Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

#20 Dan In Real Life

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

dan_in_real_lifeWell, here we are, 1/5th of the way through the list! Thanks for sticking by (that is, if there are actually people reading this. If you’re reading this, you should comment! Don’t be afraid!). I think I might have to put the brakes on a little bit – I’ve gone through 20 movies and I’ve only been doing this for a month!

This is one of the movies that was on my own personal ‘must see’ list for quite a while, but not because I’m a Steve Carrell fan – I’m actually fairly impartial to him. I kinda got this feeling that he was becoming a bit typecast, and while some of the movies that he’s been in I’ve really enjoyed, I was kinda wondering when he was going to actually start acting.

Dan In Real Life is the story of Dan Burns, who writes an advice column for his local paper, and is a widower with 3 bratty daughters, as he takes them up to the grandparents house for their annual family holiday. His family is like any others – they seem nice and normal, but with Dan around, there’s always that thin layer on tension that you’re never quite sure when it’s going to break. Dan’s life isn’t really full of pleasure and his family begin to take pity on his subservient ways, especially romantically. His family is played by a fantastic ensemble cast, including Dianne Wiest as his mother, and John Mahony (the old guy from Frasier) as the father. There’s even a great job done by Dane Cook, who plays one of Dan’s brothers, Mitch, which I never saw coming!

One day, Dan makes a quick trip into town to get some supplies when he meets Marie, played by Juliette Binoche (who you might recognise from the Three Colours movie trilogy). Instantly the two hit it off, and what starts off as a quick 5 minute trip to the shops for Dan ends up a day-long impromptu ‘date’ and for once you see Dan come out of his shell and he finally looks happy. After Marie leaves to also head off to a family holiday, Dan practically floats back to the house only just maintaining to not burst out of his skin with joy. He tells the family about the girl and everyone’s esctatic for him. However while this is going on, Dan’s brother Mitch has been busy telling everyone about how nervous he is about bringing his new girlfriend to spend holidays with the family and how this girl could almost be “the one”. So when she shows up– that’s right, Mitch’s girlfriend is Marie.

It’s at this point that the movie can go either way – it can become an all-out slapstick humourous movie or can becoming incredibly saddening and depressing. Luckily, it seems to tread a thin line straight down the middle of both of these options, resulting in what is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. There are laughs there, but they’re not the usual set-em-up-and-knock-em-down jokes, and you find yourself either whincing or laughing because there is, at least for me, that sense of an air of familiarity, which is the movie’s, especially Steve Carell’s greatest asset. There’s a beautiful subtlety to every single piece of dialogue, and it’s reaction to those that hear it.

I really liked everything about this movie and is definitely one of those movies where the more you think back on it, the more you remember the bits about it that you liked. It’s a great story about love that never goes according to plan, with a great cast full of some amazing performances. It’s funny, sad and downright frustrating at all the appropriate moments and is definitely original enough to keep you wondering how the rest will pan out.

I give Dan In Real Life 4 out of 5 single parents.

“Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised”

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#19 Tropic Thunder

Posted by Dan on January 1, 2009

tropic_thunder_ver3I was really looking forward to this movie. I wanted to go see it at the movies, but I just never quite found the time to go. Thankfully due to the lightning speed that it seems to take movies to come out on dvd now, I didn’t have to wait that long.

I should have kept waiting.

This movie is awful. I’ve never been so disappointed in a movie like this for ages. I love Robert Downey Jnr, but his character was a bit of a one-trick pony and the funniest lines he had were already used in the preview. Jack Black was almost nonexistant in his usual comedic schtick, which seemed to be simply overrun by the other actors on the screen. Then there’s Ben Stiller. Fuck I hate that guy. The only thing I really liked about that movie was Tom Cruise’s role and the fact that Alpa’s man that he was in love with, “Lance”, turns out to be Lance Bass.

This movie was incredibly sub-par. Sure, I can see what they were trying to do with it, and I totally get it, but just the execution was awful. I even hated the commentary, which has Ben Stiller and Jack Black giving some really boring insights, and RDJ who kept in character the whole time.

