Monday, April 6, 2009

Reservation Road (2007)

Ethan and Grace Lerner (Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Connelly) are on their way home from a wonderful family outing with their two children. A tragic accident occurs when Dwight Arno (Mark Ruffalo) who is also returning home from a wonderful day out with his son, loses control of his truck, and hits the Lerner's son. With a split second to decide what to do, he flees the scene of the accident. The rest of the film is about how their lives are changed, how each side deals with what has happened and if it is possible for either sides to move on after such a tragic event.

The accident happens in the first 10 minutes of the film, so I am not giving anything away there, but much more happens that I would love to discuss, but must stay away from so as not to spoil the twists and turns that make a movie interesting. The first thing that must be said is everyone in this film turns in top-notch performances. My heart broke for the family as this movie played out. Even the daughter left behind played by Elle Fanning (yes, Dakota's little sister) turned in a truly moving performance.

I think it is disappointing that this film wasn't given very much promotion when it came out in theatres or when it came out on DVD. I happened to read about it in the upcoming new releases on DVD and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did because this is an astoundingly good character drama. I love the way it splits off at the time of the accident, and follows the story of both leads trying to grapple with what has happened. It covers all the themes that are huge in every day life - grief, sadness, cowardice, hatred, responsibility, guilt, love and even forgiveness.

Again, I would love to go into a much more in-depth discussion about this one, but it would be such a disservice to ruin the plot. So if anyone watches this one, post here or email me and we can discuss some of this further. I will say the only downside on this one is that a few plot points, such as where character's lives intersect later in the story, seem contrived. Well, so what? I can employ my hefty suspension of disbelief for a truly riveting story. Contrive on, I say.

When you are ready for a great drama - watch this one. It is very sad and tragic, but definitely an interesting exploration of how tragic events effect us. You will be thinking about this one long after the credits roll. Another recommendation!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Odd Couple (1968)

Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) is divorced and lives in a huge apartment that often hosts Poker Night with the guys. Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) is a part of the regular Poker Night crowd, but something is amiss when he doesn't show up with his usual punctuality. When Felix finally appears, he is distraught because he has been kicked out of his house and his wife wants a divorce. Oscar does the only thing he knows to do which is to invite him to move in until he can get his life sorted out again. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished.

This is one of those that I had seen bits and pieces of throughout the years, but never sat down to watch the whole thing beginning to end. I swear, you can't get better buddies for a buddy movie. Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are great as the bickering "couple". I love movies that simplify the plot to the point that they just allow a couple of characters to exist in a space to see what will happen. That is exactly what this movie is about and the characters leap off the screen for our entertainment.

One of my favorite scenes is when their relationship is wearing thin and Oscar is almost at the end of his rope. He finally lets loose with this rant, "I can't take it anymore, Felix, I'm cracking up. Everything you do irritates me. And when you're not here, the things I know you're gonna do when you come in irritate me. You leave me little notes on my pillow. I told you 158 times I can't stand little notes on my pillow. 'We're all out of cornflakes. F.U.' It took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!" Hahahahaha! That made me laugh out loud.

Okay, I can't let it go with one favorite scene. I have to add in the bit about Jack Lemmon in the restaurant making that awful noise to try to open his ears. I have to admit, I would have just gotten up and walked out on him, but it was hilarious.

So if you are looking for a discussion about archetypal relationships as they relate to male friendships or something like that, you have come to the wrong place. I can't add anything that hasn't been said a hundred times about this thoroughly entertaining movie. It is an incredibly witty film thanks to the brilliant script by Neil Simon. It is a delight to watch Lemmon and Matthau play off each other. It is a must see comedy, beginning to end, and all those delicious funny bits in between.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mamma Mia (2008)

Sophie Sheridan (Amanda Seyfried) is soon to be married and wants to invite her father to the wedding. The trouble is she doesn't know her father's identity. When she uncovers her mother's diary, she discovers her mom Donna (Meryl Streep) had trysts with three men that could potentially be her father. She decides to invite them all (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard) to her wedding thinking she will instantly know, just by looking in his eyes, who is her real father.

Cast of Mamma Mia

I expected this film to be a bunch of ridiculous nonsense and it did not disappoint, unfortunately. I can't believe so many stars signed up for such a silly and inane film. Oh Meryl, how far you have fallen from the pedestal I put you on. I have to admit, I watched this for the pure Brosnan and Firth factor. I love them both. Unfortunately, Firth's part was minuscule and Brosnan was made to sing. Which he can't, really, despite being Irish. So it made it look and feel painful - not to mention terribly unsexy. Which made me terribly unhappy.

I can't think of anything positive to say other than some of the Greek Isle scenery was gorgeous. That was probably the best part of the film. Oh, and that the cute young girl, Amanda Seyfriend, was really good even though I think she was largely an unknown. She held her ground against all the star power very well and I was impressed by that. Sadly though, unless you are an uber-ABBA fan or a general musical junkie, I would say this is a large waste of time and would be best left undisturbed on the shelf.