Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Movies of the Year- He said

Inglourious Basterds: Long story short this is a movie lover’s movie. You can definitely tell the love that Tarantino has for classic films in this movie. He has finally honed his peculiar style of long periods of conversation into something almost universally praised. While the movie does feel more like a few different episodes of the same show strung together, it is still a great and exhilarating experience. The perfect pacing in the elongated conversation scenes are the bread and butter of this movie. I find the relatively subdued violence a big surprise given how the movie was marketed. Either way, this is definitely Tarantino’s finest work (don’t shoot me Reservoir Dog fans). I do hope Christoph Waltz gets nominated for an Oscar

District 9: Umm biggest surprise of the year much? Neil Blomkamp, gets rejected for the Peter Jackson-produced Halo movie, and then smacks all them fools with this movie. A really obvious apartheid-commentary that some could argue breaks down to a crazy alien action movie on the last third, I still think that just like Inglorious Basterds and Avatar this movie is for movie lovers. The geeks freak out that this cost like 5-10 million, yet it looks so good. Bros can dig the gratuitous violence and using pigs as weapons. As was commented on the /Filmcast, this movie and Avatar are slightly the same story told differently, but once again it is how you do it. And let me tell you I like how this movie tells it.

Up: Biggest Tear Jerker of the year; if you don’t cry, you have no soul. Up is another unconventional Pixar movie that it is a funny, tragic, and entertaining movie. It is a movie that shows you that you can always grow up no matter what your age is, and how letting go can be the hardest and most rewarding thing you can do. I feel little can be said that hasn’t been said before so I’ll just tell you to get this movie ASAP

(500) Days of Summer: In the case of this movie, we have a honest-to-goodness movie that deals with love and loss. It is not a dramedy, nor is it a romantic comedy, but something in between. It was a sad experience to watch because the portrayals of heartbreak by Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Tom are done in such a real way that I swear I actually lived through them. The ever-amazing Zooey Deschanel plays a deceitfully ambiguous character, Summer, who drags poor Tom through emotional mud, and yet you don’t hate her. This is because these characters are not some cliché that you find a horrible Jennifer Garner romantic comedy. There is no dumpy best girl friend or crazy guy friend that cannot commit, just real people. The story doesn’t end happily ever after but rather on a high note, and sometimes that’s all you get out of intense heartbreak.

Up in the Air: Once again, just Avatar, my review can explain my love for this movie. On the other hand, the second time I saw this movie, I was able to notice more details that enriched the experience for me. There are details such as the subtly changing styles of cinematography depending on the scene, that I did not notice the first time around. Case in point- being the wedding scenes switching to a handheld, Rachel Getting Married, style of shooting, from the more precise shooting from the beginning. Overall, it makes you feel and think in the best way a movie can.

Where The Wild Things Are: The much talked about and anticipated adaptation that captivated audiences with its memorable trailer felt like it came and went. The critical reviews might have been mixed, but no one can deny that there is an amount of beauty and love that is apparent in this film that no one can deny. With a 10 page story expanded to an almost two hour movie, there was a lot of stuff that could have gone wrong, and in my eyes it did not fail. It was a portrayal about childhood, and all of those feelings that come with it. Among those feelings are, the need for acceptance and love, maybe some attention and support, but also uncontrollable rage. Where the movie truly shines is when Max slowly starts to fail as a king for the Wild Things,

Avatar: Read the review- One of the best experiences in the cinema ever. Only few others have compared, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and I think something like ET.

Antichrist: For such a “failure” of movie, I can honestly say this is one of the most hauntingly amazing movies. Much like most of these movies it is an experience that is bigger than the sum of its parts. As someone that could be described as moody, this movie makes me look like freaking Barney. The story could be misogynistic; it could be Satanic, but who cares? It is compelling. Charlotte Gainsborough’s performance is amazing. This was made while Lars Von Trier was under a bad depression, and it shows for better or worse. The movie is not without faults, such as forced symbolism with the animals in the forest. You get to become more intimate with Willem Dafoe’s anatomy than you would expect, and the ending is confusing beyond all hell. Still this movie moved me, in a way I cannot shake, much like the black alien symbiote did with Peter Parker but unfortunetly not with cool superpowers.