I give this movie 2 out of 5.

“I know who I am – I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude!”

P.S.
Here, as a treat, let me save you the copy of rental, the whole movie can be summed up in their trailer:

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#18 Club Dread

Posted by Dan on January 1, 2009

club_dread_ver2Holy shit this movie was bad. I loved all the others that Broken Lizard have done, but this was just rubbish.

Let me save you some time:
– The killer is Sam, the guy that’s the “fun police”.
– The only ones that get away are Penelope, Jenny and Lars.

The only good thing about this movie is when Penelope gets her boobs out towards the end of the movie.

I give this movie 1 out of 5

“It’s not a party until someone breaks the jacuzzi!”

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#17 I, Robot

Posted by Dan on January 1, 2009

movie_poster_i_robotNormally I try and stay away from blockbuster movies. It’s not a “cool to hate” type thing, it’s just that when a big budget movie comes out, it’s  hard not to pay attention to the publicity, so invariably I end up being disappointed because I’ve not been able to watch the movie for it’s own merits. So I’m kinda glad that I left this one alone for a while.

Given that I’m probably the last person on the planet to have seen this movie, I won’t bore you with the details. Long story short, robots are getting smarter, and eventually evolve to try and take over humanity. Enter Wil Smith, que action sequences, insert the standard “I learnt something today..” type values, and BAM, you have I, Robot.

I actually quite enjoyed this movie, a lot more than what I thought I would. Like I said, when a movie first comes out, if it doesn’t live up to expectation, it’s usually all too easy to just pass it off as a product built on hype. But when you look past all of that, it’s actually quite a great movie. The concept of the film is based on Isaac Asimov‘s series of short stories about robotics, and while I haven’t read them myself, are apparently fairly faithful to old ideals. So, when you get a concept like Asimov’s, and put these into the faithful hands of director Alex Proyas (who’s done , amongst many others, The Crow and Dark City), you’re generally going to get a fairly good outcome.

The CGI in this movie are great, and the action sequences are highly enjoyable. There’s almost the cliche love interest plot thrown in, but thankfully they binned the idea of exploring that further and the one scene where you think an attraction is being formed, it appears to be just a brief case of lust.

I’m that for those of you who want to see it, probably already have, and those that haven’t probably have no interest in watching it. If you’re like me from a few days ago, and you haven’t seen it, but are kind of interested, I’d definitely recommend watching it.

Oh, and for the Joss Whedon geeks, keep an ear out for who voices the main robot of the movie, Sunny.

I give I, Robot 3 and a half out of 5.

“Thank you … you said someone, not something.”

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#16 Tsotsi

Posted by Dan on December 30, 2008

tsotsiposterI was looking for something fairly chunky and heavy-duty this morning for a movie, and I definitely got it with Tsotsi.

Golden Globe nominated, and winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006, as well as countless other awards around the world, Tsotsi takes place in the slums of Soweto in South Africa and centres around a small gang of African kids, lead by the emotionless Tsotsi, who will do anything to get what they want, including murder. After a fight that breaks out between Tsotsi and one of the other boys, Tsotsi runs off, and in an act of desperation, car-jacks a wealthy African woman and speeds off in her car, only to quickly find that the woman’s baby is in the backseat. Tsotsi takes the child back to his shed in the slums and starts to look after it. As the movie progresses, his dedication for the child finally teaches him empathy and decency.

Now, I know that the premise sounds corny, but it actually does work quite well. You get to know about Tsotsi, aka David’s past, growing up with an abusive drunk for a father, and a dying mother. It’s fairly heavy going through most of the movie, and there are some genuine moments of fear and panic throughout the movie as Tsotsi’s world starts to fall down around him as he tries to regain his new sense of responsibility and values.

