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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movie Review: Eat Pray Love

Self-help book lover? Then maybe, this book may be for you.

Eat Pray Love

This movie is based from the book of the same title by author Elizabeth Gilbert.  I admit, this is one of the few books I've not read, and after watching this movie, I never will.

The story is about Liz Gilbert (the author is played by Julia Roberts) who finds herself falling out of love with her husband, Stephen (Billy Crudup).  After a series of self- loathing events, she finds herself (and a new love) after traveling the world.

The Good

The countries visited.  Yes, this is how much I liked this movie. I start the good with advertising Italy, India and Bali. Although I've only visited Italy, the landscape captured on all 3 countries is breathtaking.

Billy Crudup as Stephen. From the movie, you get the gist that this man, although seemingly immature, showed that he was a man that was broadsided with Liz's announcement of a separation. His attempt to win her back was pretty good. If there is a man out there willing to give everything up to change a relationship, giving the relationship one more chance should be a gimme in his case, in my opinion.

Javier Bardem as Felipe.  Amazing actor for someone who definitely does not win any accolades for being the best-looking leading man.  Felipe is a man who's not afraid to fall for Liz despite putting his love life on hold for his children and (maybe) hope for a reconciliation from his ex-wife.  Watching him put everything on the line (albeit short on film) makes the movie almost palatable.

The Bad

Oh, where to start? The plot.  I don't know if the intent of the book or the movie was to show a selfish or conceited side of Liz Gilbert. If it was, then the movie caught that rather well.  I cannot sympathize with Liz's character. Really, grow up.  Finding "yourself" by doing a lot of self-loathing is unflattering.  Getting a lover when the divorce hasn't even been finalized shows a level of maturity that is questionable.  Liz was whiny, making the character very unappealing.

The Ugly

I could not tell whether the movie was too long because the plot was just unpalatable or because the journey to find one's self was only slightly referenced.  Self-indulgence on screen masked with a self-journey synopsis is just bad.

Stale Popcorn Rating: If you're a Julia Roberts fan, you may want to rent it.  It's not a flattering role, but any die-hard fan of hers won't be so disappointed.  Otherwise, it's a free rental/TV movie kind of affair.  Up the ante by doing something while watching the movie. That way you won't feel like asking the wasted time back.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Movie Review: When In Rome

Keeping with the Veronica Mars alums theme, the next movie in review is the "blink-and-you-will-miss" movie, When In Rome.

Photos owned by Summit Entertainment

The movie starts out with Guggenheim art curator, Beth (Kristen Bell), annoyed with her younger sister, Joan (Alexis Dziena).  Joan has fallen in love with Umberto (Luca Calvani) and now wants to marry in Rome before one of Beth's exhibits' deadline.  Being the workaholic she is, Beth tries to play maid-of-honor and art curator in the next 3 days.  When she finds out that her mobile signal in Rome is bad, and realizes that Best Man, Nick Beamon (Josh Duhamel), has cellular reception, she does almost anything to use his phone to check up on things in the US.

During her maid-of-honor duties and messing up a few Italian traditions (some of which isn't her fault), she finds herself liking Nick. But when she sees him with another girl, she becomes downtrodden. She leaves the church and decides to take a dip in the Fountain of Love, promising to save 5 souls from what Beth considers the "cruelty of love".

The Good: 

The chemistry between Beth and Nick. There is something between two characters that have played the rom-com card more than once. Despite the huge height difference, they make a cute couple. Their banter is easy-going and relaxed. The audience can buy them as a couple.

Stacy (Kate Micucci) as Beth's friend and assistant is hilarious. She's like Judy Greer: the perfect sidekick.

The Bad:

 Anjelica Huston as Celeste, the head curator of the Guggenheim. Her performance is tired, if not, uninspiring. Truly, this role is too small for her. She should've said no to making this movie.

Joan and Umberto: There was something about them as a couple that made me feel... skeezy. Really, making food and only wearing aprons (and nothing else) is just... gross.  It's either that, or I am a prude. Or self-conscious of my body that I won't ever cook in my birthday suit.

The Ugly: 

The suitors. I understand that the movie is a rom-com. But for a movie like this, did the casting crew really need to pick out the worst of the litter? There's Danny Devito, the old suitor, Will Arnett, the badly toupeed artist, Jon Heder, the goth-painted magician, Dax Shepard, the greasy-looking ad model, and Keir O'Donnell as Father Dino. They all are depicted as shallow individuals, if not, gross-looking individuals. I do understand that the movie's light-hearted theme is supposed to show what happens when good intentions go array, but this goes so off-tangent, the sweetness originally intended leaves a greasy taste in the mouth.