Fantastic Mr. Fox: This movie oozes so much charm like George Clooney, it’s ridiculous! Yes the style f animation is a little funky at times, but it is a stylistic choice. The story adapted from Roald Dahl’s book is one that hints at darker things below the surface. This made me enjoy it a bit more, because it gave it the same complexity that made Up so great. All the voices here are part of the Wes Anderson group, like Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. Meryl Streep and George Clooney perform fantastically here too.  Overall, it is a cute movie; it is relatable, and you’ll have good laughs. More importantly, I didn’t get the urge to kick Jason Schwartzman in the face with this performance. That counts for something!

The Hangover: Carlos, Tyson, Ed Helms singing a sweet improvised song; what else can you need for a good time at the movies? Seriously though, I’m not sure you will find a movie this funny and is able to hold its own in terms of story. It’s no Apatow type material, but as we saw this year, with Funny People, if you blur the lines between drama and comedy, the results will be mixed and leave audiences dumbfounded. This movie wants you to have a good time and it delivers. It gave Zach Galifianakis more exposure, which was sorely needed, and then it gave us hope that maybe Bradley Cooper is decent leading man.

Watchmen: Seriously I almost feel inclined to have this movie here because it was even made. Yes, it had flaws and some awkward pacing, but seriously, this movie for all senses and purposes shouldn’t exist. Thanks to legal troubles and an inadaptable source material, I am truly amazed that this movie turned out as well as it did. The actors overall did a great job, especially Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. The way Zack Snyder was able to recreate a lot of the scenes from the book made freak out like a complete nerd. Overall, it felt like this was the best movie that could have been made, and I’m glad it exists. Not since the Dark Knight have I loved anything from the comic world so much. If you check it out, you need to read the book though. I’m pretty sure if more people were familiar with it then, the movie could have been more successful. Either way Zack Snyder’s work resonated greatly with the nerds that it was targetin.

Honorable Mentions:
Coraline,  Zombieland,  Moon,  The Hurt Locker

Top 10 Worst movies of the year
Twilight: New Moon,  All About Steve, Year One, Xmen Origins: Wolverine,  Terminator Salvation
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Top Movies of 2009: She said

District 9- What a year for sci-fi! I never thought of myself as a sci-fi fan, but since there are two movies on my top 10, I think I should really reconsider that statement. District 9 completely blew me away. I was completely sucked into the story and the world that Neil Blomkamp created, and to achieve it with a mere 30 million dollar budget is unheard of. What I loved best about this movie is I kept thinking about it afterwards, and I wanting to dissect every layer of the movie. This movie was so smart. It made social commentary about the apartheid that happened in South Africa and how humans treat others that are considered “different”.  It kept me thinking way after the experience was over. Again, this movie was brilliant, and my favorite of the year.

Up in the Air- This was so close to being my top movie…I wish I could have two top movies of the year. Jason Reitman’s film about a man who seemingly has everything figured out was so much more than I expected. What I loved most about this movie is the story and characters don’t take the route you expect them to, which is so refreshing. There are many times where the movie could take a cliché turn in the plot, but Reitman’s script is so brave, it decides to take its own direction. I cannot believe this is only his third movie; I cannot wait to see what he comes out with next.

Inglourious Basterds- This was actually the first Tarantino movie I’ve seen in theatres, and it’s brilliant. Tarantino proves again he is a master storyteller. He develops these long, drawn out scenes that makes you think they’re going in one direction, but then completely takes you in an alternate route that usually ends in gun fire. If this is how WWII really ended…history class would have been much more interesting in school.