To be honest, it’s hard to write about this movie without giving too much away. It’s a fantastic movie with a great lead with Presley Chweneyagae as the title character, supported by a great supporting cast. It’s wonderfully shot and captures the bleakness, and great juxtoposition of rich and poor in South Africa. I never really knew how to feel about the lead character in whether or not to pity him. He seems a very confused young man who finally starts to open his eyes to the world around him, and on his journey it’s hard to tell whether or not the person he’s talking to is about to get stabbed, or whether he genuinely is seeking some kind of deeper connection and understanding, but therein lies the beauty of this movie and the journey that Tsotsi takes.

I would highly recommend this one to anyone after a good solid movie-going experience. Definitely a hidden gem.

I give Tsotsi 3 and a half out of 5.

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#15 For The Bible Tells Me So

Posted by Dan on December 26, 2008

ftbposterGiven that it’s the Christmas season, what better topic of movie to watch than a documentary about Christianity’s opposition to homosexuality!

For The Bible Tells Me So centres primarily around 5 American families, who are all very devout to their religion, but who also have a gay child. They each tell their stories about their views on homosexuality before having a child who is gay, and generally discuss the reaction towards gays and lesbians in their own community and across America as a whole. The main theme that the movie touches on is the defence by these bible bashers is that homosexuality is “an abomination towards god” and that it’s a sin, so the movie tackles this mis-interpretation of the bible and discusses with a series of academics regarding the literalism of the bible.

The two main interesting points that most people race towards when defending their hatred towards homosexuals was the point of selective reading of  The Bible. In the book of Leviticus (Chapter 18 for those of you playing along at home), which says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”, and then also shows examples of how newer updated version of the bible go even further with it’s condemnation. What Leviticus also points out though in just that same chapter is all sorts of other fucked up shit that you can’t do – collect firewood on a Saturday, Wear two different types of cloth at the same time, you must never shave or cut your hair, and that if you cheat on your partner, both of you must be put to death. Have you ever cursed at your mother? You deserve to die. Having sex while she’s on her period? You’re banished from the city you live in. Enjoy eating prawns? You deserve to die.

Then there’s also an interesting point made on the actual meaning of the word “abomination”. Today, something that is an “abomination” is considered wrong and horrible. But many years ago, the word “abomination” was simply a word used to describe something that wasn’t traditional or “the thing to do”. There was never any real prejudice placed on the usage of the word though.

These days, a quick google search will point out more of these so called “abominations”, so when you’re done here, I recommend having a read of some of these sites, it’s truly fascinating reading. But back to the movie…

The movie does labour on a bit, and there’s a few times I found myself thinking “yes, okay, I get the point you’re trying to make, let’s move on”, but overall, it’s an incredibly moving tale that points out not just the scary levels of hatred in these people who otherwise pride themselves on being ‘good Christians’, but also a story of understanding and almost of ‘reform’ of the opinions of these five families who while still dedicating their lives to their chosen religion, all that teach that homosexuality is wrong or a “disease”, that have discovered that their love for their own family is truly the strongest, most important bond a person can ever have.

I give this one 3 and a half Deity’s out of five.

“I can’t, for the life of me, imagine that God would say ‘I will punish you because you are black – you should have been white’, ‘I will punish you because you are a woman, you should have been a man’, ‘I punish you because you are a homosexual, you ought to have been heterosexual’, I can’t. I can’t for the life of me, believe that that’s how God sees us” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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#14 Bubba Ho-Tep

Posted by Dan on December 25, 2008

671647bubba-ho-tepcShithouse. I’m not even going to write about it.

I love Bruce Campbell, I loved the Evil Dead series. I have a copy of They Call Me Bruce sitting next to the dvd player.  Hell, the only reason why I sat through those piece of shit Spiderman movies was because I found out that Bruce Campbell was in them.
But this? Shit.

I give it nothing out of nothing.

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First failure!

Posted by Dan on December 22, 2008

theninesukposterWell, it took 13 movies to do it, but I finally got to a movie that I couldn’t bare to finish: The Nines. It’s fucking awful.

I only got about 45 minute in before I stood up, brushed my hands and claimed “that’s it, I’m done” And walked off.

I’d also nodded off a few times beforehand too – and I wasn’t even tired.