Stale Popcorn Rating: This is a toss-up between Free Rental and Not worth the gum you've stepped on.  Unless you have nothing left to watch on TV (that's including reruns), this movie is not worth your time. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Movie Review: Letters To Juliet

There is no greater love story than Romeo and Juliet.

Many people may disagree with this statement, but truth to the matter is, the house of Montague and Capulet is the muse of many books, songs, and movies.

AMANDA SEYFRIED and CHRISTOPHER EGAN star in LETTERS TO JULIET. Photo: John P. Johnson. Copyright © 2009 Summit Entertainment LLC.
An adaptation of the couple's epic love is reflected in the 2010 chick-flick movie, Letters to Juliet.

The story starts out with fact-checker Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her restauranteur fiancee, Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal), heading to Verona, Italy for a pre-honeymoon. Sophie sees the trip as one of the last opportunities to spend with Victor before he opens up his restaurant. Apparently, Victor does not get the memo. Instead, he schedules the holiday to meet up with vendors prior to opening shop.

Dejected, Sophie finds herself wandering Verona alone. Through her travails she finds her way to Juliet's balcony. She is surprised to find women writing to the patron saint of unrequited love. She lingers, hoping to write something to Juliet herself. While composing her note, she notices a lady collecting the letters from the wall. Sophie's curiosity piqued, she follows the letter collector, befriends her, and finds out that the letter collector is a member of the Secretaries of Juliet, a coalition of women that answer the letters to the wall.

Fascinated, Sophie finds herself part of the group once she finds a letter that has been hidden in the wall for over 50 years. Later in the week, Charlie (Christopher Egan) confronts Sophie for responding to his grandmother Claire's (Vanessa Redgrave) letter.

... And as you can guess, this is where the story really starts.

The Good:

1. Amanda Seyfried as Sophie is charming and sweet. She exudes joie de vivre in the purest form. She is the epitome of the good girlfriend. She rarely loses her cool even when frustrated. Instead, she is level-headed, and to a fault, too forgiving of her self-centered fiancee.

2. Victor's character is very easy to dislike. I give kudos to Gael Garcia Bernal for being over the top with his character. At times, his exaggerated movement makes him more one-dimensional, but I guess it is the best he could do with the limited time he has on-screen.

3. Vanessa Redgrave as Claire was magnificent. She is very serene and poised. Her moments of being vulnerable made me feel for her.

4. Christopher Egan. Watching his facial reactions reminds me of the late Heath Ledger. Even his Aussie accent (that was supposed to be Brit) reminded me of Heath.

5. The few poignant moments that stood out: the hair-brush scene was my favorite.

With that being said...

The Bad:

1. read comments about Victor. The over the top performance, as I indicated, can be tiresome.

2. Charlie. His whole Darcy impersonation got old quickly. Okay, we get you're a crotchety grandson. We get that you think your grandmother is insane for wanting to find her true love. Get. Over. It.

3. The search for Lorenzo could have been shorter. We get it, there are a gazillion Lorenzos in the area. Showing us 3 or 4 incidents gives us the idea.

The Ugly:

1. Editing: Lordy, the CGI needs work. The unity and flow of scenes should have been reviewed. There was a scene where Sophie drives with the top down, but as she emerges from the car, there isn't a hair out of place.

2. Dialogue: Sophie and Charlie had moments where the directors could have capitalized. In one instance, Charlie enters Sophie's room and catches her writing on her laptop. They banter, and the interaction between them isn't forced. There should have been more moments like this throughout the movie.

3. Length: I am a sucker for romance movies, but this movie could have been cut off at the hour and fifteen mark.

Stale Popcorn Scale: Free Rental or TV movie. Paying for it (and you're over the age of 12) is just not worth it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Turning A New Leaf

Good things have to come to an end. The reasons oftentimes changes, but in this instance, the purpose of this blog has evolved greatly from its initial roots.

When I started blogging, this spot was my haven. My Ickle friends and I used this medium to throw ideas into a pot, make it stew, and eventually, get ideas on how our fanfics were going to evolve. Oh, those were the days.

Every once in a while, I would try and add a blog about music or movies... Or everyday life. In the end, I was sated in sharing my ideas.

Now that my days are saturated with my child, a busy gym and family life and going back to school (ironically, this blog started when I was in the midst of starting another degree!), I have neglected this blog.

I have not decided what to do with the blog yet, but I am sure I am not done with it for now. Will this blog turn into a foodie blog? Maybe. A book review site? That's a possibility. Right now, I know it's not going to be where I would be throwing out ideas in regard to stories I would eventually write.

I will keep links to my writing (both PG and NC-17), but I have to admit that maybe, my writing days have sailed. If any of you have ideas on what I should do with this blog, let me know. I need any and all ideas I can get.