The Hurt Locker- When you stop breathing during a movie, that’s the sign of something special. From beginning to end, The Hurt Locker is an intense look at the dirty job of disarming bombs in the army. In this job, you could die, literally, at any moment. This was by no means a hit during the summer-popcorn movie season; however, The Hurt Locker was the most unpredictable movie I’ve seen this year.

The Princess and the Frog- I love classic Disney movies. They were one of the staples of my childhood. Now, I enjoy all the Pixar movies, but sometimes, you need a reminder of how things were. The Princess and the Frog takes animation back to its Disney roots. Every character has a song that makes you want to sing-a-long with. There’s the evil bad guy, the good-hearted prince, the heroine who lost her father, her bubbly best friend, a jazz-trumpet playing gator, and a Cajun firefly. This movie was pure magic and fun and a favorite for me.

Up- Every summer when Pixar comes out with their new movie, I always wonder how are they ever going to top the year before? Wall-E was one of my top movies last year, and I was convinced they were never going to top it. I was wrong. Up is a near perfect animated movie. It also made me cry…which I never do in animated films. The story and characters were so well written, I felt as if they were real. Up also played with our inner-child imaginations because who didn’t want to fly away with balloons as a kid?

Harry Potter- I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I love the books, and yes, I even love the movies. I understand that the movies cannot hold a candle to the books, but I can respect the movies in their own entity. The Half-Blood Prince is the best HP movie to date. Yes, the script left details out from the book, but I never missed them. I am excited that David Yates has found his own within this movie which makes me stoked that he’s directing the final two movies.

Avatar- Avatar reminded me why I love movies so much, and why the experience of going to the movies is so important. I love going to the movies and seeing something I’ve never seen before. The world of Pandora that Cameron created brought movie magic back to life. This is a movie that has appeal for everyone: romance, action, sci-fi, fantasy. By the time this list goes up, I will have seen this movie again. It’s the kind of movie you need to see twice because it is that amazing and to take in more of the world of Pandora.

The Hangover- It’s not hard to make people laugh in a movie. It’s hard to make people laugh at the same jokes when they see the movie a second time. Any movie that can achieve that is comedy gold. The Hangover was the comedy of the year. The Hangover takes a little bit of the heart of Apatow, unexpectedness of Smith with a dash of American Pie crudeness to create a well-rounded hilarious movie.

Zombieland- Thanks to Zombieland, I found a new favorite genre in movies: horror-comedies. I don’t know if that is really a genre, but I like it. This was the most fun I had at the movies this year. It was the perfect combo of blood and humor. Also, any movie that pokes fun at Garland, TX holds a special place in my heart.

Honorable Mentions:
Moon,  Drag Me to Hell,  Where the Wild Things Are,  Star Trek, (500) Days of Summer

Worst Movies:
9, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,  X-Men Orgins: Wolverine

Monday, December 21, 2009


Directed by James Cameron
Written by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang
Synopsis: After ex marine Jake Sully becomes paralyzed, he becomes part of the Avatar experiment in the distant world of Pandora, a world rich in a mineral that is highly coveted by a corporation.  The Avatar program is seen as a way to infiltrate the native culture and convince them to assimilate and give up their resources

She said- Avatar

I remember when Titanic came out when I was younger. My family didn’t see it opening day, but the word of mouth was so great, we saw it on a Thursday…on a school night! I knew when we walked out of the theatre I had seen something so grand and unique that it would be talked about for a long time. Of course we all know Titanic went on to become the highest grossing movie…ever. When I walked out of Avatar (at 3am), I knew I had just seen something truly epic. With all of the hype surrounding this movie, I went into it with as much of an open mind as I could, hoping that it would live up to it. It did. The scenery was breathtaking; the world of Pandora was brilliant. I felt like my eyes couldn’t take everything in fast enough. The new technology that James Cameron created for the Na’vi was so flawless, I forgot that they weren’t real. The only issue I had with the movie is the dialogue had some cheesy moments. All the characters were the archetypical characters that an epic movie needs: angry, military general; bleeding-heart pacifist; greedy, selfish capitalist; independent yet understanding native; and of course, the marine who gets a second chance at life and finds his purpose.