Essentially Ryan Reynolds plays a computer programmer who’s having some pyschosis and is playing out the lives of the people in his game.

It’s shit. Only recommend this movie to people you hate

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#13 Definitely, Maybe

Posted by Dan on December 20, 2008

maybeposter1I know that any last shred of credibility has probably now flown out the window at the mere reading of this title, but please bare with me faithful reader, it’s worth it in the end.

I probably should’ve given up on the romantic-comedy thing after watching Elizabethtown, which was fucking woeful. But you know, as much as I wouldn’t normally like to admit it in public, I still have a soft spot for a good romantic comedy. I did say good romantic comedy. There are some shockers, trust me. Apparently “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit”, but generally, you can replace the word “sarcasm” with “romantic comedy” and replace “wit” with “film making”. It’s such a terrible cookie-cutter of a plot-line that it’s easy to dismiss it entirely.  While you can pretty much write off anything with Meg Ryan in it, every now and again, on a very rare occasion, a genuinely enjoyable romantic comedy comes along.

Definitely, Maybe is a movie that surrounds the tale of boy-meets-girl which starts after Wil Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) picks up his daughter Maya (Abigail “Little Miss Sunshine” Breslin) to find commotion at the school after the kids were taught some rather graphic and brutal sex education classes. Maya’s a naturally inquisitive girl, and eventually the questions turned to the typical “how did you and mummy meet?”. The story it tells, however, is anything but typical. Wil then tells the story to Maya, but changes the names along the way of his story of growing up and the 3 main relationships in his life, leading Maya to try and guess which one is her real mother.

I know it sounds really cheesey, and I guess in a way, it sort of is – but the cheese isn’t laid on thick. But it’s a nice story that’s told really well, and there are a lot of genuinely funny moments. I think the reason why I enjoyed this movie so much is because I wasn’t expecting to. It’s a very sweet story told lovingly by writer and director Adam Brooks, who’s previously brought us Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, Wimbeldon and French Kiss. Fortunately though, this movie is far more enjoyable than anything else that Brooks has done before. Whether or not you’re a girl or a guy or whether or not you love or hate romantic comedy movies, if you’re looking for a nice feel-good movie about love lost, then won then lost again, this is the perfect one.

I give Definitely Maybe 4 pelvic thrusts out of 5.

Will: I had two serious girlfriends… and then some other smattering of other women.
Maya: What’s the boy word for ‘slut’?
Will: They still haven’t come up with one yet. But I’m sure they’re working on it.

PS
Charm, if you’re reading this, I know you’re going to want to comment, and I know what you’re going to say. Don’t bother, because I’ll never approve the comment.

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#12 Little Fish

Posted by Dan on December 20, 2008

little-fish-poster-01Little Fish is an Australian film about the story of Tracey (Cate Blanchett), a former junkie trying to get her life back together, despite the pulling factors around her. Her drug-dealer ex returns from overseas, her step-dad is trying to kick his heroin habit, she’s constantly being knocked back for bank loans to expand the business at the local video shop she works at ,and her mum, while the straight one of the family, struggles to keep everything together.

Little Fish received loads of critical acclaim from almost every media publication in the country. To me, there seems to be a just as many reasons to agree with the praise as there are to disagree with them. I wanted to like this movie so much, and for the most of it I did. I just felt myself wanting more by the end. The movie ambles way too much, and there are far too many unanswered questions for me to really enjoy it.

Much like when I watched Layer Cake the other day, the same reasons seem to resonate again – there are some great moments, some fantastic acting and a really fucking impressive cast, but when it all comes together, there’s just a really big build up for what seems to be very little pay-off. I feel bad for not liking this movie, because it has so many good things about it – there’s just more bad things. The biggest problem I found was that the movie feels like you’re watching the second half of a movie. I spent half the movie trying to work out who was who, and there seemed to be no real plot to speak of, and some of the motivation for some of the characters seemed a little misplaced within the confines of the movie. I just can’t help but feel that it could’ve been a lot better than what it was.

I give Little Fish 1 out of 5 hits of golden brown.

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