not seen) and I will report back. This will be a big week of movies for me. My sister Carla and I are going to check out an indie — to be determined — on Thursday. My mom also may be coming to visit for a movie weekend on Saturday and The Ides of March, Margin Call and The Rum Diary are all possibilities. I can’t wait!!

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Paranormal Activity 3

I don’t want to jinx myself into suddenly having nightmares and being scared by Paranormal Activity 3, but after seeing it yesterday the movie is just an afterthought. The first Paranormal Activity left me with minor insomnia for weeks and the second was definitely up there on the fear factor charts, but the third prequel did not measure up. I wrote a full review of Paranormal Activity 3 today for “my” paper, the Oakdale-Lake Elmo Review, and I will post it here later this week. At a glance: while I’m impressed with the franchise overall, the third installment was a big disappointment.
I didn’t divulge too many details in my newspaper review, and won’t here either, but I do have a few things to further point out about the plot.
First of all, while it’s been a trend in the Paranormal Activity series to slowly build up to the scary scenes, it took way too long here. And I would say a majority of the moments that did make me cringe or feel like I needed to close my eyes were duplicates or very similar to scenes from the original two.
Finally, considering the warning in one television commercial that the final 15 minutes of the movie would “mess you up for life,” the conclusion was pretty ho-hum.
The end is where the plot takes a twist I did not like and goes too deep to explain the demonic force that has been the center of the Paranormal Activity story since its original release in 2007.
In my review today, I recommended for people who have seen Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 to see No. 3 and then leave it at that. I saw it because I was curious where the film’s plot would go and how scary it would be and I got my answer. Maybe there will be redemption in Paranormal Activity 4, but I think I’ve had enough.
There are a couple scary movies coming out this year that could restore my faith in the horror genre. I am too chicken to see The Devil Inside after the trailer came on in the theater yesterday, but I might give The Awakening a try. It seems in the same vein as The Orphanage (which I highly recommend) and McNutty from The Wire is one of the stars, so how bad could it be?

hitRECord

“Love is such a far reaching concept.” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
When I first came across the website for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s collaborative production company, hitRECord, I knew two things: I want to blog about this and I want to blog about this with the secret hope “Regular Joe” sees it, wants to meet me, and we fall madly in love and get married.
So far, a total of ONE person found my blog by typing Joseph Gordon-Levitt into Google, so maybe it was him and we’re destined to be together. OK, reality check, someone also came across my blog by searching “baby shower braces,” so I am not going to rely on the use of the Internet to be connected to JGL, or any other romantic interest for that matter.
But I will use the Internet to explore the depths of hitRECord, which is a collaborative production company where artists of all sorts can contribute their work, either individually or as an addition to someone else’s, and maybe get paid for it. According to “Regular Joe,” when a piece of work submitted to the site makes money, the proceeds are split between the company and the artist 50/50.
When I have the moola to do so, I definitely plan on contributing by (until I maybe work up the courage to write something on the site) buying the first book/DVD/CD of work produced by the hitRECord folks entitled RECollection, volume 1.
Putting aside the huge crush I have on JGL, I really respect the film choices he makes and that respect grew tenfold after learning about his “by the people, for the people,” production company.
There are endless works of photography, film, music, poetry and stories to browse through on the site and the hitRECord crew also does live shows. I really, really, really, hope they come to the Twin Cities someday, but in the meantime I’ll be lost in my forever favorite website. And now I’m sharing it with you, go there!