I guess I expected more dynamic characters from the script, but I can forgive that. The visual smorgasbord that is presented on screen throughout the entire movie makes up for the lack of character development. This movie has made its mark on me. I want to see it again…no, I NEED to see it again to fully grasp all the little nuances within Pandora. Avatar has something for everyone; there’s romance, second chances, violence, redemption, sci-fi, war, fantasy, humor, and of course, 3D animation. I highly recommend this movie to anybody, and yes, it does live up to the hype.

He Said-Avatar

Dear Michael Bay, please take note; this is how epic is done, not with offensive stereotypes, literal wrecking balls, and a Maxim magazine portrayal of women.  Avatar is simply put the freaking Jurassic Park of the aughts.  There’s no other movie that I have seen that has made freak out like I did when I was a kid in Mexico watching the Brachiosaurus stand on two legs to eat from the tree. This movie strikes so many balances in the right way.  It was a crazy expensive movie and while you can see where the money went, it was in a subtle, more elegant way than other CGI heavy spectacles from this past year.  It is a big crazy explosion ridden action movie it’s able to strike an emotional chord with you in all of the right ways.  Its dialogue and characters are sometimes cheesy and cliché, but damn it I found myself caring about all of them.  This movie is weird testament to James Cameron’s ability to take a big spectacle and make it feel more personal. 

To be fair, this is by no means a perfect movie, it is a bit cliché we have all heard comparisons of Fern Gully (seriously people saw this?), Dances with Wolves, and Dune.  Mind you, I won’t say too much of why the comparisons are true for the sake of keeping this spoiler free. The dialogue is really cheesy at times especially, when there are scenes with the humans. Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana and Sigourney Weaver all deliver pretty good performances that are overshadowed by the technology used to film this movie.  And let me tell you, this performance capture used for the facial expressions on the Na’vi is amazing to the point where you WILL forget that they are computer generated. The worst characters are specific to Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang who have the worst lines in the movie coming off as cliché.  For Ribisi it’s his weasly, corporate guy and Lang for his tough guy lieutenant, but damn he is so intimidating that I don’t care.

 This movie is faulty for the aforementioned reasons but like I’ve stated before there is no way you will no leave this movie unaffected.  My eyes were constantly trying to take in the visuals, almost as if I had never seen before.  My heart was pounding, nervous for the Na’vi and their home, and their fate in a way that is very rare for me.  It’s only after you see the movie that the experience sinks in properly and if you are bothered by anything in this movie, it will be long over by the time you realize it.  Avatar is a movie that is truly what movies should do, they take you away to worlds not imaginable, and they captivate your emotions in a way that feels like you’re a kid all over again and for that I thank James Cameron.

Top Records of 2009

This is a movie blog, but I am first and foremost a huge music fan, so I decided to make one of these lists.  Enjoy!  Both Jonesy and I will have our review of Avatar and our top movies of the year coming up later this week!

Grizzly Bear-Veckatimest: The only way I could have made this more cliché is to have Merriweather Post Pavilion.  But seriously this record been this year’s Fleet Foxes, the record that I know backwards and forwards and have tried to dissect thoroughly. The songs are vague but personal, complex but catchy, I feel it is everything an album should be.  The track listing is amazing especially the last two songs I Live With You and Foreground.  What I find interesting is that a lot of the songs for me might not convey certain meanings but they convey images; snow covered forests, towns full of people, spacey wormhole time travel, aimless wandering in a fog. I will say that I am a bit biased given that Two Weeks has become the “song” for my girlfriend and I.

