Where the Wild Things Are

where_the_wild_things_are_poster2“Where the Wild Things Are” follows the adventures of Max, a head-strong young boy who leaves home after having a fight with his mother — only to find himself in a mysterious forest bordering a vast sea. Misunderstood and rebellious, Max sets sail to the land of the Wild Things, where mischief reigns.

Swanner: Last night Brian and I saw Where the Wild Things Are which is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story, where Max, a disobedient little boy who after an altercation with his mother, creates his own world–a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler. They play they fight and he goes home…One hour and forty five minutes later I’m in my car wondering WTF I just watched.
 
Judd: The movie is based on a 120 word book that was revolutionary in 1963 in the way that it dealt with the emotions of a child such as anger and loneliness.  Author Maurice Sendak teamed up with director Spike Jonez to put the book on film.  I thought it worked.  The meandering plot was filled in with beautiful imagery – just like the book.  However, Max was a rotten, spoiled, horrible child and he ruined the movie.
 
Swanner: It may have worked in 1963 but today’s audiences want faster pace stories with maybe some dialog. I do think it’s a great job at adapting this very small story but small is what this movie should have been. The creatures are done really well but I needed something more than just playing and fighting. It was like a very long commercial for Ritalin. The kid’s an awful brat and the creatures are like visiting a senior home where they get all liquored up at night and have only regrets in the morning. After the movie…I knew the feeling
 
Judd: Today’s audiences also want mindless pop-culture references, editing that could induce a seizure, and fart jokes.  While I do love a good fart joke, WTWTA is above all that.  It’s undoubtedly an art film.  My question is: is it an art film for kids, for adults, for adults with kids, for mature kids, or for immature adults?  It is definitely NOT a movie for adults who don’t want kids.  It’s birth control on film.  If you were undecided before, you’ll be scheduling a vasectomy after.
 
Swanner: Even though this book came out when I was a kid it was never a favorite but then I was an angelic child. Destroying things and fighting were never part of my play time. I dreamt of spiders that can write and chocolate factories not horrible creatures. Wow, I was really waxing rhapsodic; I think that’s who the audience really is… the folks that still hold the book dear whether they are 5, 50 or 80.
 
Judd: If it weren’t for the horrible child Max, I would have liked the movie.  I liked all the monsters.  Carol, voiced by James Gandolfini, was a reflection of Max, but because he was really a monster it was more palatable.  Paul Dano played a wimpy goat that didn’t like to roughhouse – that was the Tom character.  Then there was Judith, voiced by Catherine O’Hara, who berates Max and wants to eat him as soon as he shows up on their island.  She was my favorite.
 
Swanner: Judith is you… That’s why she was your favorite. Just because I don’t like to be hit with a dirt clod doesn’t make me the goat and he wasn’t wimpy. I’m glad you liked it, I didn’t. I thought it looked good but I needed more, sorry.
 
Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 4 Stars

Advertisements

Couples Retreat

couples_retreatwww.couplesretreatmovie.com

Swanner: On Tuesday night Brian and I got the chance to see the new Vince Vaughn/John Favreau movie, Couples Retreat. The storyline follows four couples, in various points of their marriage, that get talked into going on vacation to an island resort that’s for couples only. Once there, they find out they are being forced to do couples therapy even though they don’t think they need it.
 
Judd: Couples Retreat is a god awful movie that makes me glad I’m perpetually single.  Not only does the movie make marriage and relationships look painfully horrible, the movie is written worse than a crappy romcom that takes one-note jokes and stretches them over what seems to be an infinity. 
 
Swanner: To me it felt like Vince Vaughn said to his friends…”Lets make a movie in an amazing location so we can spend 6 weeks in Bora Bora”. They walked through the movie producing stereotypical couples that I couldn’t relate to and then ends it with a quick wrap up that was just awful. It was like watching a really long sitcom. I do think it might have been better if it was rated R. The audience for this movie is 18 and older so why make a movie for thirteen year olds?
 
Judd: I think you’re underestimating the stupidity of American audiences.  The audience we saw the movie with loved the movie.  They were laughing and having a good old time.  There is a reason Everybody Loves Raymond was on the air for 9 years, and that is the same target audience that Couples Retreat plays to.  They enjoy simple-minded, shallow characters they can point at and say, “I dun that b’fore!” 
 
Swanner: It’s true, the audience was having fun with it but it was cheap laughs. No one will walk away feeling entertained. This is a great “immediate gratification” film. Like when you eat a whole bag of BBQ potato chips in one sitting and then, when someone asks where the chips are, you feel guilty, but since you already threw the bag in the trash can in the side yard…no one knows it was you. You just live with the shame and you never tell your dirty little secret…of how you saw this crappy movie.
 