Drive

I just saw Drive, and I’m kind of at a loss for (pink) words. This is rare for me since I usually have an easier time writing about a movie than talking about it, but I’ll do my best.
Obviously I loved this movie, I knew that would be the case before I even watched it, now I just need to figure out what to say to give it justice. 
I’ll start with one other obvious point, Ryan Gosling and the story he told in talk show interviews about how the film came to be were a big draw for me to see Drive. He said he was driving with the film’s eventual director Nicolas Winding Refn and an REO Speedwagon song came on that prompted their decision to make a movie about a guy who drives around and listens to music.
The result: a story about a stunt/getaway driver who is as much of a bad guy as he is a hero. Throw in some 80s-sounding music, romance, mobsters and a lot of intense violence and you get Drive.
Gosling plays the aforementioned stunt/getaway driver who gets too involved in one of his jobs and has to protect himself and love interest, Irene (played by Carey Mulligan). Gosling’s character is billed as Driver and, as far as I could tell, never says his real name. It is a subtle, but significant, detail that adds to the mystery about who his character really is.
After he gets involved in a driving job that doesn’t go as he planned, Driver goes on a path to do anything he can to right the wrongs and especially protect Irene and her son.
I don’t like violence, mainly because it turns me into the dork in the theater with her hands over her face, but it didn’t turn me off from Drive. With this film, Gosling added mysterious bad ass to the list of roles he plays perfectly. Albert Brooks is getting rave reviews for his screen time and Bryan Cranston has a strong supporting part as Driver’s boss/friend.

I hope everyone (just not the kiddies) sees Drive. I think it’s a film that on the surface may look like something it’s not (as in just another action flick), but if you’re on the edge of deciding whether to see it, please give it a chance.

Moneyball and …

Heyo to all my loyal readers (if you’re out there) I feel that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and now have two movies to dish about.
I saw Moneyball a couple weeks ago and after a discussion with my co-viewers (my mom and sister) have had many thoughts about the movie swirling around in my brain.

While Moneyball was an enjoyable film (other than the extremely annoying woman in the audience with the extremely annoying laugh and her use of it at extremely unnecessary moments), I still felt something was missing from the story.
What I do know is that Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, known for his unconventional method to form a winning baseball team with players that don’t require a big salary.
Moneyball is not supposed to be a strictly sports movie, like Major League, but more of a drama and for that reason I don’t feel the writers went deep enough.
It’s based on a true story and a book so they clearly had enough material to access, but I left the theater only understanding what Billy Beane did in his career as manager but not who he is as a person and how that influenced his choices.
I am not really sure what caused the movie to fall short of its potential, especially with the library of other work by the screenwriters and the fact that the author of the Billy Beane book had his hands in the project too. For me, writers Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin took Moneyball and placed it below the caliber of films they could, and have, put together. I wasn’t nearly as disappointed in Moneyball, again because it was overall an enjoyable movie, than in Social Network so maybe Zaillian had more writing influence than Sorkin.
My last complaint, whether this is because of the writing mishaps in bringing the true story to the big screen or the actors themselves, I don’t feel Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are in roles that fit their skill.
Basically, something was missing there too. While they, and Jonah Hill, had chemistry on screen I felt the cast just didn’t match this movie.
I’ve recommended this movie to friends and coworkers, even if they were planning on seeing it anyway, because I think my reaction to Moneyball could be simply a matter of opinion. My mom and sister and I overall happened to agree about the “missing” story, but critics and box office reports show Moneyball is resonating with viewers.

If anything, I think that’s because Moneyball will appeal to different demographics rather than a target audiences of  rom-coms or horror movies. Men and women, baseball fans or not, will probably take something away from Moneyball. If you do and happen to read this, let me know what you think.
Since I have no appropriate transition to insert here, I am just going to go ahead and talk about the other movie I finished recently, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Source Code.
Can Gyllenhaal save the day by reliving eight minutes on a Chicago train with a bomb on it over and over again? I really have no idea. Source Code is a very entertaining movie and it’s a good thing because when it came down to the nitty gritty details in the plot, I was a bit lost at times. That’s not to say I am too focused on explosions and eye candy (Gyllenhaal) to pay attention; the plot is just a little confusing and Source Code would probably take another screening to catch all the details I missed the first time around. So ladies (who may like the ending more) and gentlemen, check out Source Code and I hope to be back soon when I finally get to see Drive.