Mastodon- Crack The Skye: This is definitely my favorite metal record, but please don’t hold that against me, given the fact that I have not been listening to a lot of metal nowadays, apart from Mastodon, Converge a couple of others most of it bores me to death.  It’s like the 80’s all over again, a bunch of talented dudes that are not doing anything artistic or creative.  Enter Mastodon!  They continue to change and refine their sounds and letting new influences peek through every time they come out with something.  With this record they take their often ridiculous concept album stories to a great extent.  I won’t get into it though I am sure that there’s something about Rasputin, betrayal, wormholes, and resurrection.  Either way, the music is brutal when it needs to be or harmonically complex when it needs to.  The complexity of the solos seems to be getting better and the harmonies in the vocals keeps things interesting.  Overall this feels like their strongest record since Leviathan.

The Swell Season- Strict Joy:  There have been many break up albums in the past years, Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago seem to come to mind and Noah and The Whale’s newest CD is another one as well.  But if standard break up albums are comparable to cheesy Hugh Grant romantic comedies then Strict Joy is comparable to the complexity of 500 days of summer.  It’s not about just breaking up and feeling shitty, but it’s about trying to grow as a person afterwards and not repeat the same mistakes again. The songs themselves are well written with an obvious Van Morrison influence. You can really tell they have indeed grown up as a group, and musicians, with the arrangements seeming more complex, and better structured than on the Once soundtrack. Kudos to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for being able to be in the same room together and make this record

Beatles Remasters:But Javi?! You silly goose, those records were made over 40 years ago! And to that I say screw you buddy, have you actually listened to these records remastered they might as well have been new.  The amount of clarity and new nuances that I am able to pick up from these CD’s is astounding.  You can hear some of the vocal harmonies clearer, the hi hats in the drums are more pronounced.  In tracks such as Tomorrow Never Knows the remastering feels more evident as you hear things you never though existed.  Honestly trying to describe them is a moot point; you have to hear it yourself. 

Sunn 0)))- Monoliths and Dimensions: Sunn 0))) has been one of my favorite bands since I heard them through a friend almost 5 years ago.  I have always found noise and drone metal to be fascinating for its lack of tonality and almost down right disrespect of regular song structures.  With this album Sunn 0))) has managed to, in a way, legitimize noise in the eyes of a lot of people.  Their string arrangements and choruses throughout this records that only add to the mysticism of the songs and make you want to listen more.  By no mean an accessible album especially for people that think Nickelback is “music” but still one of the most adventurous and exciting forms of music out today.

Atlas Sound-Logos: Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox has created a rather dreamy little solo record, I must admit I haven’t listened to Deerhunter in forever ago and have never listened to any of the Atlas Sound records.  But if this record is anything to go by I will be relistening and buy new albums by Mr. Cox.  All of the songs have a sort of dreamy quality that when listened to in complete sequence it does feel like a great dream sequence.  Not to jump on the Animal Collective boner bandwagon but Noah Lennox contributes to what maybe one f the best songs on the record too. 

Antlers-Hospice: having come to know this record recently solely based on the recommendation of the NPR All Songs Considered podcast, I was amazed at how quickly I liked it.  It is a sad affair being a concept album about a dying friend.  You can hear the emotion on this record in the most unconventional ways, not necessarily through a sad minor chord progression but through the textured sounds weaving in and out of the speakers.  The vocals show feel so delicate, and heartfelt that it adds to the mood of the record in a way that feel so right and true.   I can’t imagine anyone that has ever dealt with death not be moved by this record.

Pyramids with Nadja-S/T: This one I feel I am really biased towards because I know main Pyramids dude and I know completely where he is coming from.  Pyramids came out with a debut album last year that surprised a lot of people. Much like the debut, this collaboration with wife and husband duo Nadja has more in common with bands like Jesu and My Bloody Valentine than say, Khanate or early Earth. The soft parts are pretty and otherworldy while the heavy parts feel more like a climax of sorts in the way of this record.  Once again this album is not a collection of songs it’s an experience, and I think that due to records like this, I believe the album format will prevail.  This album is definitely something worth listening to from start to finish.