Judd: My god you’re fat.  Regardless of how fat you are, I disagree with you.  I think the dumb audiences are going to call the movie a romp and a righteous good time.  This movie is for married couples what Wild Hogs was for fat, middle aged, wannabe bikers.  I’m telling you, it’s a horrible film that is going to sell out.  Who knows, now that the Best Pic category has been expanded to 10 nominees, Couples Retreat might get the popular vote.
 
Swanner: Sadly…I think you’re right. I’ll need to stop by the store for chips to eat away my disappointment in this movie. At least now I can blame Vince Vaughn for my being fat.
 
Judd: Speaking of Vince Vaughn and fat, there was not a scene throughout the entire movie that Vince wasn’t sweating through his clothes.  He was even sweatier than Fazion Love!  
 
Swanner: 1 ½ Stars
Judd: No Stars

Zombieland

zombielandwww.zombieland.com

Swanner: After a worldwide pandemic, only a few humans survive in a world overrun with zombies. That’s the premise to this new comedy starring Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin. Brian and I braved a screening of Zombieland that also had a costume contest. If you dressed like a zombie you got to see the movie. Almost 70 people dressed up or did they? I’m pretty sure there were real zombies there. It was a white knuckle experience.
 
Judd: Ugh, you’re such a sissy.  I the only thing I braved was the chance of this movie sucking.  The zombies behind us may or may not have been real, what was real was the humor, the gore, and the midnight mania fun that Zombieland provided.  Zombieland is going to be a cult classic, guaranteed.
 
Swanner: I loved the way they played with the graphics. One of the characters makes a list of rule on how to survive in Zombieland. So through out the film rules will pop up on screen and many of them add major laughs to an already funny film. I really like how fresh this film made the whole zombie experience. I also noticed that the movie is better than it’s trailer, which is rare coming from Hollywood. I may have white knuckled my way through the movie but I still had a really good time.
 
Judd: The casting in the movie was fantastic.  Woody Harrelson is the major player in the movie and you can tell he’s in it to have fun.  Abigail Breslin adds a little prestige and Emma Stone adds some sex appeal.  I think the best choice was casting Jesse Eisenberg in a role that easily could have gone to Johnny-One-Note Michael Cera who would have ruined the movie.
 
Swanner: I agree, Jesse Eisenberg is the heart of the movie both emotionally and socially. He’s our every man character and I felt like I could trust his lead. He thought through things like I do. Most leads are pretty and that’s about it, but here, seeing Eisenberg survive, tells me if I was any good with cardio I might just survive in Zombieland too.
 
Judd: If a person has to be good at cardio, we’re doomed.  The movie mentions that during a zombie outbreak fat people are the first to go.  Even meeting up with someone like Harrelson wouldn’t save our fat asses.  And you’re afraid of firearms, so you’re even more doomed than I am.  I’d abandon you to die a gory horrible death.  Speaking of gore, the movie has plenty of it.  Zombie heads exploding, zombies vomiting black and green goo, feeding scenes.  There’s enough gore for everybody!
 
Swanner: I was surprised how much gore there was but they were having fun with the whole “zombie” genre. If you have a problem with gore…you’ll know by the end of the opening credits whether or not you’ll make it through the film. I will say that after five minutes I was completely numb to all the flesh ripping and bile spewing. My biggest problem with the movie was the 70 zombies sitting behind me during the screening…had one of them screamed brains, I’m sure I’d have soiled myself.
 
Judd: Pussy.  I would suggest that you and all of our readers who are Zombiphobic avoid all midnight screenings of Zombieland.  And for all of our non-pussy readers, I say that if their local cinema happens to have a midnight screening, that’s the one to attend.
 
Swanner: The idea of a midnight screening of this made my flesh crawl…I guess that’s the point
 
Swanner: 3 ½ Stars
Judd: 4 Stars

SIGLFF 2009

tbgmsiglff.com

Swanner: Coming up in October is The Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Brian and I got the first look at it. The festival runs three days, October 8-10, and we’re going to look at it day by day. On Thursday we start with a musical…Yes, I said musical. It’s called The Big Gay Musical. The storyline follows the cast of a new off Broadway musical called “Adam and Steve, Just the Way God Made ‘Em” and how their characters are going through similar in their own lives. One man looking for true love while another tries to come to terms with his family and his faith.
 
