The hubs and I are pretty big movie buffs, thanks a great deal to the ingenius Redbox phenomenon and my work offering discount movie passes. So I've established Movie Monday, where I'll post some of my favorites for your consideration for rentals. I think I might also do a Friday Flicks specifically for movies worthy of being seen in the theatre. If you're stuck on picking a movie to rent, here are some suggestions:
Taken--Liam Neeson easily ranks up there with Jack Bauer and Jason Bourne with his ability to kick any and everyone's...butts. Seriously. Now, that said. Some of the subject matter is disturbing, it's definitely not a movie you'd watch with your kids...older teenagers would hopefully take away from it the life lesson to never lie to your parents, but I'd be leery of any younger teens/children watching it. Lots of action, nothing particularly gory. This comes out tomorrow on DVD!
(Oh and because it was bothering me the whole movie--the daughter was the blonde girl on Lost from the first couple seasons...she was kind of prissy, was there on the island with her brother.)
Iron Man--Throw away most of what you know about superhero movies and see this. Robert Downey, Jr. is hilarious (in his understated sarcastic way) and he literally made the movie great. The most "innappropriate" stuff for kids--violence, more "mature" content, etc. is pretty much all within the first 15 minutes. There's some action/violence throughout--it's a superhero movie after all--but I kind of felt like the first part of the movie was a little more gritty I guess than the rest of it. Still, probably not a good one to watch with the kiddos. When we saw this in the theatre, we had a mom and her probably 7-year-old son leave within 10 minutes. This is not a Spiderman type superhero movie. It's not nearly as dark as Dark Knight, but it does have an edge.
I was soo happy to see Robert Downey, Jr. back in movies. I'll just try to forget Tropic Thunder ever happened.
Last Chance Harvey--I'm a little biased on this one because I adore Dustin Hoffman (whether he's counting down to Wapner or practicing the art of capoeira as Gaylord Focker's dad) and Emma Thompson is one of those flawless actresses who can handle both dry humor or break down sobbing emotional acting (Sense & Sensibility). If you saw Before Sunrise/Before Sunset, it's a similar concept, but in the context of a middle-aged pair still trying to figure life out. Hoffman and Thompson have great chemistry and it's really an honest, though humorous movie.
Hotel for Dogs--This would be my family pick. Admittedly, Brady and I did a 2-for-1 double feature one weekend...shh, don't tell Harkins. We make up for it with our loyalty otherwise. First we saw Yes Man, then this was starting at exactly the perfect time to walk right in to the opening credits. This was a very cute movie of this brother and sister who are trying to deal with living in foster care while secretly establishing a pretty spiffy dog hotel for homeless dogs that would otherwise end up at the pound. The issue of animal control and so many dogs needing homes really gets to me--both Brady and I teared up at some of the scenes. I really like the fact that it pointed out to people that there are so many wonderful dogs in shelters needing homes and it didn't pinpoint one breed, as to cause a sudden demand that would end with many additional dogs ending up in shelters because people don't understand how one breed can be fitting for one person, but not another. They just think they're cute. For example, Budaj is part Husky. Huskies love to jump and dig, but we knew this going in, so when he started jumping and digging, it wasn't a surprise to us and we were prepared to work with him on it.
Anyways, back to the movie...it was really well-done. I liked Don Cheadle, he was kind of an unexpected surprise and the girl in it actually is Julia Roberts' niece. If you love dogs, you'll like this movie.
The Lucky Ones--This was one of those movies that I didn't really know what to expect. The movie cover sort of interested me and I saw it on the Redbox machine several times before deciding to rent it. We were pleasantly surprised by this movie. It tells the story of three soldiers, all in different places in their lives, who return to the states (1 is getting out of the Army, 2 are coming back for a month-long break) and have to deal with re-adjusting to civilian life, changes that happened with their friends/family while they were gone, and trying to cope with what they've experienced during war. The unlikely trio, including Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, and Michael Pena (you might know if as the FBI rookie in Shooter) were really great in their roles. It's not a gritty, in your face sort of political movie (like Stop-Loss for example)...it just simply tells their experiences. It was a very enjoyable movie to watch and definitely added more credibility for Rachel McAdams, who's come a long way from Mean Girls and who I find very likeable and seems to have a long career ahead of her.
3 Movies to Avoid:
Untraceable--I very much like the main actors in this movie, including Diane Lane and Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks' son), however, this movie was really disturbing. The general premise is that the "killer" chooses a victim and an absolutely horrific way for them to die. He posts a video on his website and the more visitors the website gets, the faster the person is killed. What really creeped me about this method is that something like this could so easily happen. People are desensitized by TV and the internet as to what's real and what's not. I could see people logging onto such a website out of pure curiosity. While I like a good cat and mouse type movie, this crossed the line for me into the horror category...and that genre I am not a fan of.
Lakeview Terrace--We rented this one for free so I can't complain too much, but I just didn't think it was executed very well. I didn't have the highest expectations of this movie. The entire movie had Samuel L. Jackson seriously pissed off at the couple who just moved in, though we don't know why except he has a problem with the wife being black, the husband being white. His character is beyond obnoxious and even when we find out the reason for his behavior, it still doesn't seem justified in the least bit. The only thing I got out of this movie is a list of things that would seriously annoy a neighbor.
The Reader--Holy depressing movie, Batman! I will preface this brief review by saying that I think Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes are wonderful actors, both deserving of Oscar wins. Now, Kate Winslet did win an Oscar for this role, but my honest opinion is that she was much more deserving of an Academy Award for one of her other roles and I don't think the acting she did in this movie warranted such an award. She played the role well, but I kind of get the impression she was nominated and won because she showed a lot of nudity. I hate to say it, but it seems like artsy nudity=award nominations. It's clear from the beginning that this movie won't have a feel good, happy ending, but it's definitely not one I'd see again.