Avett Brothers-I and Love and You: Not since Sufjan Stevens and the few times Fleet Foxes uses it, have I ever liked a band that uses banjo so much.  Their sound has indeed changed, maybe it was Rick Rubin, maybe it was a major label debut sort of deal, but regardless, they have managed to create a fine set of songs this time around, evoking the feeling of a calm, peaceful, secluded place.  Let’s not forget that their songs become deep meditations such as in “I and Love and You” or good rockers such as “Kick Drum Heart”

St Vincent- Actors: As an album I’ve listened to a lot this year, I think I enjoyed this the most for its unconventional arrangements, and a lot of little details.   The biggest impression that I got was that I was listening to a movie score but it happened to be in the form a pp song.  I think her voice is pretty unique and definitely should be held up there with Feist as one of the best singers of in recent times. Having seen her recently with Broken Social Scene as a back up singer only added to my adoration for her, as well.  And listening to her collaboration with Andrew Bird in the Blogotheque site was really inspiring.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Directed by Kevin Heffernan
Written By Jay Chandrasekhar, and Kevin Heffernan
Starring Michael Clarke Duncan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan,
Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Cobie Smulder, and April Bowlby
Synopsis: Former boxing champion Cleon "Slammin'" Salmon, owner of the
Slammin' Salmon restaurant, becomes indebted to the Yakuza for
twenty thousand dollars.  He entices his entire staff to raise the money
 in one night by telling them there will be a ten thousand dollar prize
for the highest earning waiter.

He Said-Slammin' Salmon

As a relatively mild Broken Lizard fan, I have to say that I quite enjoyed their newest movie. I really dug the humor of this movie, because it was very similar to that almost awkward Step Brothers, mostly courtesy of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Cleon Salmon.  The other guys from Broken Lizard are performing in top-notch condition.  They have been working together so long that their scripts and improvisation flows seamlessly.  Now saying that, it is not my favorite one of their films.  If Super Troopers is my favorite this one ties with Beerfest as second place. It might be that they have done so much good stuff in the past that it sometimes pales in comparison. The other thing could be Kevin Heffernan, who took to the director’s chair for the first time.  This lead to a lot of weird issues with pacing and the kind of jokes, but it’s never enough to take away from the enjoyment of the movie. The characters were not necessarily cliché but they felt familiar.  As always the whole troupe change styles of characters between films.  That being said, I did love Jay Chandrasekhar’s character Nuts/Zongo.  This guy has some of the funniest movies and might just be my favorite from this group. 

The story is pretty thin, being a mere catalyst for the crazy hijinks that ensue. This is one of the aspects of comedies I can forgive, especially in non-Judd Apatow movies.  I have never subscribed that every movie should be reviewed based on all of the usual merits that Oscar worthy movies are.  Sometimes a movie can work if it’s hilarious, sometimes a movie can work if it scares the crap out of you, or make you laugh a lot, anything else that’s good is icing on the cake.  With that said, given the audience at the screening was bursting out laughing I’d say this movie succeeds.  With closing thoughts I recommend this movie for people that have seen too many depressing dramatic movies like Jonesy and I have, or fans of Broken Lizard’s brand of humor should see this movie.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

She says:

I have never seen a Broken Lizard movie until The Slammin Salmon. I know, I know-not even Super Troopers. I knew that they are a comedy group that have made a few movies; they write, act, edit, direct and basically work on every aspect of the movie. I went into this movie with an open mind. Also, I love seeing movies that show the ins and outs of the serving world (like Waiting) because I was a server/bartender for so long. The movie is very funny, the pacing is great, characters are quirky and loveable. There are some iconic typical-angry-outrageous customer moments. I personally loved their representation of how starved servers are, and they will jump at any chance to eat messed-up food. I laughed a lot, but I always felt like I was missing out something…like there were these whole “inside jokes” I was suppose to pick up on if I knew the Broken Lizard world, but I don’t so I didn’t. What’s great about this movie is it’s still funny enough that if you aren’t familiar with the Broken Lizard universe, you can still enjoy it and even quote lines afterwards. If you are a fan of the B.L., then you will love this movie.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Up in the Air - She says