Judd: I’m usually unduly harsh on the film festival, but this year I’m going to try to be objective.  Gay cinema hit it’s heyday in the mid-to-late ’90s, so it must be hard picking watchable films.  I didn’t like The Big Gay Musical.  The dancers suck, the songs suck, the plot sucks, even the title sucks, but for the readers can stomach half rate made-for-TV movies on Logo, then The Big Gay Musical isn’t that bad.
 
Swanner: I think what Brian is trying to say is that this is no big budget film. It’s got unknowns singing funny songs by someone you haven’t heard of in a “Big” “Gay” “Musical”. Chicago and Sweeny Todd have spoiled Brian from the joys of a really cute gay musical. The Big Gay Musical is entertaining and poignant and I had a great time watching it. It’s not going to win an Oscar but I’m sure it’s going to win over the audience. I’m sure Brian read some Jacqueline Susann novel while screening the movie. He forgets what a fun night at the theatre can be with 900 giggling queens. He’s sad.
 
Judd: What’s sad is that the casting agent blew the 5¢ budget on cute singers and dancers with lead feet and tin ears instead of getting people who could honestly perform.  The movie was filmed in NYC, I’m sure there wasn’t a lack of available talent.
 
Swanner: Ignore him. He’s like the monkeys at the zoo; if you pay attention to him he’ll throw feces at you. The Friday feature is called “I Can’t Think Straight” and is about two women from very different cultures that fall in love. Believe me, if you thought it was hard coming out in America try being from India or Palestine. Shamin Sarif, the director, does a wonderful job of keeping this romance light without looses it’s message of acceptance and tolerance. The good news is Brian didn’t see this feature so we won’t have to listen to him rant. I really liked this movie and may I say that I haven’t seen such sexy lesbian love scenes since “Bound”. So Brian, on to Saturday and Shorts night. Any favorites?
 
Judd: There were several shorts that I enjoyed.  I thought “Dinx” was an interesting concept, very well written, funny and entertaining.  “A Day at the Beach” was a lot of fun; I loved the animation.  “Judgment Day” was good – but anything featuring the vocal styling’s of Judy Garland is going to be good.  I also liked the short musical “How Do I Say This?  I’m Gay” which featured talented singers and good songs – What A Big Gay Musical should have been.
 
Swanner: I really liked a “Day at the Beach” as well. It was very funny and it’s really hard to find good animated pieces. I also liked the short called “James” about the high schooler who is struggling with his feelings and feels only his teacher will understand. It really showed the struggle of discovering one’s feelings and not knowing how to express them and scared if he does. I also liked “On The Bus” about a shy teenager who has a major crush on the school jock he’s never talk to before. “Peking Turkey” was also a really nice film and I liked the musical “How Do I Say This? I’m Gay” at the end as well. 
 
Judd: I liked James though it is extremely depressing.  On The Bus was only alright, but I can see why you enjoyed it.  I think it will be a favorite for a lot of sentimental queens out there.  I hated Peking Turkey.  It’s tired and clichéd, and the story has been told 100 different times exactly the same way.  A gay couple deals with announcing their relationship to conservative and culturally different parents.  This one even had the foul-mouthed old lady.  Yawn. 

The Invention of Lying

the_invention_of_lying_posterthe-invention-of-lying.warnerbros.com

Swanner: In a world where there are no lies, one man discovers that lying can change his life forever. Ricky Gervais (from BBC’s The Office) wrote and directed this clever and original comedy with his collaborator Matthew Robinson. Gervais pays Mark Bellison, a chubby snubbed nose writer loser…I can say these things because the film reminds you of it all the time. Remember, in this film everyone tells you the truth. It’s like a visit to Brian’s house. Gervais is in need of money after being fired and evicted and lies to a bank clerk to get more cash then his account holds.
 
Judd: It’s funny you should say it’s like a visit to my house, because during the intro when they were explaining that nobody lies and sometimes truth can be harsh, I thought to myself, “I would love to live there.”  There were things I really liked about The Invention of Lying and there were somethings I didn’t like about the movie. I think my biggest problem is that the movie tried to be too many things.  Comedy, romantic comedy, social satire, and a warm and fuzzy “hope movie”.
 
Swanner: I think the warm fuzzy thing was underplayed for the most part, which is a good thing. It was there, but not the film’s focus. I thought it worked really well on the comedy and social satire element but the romantic comedy part didn’t work as well because Gervais doesn’t look like the romantic leading man we have grown to expect. I guess that makes me one of those people the movie was trying to satirize. I feel so shallow.
 