The movie explores with the cliché concept of figuring out who you are and what are you doing with your life. I know, asking those questions has been pondered in movies a million times, and usually those movies take a melodramatic turn for the worse. The characters have these deep, intrinsic conversations that no real human beings would actually have. Then, there’s always a break through; the character figures out the meaning of their life, and that he or she needs to change! They look inside themselves and figure out they CAN change for the better for whatever reason (usually for a person of the opposite sex). And they live happily ever after. The End.
Thankfully, Up in the Air does not take the cliché format. The movie ponders the questions of life through the eyes of Ryan. Ryan, who seems to have his life figured out. He travels the country for most of the year firing people for different companies going under. His life never slows down, and everything he values fits perfectly in his rolling suitcase. He’s a man of habit, knows the ins and outs of how to make it through the airport with efficiency, even to what kind of suitcase to have, and what type of people to get behind in the security line (apparently Asians are the best). He makes no apologies for who he is or what he believes. His philosophy for traveling parallels his philosophy for life: travel light. We follow him as he trains the newbie, Anna, to his industry. Along the way he meets his match, professional and (seemingly) emotionally. Her name is Alex. Another woman who, like Ryan, seems to have her life figured out.
Reitman creates this world where anyone seeing this movie can relate: 20 somethings at the beginning of careers, recently laid-off workers (who have always wanted to tell off their boss*), men and women at the height of their careers, men and women at the end of their careers. I honestly never thought a movie could make me feel a rollercoaster of emotions and still be honest at the same time, but Reitman pulls it off. Up in the Air is funny and sad; it makes you laugh and cry. It has you pulling for the characters, then hating them, then loving them again. Even though most people don’t spend their lives on an airplane, everyone has had the feeling of being surrounded by people but feeling totally alone. The characters go through the motions of their life, living out of their carryon suitcase and seem perfectly content. They’re successful and employed. Why wouldn’t one be happy? The movie subtly asks this question throughout and doesn’t really give us an answer either way. It’s the character’s choice if they’re happy in their current lifestyle or not. Just like it’s our choice. Maybe we are happy with our lifestyle; maybe we’re not.
I loved, loved this movie (way more than Javi), and, all in all, Up in the Air is one of the most honest and poignant movies I’ve seen this year. Even though the movie doesn’t have the happily ever after-warm-super fuzzy-feeling at the end, it leaves you with a sense of hope and optimism that is rare to find in present day Hollywood.
*All the workers that get “let go” in this film, other than the famous faces, are actual workers who have been recently laid off due to downsizing. They were given the opportunity to speak their mind to the camera as if they were talking to their boss.

Up In The Air- He says

I will say this movie is highly recommended; everything from the acting, to the story, and the music is fantastic. The basic story follows George Clooney’s Ryan Bingham, as he goes through life as constantly on the go corporate downsize. As he explains, he’s the guy who comes and fires you if your boss is too much of a pussy to do it himself, with a supporting cast that includes Vera Garmiga, as Alex Goran, Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener, Danny McBride, Zach Galifianakis.

The story follows Ryan as he lives his life as man who seems to have done a great job of keeping people at bay from him. He sees the people that he fires are mere nameless, faceless creatures in a huge sea; he has perfected sounding sincere. He has a side gig as a “motivational” speaker. His speech, which can be heard during the teaser trailer, encourages people to carry less weight in their lives, whether it is figurative or emotional. He wears sharp suits, a neat haircut and uses a compact rolling bag to save time during check in. Obsessed with status, he is basically the “Mack Daddy” of American Airlines, Hertz, the Hilton hotels where he spends more time in than his own apartments. Everything he does seems like a seamless and calculated action. The way he talks to Alex Goran (Vera Garmiga) even seems soulless using his sweet Premier-Ultra-Platinum-Plus-Black-Diamond cards from the hotels to impress the equally airborne Alex. It’s funny because the movie for the first half reminds me of the first part of Fight Club where Edward Norton’s character describes the changing time zones, the meals, the lack of true, genuine interaction as a reason for his unhappiness. Ryan Bingham on the other hand revels in it! He actually made me envy him in his oh-so-cool ways.

The catalyst for the story is Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a hot shot from Cornell who wants to streamline the process in which the company fires people. She suggests a more “economically efficient” method by firing people over the Internet to reduce travel costs. Ryan’s boss, Craig, played efficiently Jason Bateman (who reminds me of a sadistic Michael Booth), decides to ground Ryan from travel. Ryan proceeds to embarrass her and mock her process in front of Craig after which he makes Ryan takes Natalie under his wing.

Then meat and potatoes of the movie starts; I love this movie (though not nearly as much as Jonesy. The direction feels more confident than in Reitman’s previous films, with Reitman giving us scenes that are filled with purpose. Given that he wrote this movie almost 9 years ago, it amazes me, that there was more subtlety and almost an air of elegance about the movie. To an extent, I was afraid of Diablo Cody’s influence on him. Thankfully, this feels like a more mature Thank You For Smoking than Juno. Interestingly enough this movie is comparable to Judd Apatow’s Funny People, in that it is neither a drama, nor an off-hand romantic comedy, but I will never call this movie a dramedy, seriously this isn’t music where we can come up with weirdo sub genres to describe anything that’s somewhere in the middle. ). I was really impressed by the music selection. Unlike Juno there aren’t a million and one songs playing, there’s more restraint here and it is used to great effect. To me hearing Elliott Smith at a certain point made happy and made the scene more effective because the lovelorn lyrics and snow imagery add depth to it. The score, written by Rolfe Kent was very much in the background, and subtle, but I do not think of it as a detriment. The movie doesn’t lend itself for in your face music in any way, if anything the sparse soundtrack could be a good aspect

The characters themselves are wonderful to watch. They are likeable yet and extremely well written (frankly I love my characters flawed.) Ryan is to a perverse extent of what people strive to be when they’re in the “suit n’ tie” world. He’s a big shot; he makes a lot of money and is a charming and likeable guy who knows how to say all the right things. Alex is a go-getter type of woman. She carries herself as a confident and strong, if not equally detached individual. Natalie is just like every twentysomething trying to make a name for herself, but in her quest for acceptance she seems to be even colder than Ryan, but way more naïve. There was a scene where she is making algorithms and flow charts for conversations on how to fire people that makes Ryan look like was the sweetest guy ever. The story itself is also a relate able one in that we all have gone through a time in our lives where our ground has been shaken, and how we deal with those changes. For me as a recent college graduate, I can’t help but feel a connection to Ryan.

The skeptic in me kept on waiting for this movie to thread in cliché movie moments, which I will not mention for the sake of spoilers. I’m happy to report that one of the big reasons this movie works so well for me is that it keeps you on your toes, even the ending was not what was expect from a typical “finding yourself” movie. When you leave the movie, you will feel satisfied; it works in a humorous, dramatic and emotional level. It will make you re-think your life, your goals, and relationships without depressing you; because we’re all just human. Even if we have the courage to change ourselves, we won’t get it right the first time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Introductions all around!

Welcome to the first review of the We Drink Your Milkshake Blog. Simply our site is a movie review blog with Javier (He), and Jonesy (She), writing our impressions and critiques of movies that we watch. For spoiler-phobes, fret not, we will try to stay away from them or if we do thread into spoiler territory we’ll have a huge freaking sign warning you. So while we get find our flow and our footing stick around! We’re going to be awesome! This is opportunity is brought by the kind peeps over at Red Carpet Crash, in which we were lucky enough to win pass from. The first movie that we will be reviewing is the third movie from director Jason Reitman’s third, called Up In The Air.