Judd: Yes, you horrible fat person you.  Speaking of you being enormously fat, this movie was built around fat jokes.  Horrible, insensitive, insulting, hysterical fat jokes.  I especially liked Gervais’ stained sweatpants clad alcoholic best friend played by Louis C.K..  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Actually, the only time I wasn’t laughing is when Gervais was pining away over Jennifer Gardner.
 
Swanner: This is why I wouldn’t want to live in that world. I don’t want to spend all my time being insulted by Brian. I know Brian would be a major A-hole and would revel in that world. The supporting cast was really good and the film is full of cameos which I thought was a very pleasant surprise.
 
Judd: No doubt this is a big movie, with a big cast, tackling big issues.  I think it’s completely worth a full-price ticket on weekend.  I also know that most people aren’t as anti-romcom as I am, and if they are just know that the fat guy in the park balancing a sandwich on his gut makes up for all that romantic nonsense. 
 
Swanner: I hope this review makes people understand what it’s like working with you…it’s my own personal hell
 
Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 3 Stars

Love Happens

love-happens-posterwww.lovehappensmovie.com

Swanner: Dr. Burke Ryan’s (Aaron Eckhart) wife was killed in an accident three years early and to deal with his grief he wrote the now best seller A…Okay which helps people deal with death. When he arrives in Seattle to teach a sold-out seminar, he unexpectedly meets the one person (Jennifer Aniston) who might finally be able to help him help himself. 
 
Judd: Blah!  On any normal day this is a movie I would have skipped, I don’t know what possessed me to go and see it, but the whole movie is a clear reminder of why I hate romance films.  Love Happens is full of trite and contrived scenarios created for the sole purposed of making menopausal women cry. 
 
Swanner: Hey I cried during the movie! I thought it was good.  It’s has the always fresh Jennifer Aniston and the yummy Aaron Eckhart playing non-cliché characters. This is about emotions and coming to terms with death. We didn’t have to see any gross making love scenes or deal with jealous ex’s. This is a different romance 
 
Judd: Different?  The first ½ hour is completely by the book.  Boy hits on girl.  Girls cusses out boy.  Boy cusses out girl.  Girl cusses out boy again, because she’s just that sassy, then all of a sudden they’re on a date.  He’s a widower getting over his dead wife and she recently dumped her shitty boyfriend. What about any of that is original? 
 
Swanner: First is was nice that they weren’t 22 years old. Look, it’s a romance and it wouldn’t be much of a movie if they suddenly just liked each other…the end. See how that doesn’t really work? You liked 500 Days of Summer and it had a similar start up.  If they don’t dislike each other a bit then you have no build up of romance.  
 
Judd: Don’t even try and compare 500 Days of Summer with this garbage.  The two movies aren’t even the same.  500 days deals with the soaring highs and crushing lows of a relationship in a unique and endearing fashion.  Meanwhile, Anniston introduces Eckhart to her goofy mother – played by Frances Conroy, but could have been played by Diane Keaton and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference — and Eckhart’s father, as played by Robert DeNiro, is a bit of an asshole. 
 
Swanner: It was Martin Sheen who played Eckhart’s father-in-law!!! Were you even watching the movie???  I’ll agree ,  with only one scene in the movie they might as well have just used a nobody in the role of Aniston mother but Diane Keaton…seriously! You need to leave her alone. One bad movie and she been branded a bad actress. Go back and rewatch Annie Hall, you asshole!!! Now I’m not even talking about the movie…you!!! I liked this movie. It must be hard to understand the emotion of love for a Tin Man with no heart. 
 
Judd: Don’t get pissed at me because your precious “different romance” is just as stale and commonplace as anything else that’s been churned out by the Hollywood mimeograph.  Hell, there was even a moment in the movie where Eckhart finally gets in touch with his emotions and they reward him with the slow clap.  The Slow Clap!!!  You can’t get anymore clichéd than the slow clap. 
 
Swanner: I admitted I hated the slow clap scene and I was okay with just one bad part. Did it ruin the movie for me…NO!  I will not let you drag me down to your level. It was good, deal with it. Maybe one day you’ll see that Love Happens to all of us. Did you like the way I worked the title into what I was saying? 
 
Judd: You’re such a girl that sometimes it clouds your judgment.  Love Happens is not different or good.  It’s the same old bullshit that gets trotted out at least a dozen times a year.  The only thing it was missing was that Anniston didn’t hold Eckhart in her arms repeating “it’s not your fault” until he broke down and cried.
 
Swanner: 2 ½ Stars
Judd: ½ Star